What Is God’s Kingdom?
“This good news of the kingdom . . .”—MATTHEW 24:14.
IN HIS famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave a model prayer, which includes this petition to God: “Let your kingdom come.” Countless millions have memorized that prayer and have repeated it often. In the words of one encyclopedia, it is “the principal prayer used by all Christians in common worship.” Yet, many who recite it have little idea what the Kingdom is or what it will do when it comes.—Matthew 6:9, 10.
That is not surprising. Christendom’s leaders offer conflicting, confusing, and complicated explanations as to what the Kingdom is. One writes that God’s Kingdom is “something supernatural, . . . an inner link with the living God . . . , an experience with God in which men and women find salvation.” Another defines the gospel of the Kingdom as “instruction about the church.” And the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The kingdom of God [is] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
You will find a much clearer explanation on page 2 of this journal. It reads: “God’s Kingdom, which is a real government in heaven, will soon bring an end to all wickedness and transform the earth into a paradise.” Let us see how the Bible supports that understanding.
The Future Rulers of All the Earth
A kingdom is a government ruled by a king. The King of God’s Kingdom is the resurrected Jesus Christ. His enthronement in heaven was described in a vision given to the prophet Daniel, who wrote: “I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man [Jesus] happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days [Jehovah God] he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him. His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin.”—Daniel 7:13, 14.
The Bible book of Daniel also shows that the Kingdom would be firmly established by God, that it will put an end to all human governments, and that it will never be overthrown. Chapter 2 describes an inspired dream that the king of Babylon had, in which he saw a great statue, representing a succession of world powers. The prophet Daniel interpreted that dream. In “the final part of the days,” he wrote, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Daniel 2:28, 44.
The King of God’s Kingdom does not rule alone. During his ministry on earth, Jesus assured his faithful apostles that they, along with others, would be resurrected to heaven and would sit on thrones. (Luke 22:28-30) He did not mean literal thrones, for as Jesus indicated, the Kingdom would be in the heavens. The Bible describes these corulers as being from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” They would be “a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”—Revelation 5:9, 10.
Why the News of the Kingdom Is Good
Notice that Christ Jesus is given rulership over all “peoples, national groups and languages” and that those associated with him will “rule as kings over the earth.” Who, then, will be the subjects of this Kingdom? Those who respond positively to the good news that is being preached today. Subjects also include those who will be resurrected to life on earth and who will have the prospect of living forever.
The Bible eloquently describes the blessings the people will enjoy under the Kingdom. Here are a few of them:
“He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces; the wagons he burns in the fire.”—Psalm 46:9.
“They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating.”—Isaiah 65:21, 22.
“[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.
“At that time the eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped. At that time the lame one will climb up just as a stag does, and the tongue of the speechless one will cry out in gladness.”—Isaiah 35:5, 6.
“The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his [Jesus’] voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life.”—John 5:28, 29.
“The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:11.
That is certainly good news! What is more, fulfilled Bible prophecies show that the time is near for the Kingdom to establish its righteous rule over all the earth.
What Is the Good News?
“This good news . . .”—MATTHEW 24:14.
CHRISTIANS are to preach the “good news of the kingdom” by telling others about it, explaining that the Kingdom is the future world government that will rule the earth in righteousness. Yet, the expression “good news” is also used in other ways in the Bible. For example, we find reference to “the good news of salvation” (Psalm 96:2); “the good news of God” (Romans 15:16); and “the good news about Jesus Christ.”—Mark 1:1.
Simply stated, the good news includes all the truths about which Jesus spoke and his disciples wrote. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus told his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) So the work of true Christians is not just to inform others about the Kingdom; they must also endeavor to make disciples.
How are the churches doing in this regard? Those who do not understand what the Kingdom is—and there are many—cannot accurately teach others about it. Instead, they preach feel-good sermons about forgiveness of sins and faith in Jesus. They also seek to win converts through social work or by building hospitals, schools, and homes for the poor. While such efforts may boost church membership, they do not produce true Christians who sincerely seek to live in harmony with what Jesus taught.
One theologian writes: “You will find few scholars or leaders in Christian circles who deny that we are supposed to make disciples or apprentices to Jesus and teach them to do all things that Jesus said. . . . Jesus’ instructions on this matter are, after all, starkly clear. We just don’t do what he said. We don’t seriously attempt it. And apparently we don’t know how to do it.”
Similarly, a survey of Catholics in the United States revealed that 95 percent agreed that preaching the good news is a requirement of their faith. Yet, almost all felt that the best way to do this was, not by talking about it, but by living their life in such a way that it would be an example to others. One of those polled said: “Evangelization is different from words, words, words. We need to be the Good News.” U.S. Catholic, the magazine that conducted the survey, said that many hold back from sharing their faith because of “the church’s poor image with the recent sex abuse scandal and problematic church teachings.”
Elsewhere, a Methodist bishop lamented that his churches are divided and confused, lacking the nerve to carry out their mission and holding much the same values as does society in general. In a tone of frustration, he asked: “Who are the responsible bearers of the gospel of the Kingdom?”
The bishop did not provide an answer to his question. But there is an answer. You will find it in the next article.
[Blurb on page 6]
The good news is about both the Kingdom of God and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ