Theme: Being in the Kingdom
In this week’s lessons we look at the theme of God’s universal kingship, and see that all owe their allegiance to him.
Scripture: Psalm 47:1-9
I take you back to the early chapters of Genesis in which God calls Abraham to be his follower, promising, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3). From the very beginning God had said that he purposed to bless all nations and all peoples through Abraham and his descendants, particularly through his one great descendant, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And that is what he has done and is doing. He is building Christ’s spiritual kingdom with people from all nations and races.
There were times when the Jewish people thought in exclusively ethnic or nationalistic terms, as nations generally do. They thought that the blessings of God’s kingdom were for them alone. But the psalmist knew differently, and so did that great Jewish theologian Paul, who wrote that Abraham “is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised [that is, Gentiles], in order that righteousness might be credited to them” (Rom. 4:11). And again, “The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations” (vv. 16, 17).
A number of years ago in a question and answer period I was asked whether the kingdom of God is past, present or future. The questioner had in mind the debate that once raged in scholarly circles among such people as C. H. Dodd, Rudolph Bultmann and Albert Schweitzer. I replied that the answer is far bigger than the question.
It is impossible to describe the kingdom God as being merely past, merely present or merely future. It is all of those and more, for it is also internal and external. It involves willing compliance as well as forced compliance. This is because the kingdom of God is God’s rule, and God rules everywhere and all things. The only meaningful question is: Are you a member of that kingdom? Are you a part of it? Am I?
There is only one way to become a willing part of God’s kingdom, and that is by personal surrender to the claims of Jesus Christ. For he is the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). In this age God is building his kingdom by calling out a people to himself. They are from every imaginable people, nation, condition in life and race—Americans and Africans and African-Americans, tribal people, street people and sophisticated urban dwellers, working men and men without work, judges and those who have been judged, all types of people—and he is turning them into men and women in whom the kingdom of Jesus Christ is present and in whom his loving, winsome and upright character can be seen. There is nothing in life more important or more wonderful than belonging to that kingdom.
How have the blessings of the kingdom sometimes been misunderstood?
What does the Bible teach us about the true nature of God’s kingdom from Abraham and Paul?
Application: Offer yourself to God now for use in his kingdom work, and take advantage of the opportunities he gives to you.
For Further Study: To learn more about the nature of God’s kingdom from Romans 14, download for free and listen to James Boice’s message, “God’s Kingdom.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)