|Volume 23 Number 2 February 2021
The Kingdom of God Is within You
“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, “See here!” or “See there!” For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you’” (Luke 17:20-21). Jesus’ ministry was characterized by His preaching about the kingdom of God (Mark 1:15; Matthew 6:33; 12:28; 16:19). There was no doubt that when He mentioned His coming kingdom that it piqued interest in those who heard, including His disciples and the Pharisees as well. Most likely, Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom brought about questions regarding what they thought would be true of His Messianic reign. They were anticipating a Messiah who would deliver them from their enemies, provide them with whatever needs they had and always reign over Israel as His earthly kingdom. Clearly, if they had been listening to Jesus, they would know these were misconceptions about His kingdom and His work. So, just what is this kingdom?
Jesus made it clear His kingdom is unlike any earthly kingdom with which the Pharisees or His disciples were familiar. It was not a physical kingdom but spiritual in nature. Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). It was neither to have an earthly palace from which He would reign nor a militia of soldiers to use physical weaponry to defend its borders. Paul penned, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). For those who were following Jesus and seeking to live by His precepts, the kingdom could be seen in Christ, in His teaching and in what He offered those who came to Him. For those who in faith obeyed His will, the kingdom is “in their midst” or “within you.” Being part of God’s kingdom is a frame of mind, an attitude of heart, which is within us and a part of who we are.
The Pharisees needed to ask themselves what they believed about Christ and what His works meant to them. Could they recognize the power of God at work in Jesus? Were they willing to let go of their traditions to follow Him? Could they believe Him as truly being Lord? Would they humble themselves and submit to His will for their lives? Most of them refused to do so, and between their envy, their hatred and their hardheartedness, they were willing to send Him to the cross instead of finding life in Him.
It is no different for people today. To look for a church building to find the kingdom is misguided, as if its ornaments and beauty were the kingdom. It is misdirected to think the kingdom is something that caters to one’s whims. The standards of wealth and status don’t apply for Christ’s kingdom, but being poor in spirit matters more (Matthew 5:3). This can be seen in the pierced hearts of the crowd in Acts 2 when it asked what to do and responded genuinely in repenting and being immersed (Acts 2:37-38). It can be seen in Lydia, who allowed the Word to penetrate her heart, leading her to respond to that message (Acts 16:14-15). It’s seen in Thessalonica in those who turned from idols to worship and serve the living God (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10).
We, too, can show the effects of being part of the kingdom of God. How will others respond to our message and to whom we’ve become in Christ? Some may be hardened and reject the Gospel, while others may see its beauty and truth to respond obediently. The Gospel is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16), and its power works within to transform us (Romans 12:2). Is the kingdom for which Christ died a part of who you are? “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).
Gary C. Hampton
Many of us have children and grandchildren. They are a blessing. This article is not about them, but rather, it is about spiritual children. Paul considered those who obeyed the Gospel because of his preaching to be his children. He told the Corinthian saints, “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15).
Paul called Timothy his “true son in the faith,” which leads us to believe that he was one of his converts (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2). He used him in his various works for the Lord. He, like any good father, watched out for his wellbeing, telling the Corinthians, “And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do” (1 Corinthians 16:10).
Paul addressed a letter to Titus by saying, “To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 1:4). He sent him to Corinth to check on the church. Despite the fact that the Lord opened a door to him in Troas, he told the church of God in Corinth, “I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother, but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia” (2 Corinthians 2:12-13).
Paul’s thinking should stimulate your thinking and mine. Those busy planting seed should long for the Lord to bring forth an increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). Many of us have been Christians for years. We have had opportunities to tell others that Jesus gave His blood to buy us back from sin. Those who ask about our hope of Heaven should be given the basis for it (1 Peter 1:18-19). So, do you and I have children? Let us preach the Word so the answer is more likely to be yes (Acts 8:4).