Series: “Christ’s Kingdom” (post #3)
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ… (Philippians 3:20, N.K.J.V.)
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, N.K.J.V.)
Colossians 1:13 implies that in order for you to become a citizen of Satan’s kingdom, all you have to do is be born. It makes sense, then, that to become a citizen of Christ’s kingdom you must be born again. As Jesus put it, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, N.K.J.V.).
Of course, the way to be born again is to place saving belief in Jesus as your personal Savior (John 3:1-16). At the moment of your belief, God the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence inside your body. This indwelling is known as the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:7-8; John 14:16-17; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 19:2; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13). The Bible even teaches that if you do not have God the Holy Spirit dwelling inside you, you are not an authentic Christian (Romans 8:9).
The baptism of the Holy Spirit and the born-again experience are one and the same as the indwelling Holy Spirit spiritually regenerates (brings to life) the believer (Titus 3:5). The experience makes you a Christian and changes your citizenship from Satan’s kingdom to Christ’s kingdom. As that Colossians 1:13 verse says of what God the Father has done for the Christian:
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. (N.K.J.V.)
What this means, Christian, is that you are an official citizen of a heavenly kingdom that you have never seen. You have a residence (John 14:1-2) and an inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-5) awaiting you there. You have a place at the table (Luke 22:29-30). It’s no wonder that 2 Peter 1:10-11 encourages Christians to make sure of their salvation (i.e. their “call” and “election”). By doing this we can be assured that we will “never stumble” and an entrance will be supplied to us “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Obviously, Christ’s heavenly kingdom is a literal place. It’s not just a state of mind or an ethereal ideal. However, this kingdom should also be understood as a citizenry. Let me use the United States as an example. Is there an actual land mass that we call the kingdom of the United States? Yes. But the kingdom of the United States is more than just a land mass. It’s also the sum total of all its citizens. This is how Christ’s kingdom works as well. It really is a literal place somewhere up there beyond space, but it is also its citizenry. As Ephesians 2:19 describes the kingdom, if you are there you are a member of God’s household and a fellow citizen with all of history’s other saints (Christians).
What makes it difficult for Christians to properly appreciate Christ’s kingdom is the fact that we are still here on the earth. It’s hard to long for a place you’ve never seen, and it’s hard to miss something you’ve never gotten to enjoy. The apostle Paul got a glimpse of Christ’s heavenly kingdom and called it Paradise (2 Corinthians 12:1-6). The apostle John visited there too and left us with an awesome description of God’s throne that serves as the centerpiece of the kingdom (Revelation 4:1-11). Other than these two passages, however, we really don’t know all that much about the place.
The important thing, though, is for you to have the assurance that you are indeed a citizen of that kingdom. Again, this means that you know Jesus Christ in a saving way. You have placed your belief in Him as your Savior. You’ve been born again. God the Holy Spirit dwells inside you. God has conveyed (transferred) you from Satan’s kingdom into the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
And so I’ll ask you, do you have this matter settled? If you don’t, then you reading any passage about Christ’s kingdom equates to you reading someone else’s mail. You’re reading about a place for which you are not currently destined. You’re reading about people with whom you currently have no eternal relationship. Right now you are a citizen of Satan’s kingdom, and all the good works you can do won’t change that. The only thing that will change it is for you to believe in Christ and thereby be born again. So, if you haven’t, why don’t you do that right now? What are you waiting for? Remember, a whole new kingdom and a whole new group of fellow citizens awaits you.