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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, April 27 2023

The Kingdom of God: The heart of Christ’s message

In the model Lord’s Prayer outlined in Matthew 6:9-13, Christ referred to the Kingdom of God twice.

by Cecil Maranville

The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible says the following about the Kingdom of God: "The word 'kingdom' is found fifty-five times in Matthew; twenty times in Mark, forty-six times in Luke and five times in John. When allowance is made for the use of the word to refer to secular kingdoms and for parallel verses of the same sayings of Jesus, the phrase 'the kingdom of God' and equivalent expressions (e.g., 'Kingdom of heaven,' 'his kingdom') occurs about eighty times…These statistics show the great importance of the concept…There can, therefore, be little doubt that the phrase 'the kingdom of God' expresses the main theme of His teaching" (Vol. III, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1976, p. 804).

The Gospels frequently summarize Jesus' teachings with the phrase: "the gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14, and the theme of many of Christ's parables is the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:44-45, 47). Jesus Christ is our Savior and He rules in our minds through the indwelling presence of God's Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25), but there is more to Christ's kingship.

Many of Christ's countrymen expected a kingdom to be established by a Messiah King, but a Messiah King, who was also their Savior was almost always not understood. Similarly the majority of traditional Christian churches have narrowly focused on Jesus Christ as their Savior to the exclusion of His role as coming King. Biblical prophecies, the Gospels and apostolic writings show Christ both as our Savior and as the returning King (Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 11:15).

Christ’s followers were not to expect an immediate kingdom (Luke 19:11-12), but a future kingdom with Jesus as its Monarch, and it was this teaching that cost Him His life. It became the focus of the soldiers' ridicule and torture (John 19:1-3), and the closing argument of Christ's accusers (John 19:12-16). The derisive comments as He was crucified also confirmed He was killed because He claimed to be the Messiah King (Mark 15:31-32). His kingship was clearly marked on the sign above Him as He died (John 19:19).

Daniel 7:16,18, 22 and 27 record the promise, not only of a kingdom, but that God would give believers a part in it. Paul also mentions this in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:5 in the context of warning habitual sins will prevent a believer from inheriting the Kingdom of God. Paul again uses this language in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52, a powerful reference to Christ's return, revealing that flesh-and-blood believers must be changed to spirit to inherit the Kingdom.

Jesus Himself summarized much of the teaching of the prophets and apostles when He said: "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). But this Kingdom has not yet come. It will come when Christ returns. So it is with good reason that we pray, "Your Kingdom come".