Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14,15
Jesus, like John the Baptist, began His earthly ministry by preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. What is the gospel of the Kingdom? We actually read about two kingdoms in the New Testament, namely the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of God. Some say these are two different concepts, but since God is King of both, we leave the discussion at that.
The gospel is good news – the good news that God, in His love for us, sent His Son to come to earth as a man, take our sin upon Himself, and receive the death penalty for it. Jesus also announced a Kingdom where we can live in freedom from the burden of sin and the works of the law. Salvation is a gift from God that cannot be earned; you don’t have to do anything to receive this freedom, except to believe it.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8,9
Jesus introduced a new way of life, but to receive it you must repent. The word repent means to change your mind, or to think differently. This is a very important aspect of life in God’s kingdom, yet something that is often overlooked. Many Christians believe that to repent is to be grieved by your sin, and that is part of it. However, to only be sorry for the sins that you committed is not enough to enjoy the benefits of life in God’s kingdom. Repentance goes much deeper than that! Paul explains it in a way that is easy to understand:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
The kingdom of God is where God rules, and that is not a geographical area; He rules in the heart that is fully submitted to Him. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was king of the Jews, He answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)
We were all under the spell of the devil, the god of this world, (2 Corinthians 4:3,4) who kept us in bondage through ungodly thoughts in carnal minds. We were brought under his power by Adam when he chose to obey the serpent instead of God. Thank God, through the work that Jesus did on the cross, we can leave the domain of darkness and immigrate to the kingdom of God.
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love… Colossians 1:13
Thank God for the laws of His kingdom that freedom instead of oppression. Like any kingdom on earth, God’s kingdom has its own culture, principles, language, etc.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3
Jesus set us free from rules and regulations that limit life so that we might have peace and joy, and gave us commandments that are powered by love. This makes God’s kingdom a happy place!
…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
To enjoy the full benefits of the new country that you immigrated to, you must adopt its culture, obey its laws, follow its principles, and speak its language. There is no point in moving to another country if you continue to live like you did in your old country. You must assimilate. The same is true when you leave the domain of darkness to become a citizen of God’s kingdom. It is a simple truth that you cannot change your life unless you change the way you think. Cultural Christians see no need to renew their minds, and they are happy to live mediocre lives without seeing any of God’s promises fulfilled to them.
How do you make the adjustment? The most important thing that you can do is to study the Bible in depth. It contains God’s thoughts and ways, and the more time you spend in it, the better you will understand Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:7-9
God gave us His Word so that we can think His thoughts and walk in His ways. Paul discovered that secret:
For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
Let us now become fruitful citizens of God’s kingdom. Learn to speak the faith language, and live by faith instead of by circumstances. We are called to expand His kingdom on earth. Prayer is not a to-do list for God, but a business meeting with the King. The culture is one of generosity, love and peace. We are finally done with the past, and set our sights on what is ahead of us; we have goals to accomplish and a purpose to fulfill.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… Ephesians 2:19
The kingdom of God is the good news that many are waiting to hear.