(Your Citizenship is in Heaven Above)
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.” – John 18:36
The Bible tells us of a “Kingdom of Heaven” – the “Kingdom of God” and His Christ. The expressions “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Kingdom of God” are synonymous, and in many ways, the Bible equates the Kingdom with the Church. Brother or sister in Christ be not deceived, you are in the “Kingdom of Heaven” right now, today, this very day; it is not some “future earthly millennial reign” yet to come! The “Kingdom of God” coincides with this age of grace, this gospel period and the church age, and will continue until Jesus returns from heaven “in the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven”: literally, visibly and also “in His glory” “with His mighty angels in flaming fire” for all to see on the great Day of Judgment.
ONCE AGAIN, MANY FALSE TEACHINGS
I realize it’s very tiring (exhausting actually) to have to constantly confront false teachings, but we must continue to do so as we “contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all time handed down to the saints.” So, once again, you will find rampant and widespread false teachings today about the “Kingdom of God.” These false teachings come under the names “dispensational premillennialism” or “pre-tribulation rapture” (and its related permutations and false teachings such as the “3rd Temple”), which make the claim that Jesus will return to reign on earth in a “1000-year earthly millennial reign” from the literal city of Jerusalem, and that all of this is still sometime yet in the future. These false teachings deny that your very own Lord and King is ruling and reigning right now in His Kingdom, today, this very day from heaven, seated on the “throne of His father David.” These false teachings seek only after the nationalistic, political and economic agendas and schemes of man, not the things of Christ. These false teachings also contradict the very statements of Jesus.
THE KINGDOM IS NOW (Jesus is Already Ruling and Reigning!)
You have already read in the chapter on the coming great Day of Judgment, that when Jesus returns, it will not be for an additional “1000-year millennial” reign here on earth; no, the great Day of Judgment will have arrived, for it is written:
John the Baptist had foretold the arrival of the kingdom at the start of Jesus’ ministry (i.e., the kingdom was already “at hand” – near) and Jesus repeated that same message:
Scripture also tells us that Christ would receive His kingdom (and thereby begin His rule and reign) after He ascended to the Father:
“In the days of those kings” refers to the fourth kingdom of Daniel’s dream, which is identified with the Roman Empire, which also corresponds to when Jesus lived on earth. He ascended to the Father from the Mount of Olives forty days after He was resurrected from death:
At His ascension, Jesus was “seated at the right hand of God” the Father in heaven, and Christ is ruling and reigning right now (“who also intercedes for us” with the Father – for He is the “one [only] mediator between God and men”):
Jesus said that some of His disciples would see Him “coming in His kingdom” before they died, and that the Kingdom was to arrive visibly and “with power”:
This coming in power (and hence seeing Him in His Kingdom) was fulfilled at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out:
We further read other inspired writers (Paul and John) stating that they were already “fellow partakers” and priests in the Kingdom. This was written before A.D. 81-90, so if the kingdom was already in effect then, it surely is in effect now (not at some future “earthly millennial reign” time):
The Jews of Jesus day were looking for and expecting that He was going to establish a literal, earthly, physical kingdom where Israel would rule over all other nations with Jesus as king. Jesus tried to correct their misconception when He clearly and unambiguously declared that His kingdom is not an earthly kingdom (“my kingdom is not of this world”), and that it is not coming with “signs to be observed” (i.e., that it is a spiritual kingdom, that it is not “of this realm”):
Those clear and direct statements of Christ cannot be twisted to mean anything but what they say.
We also see above that Christ said that the kingdom is among those who follow Him (i.e., comprised of, within, among you, “in your midst,” the Church). If you will, the “Kingdom of God” can be described as a Spiritual Monarchy with Christ as King. The Kingdom has two realms, or natures: 1) it is heavenly and above where Christ is ruling and reigning, and 2) it is also among us, the worldwide body of believers, the body of Christ, which is also the “Church of Christ” and “wherein Christ also dwells” as He reigns in the hearts of believers.
Furthermore, the “Kingdom of Heaven” is to endure for eternity, so we are not to look for still yet another future so-called “millennial kingdom,” and it will be fully manifest when all things are made new:
THE KINGDOM – CURRENT AND FUTURE
Many are unsure if the “Kingdom of God” is something which is here now or the future, and whether it’s on earth or in heaven. It actually encompasses all of those, for the “Kingdom of God has several aspects or realms:
- Here and now: The current state the kingdom is the people of God on earth, which is the church under the gospel dispensation (which is also described as “the bridge of Christ”) and under the leadership and headship of Christ for Christ is reigning right now, and
- Future heavenly: The future state after Jesus’ return will be a heavenly kingdom, where there will be no more tears, suffering, sin or death. This is wonderfully described in the ending chapters of the book of Revelation (see the chapter All Things Made New).
It should be noted also that the “New Jerusalem” city described in Revelation is not some literal city on earth but is a symbolic depiction of the heavenly “Kingdom of God” (i.e., the “Kingdom of Heaven”) and the church (referred to again as the “bride of Christ”) where the people of God dwell together with Him. “New Jerusalem” is also equated to “the bride of Christ” (i.e., the church).
THE WOLF WILL DWELL WITH THE LAMB
The verses of Isaiah 11:6-9 are perhaps some of the most widely misunderstood verses in the entire Bible:
These verses are used to support false teachings about the kingdom (i.e., that it is still yet future and earthly). The error made is in forcing a literal interpretation of the verses. The Bible often refers to the various types (characters, natures) of man using the symbolism of animals. Jesus Himself was described as a “lamb.” Paul when he was persecuting the early church was described as a “wolf,” and false teachers are also described as “wolves” – for they devour the “sheep” of the Lord (true Christians). The hypocritical religious rulers of Jesus’ day were described as a “den of vipers.”
What these verses mean is that under the New Testament gospel age of grace (this church age right now), those who accept and abide in Christ will all dwell together peacefully as brothers and sisters. Those who by nature were “wolves,” after conversion in accepting Christ, will become “lambs”; just like the Apostle Paul after he was converted on the road to Damascus – he went from persecuting (and even killing) Christians to then peacefully dwelling with them. These verses do not mean that there will be a literal “millennial reign of Christ” on Earth where literal wolves will lie alongside literal lambs. The same goes for the rest of the Isaiah passage.
WE ARE FELLOW PARTAKERS AND PRIESTS IN HIS KINGDOM (i.e., BE A KINGDOM BUILDER)
Prophecy from the book of Daniel is much abused, distorted and twisted to support the earthly political agendas of man, but be not deceived. The “seventy weeks” of Daniel prophecies were completely fulfilled in Christ’s time – for Christ died (He was “cut off,” i.e., crucified) for your sins in the middle of the 70th week as stated in the book of Daniel and fulfilling the prophecy. There is no “missing” week of years left (the so-called “7-year great tribulation of the Antichrist”) before Christ’s kingdom is setup.
When Jesus had won victory over sin, Satan and death (which He did at the cross through His own death and resurrection), He ascended back into heaven (from whence He had come) to begin His rule and reign in the Kingdom of God, which began on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out “with power” as a visible manifestation of the arrival of the kingdom. The prophecy of the Old Testament book of Daniel 2 states that a series of earthly kingdoms were to arise (Babylon, Media/Persia, Greece, and the Roman Empire), and that the kingdom of heaven and our Lord Jesus Christ will be setup during the days of “those kings.” It was indeed during the time of the Roman Empire that Christ was born, lived, died and was resurrected. It was also at this time that Christ ascended to be “[seated] at the right hand of God” in heaven, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion,” ruling and reigning in His kingdom. It was also at this time that Satan, the “prince [ruler] of this world,” was “cast down [out]” and Christ began His eternal reign as “King” and “High Priest” for all eternity in the His Kingdom which “will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”
Contrary to how it may appear to many in this fallen world, Satan is no longer in charge, Christ is. Satan was “cast out” as “ruler of this world” by Christ, when He was victorious over sin and death at the cross. However, Christ has not returned yet, and judgment has not occurred yet, solely because Jesus is allowing more time for the lost to come to Him and receive the gift of eternal life. Also, nothing on earth, under the earth or in heaven can stop, thwart or disrupt the “Kingdom of God” or Christ’s rule and reign.
So, brother or sister in Christ, know that all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are fellow priests with Him in His kingdom this very day – and yes, even more, we are “ambassadors for Christ”! It’s not just the job of your “Pastor” to lead others to Christ, it is your job. You are a priest also! In fact, the modern Church divisions that have arisen in various denominations of so-called “Christianity” have so deformed the true, basic and simple nature of the gospel message, it’s no wonder many Christians today are lost and confused. So be about the work of your Lord and King and share the gospel message with someone today.
You are a kingdom builder, a fellow priest in the kingdom, so step out in confidence and boldness sharing Christ with the lost. We are called to always be about the business of our Lord and King, which is to help build His kingdom. We do this as we obey one of the commandments of Christ which is to “preach [share] the gospel with all of creation (everyone).” A Christian is not called to worry about, nor participate and get entangled in, worldly affairs and matters such as politics and other such activities. We are to focus on what Christ has commanded us to do, which is to reach the lost. By wasting our time and energy worrying about, participating in, and endlessly arguing about worldly or political matters, we are not giving our best to what is most important. Also note that we cannot be kingdom builders unless there is already a kingdom. Let us therefore look to our Lord and King in confidence, knowing He is righteous and true, “always abounding in the work of the Lord.”
THE KINGDOM GROWS TO FILL THE EARTH
The kingdom of heaven and our Christ will grow from a tiny “mustard seed” to fill the entire earth, as the gospel is preached to all of creation (everyone):
This Kingdom is also referred to as Mount Zion, the holy mountain of the Lord, which will be setup in “the last days” (which is this church age and this age of grace under Christ in which we now live) and which grows to fill the whole earth:
The Kingdom grows as we press forward in confidence, boldness and perseverance continuing to share the gospel “message of truth” with those who are lost. Know without any doubt whatsoever that the kingdom of our Lord and Savior is advancing every single day, and nothing whatsoever under the sun, on earth, under the earth, in the heavens, nor the schemes of man or Satan can stop it. Victory has already been assured (past tense).
Note: This by no means indicates that there will be widespread “peace on earth” before Christ returns, a so-called “golden age” of Christianity – that is still yet another false teaching of the “wolves” called “dispensational postmillennialism.”
FALSE TEACHING(S) YOU WILL ENCOUNTER:
- Distortions of Matthew 24 (the Olivet Discourse)
- Setting of dates for Jesus’ return
- Dispensational Premillennialism
- Dispensational Postmillennialism
- Modern/popular eschatology (we are waiting for a “Third Temple” to be built, or the “Battle of Armageddon” to occur first, or “the Antichrist” person to arise, or Gog and Magog, or “signs and wonders” in the skies, or the “Secret Rapture,” or the “7-Year Great Tribulation” period, and other bizarre interpretations of the book of Revelation, the “Mark of the Beast” as a chip implant or tattoo, etc. ad infinitum it seems…and all false)
- Jesus already returned in A.D. 70 (Preterism)
These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. – Ephesians 1:19b-21
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. – Isaiah 9:6-7
“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” – John 12:31-32
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13-14
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. – Philippians 3:20-21
Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.” – Matthew 13:24-26
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe. – Hebrews 12:28
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. – Revelation 20:1-3
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. – Matthew 25:1-13
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.” – Revelation 12:10
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:1-4