Sunday, November 13, 2022

12 Principles of the Kingdom of God System

What is the kingdom of God exactly? It’s the new kingdom authority in the world that has slowly been replacing the kingdoms of Satan.

For us as Christians though it’s a practical way of life. You could say it’s our rules for life. If you’re a Christian, this is how you do it. This is how you live. Plain and simple, the Kingdom of God system is our rule for life.

Let’s compare it to the American way of life. There are certain rules by which we live as Americans, and when we live these things, we succeed in the American system.

It’s simple stuff. We have a bank account at a local bank. We work a job. We show up to work on time. We do our best at our work. We pay our rent on time. We buy groceries. We do our dishes. We do our laundry. We have some mode of transportation. We regularly clean our homes. We have an alarm clock that is set. We have a cell phone to communicate with others. We’ve learned to read, to write, to understand language. All of these things play into a successful American life. If I stop doing any one of these things, my American life starts to get messed up.

Say that I stop doing my laundry. I’m going to survive for a while. I wear dirty clothes over and over. But pretty soon this causes me problems, and I get into trouble and can’t function right.

Let’s say I don’t use an alarm clock. Ok, I do ok for a while, but eventually I miss work, and eventually I lose my job, and pretty soon other areas of my American life system are messed up as well.

You see this with someone who starts drinking too much, it begins to affect every area of their life. They can’t hold a job. They stop doing their dishes, they pile up, they don’t do laundry, lose their cell phone. And eventually everything is out of whack.

It’s the same way with the kingdom of God. If we ignore certain parts of the kingdom of God system, we start to see our Christian life disrupted. And it disrupts everything else. If we stop praying, it starts to hurt other areas of our Christian life. If we stop forgiving others, we start getting bitter, it hurts our walk with Christ. If we stop going to church, if we disregard prophecy, if we go too comfortable in our salvation, if we start allowing sin a foothold, all these things can cause us to do something the Bible calls “stumbling.”

We start to stumble. The Holy Spirit convicts us, to make a change. If we do, we stop stumbling, and we get back on track. If we refuse the Spirit’s leading, we start to stumble more and more, and eventually we start to “fall.” The Spirit urges us to get back up, so we do, and we stumble along, and eventually find our footing again.

In any case, it’s very similar in the kingdom of God, if we live by the teachings of Christ in the parables, we find a smooth Christian life, we walk with Jesus, it’s not easy, but we’re able to fly above the storms of life. If we don’t it starts to get more and more difficult.

The kingdom of God as explained in the parables is kind of like the armor of God. It’s a complete picture of how to live rightly in this world. With all the principles of the kingdom of God, we are able to live a proper Christian life, honoring God in all things.

So let’s take a look at the parables as one big picture.

First, the parable of the prodigal son identifies our position apart from Christ, a child who has gone astray. Squandering their inheritance. Ruining themselves. Ruining the gifts God gave them. But God’s heart is for the prodigal to grow so weary in the emptiness of this fallen world, that the prodigal returns to Him. And the Father runs out toward the prodigal, covers him in a new robe, and throws a celebration, he’s so excited he's returned to Him.

That’s the heart of God to the lost.

Principle #1 Our Return Home
That’s the first principle today, the ultimate purpose of the kingdom of God is God’s glory and victory in our wonderful return home.

Or not. Free will is baked into this whole equation. We can return home or we can face judgment and condemnation. Oddly enough both scenarios bring glory to God, mercy or justice. But God prefers we return home safely.

The parable of the good Samaritan mirrors the prodigal son, God says, this is my heart toward you, like a Father coming to welcome his lost son home, now do the same with the lost and hurting around you, rescue those who are in danger, show them my love, through your actions.

Principle #2 Redeemed Redeemer
Principle 2 is that once we’ve returned, we help return others. Makes sense. We’ve found precious gold, now help others find it too. Basic.

Remember the parable of the old cloth on a new coat, or the new wine into old wineskins? When the Father puts his garment on the prodigal son, just as when he puts his garments of righteousness on us, we become new people. And we are called to a new way of life. The old human can’t be the kingdom of God in the world. Only a born again person can be.

Principle #3 Transformation
Only the new can inherit eternal life. This can only be accomplished by God changing us inside. The truth is written on our hearts. We are new people, this is God’s work in us.

So as we build this new life, we’re told to count the cost, recognize the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. Therefore be a wise builder, who builds on the rock of Jesus Christ. That’s similar to the wineskins parable, because we can’t build on the old way, we have to build on the new way, having been transformed by Christ. We are a new project, a new creation, and we’re being transformed over our lives into the likeness of Jesus Christ. 

Principle #4 Commitment
Count the cost, and the dedication needed to complete this journey. The way is narrow that leads to life. You must take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. You must forsake the world, and follow the new path completely. It’s a big commitment.

Luke 14:27 says, "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." And again in verse 33, "So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." 

In short: Go all in. 

Principle #5 First Importance (Value)
The parable of the hidden treasure in the field, or the pearl of great value, reminds us of the immense value of the salvation we’ve found in Christ. It’s everything. We should value it in such a way that our whole way of life is transformed. It’s a pearl of great value, infinite value.

Jesus tells the parable of the good shepherd who leaves the 99 to find the lost sheep. If a Christian gets lost, Jesus comes seeking after them, to bring them home. How important is it? The most. 

The lost coin parable, of a woman who loses a coin of great values and sweeps the house and finds it, illustrates the value of God's kingdom. She celebrates to illustrate the excitement of heaven when one sinner turns to Christ.

Principle five of the kingdom reminds us nothing is more important than what we’ve found in Christ. Therefore, keep God first in your life, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). 

Principle #6 Humility
Many of the parables indicate the incredibly important value of staying humble in your walk with Christ. Pride is perhaps the single greatest danger to a Christian, pride tells us to take credit, to judge others, to think of ourselves as better than others, the humility of Christ reminds us to stay so focused on the reality that God is all and my job is to love and serve others.

The parable that best displays this is the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, one man beat his chest and cried out for mercy humbly, and the other, a Pharisee said thank you lord I'm not like this evil tax collector. Which one did God justify? The humble one.

These are all sidelines and boundaries for a kingdom saint, you, and how you’re to live.

Principle six is guard against humility (pride is the chief danger to the kingdom of God system). How? We must guard our hearts.

Principle #7 Forgiveness
Several of the parables outline the concept of forgiveness, that we must forgive those who have hurt us. That’s how the kingdom works, our sins are forgiven by Jesus own blood so we are commanded to forgive others their wrongs against us, with the caveat, that if we don’t forgive others, we also won’t be forgiven on the last day.

This is illustrated in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. The master cancelled a large debt for his servant, but then the servant went and had a man imprisoned who owed him money. The hypocrisy is searing. We who have sinned so terribly against God have no business holding up unforgiveness to those who have hurt us. Forgive quickly. 

Principle #8 Persistence
Do you recall the parable of the persistent widow? She kept bothering the judge day and night asking for justice and as a result, she finally received what she asked for. That’s how the kingdom of God on earth works too, we must keep praying, keep seeking God, keep crying out, and He answers. But the key is dogged persistence, never giving up, day and night always persistent (Luke 18:1-8). 

Principle #9 Faithfulness

The test of God in the kingdom system is faithfulness when no one is looking. Will I keep serving God? Will I be committed even when the master is delayed? 

The parable of the faithful servant reminds us to be faithful day in and day out, committed to God, because we don't know when His return will be. 

As it says in Matthew 24:45-46, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns."

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus reminds us of the consequence of a faithless life. The rich man lived a self-serving life, rejecting God, rejecting the ways of the kingdom, and he paid for it by being sent to hell. And Lazarus had nothing but God, so he received salvation, because he had faith.

Principle #10 Action unlocks the kingdom

In the parable of the two sons, the father asks the sons to go out and work in his field. One son says yes, but never goes. The second refuses, but later changes his mind and goes and works in the field. It points right at hypocrites pretending to be part of God’s kingdom and says: Your words don’t matter as much as your actions. They prove who we are. It points to the concept of fruit bearing, you will know people by what their actions produce. That's a key kingdom secret. These are keys that open doors in the kingdom of God. Without them we’re blind and we don’t understand how to live rightly.

Many of the parables are aimed at Israel and how they had failed to recognize the coming of the messiah, and so the kingdom was being passed on to gentiles ahead of them. This is indicated in the parable of the wedding feast where the people invited to the wedding won't come, so the king sends out his servants to the streets and the markets and invites anyone who wants to come. And they come and they celebrate the wedding.

Many of the parables deal with the end times and the final judgment, Jesus clearly wanted us to consider the day when we’re judged and prepare for it carefully.

It all fits together. The parable of the talents reminds us that we will be held accountable for how we use the gifts God has given us. We must prove ourselves faithful in our actions. 

Principle #11 Watchfulness
The parable of the wise and foolish virgins emphasizes supremely the concept of watchfulness, of having the expectation that Jesus will return at any moment, and so we should we watchful and ready, seeking God day and night, storing up oil for his arrival, like the wise virgins did.

The parable of the watchful servants also underlines this principle of waiting up late for the masters return, always watching carefully the times which we live in.

Principle #12 Preparation
The sheep and the goats reminds us that the proof is in the pudding. A cook can talk about what a great cook he is, but the proof will be in if his food is delicious or not. So, we too, will be proved out by how we live. We can say we’re Christians all we want, but our actions will prove it. Similarly with the sheep, they practically served God, meeting needs, food, water, shelter, visiting prisoners, providing clothing, and the goats did not. So at the final judgment the sheep are accepted, the goats are rejected.

And of course the parable of Drawing in the Nets reminds us that at the end of the age there will only be two camps, the bad fish and the good fish, the bad fish are tossed out, the good fish are brought in. We see this also repeatedly explained as a harvest being brought in, where the wheat is harvested and brought into the barn, and the weeds are burned in a pile.

The final principle is preparation. The kingdom man or woman is preparing carefully for the day of judgment, living a faithful life of love, fearing God, loving God, living in faith, and in deep relationship with God, while also actively living out what it means to be a Christian through practical acts of service, sharing the gospel and meeting needs in His name.

To Review:

1. Our Return Home (or not) - The chief goal of the Kingdom of God system is to open the door for the return home of every lost human being. But it's not forceful. It's a choice. The door is open. But you can also say no. 

2. Redeemed Redeemer - The Kingdom of God's redemption of the person immediately charges them to guide others toward redemption as well. 

3. Transformation (born again) - The old person can never inherit eternal life, the Kingdom of God system requires that the person be born again according to the new birth in Jesus Christ. 

4. Commitment - We're told to count the cost of being a disciple. We may have to give our lives for Jesus. We may lose friends, lose family, lose wealth, and prestige. We go all in for Jesus, full commitment and we never look back. 

5. First Importance (value) - the Kingdom is not one of many interesting things to add to our lives, it is the most important thing, and the kingdom system commands that we value God first. Nothing less will do.

6. Humility - The kingdom system places much emphasis on humility, rejecting pride, and coming to God as a little child. We're told to think of ourselves as "Servants who have only done our duty" (Luke 17:10). 

7. Forgiveness - A kingdom child is a forgiven forgiver. We're instructed to forgive others quickly when they hurt us, just as God has forgiven our sins. Holding unforgiveness is unacceptable. 

8. Persistence - We're told to keep being persistent, keep praying and never give up. The journey will get long, but keep staying encouraged and serving God. 

9. Faithfulness - One who is given much must prove themselves faithful in what they steward. It's a natural aspect of God's kingdom system. 

10. Action - Don't be hearers of the word only and so deceive yourselves, do what it says (James 1:22). Action is vital in the kingdom of God. Anyone can talk about doing good things or believing, but it's proved out in how we actually live our lives. 

11. Watchfulness - the kingdom system commands us to be watchful of the times we live in, redeeming the times, being salt and light to civilization. We're charged to be watchful of what's happening in the world, what God is doing, and how we can best participate in God's will. We also watch for the second coming of Jesus. 

12. Preparation - in the kingdom of God the saints of God are called to watch over their lives carefully, to give careful thought to their ways, and to prepare for the day when they meet Jesus face to face. 

Further Reading: Check out this follow up examining 12 additional principles of the Kingdom of God System