God’s supreme objective is the establishment of His kingdom on earth. Jesus told His disciples to pray this way: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10, KJV). This is God’s will: that earth should look like Heaven.
The church exists to bring heaven to earth. And since we know that this is the Father’s will, we have confidence that when we pray this way, we will receive it (1 John 5:14-15). Demonic opposition, the world system, and sin in our own lives may delay God’s objective, but it will not ultimately stop it. As the Lord said to His prophet, “I am watching over My word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12b).
My pastor tells the story of a boy in China who really wanted a bike. He asked his father to buy him one, but the father couldn’t afford it and told him “no.” But one night, the boy overheard his father say to his mother, “I really would like to find a way to get a bike for our son.” Overhearing this, the boy knew his father”s heart was to get him a bike, and so he was emboldened, and persisted in asking his dad, “Can I have a bike?” Time after time, his father had to refuse him. But one day, the boy asked, “Can I have a bike?” and the father was able at last to say, “Yes. I have found a way to get you your bike.”
In the same way, when we know what the Father’s heart is, and we understand the nature of our covenant with Him, we can confidently pray into His desire and know that it will happen, even if it tarries. (This is the great confidence I have when I pray, even as the news stories coming across the wire about the abortion industry, and how corruption and bribes continue to keep Planned Parenthood afloat and seek to destroy those who oppose it. While there may be fierce opposition and setbacks, ultimately this evil giant has already been defeated at the cross [see Colossians 2:15]. We are in covenant with Christ and therefore are to administer His victory over every foe).
Paul in his letter to the Romans tells us what the kingdom is and is not: “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). In this context, Paul is drawing the lines between legalism (the do’s and do not’s which characterized Pharisaical law) and the Kingdom.
Similarly, Isaiah says this in the context of the Holy Spirit being poured out: “The result of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quiet confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17). This is repeated and expanded on in Galatians 5:13, which details the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
So we see that righteousness is the primary component of the Kingdom of God, and out of righteousness flow peace and joy. Righteousness is defined in the Greek here as “the condition acceptable to God; man in the state as he ought to be” (blueletterbible.org). So righteousness is doing right (i.e. obedience) but it is also being in the state in which an individual ought to be. I believe wholeheartedly that righteousness comprises wholeness, as in physical and mental righteousness with Heaven. All throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see Him concerned not only with the heart of individuals, but also with their physical and mental state. Everywhere He went, Jesus healed and delivered people who were ill or paralyzed or mentally tormented. This was the gospel of the Kingdom that he preached: to restore individuals to a right state – spiritually, mentally, and physically, so that the whole man was in total agreement with Heaven. “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
The outworking of all righteousness is peace and joy. In other words, when we are obedient to God and are in a state of agreement with Heaven, the effects are peace and joy. Likewise, when we’re healed of chronic pain, or delivered from anxiety, great is our peace and joy. The husband and wife who are living righteous lives bring peace and joy to their household and give the best gifts possible to their children.
Isaiah’s “quiet confidence forever” is such a sweet picture of the righteous believer! Even in the midst of swirling, messy circumstances, the Christian “whose mind is stayed on God is in perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3).
But Christ’s instruction to bring heaven to earth is not a mandate for a theocracy. What exactly does this look like? In the next post, we’ll examine in more detail how righteousness is established in the earth.