Many of us grew up without regularly hearing the teaching of the Kingdom of God. We did hear the term, kingdom, but did not get a systemic presentation of the Kingdom which is found in the Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation.
We, of course, would have preferred to begin our journey in Christ with a basic understanding of the Kingdom.
Even our new birth experience was in some way disconnected from the understanding of what we were born into, namely, the Kingdom of God. (See John 3:3,8). The 'new birth' was primarily seen as being born into the family of God. That is certainly so, but that is secondary to being born into the Kingdom, the government, of God.
I do take some comfort from the fact that Jesus' disciples did not really apprehend and comprehend the truth of the Kingdom until the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost. Even after our Lord's resurrection, they asked a question that reflected this. (See Acts 1:6).
Let me share some conversion and post-conversion experience which became gates for me and possibly many others to access the primacy and priority of the Kingdom of God.
1. The gate of Eternal Life.
Early on, most of us were aware that Christ died to give us abundant and eternal life. (John 3:16; 10:10). But these gifts of life are not unrelated to The Kingdom! The rich young ruler asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus dealt with his heart concerning the place material riches had in his life, he walked away. Then Jesus commented: "how hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God". (Mark 10:17,23). Eternal life is not disconnected from entering the Kingdom of God. Jesus essentially equated them.
2. The gate of Salvation.
When we entered this gate, we tended to emphasize salvation as a passport for heaven and an escape from an eternal hell. Biblical salvation includes deliverance, health, provision, and blessing in this life. It is not just about the future, but the past and the present! If we don't connect salvation to the Kingdom, then we move toward the all too familiar trend of receiving Christ as Savior, but not as Lord. In Romans 10:9, we are told we need to confess Jesus as Lord and to believe God raised Him from the dead in order to experience salvation. Believing in salvation without Lordship (His government in our lives and beyond) will keep us from a revelation of His Kingdom!
CONTINUED NEXT MONTH!