Kingdom of Heaven: Was Balian of Ibelin a Reformed? (6)
As I have promised in the last series, we shall examine now what the kingdom of heaven actually means. I have said that the kingdom of heaven is the recurring theme in the gospels, and in fact in the whole Scriptures. And I have already mentioned that the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the Father, the kingdom of the Son, etc. all refer to the same thing. This can be shown through comparative study of the gospels.
I have also mentioned that the kingdom of heaven is not an earthly kingdom. Gilbert Beebe, expounding on John 18:36 (“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence”), states, “… the nature of His kingdom was so radically different from every kingdom under heaven.” And then, “The kingdom of Jesus is not of this world. Its origin is heaven—it is a heavenly kingdom. The King is the Lord from heaven. … The provision on which this kingdom is sustained, were given us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, and being prior to, could not be of the world.”
James M. Renihan explains that “the kingdom is better understood in terms of the dynamic reign of God.” He then quoted Geerhardus Vos as identifying three strands which he called the kingdom’s essence: (1) the supremacy of God in the sphere of saving power; (2) the sphere of righteousness; and (3) the state of blessedness. “The kingdom of God is the sphere in which he reigns—that is—the place where his sovereignty and dominion express themselves.” The apostle Paul says in Romans 14:17 that the kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. They are of the very essence of the kingdom.
About those who will inherit the kingdom, Jesus says in his conversation with Nicodemus, “… no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5) The truth is that the sons of the kingdom are not naturally born, but supernaturally born. Renihan says, “The citizens of the kingdom are those who have been chosen by God, regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, those who are rich in faith and whose lives demonstrate that the work of God in them is real.”
to be continued …
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- June 4, 2005 / 11:20