The “Kingdom of God” is often a misunderstood term, even among the religious. Historically, God’s Kingdom was known as Israel, to whom he gave the Promised Land. God symbolically dwelt among them in the tabernacle (and later, the temple), gave them victory over their oppressors, and allowed them to face trials when they failed to follow him. Ultimately, God brought forth his own Son through them, and it was known that the kingdom would pass through him. The kingdom was taken from those who failed to follow God, and opened to others (the Gentiles). “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matt. 21:43). In Jesus’ lifetime, people expected an earthly kingdom, but Jesus clearly stated that his kingdom was spiritual (John 18:33-37; Acts 1:6-8). Clearly, the kingdom is the church.
Still, there are many today who make mistakes about God’s Kingdom, thinking it is a future earthly kingdom. Those who look only for a future kingdom are missing the point, and they are missing out on the glorious blessings God has bestowed on those who are Christians (for every Christian is a member of the church, and thus every Christian is a citizen of the Kingdom of God). “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psa. 116:12)
Blessing #1—We are part of God’s family. Paul said, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the house hold of God” (Eph. 2:19). Isn’t it great to know that no matter where you go, when you find Christians there you are among family? Everyone in the kingdom is part of the same family. We have the love and encouragement of our brothers and sisters as we travel through this life. The Spirit through Paul illustrated it as a body: “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). When something bad happens to a family member, we ought to feel sympathy for that member, and if something good happens, we ought also rejoice.
Blessing #2—We have forgiveness. Not just forgiveness for the sins we committed in the past, but forgiveness for our current sins as well. John was writing to people who were already citizens of the kingdom when he said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). As long as we recognize our sin when we are convicted, and ask forgiveness from the Father, we have continual cleansing from the fountain of blessing. Under this blessing we could also include grace—that is God giving us what we do not deserve, and mercy, which is God not giving us what we do deserve.
Blessing #3—We are heirs. Seeing as we are children of God, adopted as it were into his family, we become heirs to the promise and joint-heirs with Jesus. We inherit all he has to give. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Rom. 8:16-17). There are several things we inherit. The Hebrews writer described us as heirs of salvation: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14). He also referred to us as being heirs of the promise: “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath” (Heb. 6:17).Peter wrote that the Christian husband and wife are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7).
Blessing #4—We have freedom. Paul said, “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal. 4:7). Since Jesus redeemed us, or bought us back, from sin with his blood, we are now freed from our burden of sin and the wages that come with that. According to Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death. The faithful in Smyrna were promised by the risen and glorified savior that, “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Rev. 2:11). In Revelation 21:8 we are told that the second death is the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, wherein all those who practice unrighteousness have a place. Because we are citizens of the kingdom, we are free from that burden.
Blessing #5—We have salvation. Because the kingdom is built on the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God (Matt. 16:16), and because Jesus lived his entire life without sin (Heb. 4:15), he was able to be that perfect sacrifice that could take away sin from any who would come to him. In Acts 2 we learn that God added to the church—which is the kingdom—those who were being saved. Thus, all those who are part of the kingdom have salvation.
James reminded those to whom he wrote that all good and perfect gifts come from above, from the Father (James 1:17). This suggests that everything that is truly part of the kingdom is good and perfect, and there for our help. Sometimes we get caught up in our lives here and we forget the glorious blessings we have as citizens of the Kingdom of God. When we catch ourselves slipping into that, it would behoove us to take a few minutes to remember who we are, and where our citizenship truly lies. When we take the time to focus on that with which we have been blessed, we will remember that there is no better thing than to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God!