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July 02, 2007

“THE LORD OF THE KINGDOM”

by Professor Robert J. Barth

The kingdom of God is a present and an eternal kingdom. We enter into, and live in, the kingdom by faith. It is a kingdom of sowing and reaping. It is a spiritual kingdom, a kingdom of the heart, which has physical manifestations. The word “kingdom” is not often used in current culture, but it simply means a jurisdiction or realm of authority. As with earthly governmental jurisdictions (family, church, and civil government), there is a chain of authority in the kingdom of God. There is one who decides the rules of the kingdom and those who carry out the purposes of the kingdom. In the kingdom of God, the name given to the one who has final authority is “Lord,” “Master,” or “King.”

Entering into, and living according to, the kingdom of God means believing, accepting, and submitting to the authority of the Lord of the kingdom. Who is the Lord of the kingdom of God?  It is Jesus, “the King of kings and Lord of lords” (I Timothy 6:15). Consider these verses:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power [authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18)

The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:35-36)

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:22-24)

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)

If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [Jesus is Lord], and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)

Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy that God would send a redeemer who would be the lord of His people. King David wrote of “the Lord” and “my Lord” to distinguish between the God of Heaven and the God-man redeemer who would be lord over all. “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1). Jesus used this verse to teach the people and to challenge the religious leaders.

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:41-46)

Peter used this verse to persuade those gathered at Pentecost that Jesus was the Christ.

Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:29-36)

From these verses we see that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father until a future time when He will return. It has been said that when Jesus came the first time, people were looking for a king, but He came as Savior. When He returns the second time, people will be looking for a savior, but He will come back as king!

While Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth, His lordship is not one of physical force, but of love, which is the most powerful force in the universe. Jesus made this very clear to His disciples during the last meal He shared with them.

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:12-17)

This was a very vivid demonstration of Jesus’ previous teaching concerning leadership in the kingdom of God.

And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. (Luke 22:24-27).

Jesus had all authority and power, and yet he manifested that authority and power in meekness and humility as He obeyed the will of the Father.

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:27-30)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

The Apostle Paul also stated that the kingdom of God is not one of mere words, but it is a kingdom of power. “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Corinthians 4:20). The Greek word for “power” in this verse is “dunamis,” from which we get the word dynamite. The Greek word for “word” in this verse is “logos,” which means spoken words or thoughts. Yet, we see that the Lord of the kingdom demonstrated his power by being meek and lowly in heart.

As children of the kingdom of God and as disciples of the Lord of the kingdom, we are to be like Jesus. As we surrender to Him and abide in Him by meditating on His Word (John 8:31; 15:7), He conforms us into His image to do “the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12) until we are with Him in eternity. As Jesus submitted to the will of the Father to manifest the love of God toward people, we are to submit to the will of Jesus to manifest the love of Jesus toward others.

Before He was crucified, Jesus gave his disciples a “new commandment.”

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)

This verse gives us the context for all of Jesus’ commands: to demonstrate the love of Christ. In future weeks we will examine, not only the commands of Jesus, but also the rewards or promises associated with those commands.

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About the Author

Professor Robert J. Barth
A graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1976), Professor Robert J. Barth received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1979. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Regent University in 1986. From 1986 to 1995, Professor Barth was associated with Regent University School of Law in several capacities, including assistant dean for academic and student affairs, and editor of the Journal of Christian Jurisprudence. He has written several articles, and as the director for academic programs, he has authored Oak Brook College’s book, Renewing Your Mind as You Study Law.

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