Finding Hope in the Kingdom of God

kingdom of God

Ireland has over 30,000 castles spread throughout its countryside. Some of these castles are small and subtle while others are overstated, built as a kind of shrine to the conquering king. Today, you can still find remnants of previous empires, but their history has been muddied and their signs of life have all but vanished. At best, it’s speak of a once desperate kingdom, barely clinging to life.

Is Christianity a Kingdom Barely Clinging to Life?

When Christ came, he came preaching the arrival of the kingdom of God. But as we look around, we see a world where pain and suffering is a constant reality. Perhaps we might ask, ‘is Christ’s kingdom one of victory or is it a kingdom barely clinging to life’?

To respond to that question we must understand two paradigms. Firstly, the nature of the kingdom, and secondly, the unfolding plan of the kingdom.

  • The Nature of the Kingdom

The kingdom of God is the ‘perfect rule and reign of Christ’. [1] This means that wherever the rule and reign of Christ operates in perfection, the kingdom of God is at hand. There are two profound ways that the perfect rule and reign of Christ affects our daily lives:

1a) The Security of Salvation

You cannot lose your salvation. It’s not something you have, and then lose, and then have to find again. The bible promises us that through the finished work of Christ, we can receive the gift of salvation and it is secure in Christ. That’s what Paul is referring to in Romans 8:38-39, when he says,

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In this way, the kingdom of God is reigning. This spiritual reality cannot be undone. It is secured through the victorious reign of King Jesus.

1b) The Source of Ministry Strength

Serving the King isn’t always easy. This is a reality for all of us. The good news is that when we choose to serve the King, His strength becomes our strength. This happens through the person of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul describes this empowering in Ephesians 3:20 when he praises God saying,

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work with us”.

In this way, the kingdom of God is reigning. The person of the Holy Spirit is not restricted in fulfilling his promises. He will be the source of strength and power to those serving in the King’s Kingdom.

Understanding a Theology of Suffering

It’s important then that we ask, ‘does the eternal kingdom of God include suffering’?

This answer is caught up in the fulfilment of God’s ‘unfolding plan’ for His kingdom.

  • The Unfolding Plan of the Kingdom

Theologians describe the kingdom of God as coming in the ‘already’ and ‘not yet’.[2] As we’ve seen, the kingdom of God has already powerfully come. If you’re a Christian, then today you’re living in the spoils of Christ’s kingly reign. However, the kingdom of God is not fully established. Its reign has only been inaugurated.

There is coming a future day when suffering will have its day in court. We don’t know when that will be, but in the meantime, the Spirit of God is our promised strength for a lifetime of faithful obedience.

The kingdom of God is not a defeated kingdom, and suffering will last not have the final word over our lives. Of this you can be sure. Take great courage today knowing that the kingdom of God is here ‘already’ and you can come to know the King of this Kingdom by grace through faith. But also look to the coming day, when the reign of Christ will be complete, and…

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Pastor Carl Robinson

 

[1] Mike McKinnely, Luke 12-24 For You, (Turkey: The Good Book Company, 2016), 193

[2] Darrell L. Bock, A theology of Luke and Acts: biblical theology of the New Testament, ed. Andreas J. Kostenberger (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan) p.141.