Intro: Before I became a Christian I was given this idea that life is short and death is everlasting, so let’s eat, drink and be merry and make the most of life. I did this because I was of the world and a citizen of the world. One can have this goal and seek happiness all their lives but in the end will amount to nothing and miss heaven forever. We have already looked at the two kingdoms last Sunday. So let me differentiate these two. All of us are born in the flesh live in an earthly kingdom. This kingdom is ruled by the ruler of the kingdom of the air (the evil one) according to the apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. The other kingdom is the heavenly kingdom and the King came down from heaven to rule over those He calls into His kingdom. There are two references of this kingdom, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. Kingdom of God because it belongs to God and kingdom of heaven because heaven is the final destination of all it’s citizen. And even if we are still on earth one can already be in the kingdom of God. So what is our goal as kingdom citizens? I believe when we fully understand and appreciate how we became kingdom citizens we will be compelled by the grace and love of God to set our goals and priorities right.
“Understanding Kingdom Citizenship”
“Yet to all who received him to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13
To be a child of God means that we now have a relationship with God as Father, the same relationship that Jesus had with His Father when he was on earth. We enter into a personal love relationship between God and man, Father and son. Being a kingdom citizen is a status of belonging to and a member of a corporate community where the ruler who owns and governs the kingdom we call King. Everyone becomes a subject to the King. And He too is Lord meaning He is Master and we His slaves and servants who serve.
So how does one become a kingdom citizen? Before Jesus came down and took a body in human flesh, an angel of the Lord revealed this to Joseph who would become the foster father of Jesus
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21
Who then is the angel referring to as “his people”? Are these all the people or those who already belong to God’s kingdom but not yet saved? If God knows who they are, then Jesus must know who are His people He will save.
God being all knowing who knows the end from the beginning, should also have the foreknowledge of who will be in His kingdom. He will populate His heaven by His foreknowledge according to His pleasure and will.
When you and I were born physically, even before we came out of the womb, who knew about it? The mother is the first one to know. She also knows who the father is. Then when we were born, did we have any part in the birth? None at all. We didn’t even know when we were born until we grew up and learned it from our parents. This is our physical birth. But after we sinned, our spirit died. Unless we get born again in the spirit our end will be in hell because we have sinned against God and that’s all of humankind.
Jesus came down to earth to seek and to save His people. But before He can save anyone, He had to offer Himself as the payment for their sins by taking their place at the cross. That’s the reason God the Son came in human flesh in order to die to do the will of God that was decided before hand even before the creation of the world and revealed to us in the Scripture.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as sliver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Pet. 1:18-21
Let’s now see what Jesus had to do after He was born, He grew just like a normal human being but made this his purpose and priority,
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52
When Jesus was 12, He went with his parents to worship at the temple. While there Jesus attended a Bible study with the teachers of the law. After that, from age 12 until He appeared to John the Baptist to be baptized nothing was written about Him. What was He doing during this time? He grew in wisdom by spending time with God and in His Word. We call this quiet time with God. How do we know this? This was already revealed in Scriptures about Him.
“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.” Isa. 50:4-5
If we read the context, this prophecy was referring to Christ Himself. In His humanity Jesus had to learn from God His Father how He can minister to the weary and the words to say from the mouth of God. Then at the appointed time, he went to John to be baptized to start His ministry. After he got baptized the Holy Spirit came upon Him to minister to Him. I believe that the instructions and the words that He was to speak was communicated from the Father to Him by the Holy Spirit, for this is what Jesus said,
“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” John 12:47-50
It is now very clear that there are people who do not hear, listen and obey the commands of Jesus. Some may claim to believe in Christ as taught by different religions but does not accept all that is written in the Scriptures and obeys them. This is what Jesus said about them earlier in the gospel of John,
“He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:47
Are you hearing the Word of God? Are you listening and want to learn and be instructed? Do you keep His words? This is one of the sure signs and evidence that you belong to God.
After Jesus was baptized and then led to the desert to be tempted, He went back to Galilee to seek His people. He was now seeking after those who were baptized by John with the baptism of repentance. His first message was
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” Mark 1:14-15
The first ones He called were Peter and Andrew.
“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” Matt. 4:18-22
Notice that they did not think it over or prayed about it whether they will go or not but their response was immediate. Was this their first time to hear about Jesus? No. Earlier, Andrew and another disciple of John were at the Jordan to be baptized. After Jesus was revealed to John that he was the Messiah, he now pointed Andrew to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and Andrew followed Jesus. Then he told his brother Peter. Another disciple that was in the Jordan was Philip. They were all from Bethsaida, a town in Galilee. After they went home from the Jordan they went back to what they were doing. So at the appointed time Jesus went to seek and called them to follow Him. God already prepared their hearts so that when Jesus called they were ready to follow Him.
Once they left their nets and followed Jesus, where did they go? They went where He went. They spent time with Jesus and learned from Him. They were now His disciples. Jesus now invested all His time and energy with them for more than three years. He taught them what He learned from His Father and lived what He taught. He taught by example. At the end of Christ ministry when He returned to heaven, He left them this command,
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20
Did they obey what Jesus commanded them? Yes, they did, otherwise the gospel would have stopped with them. The gospel has reached us because those who got saved passed on what they have been taught and followed what Jesus did, to seek and to save the lost. Only Jesus saves but His disciples are now to seek His people. Do I know who they are? No. Did Jesus know who they were? Yes. Because He was one with His Father and the Holy Spirit led Him to those who were drawn to Him by His Father. Is this still true today? Very much the same.
So how does one enter the kingdom of God. When Nicodemus came to Jesus at night for fear his friends will know, Jesus revealed to him this truth.
“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3
Seeing here refers to being enlightened of the truth. The seeing comes after one is born again. So how does one get born again? By ourselves we cannot make it happen. It is the work of God, it is not inherited from parents or the husbands will but born of God. This is spiritual birth since our spirits have died after just one sin. The word of God must first be preached which is the gospel. The spirit who is dead cannot respond to Christ until he is first made alive. What will give him the life? He must first hear the gospel preached,
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living word and enduring word of God.” 1 Pet. 1:23
And what is the gospel?
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4
In other words the gospel must first be preached. That is the seed implanted in the heart. God makes the seed grow and at the appointed time, the Holy Spirit takes the word and gives birth to our spirit and we enter the kingdom.
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him ” John 6:63-65.
So who are the ones who will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?
For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” Acts 13:47-48
So when we obey the Lord and share the gospel to lost love ones, relatives, friends and acquaintances, are they all going to believe? I don’t know but God the Father, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit knows. We are simply messengers. Let me put it this way. We are carrying birth certificates from heaven through the gospel. We present it and simply ask is this for you? Will you receive Christ as your Lord and Savior? The one who responds and are made alive spiritually will confess that Jesus is now their Lord. So who sought them? Christ did through us. Does an unbeliever and spiritually dead seek God? According to the Scripture, No.
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” Rom. 3:10-11
So who sought you and brought you the gospel. Jesus was the one who sought you through His disciple, but the Triune God worked to save you.
God the Father chooses and draws those who will receive his grace
God the Son applies the blood for the forgiveness of sins.
God the Holy Spirit gives life to the dead spirit to responds.
Once a person enters into the kingdom and become a citizen of heaven, what is now his business?
“But seek first his kingdom and His righteousness…” Matt. 6:33
This is now what we seek. We are in, now we seek to know the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus Christ. For this is eternal life,
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3
And the ones who have been saved will hunger for spiritual food.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Pet. 2:2-3
Is it possible for one who says he believes and not be hungry for spiritual food? No. If the spirit has been made alive that spirit will hunger for spiritual food which is the Word of God. And what is the first evidence of this new birth? Because he has tasted that the Lord is good, have received forgiveness of sins and has become a child of God and God has now become his Father.
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here.” John 8:42
We will look at more evidences next week and what we are to seek for.