Kingdom of God/Heaven
<<the realm of God>>
These terms are inter-changeable and apply to the sovereign rule of God that does not have geographical boundaries and is not physically centred in palaces and thrones like an earthly Kingdom. It is a spiritual Kingdom, and God, being Spirit, is omnipresent (present everywhere) and omnipotent (all-powerful) guiding the affairs of the universe. The Holy Spirit works in Christians bringing about change that reflects Heaven’s values. As a general rule God has chosen to limit His authority or influence in individual lives and does not force His will on those who oppose Him. It is our choice to submit to His Kingship in our hearts, being reflected in our prayers, obedience, holiness, faith, unity, witnessing and commitment to eternal values. The Kingdom of God is near you, and the required response is to repent (turn from sin), receive Jesus (and the forgiveness He died to provide) and walk in the new way of life, so it then will be in you with the eternal quality of life guarranteed before death, becoming the glorious reality of eternity with God after (Mt 3:2, 4:17; Jn 10:10, 14:17; Act 17:30).
Definite action is required to enter
to the penalty due to our sin (Rom 6:23). By repenting and receiving Jesus we are saved, and while walking in His ways shows our love for Him and will enter the everlasting realm where God is sovereign and Jesus Christ rules forever (Mk 1:15; Jn 1:12, 3:16, 5:24, 14:15; Act 26:18; Rom 6:22; Eph 2:1-3,8,9; Col 1:13; 2 Pet 1:11).
Jesus and the Kingdom of God
1/. Jesus announced the reality of the Kingdom, it being manifest through His own life and ministry. He displayed the power and authority of this new, liberating Kingdom by casting out evil spirits, healing the sick and other miraculous evidence of divine power and He entrusts us as His representatives to use His authority to continue His ministry – yet we have abysmally failed (Mt 21:27, 28:18-20; Mk 5:19, 16:15-18; Jn 14:12; Act 3:6-10, 19:11,12).
2/. The Kingdom was the main, focal point of Jesus’ teaching and He often used parables as a means to impart various truths about it. Although the terms Kingdom of heaven/Kingdom of God do not appear frequently outside the gospels the underlying theme of the NT is God’s authority and values being outworked in human lives, with the gospel of God’s redeeming activity through Christ to be preached in all nations before the end of the world (Mt 24:14). This Kingdom is at the centre of Christianity.
In what ways am I actively and consistently endeavouring to advance the Kingdom of God
1 Cor 6:19; 1 Jn 4:4). Jesus is the only way to enter this eternal Kingdom and the invitation is open to all people to avail themselves of this priceless treasure [of citizenship] (Mt 13:44-46; Jn 14:6; Act 4:12; Rev 22:17). Through acknowledging His description of us as sinners and accepting His pardon of salvation we pass from death to life, with this calling for a lifetime commitment of obedience, outworked through servanthood and sacrifice, giving up of our own self-centered desires as we are now ‘His property’ (Mt 5:19, 7:21-25; Jn 3:3, 5:24). Even as He had to go the way of the cross, we are to crucify our desires and live for Him, bearing fruit for eternity (Jn 15:8; Rom 8:13; Gal 2:20; Col 3:5; Tit 2:12; 1 Pet 3:18).
4/. Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching…My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him…The Kingdom of God is within you” (Lk 17:21; Jn 14:17,23,24; Rev 3:20). Although this will only be fully outworked when sin is forever removed, it is still a present reality that Christ, through the Holy Spirit, resides within – “I in them…I myself in them” (Jn 17:23, 26; Rev 21:3). As His representatives, being salt and light in a dark world of decay, we take the presence of God with us, serving with a humble yet positive and confident attitude – a discernable influence to which all other spirits should submit, for “Greater is He [Jesus] who is in us than the devil who is in those of the world” (Mt 5:13-16; Act 4:13; 2 Cor 2:14,15; 1 Jn 4:4).
5/. He also said that the reign of God is yet to be fully established. This future Kingdom will continue forever (Isa 9:7; Mt 7:21, 11:2-5, 12:28; Lk 1:33, 12:32, 17:21; Jn 3:3; 1 Cor 15:50). The church is never identified as the Kingdom of God in Scripture though it is a part of it and the worldwide body of believers receives direction, mission, and power from its head – Jesus. We don’t know the full scope of the Kingdom of God but we do know it will climax when all evil and wickedness is finally put down and “the Lord God Almighty reigns” (Rev 19: 6).
Living in the Kingdom of God
1/. God rules overall and the advancement of His eternal Kingdom should be our motivation as we “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness”, even though this will involve persecution and hardship (Ps 103:19; Dan 4:3; Mt 6:33; Lk 1:33; Act 14:22). Wherever we go we should influence that area with the Kingdom of God that we possess and should possess us. His Kingdom is greater than Satan’s and cannot be overcome by evil.
2/. The good news of the gospel has the power to affect all aspects of our lives as it is acted on – spiritual, mental, physical, social and financial – with our inner thoughts and attitudes also being continually subject to the cleansing blood of Christ so that all the outward activities of our lives proceed from a pure heart and right motives. All credit must go to God even as this message is expressed, both individually and corporately, by those who love Jesus, through lifestyles consistent with Kingdom principles (Isa 40:3, 48:11; Act 4:13, 14:8-18).
3/. Jesus stated, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (Jn 14:12,13). Jesus who is always the same, doesn’t have favourites and expects us to do what He instructed in faith and He will work with us confirming His Word, as it is preached, with accompanying signs (Mk 16:20; Rom 2:11; Gal 2:6; Heb 13:8).
This includes my thoughts and outer actions of lifestyle – good works, witnessing, prayer and finance
normal living, characterised by “eating and drinking”, instead it involves “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” – a supernatural existence (Rom 14:17).
4/. We are to be fully united with Christ and living in harmony with our fellow Christians for there is power in unity yet weakness and defeat in division and conflict (Ps 133:1-3; Mt 12:25-28). Am I living in close relationship to the King of this Kingdom?
5/. Our love and devotion for Jesus will contribute to His Kingdom, and this will not go unrewarded (Lk 18:29). By investing in and advancing God’s reign on earth as well as living as He instructs He will recognise our contribution (Prov 11:30; Mt 5:19, 6:20). This involves obedience, humility, prayer, Bible study and sharing Christ with others. We are to live by heaven’s values now in order to prepare us for the future.
6/. The disciples were taught to pray, focusing on “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth...” (Mt 6:10). Our prayers too should reflect His Kingdom values as we consciously make Godly choices and responses, working under His authority and direction to enforce God’s revealed will on earth.
7/. The keys to the Kingdom are given to His followers. This is authority to ‘bind and loose’ in the spirit realm those forces that oppose or that assist in the advance of His Kingdom (Mt 16:19, 18:18).
8/. Again, Jesus said, “The Kingdom belongs to those who have childlike faith” (Lk 18:16,17). The Lord’s model prayer begins with “Our Father in Heaven...” In no other religion are its subjects spoken of in such terms of endearment, as Christianity’s Father to son and daughter relationships (Mt 6:9; Jn 1:12).
9/. While only God knows specifically those who will be in His eternal Kingdom, those who have not repented and turned from their ungodly ways will be excluded (Mt 13:49; Lk 13:30; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:19-21; Rev 21:8). The Kingdom of Heaven will eventually shatter Satan’s power. The book of Revelation reveals Christ’s Kingship as the eternal, supreme authority over all else that would oppose. Jesus came into the world to initiate the process and destroy Satan’s work in all of its various forms.