What is the Kingdom of God?
Jesus spent a lot of time describing the Kingdom of God. This was probably because the Jews were expecting that the Messiah would set up a kingdom on earth – for them to live in.
Jesus had a very different message, both for the people of his time, and for the entire world. The Kingdom of God is one of the central themes of Jesus’ teaching, and his disciples continued this theme after his death, resurrection and ascension.
Early in his ministry, the Gospel of Mark records that “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:15).
The kingdom of God means the rule of God over all who accept his love. There are many places in the Bible where this meaning is amplified, and we can read over 100 references to it in the Gospels alone.
The kingdom of God comes through the salvation brought to us by Jesus Christ (see Revelation 12:10). Elsewhere we can read a clear description of God’s kingdom as the deliverance from all evil (1 Corinthians 15:23-28). Jesus accomplished this at the Cross, when he won the war against Satan and sin for all time. That’s why the kingdom of God is presented in the Bible as a present reality, and not just as a future hope.
God’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world…my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). He was also very clear in his description of those who belong to his kingdom: “Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to – to God’s kingdom” (John 3:3 MSG). As a spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of God broke into this world through Jesus Christ.
Just because the kingdom of God is spiritual, that doesn’t mean it has nothing to do with this world and how to live. Instead, once we are part of God’s kingdom, Jesus calls us to live according to the values of his kingdom, which are very different to the values of this world. The values of the kingdom of God are found in Jesus’ teachings, and especially in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7, particularly the Beatitudes.)
The gospel of the kingdom of God was Jesus’ gift to the world – the Gospel message of salvation. As we are born again, through faith, God welcomes us into his fellowship. This is how we can be part of God’s kingdom even while we are still in this world. Because we are part of God’s kingdom while living in the world, Jesus tells us to be “in the world, but not of the world” (John 15:19), and that we are to be the light of the world and salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13,14).
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