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                      "THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM"

                       The Nature Of The Kingdom


1. In our previous study we noted the proclamation of the kingdom of
   a. In the preaching of Jesus - e.g., Lk 8:1; Ac 1:3
   b. In the preaching of Paul - e.g., Ac 19:8; 28:30-31
   -- Certainly the gospel of the kingdom should be an element of our
      preaching today

2. This naturally leads one to ask, "What is the kingdom of God?"
   a. Is it a literal kingdom, i.e., a physical kingdom?
   b. Is the kingdom present or future?
   c. What relationship is there between the church and the kingdom?
   -- The answers to such questions will help us understand the "gospel"
      of the kingdom

[In this study we will seek to ascertain the nature of the kingdom, as
taught by Jesus and His apostles.  We note first that...]   


      1. In His remarks to a scribe - Mk 12:28-34
         a. Who questioned Him about the greatest commandment
         b. Who commented on the reply Jesus gave
         c. Prompting Jesus to say, "You are not far from the kingdom of
            1) The scribe's understanding put him in close proximity to
               the kingdom
            2) Implying that the kingdom would be a spiritual entity
               rather than a physical one
      2. In His response to the Pharisees - Lk 17:20-21
         a. "The kingdom does not come with observation"
            1) People will not be able to say "See here!" or "See
            2) We should not expect the kingdom to be physical like the
               kingdoms of men
         b. "The kingdom of God is within you" (in your midst, NASB)
            1) This verse is capable of two interpretations
               a) The kingdom of God is in the heart
                  1] Or will be in the heart
                  2] It certainly wasn't in the heart of the Pharisees
                     at that moment
               b) The kingdom of God in the person of Jesus Christ
                  1] The rule or reign of God will be in the person of
                     Jesus (see below)
                  2] Which reign was foreshadowed by Jesus' very
                     presence and power - cf. Lk 11:20
            2) Either interpretation suggests a spiritual rule rather
               than physical one
      3. In His reply to Pontius Pilate - Jn 18:36
         a. "My kingdom is not of this world"
            1) His kingdom would not be an earthly kingdom
            2) Thus His disciples would not need to propagate with the
               use of force
         b. "You say rightly that I am a king.  For this cause I was
            1) Though not a physical kingdom, a true kingdom nonetheless
            2) He came into this world to establish a kingdom

      1. Matthew refers to it as "the kingdom of heaven" in his gospel
      2. A quick comparison of the gospels indicate the terms "kingdom
         of God" and "kingdom of heaven" refer to the same thing
         a. Cf. Mt 4:17 with Mk 1:14-15
         b. Cf. Mt 5:3 with Lk 6:20
         c. Cf. Mt 13:31 with Mk 4:30-31
      3. Why did Matthew use the expression "kingdom of heaven"?
         a. Perhaps in view of the Jews' reluctance to use the name of
            God (out of reverence)
         b. Perhaps in view of the Jews' misconception of the coming
            1) Many anticipated a physical kingdom
            2) The expression "kingdom of heaven" (literally, "kingdom
               of the heavens") would emphasize a spiritual kingdom

[The kingdom is not a literal kingdom with geographical boundaries and
earthly headquarters, but a spiritual kingdom emanating from heaven. 
Perhaps we can best express it this way...]


      1. As used by the Jews
         a. It often stressed the abstract idea of rule or dominion
         b. Not a geographical area surrounded by physical boundaries
      2. Consider its use by Jesus in Mt 6:10
         a. "Your kingdom come; Your will  be done..."
         b. Note the Hebrew parallelism (saying the same thing in two
            different ways)
         c. I.e., the kingdom (or reign) of God would come as His will
            was done on earth
      3. Consider its use by Jesus in Mt 6:33
         a. "But seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness"
         b. The righteousness of the kingdom is that conduct in
            conformity to God's will
         c. I.e., we seek the kingdom (or rule) of God to the extent we
            submit to His righteousness

      1. In one sense, the kingdom (or reign) of God has always existed
         a. God ruled in the affairs of man in ages past - cf. Psa 103:
            19; 145:1,13
         b. A lesson learned by Nebuchadnezzar - cf. Dan 4:1-3,32,34-35
      2. In a special way, God would exercise His rule in the affairs of
         a. As foretold by Daniel - Dan 2:44
         b. As proclaimed by Gabriel concerning Jesus - Lk 1:31-33
      3. This God would do in the person of Jesus Christ
         a. As foretold by David - Psa 2:1-12; 110:1-3
         b. Manifestations of this rule were evident even during His
            earthly ministry - cf. Lk 10:1,8-11; 11:20; Mt 12:28
         c. Though the full extent of this rule would begin after His
            ascension - cf. Mt 28:18; Ep 1:20-22; 1 Pe 3:22; Re 2:26-27;


1. There are likely more questions concerning the kingdom, especially
   regarding its establishment...
   a. Has the kingdom been established?
   b. Is the kingdom present, or future?  Or is it both?
   c. What will Christ do when He returns?
   d. Where does the church fit into all this?
   -- These questions will be addressed in our next study

2. But I trust that we have established these facts about the kingdom of
   God as proclaimed by Jesus
   and His apostles...
   a. The kingdom of God is spiritual, not physical
   b. The kingdom involves the rule of God in the hearts of men
   -- In particular, the kingdom is the rule of God manifested through
      the person of Jesus Christ

3. At this point, perhaps we would do well to ask ourselves...
   a. Is the kingdom of God in us?
   b. Are we far from the kingdom of God?

Our willingness to submit to the will of God as taught by Jesus can help
answer these questions:

   "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom
   of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."
                                                             (Mt 7:21)

Are we doing the Father's will?
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