Living As His Subjects In The Kingdom of God

By Milton P. Jamieson

A kingdom is a territory, realm, dominion, country or sphere over which a king or a sovereign exercises rule and authority. The kingdom of God is one that is all-encompassing, having various aspects such as the “kingdom of heaven,” the “kingdom of the Son” and the “kingdom of the Father.” In this short paper my desire is to look at the kingdom of God and its significance for today as I understand it from Holy Scripture.

God’s Eternal Authority 
Scripture is full of references testifying that God is the king and governor of the whole world:

  • “The LORD is King for ever and ever” (Ps. 10:16 KJV).
  • “For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth” (Ps. 74:12).
  • “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods” (Ps. 95:3).

In addition to showing that God is king, these verses and many more show that the world is His kingdom. Therefore, the kingdom of God is universal in its scope (see illustration on left).

Past To Present 
From time to time God delegated the kingdom of the earth into the hands of men. He placed it first in the hands of Adam and Eve – and we know how that ended in utter failure (Gen. 1:28, 3:1-13). He gave to Noah the kingdom, or the government, of the world but he also failed and became unable even to govern himself for he was found drunk and uncovered in his tent (Gen. 9:1-7,20-23).

God then ruled over Israel as their king for many years, using several men as His representatives or prime ministers – such as Moses, Joshua and the judges. In speaking of Israel, Balaam said, “The shout of a king is among them” (Num. 23:21). Gideon understood very well that the LORD was their king so he flatly rejected the offer to rule over Israel, saying, “the LORD shall rule over you” (Jud. 8:22-23). This went on until Israel rebelled against the LORD, wanting a man to be king over them instead: “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said; Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Sam. 8:6-7).

God gave them a man after their own heart in the person of Saul. He turned out to be a colossal failure. Afterward, God removed him and set David, a man after His own heart, upon the throne as king and shepherd over His people Israel. David had full understanding that the kingdom was God’s – just listen what he has to say about the kingdom: “He hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel” (1 Chr. 28:5). “Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him” (1 Chr. 29:23).

God is the king over all the earth. Whether men submit to His rule or rebel, it does not change the fact that He is king forever: “… to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest [lowest] of men” (Dan. 4:17).

Present To Future 
The time will come when “the Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom [the earth] all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (Mt. 13:41). Wickedness and wicked persons will be cleaned out of His kingdom and He will take His great power and reign for 1,000 years. But for the present He is allowing man to have his day, which will come to its peak in the Man of Sin – the Son of Perdition, the Antichrist. 

When we read the Gospels and the Epistles we see that the expressions “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” are sometimes interchangeable, but there are differences. The kingdom of God is going on now in the hearts and lives of men who are subject to Him. The kingdom of heaven is also going on, but in a mystery for the king is absent. Therefore today, Christendom [professing Christianity] is the kingdom of heaven in a mystery and is likened to a field with wheat and tares, a dragnet in the sea that encloses all kinds good and bad, and the ten virgins with five wise and five foolish (see Mt. 13 and 25). Within this mixture of wheat and tares, good and bad, wise and foolish we have that which is true to God. They who are truly born again are the wheat, the good and the wise in these parables. They are truly the kingdom of God within this period of Christian profession.

The time will come when the kingdom of heaven will be set up in power and glory over the entire earth. During those 1,000 years Jesus Christ will reign over the earth as Son of Man. “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp [cobra], and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ [viper’s] den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:6-9). After this the Son will hand over the kingdom to God and God will be all in all (See 1 Cor. 15:24-28).

Kingdom Character Today 
Now, apart from the fact that He is ruling in the kingdom of men, God is also ruling in the hearts and lives of men and women, boys and girls who have accepted and are subject to His Son. The character of the kingdom of God in the hearts and lives of believers is of a moral nature, for in the power of the Spirit the believer exhibits the moral features of the King, our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul listed some of these in Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” These are also listed in Galatians 5:22-23, among others, as the fruit of the Spirit. Being the moral features of Christ they should mark every child of the kingdom of God.

How To Be A Part 
There is only one way to enter this spiritual aspect of the kingdom and that is to be born into it. We were all born in the kingdom of darkness. But through sovereign grace we have been delivered from that kingdom and brought into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. This is through new birth – we must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God! In John 3:3-7 the Lord Jesus told Nicodemus that it is a divine necessity: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.” It remains the same today – new birth is still a divine necessity to enter the kingdom of God.

Dear reader, I know that the moment I mention “born again” the first thing that comes to some people’s minds is water baptism. Baptism is not being born again, neither was the Lord telling Nicodemus to go and get baptized. Instead, He was telling Nicodemus that he needed the life of God in order to be a part of God’s kingdom. In John 1:13 we are told of those who are born again: they are “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” This is something in which man has no part; it is altogether a work of God. Just like when one is being born into the world, the child being born has absolutely nothing to do with what takes place. No effort from the child is required nor can the baby give any help to his or her mother.

A person is born again when he hears the gospel and believes it. The Word enters into the heart and by God’s great power He imparts new, eternal life to that believing one. This is how one is born again, becomes a child of God and heir of the kingdom of God (See James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23).

For Believers Today 
What is expected of us, who are the children and true subjects of the kingdom today? The Bible says that we are to:

  1. Exhibit the fruit of the Spirit – the moral features of Christ reproduced in our hearts by the Spirit of God. When the kingdom of heaven is set up over the earth the laws of the kingdom will also be such: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance …” (Gal. 5:22-23). One can see these features emerging as the Lord presented the principles of the kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:1-7:29). We need not wait until the Millennium – these and other features of Christ should be seen in us right now!
  2. Be loyal, faithful and true to Him in His absence, like Mephibosheth was toward David (2 Sam. 19:24).
  3. Perform royal and priestly service: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). Fellow believers, you and I have the high honor to speak of the wonders, glories and beauties of the King of Kings, our Lord Jesus Christ; and to serve Him with gladness as His messengers heralding the good news of God concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. To be good, kind and merciful, sharing our worldly goods and the King’s words in the gospel, teaching young and old, and showing to all the way into the kingdom of God are just a few of the many opportunities that we have to serve the King in His absence. 

Indeed, “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (Mt. 6:13).