The Presence of the Kingdom: The New Testament (12)
We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you. 2 Corinthians 10.13
But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk… Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called… Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. 1 Corinthians 7.17, 20, 24
A heavenly calling
The writer of the book of Hebrews explained that those who believe in Jesus are partakers of a heavenly calling (Heb 3.1). God has called us from heaven to partake of a realm of being in which righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit increasingly abound to the praise and glory of the Father (1 Thess. 2.12; Rom. 14.17, 18). We are called to the Kingdom in which God’s own Son is Lord, His Word is Law, and the Spirit of God is the operative power for making all things new (2 Cor. 5.17; Rev. 21.5).
All who believe in Jesus have been conveyed into this Kingdom and are called to pursue ever-deeper entrance to it, so that the way of things in the heavenly court becomes increasingly the way of things wherever the Kingdom presence has been established and is being realized.
Thus, there is an upward and forward aspect to citizenship in the Kingdom of God, an aspect shaped and reinforced by looking back at the teaching of Scripture and looking around at the work we must do to realize increasing Kingdom presence (Eph. 5.15-17). Look up—to see Jesus, exalted in glory and ordering all things according to righteousness, peace, and joy. Look ahead—to a vision of the Kingdom presence increasing on earth as it is in heaven and coming in its fullness in the new heavens and new earth. Look back—to be strengthened in knowledge and understanding about the Kingdom and to grow in confidence in God and His Word. And look around—at what your heavenly calling requires of you as a Kingdom citizen and ambassador today.
No one ever said that entering the Kingdom would be easy. We’ve seen that it’s a struggle to realize increasing Kingdom presence and that afflictions and tribulations will cross our path. We must take up the disciplines and perspective that will allow us to overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil and realize more of the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
But where? Where does this heavenly calling realize presence on the ground?
An earthly calling
Every believer has a calling from God, an appointed place in which to seek and advance the Kingdom of God. We have already unpacked this calling in some detail so that we know that the time and space of our lives are precisely where God intends to advance the rule of King Jesus as we redeem our time and live as Kingdom citizens and ambassadors in all the daily activities of our lives. Here I simply want to reiterate that understanding as the apostles pursued it.
We are not responsible to change the world. We are called to be transformed in our own lives, so that we become more like Jesus day by day (2 Cor. 3.12-18). And we are called to bring the light of God’s truth, the salt that preserves goodness, and the leaven that transforms unwholesomeness into wholesomeness into everything we do, all the everyday small stuff of our lives (1 Cor. 10.31). God promised His people in the Old Testament that if they were faithful in submitting to His rule, He would cause all the details of their daily lives to abound in blessing (Deut. 28.1-14). The apostles, echoing Jesus, echo this promise as they exhort us to bring all our time, all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities, all our work, and all our thoughts into captivity to King Jesus (2 Cor. 10.3-5).
In short, seeking the Kingdom of God defines the nature of a believer’s calling in life, whatever our calling, in every situation, at all times. The Kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven both in the lives of believers and through their lives in the world. And the fruit of the Kingdom’s progress is Christlikeness in every aspect of life—righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
In our study we have been looking back at Scripture to gain a better sense of what the Kingdom of God is and how its presence appears. We must set the Lord always before us (Ps. 16.8), looking up to nurture a vision of Christ Jesus in all His beauty, majesty, power, and glory (Col. 3.1-3). At the same time, we look ahead to envision what a growing Kingdom presence might look like in our lives and our callings. And throughout the day we look around to make the most of every opportunity for serving Jesus in our lives.
Our heavenly calling and our Kingdom calling come together in all the daily details of our daily calling as citizens in the Kingdom of God.
A Kingdom vision
The great burden of our studies in this series has been to encourage a vision of the Kingdom of God as that was foreseen by patriarchs, kings, and prophets in the Old Testament; taught and embodied by Jesus in the gospels; and embraced, sought, and realized by the apostles in the New Testament.
But our study will only bear fruit to the extent that we work to nurture a vision of the presence of the Kingdom coming in and through our lives unto righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We must seek the Lord in prayer for such a vision, calling on Him to renew us daily in His Word and to show us what to expect and how to work for the coming of the Kingdom in our part of the world.
Let that vision increase in you until it becomes your default way of thinking, planning, and conducting your life. Know what to expect; and prepare to deal with challenges, setbacks, and disappointments. Give praise to God at every step of your Kingdom-seeking journey within all the facets and aspects of your heavenly calling. Do this daily, and you will begin to realize, in every part and all the time of your life, more of the glorious presence, the incredible promise, and the invincible power of the Kingdom of God—the rule of King Jesus in and through you for the blessing of your world and the glory of His Name.
1. What do you need to do to clarify and enlarge your vision of the Kingdom of God?
2. How do you look up to see Jesus? What is your approach to looking ahead to seek His Kingdom?
3. Do you have a prayer partner or soul friend who could help you as you work to become more consistent and fruitful in pursuing your heavenly calling? How might the two of you help one another?
Next steps—Transformation: We can all improve in pursuing and realizing more of our heavenly calling. Identify one or two things you will begin to do today to help you realize more of the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
T. M. Moore
A companion book to this study of “The Kingdom Presence” is available at our bookstore. Listen to an excerpt from The Kingdom Turn, by clicking here. Then order your free copy. To learn more about the work of Jesus as He sits exalted in glory, order a free copy of our book, What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? by clicking here.
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