Thoughts on the Kingdom of God: Charles Spurgeon

What does it mean to be a citizen of heaven? It means we are under heaven’s government. Christ the King of heaven reigns in our hearts; our daily prayer is, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). The proclamations issued from the throne of glory are freely received by us; the decrees of the Great King we cheerfully obey. Then, as citizens of the New Jerusalem, we share heaven’s honors. the glory that belongs to beatified saints belongs to us, for we are already sons of God, already princes of the blood imperial; already we wear the spotless robe of Jesus’ righteousness; already we have angels for our servants, saints for our companions, Christ for our Brother, God for our Father, and a crown of immortality for our reward. We share the honors of citizenship, for we have come to the general assembly and church of the firstborn whose names ae written in heaven. As citizens, we have common rights to all the property of heaven. Ours are its gates of pearl and walls of chrysolite; ours the azure light of the city that needs no candle nor light of the sun; ours the river of the water of life, and the twelve manner of fruits that grow on the trees planted on the banks thereof; there is nothing in heaven that does not belong to us. “Things present, or things to come” (1 Cor. 3:22) are all ours. Also as citizens of heaven we enjoy its delights. Do they there rejoice over sinners who repent—prodigals who have returned? So do we. Do they chant the glories of triumphant grace? We do the same. Do they cast their crowns at Jesus’ feet? Such honors as we have we cast there, too. Are they charmed by His smile? It is not less sweet to us who dwell below. Do they look forward, waiting for His second advent? We also look and long for His appearing. If, then, we are thus citizens of heaven, let our walk and actions be consistent with our high dignity.

Charles Spurgeon, Morning &Evening, Whitaker House, 2002, July 10, morning, p. 396

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Thoughts on the Kingdom of God: Kingdom and Church

After Jesus told his disciples of his return to earth in glory, he told them a parable concerning what would happen before his second coming. It had to do with the kingdom of God and goes thus “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:29-31, NIV).

What is it in our lives that could look like the vigorous growth of fig leaves and the coming of summer? John in his greeting to the seven churches, Revelation 1:6 tells us Jesus Christ “has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen” (NIV). This is speaking of the then present situation of John and the Christians of his day. Later in Revelation, as the Lamb is about to begin opening the seals the elders and living creatures sing a hymn of praise that includes the words “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10, NIV). The opening of the scroll is an unfolding of history. It seems clear from Revelation that the kingdom of God is now always present on earth and that it is intended to be a powerful spiritual reality. You may think or have been led to believe, that your church is the manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth. However, this cannot be true for several reasons.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians “I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50, NIV). Churches are assemblies of flesh and blood people and cannot be otherwise by their very nature. They are meant to be servants of the people of the kingdom of God and to have a very important role in enhancing spiritual growth but they are not the kingdom God.

Another reason churches cannot constitute the kingdom of God is that the kingdom of God is a unity of all who are in Christ. If you look at the yellow pages in the phone book you can see there is no ecclesiastical unity wherever it is that you live. Ecumenical unity has never been achieved on any significant scale since the conflict between the churches of Jerusalem and Antioch that is described in Acts 15:1-35.

Just as the kingdom of God does not find its fulfillment in the churches so it is not completed on earth. Its final place will be in heaven. As Paul told the Corinthians “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24, NIV). We find in Revelation 11:15 (NIV) that this kingdom that is handed over to God is that of the world. “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’”

A little further on in Revelation we learn that there is joint rule in heaven by both the Father and the Son. “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down’” (Revelation 12:10, NIV). Hebrews 1:8 (NIV) makes it clear about Christ’s eternal authority. “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.’”