“For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). There is great joy in being a citizen of the kingdom of God. Consider several reasons we can rejoice.
There is great joy in being saved from our past sins. “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). This is why the Ethiopian man in Acts 8, upon being baptized into Christ, “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). And all who were baptized in Acts 2 are described as a joyous people: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:46-47a). This joy is only in the kingdom, because that is where forgiveness of sins is. See how Paul associates the forgiveness of sins with being in the kingdom: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13).
We rejoice in the kingdom because we are richly blessed in Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Paul continues writing that we are chosen, adopted, accepted, and forgiven. All spiritual blessings are in Christ, who is King in His kingdom.
We have great joy in the kingdom because of the great privileges of being a child of God. A privilege is something granted as a peculiar advantage or favor; it is neither earned nor merited. There is the privilege of prayer: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14). And consider this privilege: God will graciously and mercifully forgive our sins when we repent and confess our sins to Him. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
In the kingdom, we can worship God acceptably, and this is cause for joy. Paul writes, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Paul is speaking of those who have been “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands” (Colossians 2:11) – those who have been baptized into Christ. They are the same ones in Colossians 1:13 who have been translated into the kingdom. In the kingdom, we eat and drink the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:29). In the one body, the church, the kingdom of God, we can sing with grace in their hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:15-16). Acceptable worship is in the kingdom of the Lord.
There is joy in being in the kingdom of the Lord because of great and precious promises. We have the hope of being with the Lord in heaven: “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). And while we are still in this body, we have the promise of help. “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Finally, joy comes from being in fellowship with others in the kingdom. We are in the company of “those who have obtained like precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1). There is not a better people on Earth to be with. We mutually encourage one another by our faith, hope, and love.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God….Beloved, now we are the children of God….” (1 John 3:1-2). Do not forget what a blessed privilege it is to be a child of God, in the kingdom of the Lord. It is cause for great joy.
– Larry Jones