Realizing the Kingdom (6)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3, 4
Fulfilling our citizenship
I need to say a further word about righteousness as the defining characteristic of the Kingdom of God.
We’ve seen that “righteousness” defines the very character of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Father is righteous, the Son is righteous, and the Holy Spirit Who indwells us is righteous. We are becoming righteous, that is, we are assuming our proper Kingdom citizenship, when our character, within and without, reflects the very character of God.
As this happens, it’s not because we, by our strong and determined exertions, are somehow making something of ourselves in our own strength. Righteousness is a gift of God, and growing in righteousness is a work of God. As the Spirit of God brings us into the presence and glory of God, our old ways are exposed and expunged and we are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, transformed, from glory to glory, into the image of the Son of God by the inward of the Spirit and Word of God (2 Cor. 3:12-18).
Thus, as we increase in righteousness, our lives begin to evidence the kind of love, excellence, purity, and blamelessness which characterized the Lord Jesus when He walked among us and characterizes all the Persons of God now and forever.
Righteousness is the defining attribute of the Kingdom of God; we are fulfilling our citizenship in that Kingdom as we increase in righteousness day by day.
The way of promises
Since, therefore, to become righteous is to be clothed with Jesus Christ – actually to partake of the divine nature – then we must consider Peter’s words carefully, since they point us to the path which we must walk in order to increase in righteousness.
That path is paved with the precious and very great promises of God. The promises of God mark the path to righteousness.
Moreover, those promises provide the guard rails to keep us in our path and the road signs advising us of the next stage and final destination of our journey of faith. The better we understand the promises of God, the more we shall be able to travel on, within, and toward those promises, increasing in righteousness as we partake of the divine nature through the promises God provides.
The Scriptures are filled with many promises from God. Indeed, whole books have been written listing, categorizing, and explaining the promises of the Lord, and these can be useful in helping us to see just how much of God’s Word is held together by the precious and very great promises of God.
But the core and kernel of God’s promises are to be found in His calling of Abram in Genesis 12.1-3. Here we find six very specific promises which were to Abram so “precious and very great” that he was willing to leave his home and heritage to travel to an unknown place so that there he might lay hold on the promises of God.
These are the same promises to which Zechariah saw being fulfilled with the coming of Christ (Lk. 1.67-75) and to which Paul refers in Romans 4.17-25. These promises are held out to all the offspring of Abraham, that is, those who share the faith of Abraham, believing in God and living by His promises.
These six promises, moreover, resolve ultimately into one overarching promise which can be summarized in the frequently repeated motto, “I will be your God, and you will be My people.” Ultimately, Jesus Christ is the very embodiment of these precious and very great promises. The promises lead us to pursue Jesus, and as we gain Jesus, we realize the precious and very great promises of God (2 Cor. 1.20).
The way to righteousness, to becoming more like Jesus Christ, is the way of promises. The more truly and constantly we walk that road, the more we may expect to increase in the defining character trait of all true Kingdom citizens.
We’ll be looking more closely at the promises of God in subsequent installments. For a fuller treatment of this theme, order a copy of T. M.’s book, I Will Be Your God, from our online store.
For more insight to the character of the Kingdom of God and its impact on our lives, enroll in the course, PT 1 Spiritual Maturity 1: Revival. This free online course will help you to realize more of the presence and power of the Kingdom of God in your everyday life.