The word “kingdom” can bring a lot of things to mind such as knights, castles, and dragons, however, kingdom discipleship is something quite different.
What is kingdom discipleship? Kingdom discipleship is the process of being and making disciples that submit fully to God with the goal of building a strong relationship with him. The kingdom is understood as God’s rule, reign, and authority, and discipleship as the process of discipling someone else or becoming a disciple yourself. It is important to understand these two concepts as a whole so that you can engage in your discipleship journey more effectively.
Many people’s modern understanding of kingdom is different from its contextual biblical meaning, making the modern understanding of this concept somewhat distorted. However, when we take the time to understand this idea correctly, it has the potential to totally change your perception of discipleship.
Kingdom Discipleship Theology
In order to understand the concept of kingdom discipleship, it is important to understand the theology behind each of these ideas separately. Then, when combined, you will be able to truly understand the journey you are undertaking.
It is important to realize that the definition of “kingdom” has changed since its original usage in biblical texts. Today, people understand kingdom to mean the physical territory or people ruled by a king, or some other governmental figure.
However, the biblical understanding of kingdom is quite different, and is instead defines it as the “rule and reign of a king,” or the “authority to rule.” Therefore the kingdom of God is the “rule, reign, and authority of God.”
When Jesus came to earth, he brought the first stage of the kingdom. His death and resurrection freed us from our slavery to sin and allowed us to submit fully to the kingdom of God.
Eventually, at the final judgment, Jesus will return, conquer, and establish the new earth. He will have the only authority, authority will no longer belong to man, their kingdoms are torn down. Nor will sin have a presence on the earth anymore. This is the second stage of the kingdom.
These two stages are sometimes referred to as the “already” and “not yet.” The kingdom is “already” in that, we are able to choose to submit to God’s kingdom in our lives, and it remains “not yet” in that the final judgment has not yet come yet. “Not yet” will be complete when all the earth submits to God’s kingdom.
Example of Kingdom in the Bible
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come” does not necessarily mean heaven physically coming to earth, but instead, that God’s rule, reign, and authority would fill the earth, in the same way that it fills heaven.
Unless we take the time to understand the biblical context of the word “kingdom” our perception of what that truly means will continue to be distorted. By correcting our understanding of this word, we can now correctly interpret this verse and the many others in which Jesus talks about the kingdom of God.
Your kingdom come,Matthew 6:10 ESV
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Discipleship is the process of becoming or making disciples, and it is central to the mission of the church. To make disciples is to show other people how to build a relationship with Christ, and to be one is to pursue that relationship as the most important thing in your life.
Jesus is the best example of discipleship we have, and throughout his ministry, he outlined what being a disciple should look like, and showed by example how we should disciple others.
To be a disciple, the Bible says you must deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Jesus, abide in him, and put him first above everything else in your life.
To be a disciple is to deny the desires of your flesh and seek the desires and will of God in everything.
When Jesus called his disciples, they responded with full commitment to Jesus and his work. This does not mean they had everything figured out right away.
Peter denied Jesus three times, and Thomas doubted, but they continued to work at crucifying their flesh and seeking after the desires of God.
To disciple others, Jesus builds a model for us based on teaching, rebuking, scripture, opportunities to challenge their faith, relationship building, and preparation for making more disciples on their own.
Discipling others is the core of the Great Commission and part of each of our purpose on this earth.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matthew 28:19-20 ESV
Kingdom is the rule, reign, and authority of God. Discipleship is the process of being or making disciples with the intention of building a relationship with God. How do these things fit together?
Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth through his death and resurrection. We are no longer slaves to sin and death but have freedom in Christ who justifies us by faith.
The next step is discipleship, pursuing a relationship with God. This can only happen when we submit to God’s kingdom, his reign, rule, and authority, in our lives.
This is what Jesus meant for his followers to understand as Jesus was preparing to call his disciples in Galilee. He called them to forsake and repent of their sin, and believe the gospel because the kingdom of God was soon to arrive.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”Mark 1:14-15 ESV
Therefore, kingdom discipleship is the process of becoming a disciple by submitting to God’s reign, rule, and authority in your life for the purpose of engaging in a relationship with him.
It is also the process of discipling others by showing them how to submit to God’s reign, rule, and authority in their lives for the purpose of helping them engage in a relationship with God.
Why It’s Important
Understanding the concept of kingdom discipleship is essential to your discipleship journey. Whether you are just beginning or discipling others, it is impossible to raise up good disciples.
We must understand the goal and what it truly takes to get to kingdom discipleship.
Kingdom discipleship isn’t just reading your Bible every morning and praying before meals. While those things are still good and important, it is not the core of what it means to be a kingdom disciple.
To be a kingdom disciple is to submit to the kingdom of God over and over and over again. Every day, it is choosing to deny your flesh and pursue the will of God. To accept his authority over your life in every circumstance, knowing that it will require sacrifice, all in an effort to develop a strong relationship with him.
It is recognition that he is the only way, and that his way is worth any sacrifice we may make on earth.
Now, you arebe able to truly move forward in your journey of kingdom discipleship. Keep seeking God and asking Him to give you kingdom eyes. Ask Him how you can bring His kingdom onto earth.