The kingdom of God. What an amazingly mysterious concept! The kingdom of God is literally the King’s domain, but what does that mean? And what are the ramifications?
John 18:36 records Jesus saying that His “kingdom is not of this world.” The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 4:17 that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
God’s kingdom is primarily spiritual; still it has profound physical implications. As one of the predominant messages of the New Covenant, whenever the kingdom of God was preached, healing and deliverance usually followed. Yet, in essence, the kingdom of God represents a spiritual realm which cannot be advanced apart from supernatural means.
It is comforting to know that our God can and will use our natural gifts and talents to advance His purposes, but in the absence of spiritual power we can expend a great deal of effort and accomplish very little in the end.
(Perhaps one of our greatest hindrances to embracing the full work of the Holy Spirit is the poor witness of many who profess to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. Those who don’t understand their secure standing as children of God will attempt to utilize spiritual gifts as a source of personal validation. The problem was common with the Corinthian church and, unfortunately, we continue to repeat the same errors as our spiritual ancestors. So many problems of dysfunction could be virtually eliminated if we could correctly understand that the Gospel is inherently an identity message. Please check out my Search for Me identity series).
Every now and again I find myself coming back to three essentials of the Christian faith, concepts written into the core fabric of walking with God, including being empowered and used by the Holy Spirit. I’ll list them in a particular order, but the concepts are more circular than linear—the more we pursue one area, the more it should feed the others.
1. Believe – All too often fear and doubt keep us from going deeper into the things of God. It’s so important for us to understand the character of God, knowing that our heavenly Father gives only good gifts to His children. There are no bad gifts given by God and all are to be desired with the right motives in their appropriate times.
2. Seek – It’s true that no one can come to God without the Father drawing us to Himself, but more than once the Scriptures emphasize the importance of our seeking Him, including the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The idea is that if we truly love God and the people Jesus died for, we will want to do all we can to impact human lives. Knowing that such abilities are beyond our natural selves, motivated by love we seek the empowerment of the Spirit.
Chapter 11 of Luke’s Gospel speak to both the importance of believing in God’s goodness in persistently seeking the presence and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:9-13 (NASB)
3. Yield – This remains one of the predominant messages of The Lord’s Prayer.
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 (NASB)
Our appropriate response to God’s goodness, glory and sovereignty is always to yield our will to His. A complete surrender of our wills to His is non-negotiable. We’ll face no more important (or difficult) battle than the battle of the will.
Regardless of one’s perspective of spiritual gifts for contemporary use, we can all agree that we can do better than we are; that every one of us could be used more effectively as a vessel for God’s honor. Believing, seeking and yielding—all three are common to all of Christianity, helping to set the stage for more effective service to our beloved King. Lord, may Your kingdom overtake all the earth!