“The present kingdom comes quietly, humbly, without fire from heaven, without a blaze of glory, without a rendering of the mountains or a cleaving of the skies. It comes like a seed sown in the earth. It can be rejected by hard hearts. It can be choked out, its life may sometimes seem to wither and die, but it is the Kingdom of God”
(George Eldon Ladd).
Note: the Jewish people had a different expectation to that stated above. They were expecting a Messiah to come in power, establish a righteous kingdom and overthrow the Roman occupation of Israel. However, Jesus chose to come as the Son of Man and not the Messiah (see previous blog this topic Part 2). Jesus will come as Messiah at His second-coming.
Why do we need to know the Gospel of the Kingdom?
“Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish”(to let go; cast off restraint) Proverbs 29:18
The present kingdom is more than a promise yes, we will have full possession of our kingdom inheritance which comes in the Millennial and Eternal kingdoms. However, we do have partial and actual possession now because we have the Holy Spirit as a guarantee (Ephesians 1:14, Romans 8:22-23). So, we live for a future hope which is very exciting, but we do not live the promise without understanding that we also live in the kingdom now. The future has already begun. The fulfillment and consummation of Eternal life (John 17:3) which belongs to tomorrow is here today.
Eternal life appears to be in the future and yet Jesus came to give us life today (John 10:10). Somehow the life that is in the future has made its way into life today, while we are still in our mortal bodies living in this evil Age. We have everlasting life now because we do not come under judgment and we have passed from death to life (John 5:24). Additionally, we have been taken out of the dominion of Satan and into this kingdom (1 John 5:18). The powers of the future kingdom have entered our present life. Now we may experience eternal life (intimacy with God; John 17:3) even though we live in a life of death and decay.
Eternal life means we have been brought into a personal relationship with God; now. As we examine some of the key elements of the present kingdom, we must remember that this kingdom is about a King and His sovereignty, the realm of the King and the blessings/responsibilities given to the people of God that live in that kingdom.
- In the present kingdom Jesus is sovereign and all authority has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). Due to Jesus’ death – sin, death and Satan have been defeated. Jesus will hand authority back to the Father when the Eternal Kingdom is established and after all enemies are placed under Jesus’ feet. However, sin and death continue during this period until death is thrown into the lake of fire at the end of the millennium. Still, we can experience the love, power and life of the kingdom given to those who are in Christ (e.g. Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 John 5:18).
- The kingdom of God is a miracle. It is an act of God and therefore is supernatural. The working of the kingdom is God’s working (grace; love and power) and the fruit is produced not by human effort or skill but by the life of the kingdom in each individual (we become partakers of the divine nature; 2 Peter 1:4). We are sustained, strengthened and enabled by God’s grace (John 15:5). The mystery of the kingdom has entered history in the person of Jesus Christ to work among men and bring them blessings and life.
- This present kingdom exists in an Age of darkness and rebellion. This present Age is Satan’s dominion over those who do not believe in Christ (Ephesians 6:12). The present world is hostile to Jesus and His disciples but Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). Our struggle is against the world, the flesh and the devil; however, we are empowered by the grace of God to have victory. Given these conditions we can see there was a desperate need for a Kingdom of God, now. To take believers out of the dominion of Satan into God’s kingdom with all His promises (e.g., 1 John 5:18; investigate the Greek for ‘cannot touch’).
- The kingdom came with power (miracles; Matthew 12:28) but it also came in a hidden way (Luke 17:21; Ephesians 3:17). The realm of this kingdom is in the heart and lives of believers. It is a supernatural kingdom, filled with the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. A realm empowered by the grace of God (His love and power in the life of believers; more in next two posts).
- The blessings of this kingdom are in the promises of God (2 Peter 1:4). God led the Israelites into the promised land, but today we are led by God into a land of promises (Derek Prince). There are 250 promises mentioned 750 times in the New Testament. His provision is in His promises. There are also future blessings promised by God. There are also responsibilities that I will discuss in two future posts on this topic (Kingdom Values and a topic I call ‘If love…then what?’).
I remember reading a book years ago and the opening statement was “Life is difficult”. I had to read on because this was true and provocative. However, understanding the gospel of the kingdom presents a new truth, and provides great hope and love in a difficult world. I want that life and I believe it is found in an intimate relationship with God, in His kingdom, with his leadership and blessings (Psalm 119:92-93).
Written by John and Shirley Ray, edited by Joel Ratcliffe.
- “Receiving God’s Promises” Derek Prince
- “The Gospel of the Kingdom” George Eldon Ladd
- “The Presence of the Future” George Eldon Ladd
- Mike Bickle teaching library at IHOPKC.org