Citizens in the Kingdom of Christ
by Philip Owens
What Kind of Kingdom Did Jesus Establish?
1. We don't read very long in the N.T. until we read about a kingdom. Matt. 1-kings; Matt. 2:2; Matt. 3:2 -people must repent, & it was at hand--nearby. Jesus-Matt. 4:17; 4:23 preached the gospel of the kingdom; 5:3-the "poor in spirit" have it; to them it belongs; 5:10-those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. Whole emphasis of gospel of Matthew centers on this kingdom of heaven.
2. Difficult for those of us who live in a republic form of government to appreciate what it means to be in a kingdom. We may vote in or out of office people to represent us. If we don't like them or the laws they help pass, we vote them out of office. Not so in a kingdom. The king has all authority and citizens have no authority.
3. The nature of a kingdom necessitates at least 4 elements or ingredients to be a kingdom.
1st -King. He is the Ruler-He makes the rules. His word is final. He has all authority and his people have no authority. Whatever the king says do, regardless of what it may be, his word is to be followed without question.
2nd-Citizens. Without people under his control who respect his authority & honor his word, no kingdom would exist.
3rd-Law. Without law, some form of prescribed behavior and demands on the citizens, only anarchy would exist. The fact that there is a king means that his word is the law of the kingdom.
4th-Land. Without holding any geographical territory, there wouldn't be much of a kingdom.
4. We can see this in what the Bible pictures is the kingdom of heaven.
King-Jesus Christ (Lk. 1:31-33; Eph. 5:5; Rev. 1:5,6)
Citizens-Christians, & in a collectivity, the church (Col. 1:13, 14-18)
Law-The New Testament, gospel (Heb. 10:9,10; Gal. 6:2; Phil. 1:27; Mk. 16:15)
Land-The whole world (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15,16)
** When we think of a kingdom, we should think of a type of government.
5. There are a number of things about this kingdom I believe we should know.
I. The kingdom was prophesied.
A. Dan. 2:44
B. Is. 2:2-4
C. II Sam. 7:11-16-- a descendant of David would occupy its throne.
D. It was prophesied to be a kingdom of peace.
1. Is. 2:2-4
2. Zech. 6:9-10àJno. 18:36
II. The kingdom of heaven is a spiritual kingdom-Lk. 17:20,21; Jno. 18:36
A. Some say it is just a figure of speech. Actually, it is a real kingdom. Jesus is a real being, and his people-Christians--are real citizens in it. He has a real law-a document called the N.T. And the land over which he rules is the whole earth.
B. It is not a military, physical, or political kingdom, but it is a kingdom nonetheless. It is spiritual in nature, and its boundaries are extended as far as people who obey His gospel live.
III. When & Where did it begin?
A. Jno. Preached it was at hand.(Matt. 3:2)
B. Jesus preached it was at hand.(Mat. 4:17)
C. People alive during the life of Christ were to witness its coming.(Mk. 9:1)
D. After the day of Pentecost it was spoken of as in existence.(Acts 2:29-36; Col. 1:13)
E. Prophesied to begin in Jerusalem (Is. 2:2-4), & it did.(Acts 2)
F. The same thing that adds one to the church makes him a citizen in the kingdom.(Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:41,47; Jno. 3:1-5)
IV. The kingdom of heaven is composed of those who have been saved from their sins by the blood of Christ. (Jno. 3:1-5; Col. 1:13-14)
V. How are its citizens identified? (Note the Constitution of the Kingdom)
A. Kingdom citizens develop right attitudes toward God, themselves & others. (Matt. 5:1-12) Faith, Repentance, Baptism
B. Kingdom citizens are concerned about their influence. (Matt. 5:13-16)
C. Kingdom citizens are concerned about every word the King spoke.(Matt. 5:19)
D. Kingdom citizens don't harbor anger.(Matt. 5:21-26)
E. Kingdom citizens are concerned about morality. (Matt. 5:27-30)
F. Kingdom citizens hold to a higher view of marriage.(5:31-32)
G. Kingdom citizens do not retaliate.(5:33-38)
H. Kingdom citizens love their enemies. (43-48)
I. Kingdom citizens do right not for show, but to please God.(6:1-18)
J. Kingdom citizens place serving God 1st over every other consideration.(6:19-34)
K. Kingdom citizens are willing to be in the minority.(7:13-14)
L. Kingdom citizens are humble people. (18:1-4)
M. Kingdom citizens learn to serve each other. (20:25-28)
VI. This kind of kingdom is not for everyone.
A. The parable of the sower teaches this. (Matt. 13)
B. It is not for those who refuse to give up whatever comes between them and faithfulness to the King.
1. The rich young ruler didn't follow Jesus even when Jesus walked the face of the earth. It required that he give up something he wanted more than even the Lord Himself. Many are the same today. (Matt. 19:20-21) Riches and material objects are more important than the Lord and His kingdom. If there is one thing you allow to come between yourself and the King, you cannot be His disciple (Matt. 16:24). When one is not truly His disciple, he is not truly a citizen in His kingdom (Jno. 8:31), regardless of how religious he may claim to be.
C. It doesn't appeal to the carnally minded or immoral people who want to do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it. (Gal. 5:19-21)
1. The lifestyle the King sets forth gets in their way (II Tim. 4:10).
2. If they refuse to follow the King's word, they are not in the Lord's kingdom, regardless of how religious they may claim to be.
D. It doesn't appeal to people who want a church that accommodates their physical and social desires.
1. If one is not satisfied unless a church has a gymnasium for the young people, a walking track for older people, day-care center for working mothers, perhaps a school, and an organized youth ministry, then the kingdom of Christ is not for him.
2. Most feel a need to be religiously something, but they want it on their terms. Some had rather be in something rather than be in what God ordained and authorized (Matt. 7:21-22).
VII. We would like to see the church here grow. But what if we attracted people and even baptized people based on the fact that we have a nice gymnasium for young people, a school, a day-care center for working mothers, all kinds of social activities for all ages, didn't say much about righteous living, did not warn people about prevalent sins that creep in among God's people, but all had a pleasant attitude and good feelings toward everyone?
A. We might attract more people, but what kind of a kingdom would it be?
B. If people are not taught what the King expects of them, do not live as the King demands of them, then whatever religious organization to which they belong is not the kingdom the Lord died to establish.
VIII. What is the solution?
A. Continue to preach the whole truth to the saved as well as sinners. Continue to preach the same truth we have preached before as to what to do to be saved, how to live faithfully before God, what the work, worship, organization of the church is and is not, and not apologize for any of it.
B. Avoid the temptation to water down the gospel on the assumption that people don't want to hear the whole truth.
1. There is an assumption that our modern technology and lifestyle has made it where the preaching of simple, primitive New Testament Christianity is outdated and irrelevant to meet the needs of modern and enlightened people.
2. Jesus said it should be preached "even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20).
C. Remember that the same gospel that brought sinners out of the world and translated them into the kingdom of Christ during the 1st century is just as powerful now as it was then.
D. Encourage young & old alike not to be ashamed of being a Christian just like we read about in the New Testament. It is only then that we can have the assurance we are right with God.
Conclusion: The kingdom for which Jesus came to earth, lived, and died to establish is the only thing that will be presented to the Father at the last day.(I Cor. 15:24-26) In order to enter it, one must be born into it (Jno. 3:3-5). Will you be presented to the Father in the kingdom Jesus died to save?