Manifestation of The Heavenly Kingdom (5)
The Meaning of The Heavenly Kingdom in The Gospels
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of the manifestation of the mystery of the Heavenly Kingdom. It has John the Baptist coming forth to teach the Way of Repentance as a beginning. John announced to the people, ¡§Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.¡¨ (Matthew 3:2) After he was sent to prison, Christ came to the area around Galilee and preached the Gospel of God saying, ¡§The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!¡¨ (Mark 1:15) Most of the teachings of Christ recorded in the Gospels involve the Heavenly Kingdom or the Kingdom of God. The words ¡§Kingdom of Heaven¡¨ appear 32 times and ¡§Kingdom of God¡¨ 55 times in the Gospels. This shows the significance Christ placed on the Truth about the Heavenly Kingdom. For example, when Christ taught the disciples how to pray to the Father, He said, ¡§Your Kingdom come.¡¨ (Matthew 6:10) In the Sermon on the Mount, He fortifies those who are poor in spirit or are persecuted for righteousness by revealing that theirs would be the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:3, 10) At the feast setting up the covenant of the bread and the cup, He again talked about the Kingdom of God. (Mark 14:25) As well, the majority of the parables described by Christ mentioned things of the Heavenly Kingdom. He is fond of using the introductory clause, ¡§The Kingdom of Heaven is like¡K¡¨. (Matthew 13:24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47, 25:1, 14) Jesus Christ is the Word sent from God above. This Word became flesh, so that the bountiful grace and truth of the Heavenly Kingdom may be revealed to us. (John 1:14) the Lord exhausted every faculty to employ those things on earth that we can comprehend to clarify and explain the truth of the Heavenly Kingdom.
What then is the concept of the Heavenly Kingdom? For the Jews, the Heavenly Kingdom was God saving the Israelites on earth from the rule and control of Gentiles through the anointed Messiah sent by Him, releasing them into freedom, and establishing a peaceful kingdom where righteousness reigned forever and God¡¦s chosen people could enjoy restoration and peace. Therefore when the Lord was resurrected, the disciples asked Him, ¡§Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?¡¨ (Acts 1:6) But to God¡¦s children of the New Testament, the ¡§Kingdom of Heaven¡¨ and the ¡§Kingdom of God¡¨ have multiple meanings. Simply put, the Heavenly Kingdom refers to the reign and sovereignty of God being manifested through the descent and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Reign refers to the absolute right of ownership of God. Sovereignty refers to the right of governance of God. Since the children of God received everlasting life through Jesus Christ, certainly He should have sovereignty and authority over us. In this process, the church plays a central role. Christ gave us an important mission, which is to preach the gospel of the Heavenly Kingdom, and testify to all nations. (Matthew 24:14) The church received immense authority from the Lord, to hold the keys to the Heavenly Kingdom, and to become the instrument for the manifestation of the Kingdom. (Matthew 16:18-19)
In the teachings of Christ regarding the Heavenly Kingdom, the Kingdom can be both visible (Luke 4:16-19, 10:23-24) and invisible (Luke 17:20-21), of the present (Matthew 11:12) and of the future (Luke 13:28-29). I often thank God for arranging through the grace of His calling for us to be born in the age of the Church, so that we can comprehend God¡¦s everlasting plan of salvation. On the one hand, we have gained the invisible Heavenly Kingdom of the present - that is to have Christ dwell in our hearts through faith, manifesting the authority of God and granting us eternal life. On the other, we long for the visible Heavenly Kingdom of the future ¡V that is the blessing that will be bestowed by our Saviour upon His Second Coming, when our bodies of perishable flesh and blood will turn into bodies of imperishable spirit to inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 15:50) As Christ said in the parable of the sheep and the goats, ¡§Then the King will say to those on his right, ¡¥Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.¡¦¡¨ (Matthew 25:34)
By: Daniel To