2 Benefits of Kingdom Citizenship

I’m a citizen of the United States of America.  Unfortunately, it’s something I too often take for granted.  There are benefits to citizenship.  Citzenship in the kingdom of God comes with certain benefits too.  Here are two of them:

1.  Delegated authority.  In earthly kingdoms, the status of citizenship is necessary to identify  persons who will be loyal to the king so the king can know with whom he can share power.  In the Roman Empire one had to be a citizen to vote and hold political office.  In Ancient Greece one had to be a citizen of their city-state to participate in the Assembly that met to make decisions regarding the affairs of state.  In modern democracies one must be a citizen to vote or participate in governing the kingdom.  This is not by mere coincidence.  Citizenship helps identify those who are loyal to the king, and the king needs to know who is loyal so he can know to whom he can delegate authority.

It’s no different in the kingdom of God.  Citizenship in the kingdom is reserved for those who have been born again (John 3:5-8) and have believed and confessed Jesus’ Lordship over their lives. (Rom. 10:9).  One who is not born of the Spirit cannot hear the voice of the King who rules from the spirit realm.  And one who has not acknowledged Jesus’ Lordship is not likely to obey what King Jesus orders.  So, both are necessary.  God is not parsimonious about sharing rulership with those who serve Him, but one must be a citizen to be delegated authority from the King.

2.     Inheritance rights.  The kingdom of God has both a spiritual and earthly dimension and is woven seamlessly into the fabric of realty.  When one is born again, one becomes a citizen of the kingdom, with full privileges in both the spiritual and earthly realms and can begin to function in both. One who is birthed spiritually gains entrance to the spiritual part of the kingdom as well as the earthly part of it.  Because the kingdom has a spiritual dimension, when a citizen of the kingdom dies he continues in eternal life in the spiritual realm of the kingdom known as heaven.  By contrast those who are not citizens of the kingdom, do not inherit the kingdom at their death.  Cf  1 Cor. 6:9 (“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”).  Although they can live under the covering of the kingdom of God while on earth, at death they do not inherit, but are taken out of the kingdom.  (Matthew 13:30, 49).

Too many Christians only consider their inheritance rights, never realizing that a citizen of the kingdom of God they can also share in the delegated authority of King Jesus.  GS

How King Jesus Rules

Authority, not power, is the primary means by which earthly rulers rule.  Confusion arises because the terms power and authority are often used interchangeably, when they are in fact two very different things.  Power is brute force.  Power is physically enforcing one’s will on another person or thing.  When an army overtakes a city it does so by power.  When a boxer defeats another boxer in the ring, he does so by power.  Earthly rulers, however, do not rule primarily by power, but by authority.

Think about your own life, if you are like most people you have lived a law-abiding life even though you have never been compelled by force to do so.  You arrive at work by a certain time each day, not because someone physically forces you to but because someone with authority at work, your supervisor or the owner, told you to do so.  You obey the parking lot attendant when he directs you to the right instead of the left, not because he forces you to but because he has authority over the parking lot.

When earthly kings rule they do so by delegating authority to subordinates, who delegate that authority to their subordinates, thereby lengthening the reach of the will of the king.  A king appoints a minister of defense and gives him authority over the military forces of the country.  The military forces must then obey the minister of defense as they would the king.  And so it goes for each department under the king.

Delegated authority has one very important condition: delegated authority only extends the rule of the king if those to whom the king delegates authority are obedient to the king.  A minister of defense who initiates a war contrary to the instructions of the king has not extended the rule of the king, but his own.  Implicit in the delegation of authority is the condition that that authority will be used to carry out the will of the king.  To the extent the subordinate uses that authority to do his own will, he has perpetrated a fraud, representing to the world by his office that he is promoting the will of the king when he is promoting his own.

These same principles apply in the kingdom of God.  Jesus also rules (though not exclusively) through delegated authority.  Just before Jesus ascended into heaven He reminded His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”  Matthew 28:18. Jesus’ words confirm He has been given all the authority necessary to rule and fulfill His role as King of the kingdom of God.   But as a general rule, that authority is only exercised on the earth when those under Jesus’ delegated authority act in obedience to Him.

Think about this:  The Book of Hebrews says that after Jesus ascended into heaven “…He…sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.”  Hebrews 10:12-13. In I Corinthians the Apostle Paul makes a similar statement saying of Jesus that “…He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”  I Cor. 15:25.  Here’s the question: How can Jesus reign at the same time that He is waiting?  And how can Jesus put His enemies under His feet if He is in heaven? The answer:  By means of delegated authority.  Jesus is waiting, just as an earthly king waits after delegating the authority to subordinates, for His people to carry out his instructions on earth.

Jesus puts His enemies on earth under His feet in the same way an earthly king overcomes his kingdom’s enemies—by delegating authority to others to accomplish His will.  Not only has He chosen to do so, but He has chosen gladly to do so. Luke 12:32.

Kingdom History: 1453-1455

For 1,000 years Constantinople was the capital of Christianity. It was the repository for Christian treasures, tradition and literature, including the Scripture. Then, in 1453, the Muslim Turks captured Constantinople, ending a millennium of Christian rule. Many Christians thought it a sign of the end of the world. How could it be anything other than that?

At the same time, halfway across Europe in a city named Mainz, Johannes Gutenberg was perfecting his new invention, the printing press. And in 1455, he would produce the first Bible by means of a printing press, the so-called Gutenberg Bible. The printing press, certainly one of the most important inventions in the history of mankind, would eventually make books, particularly the Bible, affordable for the common man. As a result, the printing press was the sina qua non of the Reformation.

God is the Great Auteur of history. The sacking of Constantinople by the Muslims left Christians inconsolable. They wondered how their God could permit such a travesty, and yet, the Lord had something greater in mind, the decentralization of Christianity through the propogation of the Word of God, which would eventually advance the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth. The Lord knew the kingdom of God does not need a centralized earthly administration because its King administrates in the hearts of man.

Seeking First The Kingdom

Matthew 6:33 has, for many years, been a foundational scripture for me, not just because it demands the kingdom be a priority in my life, but because it frames a balance as well. Jesus states that Christians are to seek first the kingdom and His righteousness.  I read that to mean Christians are to be focused on two things: 1) the expansion of the kingdom of God on earth; and 2) personal sanctification.

The priority is obvious. It’s the balance I want to explore here. If Christians focused on the expansion of the kingdom of God and ignored sanctification, they would quickly become seen as dominion-seeking bullies. If Christians focused only on personal sanctification to the exclusion of the expansion of the kingdom, they would become ineffective pietests. Jesus makes it clear both are to be a priority to the exclusion of neither.

Kingdom-building and sanctification are not an either/or but a both/and proposition.  Keep these two at the very top of your list of priorities and you will be neither a bully nor a wimp, excessive nor ineffective.  GS

The Role of Citizenship in the Kingdom

Earthy kings must have a way to distinguish between those who will be loyal to theire earthly kingdom. This is necessary, among other reasons, so the earthly ruler can know to whom he can delegate power. The most common earthly means of making this determination is by citizenship. And the most common tests for citizenship are birth and an oath. It was true in first century when Jesus was teaching about the kingdom and it is true today.

For example, if you are born in the United States you are automatically a citizen. If you weren’t born in the United States you can still become a citizen by confessing your loyalty by means of an oath. Initially, both may seem arbitrary, but they are actually good tests.  Birth has traditionally been a basis for citizenship because it rests on the assumption that those who are dependant upon the land of a kingdom for their survival have an interest in protecting it. Oaths are an indication of what is in a person’s heart. Sure they can be faked, but until governments learn to read minds oaths are the next best thing.

Interestingly, one becomes a citizen of the kingdom of God by both a birth and an oath. First, one must be born again. John 3:5 (“Unless one is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”). Second, one must give an oath. Romans 10:9 (“…for if you confess with you mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved…”).

Just as in earthly kingdoms, birth and oath are an indicia of loyalty to the kingdom of God. That demonstrated loyalty paves the way for King Jesus to share his rule with his citizens by delegating authority to them. But more on that later.  GS