Praise the Lord!!!
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24
In my last letter, we established that there is a spirit realm and everything that exists in the physical realm has its origin in the spirit realm. For the modern, Western educated mind the concepts regarding the Kingdom of God may seem a bit alien because they are spiritual concepts. During the Enlightenment the Western mind planted and nurtured the seeds of democracy. Enlightenment thinking facilitated the demise of monarchies and instituted democratic societies. The Kingdom of God is a monarchy not a democracy or a republic. Webster’s dictionary defines kingdom as a state or government having a king or queen as its head. Webster also defines government as the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community, etc.
Since most Americans have been reared and educated in a democratic form of government, I am unsure about how many of us really understand the concept of a monarchy. In a typical monarchy the King or Queen is sovereign, meaning he or she is the supreme authority over the kingdom, has absolute power and whatever the monarch decrees becomes the law of the land. The subjects of the kingdom may give counsel if asked but they do not get to vote on the laws of the kingdom. Our Jewish brethren refer to God as King of the Universe. Christians refer to Jesus as Lord and as the “King of Kings.” The term lord means one who has authority, control or power over others: a master; chief; or ruler. Therefore, Jesus, God exercises authority and control over Christians, the citizens of the Kingdom of God.
The concept of anyone exercising complete control over us is repulsive to the average American. In secular terms in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887, John Dalberg-Actonwrote: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Admittedly, there were abuses fomented by monarchies against the common people and abuses by the Church, as well. The abuses of the Church eventually led to the Protestant Reformation. Nevertheless, when we become Christians we agree to serve and worship a King. We are able to willingly submit to the authority of the King because we believe and trust that God is a loving and righteous King.
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” Proverbs 29:2 (NRSV)
Democratic forms of government, spawned by Enlightenment thinking, freed society from the dictates and the whims of any given monarch. This new form of government, democracy, created a shift from absolute authority to relative authority. In the secular realm, people now had a voice as to how they are governed. While this shift in thinking may provide benefits for a person’s temporal or earthly well-being, this thinking is dangerous for a person’s spiritual destiny. A democratic model which is totally secular in nature does not have a redemptive objective. It will eventually gravitate to the carnal nature of humanity. Society will tend to do what is right in its own eyes not necessarily what is right in the eyes of God. One only needs to scan our current Western society to witness how our moral standards have changed to meet the consensus of society independent of the standards of God.
Proverbs 29:18 informs us, “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint” (NIV). The Amplified version puts it this way, “Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish.”
Perhaps this thinking has facilitated a change in the theology in many of our contemporary churches where a growing tolerance of what God calls sin has emerged under the banner of evolved or progressive thinking. God sovereignly and solely determines the definition of sin, not popular culture or a democratic process. In Romans 7:7, the Apostle Paul declares, “I would not have come to know sin except through the Law. . .” It is imperative in our evolving contemporary culture and society that we not lose sight of the unchangeable nature of God and His desire for His followers to be separate from popular culture and to lead lives that are pleasing to Him.
Every government requires that a person swears some sort of oath to become a citizen. When one is a citizen of a government they accrue certain benefits but the citizens also have duties and responsibilities. What follows is the oath administered to individuals in order to become United States citizens:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
Note the following components:
1) Renounce allegiance to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty
2) Support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States
3) Bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution and laws of the United States
4) Bear arms on behalf of the U.S. when required
5) Perform non-combatant service when required
6) Perform work of national importance when required
When we decide to become Christians, we make a voluntary decision renounce satan and to submit ourselves to the leadership of God, to become citizens of the Kingdom of God and to subject ourselves to the laws of the Kingdom. Colossians 1:13-14 states it as follows, “For He rescued us from the domain [authority]of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. We have transferred our citizenship from the Kingdom of satan to the Kingdom of God.
When Pilate asks Jesus if He was a king, Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36). The clear implication is that Jesus’ kingdom was a spiritual one yet one that has a very real impact on the physical realm. Jesus repeatedly stated that He came to preach about the Kingdom of God. Further, the apostles also preached about the Kingdom of God. When Philip went to Samaria, he preached about the kingdom of God. “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike” (Acts 8:12).
Although some scholars assert that the Apostle Paul teaches some new or different theology, the Bible is clear that Paul taught about the Kingdom of God. According to Galatians 2:1-9, Paul sought the approval from the council of believers in Jerusalem regarding what he was teaching:
“Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain . . . seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised . . . and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”
Further, the Bible informs us that when Paul resided in Rome in captivity, he met with leaders of the Jewish community in Rome and reasoned with them regarding the Kingdom of God and Jesus: “they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.”(Acts 28:23) Paul taught about the kingdom during his captivity in Rome: “And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.” (Acts 28:30-31). (See also Acts 19:1-8) Therefore, all believers should endeavor to gain an understanding of the Kingdom of God.
With any government there is a constitution and there are certain institutions put in place to govern and administer the affairs of the state. The Holy Bible is the constitution of the Kingdom. The Kingdom has various institutions in place to administer the affairs of state and to meet the needs of its citizens. With any government the citizens enjoy certain benefits and they also have certain duties and responsibilities. If the oath above is what is expected of United States citizens, I submit that citizens of the Kingdom of God also should be expected to have responsibilities.
In my upcoming letters we will explore these kingdom institutions and processes and the benefits that accrue to citizens of the kingdom along with their duties and responsibilities.
“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” Ephesians 1:15-19
Thanks for partnering with us. Please share this letter with others as you deem appropriate.
Pastor Ray Thomas
Word of Life Church