What is the Kingdom of God?
The kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, as it is sometimes called, is inhabited by those who have placed themselves under God’s rule. It includes material resources as well, but the work of the kingdom on earth is carried out by God’s people as He directs them and His Spirit moves in them. Christ has called the church to proclaim the kingdom and invite others to citizenship through His blood poured out at Calvary.
The church is the kingdom, but the kingdom is more than the church. It is everything over which God reigns which has been consecrated for His holy purposes. However, when the church came to earth, God’s relationship with His servants changed forever. When Jesus died on the cross, the temple curtain that separated worshippers from the Holy of Holies was torn in two, signaling a final payment for sin and the removal of mankind’s guilt and shame. From then on it was possible for sinners, Greek and Gentile, male and female, to become full citizens and co-heirs of the kingdom of God. As well, these same individuals were tasked with sharing the good news of Jesus with others and expanding the kingdom through the work of grace and the presence of the Holy Spirit in believers.
It was only possible to enter the kingdom through grace, not by works lest followers boast of their own righteousness (Ephesians 2:8). This was different from the self-righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers who hoped to gain citizenship through their own efforts (Matthew 5:20). Jesus’ illustrated deeper truths of the kingdom with parables (Matthew 13:11), and helped His listeners translate truth into action through other teachings, such as The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
One of the clearest examples of Jesus’ kingdom vision is found in His model prayer where He asked His disciples to pray, “Our Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is heaven.” Of course, if God chose to impose His will on His creation, He could. But instead He has invited us to share in His inheritance and given us the freedom to choose willingly. Herein is the beauty of the kingdom of God: it is growing in the hearts of believers who have received Jesus as Savior and ever-expanding through the work of the gospel.