The Kingdom of Heaven

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The Kingdom of Heaven

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The true Kingdom of Heaven speaks of infinitely greater things than the graphically violent 2005 movie of that name. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven affects your whole physical life and your eternal future.

Of all the world's religions, even modern Christianity comprehends but little about this Kingdom. Fortunately, here vertical thinking comes into its own; you can know this Kingdom and be part of it!

A Kingdom by any other name...

Why is it called the "kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 3:2 Matthew 3:2And saying, Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
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; 5:10)? Is it because good people go to heaven when they die?

In fact, the Bible clarified this matter, stating, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven" (John 3:13 John 3:13And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
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). The only human being who has ever gone to heaven is Jesus Christ.

The Kingdom is called the Kingdom of Heaven not because it is exclusive to that location but because it is ruled by God, who now dwells in heaven. In the Bible only Matthew's account of Christ's life used this descriptive phrase because he wrote primarily to the Jews of his day who made it a point to avoid speaking God's name. They used "heaven" as a substitute for God's name, as is done in the modern expression "Heaven only knows" (meaning God only knows).

Thus, "kingdom of heaven" just means "kingdom of God," which is what the rest of the Bible calls it (Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 [14] Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, [15] And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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; Luke 4:43 Luke 4:43And he said to them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
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; John 3:3 John 3:3Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
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; Acts 19:8 Acts 19:8And he went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
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; Romans 14:17 Romans 14:17For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
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; 1 Corinthians 4:20 1 Corinthians 4:20For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
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). Even Matthew's account occasionally called it that (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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; 19:24).

Most adherents of Christianity assume that their destination is some sort of paradise in heaven. What they don't understand is that "heaven" (in the persons of Jesus Christ and ultimately God the Father) is coming here!

Jesus constantly spoke of His return to earth. His sinless human life, public ministry, death as the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind and miraculous resurrection constituted His first coming. At His second coming, Christ will return to conquer and rule the world. The Kingdom of God will then be established throughout the earth.

Jerusalem is everything

Jerusalem of the 1100s was the focal point of what Christian crusaders, Jews and Muslims thought was the Kingdom of Heaven. Their vision was shortsighted, but it reveals something about the urgency we all need when dealing with the Kingdom.

A significant scene occurs in the film Kingdom of Heaven when the hero (Balian of Ibelin), leading the Christian defenders of the fateful city, negotiates terms with Saladin, leader of the attacking Islamic army. After obtaining safe passage to the sea for the defenders, Balian asks, "What is the value of Jerusalem?" Saladin answers, "Nothing." But then as he walks away he turns and adds, "Everything!"

When Jesus neared the end of His ministry nearly 2,000 years ago, He lamented over His beloved city: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Matthew 23:37 Matthew 23:37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not!
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). Jesus mourned for His people because they refused to accept God's authority. People today still are unwilling to submit to God. Because of this rejection, Christ must return to set things right.

When He returns to earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over the Kingdom of God, He will return to Jerusalem: "And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east" (Zechariah 14:4 Zechariah 14:4And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
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).

There will be a war then. What's left of earth's armies will fight against their own Creator. But good news follows. From a rebuilt Jerusalem, the capital of the Kingdom of God on earth, Jesus will then rule all the nations of the world for 1,000 years!

Finally we'll see a time of peace and true justice without the dishonesty, egomania and suffering of our era. What medieval crusaders thought they were fighting for will actually happen.

But the Kingdom of Heaven and Jerusalem have an even more magnificent future. When the 1,000 years and other final events conclude, God will create a new earth. Then the Father will descend from the current heaven, bringing with Him the New Jerusalem, and will dwell with all of resurrected humanity. Again, "heaven" is coming to earth.

Eternal life

Resurrection is how God changes human beings into His children in the divine family, the Kingdom of God. We have mortal, physical bodies now, but we'll have immortal, spirit bodies then.

In the course of the events at Jerusalem, Christ will resurrect to eternal, spirit existence all who choose to turn from their selfish ways (repent), follow Him and live God's way of life. Living in the Kingdom of God with the Father, Jesus the Son and all of resurrected humanity is real life—forever!

The Kingdom of Heaven was central to Jesus' teaching. To learn more about this future government and how you can be part of it, request or download your free copy of The Gospel of the Kingdom.

A Kingdom of conscience

In the film, Balian of Ibelin asks his father, "What could a king ask of a man like me?" Godfrey of Ibelin responds, "A better world than has ever been seen. A kingdom of conscience. A kingdom of heaven."

Christ told dozens of stories with moral and spiritual lessons. Nearly all were about seeking God's Kingdom.

The Kingdom of Heaven is summarized in this prophecy of Christ's rule on earth: "Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight...The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God" (Luke 3:4-6 Luke 3:4-6 [4] As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. [5] Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; [6] And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
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).

Balian tried to improve things, but his story is just the story of man—one war follows another. Nothing ultimately changes.

With the help and guidance of Jesus Christ, you and I will change things. We'll draw the crookedness of the world straight as a taut string. The rough ways of those who stumble from one addiction to another, from one bad relationship to another, from one misery to another, will be smoothed out. We will teach them how to live happier lives. They'll learn of grace, mercy and ultimate salvation in the divine Kingdom.

In order to learn how to live this way, we must not only believe in the Kingdom of God but also make sure our actions are in line with God's laws and commands.

The world's false "kingdom of heaven" doesn't align with the Bible. Although it appears alluring and exciting in a shallow sort of way, it has no future beyond this temporary, physically oriented life.

The true Kingdom of Heaven requires vertical thinking—thinking like Jesus Christ thinks. It involves a spiritual way of life that guides your conscience to anticipate, value and seek the future Kingdom of God on earth.

God's Kingdom is a kingdom of conscience, of inner obligation, and you must choose whether or not you will submit to God's rule. Choose wisely. VT

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