What the Kingdom of God Is
In the simplest terms, the Kingdom of God
is the rule of God
. Thus, it can be said that wherever the Lord Jesus Christ reigns, there you have the Kingdom of God
. This is true whether Jesus rules in an individual life or over a group of people.
God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and therefore His Kingdom exists in the spiritual realm
— a realm which is presently invisible to our natural eyes. Someday, God's Kingdom will come in all its fullness, but it is now "at hand" for us to enter into by faith. God writes the laws of His Kingdom
on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33-34) and calls us to walk in obedience
to His commandments. Through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, we can experience the reign of God in our daily lives.
It is the Spirit of God
Who reveals the ways of God to the children of God (see John 14:26). The Bible says in I Corinthians 2:9-10, "But as it is written, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.' But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
The rule and reign
of God within the hearts of men, women, boys and girls is
the reality of the Kingdom of God on earth!
Here are seven biblical truths
to help us further understand what God's Kingdom is
The Kingdom of God is both a
present reality and a future
Many times, Jesus referred to the Kingdom of God in the future tense: "Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God"
(Mark 14:25). Then, on other occasions, Jesus indicated that the Kingdom of God was already present: "But if I with the finger [or Spirit] of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you"
(Luke 11:20; also see Matthew 12:28). However, He most often preached that the Kingdom of God was at hand
(that is to say, "just around the corner" or "so close you can almost touch it").
Thus, the Kingdom of God
is a dominion to be reckoned with — both now and in the future. The Bible reveals that the Kingdom of God came down to earth with the first coming of Christ, and it will be fully realized at Christ's second coming (see Isaiah 11:1-9 for a description of the future reign
of Christ). Meanwhile, the Kingdom advances throughout the earth as God's people live and preach the Gospel
The Kingdom of God is opposite
to our human reasoning.
Repeatedly throughout Scripture, we find that God's truths
contradict human reasoning. For example, Jesus said of the religious, self-righteous Pharisees who thought they were justified before God: "For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven"
(Matthew 5:20). This statement and many others reveal that God's thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).
Other examples of Kingdom principles
which don't make sense to the natural mind are as follows:
- He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life for Jesus' sake will keep it (John 12:25).
- The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (I Corinthians 3:19).
- The first shall be last, and the last shall be first (Matthew 20:16).
- Visible things will perish in corruption; unseen things are true, eternal reality (II Corinthians 4:18).
- He that is greatest among you shall be your servant (Matthew 23:11).
- The wisdom of God is revealed to babes (Luke 10:21), to children (Luke 18:16), to the persecuted (Matthew 5:10), to the despised (I Corinthians 1:27-29), and to the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).
Such heavenly truths
are understood only as our minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit through the washing of the water of God's Word (Ephesians 5:26). This washing and renewing is critical, especially since the world constantly bombards our minds with secular humanistic philosophies which are contrary to the knowledge of Christ
(see II Corinthians 10:5). "For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path. When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul ..."
The Kingdom of God is revealed
in the ministry of Jesus.
of Jesus is best summed up in these words by Isaiah the prophet:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord"
(Luke 4:18). You see, Jesus' mission
to preach, heal, and deliver as revealed in this ancient prophecy was all part of His message
about the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, He didn't just talk about it. He did
it by healing the sick and touching the outcasts (Luke 9:11). "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"
(Matthew 4:23). Later, Jesus sent out the disciples in the cities and villages, instructing them to "heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, 'The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you'"
Indeed, the Gospel of the Kingdom is revealed through the life-changing, healing touch
of the Lord Jesus. Still today, Jesus touches the lives of the poor and outcasts through His servants. James 1:27 states, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
The Kingdom of God is revealed
in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul said in I Corinthians 4:20 that "the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power."
Jesus demonstrated this truth by doing the works His Father gave Him to do through the power of the Holy Spirit
(see Luke 4:14; John 5:19, 12:49, 14:10, 17:8). Jesus also foretold in Mark 9:1 that some of His followers would not die until they had seen the Kingdom of God come with power. His words came to pass at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was sent down.
Truly, the power of God
for salvation is
the message of the Gospel! We are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation"
(I Peter 1:4). Furthermore, Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek"
(Romans 1:16). You won't find the Kingdom of God in eloquent sermons or in educated philosophies but only in the power of God
(see Romans 15:19, 16:18; I Corinthians 2:2-4) — a power which changes lives, works miracles, and brings people to salvation
(see Ephesians 1:13).
The Kingdom of God is
righteousness, peace, and joy.
Romans 14:17 tells us that "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."
Although the world lives with an attitude of "eat, drink, and be merry"
(Luke 12:19), God's people are to live "soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world"
The context of Romans 14:17 addresses controversial issues regarding eating meat and drinking wine. Paul said that believers should please the Lord by not causing a weaker brother to stumble from their liberty in eating and drinking, for the Kingdom of God is not about "being right" on those issues. Rather, God's Kingdom is manifested through righteousness, peace, and joy
in the Holy Spirit. When believers "follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another"
(Romans 14:19), and endeavor to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace"
(Ephesians 4:3), then the reality of the Kingdom
is shown forth.
The Kingdom of God is entered
only on God's terms.
The Bible gives clear guidelines on how to see and enter God's Kingdom
. These are as follows:
- You must receive the Kingdom of God as a little child (Matthew 18:1-4, 19:14; Mark 10:15). You cannot come to God on your terms; He calls you and you respond to His invitation (see John 15:16).
- You must enter in at the strait gate and walk a narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14).
- You must repent (literally, change your mind) and receive the Mind of Christ, the Holy Spirit (Matthew 18:3; Mark 1:15; I Corinthians 2:16).
- You must be born again by the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3,6). "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 15:50).
- You must be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20). "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" (Luke 18:24). God looks for needy people who are dependent upon Him. He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
- You must do the will of the Father, which is to walk in faith and obedience to His Son (see Matthew 5:19, 7:21, 12:50; John 6:29; Ephesians 6:6; Hebrews 10:36; I John 2:17). Jesus emphasized that religious activities might actually be contrary to the Father's will (Matthew 7:21-23).
- Expect to be persecuted for righteousness' sake (Matthew 5:10; II Thessalonians 1:5).
- Think it not strange when you encounter trials and tribulations; these are part of the journey to inheriting the Kingdom with Christ (Acts 14:22; II Timothy 2:12; I Peter 4:12-14).
According to Jesus, obtaining His Kingdom requires repentance, righteousness, purity of heart, humility, servanthood, and obedience. Furthermore, the path to the Kingdom may involve suffering, rejection for Christ's sake, and tests of faithfulness. But we also know that "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory"
(II Corinthians 4:17).
The Kingdom of God is
inaccessible to the wicked.
The Bible is also very specific about who will not get into God's Kingdom
. We read:
- "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators [pornos in Greek: those who buy or sell sex], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind [sodomites], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God." Paul went on to say, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed,
but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11). In other words, the sins listed here might be part of someone's past, but when a person is cleansed and forgiven by the blood of Jesus, he or she is to "Go, and sin no more" (John 8:11). No one who is currently practicing any of those unrighteous acts will inherit God's Kingdom.
- A similar list appears in Galatians 5:19-21. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication [porneia in Greek: illicit sexual acts], uncleanness, lasciviousness [unbridled lust] , idolatry, witchcraft [sorcery and the occult], hatred, variance [quarrels], emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
- Finally, Ephesians 5:5 says, "For this ye know, that no whoremonger [fornicator], nor unclean person, nor covetous [greedy] man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."
These stipulations are very clear, without exception: those who live according to the lusts of the flesh will die in their sins. Romans 8:13 says that "if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
Many people continue in sin, thinking that God overlooks their sin because He delays His judgment. However, the Bible says, "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after"
(I Timothy 5:24). In other words, consequences for sin may be immediate or forthcoming.
While the blind and unbelieving continue in sin, the wrath of God is being stored up against all workers of iniquity
. "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power"
(II Thessalonians 1:7-9).
How, then, are the people of God to live? "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless"
(II Peter 3:14). God's people are to live by faith
and walk in obedience
to His Word.
Perhaps you can see why the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not a popular message! The kingdom of Satan
presently rules this world and violently rages warfare against the Kingdom of God
(see Matthew 11:12; Ephesians 6:12). Every person is born under this regime of darkness
, an anti-Christ, murdurous (anti-life) system which is responsible for the death of righteous men from "Abel to Zacharias" (Matthew 23:35). Satan's kingdom indoctrinates people's minds with lies, lest they believe the truth of God's Word and be freed from the bondage of sin (II Corinthians 4:4; II Thessalonians 2:11).
Thankfully, Jesus "gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world"
(Galatians 1:4). By faith
in Jesus Christ, we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the glorious and everlasting Kingdom of God (see Colossians 1:13). Therefore, he who believes on Jesus "no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God"
(I Peter 4:2). To turn toward God is to turn your back on the kingdom of this world.
In this day and hour, there is great opposition to the message of the Gospel, which is "to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me"
(Acts 26:18). Jesus came to call people out of
His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9). He has "abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel"
(II Timothy 1:10). That Gospel
is the good news
of the Kingdom of God, a heavenly Kingdom which is accessible to mankind through the blood of Jesus Christ.