The coming of Christ’s kingdom
When Jesus started His ministry on earth 2,000 years ago, he said, “repent and believe the gospel, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Mark 1:15). Jesus spoke much about the kingdom of God. In Old Testament times we see glimpses of the kingdom of heaven shining through, when God spoke through prophets, when the Spirit anointed prophets and people repented of their sins, and when great miracles occurred and people were healed through the ministry of Elijah and Elisha. The Holy Spirit was undoubtedly at work throughout the history of the world, but at a lower ebb than before Jesus came. When Jesus was baptized with the Holy Spirit the kingdom broke through as never before. People were healed, demons cast out, the blind received their sight, the deaf were healed and the dead raised to life! As Jesus said, “but if it is by the Spirit of God, that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28 ESV).
Jesus said, unless a man is born again, born from above, born of the Holy Spirit, he cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God (Read John 3:3-7). The kingdom of God does not come with outward appearance, but it starts within the heart (See Luke 17:21). The kingdom of God does not come through military might, nor as a result of economic empowerment and technological advancement. All these things may be outward manifestations of God’s providence and his provision, but the kingdom of God, is a spiritual thing in its embryo form. Jesus said the Spirit moves where it wills, and one cannot observe this: he is like the wind. The Spirit’s work is immeasurable, as is the advance of the kingdom of God. His is an eternal kingdom, a kingdom that cannot be destroyed, because God cannot be destroyed! Of the increase of the government of the Prince of peace there will be no end (See Isaiah 9:6-8).
The Spirit of God cannot be contained, controlled, counseled or directed: one must simply submit to Him! And the Spirit of God is the One who encourages us to evangelize and preach the gospel! It is when there is a revival of preaching and praying that the kingdom of God breaks through! The kingdom of God is near when the word is preached, “faith comes by hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We evangelize and pray and make it our aim to share the gospel so that God’s kingdom advances. He will always call people to evangelize and preach the gospel across the world because it is the means by which his kingdom grows.
The kingdom of God refers to the reign of God in the human heart and mind. It refers to the spaces and places where people submit to the Lordship and rule of Christ. The kingdom of God breaks through where there is humility and confession of sins and where the peace of God comes into a human soul! In short, it arrives and breaks through when Christ is honored and believed in and where people pursue righteousness. If you want to see what the kingdom of God looks like, look at Jesus. Look at his life. Consider his attitudes and affections. Take note of his work and look at the cross. Look at his perfect obedience to the law. Look at His mercy on sinners such as you and me. The great Samuel Rutherford said of our Lord: “Christ is a well of life, but who knoweth how deep it is to the bottom?” This is the Lord whose kingdom we speak of, and we are blessed to belong to it:
““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3, 10 ESV)
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
(Romans 14:17 ESV)
The kingdom of God started to break through significantly in this world at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit broke through in power. The kingdom of God advanced extraordinarily during that time; and throughout the twenty intervening centuries, it has been advancing more and more across the world. We hear of revivals in history and we know that God is working in many places at the same time. But there is more to come of the kingdom. There is more to experience of God! The curse still has its devastating effects in the world. Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God (1 Cor 15:50-58). Death has not finally been destroyed. We are waiting for more; we are waiting for the kingdom to be consummated and for Christ to hand over the kingdom to the Father (1 Cor 15:22-28). We can hardly wait as believers for God’s glory to destroy all sinfulness in the saints. We are living at the beginning of spring. The buds are showing, new life is emerging, but there is more to come.
We evangelize because without the regeneration of unbelievers no-one is going to experience the kingdom of God! Without faith in Christ, repentance of sins, or gospel proclamation going on in thousands of different ways, the kingdom will not advance. When we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”, we must put on the shoes of readiness of the gospel of peace. Praying is not enough. One’s good deeds are not enough. Living a holy life to adorn the gospel is not enough. Open your mouth and speak the words! Confess with your mouth, that Jesus is Lord, that Jesus is Savior; that He is the only Savior! We don’t share the gospel by doing good deeds. The only way the kingdom will advance is when the Holy Spirit uses our words and convicts and converts sinners!
Oh, may God grant us boldness and love to give out gospel literature, to pray and to evangelize the lost! There is no other hope for them but in the gospel! Go and find an unbeliever and tell them the old, old story of Jesus and His love! Go and find many, go and find crowds; go and tell it on the mountain; on the beachfront; in the inner city, in the schools and prisons and hospitals.
Go! Go! Go!
Cross borders, cross the sea, cross your culture and ethnic group. Forget your level of education, your gender and age group; go and tell people, tell them of the love of the Savior who died for sinners! Go and cross language barriers! Tell those who have never heard! The kingdom of Christ will advance through the obedience of those who lay down their lives for Christ and the gospel!
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’” (Matthew 22:8-9 ESV)