Kingdom of God is eternal
A key distinction between the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God is that the kingdoms of the world are destined to perish, while the kingdom of God lasts forever.
We see this in Jesus’ assertion that, “the harvest is the end of the age” (Matt 13:39). Similarly, Paul claims, “Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away” (1 Cor 2:6). John, also, states, “The darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).
Consequently, though “this age” and the “age to come” currently both exist, there will come a day when “this age” will cease and the “age to come” will arrive in fulness.
A good way to understand the kingdom of God, then, is to recognize the the kingdom of God relates to the world as it will become when the New Creation comes in fulness. The kingdom of God is ultimately one of eternal life and immortality.
When the kingdom of God arrives in totality, then Revelation 21 will be fulfilled: God “Will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:4).
That the kingdom of God is eternal is why we should store up our treasures there.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matt 6:19-20).
As I noted in a previous post, we read this verse incorrectly if we assume that “earth” means physical and “heaven” means spiritual. Instead, we should think in terms of kingdoms. When Jesus refers to “heaven” He means His eternal kingdom.
The same is true is the often misunderstood statement of Paul in Colossians 3:
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col 3:1-2)
Note that in this passage Paul defines the “things above” as “where Christ is.” This confirms my contention that the kingdom of God is the “reign of God.” After all, the place where Christ is seated is “at the right hand of God,” which refers to God’s throne. That is, the throne from which God rules!
Paul is not saying that we are to focus on spiritual things, but that we should focus on the matters of Christ’s kingdom as opposed to the matters of this world. This is why Paul spells out the things that we should focus on in Colossians 3:12-14:
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
In otherwords, the things above that we should be seeking correspond to the nature of Christ’s kingdom: “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, . . . [and] love.”
One of the foundational differences between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world is in regards to time.
The NT often refers to the two kingdoms in terms of the distinction between “this/the age,” (or the “present age”: which represents the kingdoms of the world) and the “age to come” (which represents the kingdom of God).
Most Christians naturally assume that the “age to come” begins when the “present age” ends. That is, one age ends and the other begins. The NT, however, contends that this is not the case.
The NT affirms that with the coming of Christ the kingdom of God/age to come has already arrived. This is evident in Mark 1:15, where Jesus announces that
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.”
The presence of the kingdom of God is also evident in Jesus’ declaration: “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt 12:28).
This means that there is a sense in which the “age to come” has already arrived. This is why Paul can claim, “They were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor 10:11).
One significant point of confusion resides in the fact that, though we see that the NT affirms that the “age to come” has already arrived, the designation the “age to come” itself suggests something future.
Naturally, when the “age to come” was first used, it was a reference to a future time. The problem results from the fact that once the “age to come” arrived, the NT writers, understandably, continued to call it the “age to come.” (I suppose it beats calling it: “the age that formerly was called the ‘age to come,’ but shall henceforth be called ‘the age that has come and, yet, will come.’”)
Another potential point of confusion is that the “age to come” has arrived only in part. Perhaps the easiest way to understand this is to note that when the “age to come” arrives in totality, God’s presence will fill the whole of creation and death and suffering will cease to exist. Since death and suffering continue, we recognize that the “age to come” has only arrived in part.
Another difficulty arises in that, though the “age to come” (kingdom of God) has to some degree already arrived, “this age” (the “present age” or the kingdoms of the world) continues. That the “present age” continues is evident from the fact that sin, suffering, and death, all key features of “this age,” continue to plague our world.
This means, then, that in the present time both the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world exist.
 Matt 12:32; 13:39-40, 49; 28:20; Mark 10:30; Luke 16:8; 20:34; 1 Cor 2:6, 8; Gal 1:4; Eph 1:21; Tit 2:12 (note 1 Cor 1:20 uses “this age” but not in an eschatological context).
 Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; 20:35; Eph 1:21; Heb 6:5.
 Paul does this to some extent in 1 Cor 10:11. The rest of the NT, however, continues the distinction between “this age” and the “age to come” likely because, as I will note below, the present time is a time in which both co-exist.
NB: Any subtle indication to Monty Python language is purely coincidental.
 This is a key claim of 1st John. Eternity has broken into the present: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 John 1:1-2). See: Donald Mills, ‘Eschatology of 1 John’ in Looking into the Future.
 The coming of the Spirit was a fundamental element of the promise of God and the key sign of the coming of the kingdom (“age to come”). See Ezek 36:27; 37:14; 39:29; Isa 44:3; note the presence of the Spirit was a key feature of the Messiah (Isa 61:1; John 1:32-33). The coming of the Spirit is a key sign throughout the NT that the kingdom of God has come.
 See Rev 21:3-4.
What is the kingdom of God?
Simply put, the kingdom of God refers to the realm in which God reigns. In fact, it might be best in many instances to translate the phrase “the kingdom of God” as the “reign of God.” This helps us to recognize that the kingdom of God exists wherever God reigns.
With the coming of Christ, God’s reign has begun.
Now, it is essential to note that the coming of Christ marks the beginning of God’s reign upon the earth! This is why the Gospel of Mark announces, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15).
One of the reasons why many Christians have a muddled view of the kingdom of God is because we have come to view all of reality in light of two separate spheres: an upper and a lower sphere.
Allow me, in this post, to delve a bit deeper into the modern thinking in order to show how it has negatively affected our understanding of the kingdom of God.
In this line of thought (enlightenment, or Epicurean dualism), the physical realm (the lower, earthly sphere) stands in sharp contrast with spiritual realm (the upper, spiritual sphere).
Though many Christians correctly conceive of the kingdom of God in contrast to the kingdoms of the world, they, unfortunately, assume that when the Bible refers to the kingdoms of the world it means the physical realm, and when it refers to the kingdom of God it means the spiritual realm.
The problem is that in the modern thought, the physical world is considered the realm of scientific knowledge. In this realm, knowledge is gained by means of observation and experimentation. This means that the truths gained here are considered objective truths and are believed to be universally valid and binding on everyone.
In the modern thought, the spiritual world, by contrast, is the realm of private matters: such as, religion and faith. By its very nature, the spiritual world is considered to be inaccesible to science and scientific knowledge; after all, it is beyond observation and experimentation. Consequently, the truths gained in this realm are considered to be purely subjective and relative to each particular individual and/or group.
Unfortunately, the incursion of enlightenment dualism on Christian thought is abundant.
It is commonplace for Christians to conceive of God as though He is “up there” and distant. We often pray to God, who is up there, and we hope that He hears us. Even more so, we hope that perhaps He might come down here and answer our prayers.
One of the problems with this radical separation of the physical and the spiritual is the conviction that the physical realm is sometimes considered evil. Many Christians hold to a belief that the matters of this world are not important.
The Scriptures, however, reject such a radical distinction between the physical and the spiritual. After all, according to the NT, the New Creation entails the resurrection and restoration of the old creation. Paul notes that,
“the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption” (Rom 8:19-21).
We see that in the resurrection there is the restoration of the old. This is why Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, provides a long and detailed argument regarding the nature of our resurrection bodies and contends that it is our present bodies that will be resurrected and become glorious bodies (cf 1 Cor 15:42-44).
It is important then to grasp that the kingdom of God is not radically divorced from this world. After all, it is this world, and the people in it, that God desires to redeem.
This is why it is helpful to conceive of the kingdom of God in terms of the reign of God.
If we think of it solely as the “kingdom of God” we might be led to regard it only in terms of a place. Instead, the kingdom of God is wherever God reigns.
 Mark Allan Powell, Fortress Introduction to the Gospels, Kindle Version, loc 1540-48.
 This is why I argue in my book Understanding the New Testament and the End Times that the end-times have begun! The coming of Christ and the bringing in of the kingdom of God is the beginning of the last days.
 Much could be said here. For now, I will simply note that claims made by scientists that God cannot brought into a laboratory are true. Science, in and of itself, cannot make any assertions about God. God is beyond science. Consequently, the claim that science has proven God does not exist simply cannot be asserted. Science cannot make any assertions about God. They cannot conclude that something did or did not happen as a result of the work of God.
 This is despite the clear Christian teaching that God is ominpresent! Psalm 139:7-10 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. if I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.”
 Note: when Paul says they become a “spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:44), he does not mean that it is no longer physical. After all, the tenor of the argument in 1 Corinthians 15 is that our bodies will become like Christ’s, which was certainly raised physically, and that it is our present body that is raised (note the word “it” in our English Bibles, 1 Cor 15:42-44, indicates continuity between the body that died and the body that is raised).
Part 1: The kingdom of God
Imagine a group of skilled craftsmen building a house without any plans. Highly skilled carpenters randomly cutting, sanding, and then putting pieces of wood together with no idea or goal as to what they are making. Electricians, plumbers, and other skilled workers doing the same.
Unfortunately, this is often what the church is like. Skilled workers using their skills for what they believe is the glory of God. They may even feel a sense of pride because they are using the gifts for the Lord.
But, if they are not working together, and if they have no set of plans, let alone any idea what they are building, then are they really using our talents for the glory of God?
If we were to ask the average Christian, even those who know the Bible with some level of confidence, “what was the most common topic of Jesus?” I suspect that most would seriously struggle to come to the correct answer. The answer, of course, as the title of this series of posts suggests, is the kingdom of God.
Though it is somewhat disheartening to acknowledge that most Christians are unable to identify the kingdom of God as Jesus’ most common topic, it is perhaps more tragic that most Christians are unable to adequately explain what the kingdom of God even is.
In this series of 9 posts I will attempt to flush out the nature of the kingdom of God. In doing so, I will set forth three key elements of the kingdom of God:
If these propositions are in accord with Scripture, then one may well discern that it is essential for the followers of Christ to discern the nature of the kingdom. After all, how do we know if we are doing kingdom work, if we don’t know what the kingdom is?
This is tantamount to skilled craftsmen using their gifts and applying their trade with no real objective. Are they really building something for the Lord?
In my previous posts on the purpose of the Christian life I have argued that the people of God are called to be God’s image bearers, that is, we are called to make God known.
In the final post of this series of blogs I wish to expand upon that thought. I must note that I think this is essential for the people of God to grasp! Before we jump into politics and the many plethora of social issues and concerns that evangelicals often banter about, we must understand our primary mission!
Simply put, the people of God are called to be the agents of God’s mission. God’s choosing us for salvation was not simply that we might be saved. Sure, that is a byproduct of knowing God. God choses us, however, so that we could participate in His mission.
As Richard Bauckham states, “God never singles out some for their own sake alone, but always for others.”
This fact is clearly stated in 1st Peter 2:9: “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Peter says, we were chosen so that we might declare “the excellencies” of Him (NAU; ESV; cp “the virtues”: NET; “the praises”: NIV; “the goodness”: NLT; and, “mighty acts”: NRS). The different translations are all trying to bring out the nuance of the Greek word thaumastos. The primary meaning of thaumastos is “to being a cause of wonder or worthy of amazement, wonderful, remarkable, admirable.”
What then is the purpose of the Christian life, to be God’s witnesses!
 Bauckham, Bible and Mission, 49.
 BDAG, 445.