Understanding the Kingdom of Heaven
by Bobby Bruno 4/10/2014 / Bible Studies
There are many elements to understanding the Kingdom of God. Here are just a few for us to ponder. One of the elements I find about the Kingdom of God is that Jesus speaks about it as if it is found in the past, the present, and the future all at the same time. In the past, the Holy Spirit brought the Kingdom to earth, first by forming the earth (Genesis 1:2 "The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Spirit of God was hovering over the water."); and also through the people God had called to do great things in growing mankind. In the present, Jesus spoke that the Kingdom was in individual believers (Matthew 5:10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God approves of. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them."). In the future, Jesus spoke of the Kingdom as having a future connotation (Mark 9:1 "He said to them, ""I can guarantee this truth: Some people who are standing here will not die until they see the kingdom of God arrive with power.""). These are all essential because the Kingdom of God has existed since the beginning and has power for all who believe in all times and eras.
Two other elements of the Kingdom of God is the "Now and Not Yet" connotation, which says that the Kingdom is here now and in the not yet, meaning the future, which isn't here yet. The Now aspect of the Kingdom that Jesus spoke of is here with us now, in our time (Mark 1:15 "He said, "The time has come, and the kingdom of God is near. Change the way you think and act, and believe the Good News.""). For the Not Yet aspect, Jesus spoke of a future time in the Kingdom (Mark 14:25 -- "I can guarantee this truth: I won't drink this wine again until that day when I drink new wine in the kingdom of God."). These elements are important because we see that the Kingdom of God is only for those who believe in the Name of Jesus Christ. Only a true believer in Christ can confidently and successfully follow the ways of God, and will be there when Jesus once again drinks the new wine when the Kingdom is finally seen in all its glory in eternity.
Another important element about the Kingdom of God is that it is an ethical Kingdom. Donald Guthrie, in his book entitled "A Shorter Life of Christ says that "the ethical teaching is an essential feature of both the present and future aspects of the kingdom. Where God's rule is active, that rule must find expression in behavior which befits the character of God." (p. 150). Scripture backs this opinion up in Luke 6:45 "Good people do the good that is in them. But evil people do the evil that is in them. The things people say come from inside them." This element is important because unethical behavior is following the devil and not the God of the universe. If God's ways were not ethical, evil would rule all the more on the earth, and man would never know how to behave rightly, if it weren't for our ethical God providing us with truthful ways to live our lives.
The final element is that the Kingdom of God is only for those who can give up their lives to Jesus the way little children unknowingly give up their young lives to their parents. All must enter the Kingdom as little children (Mark 10:15 "I can guarantee this truth: Whoever doesn't receive the kingdom of God as a little child receives it will never enter it."). This is very important, because unless we can trust God with our entire lives the way small children unwaveringly trust their parents, then we will not be able to give all we have to God for His keeping and His guidance. Unless we give God our all, there will be some things that we will hold on to so that we can care for them, instead of letting God care for and repair our broken lives.
There are certainly many other elements that describe the Kingdom of God and all are important to our understanding of it. Whether the Kingdom of God is past, present, future, now and not yet, we must all allow Jesus to lead us into it in the way of a full understanding of the immensity and scope that the Kingdom entails. We serve a big God who brings us into a big Kingdom; the size of which we will not fully grasp until the day we leave this earth and are plunged fully into the love of God where evil and sin are no more.
Guthrie, D. (1970). A shorter life of christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books.
All Scripture is taken from GOD'S WORD, 1995 God's Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.