BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
There are principally two kingdoms on earth – the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil. “For he has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and he has brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13 New Living Translation). The kingdom of darkness is the kingdom of the devil, and it has to do with the sinful pleasure of this world, temporal or carnal things. But the Kingdom of God has to do with the domain and dominion of God, salvation and eternity with God,and virtues such as holiness, righteousness, peace, joy, etc. “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men” (New King James Version).
Of course there is a third kingdom which is the kingdom of man (Genesis 20:9, 15; 2 Samuel 3:28; Daniel 4:18, 36, 6:26; Mark 6:23), and this can either be under the control of the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of the devil.
The Kingdom-mindedness I’m talking about refers to the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of heaven – both are used interchangeably in the Bible for God’s rule on earth now and in full blown in the future. Kingdom-mindedness means being heavenly minded or being eternity-focused. It refers to making the Kingdom of God the nucleus of your living, giving top priority to the affairs of the Kingdom of God, striving towards the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Being kingdom-minded goes beyond being engrossed in church activities. One can be church-centric without being kingdom-minded! Church membership should not be an end, but a means to an end.
It is significant that John the Baptist didn’t preach church; he preached the Kingdom of God. Matthew 3:3 says, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” (New King James Version).
Also, when Jesus started his ministry, He continued what John the Baptist started; He continued to preach the Kingdom of God. “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17 New King James Version). In His teachings, Jesus taught different parables of the Kingdom of God.Even after Jesus’ resurrection, He still preached the Kingdom of God, because the Bible says, after His resurrection, He was seen by His disciples for forty days during which He spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
Not only did Jesus preach the Kingdom of God, He commanded His disciples to do the same. “These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying … as you go, preach, saying,’ The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 10:5-7 New King James Version).
Jesus’ disciples and the early church preached the Kingdom. For instance, Paul, to the Ephesian elders, said, “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more” (Acts 20:25 New King James Version). Some of Paul’s teachings on the Kingdom of God or reference to it, are recorded in Acts 28:23, 31, Romans 14:17, 1 Corinthians 4:20, 6:9-10, 15:50, Galatians 5:21, Colossians 4:11, and 2 Thessalonians 1:5.
From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that God wants you to be Kingdom-minded, not self-minded or merely church-minded. Your church (denomination) is not more important than the Kingdom of God. You should give priority attention to the advancement and enlargement of the Kingdom of God on earth even if your denomination doesn’t benefit directly from your efforts. Unfortunately, some people are only interested in their denomination (church or ministry); they don’t bother about the Kingdom of God! That may sound confusing, but it shouldn’t. Do you know that it’s possible to be preaching the gospel just for the purpose of church growth (increase in membership, having a large congregation because of its attendant benefits), not really because of the love to depopulate hell and increase the Kingdom of heaven? Please, I am not saying having a large congregation is wrong. Neither am I imputing a wrong motive to church growth projects. Your church or denomination must be Kingdom-compliant, Kingdom-focused– it must be advancing the Kingdom of God. Just as Paul described some Christians as his fellow workers for the kingdom of God (Colossians4:11), so should you be a worker for the Kingdom of God, as you serve in your church, denomination or ministry.
Is the Kingdom of God of primary concern to you or it’s your denomination? Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 that God “will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (New Living Translation).
How to be Kingdom-minded
(1). Realize your need of God. That talks about the acknowledgment of your spiritual poverty without God in your life. If you don’t know that you’re in a state of spiritual poverty without God in your life through His Son, Jesus Christ, you won’t be concerned at all about the Kingdom of God. That’s why we have many sinners today who are living in self-delusion that they are all right as they are – they won’t even admit that they’re sinners. 2 Corinthians 4:2-4 says, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (New King James Version).
But according to Matthew 5:3, “God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them” (New Living Translation). The New King James Version puts it this way: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
In the parable of the hidden treasure that Jesus told His disciples about the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13:44,that man who found the field where this treasure was hidden,realized that this treasure was better than all his belongings, hence he hid it and, rejoicing, went to sell all he had and bought that field.
Those who didn’t know what the man had found hidden inside the land would think the man was a fool. How could he sell all his properties to buy just one field? How could you put all your eggs in one basket? That appeared like a bad investment. But the man knew what he had found; he wasn’t gambling. He actually was not buying the field; he was buying the hidden treasure there. He knew he would become far richer than he was if he could buy that single field, and that was what he did.
Jesus also told a similar parable in the next verse, same chapter. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46 New King James Version). The sinner is in a state of spiritual poverty no matter how wealthy he is financially and materially. No matter what you have or own, without the hidden treasure or that pearl of great value, you’re poor! Every sinner must realize his spiritual poverty in order to be blessed by God.
I believe that the beginning of being Kingdom-minded is to acknowledge one’s spiritual poverty, but it doesn’t end there.
(2). Repent of your sins and be born again. It is not enough to acknowledge one’s spiritual poverty and one’s need of God; one needs to take a step further to repent of one’s sins and turn over one’s life to Jesus accepting Him as one’s Lord and Savior.
There are several people in church today just playing church but have never at any time repented of their sins; they’ve never given their lives to Jesus – they’re not born again. Some of these people could even be already in church leadership.
A Pharisee and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, Nicodemus, apparently after having heard much of what Jesus was preaching, was tired of ‘playing church’! He came to Jesus in the night for the real thing. One most important statement Jesus made in his discussion with him was, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 New King James Version).Nicodemus later became a disciple of Jesus, though a secret disciple, who spoke in defence of Jesus (John 7:50) and also joined hands with Joseph of Arimathea, another Jewish Sanhedrin member, to give Jesus a decent burial (John 19:39).
As I said earlier, John the Baptist, Jesus and His disciples preached the message of repentance for the Kingdom of God was at hand. To begin to cultivate Kingdom-mindedness, you must repent of your sins and become a child of God – the Kingdom is God’s and membership is by birth; you must be born into it. You may join a church, but you can only be born into the Kingdom of God.
(3). Live for God and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. After you’ve given your life to Jesus and you’re born again, you must begin to live for God – live in accordance with the teachings of God for His children in the Bible – and in every matter, always place the Kingdom of God first in your consideration. Be concerned about how your actions will affect the Kingdom of God. Will it increase or decrease the Kingdom of God? Will it bring honour or dishonor to God’s Kingdom? Your consideration should be whether it will be advantageous to the Kingdom of God and not only your personal benefit or only the benefit of your denomination. Sometimes, what may be a loss to your denomination, or you personally, may be a gain to the Kingdom of God. You should rejoice about that because you’ve actually gained more. You must subordinate yourself, your denomination and every other thing to the Kingdom of God. As we’ve seen previously, God will “give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Matthew 6:33 New Living Translation).
Are you living for God or living for self? It makes no difference if you sleep in church, answer a high-sounding ecclesiastical title or you’re busy with religious activities but you’re not living for God. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 New King James Version). Are you doing God’s will or you’re doing your will? Are you obeying the Word of God? It’s not enough to say you’ve confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Are you living by the teachings of Jesus? To be Kingdom-minded, you must live according to the Word of God. Jesus says, “But I warn you — unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!” (Matthew 5:20 New Living Translation).
(4). Teach the Word of God. Do not substitute your own views and preferences for the Word of God.Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and the scribes for promoting traditions of men above the laws of God. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God’s commands with their own man-made teachings.’ For you ignore God’s specific laws and substitute your own traditions” (Mark 7:7-8 New Living Translation).
If you’re going to be Kingdom-minded, you should hold the Word of God in the highest esteem and teach others to follow it. But before you do that, you must do it yourself, otherwise you are a hypocrite – doing must come before teaching. That’s the right order. It is written of Jesus in Acts 1:1, “about everything Jesus began to do and teach” (New Living Translation). Do and teach God’s commandment as a Kingdom-minded Christian. “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19-20New King James Version).
(5). Be a Kingdom labourer, advancing the Kingdom of God. This is wide in scope – it deals with a variety of issues. To advance the Kingdom of God, you must make yourself, your resources, including time, spiritual gifts, natural talents, professional skills, money, material resources, etc. available to the Kingdom of God. This is part of Kingdom stewardship.
More people are needed in different departments to advance the Kingdom of God on earth. That’s why in the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20, the landowner kept going back to the marketplace to hire more labourers to work in the vineyard because there was still much work to be done and more hands were needed.
He first went early in the morning and hired some, and went back at 9a.m, and again at 12 noon, 3p.m and 5p,m to hire others. In fact, those hired at 5p.m only had one hour to work before the close of work for the day. Jesus told His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38 New King James Version).
What Jesus said several years ago is even truer today. The labourers are still few. The only vacancy in the Kingdom of God is for labourers!
Unfortunately, there are numerous church members but few Kingdom laborers. You should be an answer to the prayer for more labourers. Soul winning should be of top priority to you as this is the major way of expanding the Kingdom of God. Proverbs 11:30 says he who wins souls is wise. This is also true regarding winning souls into the Kingdom of God. “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7 New King James Version). Of course part of preaching the Kingdom of heaven is healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead and casting out demons (verse 8). It is a full gospel. According to Jesus Christ, “But if I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you” (Luke 11:20New Living Translation). Be Kingdom-minded; preach the Kingdom of God/heaven. Don’t be a spectator, complainer or critic; be part of the Kingdom labour-force.
(6). Endure sufferings and persecutions joyfully. Matthew 11:12 says from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Different interpretations have been given to this statement made by Jesus Christ. But I’ll like to say that there have been and there will continue to be violent attacks against the Kingdom of God on earth. A Kingdom-minded Christian must not be deterred by these attacks; he must deploy spiritual violence (not physical violence) to survive and overcome these attacks against the Kingdom and the children of the Kingdom.
In the history of the church, persecutions have always worked for the advancement of the Kingdom and not what the enemy intended. Peter writes to believers, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Peter 4:12-16 New King James Version).
According to Mark 10:29-30, persecution is actually part of the reward package for believers who forsake all for the sake of the gospel! “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life’” (Mark 10:29-30 New King James Version). It’s a total package; you can’t choose. Persecutions are part of the total package. You can’t escape persecution if you practice Bible Christianity. “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12New King James Version).
A Kingdom-minded Christian should not complain because of sufferings and persecutions. He should joyfully endure them. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3 New King James Version). Your sufferings and persecutions are not in vain. God will reward you; He’ll save you if you endure to the end (Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13). The devil and his human agents may be persecuting you, but you’re blessed by God.Hallelujah! “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10 New King James Version).
(7). Set your affection on heavenly things, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (New King James Version). You must allow heaven to fill your heart. Why should you? Verse 3tells us the reason: “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (New King James Version).You’re not of this earth again; you’re of heaven – you belong to God who is your Father. You’re a citizen of heaven where the Lord Jesus Christ lives (Philippians 3:20).
As I said earlier, the kingdom of the devil is just about the things of the earth – carnality, and sensual, physical needs, as against spiritual needs. If you’re going to be Kingdom-minded, you can’t at the same time be carnally-minded; you cannot be preoccupied with thinking about the things of this world, sensual things. You can’t be wholly concerned about physical, temporal things rather than spiritual things that are eternal. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-7 New King James Version).
To be Kingdom-minded, you need to seek those things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God, and not the things of this earth (Colossians 3:1). Ensure that you fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). Don’t be deceived by the attractive things of this world – they’re transient; for this world is fading away, along with everything it craves (1 John 2:17). According to Hebrews 12:27-28, the things on earth will be shaken so that only eternal things will remain, but the Kingdom, which believers have received, cannot be destroyed.
(8). Be humble. The spirit of the Kingdom of God is the spirit of humility. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).
Pride, arrogance, is the spirit of the kingdom of the devil. The devil, Lucifer, was cast down from heaven because of his pride (Isaiah 14:12-15).
If you want to be kingdom-minded, you must imbibe the spirit of humility. “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:2-5 New King James Version). That was Jesus’ answer to the question “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”, which his disciples asked him in verse 1.
Without cultivating the spirit of humility, one won’t be able to serve in the Kingdom of God because even the frontline leaders in the Kingdom of God are expected to be chief-servants, servant-leaders. Jesus says, “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12 New King James Version). Kingdom leadership is not a status symbol; it is not for lording things over others or being served.
Addressing the problem caused by the request made by the mother of James and John to Jesus to allow her two sons sit in places of honor next to Him – one at His right and the other at your left – in His Kingdom, Jesus called His disciples together and said, “You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:24-28 New Living Translation).
Jesus emphasized the same teaching towards the end of His ministry when He washed the feet of His disciples, charging them to emulate His example – they must be servant-leaders and not bossy leaders. “And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. You know these things — now do them! That is the path of blessing” (John 13:14-17 New Living Translation).
The apostles and the early church, no doubt, emulated the example of Jesus by being servants as they took the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ everywhere they went. No wonder, the Kingdom of God was expanded in their hands. For instance, Paul says, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more” (1 Corinthians 9:19 New King James Version). In 2 Corinthians 4:5, Paul says, “All we say about ourselves is that we are your servants because of what Jesus has done for us” (New Living Translation).
Be humble if you want to be Kingdom-minded, and keep being humble if you’ll remain Kingdom-minded. The Kingdom of God is not a place to throw your weight around. As I’ve said, the only vacancy in the Kingdom of God is for labourers
(9). Develop divine accountability consciousness. Live your life daily with the consciousness that you’re going to give account to God one day. This enables you to be careful what you do and say. If there isn’t going to be accountability, then we can continue to do whatever we like. But the Scripture tells us that things won’t continue like they are. Everybody is going to give account one day.
Romans 14:12 says each of us shall give account of himself to God. 1 Peter 4:5 says everybody will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. Matthew 12:36 says for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it on the Day of Judgment. Genesis 18:25 describes God as the Judge of all the earth while Hebrews 12:23 calls Him the Judge of all. So there is judgment day.
Matthew 18:23-35 records one of the parables of the Kingdom of heaven that Jesus told. That parable has to do with a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. Just as that king came to settle accounts with his servants, so shall God come to settle accounts with humans one day. What verdict will God pass on you? – Well done, good and faithful servant or wicked and lazy servant?
Carnal Christians and sinners don’t bother about this. But the Kingdom-minded Christians are always concerned about this because it has to do with eternity. “See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds” (Revelation 22:12 New Living Translation).
(10). Associate with Kingdom-minded Christians.Proverbs13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (New King James Version). If you’re not going to be lazy in your Kingdom work but serve the Lord enthusiastically (Romans 12:11), you can’t afford to associate with fire extinguishers! You need Christians in your company who will fan the ember of spiritual fervency in you, not one who will put out the fire – ‘fire fighters’ “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17 New Living Translation). Roaring deep calls to roaring deep (Psalm 42:7).
Beware of being contaminated by carnally minded Christians. If you’re going to continue to be Kingdom-minded, you must not allow close fellowship with lukewarm Christians, Christians who’re overly concerned about earthly things alone. Not every Christian can be in your circle of fellowship. “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs12:26 New King James Version).
Conclusion: As I’ve said, Jesus spoke a lot about the Kingdom of God; that was his emphasis. That was what his fore-runner, John the Baptist, also preached. The early apostles also preached the Kingdom of God. The emphasis of the Gospel is about how to live as Kingdom citizens here on earth and prepare for the future reign of Christ. Are you Kingdom-minded or just denomination-minded? Become Kingdom-minded.
If you’ve decided to give your life to Jesus, you need to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There, you will be taught how to grow in the Lord and how to discover and fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I’m a sinner and I cannot save myself. I repent of and forsake my sins. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I’m saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I congratulate you if you’ve said that prayer sincerely. You are now a child of God. May the Lord make you a Cedar Christian. May you grow into Christ in all things becoming all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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