Which means that those who serve King Jesus must strive and struggle and seek every day to gain more and more of what is theirs in the Kingdom of God. This idea is implicit in every parable of Jesus concerning the Kingdom. We may possess it, like a pearl of great price or a treasure buried in a field. The Kingdom grows and bears fruit, attracting others and gaining power. We must lay hold on it with violence, forcing our way ever more deeply and richly into the reign of Jesus Christ and His glory (Matt. 11.12; Lk. 16.16).
Jesus’ vision of the proximity of the Kingdom, therefore, was a threefold vision: The Kingdom is yet to come in all its fullness; nevertheless; at the same time, the Kingdom is unfolding in our midst even now; and thus every follower of Jesus Christ must make it his primary concern to seek and attain to more and more of the Kingdom of God every day of his life.
Then and there, here and now, more and more: This is how we must think about the Kingdom of God and our involvement in it.
All things new
It is impossible to read the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and fail to see that He was promising and calling people to an altogether new way of life. The Kingdom of God, as He envisioned and taught it, was a new realm, entered by the new birth, and issuing in a new life of freedom in God’s truth, unto the praise of God’s glory.
In order to realize this life one must be born from above, by the Spirit of God (Jn. 3.5-7), and, from that moment, to deny himself, take up his own cross daily, and follow Jesus in pursuing the priorities of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 16.24, 25).
But what are those priorities? What should we, the heirs and citizens of the Kingdom, embrace as the guiding framework, template, and pathway of our lives?
According to our Lord Jesus Christ, there are two primary and overarching priorities attendant to citizenship in the Kingdom of God: Know the Lord, and bear lasting fruit.
Let’s have a look at the first of these.
Know the Lord
Eternal life – life in the Kingdom of God – consists in knowing God and Jesus Christ (Jn. 17.3). This is no mere intellectual achievement. Rather, the kind of “knowing” envisioned here is deeply intimate, personal, and transforming.
To know Jesus Christ is to participate, in a mystical and spiritual way, in His body and blood (Jn. 6.48-56). It is to know the experience His resurrection power, and to understand and obey His Word (Matt. 22.29). To know the Lord is to become a child of God (Jn. 1.12), to call upon Him as Father, and to pray to Him about everything (Matt. 21.22; Jn. 16.24); it is to receive His good gifts, and to use them, like wise stewards, for the increase of His glory (Lk. 11.11-13; Matt. 25.14-30). It is to be indwelt by His Spirit so that the life of God is formed increasingly within us (Jn. 14.15-17).
Equally important, to know the Lord is to be known by Him, to have Him so personally and intimately a part of our lives, that His presence is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 7.21-23; 28.20). We can accomplish many ostensibly religious and good things without knowing the Lord. But unless we know Him, and are known by Him in return, we shall have no part in His Kingdom.
To know the Lord is thus to “walk in step” with Him, embracing His mission, seeking His vision, relying on His Word and Spirit, and living according to His holy and righteous and good Law (Matt. 5.17-19). In the Kingdom as Jesus envisioned it, all the children of God were gathered to Him, like chicks to their mother, taking refuge in the shelter of His grace and truth, feeding on the gifts to which He brings them, and growing to maturity in order to extend His offspring and Kingdom citizens (Matt. 19.13-15; 23.37).
We may only know God through Jesus Christ, by receiving Him as the promised Word, Savior, and King, sent from the Father for our redemption and restoration (Jn. 14.6). Knowing the Lord by taking on the yoke with Jesus Christ, and learning from Him (Matt. 11.28-30), is thus the first priority for every citizen of the Kingdom of God.
What would you recommend to a new believer as a proper course for growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3.18)? Ask a church leader to help you flesh out your answer to this question.
Sign up for ViewPoint Leaders Training and start your own ViewPoint discussion group.
For a concise explanation of the Kingdom of God, and help in learning how to proclaim it, order a copy of T. M.s little book, The Gospel of the Kingdom from our online store, by clicking here.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.