Should we consider the kingdom of God as our future in heaven or as our present reality on earth?
The Bible often talks about the Kingdom of God, sixty-eight times in all (in the NIV). Five biblical authors – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul – cover this topic in ten of the New Testament’s books. Luke writes the most about the kingdom of God, accounting for half of the mentions. Of course most of the teaching about God’s coming kingdom comes from Jesus himself.
Most people equate the kingdom of God with heaven, our future reward, something to anticipate in a glorious afterlife. In reading the Bible it’s easy to understand the kingdom of God as a forthcoming event that will change everything – for the better. As such the kingdom of God looms as our future outcome in heaven; it is valuable, something for us to pursue with glorious expectation.
Many of the verses support this understanding of the kingdom of God as something in our future, but others don’t align so nicely with that interpretation and some even confound it. Consider Jesus saying that the kingdom of God is near (Mark 1:15), with some translations, such as the International Standard Version, saying the kingdom of God is now.
While we might postulate that Jesus’s birth or his public ministry ushers in this understanding of the kingdom of God, at the “last supper” Jesus says he will not eat with his followers again until after the kingdom of God comes. Then he dies, rises from the dead, and later shares a meal with his people, confirming that the kingdom of God has come.The kingdom of God comes two thousand years ago, and it is still here for us today. Click To Tweet
So the kingdom of God comes two thousand years ago and is still here for us today. We are living in it, or at least we have the potential to. What Jesus says about the kingdom of God and what Paul writes about it in the Bible is more than a future possibility, it is a present reality for us to live in today – if we are willing.
If the kingdom of God is closer to us than heaven, it becomes a present day proposition, something for us to consider, to pursue, and to embrace in our everyday lives.
Jesus is the kingdom of God, which emerges when he rises from the dead to prove his mastery over evil. The kingdom of God is here for us to embrace now, and it’s waiting for us to experience fully after we die.