Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 46 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House.  This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to talk about The Kingdom of God.

 

In season 2 episode 44 I presented Galatians 5 in my own words with the ideas and themes presented by Paul updated to reflect The Church of today.  However, I didn’t follow through to the end of the chapter leaving out verses 19 to 26. I made this decision at first because Paul says the list he starts making at that point is obvious.  Therefore, it didn’t seem like I needed to list it since it was obvious. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there was a significant message in this paragraph that starts in verse 19 and ends in verse 21.  So significant, however, that it couldn’t be fitted into the 2 and ½ minutes left on that episode. So here we go. 

 

Let’s back up just a little and start in verse 16.  Galatians 5:16-21 says, “[16] ...walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. [17] For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don't do what you want. [18] But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. [19] Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, [20] idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, [21] envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things— as I warned you before— that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

The common belief I’ve heard expressed over and over is that when we say “the kingdom of God” that were specifically talking about “going to heaven.”  I won’t dispute that we’re talking about the effects of salvation here, but I think we’ve pretty well covered over the course of the existence of The Berean Manifesto that this misnomer about trying to “get into Heaven” stands in opposition to the teachings of the Bible that we’re actually looking forward to eternity on the New Earth.  Granted, those of us who have salvation will meet each other and the Lord in the clouds at the events prophesied in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 and then proceed into Heaven, but not for eternity, for a short time to wait for the judgment.

 

There are several mentions to “Kingdom of God,” and “Kingdom of Heaven,” throughout the New Testament with lots of folks teaching that these two phrases are interchangeable, but in context I see evidence that the two phrases reference different things.  I’ve compiled a list of instances of both phrases for your own study and we’ll look at some that I feel clarify the difference. I apologize if I missed any scriptures, but here’s the list I could compile. We find “The Kingdom of Heaven” mentioned in Matthew 4:17, Matthew 5:3, 10, Matthew 7:21, Matthew 10:7, Matthew 11:12, Matthew 13:31, 33, Matthew 16:19, Matthew 18:3, and Matthew 19:12, 23.  “The Kingdom of God” is mentioned in Matthew 6:33, Matthew 19:24, Matthew 21:31, Mark 1:15, Mark 4:26, 30, Mark 10:15, 23-25, Luke 10:9, Luke 11:20, Luke 17:20-21, Luke 18:24-25, 29, John 3:3-5, Acts 1:3-8, Acts 14:22, Romans 14:17, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Corinthians 15:50, and Ephesians 5:5.  

 

There are some examples of this interchanging of these words given, for one, when we consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:23-24 and the same accounting of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:23-25 and Luke 18:24-25.  Matthew recounts Jesus as saying, “Truly I tell you; it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of Heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  Whereas in Mark and Luke they recount Jesus using the phrase “kingdom of God” both times and not mentioning “kingdom of Heaven” at all.  I’m not sure why the discrepancy between the accounts other than the same reason we find other slight discrepancies in the Gospel accounts that they are in fact eyewitness accounts and everyone sees things from a slightly different perspective.  For our purposes of divining between “Kingdom of God,” and “Kingdom of Heaven,” the discrepancy leads us to remove this instance from our data sample.

 

When speaking of the “Kingdom of Heaven” a few examples stand out, but the most logical example is Matthew 11:12, it reads, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.”  Unless you believe that Heaven or the New Earth can be seized by force then logically you have to look for another explanation. When you study the list of scriptures that use the phrase, “Kingdom of Heaven” you’ll see, or at least I do, that this phrase is used to reference the stewardship of Divine Inspiration originally given through the Torah, put back on course by the prophets, then finally entrusted to The Church on the day of Pentecost.

 

The “Kingdom of God,” on the other hand.  In John 3:3 Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  If this phrase were referring to the same thing as the “Kingdom of Heaven” then you wouldn’t need to be born again to see it, otherwise no one would be able to see those of us who make up the Body of Christ, The Church.  In Acts 14:22 it says, “strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, “It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Again, it wouldn’t make much sense to say one must go through many hardships if by “Kingdom of God,” the author was talking about the same thing as the “Kingdom of Heaven.”

 

I highly suggest you go and read all the scriptures I’ve listed in their context.  Ultimately though, in the end, whether “Kingdom of Heaven,” and “Kingdom of God,” are the same and interchangeable, or reference two different things, in Matthew 25:31-34 Jesus says, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

 

Earlier, when we read from Galatians 5, verse 21 it said, “as I warned you before.”  We can find that earlier warning in 1 Corinthians 6. But, more importantly, in 1 Corinthians 6 Paul makes a similar list of folks who won’t inherit God’s kingdom and then in verse 11 says, “And some of you used to be like this.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” For those of you who have been following along this is where Paul then goes on with his infamous “‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but not everything is beneficial.  ‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but I will not be mastered by anything.” The whole point is that you have to own your Christianity, you have to own your salvation. Paul, myself, every religious person in the world can make lists of things that we believe will keep you from spending eternity with God, but it’s all vanity if you don’t listen to the Holy Spirit and decide for yourself what your relationship with God requires of you.

 

This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”

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