An understanding of the kingdom of God is a prerequisite to understanding kingdom economics. The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom and is supernatural. It will become a physical kingdom during Christ's millennial reign and will eventually be presented to the Father, where it will be merged with the kingdom of heaven, the place of God's throne (the Bible often uses "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven" interchangeably). Every born-again believer has the kingdom residing in him via the Holy Spirit.
"When He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them, 'The kingdom of God does not come with observation. Nor will they say, "Here it is!" or "There it is!" For remember, the kingdom of God is within you'" (Luke 17:20-21).
"Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly I say to you, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God'" (John 3:5).
The kingdom of God is characterized by divine power. Paul warned that he would test the words of the arrogant in Corinth with their power, for the kingdom of God is power. Paul told the Romans that the kingdom of God is not the physical act of "eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17b). Note that when Paul was writing about the Holy Spirit, commas were not used in the Greek language. It could be read "righteousness in the Holy Spirit, peace in the Holy Spirit and joy in the Holy Spirit." We experience the Lord's righteousness, peace and joy by the power of the Holy Spirit.
"For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (1 Cor. 4:20).
The kingdom of God is irrevocably linked to the Holy Spirit. Many are familiar with the words of Jesus promising power to believers after Pentecost. But too many forget the context. The promise was given in response to the disciples asking if the kingdom would now be restored to Israel. Jesus also indicated that deliverance from demons was proof of the kingdom. Several Scriptures link Jesus' preaching about the kingdom to His healing ministry.
"So when they had come together, they asked Him, 'Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them, 'It is not for you to know the times or the dates, which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth'" (Acts 1:6-8).
"But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matt. 12:28).
"Jesus went throughout all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all sorts of diseases among the people" (Matt. 4:23).
In the Lord's prayer, Jesus taught us to pray "Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). In heaven, there is no sickness, poverty, sin or injustice. Jesus would not have asked us to pray that way unless it were possible. We have a charge to bring Christ's kingdom with its heavenly priorities to earth. We need the Holy Spirit. His empowerment is essential. The examples of Jesus and Peter prove enlightening.
When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (Luke 3:21-22). After baptism, the Scriptures say that He was "filled" with the Spirit, who then led Him into the wilderness where He was tempted for 40 days. After He overcame every temptation, the Scriptures say that He returned in the "power" of the Spirit. Jesus had no sin to overcome, but perhaps His example is a lesson for us. If we want the power of the Holy Spirit—kingdom power—we need to overcome temptation.
"Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted by the devil for forty days" (Luke 4:1-2a).
"Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee. And His fame went throughout the surrounding region" (Luke 4:14).
Peter loved the Lord, but before Pentecost, he was impetuous and inconsistent. He declared he would die for the Lord and later proved it when he took a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant (John 18:10). But, a few hours later, Peter publicly denied his Master (Luke 22:60-61). After Pentecost, Peter became a stalwart in the kingdom. He became a valiant soldier who was bold in the most challenging circumstances. As an apostle to the Jews, he showed no fear and glorified the Lord in all.
Let us cultivate our relationship with the Holy Spirit. We need Him. The world needs Him. The spread of gospel depends on Him.
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14).
James R. Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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