25 Quotes from “Seek First: How the Kingdom of God Changes Everything” by Jeremy Treat

Through this book, Jeremy Treat, Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Reality LA, offers readers a holistic overview of the scope of the Kingdom of God. As he points out, this is the thing that Jesus talked about more than anything else (p. 13), so it’s good for us to know not only what it is, but what it means for our lives as Christians. Jeremy defines the kingdom of God as: God’s reign through God’s people over God’s place (p. 15). In eight words he offers readers a working definition, and then for the rest of the book he elaborates on how that definition permeates our entire lives in the buckets of Kingdom Perspective, Kingdom Purpose, and Kingdom People.

Jeremy’s writing is extremely accessible and relatable, and he’s a master of taking the complex and making it not only understandable but memorable. As a personal bonus, about half of his illustrations involve basketball, so sometimes it feels like I am exactly his target audience.

If you follow along with this site, you’ll know I’ve been on a bit of a Jeremy Treat kick in 2019. That being said, this is the last list you’ll see of his stuff for a while (at least until he writes another book). If you’re just stopping by for the first time, and want an introduction to more of Jeremy’s work, check out quote lists for his other books Follow Me: A Simple Guide to Following Jesus, God’s Will For My Life: A Theology of Decision Making, and The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom in Biblical and Systematic Theology.

You can read an article Jeremy wrote for The Gospel Coalition on the importance of the kingdom here and, if you’d like, you can purchase the book here.

The following is a list of 25 of my favorite quotes from the book. Enjoy!

1. Page 13

Jesus gave his followers many commands, but there was only one thing he said to seek first.

2. Page 18

Many Christians today think of salvation as leaving earth for heaven, but the story of Scripture is quite the opposite. The message of the kingdom of God is not an escape from earth to heaven but God’s reign coming down from heaven to earth. The focus of God’s reign is his people, but the scope of God’s reign is all of creation.

3. Page 32

In an individualistic culture, being “true to yourself” feels like commonsense wisdom. But that’s only because it’s heard in the context of a broader plotline that glorifies autonomy and culminates in personal satisfaction.

4. Page 33

Rob was in a place many Christians in America find themselves today: mad at God for breaking promises that he never made.

5. Page 35

God is a different type of king, a good king. He rules with wisdom, justice, mercy, and self-giving love. God is as patient as he is powerful. He is as beautiful as he is strong. He is as merciful as he is mighty. He’s a good king. God’s power is guided by his love and is always in line with his character. He is the kind of king who uses his power to bless his people.

6. Page 37-38

The serpent, who is later revealed to be the devil, questioned God’s character by twisting God’s word. The enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. But don’t be fooled. This warrior comes not with tanks and bombs but with cunning questions, half-truths, and masked lies.

7.  Page 40

A pattern emerges in the story of Scripture from this point onward: victory comes through suffering, exaltation through humiliation, and ultimately, the kingdom through the cross.

8. Page 41

The bible is not the story of God finding good people and rewarding them; it’s the story of God pursuing wicked people and saving them.

9. Page 50

Jesus didn’t come to make the world a better place. He came to make the world new by grace. Like rays of sun that pierce through the dark clouds, the healings and miracles of Jesus are God’s reign breaking in on earth as it is in heaven.

10. Page 56

In the New Testament, we see even more clearly that substitutionary atonement is not only a pardon but an exchange. Christ takes our sin; we receive his righteousness. He takes our shame; we receive his honor. He takes our guilt; we receive his perfect record. The innocent was condemned as guilty so the guilty could be declared innocent.

11. Page 92

When I fix my eyes on Jesus and remember what he has done for me, I rejoice over his perfect life that is credited to me, his sacrificial death that removed my guilt and shame, and his victorious resurrection that gives me the power to overcome sin.

12. Page 108

What is the specific role of the church within the unfolding story of Christ’s kingdom? … The church is a distinct community that makes disciples and equips those disciples to be salt and light, participating in God’s work of renewal in the world.

13. Page 112

If you don’t commit to anything in life, then you’re committing to doing nothing with your life. And if you’re only committed to doing something as long as it’s good for you, the only thing you’re really committed to is yourself.

14. Page 120

God usually brings about justice through his justified people. The Lord is the one who watches over the sojourners, but he also commands his people to care for the sojourners (Deut. 10:18-19). The Lord upholds the widow and fatherless, and he does so through a people who care for the widow and fatherless (James 1:27). God is the advocate for the poor, and he calls his people to speak up on their behalf (Prov. 31:19). God reigns through his people.

15. Page 126

Science cannot prove that all people are created equal. History does not attest to the idea that all people are created equal (Aristotle, for example, believed some were born to be slaves).

Why, then, do Christians believe that all people have dignity and deserve certain rights? “In the image of God he created him, male and female he created him” (Gen. 1:27). Dignity is not something that has to be earned or achieved; it is bestowed by God as a fact of every human being.

16. Page 133

Racism is a rejection of God’s declaration that all of humanity reflects his nature. The seed of sinful hatred that was planted in the soil of human depravity has grown into a lynching tree.

17. Page 135

“Separate but equal” is not an option when we believe Christ died to bring us together. The gospel makes us a family where the waters of baptism run thicker than the blood of family origin.

18. Page 146

Just as Adam was called to “work and keep” the garden, the priests were told to “work and keep” the temple. They were set apart to mediate the presence of God to his people … all of humanity was created by God to be a royal priesthood, mediating the blessings of God’s reign to the whole world.

19. Page 151

Christian growth is not a matter of changing into something you are not but is about becoming who you truly are “in Christ.”

20. Page 167

The gospel is a counterintuitive message and will sound strange to the world. We are for the city, but sometimes in the name of relevance or bridge building, Christians lose any distinction from the city.

21. Page 170

Be faithful. Results may vary.

22. Page 175

We do not build the kingdom for God, we receive the kingdom from God. The sign of Christianity is not a ladder; it’s a cross.

23. Page 178-179

Biblical hope is not naive optimism or wishful thinking; it is an unflinching confidence in God’s power to accomplish God’s purposes in God’s timing.

24. Page 183

But we must remember that the only devil we will ever face is a defeated devil. He has been disarmed of the power of accusation at the cross, and while he still prowls like a lion, his claws have been removed. Expect opposition and be ready to fight with the power of sacrificial love.

25. Page 189

If we’re honest with ourselves, the internal, silent prayer of our fallen hearts is “my kingdom come.” We want people to follow our agenda. We want the world to praise the glory of our names. “Your kingdom come” is a dangerous prayer becasue we’re stepping off the throne of our own lives and submitting to God’s agenda of bringing restoration and renewal in creation. To pray “your kingdom come” is to ask God’s gracious reign to invade the sin-corrupted spaces of our lives and our world.