The Coming of the Kingdom of Heaven
“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Matthew 12:28 NKJV
He is speaking of the kingdom of God here. When Jesus came, He preached that the kingdom of heaven is near. From the beginning, He proclaimed that heaven was near. If Jesus had come, He should say ‘I am heaven,’ but instead, He said that the kingdom of heaven is near. John the Baptist also said, “the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Yet in this verse, Jesus said, “the kingdom of God has come upon you.” This is different from saying that the kingdom of heaven is near. When the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, how was it known that the Holy Spirit was in Jesus? The kingdom of God had come into Him. If the Holy Spirit comes, the kingdom comes. That means the Holy Spirit is at work within the kingdom of God.
That is why the kingdom of this world reacted to it. Hence, demons manifested and were cast out.
Thus, if we are driving out demons now, it means the kingdom of God is at work. Moreover, it proves that we are the people, the citizens of that kingdom, not just ordinary citizens – those who have royal authority.
We also pray, “Your kingdom come.” When Jesus was baptized and received the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of God already came upon this earth.
Yet He told His disciples to pray for that saying, “Your kingdom come.” So what does He mean by that? The disciples also had to receive the Holy Spirit. Not only that, if they receive the Holy Spirit, they need to have the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, many people must also receive the Holy Spirit to extend the area over which God operates. Since the Holy Spirit only operates in the kingdom of God, the borders need to be expanded.
When we pray “Your kingdom of God,” we are seeking to expand the territory for the Holy Spirit to work upon by bringing those oppressed by the devil to become a part of God’s kingdom. Thus by receiving the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of God is realized on earth.
God promised this to Abraham. I have been speaking about the three promises given to Abraham. A people – numerous as the stars in the sky and sand on the seashore. Then, He promised to give them land. After that, He would be their God in that land. When I was at school I learned during social studies lesson that a nation is comprised of three elements. Do they teach this in China? The three components of a country. First of all, people. You need people to make up a nation. Secondly, territory. What is the last one? Sovereignty. Sovereignty. It is a monarchal system. God said to Abraham that He will give him descendants (people) as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. And they became a people. So that is one of the components. Next He has to give them territory. He took them to the land of Canaan. And God promised that He will be their king and their God. Therefore, the sovereign rule over their nation is with the king. It is a kingdom ruled by the king. Presently in our country, we have sovereign power. The citizens have the power. Officially and seemingly, the people have it. We use our sovereign power and give it all to one person. We give our sovereign power to one person so that s/he can govern the country. It is a presidential system.
A nation is thus established with these three elements. If God promised these three things to Abraham, it means He promised a nation (kingdom). Hence, if God promised to be with them, it means He promised God’s kingdom – the kingdom that God the King reigns over.
We could, therefore, say that the whole Bible is speaking about Immanuel, but also, we can say in the same sense that the Bible is speaking of God’s kingdom. It speaks of the process of the establishment of God’s kingdom, and when we reach Revelation, it shows the fulfilment of that kingdom.
The kingdom of God is established; however, the Israeli people mistakenly believed that the kingdom was established on this earth. However, Jesus said that this kingdom is not of this world where it would perish; rather, He called it the kingdom of the Son, which God had given to His Son in heaven. Colossians 1:13-15 says, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” It is the kingdom of the Son. God’s kingdom is the Son’s kingdom. It is the spiritual realm. Since the Son is eternal, His kingdom also has to be eternal. His kingdom cannot be established in a place that will perish. And to be a citizen of that eternal kingdom, one has to become eternal. Therefore, even for us, it is our eternal self that will go to heaven, not the perishable self. So this kingdom is the kingdom of the Son of God.
Then where in that kingdom does the Holy Spirit operate? He operates between the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is at work where the Father and Son are. So, what kind of place is heaven? The kingdom of heaven is filled with the Holy Spirit.
God the Father is in heaven, but He operates outside of God’s kingdom too. The Son came into Hades. Before He received the Holy Spirit, He lived like a loner in Hades. However, after He received the Holy Spirit, He said, “The kingdom of God has come.” And evidences that God’s kingdom had come were witnessed. And He said that the prince of this world who rules over this world is the devil and exposed his identity. He spoke of Satan’s kingdom. All this time, we were under Satan and a people of Satan’s kingdom. But now we came out of there, from death to life, from darkness to light. We came out from Satan’s hold and entered the kingdom of the Son, and we are making that known. We are the people of the kingdom of heaven, and we display the authority who have as those who hold sovereign power of heaven.
Why are we joyful when we cast out demons? Because it is the evidence that we are a people of the kingdom of heaven, citizens of heaven and that we have the royal authority of heaven. That is why Jesus said to rejoice over the fact that our names are written in heaven when we drive out demons. Thus, it is not simply the expulsion of demons that we rejoice about, but because it is a confirmation of our status. That is why we rejoice. Even if someone were to fabricate a lie, who would be able to make up a lie that is this perfect? They might say that this lie has been going on for thousands of years, and they are now exposing it. But even if it was a lie, it is worth following, considering how people have fallen for it for thousands of years. But man can live only some decades, so how can he possibly control what has taken place over thousands of years? It is God who is in control.
Thus, when we pray, we say, “Your kingdom come.” We need to let the Holy Spirit operate and have more people become citizens of heaven so that the territory can be extended upon which the Holy Spirit may operate. That is the work we are doing.
This gospel we have is not just about believing in Jesus and being saved. We know for certain that this is a battle between two kingdoms. Hence, the gospel we received is the gospel of power. This gospel subdues the kingdom of Hades. That is why we do not simply stop at receiving salvation and having life. The coming of the Son of God is the coming of the King. He condemned the prince of this world and also gave us the authority to judge so that we can resist him. That is the task left with us.
For this reason, it is a matter of course that we cast out demons. To drive out demons is only natural for a preacher of the gospel to do. If one knows of the kingdom of God, he will definitely drive out demons. It is the work that surely must be done by the one who knows of the spiritual realm – Satan’s kingdom. Yet people are so ignorant of God’s kingdom that they think the expulsion of demons is strange.
We are truly thankful. We do not need to wonder about whether we will go to heaven or not because we are already in the kingdom of heaven, and we are using the authority of that kingdom. Moreover, God approves of us so that the Holy Spirit, who operates only within heaven, now resides inside us. Therefore, we ought to live by the laws of heaven. We have to live by the truth. If one claims to live in heaven but regards the earthly laws higher, or if he who should be governed by the heavenly law puts the earthly laws first and ignores the heavenly, which kingdom does he actually belong to?
Even if a Chinese citizen come to Korea, he immediately had to abide by Korean laws. Once when I was in China, I was riding a bicycle when a lady dressed in yellow suddenly grabbed me. I did not know why she grabbed me. I was riding my bicycle just fine, so why did she grab me? She said something to me and demanded 30 yuans. At that time, 30 yuans was a significant amount. So I asked her what the matter was. And she kept saying that I was riding on the wrong side of the road. All the bicycles were to be ridden on one side of the road, and if I wanted to go in the other direction, I had to ride on the opposite side of the road. I did not know they followed those rules strictly. So I said I was not aware of that. But would that work? It was useless. I said to her we are Koreans. But she said that though we are Koreans, we had to follow Chinese laws since we are in China. We had to pay in the end. There was nothing else we could do.
Which kingdom do we belong to? Where are we living right now? Do we belong to the kingdom of heaven or Hades? Though our flesh is living in Hades, we are living in Hades. Thus, we must live by the rules of heaven. Are we going to put ourselves first and live by the rules of Hades just because we are living in Hades? God is saying, “If you deny God, God will deny you also.” Therefore, the choice is up to us. Which law are we going to live by? We ought to live by the laws of heaven, namely the truth. Let us pray so that we can live by the words of Jesus.
Heavenly Father, you have made us citizens of heaven through Jesus and given us king-like authority. Heavenly Father, please help us live according to the laws of heaven. Also, please help us to receive help from messengers of heaven. Please help us live with the power of heaven. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.
Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on November 27, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team