Character of the Kingdom Child

Title: Character of the Kingdom Child

Bible Book: 1 John 5 : 1-3

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Kingdom, Focus on the



If you have the Kingdom of God in your heart you ought to live in the heart of the Kingdom. Now that is a profound statement! So profound in fact that you may have guessed that it is not original with me. As I recall, the late Dr. J. P. McBeth made that statement in his PRACTICAL AND EXEGETICAL COMMENTARY ON ROMANS. Even if the quote is not verbatim, the thought is there. I believe Dr. McBeth made a statement to the effect that many people who profess to have the Kingdom in their heart do not live in the heart of the Kingdom but on the borderline. They have spent so much time on the borderline that it is hard to distinguish them from the people on the other side. They often look like them, dress like them, and sometimes smell like them!

If you have the Kingdom in your heart God expects you to live in the heart of the Kingdom, and He enables yo to do it. When you are born again you receive a new nature, a nature like that of the King of Kings. Not only that, God places His Holy Spirit in your heart to empower you to live in the heart of the Kingdom, to grow in the nature and character of Jesus Christ.

Several months ago I received a tape from Dr. Jimmy Draper, President of LifeWay Christian Resources. As a member of the Board of Trustees I receive a lot of mail from Dr. Draper, but I do not recall receiving a cassette tape - a video tape or two, but not an audio tape. I stuck the tape in the tape player in my truck and never pushed it in - I was listening to AFR Radio at the time. Well, that tape and I logged a lot of miles together before I found myself on a highway out of the range of the stations I normally listen to when I am close to home. After a little while I looked over at the end of the white cassette and finally reached over and turned on the radio and pushed in the tape. I don’t know what I expected to hear, but when you have been listening to sermons as long as I, you often wonder whether you are going to hear anything fresh. Someone reads a text and you think of a sermon you have preached on it and listen for some fresh insight.

I listened to the taped message in which Dr. Draper informed denominational leaders that LifeWay would begin a fresh emphasis on the Kingdom of God. Then, he got my attention when he announced that in all his years in the ministry he had never preached but one sermon on the Kingdom of God, and that was a sermon he preached at some state convention when the subject had been assigned. Dr. Draper had checked and said that he had often referred to the Kingdom of God but he had never preached another sermon specifically on the Kingdom. My first thought was that his statement was a horrifying indictment of my on sermon record. I have often preached about the Kingdom of God, but as far as I know I have not preached one sermon wholly on the subject. The emphasis is way overdue.

Since that time Dr. Gene Mims has written a must-read book, THE KINGDOM DRIVEN CHURCH.
I trust that we are going to see more and more emphasis on the Kingdom of God in our literature and in books and sermons. As I thought about it, I realized that we often stress the activities of the Kingdom, but we may not be giving enough emphasis to the character and nature of the kingdom. For example, we spend a lot of time training and challenging people to DO witnessing, but less emphasis on the command to BE a witness. Do you recall Acts 1:8? Jesus predicts there that after believers received the Holy Spirit they would BECOME witnesses - not just practice witnessing. It is possible to practice witnessing without actually being an effective witness; but is absolutely impossible to be a witness without witnessing. When we become a witness we will practice witnessing. Is it possible that we treat other subjects the same way? Look to the Beatitudes. Blessed are the merciful - what to the merciful do? They show mercy. Doing merciful acts may not make one merciful, but a person who is merciful will find countless way of showing mercy.

In our text today, we are going to focus on three specific things that are essential to a child of the Kingdom of God. The first is on BEING A CHILD OF GOD. The second is on LOVING GOD AND OTHERS. The third emphasis is on OBEYING GOD. These are some of the characteristics of the Kingdom focused believer.


A. This Verse Tells Us Who Is a Christian.

A Christian is one who believes that Jesus is the Christ. He must believe in the God of the Bible. Today we must be very careful to emphasize that. We are not talking about some generic god of nature, a universal god of good will. We are not talking about the god of Mormonism, Islam, or any of the other gods the world had invented to try to fill the place God had created in each heart for Himself. When I began in the ministry I could walk up to a door and knock or ring a door bell and know I would be invited in, shown a comfortable chair offered coffee and cake, and treated as a guest. Of course there were some exceptions, but not many. This applied both to Christians and lost people. If I asked, “Do you believe in God”, they never asked which god. If I asked, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God”, I expected them to respond, “I know He is.” If I asked, “Do you believe this Bible is the Word of God” I expected them to answer in the affirmative, and then tell me how much it meant to their mother or father. You have to do a lot more probing today with some people to be sure you are talking about the same God, or the same Jesus. And when it comes to the Word of God, you might get less debate from lost people than from some church members, especially some “religious leaders” (like the priests who defended their election of a homosexual as a bishop - they said, “The Bible is not our authority”).

A Christian is one who believes the God of Creation is the God of our Redemption and that the only way anyone can be saved is through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Look with me at some of the most familiar verses in all the Bible:

“Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).

“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10).


B. This Verse Also Tells Us Who Is not a Christian.

1. A Christian is not one who simply believes that there is a god.
(the devil believes and trembles)

2. A Christian is not one who simply believes in an historical Jesus.
(Like Caesar, Jesus was an important historical figure but I can know that and not be a Christian)

3. A Christian is not simply one who believes in a New Age Jesus.
(You are not God, and you are not your own Christ)

4. A Christian is not simply one who believes in a Mormon Jesus.
(The Jesus of Mormonism in not the Jesus of Scripture)

5. A Christian is not simply one who believes in the Jesus Jehovah’s Witnesses proclaim.
(Jesus is not “a” god, He is the expressed image of God the Father)


“And whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.”

A. If We Love the Father We Will Love Other Children of Our Father, 1:b.

This answers the question we may have raised in 4:19-21. In 4:21, we read, “And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” This does not say that the one who has been born again will have a warm, fuzzy feeling for everyone meets. This is a love that can be commanded - and it is commanded. You cannot command romantic love and you cannot command a close personal friendship kind of love. Yet God commands us to love one another. How can that be? Obviously, there must be a kind of love that can be commanded, because this is certainly not a simple suggestion. God commands it and holds us accountable for it.

God can command a love that can be directed by the mind, a mental attitude kind of love. I know God loved me enough to give His only begotten Son to die for me. I know God loves my brother or sister. I know He enables me to love my brother and he commands me to do it. I must seek the highest good for other people. For the lost person that is his salvation. For the saved that is whatever he or she needs.

I will never forget the time my older son fell at school and fractured his wrist. I thanked his teacher for helping him until I got there to take him to the hospital. Her sharp, tart response left me feeling more than a little disappointed: “It was my duty!” A Christian does his or her duty, but the love of God demands more than just doing our duty.

When my mother was in ICU in a major hospital in Memphis, TN, following surgery for a brain tumor, she awoke to a party like atmosphere as some of the nurses were enjoying a snack. During their snack time someone announced that he man in a nearby bed had died. A nurse or two joked about him and his family. When the neurosurgeon came by Mother told him about it and he questioned them. One rather large, aggressive nurse tried to demonstrate that Mother could not have known what they were doing. She went to her bedside and began asking her to name the president, the year, and a few other things - which she did. Her doctor pulled her out of ICU and put her into a room to get her away from those who were there to care for her.

In contrast, when my wife and I were awaiting the birth of our first son, John, an RN named Harriet Crocket insisted that Becky call her when she started to the hospital, regardless of the time. She has worked her shift and then stayed with Becky all day. When the time came for Mark to be born we called Harriet and when we got into the car I headed for Harriet’s to pick her up. Then Becky said, “You had better hurry!” And I did. Harriet went way beyond the call of duty.

B. Here Is Another Proof of Our Salvation, 5:2.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.”

1. If we are children of God we will love God.

John offers many proofs that one is a child of God, but none can be more important that our love for God and our love for others, especially other believers. This is not a generic love for all things nice and beautiful, and it is not a natural response to One Who has blessed us - it is a supernatural response to Him, or at the very least, a love consistent with one’s new nature in Christ. My son tried to explain to his little three years old daughter, Abigail, why he and her mother would be taking the bread and grape juice when they observed the Lord’s Supper, but that she could not take them. After a few comments he painted himself into a corner: “we will take them because we love Jesus.” Abigail began to cry, and with her hands over her eyes, said, “But I love Jesus, too!” Small children love to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and if they will tell you that they love Jesus. However, when they become children of God that love takes on a whole new dimension. When we become children of God we take on the nature and character of our Father. When we become citizens of the Kingdom of God we take on the nature and character of our King.

2. If we are children of God we will love other children of God.

Let me stress this one thing: we do not get to be children of God by doing good things for others any more than we get to be Christians by doing good things or by abstaining from evil things. The point is that if we are Children of God we are both empowered and motivated to love our brothers and sisters. We will manifest the love God has given us for others in practical ways. We will seek to do good because it honors and glorifies our Lord, and we will seek to avoid evil because it dishonors the God, Who loves us and permits us to love Him.

Teachers, doctors, nurses, plumbers, electricians, and farmers may approach their work selfishly, or they may take advantage of every opportunity to serve others. Mrs. Mickey Steward has cared for from ten to twelve friends at the time for more than fifteen years. I have know her nearly ten years and I have visited the home she maintains for most of that time. She is seventy three years old, she has had cancer for fourteen years, she has had two major heart attacks, she has had surgery - and she does not need to work. She loves those she considers her “friends” (not just patients). She will take you on a tour of her home and tell you about each person. She usually brings three Alzheimer patients to Sunday School with her. On a number of occasions someone has called and asked her to take a mother, father, or spouse when she had no beds left. So what would you do? Miss Mickey gave up her bed and slept on the floor or on a couch. She loves others and demonstrates it in a way that would put most of us to shame.

Miss Mickey has been a care-giver most of her life, including many years before she became a born again Christian. She did good deeds for many years when she was known as Dr. Steward, performing surgery, not just for the money, but because she loved doing human good. Now there is a whole new dimension to her care-giving. You cannot visit her home with coming away with an appreciation for her love for her friends and for their families. You may come away from there with a sense of shame for your own failure after what you have witnessed.

I do not know how you can determine whether or not a person serves others because of the agape’ love God commands and empowers, of for a general human love for others - the Will Rogers’ “I never met a man I didn’t like” kind of love. I remember the neighbor who was always doing things for others. One day as we were talking it suddenly dawned on me that he had a desire to be known for his generosity and his willingness to help others. He loved to tell how this person or that person said, “If I need anything I call on Bill.” Then, I began comparing him with some believers who never stopped to give a lot of thought to what others were saying about them.

A young man spoke to a policeman and when the policeman had left he told me that his father had taught him to always be nice to people in authority because you never know when you might need them. I immediately put myself in the place of the policeman - as a man. I could not help but wonder how he would feel if he knew the man he thought of as a friend was being friendly for his own selfish reasons. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t mind helping people who show a little appreciation”? The old expression, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, may reflect human good but it is knows little of the kind of love God commands, the love he shows for us and the love He generates within us.

ILLUSTRATION: If you have ever attended a conference at Glorieta, New Mexico, you have probably been to the dining hall. And if you have been to the dining hall lately you have seen the life-sized bronze of Bob (“Coop”) Cooper, standing there pouring coffee for someone - something he has done for more than a quarter of a century. I have had a number of conversations with Coop and before leaving the Tuesday evening banquet for members of the board of trustees (September, 2003), I arrived early and went into the dining area to thank him for all his help. He was appreciative and shared a little of his testimony with me. He was a successful business man in Dallas. At age fifty-six he sold his company to a larger company and moved to Glorieta where he has served as a volunteer for ever since - he is now eighty-one years old. No one can visit with Coop without a sincere appreciation for his love for God and his love for them.

He told me that someone came in during the summer and recognized him after having seen his “statue” out side. The young person exclaimed, “I thought you were dead!” Not many living persons have statues of themselves erected such a prominent place and that is a testimony to Coop’s love for the Lord and for all of us. Coop not only pours coffee, he checks to see if there is anything else you need. He went to get me a piece of pie, and in a few minutes came back and asked if he could take it and put it in the microwave for a minute - and he did. These are little things but anyone with any spirit of discernment knows Coop loves the Lord and when you are in his presence you know he loves you. He has taken on the character and nature of the King of Kings, the character of the Kingdom.


“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

A. “For This Is The Love of God” Explains the Love God Commands, 1:3a.

The citizen of this wold may love the environment, serve others, love law and order, make a major contribution to his country and to his fellow man. Many lost people spent endless hours serving others, supporting charities, attending benefits, rescuing animals from the roadside, and serving the underprivileged. and we are all better off because of it. We must give them credit. The citizen of the Kingdom of God, however, takes on the character of the King. His love will manifest the love of his or her heavenly Father in such a way that others will glorify our Father, not just praise us.

B. Citizens of the Kingdom Keep the Commandments of the King, 1:3b.

If you are a child of God you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and if you are a citizen of the Kingdom, God is you King! Who is your King? If you have no king, you are not a part of the Kingdom of God. If you have been born again by the grace of God, you have been justified, and you are now being sanctified - defined in Romans eight as “being conformed to the image” of Jesus Christ. We are being made like Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We are being conformed to the image of our King. I thank God we do not have to die to be a citizen of His Kingdom, and we do not have to die to be conformed to the nature and character of our Savior.

Obedience is expected of every citizen of the Kingdom and the desire to obey the King motivates us to honor Him. Jimmy Draper told of the man who came to him to try to get his approval for leaving his wife for someone else whom he thought could make him happy. Dr. Draper said, “God does not want you happy, He wants you obedient!” That is basically what Samuel told King Saul: “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (I Sam. 15).

C. His Commandments Are not a Burden to the Citizens of the Kingdom.

ILLUSTRATION: Greg Dunn gave me permission to share his testimony, a testimony he shared with our church on the sixth anniversary of his remarkable re-birth. Everyone present knew about his alcoholism, drug addiction, immorality, and other ungodly things. He told our people how he came to my house one Sunday night, hoping that I would say something to help him overcome some fear that held him in its grip.

What I will never forget, which he never mentions, is that he was very disturbed by muscle spasms in his stomach. He pulled up his shirt and I could see his stomach muscles jerking. I took him across to my study and let him talk with me for some time. Then, with full awareness that I could not do anything about the physical manifestation, I began to talk with him about God’s love for him, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for him. Greg pulled up his shirt and ask, “But what about this?”
The muscles were still jerking, and I knew I had no answer for that. I asked if we could come back to that a little later, knowing that I would have to refer him to his doctor.

Greg began to listen - I mean really listen. That night he confessed his sin and asked the Lord to save him. Now what I did not know was that while we were talking after he had asked the Lord to save him is what was going on in Greg’s mind. On the sixth anniversary of his re-birth he told me he was sitting there thinking, “Okay, I will give up the drugs, but I can still go to the bars with my daddy, and I can still do all the other things I was doing. I just want to get off the drugs.” He had been frightened when he came close to losing his girlfriend to drugs. He had been going to Dallas and buying drugs from the Mexican maffia and he told me that after he was arrested he looked around from the back seat of the police car and thought, “This looks just like it does on TV!”

Greg was determined to pick and choose the sins he wanted to keep in his life and the ones he was willing to give up. However, when he went home he got out his Bible and began to read. The more he read the more he realized that God wanted him to give up all the sins that had been so important to him. He told us that when he went to his mother’s house immediately after he was saved he told them that God wanted him to preach. At first, he had not wanted to give up all of his old lifestyle. People loved his parties and they loved being around him when he was entertaining. He was the life of the party. He had loved the tailgate parties, complete with girls, alcohol, and drugs. He wanted to be freed from the addiction but he did not want to give up all the sin. Before he went to bed that night he came to understand that God wanted his complete obedience.

Greg today can communicate with young people and young adults as few believers can. The Lord is using him, and the fact that he can speak the language and understand the heart of those who are today engaged in the activities from which the Lord has freed him.

You see, at first, Greg wanted to choose the areas of his obedience, but he did not want to be fully obedient to the Lord. Then he came to the conclusion as he read his Bible and prayed that God wanted his complete obedience. Finally, he reached the point that God’s commands are no longer a burden to him and he is celebrating that deliverance every day.


What is God’s message for me from this Scripture? “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” If you have never received Jesus as your Savior He wants you to confess your sins, repent of them, and receive Jesus into your heart. If you have already done that, He wants you to obey Him and walk with Him daily as he conforms you to the nature and character of His Son, Jesus Christ. He wants to mold you and develop you as a citizen of the Kingdom of God. If you will permit Him to do that, you will be blessed beyond anything this world can possible comprehend. You will receive all the benefits of the faithful citizen of the kingdom of God. The greatest blessing is fellowship with the King. Another blessing is that of being conformed to the nature and character of our Savior.

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