Jesus talked often of the Kingdom of God during His ministry. With that much emphasis, we would do well to understand what it is exactly and why He talked of it so often. In short, the kingdom of God is present tense. Jesus has come and offered Himself as a sacrifice and payment for our failures. It is also future tense, when all is settled and the perfection and glory of God reduce sin to oblivion and we experience the reign of Almighty God as He intended it to be all along.
What is the Kingdom of God? Jesus talked about it often. In Matthew 13 we find four parables Jesus used to bring out four different aspects concerning the Kingdom. Our human condition taints our mind’s picture of the Kingdom of God. We tend to look at earthly kingdoms and their failures, and miss much of what God has in mind for us one day when we experience the perfect reign of Christ.
Jesus taught of the mysteries of the Kingdom in Matthew 13. It has been fulfilled here and now, but will not be consummated until… one day in the future. Jesus came over two thousand years ago and willingly offered Himself on a cross as the perfect sacrifice by shedding His blood for our sins. The wrath of God was then satisfied in that offering, and all we need to do is accept His free gift of salvation. We have salvation now. The relationship afforded us is an incredible gift that we can enjoy as we walk this earth our few years that we have here. He meant for us to find life pleasing and wonderful, not just something to be endured to the end.
In the Parable of the Sower we see that the kingdom is not sweeping through the whole world at present. Some are turning to salvation, but most are not until… On the day that Billy Graham passed from this life into the next, Kathy Lee Gifford was interviewed on national TV about her familiarity with Billy Graham. Her personal testimony was an amazing story, broadcast in its entirety on national television! She mentioned at the beginning of her interview that she and her entire family came to faith in Christ as a direct result of the Billy Graham organization. What a fitting epitaph for an evangelist such as he was. She made one comment that stuck me as worthy of mention here. “You know what, if you had the cure for cancer, would you keep it quiet? Or would you hold it and keep it a secret? And I always say that I have the cure for the malignancy of the soul. And He has a name. And it’s Jesus.”
The Kingdom of God is here and now for those of us who know Him as our Savior and Lord. We have that special relationship with the Creator of the universe while we walk these years that we have been given on this earth. Life may be difficult at times, even tragic, but He has assured us that with Him in our lives, everything that He allows into our lives comes our way for our ultimate good. He is actively involved in each of our lives each and every day. That is what a true and perfect King does.
In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares we see that he kingdom exists at present with righteous and evil people side by side until… Weeds were introduced into this earth as a result of sin. Man was cursed to work the ground and struggle with weeds until the curse will finally be lifted at the end of time. The presence of weeds does not dictate a failure of the crop. They can however dampen the health and well being of the good plants if left unchallenged. Creative horticulture can choose to continually trim the weeds back, or apply a herbicide, or hoe the ground in an attempt to damage the invader’s root system enough to cripple its veracity.
Now, obviously Jesus was not talking agriculturally here, but about real life people. There are creative ways to limit the influence of those who would damage the Kingdom of God by their presence and their actions. But rest assured, there will always be those that hinder God’s cause and will attempt to take for themselves that which God intended for His own. A good farmer will readily recognize a weed when they see one and treat it accordingly.
In the Parable of the Mustard Seed we that the kingdom came as a mustard seed in the person of Jesus Christ, and not in a huge military coup. It will grow and grow until… God’s plan from before the beginning of time has always been to offer His salvation, a place in His Kingdom, to all. We read a verse from Isaiah 9:6 at Christmas time, “For to us a child is born,to us a son is given,and the government will be on his shoulders.And he will be calledWonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” But I am afraid we miss the truth contained in the verse that follows immediately after. “Of the increase of his government and peacethere will be no end.” (Emphasis, mine.) Not only is the Kingdom of God increasing here on this earth daily as people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but it will continue to increase in every way on through eternity. Can God possibly make our second day in Heaven better then the first? Certainly! How about the third better than the second? Certainly! The Kingdom of God will always be increasing.
In the Parable of the Fishing Net we see that those who come under the power of the kingdom are a mixed bag. Some are true disciples and some are not. They will not be separated out from each other until… We will always be working side by side with those who call themselves Christians, but are not. They may not even be aware of their condition, or rather lack of proper condition. Paul reminds us to always “make our calling and election sure”. It is always good and proper to rethink our conversion experience and make an honest assessment of it. I am not advocating doubt. Don’t misunderstand. A thorough examination of our present state and relationship with God is always in order and will ultimately serve to further solidify our faith and trust in God our King.
There is a present tense and future tense to this idea of the kingdom of God. Jesus has come and died on the cross for our sins and the wrath of God is diverted away from us who are Christians. At present we have the promise of eternal life, forgiveness of sins, justification, and the imputation of his own righteousness, peace with God, escape from hell, and the enjoyment of all the new covenant promises.
Until… in the future when we will experience the best and highest of everything we can ever hope for or dream of: “I will be your God, and I will be with you, and you will be my people.”
Do we see God through that lens? Is a deep personal relationship with Him our greatest desire? Until we do, we are missing the truth concerning the most important part of our future in the Kingdom of God—Him.