Biblical Truth #10: God’s Kingdom
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Mathew 4:17b). Jesus says this and more sayings related to the kingdom of heaven 86 times in the Bible. He is constantly teaching about it, constantly calling his followers to hope in it, and constantly living it himself. Jesus states that this kingdom will consume the whole world eventually, that it will start small as a mustard seed and grow into the largest of all trees. Biblically we can affirm two truths from this. One, the kingdom of heaven is taking place now and will grow. Two, the kingdom is a reversal of our present world, turning everything up on its head.
Kingdom of Heaven
Throughout the Old Testament, the prophets foretold of a king who would reign from the line of David. He would establish a kingdom that has no end. God’s favor would rest upon him and Israel and the surrounding nations, they would all be blessed as a result of this king. Jesus himself pointed to his fulfillment of these kingdom prophecies in his talk with the two on the road to Emmaus. He showed how his kingdom had come to reign on earth. Death had been struck a terrible blow, and had been cast down from his throne. A new kingdom was being established, one where belief in Jesus was the saving of the human spirit.
Atop this idea of death’s defeat, Jesus called his kingdom servants to missions in proclaiming his kingly rule. His disciples were the feet that bring the good news of the gospel, the messengers that ran faster than they should be able, and through the Holy Spirit, caused Christianity to expand dramatically. Jesus told them to be hospitable, to care for the oppressed, the widows, the poor, the orphans, anyone that had a lower status. His kingdom was to be made up of people such as these. The might of the rich was condemned. The bowed head of the poor was to be lifted up, making the first last and the last first.
Jesus encouraged self-sacrifice, even as he sacrificed himself. The early Christians followed his example and opened their homes to one another. They shared meals with each other, they prayed without ceasing, they devoted themselves to the Bible, its teachings, and its teachers. No one owned anything that he was not willing to give to another if he needed it. It was a radical life change that could only happen by the Spirit of God moving in the lives of these people.
Thus, a Christian living the kingdom life is one of the oddest things. He does things that normal men do not do. He gives money when he has little. He sacrifices time to spend with invalids. He advocates for equity among all peoples, believing God’s love is equal for all. He does not care for his own life, for death has no sting. He cares only for the king, and he bows before that king daily, offering him his service. He never points to himself, but only to the rich and glorious blessings that come upon him as a member of the kingdom of heaven.
In concluding, it’s important to note that God’s kingdom is at war with Satan’s kingdom. Back in the Garden of Eden, Satan gained control over earth and its people when he deceived Adam and Eve to disobey God. Then, approximately two thousand years ago God, via his son Jesus, came to earth to conquer death, restore his people, and reclaim his kingdom here on earth. God took victory, and now Christians are part of God’s army to help build God’s kingdom until the time when God fully establishes his permanent kingdom on the new earth and new heaven.
Will you go to Heaven when you die? Here’s a quick test:
Q. Have you ever told a lie?
Q. Have you ever stolen anything?
Q. Have you ever used God’s name in vain?
Q. Have you ever lusted over someone?
Q. Have you ever hated someone?
If you have done these things, God sees you as a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, an adulterer-at-heart, and a murderer-at-heart. And this is only 5 of God’s Ten Commandments (a/k/a “God’s Law”). And the Bible warns that on the Day of Judgment, God will punish you in a terrible place called Hell. But, there is “good news”! God is not willing that any should perish. Sinners broke God’s Law, but Jesus paid their fine by shedding His sinless blood on a cross ~2,000 years ago. This means that God can legally dismiss their case (and yours!): “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Then Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death. Today, repent (turn away from your sins), put your complete trust in Jesus, and confess Jesus as your Lord & Savior… and God will give you eternal life as a free gift.
Contrary to popular belief, being a “good person”, doing “good deeds”, or being “religious” will not get you a ticket to heaven! Many people are hoping God will dismiss their sins because their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds. They further hope that because God is “good” he will let them go unpunished and enter heaven. However, because God is “good” he must by nature punish sinners (i.e., God would not be a good judge if he let criminals go free). The Bible states: “There is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) The Bible also states: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) And finally, think about this, if your goodness could save you, Jesus would have died in vain (i.e., for no good reason). The Bible states: “I (Jesus) am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father (God) except through me. (John
14:6) Friends, please don’t “roll-the-dice” and gamble your eternal life on the life-threatening lie that being a “good person” will get you to heaven.
Here is a prayer you can use to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord & Savior. It is a suggested prayer – the key is that you are speaking from your heart.
“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me turn away from sin going forward. I believe that your Son, Jesus Christ, died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus into my heart and I confess him as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank You for sending your Holy Spirit to help me obey you, and to do your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
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