After one is a disciple and has been baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sin, what is left for them to do? Well, in a word or two, live life in the kingdom of God – and live that life right now! Baptism is not the end of our salvation but the very beginning of an incredible and exciting walk with God. See Romans 6:1-23. We need to grow up in our very salvation as we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. See II Peter 3:18. Our lives need to be filled with good and gracious works as we learn to live life in the kingdom of God. See Ephesians 2:1-10. It is, in fact, kingdom life that the Lord brings us to and calls us to.
NEW LIFE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
As a part of this new life we need to understand that discipleship brings us into new relationships with not only God but others as well. See Matthew 16:13-28; 8:27-9:1; Luke 9:18-27 and John 12:23-26. Basically we continue on in all faithfulness as we bring forth a life in keeping with true repentance. See Galatians 2:20 (II Corinthians 5:7) and Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8; Acts 26:20. We keep traveling down the path of discipleship with our Lord, ever learning at the feet of Jesus. See Luke 6:40 (Luke 10:38-42). We live the confession of our faith in Christ every day. See I Timothy 6:11-16. The new relationship that the Lord brings to us enriches every area of life as we apply the principles of faith to all of life and as we live that life in the Presence of God. It is all about transformed living. See Romans 12:1-2. The principles of life in Christ impact every single area of our lives, not just “salvation.” In other words the principle of discipleship works to make all our lives better not just for the life to come but in this life as well. God wants us to live exemplary (i.e., excellent) lives as we are become the light and life of the world though his Spirit that lives within us. Just consider some of the relationships that will be impacted by faith and made new by the Spirit of Christ:
- The Marriage Relationship – Marriage is one of the most significant relationships we will ever have and Scripture has much to say about this sacred covenant. See Genesis 2:24 (Malachi 2:10-16) and Matthew 5:31-32 … Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18 … Romans 7:2-3; I Corinthians 7:1-16; Hebrews 13:4. And study Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; I Peter 3:1-7; etc.
- Home and Family Relationships – It is within the covenant of marriage that God creates the blessings of home and family life, which serve as the basis for a better world. See Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21; Titus 2:4-5; etc.
- Business Relationships – Being a Christian does not mean “business as usual.” Rather Christ transforms the marketplace and making money takes on a whole new perspective. See Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-4:1; II Timothy 6:3-21; Titus 2:9-10; I Peter 2:18-21; etc.
- State Relationships – As a believer we have a sometimes-difficult obligation to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. See Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; Romans 13:1-7; I Timothy 2:1-2; Titus 3:1-2; I Peter 2:13-17; etc.
- Social Relationships – Our discipleship is meaningless unless it makes us a better neighbor. See Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:34-30; Mark 12:28-34; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8; etc.
- Spiritual Relationships – Last, but not least, life in Christ also means life in the one body-church belonging to Christ. See John 13:34-35; Romans 12:1-21; Ephesians 4:1-16; Hebrews 10:24-25; I Peter 1:22; I John 4:7-5:12; etc.
Life in the kingdom of God brings to us a newness that effects all of our relationships; not only with God, but also with others. Every relationship is thus transformed by the life that we now live in Christ in the kingdom of our Lord!
HOLY LIVING IN CHRIST
In this new life in Christ holiness and purity are the principles that shape every area of our morality. In fact all moral questions are realized in this imperative. Faith gives us a worldview and demands that we view this age and culture differently as we live life in the world. We have the mind of Christ and our love for him will affect everything we think and say and do. We love him because he first loved us and we will never want to live in any other way than to please him in all things. As children of God we will live not according to the flesh, but according to the very Spirit of God. It is life lived in Christ that makes all the difference in the world.
Perhaps all moral questions come down to the principle of Philippians 1:9-11 which says: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – through the glory and praise of God.” Read and study the following New Testament passages to determine what the Lord would have you do and how he would have you live:
Romans 1:18-32; 8:1-17; 12:1-13:14
I Corinthians 5:1-6:20
I Thessalonians 4:1-12
I Timothy 1:8-11; 6:3-19
II Timothy 2:1-3:17
I Peter 1:13-4:19
II Peter 2:1-22
I John 1:5-2:17
More than anything else our life in Christ is kingdom life. See Luke 12:22-34 (32) and Colossians 1:3-23 cf. Ephesians 1:15-23. The fact is, the gospel of Christ is ultimately about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God is absolutely everything there is or ever will be. Perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts in all of the Word of God is “the kingdom of God.” Consider II Samuel 7:1-29; I Chronicles 17:1-27 (Psalm 89) and Daniel 2:1-49 (Isaiah 2:1-5; 4:2-6; 7:14; 9:1-7; 11:9; etc.) … Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-33. We need to realize that the kingdom of God is now and forever. Basically there has always been a kingdom and that kingdom will always be. The marvelous truth is that we have been given the kingdom and in that kingdom we are priests and kings ruling and serving the Lord. See I Peter 2:4-12 and Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10 cf. I Thessalonians 2:12 (Hebrews 12:14-29). As we live and pray, God’s kingdom will is done on earth as it is in heaven. See Matthew 5:9-13; Luke 11:2-4. What a glorious thing that is!
POINT AND COUNTERPOINT: Tragically there are all too many in the religious and denominational world that simply do not believe in or understand and appreciate the kingdom of God. There are many who do not believe that the kingdom is a present reality or that Jesus is now Lord King. There are those who think that the kingdom is more of a political, earthly, worldly thing than a spiritual reality. See John 18:36-37. And, there are some who look for the kingdom to be realized only in the future in this world in some supposed materialistic millennial reign on earth.
One of the biggest problems that the religious world has is with the false doctrine of Dispensational Premillennialism in all its various forms. (For a more in-depth study of premillennialism go here!) This heresy believes that the kingdom of God is not realized now in Christ and the gospel. Rather, it teaches that the kingdom is yet future and that kingdom is to be realized in terms of a literal and political and material power on earth to be found in the worldly state of Israel and the Laws and Institutions of Moses. (One of the most serious mistakes the Evangelical Movement makes is in failing to understand that the kingdom is not about physical Israel; it is about spiritual Israel! See Romans 2:28-29 cf. Galatians 6:14-16. It's not that God doesn't care for physical Israel. He does! But the only way anyone will ever be saved is to come to Christ in the full obedience of faith. Consider Romans 9:1-10:36.) Thus, too many are all too caught up in end time speculations and a kind of “millennial madness” has infected the minds of religious individuals and churches as they approach the Scripture with a hyper-literal interpretation thinking they can read current events back into the Bible for a kind of map of the End-Times. (All of this is illustrated by the current fascination with the “Left Behind” series and the plethora of books that deal with such Dispensational views.)
All such thinking is absolute and utter nonsense and all “millennial mania” does is to distract us from what we need to be doing right here, right now. The good Lord will take care of the future. We need to be busy in the work God has given us in the present. Consider II Peter 1:3-11 cf. II Timothy 4:18. We do not need to concern ourselves with endless end-of-the-world, apocalyptic theories. All of the End-Time speculation is but one more indication that there are many deceivers and false teachers who would lead us from all that is holy and true in the purity and simplicity that is found in Christ. See Galatians 1:6-10 … II Corinthians 11:2-4,13-15 cf. II Corinthians 10:3-5. This points out the need, more than ever, for us to know the truth and be aware that there are many, many false prophets and antichrists in the religious world. See Matthew 8:15-23 and I John 2:18-27; 4:1-6; II John 1:7-11. There are many churches that bear the mark of the apostasy both Catholic and Protestant. Consider Acts 20:27-31 and I Timothy 4:1-8; II Timothy 3:1-9. There are many who follow the antichrists. Beloved, don’t be one of them!
But, in spite of all the evil that is in the world and in spite of all the evil men that are even found “in church” our Lord is greater than all of that and he can give us the grace to overcome the world and find the victory in Christ. We can overwhelmingly conquer though him who loves us and he will surely save us now and forevermore. See Romans 8:28-39 (II Corinthians 2:14-16) and I Corinthians 15:1-58. If only we will faithfully love and obey him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. If only we will give him our very lives he will give us the kingdom of heaven. And that is what it is all about. To him be the glory and the power and the dominion both now and forever. Amen.