Sunday, May 20, 2018

What Is The Kingdom of God?

A biblical study to determine what the Kingdom of God actually is.  Is it a future Heaven?  Is it here now?

Outline:
  • Good Doctrine Needs to Match Reality
  • Kingdom of God Doctrines
  • The Kingdom of God vs the Kingdom of Heaven
  • Jewish Understanding of the Kingdom of God
  • The Kingdom is Spiritual
  • The Kingdom and Judgment Day
  • Already But Not Fully Accessible

Scriptures:
  • Luke 17:20-21
  • Matthew 11:11
  • Luke 7:28
  • Matthew 13:10-11
  • Mark 4:10-11
  • Matthew 19:23-24
  • Jeremiah 23:5
  • Luke 17:20-21
  • John 18:36
  • Matthew 7:15;21-23
  • Luke 13:25-30
  • Luke 16:16
  • Hebrews 1:1-2

Luke 17:20-21
Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst."

Good Doctrine Needs to Match Reality

Doctrine: a principle or position held related to the Christian faith

Theology: the study of God and of God's relation to the world

Good doctrine helps explain the world we live in. Bad doctrines need to be stretched in order to fit reality, or they needs to be ignore reality.
  • Your doctrine has to match reality
Bad doctrine has to ignore certain scriptures that contradict it or worse attempt to discredit certain scriptures.
  • It uses sayings like “you have to read the Bible in its whole context”.
  • We can't say I've got 5 scriptures that say “a” and you only have 2 that say “b” so it must be “a”.
  • If any scripture contradicts our theology then we must admit that there may be more still that we don't understand.
Examples of bad doctrine:
  • God has guaranteed prosperity for all Christians if you have faith
  • God promised to heal all sickness if you pray and have faith
  • Either you don’t have enough faith or God lied
  • Once you get saved you never sin
  • Or you have the ability to live sin free
  • Or God loves you more if you don’t sin

Summary:
  • Good doctrine fits with reality
  • Good doctrine is supported by the Bible

Kingdom of God Doctrine

Scholars hold different views on what the Kingdom of God means.

Future Heaven (World to Come)

  • Where good Christians go after they die
  • New Jerusalem
  • A future Heaven here on earth
  • “Only the righteous can enter into the Kingdom”

The Church / Christians

  • God is the king and we are the Kingdom
  • All Christians make up the Kingdom
  • “The church is the Kingdom of God”

Christian Lifestyle

  • The “Christian Life” is the “Kingdom Life”
  • Following the instructions of the Bible
  • Living like a Christian
  • “You want to find a Kingdom marriage”
  • “Kingdom finances”

Inaugurated Eschatology

The Oxford English Dictionary defines eschatology as "the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind". It is a doctrine about the end times.
  • The last days began with Jesus’ life, death and resurrection
  • The Kingdom is God’s reign on earth
  • The Kingdom was partially initiated when Jesus died but has not yet come into full fruition
  • This is an example of the “Already, but not yet” Eschatology

Method of World Evangelization

  • Jesus gave Christians the ability and responsibility to bring the kingdom of God to earth
  • Christians living in a way that influences non-Christians to convert to Christianity

Charismatic Gifts

  • All biblical signs and wonders are available to all Christians
  • Often including raising the dead
  • This is evidence of the Kingdom

Already But Not Fully Accessible (Mine)

  • Defined later....

Dispensational Eschatology

  • The kingdom of God is a separate, future era in which the promises made to Israel will be literally fulfilled on earth.
  • The kingdom of God happens after the rapture during the millennium
  • This view aims at avoiding the problem that the Kingdom is described as works based
  • Some also claim that the books of Peter, James and John don’t apply until the future era

Kingdom of God vs Kingdom of Heaven (Dispensationalist Variant)

  • The Kingdom of God is this current dispensation which started at Jesus’ death and ends when the rapture occurs
  • The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom which can be entered through faith
  • The Kingdom of Heaven begins after the rapture and continues through the millennium
  • The Kingdom of Heaven will be Jesus’ physical kingdom on earth
  • The Kingdom of Heaven is for the unsaved Jews who must enter it through works

Kingdom of God vs Kingdom of Heaven

Let’s analyze if the Kingdom of Heaven is the same as the Kingdom of God
  • Kingdom of God occurs 69 times in the New Testament and is in all 4 gospels
  • Kingdom of Heaven occurs 32 times and is only used in the book of Matthew

Scripture Uses the Terms Synonymously

John the Baptist

Matthew 11:11
"Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
  • John the Baptist was the person ever (aside from maybe Adam)
  • Everyone in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John the Baptist
Luke 7:28
28 "I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
  • John the Baptist was the greatest human being
  • Everyone in the Kingdom of God is greater than him
Matthew and Luke are referencing the same statement of Jesus but using two different terms
  • This shows that they are interchangeable
After Parable of Seeds and The Different Soils

Matthew 13:10-11
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" 11 Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

Mark 4:10-11
As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,

Rich Man (Both Used Synonymously By Jesus)

Matthew 19:23-24
23And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
  • Jesus used the two terms interchangeably
Problems With This View:
  • Matthew is the only gospel that mentions the Kingdom of Heaven
  • If Jesus talked about them both why didn’t the other gospel authors talk about the Kingdom of Heaven?
  • Why didn’t the apostles talk about the Kingdom of Heaven?
  • In the various biblical accounts the terms are used interchangeably
  • The gospel states in many places that Kingdom of Heaven is upon us (here right now)
Summary:
  • The Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are the same

Jewish Understanding of the Kingdom of God

Since the Kingdom of God is a Jewish term we can examine what it meant historically.
  • As well as today
  • Since Jesus, the disciples and the apostles were Jewish we can assume that they had the same understanding
Malkuta de-Adonai (Kingdom of God)
Reign or sovereignty of God as contrasted with the kingdom of the worldly powers. The hope that God will be King over all the earth, when all idolatry will be banished.
--JewishEncyclopedia.com

The Jews Were Expecting the Kingdom to Come

The Old Testament looks forward to the coming of the Kingdom of God as a time when God will rule the earth.

Jeremiah 23:5
5“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.
  • This was their view of the Messiah
  • They were expecting Him to come reign as king

The Doctrine of the Kingdom of God Is Central to the Jews Daily Life

While the Jews were being oppressed by Rome they prayed for "the Kingdom of Heaven," to come speedily.
  • This became the central object of their prayers in the liturgy
  • It was even declared that no benediction would be effective without reference to the Kingdom

The Shema Israel

Today the most important Jewish prayers is known as the Shema Israel.
  • It is a declaration of faith and a pledge of allegiance to God.
  • They recited this prayer twice daily in the morning and going to sleep at night.
  • The Shema Israel is the first prayer taught to Jewish children and it is the last words Jew says before death.
  • The Shema is recited in preparation for the reading of the Torah on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays and at the end of the holiest day, Yom Kippur.
The Shema is recited aloud as follows:

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad =
Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One

Blessed be God’s Name and glorious kingdom forever and ever. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I [God] teach you this day, shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder before your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.

It is based on Deuteronomy 6:4-9

So the expectation of the Kingdom of God was central to the Jews.
  • This is why Jesus or John the Baptist never introduced the concept
  • but instead expounded on it

Overthrowing the Roman Government

They thought a Messiah was going to come and lead a battle to take over Rome by force
They viewed the Kingdom of Heaven in opposition to the Kingdom of Rome
  • They believed the Messiah was going to come and defeat the Romans so the Israel would now rule the world
Most Jewish sources see the Kingdom as a restoration of Israel including either:
  1. a destruction of the nations
  2. a gathering of the nations to obedience to the One True God

The Jewish View of the Kingdom Included Everyone Following the Law

They believed that when God’s Kingdom came all Jews and Gentiles would live subject to God under the law
There was a Hasid├Žan phrase that said man must "take upon himself the yoke of the Kingdom of God"

Kingdom of God is Synonymous With Kingdom of Heaven

Jews held the name of God to be so Holy that they were not allowed to speak it or write it.
Exodus 20:7 says "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God" so pious Jews used various replacements for the sacred name of God (YHWH) in order to avoid the danger of breaking this commandment. One of these was the term "heaven."
The name of God (YHWH) was replaced with Adonai (Lord) or Heaven
  • “Heaven” is used as a synonym for “God”
  • They believed the name of God was too holy to be spoken aloud
"'Ol Malkut Shamayim" [Kingdom of Heaven]; "Heaven" is a synonym of "God"
--JewishEncyclopedia.com

In summary:
  • The Jews were expecting the Kingdom to come
  • They thought the Kingdom was going to be a forceful takeover of the Roman government
  • They thought that in the Kingdom everyone would be under the rule of God and follow the law
  • “Kingdom of God” is the same as “Kingdom of Heaven”

The Kingdom is Spiritual

God had not revealed the details of His plan to bring man back into fellowship with Him.

Luke 17:20-21
20Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst[within you].”
  • The Kingdom of God is inside of you
  • Jesus was telling them that the Kingdom wasn’t going to be a physical kingdom ruled by God
  • The Kingdom is spiritual
John 18:36
36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
  • It’s not in our natural realm
  • It’s in the Spirit realm
  • Our flesh bodies aren’t in the Kingdom, but our spirits are

Summary:
  • Jesus didn’t come to establish a physical earthly kingdom to replace the Roman government
  • The Kingdom of God is not of this world
  • The Kingdom of God is not a physical kingdom
  • The Kingdom of God is in the Spirit realm
  • The Kingdom is not the church or a Christian lifestyle

The Kingdom and Judgment Day

The term “Kingdom of God” is also used to describe a future kingdom after we are judged when Jesus returns

Matthew 7:15;21-23
15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
...
21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM MEYOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
  • Jesus is talking about false prophets
  • Those Who claim to be prophets of God
  • Jesus is saying they won't get into the Kingdom of God
  • Those who claim to speak for God but don't
  • Those who are in the church but aren't really Christians
  • The witches and Luciferians in the pulpits across the country pretending to call Jesus Lord
  • Those who say the name of Jesus on their lips but aren't really Christians
  • This is talking about some future judgment... on Judgment Day
  • This is talking about a Kingdom of God in the future

Luke 13:25-30
25“Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26“Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM MEALL YOU EVILDOERS.’ 28“In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. 29“And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30“And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”
  • This is a future time
  • He’s saying some of the Jews who do not accept Him as savior will not be allowed into the kingdom
  • Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be in the Kingdom
  • This is not on earth
  • This is a spiritual kingdom because Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are spirits now
Summary:
  • There will be a future judgment where only those who follow Jesus will be allowed into the Kingdom of God
  • Those who didn’t choose Jesus as their Messiah will no longer have an opportunity to repent
  • All who do not make it into the Kingdom of God will be destroyed or sent to hell eternally

Already But Not Fully Accessible

In some passages it is clear that the kingdom of God is already present. Jesus also talks about the Kingdom in the future, and we know that our lives in the future Kingdom will be better than our current lives. That's why The “Already But Not Yet” view says that the Kingdom is partially here now, but it is not yet fully realized.

Not Fully Accessible

My view is that the Kingdom is completely “here” now, but it is not fully accessible. The Kingdom is Spiritual. The Bible says: “ flesh and blood but cannot inherit the kingdom of God”. Since we are in flesh bodies we don’t have complete access to it. There is a Spiritual Kingdom, The Kingdom of God, where Jesus reigns. There is also a physical kingdom in which we live. Our flesh bodies tie us to this physical kingdom and our souls yearn for the Spiritual Kingdom. The Holy Spirit was put in us to link us to the Spiritual Kingdom of God.
When we declare Jesus as Lord we are declaring ourselves as being under the authority of Jesus’ Kingdom even though we are residents here on earth. We live as ambassadors representing Jesus’ Kingdom.

The Kingdom is Complete

In Luke 16 Jesus declares that His coming marks the end of an era:

Luke 16:16
16“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
Jesus separates history into two periods. The time of the law and the prophets and the time of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the period we are currently in and that period will extend eternally. Jesus initiated the period of the Kingdom of God and that kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.

There are many verses that point to “the last days” beginning when Jesus came.

For instance,
Hebrews 1:1-2
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Last means there is nothing after it. “Last meal” means you will not have a meal after that. The Kingdom of God began with Christ and is never ending. This is the last kingdom.

Garden of Eden

The Kingdom won’t change. Only our access to the Kingdom will change. The Garden of Eden was God’s original Kingdom created to have intimate fellowship with man. When Adam sinned he was kicked out of the Garden of Eden. God put cherubim to guard the entrance so that Adam wouldn’t have access to the Garden. The Garden didn’t go away just because Adam lost access. The Garden was still there, Adam just didn’t have access to it. Similarly the new Kingdom of God exists, but we don’t have full access to it.
As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we can harness some of its power through the Holy Spirit. We can call upon the name of Jesus to gain some level of access, but when we receive our glorified bodies we will have full access.

Summary
  • The Kingdom or rule of God began when Christ came
  • We got access to it when Christ died as a sacrifice
  • The Kingdom is fully in place now
  • We do not have full access to the Kingdom in our flesh bodies
  • After the final judgment there will no longer be any flesh bodies
  • At that time everyone who remains will be a part of the Kingdom of God
  • Unless they’re in hell
  • The future Kingdom is not a new kingdom
  • It’s the same kingdom Jesus announced was at hand
  • The same Kingdom we have partial access to now
  • The future we will have a greater access to it
  • Once we get our glorified bodies we will receive full access to the Kingdom
  • Once we gain full access there will be no more sin or death
  • There will be no more evil

Conclusion

The Jews understood the Kingdom of God be the Kingdom that would come into place when the Messiah returned. They expected that a Messiah would come and conquer the Romans and bring Israel to world dominance. The nations would be ruled by Israel under the direction of God. This new Kingdom was referred to as the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.

Many Jews viewed Jesus as being the Messiah who was going to establish this Kingdom. When He died this idea was seemingly crushed. The Jews didn’t understand the concept that the the Messiah had come as a sacrifice for their sins to bring a Spiritual Kingdom.
Jesus defeated sin and death and inaugurated a Spiritual Kingdom within His followers. This Kingdom will be fully realized after the final judgment when all who remain will be in spiritual bodies and will be completely obedient to the rule of God.

The Kingdom actually exists right now as a parallel realm
  • We are citizens of the Kingdom but residents on earth
  • When we die or are changed we go completely into the Kingdom
  • Access to the Kingdom is through faith alone
  • At death we give up our residency in this world and become residents of this spiritual Kingdom
Each day we choose which kingdom we want to represent.

Extra

The Kingdom of Heaven is the Same as Kingdom of God

Deep Analysis of This Doctrine

Key Points
  • The Kingdom of God is this current dispensation between Jesus’ death and the rapture
  • The Kingdom of Heaven is the millenium
  • 1000 year rule of Jesus
  • The Kingdom of God is based on faith and is for the Gentiles
  • The Kingdom of Heaven is based on works and is for the Jews
  • The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom that is within you
  • The Kingdom of Heaven is for Jews
  • The Kingdom of God is for Jews and Gentiles
Proof Text For: The Kingdom of Heaven is Only For the Jews
Matthew 10:5-8
5These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse thelepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
  • The Kingdom of Heaven is only to the Jews
  • You have to ignore the fact that it is “at hand”
Matthew 5:20
20“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • The Kingdom of Heaven is based on works and not faith
Other Scriptures
Matthew 13:31-33
He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES." 33 He spoke another parable to them, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."
Luke 13:18-21
So He was saying, "What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? 19 "It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and THE BIRDS OF THE AIR NESTED IN ITS BRANCHES." 20 And again He said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 "It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."
Luke 8:9-10
His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND.

Jesus Starting His Ministry

Matthew 4:17
17From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
  • Wait, I thought it was future
Mark 1:14-15
14Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Jewish understanding of the kingdom of God

Isaiah 24:23
23 Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, For the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, And His glory will be before His elders.

The Kingdom is Spiritual

John 3:3-6
3Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.6“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
  • You have to have your natural birth as well as a spiritual birth
  • The natural birth was of water
  • The Spiritual birth is a birth by the Spirit
  • You have to be born again means you have to become a follower of Jesus

The Kingdom and Judgment

Isaiah 2:2-4
2Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
3And many peoples will 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 concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.

Already But Not Yet

We need to be on guard against the danger of emphasizing one aspect of the kingdom at the expense of the other. An overemphasis on the "already now, " gives too great of a focus on miracles, healing, victory over sin, and spiritual gifts and ignores the "not yet". This can lead to an optimistic outlook on reality that will result in disillusionment. We still need to live by faith and not sight. We still long for the perishable to become clothed with the imperishable,the mortal with immortality. On the other hand, a one-sided emphasis on the not yet may lead to defeatism and despair in this life and a neglect of the joy and victory from Jesus’ defeat over sin and death. Though sin still exists we are being "transformed into Jesus’ likeness" ( 2 Cor 3:18 ).
The now and the not yet must be held in tension. Believers can rejoice in having passed from death into life and in the presence of the Spirit of God. But the victories in the present life, pale in comparison to the world to come.

Random

Luke 16:16
16 ¶ "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
Luke 23:50-52
50And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man 51(he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; 52this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
  • The Kingdom of God hadn’t arrived
  • literally, looking for - the kingdom of God
  • He was expecting for it to come (right now)
-----------
In Luke 17:21 When Jesus said, "the kingdom of God cometh not by observation [calculation] . . . for, behold, the kingdom of God is among [not within] you", he meant, "It does not come through rebellion or by force"
Romans 14:17
16Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

References