The Kingdom of God is NOT:
How do I know it is not these things? Jesus said in Luke 17:20-21 “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, â€˜See here!â€™ or â€˜See there! For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.â€ The Pharisees wanted to know when and how they would see God’s Kingdom come in the earth. They probably had Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the book of Daniel in mind. They were waiting for the Kingdom that would “crush all those kingdoms.” I suspect that they were hoping for Israel to rise up, throw off Rome, and rule the world. (See Daniel 2:44 – as well as before and after)
In the 2nd chapter of Daniel verses 31-45 (Daniel 2:31-45) Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He describes a statue with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and “brittle” feet partly of iron and clay. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that he is the head of gold (I’ll bet old Nebby liked that). History makes sense if you look at it like this – the Head of Gold is Babylon, the chest and arms of silver is Persia (or the Medes and Persians), the belly and thighs of bronze are Greece, and the legs of iron are Rome. The brittle feet of iron and clay are best understood as the remnants of the Roman Empire as it broke up and became Europe. Daniel says that “in the days of those kings” God would establish a kingdom that would crush all the others but it would itself expand to fill the whole earth and endure forever!
Interestingly enough, Jesus came in the time of Rome and established the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men! That kingdom went throughout the whole earth but took particular roots in the remnants of the Roman Empire (Europe!).
I taught this in India and asked the students to review with me what they learned. One student said “that Rome is the Kingdom of God.” No, NO, NOOO! I think we had a misunderstanding. I clarified. 🙂
Rome was not and is not the Kingdom of God. The Roman Catholic Church was not and is not the Kingdom of God. No nation, no human organization, and not even any human-organized church will ever be the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God IS:
The Kingdom of God is WITHIN you!
Think of the word “kingdom.” You have “king” followed by “dom.” (Does this remind you of Sesame Street?) Dom is short for “domain” or “dominion.” In other words, a “kingdom” is simply the domain or dominion of a king!
The Kingdom of God is the Domain or Dominion of God, the King of the Universe! Wherever God reigns, that is the Kingdom of God.
Jesus clarifies that the Kingdom of God is WITHIN people!
The power of God changing a person’s heart through the Holy Spirit, increasing faith and knowledge of God, increasing love and worship of God, and transforming the mind of a man through the Spirit and the Word – this is the Kingdom of God!
This Kingdom has a compelling effect on the institutions of this world, but it is NOT an institution of this world. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God works like “yeast.”
In Luke 13:20-21 Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like yeast worked through a whole batch of dough!
The dough is not itself the Kingdom, but it is INFECTED with it! The entire dough is highly affected by the yeast!
The Kingdom of God works in this world in the same way. It is itself “not of this world” but it “yeasts” the world through the people of God living out Christianity within it. The Kingdom of God happens from the Internal to the External.
INTERNAL –> EXTERNAL
I have read many things written by people who are afraid that emphasizing the “dominion” aspects of Christ and His Gospel will lead people to try and expand God’s Kingdom by Force of the Sword. (Or I suppose nowadays we would say with guns and bombs.)
Anyone who understands what the Kingdom of God is and how it works would know that advancing the Kingdom by any kind of physical force would be impossible! The sword does not change a heart!
But it is a mistake to think that the Kingdom will not “yeast” every area of life, all of humanity, and every human institution! Do not misunderstand, this does not make these things to BE the Kingdom of God, but they can be “yeasted” by Spirit Filled People and the ways and ideas that come out of their hearts and lives!
So when someone like me comes along and says “let’s apply the Kingdom of God to every area of life – Business, Civil Government, Family, Church, Education, Media, Art, etc.” it should be automatically understood that this will be done by living, breathing, exemplifying, teaching, inspiring, and preaching the Word and the Ways of God in all of these areas. It should NEVER be seen to mean that physical violence can establish God’s Kingdom.
The Romans were wrong to think that their empire was The Kingdom of God. Any other nation or empire in history that thought itself to be the Kingdom of God was wrong. Britain was not and is not the Kingdom of God. America was not and is not the Kingdom of God.
One nation or people can be more “yeasted” with the Kingdom than another. One nation or people or human institution can manifest the Kingdom more than another, but it itself is not the Kingdom!
At least not until Jesus returns physically and it is declared that now “The Kingdoms of this World have become the Kingdom of our God, and He will reign forever and ever!” (Rev 11:15)
This side of eternity the Kingdom expands in the hearts and minds and spirits of men and manifests “yeastily” in every area of life. When Christ returns everything in this world will be finally manifested as having fully become the Kingdom of God! (See Revelation 11:15)
Look at it this way –> You know that you will not become perfect and sinless in this temporal life, but you work and believe God to bring you closer and closer to excellence in Him. We should look at this world in the same way. It is true that it will not be fully perfected until Jesus comes physically in person, but we should be working to see this temporal world manifest the Kingdom of God more and more. We should expect to see the world look more and more like the Kingdom.
Should we see the “things of this world” as filthy and to be avoided? Or should we get out there and START CLEANING?
Should we run from wicked movies and dirty politics and fallen institutions crying out “what a nasty world – come Lord Jesus”? Or should we make God-glorifying movies, teach and live the things that God says in the Bible about civil government, and work to establish the right institutions in the earth and in the right way?
Friends, like the children of Israel looking across the Jordan at a beautiful land filled with giants, we as Christians stand looking outside of our church windows at a world in “dire straits.”
Let’s not be afraid of the giants. Let’s not see ourselves as “grasshoppers in our own eyes.” Let’s not keep wandering in the desert. (Numbers 13:33)
Yes, let’s preach the gospel and see people reconciled to God. Yes let’s plant churches. But let’s not forget that God doesn’t only want “saved” people worshiping inside of church buildings. God wants EVERYTHING.
Let’s get out into this world and Take the Land!
Let the Kingdom Come!