20-Life in the Kingdom of God - Citizenship Responsibilities
LIFE IN TWO KINGDOMS
Kingdom of God citizens are in a unique situation. All of us live as part of some government here in this world, while at the same time being citizens in God's kingdom. One is a kingdom we can see and the other we can't see. But, both are real and we have a responsibility to both as Jesus made plain in this exchange.
1. The Jewish leaders were out to catch Jesus at "something" so they could report him to the Roman authorities and have him arrested. They came up with what they thought was a perfect question.
They did not anticipate Christ's answer which silenced them.
Luke 20:23-26 (especially verse 25)
In Luke 20:25 Jesus clearly tells us that we should give to our earthly government what belongs to it (i.e. taxes) and then give to God what belongs to Him. So while we (Kingdom of God citizens) live here on earth, we will always have our part to play in BOTH governments.
2. And while this is true, John in a general letter to all believers ends his letter with a warning.
1 John 5:21
As citizens in the Kingdom of God our hearts are to belong to one King only. We are to keep away from anything that might take God's place in our heart. You see, it cost Jesus his life so that we could get back on track with God, become members of the family and get our kingdom rulership back. So Jesus is "jealous" over everyone of us who choose to follow him. He does not want our heart stolen away from Him by anything else.
3. Just as Jesus has paid a price for us, we have a price to pay if we want to follow Him. What three things will it mean for us?
Matthew 16:24 or Luke 9:23
4. At the time Jesus was preaching, there were some walking along with Him who told him they wanted to follow Him. But as you'll see in these passages Jesus didn't sugar coat the cost that it would be for them.
Once we follow Jesus into ministry we can never look back to our "civilian life". Our priority has changed and our responsibility is to do what God has assigned us to advance His kingdom.
OUR POWER AND AUTHORITY IS EQUAL TO OUR RESPONSIBILITIES
5. Jesus is about to send out his twelve disciples plus 72 others on their first mission trip. What two things were they to do when they entered a town that was willing to have them?
This tells us plainly that Jesus had given his disciples power to heal the sick and that He expected them to use it. By healing the sick first their hearts and heads would then be open to hear about the Kingdom of God who was near to them in the person of Jesus. If we are disciples of Jesus then we have the same responsibilities. The question for us is, will we use the authority we have and step out in faith to exercise it?
DEADLY TRAITS THAT CAN DERAIL US
6. Kingdom of God citizens must live by the true wisdom that comes from God. In these verses James who was the leader in the Jerusalem church warns us of two things that will keep us from walking in God's wisdom. What are these two things?
And where these two things exist, what will happen?
So, our responsibility is to root out these two things if the Holy Spirit is convicting us of them, and then operate in Godly wisdom.
OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ALL MEN AND WOMEN
7. In light of the fact that the day of the Lord will come like a thief -- Peter asks us this question. "What kind of people ought we to be? Then he goes on to answer it. Make a list of what is our responsibility as we wait for our Lord to come back?
2 Peter 3:10-18 (especially v. 14-18)
8. Peter reminds us that we live among pagans -- or those who live for themselves without regard to God. What does he call us all to do?
1 Peter 2:11-12
Then Peter reminds us that every Kingdom of God citizen also lives as a citizen of an earthly government. What are our responsibilities to the earthly government we live under?
1 Peter 2:13-17
9. The Apostle Paul shares with us the same message.
10. Many of us have jobs where we work for someone that may have no regard for God. During the time of the early church slavery was practiced in the society and many of these slaves became Christians. Peter addressed the unique situation that they were in.
1 Peter 2:18-23
This applies to us today. Even though we are not slaves, most of us have jobs where we work for someone that that may have no regard for God. We may find ourselves in situations that are unfair to us. The Holy Spirit will help us through these times but it's worth re-reading what Jesus did in his time.
1 Peter 2:23
11. All members of God's family learn to live by faith because without faith it is impossible to please our king (Hebrews 11:6). What will faith always issue forth in?
James 2:14-16 / 1 John 3:18
12. So our life of faith will always be accompanied by doing good for others. If it doesn't, what does James say our faith is?
James 2:17-18, 26
The Holy Spirit indwelling our own spirit will guide us in the ways we are to express our faith.
OUR RESPONSIBILITY WITHIN THE FAMILY OF GOD
13. Members of God's family have a responsibility to one another and this is of deep importance to God. For as we treat one another, so we treat God. Peter had special words for the husbands and wives in the early church. It was not uncommon for one or the other to have heard Jesus and then made a decision to follow Him. This resulted in a mismatched marriage union. What was the duty of the believing wife?
1 Peter 3:1-6
Because following Jesus always transforms our character, Peter knew that an unbelieving husband could be won over by his wife even without words. It is the same today.
What did Peter emphasize to the believing husband?
1 Peter 3:7
This behavior of husband towards wife would be radical because women were looked upon more on the level of a slave than a partner.
Notice in 1 Peter 3:7b that a husband's consideration for his wife is a direct link to whether God will even hear his prayers!
14. What duties do parents have to their children? There are three main ones.
A. 2 Corinthians 12:14
B. Deuteronomy 4:9/ 6:6-7 / 11:18-19 / Proverbs 22:6 / Ephesians 6:4
C. Proverbs 13:24 / 19:18
In turn how are children to treat their parents?
Deuteronomy 5:16 / Proverbs 23:22 / Ephesians 6:1-3
15. Besides the relationships we have in our immediate family, we have our relationships within the body of Christ. Here are some of the attitudes we are to have to each other.
A. Elders (Both those older than us as well as "elders" in the church) -1 Timothy 5: 1-2, 17 / Titus 1:6-9 / 1 Peter 5:1-4
B. Young men - Titus 2:6-7 / 1 Peter 5:5
C. All believers to each other - John 13:34-35 / 15:12-13, 17 / 1 John 2:9-11 / 1 John 3:10-11, 16 / 1 John 4:21 / 2 John 6
John's constant repetition of the love we are to have to each other should sum it up for us.
16. James poses a question to the believers of his time which is just as relevant today.
Then he goes on to answer it.
So much of the trouble we have with each other is because we have one foot in the Kingdom of God and one foot still in the world. We want what God offers us through Jesus but we also want some position in the world. Then, our pride in what we can be and do takes hold of us. James has strong words for believers like this.
17. James could see that Satan himself stands behind all the fights and quarrels among us and we have a responsibility to resist him. Make a list of all that James suggests to us so that pride will not overtake us.
18. All Kingdom of God Citizens come from the Kingdom of the World at different stages in their life and therefore need to be transformed. The Holy Spirit works this transformation in us when we do two things.
James 1:19-25 (especially vs. 21-22)
19. This means every one of us need to be in God's Word on a daily basis so that we can walk it out everyday.
This is important because as members of God's diverse family what are we called to?
20. James, the leader of the Jerusalem church recognized that one little part of us could easily become a world of evil among believers. What is he talking about?
James 3:1-12 (especially verse 5-6)
Peter thought the same way and had this to share with us.
1 Peter 3:10-12
As a believer, we have a responsibility to submit to the Holy Spirit completely so that we keep our tongue in check. If we don't what becomes true?
EXHORTATIONS FOR LIVING
21. Peter, at the time of his writing predicted that the end was near. In light of this what guidance does he give all believers? List what he mentions.
1 Peter 1: 13-22 / 1 Peter 3:8-12 / 1 Peter 4:7-9
Then he goes on to share why each of us should use our gifts to serve others. What should always be the end result of the use of our gifts?
1 Peter 4:10-11 (especially verse 11b)
22. James , like Peter, sensed that the end was near and wanted to encourage believers who were suffering. What was his advice to them?
James 1: 2-4, 12 / James 5:7-9
23. The writer to the Hebrews gives the believers some concluding exhortations in his letter to them. They are the same today. Make a list of them.
Hebrews 13:1-9, 15-18
24. What is Jesus' advice to all believers in every age?
25. If the duties for being in God's family seem more than you can remember, then Jesus makes it simple for us by giving just two things.