What is the kingdom of heaven?

Excerpted from The Kingdom According to Jesus: A Study of Jesus’ Parables on the Kingdom of Heaven.

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The terms kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, and kingdom (with reference to the kingdom of God/heaven) appear nearly 150 times in Scripture. None of these references gives a simple, straightforward definition of the kingdom, and many passages appear to be contradictory.

Yet the kingdom is the primary focus of Jesus’ teaching. Many of his parables describe the kingdom. The apostles preach the “gospel of the kingdom.” And end-times prophecy points us toward the day when God’s kingdom comes in its fullness.

So, what is the kingdom of heaven? Are the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God the same thing? Is the kingdom here already, or are we to wait for it? What does it look like? Who’s in the kingdom and who’s not? And what is required to enter the kingdom?

To begin, we need to understand what the Bible says the kingdom of heaven is—and is not.
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God as Father of the church

This is the 17th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Let’s consider the wonderful doctrine of God as Father of the church – specifically, as the Father of everyone who receives His Son, Jesus Christ, by faith and thus is adopted into God’s family.

The Bible speaks of adoption as an act of God making born-again believers members of His family. As in first-century Roman culture, all former relationships of the adopted child are severed, and the adoptee is made a full-fledged member of his or her new family under the father’s authority, and with the full privileges and responsibilities of an adult

For Christians, then, no longer does the evil one hold his servants captive, in spiritual blindness, alienated from God, and destined for outer darkness. Christ has come to our rescue, redeeming us from the slave market of sin and joyfully welcoming us into the Father’s family as Jesus’ coheirs in His everlasting kingdom.

Adoption into God’s family is part of the Father’s predestined plan for everyone who believes. It is inextricably bound to all other elements of salvation, spanning from eternity past in foreknowledge to eternity future in glorification. As a consequence, we may rest assured of our salvation, for just as a Roman father could not disown an adopted son, God is faithful to His promise to conform us to the image of His eternal Son.
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A verse-by-verse commentary on Jude

The epistle of Jude may be one of the most neglected New Testament books. Bible readers are tempted — in part by its brevity and in part by its similarity to 2 Peter 2 — to skip over Jude on the way to Revelation, or to give this short epistle little more than a glance.

That’s unfortunate, because Jude speaks volumes about the value of Christian apologetics. The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith, is more than a verse-by-verse study. Each chapter explores key words and phrases, and poses thought-provoking questions that make this a handy resource for personal or group study.

Order your soft-cover copy or Kindle version from Amazon.

Last, you might want to check out the short video below.

 

Common objections to the Bible – Part 2

In a previous post, we shared four common objections to the Bible. Here, we respond to four additional objections.

Objection 5: The Bible is full of contradictions.

Response: Not so. Consider these guidelines for dealing with Bible difficulties: 1) logic and reason – examine the Bible like other documents; 2) translation – consider the nuances between various English versions; 3) time – some seemingly contradictory statements are separated by years and must be seen in their proper time frames; 4) context – study the chapters and books in which apparent contradictions occur; 5) sense – words and phrases may be used literally or figuratively; 6) quotations – many Old Testament passages are paraphrased or summarized in the New Testament; 7) perspective – when two or more writers provide separate accounts of the same events, differences in names, numbers, and conversations may be accounted for by each writer’s perspective.

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The Father of Israel

This is the 16th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available by contacting the MBC or through Amazon and other booksellers.

In the previous column, we explored how Yahweh is the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Scriptures depict the fatherhood of God in other ways, as well. In this article, we examine God as the Father of Israel, and in the next column we survey God as the Father of the Church.

The Israelites enjoy a unique relationship with Yahweh, who creates a nation for Himself out of the pagan tribes of the world. Then, He calls Himself the Father of Israel. This special relationship is anchored in God’s sovereign will and eternal plan to deliver the redemption of sinful mankind through a special people marked off as His own.

While the Israelites enjoy great benefits as the “firstborn” of Yahweh (Exod. 4:22), they may claim no merit of their own in this unique relationship. In fact, they often come under the chastening hand of their Father when they violate the terms of their covenant with Yahweh.

In a terse warning to the Israelites, Moses contrasts the faithfulness of God with the once and future corruption of His people: “Is this how you repay the LORD, you foolish and senseless people? Isn’t he your Father and Creator? Didn’t he make you and sustain you? Remember the days of old; consider the years of past generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you, your elders, and they will teach you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance and divided the human race, he set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the people of Israel. But the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob, his own inheritance” (Deut. 32:6-9).
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