You wrote “This (our faithfulness) will affect our potential in the kingdom made manifest at the judgment seat.” [Q&A № 112]
It seems that most Christians have a view of “life on earth, then heaven for eternity.” Over the years I have become aware of this “thing” called the kingdom age. Would you please elaborate on what scripture says about this?
Thank you for this question. The Spirit-filled life is what positively affects the kingdom.
The Old Testament makes much of a coming kingdom where the Messiah reigns on earth. The book of Revelation speaks of this thousand-year reign. The kingdom of God is spoken of often in the Gospels and occurs as well in the book of Acts and the Epistles. The Kingdom Age refers to this coming time period.
Much biblical content emphasizes the future physical kingdom, but there are several passages which indicate a present spiritual kingdom. Some passages seem to include both. The key is to recognize that our faith operation in the former will impact our potential for the latter. Now affects then.
Regarding a present spiritual kingdom, the Gospels, while often referring to the coming kingdom, have a few instances that lean toward the present. We are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and material needs will be provided (Matt. 6:33; Luke 12:31). This practical promise seems to lean toward the present. Jesus said, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matthew 12:28). The aorist verb tense provides the nuance of “has come.” Here Jesus ties a present kingdom to the Spirit of God, revealing a present spiritual kingdom. Jesus also said, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). This phrase within you could mean within your soul or in your midst, but either speaks of a present aspect.
Acts includes the present spiritual kingdom as well as the future (e.g. Acts 28:23, 31). The Epistles have several passages that clearly emphasize the present spiritual kingdom. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17). “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20). “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).
How we operate in the present spiritual kingdom will affect our opportunities in the coming physical kingdom. Only God meets the standard of God. That is why we need imputed righteousness in justification and imparted righteousness in sanctification. The spiritual kingdom or realm is accessed as believers yield to Jesus by walking in the Spirit. The Spirit-filled life, which is “not I, but Christ… by faith” (Gal. 2:20) will be manifest when believers “appear” (literally, are manifested) at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). The flesh-life, even if it looked good, will be incinerated, and the Christ-life will be rewarded (1 Cor. 3:11-15). This will affect potential for the kingdom age.
Some passages speak of fleshy sins with the warning that you will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21). Here, the issue is not salvation because every child of God stumbles in some of these areas but especially because the text says, “shall not inherit” and not “shall not enter” the kingdom of God. In fact, in a parallel passage (Eph. 5:5), Paul clarifies this further by not using the future tense but the present tense verb to be with the noun for inheritance, “hath [is having] any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” When a child of God indulges his flesh, when he yields to his flesh, he is ignoring his inheritance in the Spirit. He is not having his inheritance. He is missing out on the power of the present spiritual kingdom. Sadly, this neglect in the present kingdom will affect his potential in the future kingdom. When you’re not having your inheritance (your provision in the Spirit) now, you will not inherit all God intended for you in the future kingdom.
The Spirit-filled life operates now in the present spiritual kingdom and will positively affect the coming physical kingdom.
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