As we read through the Gospels, we see two interchangeable phrases presented: ‘the Kingdom of God’ and ‘the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Depending on the account, each Gospel author is thought to have chosen his wording based on his targeted reader; Jew, Gentile, or both.
Kingdom of God vs. Kingdom of Heaven
Before anyone gets too apprehensive, this doesn’t affect inspiration in any way. To quote Dr. Michael Heiser, “The Bible is a divinely inspired human book.” To put that another way, God’s inspiration takes into account even the personality and character of His contributors.
In Matthew 4:17 Jesus says, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Meanwhile, in Mark 1:15 He is recorded as saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand…” Both phrases communicate the same reality; God’s rule and reign through King Jesus are present realities.‘Kingdom of Heaven’ & ‘Kingdom of God’ communicate the same thing—God's rule & reign through King Jesus are present realities. #easter Click To Tweet
Is the Kingdom a Present or Future Reality?
Being raised with overtly Platonistic notions that we will ‘go to heaven’ when we die, has left us with ‘heaven’ always being at arm’s length or greater. But, as Dallas Willard points out in his seminal work The Divine Conspiracy, heaven is also here and now.
“The damage done to our practical faith in Christ and in His government-at-hand by confusing heaven with a place in distant or outer space, or even beyond space, is incalculable. Of course, God is there too.” (Willard, pg. 82)
So, what value is there in understanding this concept of heaven as God’s rule and reign through King Jesus in the present?
To put it succinctly, this is what Easter is all about. Easter is what redemptive history has always been about. Tomorrow we will look at how God met with His covenant people in the past.What value is there in understanding what heaven is vs. what it isn’t? #heaven #easter Click To Tweet
What would change in your life if you truly understood you were living in God’s Kingdom right now?