I’m leading two studies on the Kingdom of God this Fall. I’m growing in my understanding of it, both from the men in the small groups I’m in, as well as my godly spiritual mentor, T.M. Moore. He has written a great deal on the Kingdom of God and I have the privilege of discussing this material with him twice a month. Part of meeting with him involves reading what he’s written on the Kingdom as well as answering a few questions in advance to get me thinking. I thought I’d share a little of what I’m learning from this experience along the way. Enjoy…
- What does it mean to be called into the Kingdom and glory of God?
11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thes. 2:1-2)
It means responding to God’s call to enter into a new condition of existence, one which has an eternal perspective. It’s walking in a new power to see, think, and live differently – to “walk in a manner worthy of God.”
It is to turn from sin, disobedience, self-centeredness, rebelliousness, world-centeredness, etc., and “make the turn” toward new life in God by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone . It’s to see things as God sees them. It’s to respond to them as God says. It’s to think God’s thoughts after him. It’s to submit to Christ as Lord in every sphere of life. It’s having the power of the Holy Spirit to live out this new life and to glorify God in so doing. It’s to be God-centered and to live into that new purpose and form of existence.
- How does entering the Kingdom of God change our perspective on life and the world?
“Entering” the Kingdom of God means being born again (becoming something we formally were not… something new). And it means living under the reign of a new King… the King… the King of kings.
It means seeing with new eyes because you are a new creation. It means thinking differently because you have the mind of Christ and are renewing your mind daily. It means walking in obedience to a new Master – the Lord Jesus Christ – because you love him, because you are grateful to him for this new and everlasting life, because you want to please, honor, and glorify him, and because you know living the way he commands is what is best for you because you now serve One who (for the first time in your life) has your best interest at heart.
- “Coming to faith in Jesus Christ creates a turning point in a person’s life, from a flat, lifeless, hopeless existence into the glorious depth, dimension, and direction inaugurated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.” On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the best rating you can give, to what extent does this statement reflect your experience of being a Christian?
I would rate this change in my life at a 7 or 8. My life is filled with joy, purpose, and hope. I see things so much differently than I did when I was young, and it’s not just due to maturity. Yet, my “new eyes” also show me how far I have to go. I see my sin more clearly. I see where I fall short. I see more soberly. And yet, in the midst of that, there is great and abundant joy. There is more wisdom and knowledge that comes from knowing I’m loved and being shaped into something beautiful. There is hope that comes from knowing this isn’t a pipe dream or wishful thinking. Instead, there is the power of God’s Spirit filling, leading, and enabling me to see, think, and live in this new way.
- In what ways has your world become “bigger, brighter, and more fraught with possibilities for glory” since making the Kingdom turn?
Seeing God in everything expands and brightens the world. Circumstances do not have to have the last word, because we serve a sovereign God. It’s not Stoicism that calls you to merely change the way you respond to circumstances. Instead, you have a personal relationship with an infinite, personal Advocate who is for you and not against you. And while that fact does not exempt you from all pain and suffering, it can bring hope, comfort, healing, and even joy in the midst of those tough times. Thus, my world is not dark, dreary, pointless, and small. It is, as the question puts it, bigger, brighter, and filled with opportunities to glorify God and experience the radiance of his glory-filled pleasure.
- What are your goals for this study? What do you hope to learn? How do you expect to grow?
I’m teaching two studies on the Kingdom of God this Fall. I’ve been mesmerized and transformed by what I already understand of God’s Kingdom. Coming to a deeper understanding of it was a “game changer” for me. And yet, something this enormous and magnificent is not something I’ve got completely figured out. I want to grow in my understanding to be sure. But I also want to grow in my experience of the Kingdom. I want to experience more of it’s power. I want to see it from different perspectives and angles. I want to be able to communicate and teach more wisely in relation to the Kingdom. The readings and these questions will be wonderful to work through. But I’m also looking forward to spending time in godly conversation with TM on these matters. I want to learn from him and interact with his understanding of the Kingdom. I want the “Kingdom turn” to be more evident in my life. I want my new Kingdom Life to bear much, good and lasting fruit. And I want others to experience this life as well.