On July 4, 1776 the thirteen American colonies formally announced their independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain when the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence. That was the last day that the United States of America was under the rule of a king. As a result, the concept of a “kingdom” is lost on our society because most of us do not know what is like to serve a king or live under a monarchial reign.
There are wonderful blessings that come from living under a democratic government but one of the unfortunate consequences is a diminished appreciation for the concept of a kingdom. And the only reason this is worth noting is because kingdom terminology permeated the teaching of Jesus. No fewer than twelve of His parables were used to describe the “kingdom.” No fewer than 87 verses among the four Gospels quote Him as using the term “kingdom.” In fact, when Jesus began His preaching ministry, He proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17; cf. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:15 Luke 4:43; 8:1), and then He commissioned His disciples to proclaim this same message (Luke 9:2, 60).
Since “kingdom” terminology was central to the teaching of Jesus should it not be central to our understanding of Him and His expectations of us? Therefore, throughout 2017 we will be studying “The Kingdom” in our Sunday morning worship services as we seek to understand why God chose this metaphor and what impact it should have on the way we live out our faith. To aid in our study of “The Kingdom” we will focus on the following topics.
During the months of January and February, we will focus on the KING who reigns over the kingdom. Every kingdom is oriented around its king. It is the king who rules over them. It is the king who protects them. It is the king who provides for them. It is the king who solves problems for them. So, who is the King of your life? In this series of lessons, we will seek to discover who the King is and why He deserves our allegiance.
During the months of March and April, we will focus on the SUBJECTS within the kingdom. In every kingdom there are people who are subject to the king. They hold an inferior position but are vital to the kingdom’s survival because of the various roles and responsibilities they fill. So, what is your role in God’s kingdom? In this series of lessons, we will seek to discover our identity in Christ so that we may function as productive citizens in the kingdom.
During the months of May and June, we will focus on the TERRITORY of the kingdom. Every kingdom has boundaries and borders. Every kingdom has a specific area over which it exerts oversight. So, what are the borders of God’s kingdom? When Jesus spoke about the kingdom, to what was He referring? In this series of lessons, we will seek to discover the relationship between God’s kingdom and the church and how His kingdom should relate to the world.
>During the months of July and August, we will focus on the LAW that governs the kingdom. In every kingdom there are a set of rules passed down from the king. The king determines what constitutes legal and illegal conduct in his kingdom. So, what is right and what is wrong in God’s kingdom? Is there such a thing as absolute truth? In this series of lessons, we will seek to discover God’s universal laws as it pertains to salvation, holiness, and morality.
During the months of September and October, we will focus on the ENEMIES of the kingdom. Every kingdom has enemies. Usually they take the form of rival kingdoms whose survival or expansion is threatened by the presence of another kingdom. So, who are the enemies of God? In this series of lessons, we will seek to discover and defend ourselves against the kingdoms that oppose the reign of God and vie for our allegiance.
During the months of November and December, we will focus on the BENEFITS of the kingdom. Every kingdom comes with its perks. It may be certain freedoms you are granted or certain rights you receive, but there are always some benefits to your citizenship. So, what are the benefits of God’s kingdom? Why should I claim my citizenship? In this series of lessons, we will seek to discover the blessings associated with citizenship in the kingdom of God.
It is my hope that this theme will lead all of us to a greater understanding of what God’s kingdom is, what God’s kingdom does, and why each of us should be a part of God’s kingdom. May we all approach the new year with the to same desire – to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).