What is the Kingdom of God?
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:
Repent ye, and believe the Gospel – Mark 1:15

     The kingdom of God or heaven as it is referred to in the Scriptures is a state where people are living in obedient union with God.
     Jesus prayed to the Father, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven – Matthew 6:10.
     In heaven God’s will is the perfect order, thus the kingdom when it comes upon earth will be a reflection of people’s lives that are abiding and operating within the presence of God and the boundaries of His perfect will.
     Jesus said no one can enter this kingdom unless they are “born again” or re-born spiritually.

Truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God” – John 3:3.

Jesus said this involves being “born of the Spirit.”

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit” – John 3:6.

We cannot be born again without the Gospel of the kingdom, (Matthew 9:35, 24:14) or the word of the kingdom (Matthew 13:19) – which is-

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved – John 3:16, 17.

     God’s kingdom is Spirit, thus to be joined to His kingdom and be brought into union with God, we must be cleansed from our sins and receive His Spirit. His Spirit is received and our sins are forgiven when we believe the Gospel, which is that Jesus died for our sins, He rose from the dead and through His sacrifice for us we have the gift of eternal life.

     Jesus tells us that we must receive the kingdom as little children.

Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child,
he shall not enter therein – Mark 10:15.

Except you be converted and become as little children,
you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven – Matthew 18:3

For of such is the kingdom of heaven – Matthew 19:14

    Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is a kingdom of humble, trusting dependant – and blessed child-like souls – Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven - Matthew 18:4.
Blessed are the poor
(humble) in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven – Matthew 5:3.

     The Kingdom of God is expanded every time a soul receives Jesus as Messiah, the Redeemer of mankind, for as Jesus said, the kingdom of God is within us (Luke 17:21). The Greek word for ‘within’ is entos which means inside, within the soul.
     That is why Jesus said the kingdom does not come with observation, (Luke 17:21), because the kingdom of God is not a material kingdom. Jesus told Pilate that – “My kingdom is not of this world” – John 18:36. He said the kingdoms of this world were under the dominion of the devil, “the prince of this world” (John 14:30). Jesus said that “If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight…” John 18:36. In other words, if it was a material kingdom, then it could be established through human effort, but Jesus is saying to Pilate and us, that it is not.

     The kingdom of God is in the heart of the believer and is expanded within the believer gradually as we grow in the Lord or “abide in the vine” – “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing" – John 15:5.

     The fruit of the Spirit that is developed within the believer by abiding in Christ is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and temperance (moderation, self-control) – Galatians 5:22.

     Jesus likens this expanding inner kingdom developing gradually like a crop –

And he said, “So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knows not how. For the earth brings forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he puts in the sickle,
because the harvest is come.” – Mark 4:26-29.

Or leaven in bread –

Another parable He spoke to them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. – Matthew 13:33.

Or a mustard seed –

The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and
lodge in the branches. – Matthew 13: 31,32.

    Our righteousness is imparted to us through faith in the atonement, Jesus’ death for our sins and His resurrection, and is developed through an ongoing relationship with God through Him by His Spirit in us.
     Jesus tells us that our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees or we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20). That is because an outward, legalistic “religion” that is typified by self-effort or “works” will not be sufficient to enter God’s kingdom, for it is the work of God that provides the entrance to His spiritual domain.
     The kingdom is God’s – Matthew 6:13 and must be given to us by God. –
     Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom – Luke 12:32.
     This is why Jesus said that He is “The Door,” and no one can enter the kingdom except through Him –
     I am the door: by Me if any man enters in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture - John 10:9.

     God views His people as His treasure and likens Himself as a man who is willing to give all He has to purchase that great prize.

The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hidden in a field; the which when a man has found it he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all he has and buys that field – Matthew 13:44.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearls: who when he has found one pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it – Matthew 13:45,46.

    Some may view these passages as referring to those who see the value of the kingdom and are willing to give up everything in order to obtain it and that may be applicable, but the kingdom is given to us as a free gift and need not be purchased.
     However, we are told believers are “bought” –11 Peter 2:1 with the precious blood of Christ – I Peter 1:19. He has sought us and views us as great treasure. We see the souls he has redeemed as jewels in Revelation 21: 9-21. The Apostle John is shown a vision of the church which is “the bride, the Lamb’s wife “ – verse 9, as a spiritual Jerusalem. The pearls are the gates of the city and the treasure its walls, for we are made this habitation of God through His Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).

     The parables of the treasure in the field of this world and the pearl of great price are sandwiched among other parables that contrast the jewels that God has sown with the fruit of the wicked.

     We see that God’s word is sown in the world and grows up, but an enemy has sown tares among the wheat - Matthew 13:24-30. A tare looks just like the real wheat but it is a deceptive counterfeit. God tells us that both will grow together until the end when the Lord returns and the tares will be removed.

     But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up - Matthew 15:13.

     God’s word is sown into the hearts of men, some fall on bad soil and no fruit develops. Others fall on good soil and produce the fruits of righteousness – Matthew 13: 3- 23.
     Likewise the kingdom of heaven is likened to a net that is cast into the sea and gathers every kind of fish. When the net is dragged to the shore, that is when the final haul is over, the bad fish are cast away and the good fish are kept - Matthew 13: 47,48.
     “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked (those who have knowledge of the Gospel and rejected it) from among the just. (And they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity –Matthew 13:41) And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailng and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 13:47-50.

     It is a sobering thought, but – “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven” - Matthew 7:21.

     We know that it is the will of God that we believe the Gospel –
     And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one who sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40); - but as we look at the context of the verses surrounding Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:21, we can see that Jesus is talking about false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing who are walking in iniquity, even though they are performing works in His name. The Gospel is obviously lacking in the doctrine these prophets are proclaiming, as they point to their works to try and justify themselves, and not the grace of our Lord, but it is also the will of God that those who profess faith in His Son walk in righteousness as well.
     The Apostle John makes it very clear that those who are genuinely in Christ do not willfully, deliberately and continuously sin. - Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed (His word) remains in him: and he cannot (continuously) sin, because he is born of God. – I John 3:9. The meaning in the original Greek indicates a continuing action. No one who has been born again can sin continuously as a lifestyle. This does not mean that a believer cannot sin.
     John tells us also that when a sincere believer fails, which any believer can do no matter how earnest simply because the flesh is so weak at times, that - if we confess our sins Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness – (I John 1:9).
     The humility of confession draws God to our side to cleanse us and strengthen us for the journey ahead.
     Tares, like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, are never humble enough to confess their sins, turn from them and obey the Gospel.
     Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3). Then because his faith was real, it naturally produced obedience and he obeyed God by being willing to sacrifice his beloved son at God’s command (Genesis 22). Thus his “works” were the natural response to his faith. James tells us that faith without works is a dead (or non-existent) faith. (James 2:20).
     The hypocrites who do not obey the Lord’s commands out of love are excluded from the kingdom, because the faith they are professing is not valid, nor are they producing fruit from a relationship with the Lord, because there is no genuine union with God through Christ.
     And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? – Luke 6:46.
     If ye love me, keep my commandments – John 14:15.
     Love one another - John 13:34.

     Thus God tells us we shall know them, (the true or the false) by their fruit – Matthew 7:16.

     In this portrait of the kingdom that Jesus illustrates for us, we are shown that it is very difficult for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom - Matthew 19:16-26 - but with God all things are possible. He has ways to strip us of that extra baggage so the Gospel will someday be as attractive to us as those old earthy treasures once seemed to be.

     He shows us that the salvation He gives us makes the kingdom available to us even if some of us only had time to serve Him just a little while in this life. He shows these ones, their service is just as much to Him as those who served Him all their lives –Matthew 20: 1-16, - yet - He makes it clear that He requires those whom He has called, to serve Him – Matthew 25: 14-30. And they will not lose their reward, even if they have given a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple - Matthew 10:42 – or served the least of these in any way – Matthew 25: 31-46.

     When He comes for His bride in this beautiful, yet honest painting, He recognizes her because she has kept the oil of the Spirit of the Truth of the Gospel burning in her lamps through the dark times, but those who have neglected His Truth or maybe have exchanged it for another, sadly, He will not recognize as His own - Matthew 25:1-13.

     And because the kingdom of heaven is a kingdom where those who have received His forgiveness, must also forgive; those who cannot return the same will find themselves reaping the fruit of their own lack of grace - Mark 11: 25 , 26.

     And in the finale when all the guests have been called to the wedding feast, those who have not adorned themselves with the wedding garment He has provided through His sacrifice, will be refused the entrance to the kingdom that can only be accessed through the acceptance of His grace – Matthew 22: 2-14.

     The kingdom of God is a kingdom where people are loving God and loving each other, yet its expansion is continually thwarted by demonic resistance to the spreading of the Gospel for the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force – Matthew 11:12.
     There are more Christians being martyed today than at any other time in history.
     This violence will cumulate into the final hour, the great tribulation as illustrated by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:21,22) for as the Lord draws closer, the birth pangs of His new world must begin. And His bride travails until the kingdom is given to her at her Lord’s return.
     With an eye on the coming victory, Jesus assures those who must endure persecution until that time that they are blessed for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:10.

     Seek the kingdom, children, and everything else you need God will provide - Matthew 6:33 – for where your treasure is so your heart will be also - Matthew 6:21. And everyone who seeks, we are promised that treasure we will surely find – Matthew 7: 7, 8.

copyright 2011 by H.D. Shively

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