The kingdom of heaven

Or kingdom of God

The first thing that Jesus talked about when He started His ministry on earth was the kingdom of heaven (or the kingdom of God).

  • "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matthew 4:17)
  • "The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15)
  • "The Spirit of the Lord is on me... to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." (Luke 4:18-19)
  • "You will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." (John 1:50)

The kingdom of heaven is the place where the presence of God is found. Today, Jesus is in the heart of each believers, but the kingdom of heaven will not be fully realised until all evil in the world is judged and removed.

  • It will endure for ever. (Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13-14; 2 Peter 1:11; Revelation 11:15)
  • It is for all who believe in and follow Jesus Christ. (Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:29)
  • Christ is King of the kingdom. (Luke 1:32-33; John 18:26)
  • It is a spiritual kingdom, not a geographic one. (1 Corinthians 15:50)

How do we enter the kingdom of heaven?

  • No one can see the kingdom unless that person is born again. (John 3:3)
  • We need to persevere. "Any who allow themselves to be distracted from the work I plan for them are not fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62)
  • It has to be lived not just talked about. "The humble are very fortunate... for the kingdom of heaven is given to them.” (Matthew 5:3; 1 Corinthians 4:20)
  • Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 15:50)
  • God's judgement is fair and right. He uses our sufferings to make us ready for His kingdom. (2 Thessalonians 1:5; Matthew 25:34-46; Isaiah 9:7)
  • We enter by faith and love. "God has chosen poor people to be rich in faith and the kingdom of heaven is theirs, for that is the gift God has promised to all those who love Him." (James 2:5)

Jesus was sent to preach about the kingdom of heaven

  • "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God in other places too, for that is why I was sent." (Luke 4:43)
  • "After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him." (Luke 8:1)
  • Jesus also sent His disciples out to preach the kingdom of heaven and heal the sick. (Luke 9:2)

Jesus told parables to describe the kingdom of heaven

The parable of the weeds (Matthew 13:24-43)

The farmer sows good seed in a field but his enemy sows thistles there as well. The farmer allows them both to grow up, side by side, until the harvest, when the wheat is put in the barn and the thistles are all burned.

Explanation: the farmer is the Son of Man; the field is the world and the enemy is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age. The good seed (the wheat) stands for the people of the kingdom, whilst the weeds are those who follow the devil.

The parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32)

The tiny mustard seed is planted in a field and, even though it is the smallest of all seeds, it becomes the largest of plants, where birds can come and find shelter.

Explanation: The kingdom of God has small beginnings but grows at a phenomenal rate to give shelter to millions.

The parable of the fishing net (Matthew 13:47-49)

The kingdom of heaven is like a net that is let down into a lake and catches all kinds of fish. When it's full, the fishermen put the good fish into baskets and discard the bad ones.

Explanation: At the end of the world, angels will separate the godly from the wicked.

The parable of the workers paid equally (Matthew 20:1-16)

The kingdom of heaven is like a land-owner who goes out early in the morning to hire people to work in his vineyard. He hires additional people at various times during the day but, at the end of the day, he pays them all the same wage.

Explanation: We shall all receive the same inheritance, irrespective of when we become Christians or follow Christ.

The parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14)

The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepares a wedding banquet for his son and invites many guests. However, the guests refuse to come, so servants are sent out to bring in anyone and everyone they can find. One guest arrives not wearing the wedding clothes provided and the king has that person thrown out.

Explanation: Anyone can come into God's kingdom, but there is only one way to enter His presence and that is by wearing the "robe of righteousness" provided for us by the blood of Jesus Christ.

The parable of the ten bridesmaids (Matthew 25:1-13)

The kingdom of heaven will be like ten young women who are invited to provide a guard of honour for the bridegroom at a wedding. They take their lamps and go out to wait for his arrival, but he is delayed and half of them find that their lamps are beginning to go out. Five of them were wise enough to bring spare oil for their lamps, whilst the other five didn't give it any thought or plan ahead and were caught short.

Explanation: We must always be ready - at any time - for the return of Jesus. At all times, we must be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit.

Satan is removed from the kingdom for ever

"Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens: 'It has happened at last! God's salvation and the power and the rule and the authority of His Christ are finally here; for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down from heaven onto earth - he accused them day and night before our God.'" (Revelation 12:10)

"We give thanks, Lord God Almighty, who is and was, for now you have assumed your great power and have begun to reign." (Revelation 11:17)