Kingdom of God – Kingdom of Heaven
It’s hard to believe how some can continue to maintain a distinction between the Kingdom’s of God and Heaven. A simple comparison of the uses of the phrase is enough to demonstrate the terms to be synonymous. For example, when a gentile soldier expressed a profound faith in Christ’s power to heal his dying servant, Jesus remarks to those standing by:
When Jesus heard it [the confession of faith from the Centurion], he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 8:10-12)
On another occasion, while preaching in a Jewish synagogue, Jesus says to the Jews:
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. (Like 13:28-30)
What these passages teach us about the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven.
|Matt 8||Luke 13|
|Gentiles from all over the world will be in the Kingdom of Heaven||Gentiles from all over the world will be in the Kingdom of God|
|Believing gentiles will be added to the faithful of Israel (Abraham, etc) in the Kingdom of Heaven||Believing gentiles will be added to the faithful of Israel (Abraham, etc) in the Kingdom of God|
|The unbelieving Jews who were to inherit the kingdom will be cast into Hell||The unbelieving Jews who were to inherit the kingdom will be cast into Hell|
These passages are further proof that the Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven are one and the same.
Who will be in the Kingdom?
Jesus’ teaching makes it obvious that that believers from all races (‘North, South, East, and West’ and ‘the last’) are they who belong to the kingdom – “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (Jn 3:3)”. Consequently, Paul teaches us who will not inherit the Kingdom of God – “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? (1 Cor 6:9)”.
In Romans 14 Paul chastises the legalists who believed the Kingdom of God consisted in man-made standards of conduct rather than the true worship of God in Spirit and Truth (Jn 4:23-24) -> “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom 14:17).”
The Kingdom of Heaven, is in part, those believers who have been made righteous, and in whom dwells peace with God, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The Lord’s Prayer also gives us a glimpse of the Kingdom – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”. This petition in the Lord’s Prayer teaches us to pray for the time when God’s Kingdom will come and God’s Will will be done in Earth, just as it is in Heaven. This has been accomplished, to an extent, in ‘this age’, in the redeemed. The redeemed are those that have been declared righteous, who have a forensic peace with God, who are sealed with the Holy Spirit. At the return of Christ (the age to come), this inaugurated kingdom shall be consummated and God’s Will shall be done on Earth just as in Heaven.
Until that time we pray “Let thy kingdom come…”