Some Kingdom Facts
There are a myriad of views about the Kingdom. Many
of these views contradict what the Bible says about the kingdom and they even
are in conflict with each other. It is our goal in this material to establish
and notice some kingdom facts, absolute teaching found in the Bible. The
"Kingdom of heaven" or "Kingdom of God" in New Testament terminology stands for
and is indicative of the blessings of God (Mk. 10: 25, 26).
The meaning of Kingdom of heaven. The term Kingdom (Greek, basileia) basically has four nuances or shades of meaning as used in the New Testament. There is God's reign (Kingdom involves the King, I Tim. 6: 15, Luke. 6: 46). God reigns in the hearts and lives of individuals. Many of the Jews could not understand this truth (Luke. 17: 20, 21). Kingdom is sometimes used of the subjects (Mk. 10: 25, 26). Kingdom denotes the church (ekklesia), the subjects over whom God reigns (Matt. 16: 18, 19). The ekklesia (church) is viewed as the church universal (no "location" or organization, Matt. 16: 18, only "one" ) and local (I Tim. 3: 15, see context regarding appointment of elders and deacons, cf. Acts 14: 22). Kingdom is also used regarding future bliss (Matt. 25: Jesus "likened the Kingdom" to many things in an effort to explain and, sometimes, to conceal the Kingdom (Matt. 13). These are kingdom facts.
More introductory kingdom facts would be: The Kingdom is compared to mustard seed in that the Kingdom had a small beginning but grew into the greatest "institution" the world has ever known, the Kingdom is likened unto leaven in that it diffuses itself by its very nature and permeated in its influence, and the Kingdom is compared to great treasure which a man found and sold all he had to obtain it in that the Kingdom is of incomparable worth (Matt. 13: 31, 32, 33, 44). Jesus illustrated that some just find the Kingdom, while others find it as a result of seeking it (Matt. 13: 44, 45, 46). Jesus taught that the Kingdom is like unto ten virgins as far as purity and preparedness are involved (Matt. 25: 1-13, in the case of the five wise virgins).
Let us now examine some additional kingdom facts that have a certain relevance to us coming to God and remaining with him.
Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom. Have you ever wondered what the substance of Jesus’ preaching was while he was on earth? Whatever it was would be of the utmost importance, then and now. Consider Matthew’s statement:
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people" (Matt. 4: 23).
Even matters that were not directly pertaining to the kingdom message, when examined, are observed as still part of the kingdom proclamation in terms of its blessings, requirements, and other particulars. The word is the "seed of the kingdom" (Luke 8: 11).
Jesus announced the approach of the coming kingdom. Involved in Jesus preaching the kingdom of heaven is the fact that he emphatically announced the coming of the kingdom. Hear him:
"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4: 17).
Announcing that the "kingdom of heaven is at hand" simply meant that it was imminent or about to appear. Keep in mind that this announcement of the imminence of the kingdom was two thousand years ago.
Jesus presented his kingdom and church as "comparable." There is a difference in the kingdom and church in that the kingdom (Greek, basileia) is essentially God’s rule or territory of this reign while "church" (Greek, ekklesia) identifies the called out or, fully, the called out saved, those comprising the territory of God’s kingdom.
"And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16: 18, 19).
Notice how "church" and "kingdom" are interchangeably used by Jesus. Peter used the "keys of the kingdom" when he preached the gospel in Acts 2: 14ff. and thus allowed entrance into the kingdom. Hence, those who maintain that the kingdom is not yet established and remains future do not understand and appreciate the church belonging to Jesus. This is a kingdom fact.
The nature of the kingdom is identified by Jesus. Many in Jesus’ day misunderstood the announced kingdom, thinking it like all the secular and political kingdoms with which they were familiar (cp. Matt. 20: 20ff.). Not so. Jesus plainly said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18: 36). Hear him in full:
"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence" (John 18: 36).
It is sad in the extreme that wars, fighting, and blood shed has occurred in the name of Jesus’ kingdom. All such history reflects man’s lack of true understanding of the kingdom (cp. Luke 17: 20).
Jesus in detail promised the establishment of his kingdom. On one occasion, Jesus said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12: 32). On another occasion, Jesus provided more detail as to the time of his kingdom. He said:
"And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mark 9: 1).
The kingdom came "with power" in Acts chapter two, just as prophesied and promised (anterior to Acts 2, the kingdom is mentioned as "future," but subsequent to Acts 2, the kingdom is referred to as a "reality").
The apostles spoke of the kingdom as then in existence. Paul reminded the elders from the church in Ephesus that he had, "…preached the kingdom of God" to them (Acts 20: 25). Notice Paul’s statement regarding the Colossians:
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Col. 1: 13).
The first century Christians understood that the kingdom had then come and that they were a functioning part of it (cp. Rev. 1: 9). The Thessalonians had been, "…called unto his kingdom and glory" (I Thes. 2: 12). This is a kingdom fact.
Our salvation depends on us entering and being a part of the kingdom. The kingdom is not an optional matter, but seen in the scriptures as requisite. Even in its preparatory state, we read the following:
"The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it" (Luke 16: 16). Jesus in his dialogue with Nicodemus presents the kingdom as an absolute necessity and also shows that the kingdom and that which appertains to it is not physical (John 3: 3-7). The new birth and the kingdom are joined by Jesus. Such is a kingdom fact.
Christians are to put the kingdom primary and first in their lives. Not only is the kingdom a reality, but it must occupy first place position in our lives. Jesus said, again in anticipation:
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6: 33).
A certain spiritual quality is required regarding being a citizen of the kingdom. Jesus said, "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9: 62).
Concerned reader, the Kingdom/church is the most wonderful institution the world has ever known. This is what Jesus meant when he said, "…Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matt. 11: 11). The citizenship, rules of conduct, of the Christian is in heaven, the upper kingdom (Phili. 3: 20, ASV). It is to this upper kingdom that the Christian longs to go after this life (2 Pet. 1: 11, I Pet. 1: 4). These are indisputable kingdom facts!