Question: Is there a difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God? Also, what does it mean that "the kingdom of heaven is near," "theirs is the kingdom of heaven," "Your kingdom come. . . on earth as it is in heaven," "seek first His kingdom," etc. Are all of these kingdoms the same? Is it a state of mind? An actual place?
This last installment on “the kingdom of God / heaven” zeros in on the apparent disparity between statements such as "Your kingdom come. . . on earth as it is in heaven" and "seek first His kingdom." Is the Kingdom a state of mind or an actual place?
Is “the kingdom” just an attitude of the heart?
Luke 17:20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
The truth is, the “kingdom” encompasses both the physical and spiritual realms. It is more than a spiritual idea, more than a “state of mind” or attitude of the heart. One day in the not too distant future the kingdom of God will occupy planet earth as its geographical center, and citizens of the kingdom will enjoy with Jesus the fruitful harvest of the land:
Mark 14:25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
However, as Jesus pointed out in Luke 17:20, if the Kingdom of God is not already “within” us then we cannot expect to be in the kingdom at Christ’s appearing. It’s physical coming will be a joy only for those who already belong to Him because the physical Kingdom is an outward manifestation of the spiritual Kingdom.
Heaven is a “place” (Jn. 3:3) inhabited by God and the Lamb, thousands of angels, and many other creatures:
Rev. 11:15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
That heavenly kingdom will “appear” on earth with Jesus’ coming:
2Tim. 4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom…
And though the kingdom of God “is not a matter of eating and drinking” (Rom. 14:17), nor “a matter of talk but of power” (1Cor. 4:20), yet here will be plenty of feasting and conversation in the kingdom of heaven:
Luke 22:29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
God’s “Kingdom” is where the material and immaterial expressions of life are perfectly married. As invisible forms of energy radiate through buildings, your body, even the earth, so too does the spiritual realm intersect and interact with the physical realm. The Kingdom of God is where men and women of earth become immortal citizens of heaven, and where water and spirit describe our birth into each of these realms:
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.