Principles of the Kingdom of God
As I have researched
and written on these Worldview Areas, two studies have been the
most rewarding for me. First was
God's Holiness, Law, Love, Grace,
Mercy, Justice, and Equity and now, the Kingdom
In only a few hours,
the reader-student can research this subject himself or herself.
There are over 400 verses in the Old and New Testaments that
refer to the “kingdom of God,” “the Kingdom of heaven,” and
“kingdom” in the Bible, mostly in the New Testament and mostly
in the Gospels. And, if you only look at the verses in Matthew
alone, you will have most of the understanding of this concept.
Perhaps, while the idea of the Kingdom may be foreign to many
Christians, in Scripture its descriptions are quite detailed and
comprehensive. This study could/should change your concept of
God and His plan for your life! See Bible Search below. (Go to
www.biblegateway.com, and look for Keyword
Search.” You have options for entry of more than one word.)
The Kingdom of God is
Biblical worldview or Biblical ethics, comprehensively applied!
(Methodology: Here and
throughout this website, I do not try to give exhaustive
references of Scripture. For most concepts, there are numerous
correlative texts that are not cited. There are actually
numerous verses on my of the following concepts. I have
listed and briefly discussed more of these
verses on the Kingdom
1. The Kingdom of God
and the Kingdom of heaven are one and the same concept.
The two names are used interchangeably by Jesus Christ and the
writers of the New Testament ((Matthew 25:31-46, 26:26-30; Luke
22:14-23). The Lord’s Prayer itself makes this link. “Thy
Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.”
The Kingdom of God is
one and the same as The Great Commission,
the “gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 24:14). Thus, the work of
the Church extends far beyond the simple presentation of
personal salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the “discipling of the
nations.” It is the implementation of justice and mercy at every
level: individuals, families, churches, voluntary organizations,
and states. See “Missionary endeavors… below.
I have constructed three definitions which are intended to have
the same meaning. This concept is so rich that several
definitions help to bring it out. I will use the “Kingdom of
God” or just the “Kingdom” here and throughout this website.
(A) The Kingdom of God
is the progressive implementation of God’s rule “on earth, as it
is in heaven,” to be completed when He judges mankind finally
into Heaven or Hell, with temporal blessings and cursings that
extend to both Christians and pagans.
(B) The rule of the
Holy Spirit as Christ’s representative on earth and the rule of
the Father in heaven, primarily manifested on earth in the
regenerate and the Church among all nations, who bring a portion
of heaven (peace and joy) to earth by their rule of
righteousness (ethics or worldview) under Biblical authority in
conscience, family, voluntary organizations, and civil
government, to be consummated with the new heavens and the new
(C) Peace and
righteousness (ethics and worldview) that is effected by the
Holy Spirit in individuals, families, voluntary organizations,
and civil government in all nations, as they govern these areas
consistently with the Word of God, manifested primarily through
the influence of the regenerate and the Church (Romans 14:17;
Hebrews 7:2; Hebrews 12:11; James 13:18), to be consummated with
the new heavens and new earth.
Definitions from other
authors. See References below.
The Kingdom of God
is the new world-order, in heaven and on earth, produced by
the revolutionary changes brought about in Jesus'
fulfillment of the Old Covenant in His life, death,
resurrection, and ascension. (Peter Leithart)
The Kingdom of God
is (a) the universal rule of Christ over all things, both
redeemed and non-redeemed; (b) the special, saving rule of
Christ over His people: (c) the life, wisdom, holiness,
power, and authority that Christ grants to His people; or
(d) the permeating influence of the Word and Spirit in the
world. (Coalition on Revival, # 2 of Articles of Affirmation
and Denial on the Kingdom of God)
2. Membership in the
Membership in the Kingdom of God and the invisible Church
have the same criterion: regeneration. In John 3:1-21, as
one of the primary passages on regeneration, Jesus states “Most
assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the
Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is
born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit
is spirit” (verse 5). And, in Titus 3:5, regeneration is
inextricably linked to the work of the Holy Spirit: “But when
the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according
to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration
and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” This concept is not limited to
these two verses, but they will suffice here.
Regeneration has been
discussed more fully elsewhere.
Faithful angels are
members of the Kingdom. Fallen and rebellious angels (demons)
are leaders of the spiritual world against the Kingdom.
3. The effect of the
Kingdom of God: blessings and cursings.
The Kingdom affects both
the regenerate and the unregenerate through the behavior of
both, as their thinking, speech, and behavior work is consistent
(blessings) with God’s instructions (laws) to mankind or they
are inconsistent (cursings). The primary responsibility,
however, for implementation of the Kingdom falls upon the
regenerate, as individuals, families, and The Church.
Someone has said, “The
only Hell that Christians (the regenerate) will ever experience
is their life on earth, and the only Heaven that pagans (the
unregenerate) will ever experience is their life on earth.”
These statements are full of the reality of the Kingdom of God
and the Kingdom of Darkness (the world, the flesh, and Satan).
They also mention the “goodness” of God’s common grace and the
overflow effects of His Kingdom.
4. The establishment of
the Kingdom of God is by both the spiritual (supernatural)
activity and the work of the regenerate.
God’s supernatural activity includes such acts as the crossing
of the Red Sea, Daniel’s interpretation of dreams, Christ’s
resurrection of the dead, the manifestations of Pentecost,
regeneration of believers, establishment of national rulers, and
historical events that have enhanced the spread of the Kingdom,
such as, Greek, the universal language of the time of Acts; the
printing press that preceded the Reformation; the English common
law that was foundational to America as a nation; and the defeat
of the Spanish.
While these events are
momentous and awesome, the greater work of the Kingdom has been
carried out in the regenerate, simply following His instructions
Works of the
regenerate, God’s miracles, and His Providence are different
ways to effect the same Kingdom.
With only a few
exceptions, God advances His Kingdom through His people. These
advances may be individual acts (Martin Luther’s posting of his
theses), movements of peoples (all those who implemented the
Reformation), councils of the church (various), hospitals and
hospices, and missionary endeavors. All the great achievements
because of Biblical Christianity are staggering to consider from
a moral perspective. See
Great Social Reform Because Jesus Lived.
5. The Kingdom of God
began with the ministry of Jesus Christ and later the
“procession” of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son.
John the Baptist and Jesus both said that the Kingdom of God was
at hand” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17, 10:7). The ministry of John the
Baptist is the end of the prior work of God among mankind. the
Kingdom of God (Matthew 11:11).
The Kingdom of God is
implemented, primarily, by its members: Christians as
individuals and The Church, as a body.
While the Holy Spirit works above and beyond the regenerate, His
work is primarily through individual Christians, families, and
the Church. Only these have the sustaining power and knowledge
of God and His ways to implement His “will on earth as it is in
The Old Testament era
involved shadows and types of the Kingdom of God.
First was The Creation Mandate (Genesis 1:28), given to two
people who failed in their Fall. Next, the mandate was stated
after The Fall and The Flood to eight people (Genesis 9:1-17).
Later, God chose Abraham and his descendents, the nation of
Israel, to more fully and specifically to manifest one Kingdom
on earth (Israel - Genesis 12:1-3). All these people failed to
implement God’s directives. God Himself, as the Trinity, has
implemented the final Kingdom which will never fail nor end
(Luke 1:33). (For more on the relationship of the events of the
Old Testament to the Kingdom, see Henry Stob, Ethical
Reflections, 1978, pages 62-71 —to be posted on this
These are not
dispensations in the theological sense of what is commonly
While in a real sense these different periods may be called
dispensations, they never present salvation by any other means
than Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death. Those saved before Jesus,
actual time on earth are still saved in the same way, even
though Jesus’ time was future. The one exception was for Adam
and Eve only: they could have been saved by “works,” that is,
keeping the one rule that God had given to them.
6. God has already
powerfully manifested His Kingdom on earth.
Regardless of a Christian’s view of millennialism, the Kingdom
of God has had undeniable, powerful effects on planet earth.
These include the marked reduction of human sacrifice and
slavery, orphanages for abandoned and unwanted children,
universal education, hospitals and other caring institutions,
global exploration, modern science, English common law, The
United States of America, and many other
reforms (simply because
Jesus fulfilled His mission). While even these “goods” may be
used to evil purposes, in general, they have been to the benefit
The manifestations of
the Kingdom are not found in the “greatest” of philosophers.
Certainly, one manifestation of the Kingdom is the defense and
loving care of the most defenseless in any society. There is
virtually no other philosophy or religion, conceived by the
“greatest philosophers” and religious teachers in history, that
obligates mankind in this way.
abandonment and exposure were almost universal before
cultures were exposed to Christianity. Consistently, "None
of the great minds of the ancient world -- from Plato to
Aristotle to Seneca and Quintilian, from Pythagoras and
Aristophanes to Livy and Cicero, from Herodotus and
Thucydides to Plutarch and Euripides -- disparaged
child-killing in any way. In fact, most of them even
recommended it.... They blindly tossed lives like dice."
(George Grant, Third Time Around: A History of the Pro-Life
Movement from the First Century to the Present, Wolgemuth
and Hyatt, 1991, page 12.)
7. The Church and the
Kingdom are not identical.
This dimension of the Kingdom may be the most difficult to
grasp. How can the Kingdom be more than the Church? In these
ways. Christians perform good social works (feeding the hungry,
clothing the poor, developing orphanages, etc.) that are direct,
physical blessings to unbelievers. Christians enact Biblical
laws which promote justice for all who are under that
jurisdiction. Christians’ behavior and their ethics and laws
influence social behavior in general. So, while only the
regenerate can be members of the Kingdom, its blessings extend
far beyond its members.
The Kingdom is Biblical
worldview in action.
Comprehensive, Biblical worldview that is implemented by
Christians and the Church is identical with the Kingdom of God.
8. Christians err
seriously when they limit their citizenship to heaven only.
Without doubt, Christians are pilgrims whose destiny is their
Father’s house with many mansions (John 14:2). But, the very
Lord’s Prayer itself, which every Christian prays, calls them to
be effect God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven.” Regardless
of one’s millennial position, this petition is a strong call for
Christians to implement his Regency on earth. Moreover, the
argument can be made that Christ’s Incarnation, as well as God’s
activity in history, legitimizes earthly pursuit of justice and
righteousness in every sphere of human activity.
As we will see below,
since the Kingdom is contiguous with Heaven, heavenly
citizenship begins now! As we will see also, Christians will
rule in heaven. We will not be passive. Should not we begin our
training for heaven now?
Readers should not
confuse the “social gospel” of liberal Christianity with this
call for Christians and The Church to be agents of change on
Somewhere in the last 250 years, social change became identified
with liberal Christians, even to the call for armed revolution
where injustice reigns. During the same time period,
“fundamental” Christians divorced personal pietism from social
Reader, note the
context of my message here: regeneration of souls and Biblically
I am as far from such a “social gospel” as one can be. The time
has come for Bible-believing Christians to unite once again the
full gospel message with The Great Commission of “making
disciples of all nations” and implementing “God’s will on earth
as it is in heaven.”
(Sometime soon, I plan
to write an article on the argument for postmillennialism
apart from passages of Biblical prophecy. I think that the
arguments for millennial positions are misplaced. We ought,
instead, to simply obey what God has called His people to do in
all the descriptions of His Kingdom that are discussed here.)
9. Undeniable truths
concerning the Kingdom of God.
There are clear Biblical statements and positions that are
virtually impossible to deny without being inconsistent and
illogical. They are inescapable truths, regardless of one’s
eschatology. A simple review of all the verses that pertain to
this subject is all that is necessary for these conclusions. I
have named many of those verses, detailed the thoughts of
verses, and discussed these truths in this
Summary. Perhaps, naming them briefly and concretely will help
readers realize the clarity of what the Bible says about the
A. The Kingdom of
God, the Kingdom of heaven, The Great Commission, and the
implementation of Biblical ethics and Biblical worldview are
one and the same.
B. The Kingdom
began with Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth and the
procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son.
C. Only the
regenerate can be members of the Kingdom. Evidence of their
regeneration is their good works. (See Glossary definition
of Good Work on this site.)
D. Jesus Christ is
the King of the entire universe. He is The King of Kings and
The Lord of Lords with the Government upon His shoulders.
E. The Lord’s
Prayer petitions that the Kingdom is “to come” and that
God’s will is “to be done as it is in heaven.”
F. The Kingdom is
growing (parable of the Mustard Seed), will never fail, and
will be consummated in the reality of Heaven itself.
G. Jesus Christ
will eventually place all His enemies under His feet.
understanding the Kingdom should precede one’s grappling with
My work on these Summary
Principles on the Kingdom is my first real study of the Kingdom
of God. What has most amazed me about this study is not only the
number of references in the Bible on the subject, but the detail
about what the Kingdom is.
I fear that we
Bible-believing Christians so much in love with our favorite
verses, proof texts, and systematic theology that we neglect to
study the Bible itself.
Faith (noun) and believe (verb) are another example. There are
at least five meanings of the word faith in the New Testament.
Do you know what they are? All you have to do is use a
concordance and look up all the verses on faith and believe.
Such a study is not difficult or complex, but it will take some
hours. I would prefer that you do the study, but you can read my
short book on faith for
But, the point is
simply to study what the Bible says on the Kingdom of God. I
have posted my
raw notes, which are not
complete, which can be a beginning for you. Such a study may
have some bearing on your millennial position.
11. Perhaps, God
prefers that His people reign, rather than be persecuted.
The United States may be the battleground for whether
persecution of Christians takes place here and in other Western
countries. Frankly, I prefer not to be persecuted! But, some
Christians either by their millennial position or by their
passivity for whatever reasons, are opening the gate very widely
for their own persecution.
Where Christians have
opportunity, I do not believe that God wants His people to be
Now, certainly I would never minimize the suffering of
Christians past and present. I would rather almost anything
happen to me, rather than to be seen in that light. However, the
Scriptures seem clear to me that ultimately His saints are
rulers, not subjects of martyrdom. We will judge angels (I
Corinthians 6:3), sit on God’s lesser thrones (Revelation 4:4),
and were intended to “have dominion” over the earth from the
beginning (Genesis 1:26).
Certainly, the Kingdom
of God is about humility, “the least will be the greatest” and
the “meek shall inherit the earth.” However, the passages that I
just cited and many others speak of dominion, ruling, and
judging. An historical model is found in the Puritans who
demonstrated humility and willingness to rule (albeit
imperfectly, as will always be the case on earth). Perhaps, the
modern equivalence of “winsome,” as a model for Christians,
should also be that of a solder for Christ. Why cannot vigorous
leadership be dynamic and aggressive, as part of being
The Puritan was
made up of two different men; the one all self-abasement,
penitence, gratitude, passion; the other proud, calm,
inflexible, sagacious. He prostrated himself in the dust
before his Maker, but he set his foot on the neck of his
king.” See my summary on the
Puritans and the
original work cited there.
There is no question in
my mind that the United States is the pinnacle of God’s Kingdom
on earth through its basis in Mosaic law, as historically
developed in English Common Law, John Calvin, William
Blackstone, and others. However, that greatness is seriously
threatened today, not by all the leftists and liberals,
but by the neglect of worldview application by God’s people
in the comprehensive and conscious manner of our founding
fathers (imperfect, and sometimes not even true believers,
though they were).
The “personal peace and
affluence” criticized by Francis Schaeffer, the “don’t polish
brass on a sinking ship” of the pre-millennialists, and general
worldview apathy and ignorance of most evangelicals are allowing
the leftists and liberals to gradually take over this country.
They have almost succeeded, but I do not believe that it is too
late, if more Christians fall on their faces before God, seeking
His forgiveness, and then repenting to understand the full
Biblical application of His truth to every area of life.
Perhaps, a Biblical study of the Kingdom of God could spark some
interest in causing “God’s will to be done on earth, as it is in
But, patriotism and the
identity of the United States as one manifestation of the
Kingdom, should not be equated.
We must not have the idea that we will support “my country,
right or wrong.” Indeed, currently, America strays far from her
Biblical roots and in many quarters is hostile to Biblical faith
and ethics. So, American Christians must be careful not to place
patriotism over Christ’s Lordship through Biblical truth.
12. Jesus Christ will
one day be established visibly to everyone on earth and in
heaven, as the King of Earth and Heaven.
All millennial positions eventually establish His Kingdom. So,
the disagreement is when and how that happens, not the reality
The Kingdom of God is
continuous and contiguous with Heaven itself.
After the old heavens are destroyed by fire and the new heavens
and earth are established, then will our time in heaven will
begin (II Peter 3:7-13).
13. One of the primary
manifestations of the Kingdom is the basis of civil law in
Biblical ethics and law.
I have reviewed how civil law changes the behavior of the
citizens under it through their pattern of behavior and fear of
Law is legislated morality.
include the same rule of Biblical ethics and law in government
of self (conscience), the family, and voluntary social
Individual Christians should be activists to establish this rule
of ethics and law in their sphere of influence.
14. Another primary
manifestation of the Kingdom are works of mercy by individual
Christians on their own and in their families, voluntary social
organizations, and churches.
Summary Principles of Social Justice.
Non-Christians may also
do these works under the influence of the regenerate (as
individuals and their institution) and under their own
consciences that reflect the innate ethics and law of God.
However, their depth and breadth of motivation can never match
the power of the Holy Spirit working in His people.
Most of the scenes of
judgment involve the reviews of social responsibilities of
(for example, Matthew 25:31-46).
15. Vocation has its
identity with the Kingdom of God.
Today, too many Christians see “working for the Lord” as being
only in the context of The Church or being a missionary. A
conscious concept of the Kingdom of God makes any ethical
endeavor a “working for the Lord“ —to advance His Kingdom “on
earth as it is in Heaven.”
16. Is there an
Yes and no. There is no opposing Kingdom in the likeness of the
Kingdom itself. The opposing forces to the Kingdom are “the
world, the flesh, and the Devil.” These forces do not have an
organizing entity, as the Holy Spirit is the organizing and
motivating force of the Kingdom.
Is Satan the ruler of
the opposing Kingdom?
Yes and no. While Satan’s goal is certainly to thwart God at
every turn and to overthrow Him, His power and influence is
limited. He knows that the battleground lies in man and mankind.
But, the very nature of evil in himself, in his demons, and
within men themselves does not have an organized focus. Men’s
selfishness makes them enemies of each other. Each one wants his
own rule, power, and influence. Each devil wants the same thing
for himself. The Devil, and indeed, all godless beings, can only
rule by deceit and fear of punishment. He cannot “draw all men
unto Himself.” He cannot woo men into following him blindly
without deceit and intimidation.
In my opinion, all
these that oppose the Kingdom of God will eventually triumph to
their own ends. One of my concepts of Hell is its total
individuality —every man and demon for Himself. And, Satan will
“rule” over this chaotic nightmare, as he will be the most
powerful being there.
In a philosophical
sense, Satan can never win in the way that he desires. The only
organizing influence is the goodness of God. Evil by its very
nature can only destroy. It cannot build anything that is
permanent, good in the ultimate sense, or worth the allegiance
of men or angels in the long run. Evil beings, including Satan,
only have influence to the degree that they stir the selfish
desires of others.
17. We win!
Every Christian acknowledges that Christ was victorious from the
grave and will establish His Kingdom upon His Second Advent.
Then, why do we not live like we are winners? As described
above, there is really no contest. On one side is the omnipotent
God and His work in space, time, and eternity, loving men unto
His leadership. On the other is “every man (and demon) for
18. The Kingdom is
continuous and intergenerational in time.
As we have seen, the Kingdom continually grows in time until it
is translated into Heaven. As is developed in
Summary Principles of the Family,
God’s primary mode of evangelism is through the family. This
intergenerational movement fits with the development of the
Kingdom whereby momentum and power is built from generation to
19. State welfare is
not a manifestation of the Kingdom.
There is nothing right about state welfare. It steals from one
group to give to others. It imposes a huge administrative cost.
(I have seen estimates from 75-90 percent.) It promotes laziness
among its recipients. It gives without regard to responsibility
and true need, based upon some arbitrary category of persons. It
dehumanizes its recipients, making them into helpless victims.
It promotes class warfare, giving “rights” to recipients, as
well as establishing groups of “haves” and “have nots.” It
trains recipient children in “the ways that they should (not)
go.” It promotes illegitimate marriages and weakens the role of
husbands. And, more.
20. The relationship of
the Kingdom of God to the Church.
(A) “The Kingdom of God creates the church. The
redemptive role of God brings into being a new people who
receive the blessings of the divine reign.” (George Eldon Ladd,
Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, 1960, page 313). (B) In
so far as the visible Church is instrumental in the
establishment and extension of the Kingdom, it is of course
subordinate to this as a means to an end. The Kingdom may be
said to be a broader concept than the Church, because it aims at
nothing less than the complete control of all the manifestations
of life. It represents the dominion of God in every sphere of
human endeavor.” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 11th
printing, 1969, page 570)
relationship may be summed up in this way.
In relation to the
Kingdom, the Church may be defined as the totality of those
who at any time have been delivered by the power of God’s
reign in Christ from the toils of sin and death and have
been reconciled to God. As such the Church is the living,
burning center of the Kingdom, a witness to its presence and
power, a harbinger of its final coming. It is not the
Kingdom, it is narrower than the Kingdom, but it is its
central component. (Henry Stob, Ethical Reflections,
1978, page 69)
endeavors must implement the idea of the Kingdom of God.
From all the above, missionary efforts throughout the world are
too narrowly focused. They are focused on the salvation of
individuals and their incorporation into local churches.
However, the Church is an agency of the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, the goal of missions must be the implementation of
the Kingdom of God, as they understand it from a Biblical study.
I believe that the
current teaching by most missionary agencies is setting the
stage for national disasters because of this narrow focus. Even
“saved” souls still have within them the “old man” (the flesh or
the sin nature). Thus, judicial discipline is necessary in the
local church, and civil law (based upon the Word of God) is
necessary for godly rule of local, regional, and national
governments in the civil realm.
leaders of the Reformation knew this truth. Prior to them,
European and English common laws (based upon the Mosaic Law)
knew this truth. Now, in modern times, this foundation has
largely been forgotten and neglected. Its omission from modern
evangelism and missions is a major failure of those endeavors.
Commission, as it is proclaimed today, is largely a Truncated
Commission! And, the Church without judicial discipline is a
Church with unnecessary impurity and corruption.
Online Bible Keyword Search
- Do your own study using the keyword search feature as a
concordance: Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven, Kingdom (sort
out those passages that refer to a kingdom under some human king
and his earthly kingdom)
Kingdom of God: Peter Leithart
Coalition on Revival: Affirmations and Denials