By Roland W. Keith
As all Christians know John the Baptist was the prophesied forerunner of Jesus Christ. As such his message was two-fold: To prepare the people for the arrival of our Savior and to herald the arrival of His kingdom (Matthew 3:1-3). Some people today are still looking forward to the kingdom, awaiting Christ’s return to establish His millennial reign on earth. Others see it as the eternal kingdom of heaven that they look forward to at the end of life. It is true that the kingdom is often spoken of in the New Testament as a future realm (Matthew 25:34; 8:11). However, it was also spoken of as something that was fast upon the world in Christ’s own day. Jesus told His listeners: “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mark 9:1: see also Matthew 16:16-19).
Jesus did indeed establish His kingdom in the first century, but listen to how He described it: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36). Paul told the Romans that the kingdom was not eating and drinking (of the flesh), but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (of the Spirit— Romans 14:17). Nonetheless, first century believers saw the kingdom “come with power” during their lifetime. The eternal kingdom proper is in heaven, but it exists spiritually in the temporal world here and now, and has existed for nearly two thousand years. If we do not enter the kingdom while we are here in this body (II Peter 1:1-11), we shall not gain entry at all.
Today we see evidence of the kingdom in the lives and actions of Jesus’ followers. In a sense it is manifested in the places of worship we build to meet in, but those are merely buildings. The kingdom or church (Matthew 16:18-19), is within us and among us as disciples, as noted in Luke 17:20-21: “Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” The church is the kingdom of God on earth and when we become a Christian we become a citizen of it, as Paul wrote the Colossians, “He has delivered 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). God established this spiritual domain and put His Son at its head (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18).
The establishment of the kingdom of God had been long prophesied as was its King (Isaiah 2:1-3; Luke 24:44-49). In Daniel 2:44, we read, “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” As already noted, the church and the kingdom are synonymous terms. Christ is both the King of kings and head of the church (I Timothy 6:15; Ephesians 5:23).
For those interested in how to become a member of God’s eternal kingdom start be reading the four gospel accounts and then read the Book of Acts, particularly chapter two. Through study you will find the five steps, founded on God’s love and grace, that lead to entry into heaven. You must: 1. Hear (or read) the word (gospel of Jesus Christ) (Romans 10:17). 2. You must believe (and exercise that belief in faith) (John 3:17-19; I John 5:5). 3. You must repent of your sins (Mark 1:14-15, Matthew 3:2; Luke 5:32; Acts 11:18). 4. You must confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32-33). 5. You must be baptized (Acts 2:38; 22:16). If you do these things you will be transferred into God’s kingdom. Finally, we must remain faithful till death (Revelation 2:10; II Peter 2:20-21; James 5:19-20; I John 1:9).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.