Tag Archives: kingdom

Kingdom Thinking

earthly kingdom crownI have been thinking about the kingdom lately. I suppose that all of the tension among worldly kingdoms has me thinking about God’s kingdom of peace and security. From what I read a lot of believers are confusing the earthly kingdoms with the kingdom of Christ. That’s a big mistake and leads to some pretty horrible errors.

People are not alone in thinking that we – Americans – are special before God. America is blessed enormously, but America is not the chosen nation.

Jesus’ own apostles were confused too. After three years of preaching throughout Galilee, Judea, and Samaria they still thought Jesus was going to restore Israel to its former prominence. Read Acts 1:6-11. Our Lord was heading up the mountain to return to his prior home, and they were thinking about nationalism. A few weeks before the Jews rejoiced to see Jesus return to Jerusalem. They proclaimed him “King Jesus” and glorified his coming (Mark 11:9; John 12: 13).

Roger Dickson, in his Bible notes, refers to the nationalistic Jews who thought their redeemer would restore the splendor of the pre-Babylonian nation as a jewel among the nations. They were wrong then, and we are wrong now if we think the kingdom is a mere earthly government.

“Jesus answered: ‘My kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18:36)

God’s new kingdom had been preached by John the Baptist who declared it was near (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15). Jesus picked up the theme and preached the same good news (Matthew 4:17; Luke 4:43). The kingdom was coming. It just did not look like the royal procession they imagined.

The kingdom of heaven was to overlay all earthly rule, dominion, and kingdoms. It would not replace earthly kingdoms nor would it be centered upon the earth. It was a divine assembly of the righteous out of every tribe and tongue upon the earth (Revelation 5:9; 14:6; c.f. Acts 2:5-11). All nations would come into the kingdom (Isaiah 2:2). Paul says earthly rule will continue and must be respected by Christians (Romans 13:1 ff).

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. “

(Colossians 1:13)

According to the Holy Spirit, through Paul, the kingdom is no longer at hand but exists today. Citizens of that divine kingdom have been transferred by God’s power from denizens of Satan’s world to residents of the Kingdom of God. We have found the city with foundations (Hebrews 11:10; 13-16). Now, through steadfastness and with all glory to God, we are moving toward that beautiful habitation!

“…strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)

Our time on this earth is brief. James says it is “like a vapor that vanishes” (James 4:14). We are just visitors, travelers who have no permanence here but look to return home. Because we are just visiting, we do not become encumbered with this world’s affairs. And, this is important, we have no interest moving here. We want and expect to go home one day. As the song says, “this world is not my home.” When we understand the kingdom of Christ and our place in it we will focus all of our efforts on revealing its glory to this world. We do what we can here and now to improve the world in which we live because we are the Lord’s salt (Matthew 5:13). But our goal is the kingdom of God.

Expectations of President Trump

President Trump White HouseMuch ink (and electrons) has already been spilled discussing our new President. I don’t intend to re-plow those fields. He is your President and that is all there is to be said. I do want to talk about our expectations, especially the expectations of our conservative readers. It worries me that we have set the bar so high that only disappointment can follow. We expect too much from an election. Some have clearly taken a break from sound Biblical reasoning to vacation among the rejoicing voices. Let me explain.

President Trump Is Not Our Savior.

Donald Trump is a moral failure. To be sure, he may not be as bad as the other choice but there is no way that his behavior can be excused. Especially his claim that he does not forgiveness and therefore as never asked God to forgive him. We could add many other failings to that but John Piper has already done a fine job in an article he calls How to Live Under an Unqualified President and I’ll not duplicate his work further.

It is possible that the Trump administration will do much for our nation but he is not our savior. Jesus alone is. We all know that but it seems our enthusiasm gets the best of us. You can sure support him but not think he will solve all of your problems.

The United States Is Not Our Hope

Many of us have been troubled by the direction of our country. Unending wars, legalized sexual immorality. abortion, and a system that rewards the lazy have given plenty of angst. We desperately desire a better place to live. But our hope must not be based on our flag. Our hope is in the Lord. I suspect most of the things listed above will continue regardless of who is in office. If we center our hope on the flag we will surely be disappointed.

The sweet opening line of the old hymn says “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” The psalmist says, I will hope in your word” (Psalm 119:81). Paul reminds that in Christ “we have set our hope” (2 Corinthians 1:10). Peter says we have been “born again to a a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). No where do the Scriptures tell us to place our hope in our nation.

Jesus Christ is our Hope and Our Savior

We can expect that the Lord will always be true to his covenant promises. He has an unbroken track record of truth. His word is truth (John 17:17). Unlike the President, he has no moral failings. Unlike our nation he can deliver redemption that leads to salvation. His work is not temporary but lasts forever. The Christian needs no inferior view of redemption nor failed expectations. Let us keep our vision focused on Christ.

One wonders why we talk so much about politics and so little about faith. Why do we pray for soldiers and not for Christians who suffer horribly for believing that Jesus is the Son of God? I recently heard a prayer in worship in which the brother prayed and prayed for our leaders and soldiers. Then, as a 15 second afterthought, he prayed for the church. It is not that ought ignore our country or our leaders, indeed the Bible teaches us to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4). I just suggest we reconsider our own expectations and priorities. Our kingdom is the kingdom of heaven!

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear your thinking. Please leave a comment.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.

Dual Citizenship

cross-and-flagIt is said that Christians have dual citizenship; they live in this country and in God’s kingdom simultaneously. The idea is that while we are Christians we are also Americans and thereby have allegiances to each. Our life is divided between the spiritual and the civic.

Let’s think about that because it might not be true.

As Christians we are part of a kingdom that is not of this world (John 18:36). We have been translated into Jesus’ kingdom (Colossians 1:13, 14), are adopted into His family (Romans 8:15) and added to the church (Acts 2:41, 47).

The church is the kingdom as seen in Matthew 16:18, 19 where the text speaks of the church and the kingdom which are both still in the future. The kingdom was promised by John as being “at hand” (Matthew 3:2) and Jesus preached the same message during his earthly mission (Matthew 4:17). Matthew chapter 13 contains many mentions of the “kingdom of heaven” as He prepared His hearers for its imminent arrival. Those in the church are in the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13).

Christians are obviously residents in this world. Whether in the USA or some other country, Christians are residents somewhere and have obligations. We are responsible to pay taxes and obey the laws of the nation. Such obligations are not to be taken lightly. Jesus taught that we are to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render unto God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21). We are “subject to the governing authorities” says Paul in Romans 13:1. There is no excuse for ignoring our earthly obligations to the state.

However, our allegiances to the country and to Christ’s kingdom are not equal.

We are Christians first and everything else second. There is no national law that supersedes the laws of Christ’s kingdom. When confronted with conflicting laws, Peter and John said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). It is not simply the laws that may conflict. This world has an allure that clashes with God’s kingdom. Just like laws that conflict, we must be ready to reject the sparkle and glow in favor of the kingdom. Jesus was tempted by Satan with things this world holds dear, food, power and possessions, but he rejected every one in deference to God’s word (Matthew 4:1 ff).

You see, Christians are pilgrims (1 Peter 2:11, KJV). We are only passing through. Like travelers visiting a country and then returning home, we are only here for a while (James 4:14). While traveling we are expected to obey the laws of our host country but we are not overly concerned with local details. Our desire is to go home. Paul, thinking of the Christian as a soldier, says:  “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:4).

In our fleshly world, a traveler will show interest in his destination but as a true patriot he loves his home and longs to return. Likewise, we look for the return of our Lord and a new home (John 14:1-4; Hebrews 11:10). Our love is not of the country we are visiting but of our home. How could John say it any plainer? “Do not love the world of the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). James is even stronger: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Our lives really are not divided between spiritual and civic. There is the Kingdom of Christ only. Everything else, including the United States is a distant second.  Dear brethren, let your first passions be for the kingdom of Christ and not for the flag. Many brave men and women fought and died for the USA but only one died for your eternal salvation. Let us keep our priorities true.

 Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter  @jbevans.
Photo Credit: Rachael Rowell @ saltedgrace.com, CCA 3.0