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Qualities Of
The Kingdom

Lasting Qualities Of The Kingdom

by Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
November, 1999

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Last updated:
November 5, 1999.

When the church of the Lord Jesus Christ was established, it was a completely spiritual kingdom. There was nothing material about this Divine institution.  No one could see its physical boundaries because it had none. It was not limited to a physical territory. The Pharisees demanded that Jesus tell them when the kingdom of God would come.  To them, He said, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there!" (Luke 17:20).  The world saw no attacking army at the establishment of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.  No one saw a great king trampling under foot his enemies at its outset.  The church or kingdom was entirely spiritual.  Jesus said in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world."  The world did not purchase the church, did not build the church, does not govern the church, does not perpetuate the church, and the world cannot destroy the church. The church is not of this world in any sense, and its people have little to do with this world's affairs.  Its citizens are in the world, but they are not of the world, they are "sanctified," set apart through God's word (John 20:11-18).

Of course, there were some physical signs which accompanied the establishment of the kingdom, but these signs were not the kingdom. The dictionary tells us that a "sign" is "something that suggests the presence or existence of a fact, condition, or quality."  To illustrate, there may be a small piece of metal along a road with lettering that says, "U.S. Hwy. 66."  Now we all know that the piece of metal affixed to a post is not U.S. Hwy. 66, but it is a "sign" allowing those who travel along that road to know that are traveling on U.S. Hwy. 66.  The "sound as of a rushing mighty wind," and the "cloven tongues like as of fire," in Acts 2, were physical evidences, or signs of the descent of the Holy Spirit–and the kingdom of God was come with the power of the Spirit.

The time of the Holy Spirit's descent was also the time of the coming of the Lord's kingdom (Luke 24:46-49).  But the descent of the Spirit was not the kingdom.  The miraculous signs were a signal of the arrival of the kingdom.  The fiery cloven tongues sat upon each of the apostles, but the Holy Spirit entered the heart of each one.  The "sound as of a rushing mighty wind filled all the house where they were sitting."  No one could see the kingdom; the sound was not the Spirit, but the Holy Spirit with the kingdom filled their souls.  This is in perfect harmony with the Lord's statement in Luke 17:20,21, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation . . . the kingdom of God is within you."  Don't you know that the Kingdom of God is not written on the physical face, but rather on one's soul?  It cannot be described by limited geographical boundaries, but it is bound only by the human heart.

It is wrong to confuse the signs with the kingdom itself, and then to assume that where there are no signs the kingdom is destroyed.  Today's false teachers would weaken the strength of the kingdom of God by insisting on perpetuating that which was no part of the kingdom itself. Signs and miraculous demonstrations were necessary to the introduction of the new dispensation, but not to its continued existence.  Those things were appropriate for an age which saw through a glass darkly. That which is perfect has now come, and that which was in part -- tongues, prophecies, healing, and discernment -- was necessarily abolished when that which is "perfect" was come (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).  Those temporal gifts were bestowed by the Father to last only "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13,14).  This unity of faith has been made possible through the New Testament which is called the "perfect law of liberty" (James 1:22-25).  If the religions of our day would plant their feet firmly on "the faith which was once delivered to the saints," (Jude 3), they would all become one, and be no more carried about by every wind of doctrine.  This faith is enjoyed by those in the kingdom, but miraculous gifts are not necessary to citizenship in the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God sent into the hearts of men in this way, being a spiritual instead of a material kingdom, is unmovable.  This truth was later affirmed by the apostle to the Gentiles when he referred to the reception of the kingdom into the hearts of men.  In Hebrews 12:28 Paul said, "Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."  This is equal to Christ's statement in Matthew 16:18: "Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it."  The inspired prophet wrote, "The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" (Daniel 2:44).  There were some qualities about the kingdom of Christ that would make it indestructible.  The Scriptures which we have quoted thus far show that clearly.

The first of these enduring qualities is the imperishable law of the kingdom.  Kingdoms and empires rise and fall; customs flourish and decay; societies undergo constant change; unstable men prosper and die; but in the midst of all these changing elements, the law written on the mind and heart of every citizen in the Kingdom will not change.  Even this heaven and earth and all things that they offer shall be dissolved, and shall melt with fervent heat.  However, the word of God, the constitution of the church, shall last forever (Matthew 24:35).  It is easy for an intelligent student of the Scriptures to understand what we mean by calling the word of God an imperishable quality of the kingdom. The values emphasized in the word of God are values that last and do not change.  And these same values are written on the tablet of our hearts as unchanging principles of the kingdom. We shall now notice some of the other abiding principles of the kingdom.

In 1 Corinthians 13:13, after Paul, by divine inspiration, had revealed the failure of miraculous prophecies, the cessation of speaking in tongues, and the vanishing of the gift of divine knowledge, he said, "Now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."  What principles could possibly be more abiding than these?  What quality could be more enduring?  "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Hebrews 11:2).  It was "by faith" that Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, David, Samuel, and the prophets "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens... and obtained a good report" (Hebrews 11:33-39).  Nothing, it seems, could be more enduring than faith.  But another imperishable quality is mentioned by Paul. Hope is as the "anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast" (Hebrews 6:19).  So indissolubly related is hope to our hearts that Paul affirmed that he was living "in hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2).  So imperishable is hope that Paul emphatically stated again: "We are saved by hope" (Romans 8:24).  Hope does not, cannot, exist without faith.  The two must "abide" together. Faith is the enduring quality which forms the basis for hope.  If faith in God is gone from our hearts, hope is gone.  Hope is the golden anchor, but faith is said to be "the cable which attached our souls to the anchor in the heavenly port."  It seems impossible that there could be any element greater than faith and hope, however, Paul declares, "Now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."  Real Christian love is the greatest quality in the world.  Listen to the Holy Spirit's description of its goodness–"Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NASB).  With such lasting qualities as these, no wonder that the kingdom is unmovable!

The kingdom of God appears to the world only in the faith, practice, teaching, and lives of its people. The kingdom of God is within the heart of each citizen.  Its principles are evident to the world when its citizens translate the principles into living.  If faith is an enduring quality in the kingdom, it may be seen, not as a tangible element itself, but as a part of each citizen's life.  Hope is written in the heart of every inhabitant of Zion and shown on his or her countenance. Charity or love convinces the world that one is a disciple of the Master (John 13:35).  The church loses its influence, its sway to affect the salvation of men, when the world looks in vain to see these principles in the lives of its members.  Many are driven away from the church when they look on the inside and see practices no better than those in the world.

Thrill-seeking sinners are turned off by the feeble attempts of carnally-minded congregations who compete with the world's attractions to simply gain numbers.  The imperishable qualities of the kingdom must appear in the lives of its citizens for the kingdom to be the light of the world.  And we will not be "ashamed of the gospel of Christ" knowing that "it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth" (Romans 1:16).  Let us all strive to instill in our lives these principles, and saturate our minds with the Word of the kingdom.  Then will the church be, as the Lord would have it, "a city set on a hill" the light of which "cannot be hid."