About 20 years ago we started to realize what the Kingdom of Heaven is really all about. At that time my wife and I had nothing to do with organized religion. I had been raised a Protestant and Rachel had been brought up as a Catholic. And when you mix a Protestant and a Catholic together, you get atheists.
So for many years my wife and I were atheists, but we found that didn't work either. And about 20 years ago the Scripture started unfolding for us, and finally we began to realize that the Kingdom of Heaven is a present reality, not some future event.
Everybody is sitting around waiting for a physical King to appear, but what they don't seem to realize is that He is already here. His enemies tried taking Him out of the way two thousand years ago by executing Him on the cross.
But we know from the Scripture that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and is now sitting on the right hand of the majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3). He is reigning here and now. As far as I am concerned, His spiritual presence is all we need.
Unlike worldly kings who send their soldiers out to battle for the Kingdom, Christ took His Kingdom by dying Himself. He was killed and because of that killing and His blood being let, He now has a kingship that can't ever be taken away, an everlasting Kingdom. "And of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:33).
Along with the Kingdom came a new race of people born of God, and Christ was the first of many. The early Christians were called the "Third Race" because they were neither Jews nor Gentiles. They were citizens of another realm, the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus didn't bring us a religion. He brought us a nationality (John 1:12,13).
It is a difficult thing, this unleashing the Kingdom so that other people can see it. We struggle with it every day. People have been raised up in the world to think of secular "governments" as being a current and present reality over them. They put Christ's Kingdom off somewhere in the sweet by and by. They can't even perceive that Christ could be governing us here and now. It's all foolishness to them.
What really helps bring understanding that Christ's government is with us right now is to check out some common, dependable resources. Did you know that even in the dictionary the Kingdom of Heaven is known and talked about? I've got a 1999 Webster's College Dictionary, and I looked up the word "kingdom" and the first definition is:
"A state or government having a king or queen as its head."
I find that very interesting because that is what the Kingdom of Heaven is. The Kingdom of Heaven is a government having Jesus Christ as its king or head. The Kingdom of Heaven is mentioned more specifically in the fifth definition which says,
"The spiritual sovereignty or domain of God or Christ."
So even the standard, modern secular dictionary recognizes that the Kingdom of Heaven is the government or domain of Christ. I also checked out the original Webster's from 1828 and it's exciting to see what Webster said back then. The first definition of Kingdom is:
Then there were some definitions related to natural history, such as the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdom. The fifth definition says:
And the eighth definition is just:
Heaven is also known as the Kingdom. When we just simply say, "the Kingdom," it can be used as an expression of Heaven itself.
So the Kingdom is the reign of Jesus, the Messiah. That means He is the sovereign ruler, the king. And the final definition:
So when we talk about the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven, we are talking about supreme authority. We are talking about supreme rule. And that is exciting because most of the world fights against the Kingdom. They do not want to release the supreme authority to the Kingdom of God, where our King rules and reigns to this day. Unfortunately most people have been contaminated with worldly thinking and vain philosophies. They have been drawn away from the Kingdom.
What helped us begin living in the Kingdom here and now? Well, I would say persecutions contribute considerably to looking for an alternative. We started challenging the existing authorities, the authorities of the world. They called themselves the "State" or the "County" or the "City." They were declaring that we needed to acquire permission from them.
And so we started wondering, "Why do we go to men to get authorization to do things?" Hasn't God already given us duties and responsibilities? Are we not commanded to labor, to build, to travel, to marry? And when we tried to do these activities without permission from the secular forces, we were persecuted. We had property confiscated and we were thrown in jail.
As we progressed through our study, trying to understand our relationship to our fellow man, and to God, all of a sudden it just fell out for us. The Holy Bible, the Good News, the Gospel, is talking about government. And when we were being persecuted, it was by those entities that also call themselves "government."
But it was not God's government. It was governments of men. They would say, "You have to do this" or "You can't do that." And I kept wondering, "How did these men get into a position where they can tell another man what to do?"
As we continued reading the Scripture, we began to see an alarming parallel between the governments of the world and the government of God. We had lost our way in trying to understand the Scriptures because we had been trained up under the governments of the world.
When we read the Holy Scriptures in light of the government of God, we began to realize that our Commander and Leader, the Governor who dictates how we are to behave is right there in the Scripture. When the Bible talks about the Kingdom, especially in the New Testament, it is talking about being obedient to a particular government, the State of Heaven.
We thought, "What if the Scriptures are truly telling us we are a people set apart? What if we are a people of a new realm?" And we found confirmation in the New Testament that we are a peculiar people, a holy nation, born of God. We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Earth is not our home. (Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9; John 1:13; Philippians 3:20)
At last we were taking the New Testament as a present reality, instead of just some hocus-pocus set of rituals where people get together, but they know not what they worship. They worship in massive brick buildings with stained glass windows, but one vital element is missing. They don't perceive that we are the government of God.
Many people are caught up in the temple needing to be rebuilt and all those things pertaining to a physical kingdom. But apparently they are not familiar with Chapter Four of the book of John, beginning at verse 21. Jesus said to the woman:
Woman believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither worship in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father . . . But the hour cometh and now is when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
For verily such the father requireth to worship him. God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Here Jesus is saying point blank that the hour is coming and now is that they would not worship the Father there in Jerusalem. The temple was going to be destroyed and the true worshipers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
Yet the people, most Christians, just cannot handle this idea because they believe that this physical kingdom is going to be on planet earth.
What does "to worship" mean anyway? How do we worship in spirit and in truth? What we really have to come to grips with is that our worship is the way we live and the way we think. It really boils down to government. We are under the law of Truth, sprinkled with Grace. His Spirit and the Truth govern us.
That passage on worship was a real eye-opener for us. But we needed something more than that. We needed a passage in the Scripture that absolutely could not be contested. And finally out of all the passages in the whole Bible, seven verses sewed it up for us. They are at Luke 22:24-30.
This is the event most people call the "Last Supper." The emphasis has traditionally been on the bread and wine, but this is much more than an eating event.
What can be drawn from the conversations is what we would call a Constitutional Convention. It is the bringing of God's Government on earth, as it is in Heaven. The spiritual "baton" is handed from God, to His Son, and to His followers that were with Him.
And this event, the Last Supper, is the heart of the whole Bible. It is the pivotal point of the Government of God being put in place.
If we take a look at Luke 22:24-30, strife arises among the apostles and they want to know who is going to be accounted the greatest. Well most people, when they think of "accounted the greatest," think in terms of arguing, "I'm better than you." "Oh no, you're not." "Oh yes, I am." "Oh no, you're not."
No, that is not what was going on. These apostles understood that they were involved in establishing government. And when they argued about who was going to be considered the greatest, they were trying to figure out what seats they were going to take. "I'm most qualified to sit in the highest spot." "No, you can have this position as my assistant." So they were striving amongst themselves.
And Jesus stops them in their quarrel and says, "Hey guys, we're not going to be like the world. We're not going to lord over each other. I've got a new kind of government for you."
This was an important event. He was preparing for the ultimate feat, something no other King had done, giving his life to birth a nation.
Most worldly kings are caught up in power and glory for themselves. But this King is special. He says, "I'm going to die, and in so doing I am going to bring my Father's government to the people." By this one Man's death, He sets us free.
So anyway, back to Luke 22:24-30. This is the center of the whole Gospel because this is where the Government of God is being handed over to mankind, particularly a few men who have stayed with Him in His trials and tribulations.
Now these men are arguing about what positions they are going to hold in God's Government. He stops them in their quarrel and says, "The kings of the nations lord over the people. But we are not going to be like them."
In other words, Christ is giving us a commandment. "You are not to be like the governments of the world in exercising authority over others." We are going to have a different Government - a government of service. And Christ sets the example of one who serves by washing the apostles' feet at the beginning of the meal. As He serves, He also wants us to serve one another, and that is the form of Government He has in mind.
Finally, verse 29 is the essence of the whole passage. Jesus says:
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, (government) as my Father hath appointed to me.
In other words, He came from Heaven, bringing with Him a Kingdom, a government; and He is handing it over to His appointed ones at the Constitutional Convention, commonly known as the "Last Supper."
And then He says, "...That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom."
He's telling them: "You don't have time for any other kingdoms out there, you're going to eat and drink at my table." These are spiritual words. You won't be eating at the tables of the world. You won't be participating with them. You will be sitting "on seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
These words could be referring to the different duties or disciplines, or regions of the Kingdom of Heaven. He is saying, "Hey guys, this is it. You're going to be actively involved in our government and each of you will have responsibilities."
We know that Peter was the leader of the band, but he also made most of the blunders. He directly denied our Lord shortly thereafter. When Jesus was seized and hauled to the high priest's house, Peter waited outside and when he was questioned about His Master, Peter cursed and spat repeatedly saying, "I don't know him!"
He refused to acknowledge Him, exactly as the Lord prophesied he would do. After Christ rose from the dead, Peter had to be reinstated three times because he had denied Him three times (John 21:15-17).
In the Tenth Chapter of the book of Acts, here is Peter, the same Peter, promoting Government, Christ's Government. Peter opens his mouth and says:
Of a truth I perceive, that God is not partial, but in all people he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
Ye know the preaching that God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ, (which is Lord over all things), which preaching was published throughout all Jewry, and began in Galilee, after the baptism which John preached, how God had anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy ghost, and with power, which Jesus went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devils, for God was with him.
And we are witnesses of all things which he did in the land of the Jews and at Jerusalem, whom they slew, and hung on a tree.
Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly, not to all the people, but unto us witnesses chosen before of God, WHICH ATE AND DRANK WITH HIM, after he arose from death.
And he commanded us to preach unto the people and testify, that it is he that is ordained of God a judge of the quick and dead.
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, shall receive remission of sins, all that believe in him.
This act of Jesus Christ eating and drinking with them was in fulfillment of His prophecy at the Last Supper, where he said, "I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. ... For I say unto you: I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God is come" (Luke 22:16,18).
And so here is Peter saying, "Look at all that Jesus did, how He was anointed with power and went about doing good. And then He was put to death. But just as He predicted, He rose from the dead and fulfilled His purpose and cause. These events did take place. He fulfilled what He said He would do. And He did eat and drink with us. God's government is here."
Right from the start of Jesus' ministry, He had the kingdom on His mind. He came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying:
The time is come, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel.
Jesus said the time was perfect, the time was fulfilled; the kingdom of God was at hand. Some of our "futurist" friends believe that the Kingdom was put on hold because of Jewish unbelief. Well, apparently, Jesus didn't care whether they believed or not because He says point blank, "The time is come."
Some people try to argue that "at hand" doesn't mean "right now." The Kingdom is coming someday - maybe thousands of years from now.
Do we need to keep chasing the Kingdom like we were dogs in a race? A wiener is dangled in front of the dog and he keeps running around the track, chasing after the wiener. But the wiener keeps moving just out of reach. I can't believe that God would be so cruel, that He would keep His people chasing after something that is so close, but not here yet.
Remember, the Kingdom is within us. It is not some physical location, a building, or a mountain. If we look at Matthew 16:24-28, Jesus talks about who is going to "see" or "experience" this Kingdom:
Jesus then said to his disciples. If any man will follow me, let him forsake himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it. And whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.
What shall it profit a man, though he should win all the whole world: if he lose his own soul? Or else what shall a man give to redeem his soul again therewith?
For the son of man shall come in the glory of his father, with his angels: and then shall he reward every man according to his deeds.
The next verse is the essence,
Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
In other words, He is saying to the disciples standing before Him 2,000 years ago, "Hey folks, some of you who are standing right here today, will see the Kingdom established before you die."
At this point in time, He had not completed everything. The Kingdom is at hand, but He still needs to pass the Kingdom on to His disciples and die on the cross. But that would soon be accomplished and His apostles would carry His Government to all nations.
If we look later in Acts, at Chapter 17, the city authorities are troubled. Why would city officials be concerned? Because these apostles were preaching Government - the Government of God.
These that trouble the world, are come hither also, which Jason hath received privily. And these all do contrary to the elders of Caesar, affirming another king, one Jesus.
The city was set in an uproar and assaulted the house of Jason looking for Paul and Silas. When they could not find them, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the heads of the city and accused them of obeying another government and having another King!
We're accustomed to reading the Scripture with rose-colored glasses and not seeing what is really there. Our viewpoint is tinted by our upbringing in the world and the secularized churches.
We need to put on clear spectacles and read the Bible with the understanding that it is about God's government. And when we do that, then we are going to see the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven, as a current and present reality.
It is not something we have to wait for; it has already been done. Right there at Luke 22:24-30, it was accomplished. And His followers took up Government and preached Government from the book of Acts all the way through Revelation. It is a history of our forefathers promoting God's Government and being persecuted for bringing in a new Reign and a new citizenry.
There's plenty of evidence and witnesses to the fact that His government truly did happen. Let's look at an example of government activity in Acts:
After they had preached to that city and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium and Antioch, and strengthened the disciples' souls, exhorting them to continue in the faith, affirming that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
And when they had ordained them elders by election in every congregation, after they had prayed and fasted, they commended them to God on whom they believed.
Here is government in action, turning people into elders and giving them responsibility to serve the people. Yes, the apostles were busy with governmental duties - doing things that were important to the Government of God. And it is all based upon one point in time when Jesus handed over His Father's Kingdom. That one event, that tiny little seed, turned into a huge tree where even the birds sat in its branches.
From the first to the last chapter of Acts, Jesus, Peter, Paul and the other apostles are:
"Preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3; 8:12);
"Disputing and persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8; Acts 28:23); and
"Teaching those things which concern the Kingdom of God." (Acts 20:25; Acts 28:31).
What was on their minds? Government. Bringing in Christ's Government. And it is growing and growing even to this day. As it says in Isaiah 9:7, "Of the increase of his government there shall be no end."
In the second chapter of Acts, the apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost and they began to speak with other tongues. The multitude came together and was astonished because every man heard them speak in his own tongue.
Peter preached of Jesus, his miracles, wonders and signs, whom God raised and loosed from the sorrows of death. "God hath made the same Jesus whom ye have crucified Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).
When the people heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and the Apostles, "What shall we do?" They had heard irrefutable facts that this Jesus truly was the promised King. Now they wanted to know how they could become a citizen.
Peter answered, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the holy ghost" (Acts 2:38).
They can't follow the world and Christ at the same time. Peter urges them to come out from the world and says, "Save yourselves from this untoward (perverse) generation" (Acts 2:40).
In other words, stop and turn away from following the wide way of the world and seek the narrow path that leads to life. Be baptized. Let the waters of baptism submerge the old man and be born again.
We're talking spiritual talk. Baptism symbolizes the drowning of the old man of sin and the emerging of a new man of Christ. What does that have to do with government? It means a change of allegiance and loyalty. You become a naturalized citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Can you hold multiple citizenships? Absolutely not! It is impossible. You cannot serve two masters, for you will love the one and hate the other. Anyway, it just comes down to serving only one. I can't do two things at once. I have to do only one. I cannot serve two (Matthew 6:24).
Another part that helps me is the realization that the Kingdom of Heaven is spiritual. But what about the kingdoms or governments of the world? They are also spiritual, but they deny Jesus Christ. In fact, they are in opposition to Christ.
What is a State? Is it physical? Can you embrace the State of Oregon? Can you shake hands with it? Can you hug it? Kiss it? No. The States are also spiritual. All governments are spiritual. They reside in the hearts and minds of men and women.
Where do most of my personal persecutions come from? Not from Christ. They come from those who represent secular government. Those who lord over others.
So I find myself at odds between the kingdoms of the world and the Kingdom of Christ. The two disagree. The world wants me to obey them, and yet Christ has also given me commandments. Who am I going to obey? I can't obey both.
In Acts, Chapter 5, Apostle Peter is out teaching the good news when officers arrest him and he is brought before the council. They demand to know why he has disobeyed their command not to teach? Peter also realizes he cannot obey two. "Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought more to obey God than men" (Acts 5:29).
This takes us back to the Old Testament and 1Samuel, Chapter 8, where the people wanted a king, so they could be like all the other nations. They were no longer content to let God rule them.
Samuel warned the people what it would be like having a king. He told them, "The king will take your sons and your fields and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your seed, and your vineyards and give them to his officers and servants." Sounds like taxes, doesn't it? "And he will take your goodliest young men and your asses and put them to work for him."
But even after Samuel told them these things, the people refused to obey Samuel and kept crying out for a king. Samuel had to let the people go.
The Lord had told him, "Hey, they haven't rejected you, they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. Therefore, these are the things that are going to happen to them." When the people chose a worldly king, they forfeited God's government.
Yet here in the New Testament at Luke 22:24-30, the exact opposite occurs. Now the Kingdom is opening back up. For those who choose Christ, who choose the way of God, who want the Kingdom of Heaven and to have eternal life, here is the Government for them.
So the Door was opened to His People again! That is what the Good News is all about. The people lost God's government back in the Old Testament because they wanted to be like the rest of the world. But now we can again choose to have Christ rule us.
Yet if we take a look today, the people have again desired to be "like all the other nations." That which is supposed to be the Body of Christ has put itself under the world again.
In the book of Colossians, Paul is writing about Christ's supremacy:
And he is before all things, and in him all things have their being.
And he is the head of the body, that is to-wit of the congregation: he is the beginning and first begotten of the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence.
For it pleased the father that in him should all fullness dwell, and by him to reconcile all things unto himself, and to set at peace by him through the blood of his cross, both things in heaven and things in earth.
What is this passage about? It's talking about government. In other words, God is our Government - the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God. He is superior to all others; the preeminence is with Him, not with anyone else.
And you (which were in times past strangers and enemies, because your minds were set in evil works) hath he now reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to make you holy, unblameable and without fault in his own sight, if ye continue grounded and established in the faith, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, whereof ye have heard, how that it is preached among all creatures which are under heaven, whereof I Paul am made a minister.
When you know the Truth, as Jesus says, you truly are set free. Jesus came into the world to be a King and bear witness to the Truth. Every one that is of the Truth hears His voice.
In His Kingdom, we obey the Truth. Therefore, the law of the land is Truth, because we are His People. The world is not of Truth and they cannot receive us or our King.
Colossians 2:10 says, "And ye are complete in him which is the head of all rule and power." In other words, why would we want to be of anything less than the Kingdom of God? He has given us liberty and set us free from the heavy burdens of men. And, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17).
[He] hath put out the handwriting that was against us, contained in the law written, and that hath he taken out of the way and hath fastened it to his cross, and hath spoiled rule and power and hath made a show of them openly, and hath triumphed over them in his own person.
He's talking about governments of men.
Let no man therefore trouble your consciences about meat and drink or for a piece of a holy day, as the holy day of the new moon or of the Sabbath days, which are nothing but shadows of things to come: but the body is in Christ.
The reality is Christ. The other things are just shadows. You know what men want you to do. They want you to follow their manmade traditions "which are nothing but shadows of things to come: but the body is in Christ."
Let no man make you shoot at a wrong mark, which after his own imagination walketh in the humbleness and holiness of angels, things which he never saw: causeless puffed up with his fleshly mind, and holdeth not the head, whereof all the body by joints and couples receiveth nourishment, and is knit together, and increaseth with the increasing that cometh of God.
There is no other mark to shoot at than Christ Himself. So let no man beguile you into going after something less than the Kingdom of God. "Set your affection on things that are above, and not on things which are on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:2-3).
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from ordinances of the world, why as though ye yet lived in the world, are ye led with traditions of them that say Touch not, taste not, handle not? Which all perish with the using of them and are after the commandments and doctrines of men.
Here is our command not to be led astray by following the ordinances and statutes of men. If we come to the full understanding and realization that the Government of God, the Government of Heaven, is on earth, then the question is: What do we do about it? Unfortunately the world wants us to do everything in their name. They want everyone to be residents and citizens with them.
They've even undermined the churches. Lawyers have gone around to the churches and made them into State corporations. This new organization has the State Attorney General as its head instead of Jesus Christ. If you look around, most of the churches out there are actually entities of the State, instead of purely under Christ.
So we need to do everything, literally everything - in the name of Jesus.
And all things (whatsoever ye do in word or deed) do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father by him.
And that is really where this whole thing has got to lead. If we come to the realization that we are fellow citizens of the Government of God, then how are we going to live our lives? One hundred percent in His Kingdom as fellow citizens.
All the things that we do in word and in deed we do in His name. We don't do it in the name of the world, or in the name of their gods, or in the name of some State. We do it in His name, and His name alone. He won't share His glory with anyone.
We come to the full realization that the Government of God is on earth and is a current and present reality. And He won it via the Cross and His spilt blood. For through Him we have an open way by One Spirit unto the Father. We are no more strangers and foreigners: but citizens with the saints (Ephesians 2:19).
This is much grander than what most people have been taught. Giving His people God's government is far greater than just "saving us from our sins." Why did Christ die for our sins anyway? The answer is in Galatians:
[He] gave himself for our sins, to deliver us from this present evil world.
Now, while the day is at hand, forsake this wicked world and enter into Christ's Kingdom. Come out of the kingdoms of darkness and give your allegiance to that Government that is everlasting.
Set yourselves therefore at large, and bear not a stranger's yoke with the unbelievers.
For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What company hath light with darkness? What concord hath Christ with Belial?
Either what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? How agreeth the temple of God with images?
And ye are the temple of the living God, as said God: I will dwell among them and walk among them, and will be their God: and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and separate yourselves (saith the Lord) and touch no unclean thing: so will I receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be unto me sons and daughters, saith the Lord almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Give Him all the glory, Amen.