We have received the gospel (good news) of the kingdom, and we now have unbroken fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. What’s next?
The gospel of the kingdom is a gospel of power — because our fellowship with the King produces a continual flow of His power in and through us. The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians, “The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). Earlier in that same letter he said,
For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
— 1 Corinthians 2:2-4
Note that Paul wasn’t impressed with slick, polished preaching. He wanted tangible evidence of what it produced in people’s lives.
The closing verses of Mark’s Gospel give us an idea of what this “demonstration of the Spirit and power” should look like:
And [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature…. And these signs shall follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover….”
And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.
— Mark 16:15, 17, 18, 20
Jesus also promised, “He who believes on Me, the works that I do will he also do. And greater works than these will he do; because I go to My Father” (John 14:12). We are to emulate Jesus, Whom “God anointed … with the Holy Spirit and with power: Who went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38), and Who “destroy[ed] the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
In addition, we demonstrate the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23), thereby revealing the character of Jesus to the world. We can do these things only through the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through us.
We must understand that the power of God’s kingdom is quite different from that of the world system. The carnal nature wants power over people to force them into thinking and acting in prescribed ways. In the kingdom of God, we are not to lord it over others, but to serve them. When Jesus sets His physical foot on the earth, that will change. He will rule His enemies with a “rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15). There will be no tolerance of rebellion or wicked behavior then. But we are not yet at that stage of the kingdom.
Much of the apostolic/prophetic movement today is focused on advancing the kingdom of God through gaining positions of power and influence in what are referred to as “the seven mountains” of society — government, education, business, media, entertainment, religion, and family. They believe if we just have enough Christians holding these positions, we will be able to bring “transformation” to our society. (Secular people also use the seven mountains terminology, but with the opposite agenda.) So far, I don’t think it is working very well.
We are supposed to “occupy” until the Lord comes (Luke 19:13), and being involved in leadership in these various areas is certainly God’s purpose for some. When we abdicate our responsibilities to be involved, we end up with tyranny such as we currently see happening. So, yes, if you are called to run for government office or to speak into it — or any of the other areas of society — by all means take your place.
But never forget that this is temporary and limited, and that we cannot force the kingdom of God on people through gaining the reins of power. When we try to apply an outward kingdom to unchanged hearts, it not only doesn’t work, but because Christians still deal with a sin nature, we are in danger of enforcing a religious tyranny every bit as oppressive as what we had before. Read the history of Oliver Cromwell’s takeover in Britain if you have any doubts.
The kingdom of God is within you, and advancing its boundaries is primarily about helping others to have the kingdom within them, too. This gospel is focused on delivering people from the power of darkness and translating them into the kingdom of God’s Son, as mentioned in Colossians 1:13, not on just giving them a better life now.
Some have responded to the extremes of transformation (seven mountains) theology by saying, “Well, if we focus on evangelism, enough people will come to the Lord, so society WILL be transformed. Heart change will equal society change.” I would agree — as long as we realize lots of people coming to Jesus doesn’t always mean having a godly government, education system, business world, etc. It could, but it may not work out that way. Multitudes of people are coming to Christ around the world, but some continue to live under extreme oppression, with evil people still holding the reins at the top. Think in terms of the Roman Empire in Paul’s day, or China and Iran right now.
Our challenge is to keep God’s kingdom in right perspective, remembering that at this point in time, it is still a spiritual kingdom. We carry it with us wherever we go, and it spills out from the spiritual into the natural realm as we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. Our main goal is to let others know through our words and deeds that they, too, can be part of the kingdom, with all its benefits, but especially having eternal, unbroken relationship with God.
Next time we will talk about the kingdom of God’s future.
The Names of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
An alphabetical list of the names and titles of God, as found in the KJV
All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam