Today's definition of the Kingdom of Heaven is "A PLACE CALLED
HEAVEN". You know, "THE SWEET BY AND BY", "GLORY
LAND", and other things that stir up in us visions of tranquility.
We just can't wait to get OUT OF THE WORLD either by RAPTURE or DEATH so
that we may begin to enjoy the GOOD LIFE. Now this may sound too obvious
to say, but THE DEAD ARE DEAD. There are many theological debates over
what the DEAD are doing right now. Whatever they are doing right now is
not as important as the fact that we shall be reunited with them. Paul
tells us in Thessalonians that we should not sorrow over the death of
our Christian loved ones ,as those who have no hope, because when the
LORD returns He will bring them with Him. Jesus said that God is the God
of the LIVING not the DEAD. So why are told that life will be good when
we are dead? Life is life, and death is death. The Kingdom of Heaven is
not for the dead, but for the living.
John the Baptist preached "The Kingdom of
Heaven". Jesus preached "The Kingdom of Heaven". The
Disciples preached "The Kingdom of Heaven". What do preachers
preach today? The thrust of the teaching ministry of Jesus was
explaining what the Kingdom of heaven is like. The heart of the teaching
of the kingdom of heaven is: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a seed
that is planted, then it grows, then it matures and yields fruit."
Does that sound like a PLACE to you. And why are we told by today's
preachers that this place called HEAVEN will be our eternal abode, when
Jesus told us that the meek shall inherit the EARTH. And there are
countless other scriptures that tell us that the RIGHTEOUS shall never
be removed. Jesus further tells us that the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS WITH IN
US! And that WE are the TEMPLE OF GOD". You see the Kingdom of
Heaven is not about where we are to live, but were God is to live. The
Kingdom of Heaven has been reduced to a place where the dead shall
receive their reward. However our only reward is God and each other. I
dare you to say that there is any reward greater than God. Go ahead, I
double dog dare you to say to God "YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH!"
So if Heaven or the Kingdom Of Heaven is not about
death or a place of the dead, then what is it about? It is of course
about life. And life is about birth, growth, and maturity. We hear the
Gospel (Good News) of the new birth all the time, but that is only part
of the Gospel. Yes we must preach the Gospel of the new birth, but we
must also preach growth and maturity to preach the full Gospel Of The
Kingdom OF Heaven. I can hear you saying to yourself right now, "
But I preach growth and maturity!". If you do then where are the
fruits. And I'm not talking about your works. Even a dumb ox can produce
works. Any tree that is mature bears fruit, and any believer that is
mature bears heavenly fruit (i.e. Righteousness, Peace, Joy, Love,
Patience, ect, ect.). Did you just miss the KEY WORDS? HEAVENLY FRUIT.
The dead don't produce fruit, only the living. Why is it that every time
the word HEAVEN or HEAVENLY is used, it conjures up visions of some far
off place reserved for God and the Dead?
All my life I have heard about how great things are
going to be in Heaven. Most Christian songs seem to be about it. Most
Christians will tell you they can't wait to get there. And it seems that
every religion has it's own version of it. But what and where is Heaven?
The Bible itself is the definitive work on the Kingdom of HEAVEN. It
tells us that believers are "Seated in HEAVENLY Places" and
that we are "Citizens Of HEAVEN". It also calls God "Our
HEAVENLY Father", and Jesus spent a great amount of time speaking
parables about The Kingdom of it under the rule of God.
Most people will tell you that HEAVEN is a place that
you will GO to when you die, if you have been good, or if you accept
Jesus, or both. They tell you that there you will receive your rewards
for all the works you have done in your life here on earth. That in
HEAVEN God will wipe away the tears from your eyes, and there will be no
more pain, no more sorrow. That you will be happy and joyful always,
while you abide in a beautiful mansion, the size and glamour of which is
decided by your works here on Earth. Let me take a moment to address
this concept of Heaven. First, when a believer dies, he is either asleep
or is present with The Lord (take your pick, there are good arguments
for both teachings). The main point, is that where Jesus is now, is not
where He is going to stay. He is going to return to, and rule on EARTH.
Secondly, the REWARD of the SAINTS is HIM, not based on what WE have
done (WORKS), but what HE has done (FAITH). Without going into it in
detail at this time, let me just say that being rewarded according to
your works is not a good thing. Thirdly, there is coming a time when God
will wipe away our tears, and there will be no more pain, but that's not
in heaven, that will happen on EARTH , when there is a New Heaven and a
New Earth (Rev.21:4). And finally, you are not going to receive a
mansion, YOU ARE A MANSION! Jesus said "In My Father's House are
MANY MANSIONS". Mansion means "DWELLING PLACE". You are
the TEMPLE OF GOD, you are the HOUSE OF GOD, you are the DWELLING PLACE
OF GOD! You see, you are not getting a mansion, HE IS! But enough about
all of that.
Before we can really talk about heaven, I think that
it is important to understand that MAN is a PHYSICAL / SPIRITUAL BEING.
Adam was created that way, we are that way, and Jesus IS that way. When
Jesus was resurrected He did not float around formless, as a ghost, but
He had and still has a physical body, the same type of physical body
that we will receive at His return. Man was created to be a Physical /
Spiritual Being, and he was created to inhabit the Earth. Adam was not
created a ghost and then given a body, his existence began as a Spirit
in a physical body. He was not designed to die, but to live forever as a
Physical / Spiritual Being. His physical part began to die at the fall.
Jesus overcame physical death, and at His return we shall also overcome
it through Him. Adam was created to live on this Earth forever, and when
Jesus manifests His Kingdom in it's fullness, it will be here on Earth.
The destiny of THE RIGHTEOUS is to live forever, as Spiritual / Physical
beings, on Earth, with KING JESUS! How we ever got the idea that we are
going to live eternally as some type of Ghosts, relaxing on a cloud
somewhere, is totally beyond me. The Bible tells us clearly that
"THE MEEK SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH" and "THE RIGHTEOUS
SHALL NEVER BE REMOVED". You may at this point think that Jesus
should have preached THE KINGDOM OF EARTH, but EARTH is physical only.
Or that He should have just preached HEAVEN (as many seem to think He
did), but HEAVEN is spiritual only. Praise God that the GOOD NEWS or the
GOSPEL is about a NEW Kingdom, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, a SPIRITUAL /
PHYSICAL KINGDOM for SPIRITUAL / PHYSICAL BEINGS, such as yourselves,
that have received Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Keep in mind that anything that is physical takes up
physical space, and can be perceived by the physical senses. While
anything that is spiritual is not restrained to specific physical
locations. Although we can sometimes see the effects of the spiritual
realm, we can only perceive the things of the spirit by spiritual
Paul wrote about the THIRD HEAVEN, which means there
must be a First and a Second Heaven. . The THIRD HEAVEN is obviously the
realm where God's character is totally unresisted. Working backwards
from there, I believe the SECOND HEAVEN to be, as it were, all around
us. The word "HEAVEN" as it is used in the New Testament, can
be translated "SKY" or "AIR" (as the King James
Version does 12 times). A quick look at the Strong's definition tells us
that the meaning of this word is "THROUGH THE IDEA OF
ELEVATION". This is where the Devil and his cohorts are allowed to
move freely, restricted only by God, as He sees fit, and Believers that
know and exercise their God given authority, as they see fit. The FIRST
HEAVEN is within ourselves. Here, we have total authority. We can choose
to allow entrance into this heavenly realm from the Second or Third
Heavens. Although God has total access to and authority in all three
heavens, He allows rebellion only in the second and first heavens. At
this particular time, those of us who have been born into God's Kingdom,
resist rebellion (or sin) in the first and second heavens, as we grow in
the character or nature of God (i.e. Fruit of the Spirit). Eventually
God will destroy all rebellion in the first and second heavens, and in
the physical universe.
The Kingdom of Heaven therefore is threefold in it's
manifestation. It Begins, Grows, and comes to maturity. First in us
(When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior), then through us (the
growth of HIS CHARACTER in us, the fruit of the Spirit), and then when
the Lord returns (He will fully set up HIS kingdom with HIMSELF as King,
regardless of who likes or doesn't like it).
To learn more about the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN,
prayerfully read Matthew Chapter Thirteen. May The Lord give you eyes to
see and ears to hear.