THE KINGDOM IS THE GOAL OF THE CHRISTIAN

Copyright © 2017 Robert B Thompson. All Rights Reserved Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

The Lord Jesus understands how easy it is in the world do be concerned about food, shelter, clothing, and to worry about storing them up for the future. I suppose God has made the world this way in order to test us.

But the Lord counsels us to place seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness as our highest priority.

The Christian Era now has occupied over two thousand years. During that time the Gospel has changed from the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth to the carrying up of God's people to Heaven to live there forever. Those who adhere to the Gospel learn how to have their sins forgiven through the blood of the cross, and then wait to die and go to Heaven.

So it has been for two thousand years.

But this hope is changing. There now is an interest among Christian leaders to restore to Christian thinking the original Gospel, that is, the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God, the doing of God's will, shall be brought into the earth, by the Lord Jesus Christ and His conquering saints.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)

Notice that the verse says, "The Kingdom. (singular)" It may be true that when the Lord returns the whole world may be united under one head.

When reciting the Lord's prayer we petition the Father to bring His Kingdom, His will, into the earth. Then we teach about how wonderful it will be when we go to Heaven to enjoy Paradise forever.

The last two chapters of the Bible speak of how Heaven is coming to the earth. The nations of people who are saved to eternal life are being governed by the new Jerusalem, the saints of the Royal Priesthood, the Church, whose Head is the Lord Jesus Christ.

I believe it is time today to restore the Gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The change in Christian thinking may occupy the remainder of the twenty-first century. Let us now begin to prepare ourselves for His glorious appearing with His saints and holy angels.

If we have cleansed ourselves from sin, we shall appear with Him and restore God's will, His Kingdom, to mankind. What a Day that will be!

For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

The restoring of God's will to the nations of the earth indeed is a glorious hope. But how will it come about.

The passage above tells us about the "rest of God." God worked for six days. Then He rested. Not because He is tired, but because the work is finished.

If the work is finished, If God's Kingdom has been restored to mankind and all the nations are doing His will, why don't we see this? It is because it is finished in a timeless vision in God's mind. All that God has spoken of is beginning, a little piece at a time.

After thousands of years, you and I are born. We may have our own ideas on how to make a better world. But God wants us to continue His work, not intervene with some useless scheme of our own.

For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:10)

So we are urged to cease from our own works and enter His rest. This means that our instead of working according to our own plans we are to spend our time seeking God's will for the day and enlisting His help on doing what He sets before us to do.

It is simple, isn't it? But because God is invisible, and we are filled with our own energy and thoughts, we insist on attempting to help God out. And so we either waste our life on earth, or else continually seek God's will for the moment.

Let's look again at the Scripture.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

Do we dare turn from our own plans and efforts and follow Christ each day? I am not speaking of passivity but of actively looking to Jesus to see what we should be doing. This means that we must be in prayer constantly as we go about our business.

For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:10)

Our continual prayer ordinarily will be not an endless supplication but a practice of bringing God's Presence into all that we are doing.

The works that have been finished from the creation of the world include bringing all mankind into strict obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, and into the worship of the one true God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since this is a vision so majestic and far-reaching, it is obvious that our feeble efforts are not sufficient to bring it to pass. Therefore, we are wise when we "let go and let God."

I know you will agree when we declare that God's wisdom and power are sufficient for the task. Therefore we are wise when we enter God's rest and do exactly what He shows us is His will for the moment.

Can you see know why it is of utter importance that we change our goal from going to Heaven when we die, to seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:2-3)

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)

It is obvious that the Kingdom of God, the Wife of the Lamb, is the most important institution of the coming new world.

The "nations" are those people who have accepted that Jesus is Lord and Christ and who have been baptized in water. But they have not been called to be members of the Church, of the Royal Priesthood.

"It's light" refers to the new Jerusalem, the Church.

glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21:26)

So we see that God's ultimate plan is to bring down His Kingdom from Heaven and establish it upon the earth. This is the answer to the Lord' prayer, isn't it.

The inner Kingdom of God is the rule of Christ in us. The outer Kingdom of God is the new Jerusalem, the Church, the Body of the Messiah.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22:3)

Don't forget that the victorious Christians have been invited to sit with Christ on His Throne just as Christ Himself, having conquered all that came against Him, is seated with the Father on His Throne.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)

Given the tumult of the nations today, it is difficult to see how the passage above ever could come to pass. But it shall, and this change shall be brought about by the revelation of the Lamb and His saints.

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:15,16)

Notice in the passage above that the requirement to be a member of the saved nations is minimal. Merely believe and be baptized; although in some countries of today, believing in the Lord Jesus and being baptized can result in vicious persecution.

However, being a member of the true Church requires that we set aside our own life and look to the Lord Jesus for all that we do, day and night.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (II Corinthians 5:17,18)

The passage above is not interpreted correctly today, I believe. It is as though this total change of personality occurs instantly the moment we say, "I accept Christ."

The experienced Christian knows that the change from the old creation, the offspring of Adam and Eve, to the new creation, is a lifelong warfare. We have to seek the Kingdom, seek Christ, every moment of every day. Through Christ we must conquer every force that seeks us to live outside of the will of God.

Because of this misinterpretation, multitude of so-called "Christian" believers do not seek the Kingdom at all times. They have confessed belief in the Lord Jesus, and now they are waiting to die and go to Heaven.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13,14)

The true path to eternal life, to the Kingdom of God, is narrow. Only a few people from among those who profess to be Christians ever find the road that leads to life, even though they are professing to be members of the Body of Christ.

Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." "How can someone be born when they are old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit." (John 3:3-5)

I do not believe we understand what it means to be born again. We are treating the expression as though it is a doctrinal expression that when uttered brings about a transformation of personality in which the believer becomes a member of the Kingdom of God.

If we understand anything at all about the birth of a child we are aware that the birth begins at conception and culminates at the time of delivery. The way the expression commonly is employed does not portray this period of gestation.

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matthew 3:1,2)

From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matthew 4:17)

When the other Gospel accounts refer to the Kingdom as the Kingdom of God, rather than the Kingdom of Heaven, we see no significance here. The same parables that Matthew refers to as the Kingdom of Heaven the other writers term the Kingdom of God. It is the Kingdom of God that has come and yet shall come from Heaven.

Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field." (Matthew 13:24)

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground." (Mark 4:26)

The Lord Jesus spoke many parables. As far as I know, there is no parable about our going to Heaven. Every parable tells us about the Kingdom of God.

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5,6)

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Numerous people who profess to be saved and on their way to Heaven are sexually immoral, or hateful, of worship money. They have been taught by their pastors that they shall go to Heaven when they die because they trust in the blood of Calvary.

Note that the passage above does not state they will not to Heaven but that they shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Isn't going to Heaven and living forever the same as inheriting the Kingdom of God? It is right here that we see the practical reason for emphasizing what the New Testament says about the Kingdom of God.

Heaven is a name we have given to the home of the saints in the spirit world. It does not include by any means the entire spirit world. Hell is located in the spirit world. "Heaven" is on a high mountain of the spirit world and one day shall descend to a high mountain of the new earth.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

It is the inner working of Christ that is the Kingdom of God in which we are to live today. The outer Kingdom of God is the new Jerusalem on a mountain in the spirit world.

But it finally will be located on a high mountain of the new earth.

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:10)

When we die we go to an appropriate place in the spirit world where there are others like ourselves. God does not like mixtures. If we have received Christ we are placed in a teaching area where we can learn behavior that is accepted in the Kingdom of God.

If we have practiced evil we are assigned to a place in the Land of Darkness to await the final judgment, the Day of Resurrection.

Heaven is a place. The Kingdom of God refers to those who do God's will. At the present time the Kingdom of God is working within us on the earth. If we are a servant of Christ we presently are hidden with Christ in God, while our body is on the earth.

"The Kingdom of God" refers to the Father and the Son making Their eternal home in us.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

The passage above describes what most Christians picture as being Heaven. It actually is the home of the true Church, the Royal Priesthood, the spirits of righteous people being made perfect. The true Christians are on the earth in their body but in Mount Zion in the spirit world in their spirit.

The thousand-year period while Christ and the Firstfruits of His Church are being prepared to govern all the works of God's hands, will see these people being brought to the full maturity required of the members of the Royal Priesthood, whether they are living on the earth or in the spirit world.

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison (Revelation 20:7)

How does one seek the Kingdom of God?

We already may have noticed that the sins of the flesh will prevent one from inheriting the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God if found in always doing God's will. Under the covenant of Moses, one learned the laws that were written and obeyed them to the best of their ability.

Under the new covenant we pay attention to the writings of the Apostles and obey them prayerfully. We present our body a living sacrifice. We take up our cross of deferred gratification in order that we may perfectly obey what Christ and His Apostles have stated, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount.

But there is another factor that may not have been true under the Law of Moses. As we pray and obey the Lord Jesus, He draws near to us. It is not long before we can tell what He wants of us.

We begin to think as Christ is thinking; to speak as Christ is speaking; to do what Christ is doing. This is how Jesus obeys the Father. This is the Kingdom of God.

Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." (John 5:19)

Such is the rest of God, as set forth in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. We cease from our own works, looking to the Lord Jesus for every decision we make during the day and night. This may sound impossible to the new Christian. But it is just a matter of determination and practice.

We invite the Lord into our day-to-day life to this extent.

When we recognize continually that it is God who is working in us to accomplish His own will and purposes, we are beginning to enter the Kingdom of God.

For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:10,11)

By the time of the seventh day of creation God had spoken into existence all the elements of creation from light to the new heaven and earth.

Nothing essential to the thwarting of Satan's ambitions has been omitted.

Let each one of us therefore set aside our own life and rest with God as He watches over His Word to perform it. If we are willing to do this, God always will work in us to will and to perform His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.

Have you ever noticed that all of Jesus' parables are about the Kingdom of God? To the best of my knowledge there is no parable about going to Heaven to live forever. That ought to tell us that the Gospel of Christ is the Gospel of the Kingdom, not the gospel of Heaven.

Heaven is not a seed that is planted in us. The Kingdom of God is a Seed that is planted in us.

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground." (Mark 4:26)

Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough." (Luke 13:20,21)

It appears that we cannot surmise that the Kingdom of God is another term for Heaven. such as some sort of paradise that we go to when we die. Heaven is not seed, or yeast, unless we are speaking only of the internal Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is the eternal law of God administered through the Lord Jesus Christ through the saints; and indeed it is a seed, or yeast, that grows inside the saint affecting their conduct until it is the image of God.

"Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven." (Matthew 6:10)

The "Good News" is that God and his will are coming to the earth, not that God's people are going to go to Heaven to reside forever. What good would that do the peoples of the nations?

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1)

The Servant is Christ—Head and Body.

As we consider the international scene in the present hour we can understand that the Gospel indeed is good news to the nations of the earth.

Self-seeking people, no matter how well intentioned, bring about wars and chaos even when their motives may seem to be pure.

Only the Lord Jesus Christ and His Body, the true Church, will be able to bring the dream of righteousness, love, joy, and peace to all the people of the nations of the earth. We might say in this case that Heaven is coming to the earth.

The army that will bring about this desired change is forming and being trained in Heaven, as well as on the earth, in the present hour. Each member must be filled with the desire and ability to do God's will at all times. Each member is a chariot that God will ride in as He brings His will to the furthest reaches of His creation.

This is why we are exhorted to place the seeking of the Kingdom of God in first place in our life. We want to be part of that army; or at least be cooperative once the warfare begins.

"Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." (Psalms 2:8,9)

The "rod of iron" is the passion to do God's will in all matters, great and small, and it is being created in the victorious Christians at this time.

You can observe even today who is being prepared to ride with Christ in the coming day of battle, by the presence or absence of a fierce desire to obey the Lord.

Is God building His Kingdom through you? I believe He is through me!

In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. (Isaiah 2:2)

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)

The Word of the Lord already has gone out from Zion. It is the Sermon on the Mount!

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)

Such is the solution that God has prepared for the international problems of our day. Man cannot solve them. God alone through the Lord Jesus Christ is in control.

***

For more than forty years I have stoutly maintained that going to Heaven when we die is not the goal of salvation. In order to create a goal, I put together two accomplishments to serve as the goal of redemption. First, that our behavior conform to that of the Lord Jesus. Second, that we sternly obey the Father consistently, completely, joyfully, punctually, at all times and under all circumstances.

Recently a group of Christian leaders celebrated the anniversary of the time that Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg Germany. They have noted that the message of the Kingdom of God was not part of the Reformation.

I understood then that my two accomplishments actually are the Kingdom of God. So now I stoutly maintain that the goal of our redemption is not eternal residence in Heaven after we die, but participation in the Kingdom of God at all times, beginning right now.

Could it possibly be true that we are ready now for a new Reformation?