The Church as the Kingdom of God

One of the ways the church is described to us in Scripture is as a kingdom. Jesus spoke of this when He told Peter that, upon his confession of Jesus as the Son of God, He would build His church (Matthew 16:18), the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19). It is important to note here, along with many of the parables Jesus gave about the kingdom (Matthew 13), that He speaks of it as the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdom inheaven. He speaks of it in the present tense, as when He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in the field (Matthew 13:44), or "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven" (13:33). In these usages, Christ equates the kingdom with the church.

The Hebrew writer said, "Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28). It isn't possible to receive something that isn't a present reality. Paul wrote the church in Colossae and reminded them how the Father "delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins" (Colossians 1:13-14). It isn't possible to be delivered, past tense, into something that doesn't currently exist. Jesus told those of His day, "But I tell you of a truth, There are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:27). This happened on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when Peter and the apostles used the keys of the kingdom in preaching the gospel. "They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41), and "the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved" (2:47). That Christ now reigns is seen in His having all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and that He is at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3).

As Jesus is King over His kingdom, the church, His concern is for the welfare of those for whom He died, to offer the promise of eternal life. While He will judge everyone on the last day (Acts 17:31), right now His desire is for everyone to be a part of His kingdom and have salvation through Him (Ephesians 5:27). His reign is based on love, providing all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), and everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). In Him we have grace and peace (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17), the hope of eternal life.

Our response to Christ as head of His kingdom, the church, must be one of submission and obedience. To be part of His kingdom, one must obey the will of God. Jesus clearly states, "Not everyone that saith unto me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). He tells us we must seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Our charge then, as Paul charged Timothy, is to "keep the commandment, without spot, without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:14-15).

Robert Johnson, Longview, TX