A Big Topic
If you have headings in your Bible, notice the heading above Matthew 4:12: “Jesus Begins his Ministry.” What did Christ speak about once He began His ministry?
- Matthew 4:17 KJV From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
- Matthew 4:23 NRSV Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
- The word “gospel” simply means, “good news.” Therefore, the gospel is about the “good news of the Kingdom of God.”
- There is no such thing as a “prosperity gospel.”
- The gospel is also not about Jesus Christ.
Let’s continue to spot through Matthew:
- Matthew 5:3 NRSV “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- Matthew 5:10 NRSV “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- Matthew 5:19-20 NRSV Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
- “Kingdom of Heaven” appears five times just in chapter five!
- The phrase “Kingdom of God” appears 69 times in the New Testament.
- Another term: “kingdom of heaven” appears 32 times.
- Notice what these verses say and what they do not say. The Kingdom is said to be of heaven, not necessarily in heaven!
- Consider the British empire. You could be in the British empire and not be the country of Britain.
The next chapter is commonly referred to as “the Lord’s prayer.”
- Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. (10) Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. (11) Give us this day our daily bread. (12) And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. (13) And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:33 NRSV But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
- Two big goals for every Christian are to seek The Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness!
Matthew 9:35 NRSV Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.
There is no mystery around the word “kingdom.”
- Merriam-Webster defines the word as, “a politically organized community or major territorial unit having a monarchical form of government headed by a king or queen.”
- In summary, a kingdom has four things: a ruler, political organization (or laws), territorial boundaries, and citizens.
- So, we can expect that the kingdom of God is no different. It must have these four qualities in order to be defined as a kingdom!
Satan is Currently the Ruler of This World
The Kingdom of God is not here yet and Jesus Christ is not currently the ruler over this earth. Notice the following verse:
- 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 KJV But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (4) In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Did you know that the Devil is the god of this world? The reason why people don’t understand the basic Biblical truth about the Kingdom of God is because the god of this world has blinded the minds of people all around the world.
- John 12:31 NRSV Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
- John 14:30 NRSV I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me;
- John 16:11 NRSV about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
Jesus Christ Will Be King!
Now, let’s look at how Christ is going to be a king. First, let’s notice that Christ is coming back to this earth:
1 Thessalonians 4:16 NRSV For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Revelation 1:7 NRSV Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.
Zechariah 14:4 NRSV On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward.
Now, let’s look at verses that show Christ will be king:
In Luke 1:32-33, the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary about Jesus: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Daniel 7:13-14 NRSV As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being [Christ] coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One [the Father] and was presented before him. (14) To him [Christ] was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.
Revelation 11:15 NRSV Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”
Zechariah 14:9 NRSV And the Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one.
Isaiah 9:6-7 NRSV For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Micah 4:1-2 NRSV In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it, (2) and many nations shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
- Note: The Bible refers to governments as mountains and hills.
Revelation 19:6 NRSV Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.”
Daniel 2:44 NRSV And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever;
Psalm 9:7-8 NRSV But the Lord sits enthroned forever, he has established his throne for judgment. (8) He judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with equity. (9) The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Psalm 96:12-13 NRSV let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy (13) before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.
Who Will Rule With Christ?
In the third episode of The Word of the Kingdom, Do You Have an Immortal Soul?, we talked about how when you die, the Bible says that in that very day, your thoughts perish. The dead, therefore, are waiting for a resurrection!
Revelation 20:4 NRSV Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Daniel 12:2 NRSV Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Daniel 7:18, 22, 27 NRSV But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever—forever and ever.” … (22) until the Ancient One came; then judgment was given for the holy ones of the Most High, and the time arrived when the holy ones gained possession of the kingdom. … (27) The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.”
Matthew 25:31-32, 34 NRSV “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. (32) All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, … 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;”
When Christ returns, the faithful receive the promise of inheritance!
Revelation 5:10 NRSV you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.”
Matthew 19:27-28 NRSV Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” (28) Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jeremiah 30:9 NRSV But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
- Did you know that King David will be resurrected to rule over Israel?
Hosea 3:5 NRSV Afterward the Israelites shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.
Ezekiel 37:24 NRSV My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes.
Thinking back about the definition of a kingdom, a kingdom has a ruler (Jesus Christ), it has political organization or laws (we talked about those who will rule with Jesus Christ), it has territorial boundaries (Isaiah 9:7), and it has citizens.
Isaiah 2:2-4 NRSV In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. (3) Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (4) He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Isaiah 30:20-21 NRSV Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. (21) And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
It’s beyond the scope of this episode, but the book of Revelation speaks of a coming Tribulation and Day of the Lord. Both of these events are incredibly tumultuous. After these events, there is a 1000 year period referred to as the “Millennium.” People that survive the Tribulation and Day of the Lord become the citizens under this Kingdom:
Revelation 20:11-13 NRSV Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. (12) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. (13) And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done.
Revelation 20:5-6 NRSV The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him a thousand years.
Not Here Yet
Let’s dispel the myth that the Kingdom of God is already here:
Matthew 6:10 NRSV Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
If you’re told to pray for the kingdom, then it’s not here yet!
John 18:36 NRSV Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
We read Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 earlier, but take note of something:
Isaiah 2:2 NRSV In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains…
Micah 4:1 NRSV In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains…
Matthew 5:12 NRSV Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
- Is this proof that Christians are going to heaven?
- Consider the following scenario: You have saved $1,000,000 for retirement, and it is safely deposited in the bank. Does that mean you have to enjoy your reward at the bank? Of course not! You would take your money out of the bank to enjoy it on vacations, etc. In theory, you don’t even need to go to the bank to access your reward, as someone could bring it to you. Notice the following verse:
- Revelation 22:12 NRSV “See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work.”
1 Peter 1:3-4 NRSV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
Luke 6:23 NRSV Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
Neither of the above two verses prove that Christians are going to heaven for their reward. Coupled with Revelation 22:12,
Luke 17:20-21 KJV And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, “The kingdom of God comes not with observation: (21) Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
The phrase “within you” can be translated as “within your midst” in Greek. This interpretation makes sense because of the impossibility that Christ meant the Kingdom of God was within the Pharisees! Rather, because Christ was a representative and future king of the Kingdom of God, He was referring to Himself when he said that the Kingdom was “within your midst.”