Now we began a new series on the kingdom of God a few weeks ago which I’ve entitled “Defining the Kingdom of God.” And in this second mini-series on God’s kingdom, we are answering questions such as what the kingdom of God is, when the kingdom of God is, and where the kingdom of God is.
So, we began two weeks ago answering the first question—What is the kingdom of God: We started by first looking at the English word “kingdom,” and we learned that the word “kingdom” comes from two words— the words “king” and “dom.” The word “dom” is where we get words like “dome, domain, or dominion” from. So, by this basic practice of looking at the word’s origin we can see that a kingdom is a “king’s domain,” or you could say, a place where a “king” has “dominion.” Therefore, we learned that a kingdom is where a king has rule or where he governs a group of people.
Then we saw that the kingdom of God is a place or people where God’s will is being done, because if a king rules or has dominion over something, then his will should be being done there. So, if this “kingdom” is the kingdom of God, then it is the place where God is King and where His will is being done. And we saw that the perfect example of where His will is being done is in heaven. So, we learned that what we see happening in heaven is what God’s kingdom looks like.
So, what do we see is taking place in heaven right now? Is there any sickness? Is there any pain or infirmity? Is there the presence of demons and evil spirits? Are people living in sin and rebellion against the will of the King? No, no, no! There is nothing but perfect love, peace that passes all understanding, and joy unspeakable and full of glory! There is complete and perfect order—no confusion and no division. This is what God’s kingdom looks like!
And we also learned that God’s will is that His will be done here on the earth now! His will is that His kingdom come on the earth right now like it is in heaven! In other words, He wants His kingdom’s “dominion” to be seen and experienced here on the earth today. We do not have to wait until tomorrow. We do not have to wait until the “sweet by and by.” We can see His kingdom demonstrated in the here and now!
Therefore, anywhere or anyone that submits to the will of the King by either repenting from their wrong beliefs and behaviors or by receiving the freedom, healing, and deliverance that His kingdom has to offer is experiencing the rule and dominion of God. Yes, that is when the kingdom of God has come near to someone! It is that simple.
That means that when we see someone healed, we’ve seen a manifestation of His kingdom here on the earth! When we see someone delivered from demonic control, we’ve caught a glimpse of the way God’s kingdom is! Yes, when we see someone loved so beautifully, blessed so extravagantly, or freed so abundantly, we have seen the kingdom of God come! Therefore, the kingdom of God is where the devil, his kingdom, and the curse are no longer present and reigning in people’s lives.
Then, last week, we continued defining what the kingdom of God is, by looking at a good modern-day definition one might have for God’s kingdom—"God’s government.” So, what we did is we began defining the various forms of government that we have in this world today in order to see in them various aspects of God’s kingdom and how it operates.
Now the first thing we learned is that any form of government is only as good as the ones who are making the decisions. So, even with the republic/democracy that we use here in the United States—that is obviously one of the best systems of government we have in the world today—there can still be problems if the people of our nation become immoral. No, none of the governments we could choose to operate under are better than the others if those in authority are wicked, but each is only as good as the character, integrity, wisdom and goodness of the one(s) with the power and authority.
But the fact is that all forms of government can be good if those in authority and who have the power are good. Likewise, all of them can be bad if the authority is bad. And the good news is that the government that we are talking about here today does indeed have a good and wise leader. In fact, it has a triune leader like these church governments are three—Father God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. He alone is wise! He alone is good! And there is no one else that you would rather have in authority other than Him—for He is a loving leader.
So, the good news we heard last week is that God’s government—His kingdom—has perfect leadership! The One who reigns over His kingdom is alone wise, absolutely just, and infinitely good. There is no unrighteousness in Him, and everything He does is done in love! So, His government is the best! There is nothing missing and nothing broken in it! It is “shalom” to say the least!
So, what we did is we looked at a few different examples of government systems such as a monarchy, theocracy, and democracy. We even looked at other forms of governments like communism, socialism, and colonialism. And we learned from all of them that God’s government can be seen in many of the ways in which they operate.
For example, we saw that there are two types of monarchies— a constitutional monarchy and an absolute monarchy: Constitutional monarchies limit the monarch's (i.e. king’s) power as outlined in the constitution, while absolute monarchies give him unlimited power. So, we saw that the kingdom of God is both! The kingdom was and is an absolute monarchy in that the self-existent, omnipotent God is “absolutely” sovereign. That means He has and always will be the top of the food chain—meaning there is no one higher than the Most High God! Amen. However, God—in His absolute sovereignty—chose to have a constitution written for His kingdom! And by doing so, He made the “absolute” decision to limit Himself to His Word! Glory to God! Therefore, we have a constitution that our King has bound Himself to that makes all of His promises Yes and Amen. Of course, I’m referring to the Word of God!
We also saw from the example of communism/socialism that God’s kingdom is a perfect mixture of both equality and capitalism because in it, we see it functioning on both a rewards basis and we see God delving out certain things equally. Yes, we see the prospect of every believer laying up more treasures for themselves in heaven based on how they steward their giftings and life in general here on the earth. But we also see that there is a certain sense of commonality in that we all have received the same new birth, the same Holy Spirit, the same amount of faith, etc.
We also saw that in a democracy—which literally describes “people ruling power”—there is a semblance of this in God’s kingdom because even though we do not have free-reign, we do have a free-will. And God has delegated His authority and power to us as His church to advance the kingdom of God here on the earth. So, while the kingdom of God certainly operates more like a monarchy than anything else; there are hints of a democracy in there as God has given us the earth to have dominion over in His stead.
And as we made the point of last week, the kingdom of God even operates a little like colonialism in that it also involves the expansion of a nation's rule beyond its own borders. Therefore, God’s kingdom has aspects of “colonialism” in it in that its goal is to destroy the works of its enemy, the devil, and establish its culture, economy, and government order. And, church, that is what God has put us here to do—to plunder Satan’s turf and destroy His works! We are the church—that body of believers who have been delegated the authority to do things in the King’s name and see God’s kingdom come on the earth even as it is in heaven.
So, with all that said, I believe a great definition of the kingdom of God is the following summarization given by Old Testament scholar Graeme Goldsworthy: He said, the kingdom of God is "God's people in God's place under God's rule."
Notice that in this description of the kingdom, you see the term “God’s” three times. That’s because God’s kingdom is exactly that—it’s God’s! It’s His rule, His reign, and His dominion! And according to this definition— It’s God’s people! It’s God’s place! And it’s God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule! And that’s the important part.
So, let’s start with the “God’s people” part:
Now who is this? Are we talking about the Jews? Are we talking about the church? Who are God’s people? Well, the truth is—God’s people are neither Jew nor Gentile according to the flesh. God’s people are those who do the will of God—irrespective of their natural lineage.
For example, both John the Baptist and Jesus condemned this notion of the Jews that they were Abraham’s children and the chosen people of God saying, “Do not say that we have Abraham as our father, for God is able to raise up children of Abraham from these stones.” (Luke 3:8). Jesus told similar religious leaders that while they were certainly Abraham’s descendants, that didn’t mean they were children of Abraham—for a son would do the same works as their father (See John 8:31-44).
So, God’s people are not those who are physically born into it, nor are they those who lay claim to it. No, according to God’s estimation—His people are the sons of the kingdom who emulate the will and nature of their Father. So, no, the true subjects of the kingdom are not just those who claim to be so; it’s those who show it by the fruit in their life. They are not just those who claim to be Christians or go to church. God’s people are those who are, first, born again, and then follow in the footsteps of their Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. These are those who are truly “God’s people.”
You know, I once heard a very wise minister say, “If you do not understand the kingdom of God, you will not understand salvation.” This is such a powerful statement that has always stuck with me.
The reason this is so important to understand is because, as is the case with so many believers, they only embrace Jesus as their Savior and willfully ignore the importance of making Him their Lord. However, the truth is that He cannot be one without being the other. In other words, it is impossible to receive our entrance into the kingdom without accepting His Kingship (i.e. His rule and authority over their lives).
In one instance, Jesus said, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46). Do you know why this is so ridiculous? It is because the word “Lord” means “Master,” and to call Him “Master” implies that He actually is the authority over our lives. Therefore, we do what He tells us to do—both individually and through His Word.
You see, Jesus actually equated gaining salvation with entering the Kingdom (Matthew 19:16, 23-24), and He explained the loss of salvation in terms of rejection from the kingdom (Luke 13:28). This is why repentance was and still is such a big deal in the church today. And it’s not about people feeling bad about their sins, etc. It’s about aligning ourselves with the King’s way of doing and being right—that is, us seeking first the kingdom of God in our lives.
Along those lines, this is why it has nothing to do with our feelings. You and I do a lot of things here in our nation that we might not always feel like doing, right? So, we do what we are commanded because we honor the King and respect His Lordship in our lives, plain and simple.
So, now let’s look at the second thing our definition said—It’s God’s people in God’s place: What and where is God’s place? It goes back to the definition we’ve already given of the kingdom—it is where the King’s will is being done.
So again, God’s place is not necessarily a physical place. As Jesus taught the woman at the well—it’s not in Jerusalem or on that mountain that one ought to worship. Rather, it is in spirit and in truth—meaning, it’s not a physical place that God seeks for us to worship in; it’s a spiritual place. (See John 4:16-24)
Do you remember the account in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom would come? Jesus answered and said unto them— “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
This question arose from the religious leaders because of their common misunderstanding of what the kingdom of God was. They only saw the establishment of the kingdom of God as a physical thing. So, although their question— “When would the kingdom of God come?”—was a legitimate question; it was a carnal question.
In their minds, the kingdom that God was sending was a natural kingdom. But what they failed to see was that God would first establish His kingdom in the spirit realm rather than in the physical realm. This is why Jesus answered them directly with— “The kingdom of God does not come with observation…” The word “observation” literally means “optical evidence”—or you could say that the kingdom of God would not necessarily have any visible evidence. So, Jesus was saying that you cannot see it, and then He reiterated that statement with— “…nor will they say, ‘See here’ or ‘See there!’” In other words, not only will you not be able to physically see it yourself, but you will not have anybody else come to you saying, “Look, it’s over here” or “Look, it’s over there.” The point Jesus was making was that His kingdom is not visible now.
So, if it was not visible, then that must mean it is invisible, right? That is what Jesus alluded to in His next statement— “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
As we’ve made the point of beforehand, this particular phrase has confused many believers. On the surface and with the particular wording that is used with the King James and New King James versions, it seems to be saying that the Kingdom of God is on the inside of you.
Now there is some truth to this statement in the New Covenant because we have a part of heaven that has moved into our spirits. We have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us—the earnest of our inheritance. We have God’s very own righteousness and all the fruits of His Spirit resident within our inner man. We have God’s exceedingly great power dwelling on the inside of us. And the list could go on and on.
So, it is not false to say that certain elements of the kingdom of God are resident on the inside of us. However, this was absolutely, positively not what Jesus was saying in this verse! You may be thinking— “How can you be so sure, Pastor?” I know this because of who Jesus was talking to! Who was it that He was addressing when He said, “the kingdom of God is within you”? It was the Pharisees! They were the ones who asked him the question in the first place (See verse 20a), and we know for a fact that they did not have the kingdom of God on the inside of them! In fact, many of them actually had the kingdom of darkness within them! But even if Jesus would have been talking to His disciples, it still could not be interpreted this way because they had not even been regenerated yet.
No, Jesus must have been saying something else when He said to them that the kingdom of God was within them. So, what was it He was saying?
The Greek word that was used here to translate “within” is the word entoi. This little Greek prefix meant more than just “to be inside.” It also described to be “in the sphere of” or “in the midst of.” Many times, in the Greek language, it depends on the context of the scripture as to how it is to be interpreted. And in Luke chapter 17, it would be better translated “in the midst of” because to say that the kingdom of God was “on the inside of” these Pharisees makes no sense considering the context.
So now we must ask the question: What did Jesus mean by saying, “For indeed the kingdom of God is in the midst of you?”
Let’s think back for a moment to His previous statements: He first of all made the point that they, nor anybody else, will be able to physically see the kingdom of God. So then when He immediately says that the kingdom is in your midst, what do you think He meant? Allow me to interpret Jesus’ statements this way: “Even though you cannot see the kingdom of God, it is already in your midst.” In other words, “It is not a natural kingdom (yet) that you can physically see or point out, but rather, it is a spiritual kingdom that is already all around you whether you can see it or not!” Amen!
And my point in bringing this Scripture to our attention is because this helps us answer the question—What is the kingdom of God? Why? It is because the kingdom of God is first and foremost a spiritual kingdom that, as a general rule, will not be touched with our physical senses.
So, where is God’s place? Most would say that it’s in heaven, and they would be correct. But the kingdom of God is not just a physical or spiritual place. It is wherever heaven is. It’s wherever His will is being done.
So, guess where that can be? That can be YOU! You can be the place that the kingdom of heaven dwells in. And the good news is—that is exactly what began the moment we all repented, called on the name of the Lord, and were born again! Heaven moved in!
So, now, even though it might not have been true for the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, the kingdom of God truly is within us—those who have been born again, are sons of God, and follow after the will of our Father and King. Amen.
This is why the definition of the kingdom of God that we are looking at today says that it is “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule.” The kingdom of God is ultimately any people or any place that is under God’s rule—meaning, God is King and Christ is Lord. That means that while the kingdom of God is certainly not everywhere, it can be anywhere. May this be us all the time and every where we go.