A Vision for Heaven on Earth

by Mar 14, 2017

A Vision for Heaven on Earth

by Mar 14, 2017

A Vision for Heaven on Earth

by Mar 14, 2017

“The hands of the king are the hands of the healer, and so the rightful king be known.”
– JRR Tolkien, Return of the King

It’s hard for Americans not to feel bombarded by political news. We turn on the TV and see an increasing divide over how we should run our country. As we witness this division, we may feel helpless to do anything—I know I do. We may even begin to doubt God’s care for us. But as Christians, we must redirect our focus on the hope and strength we have in Christ. For every Christian, regardless of his or her citizenship among the nations, is a citizen of something greater than any nation on earth.

In Philippians 3:20, the Apostle Paul declared that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” In the meantime, we go through the daily grind, our jobs, our marriages, and relationships. How should we “wait” for our Savior while we live on this earth?

The Bible talks about something called the “kingdom of God.” God’s kingdom is wherever God’s people submit to the kingship of Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross and resurrected from the grave, a shift occurred in history. The temple and sacrifices are no longer needed for sins to be forgiven (Matt. 27:51; cf., Heb. 10:20). Basically:

  1. The kingdom of God refers to God’s rule and reign.
  2. The kingdom of God is here now but not in its fullness till Christ returns.

The “kingdom of God” theme is seen in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In the book of Matthew it is referred to as the “kingdom of heaven.” The terms are the same but Matthew uses it a little differently.

The Sermon on the Mount and the Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew uses the term “kingdom of heaven” to refer to some attribute about God or his care for us. In the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7, Jesus describes how we should live as his disciples. In this Sermon, Jesus calls us to live on this earth as citizens of heaven. Jesus tells us how to deal with anger (Matt. 5:21), to remove lust in from our hearts (5:27), to go beyond human forms of justice “eye for an eye” (Matt. 5:38), and to love our enemies (Matt. 5:43). Jesus’s standard for us is to be perfect, like how our heavenly father is perfect (Matt. 5:48). This is impossible and frustrating if we try and do it ourselves!

Luckily, God gives us his Holy Spirit to empower us to live and wait now on this earth. In Titus 2:12-14, the Apostle Paul wrote:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Follow Jesus’s Way in Faith and Trust in God’s Care

Following Jesus is hard. If you don’t think so, take another look at what he asks us to do. “Love our enemies?” I don’t like doing that. By faith, can we learn to obey and even love listening to him? That is the vision. That is what heaven will be like.

Following Jesus will require faith. When we read Matthew, we see that God sees and rewards in secret. I personally find this ironic because sometimes I feel God is hard to find and not listening. It is in those moments that we need to go to Jesus in our quiet secret places in prayer—it is where God is and where he is waiting for us.

As we come to God in faith, we can be reassured that life on earth doesn’t have to be stressful. God is on your side, and Luke 12:31-32 tells us: “Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

God wants to give us heaven! All is the Lord’s and we are his servants. What do we have to fear or worry about? He wants to give us eternal life, and, more than that, Jesus himself! As Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount, he says, “not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but who does the will of my father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

Summary and Implications:

  • The kingdom of heaven is Jesus’s ethic of heavenly life that should be experienced on earth by his disciples.
  • We have our citizenship in heaven. It is our home and ultimate destination.
  • We are not meant to live an earthly life devoid of the Spirit’s power and transformation.
  • Life in this kingdom of heaven requires faith. That is: faith to love our enemies, faith to go beyond earthly standards, faith to obey, and faith in God’s care.
  • Earthly kingdoms will ultimately fail. Only the kingdom of Christ will be eternal.

Lastly, we enter the kingdom not from our own abilities or righteousness. Faith is a gift (Matt. 11:27; Titus 3:4-7). We need to remember that the matters of politics and the kingdoms of this world are earthly, human, and blind. The gospel is still advancing, even while we struggle and fight with sin and Satan. Living a heavenly life now doesn’t require complete isolation from the world. We are to be salt and light and remain faithful to the gospel. Let’s not be ignorant of our true citizenship and our mission to make disciples of all nations. To quote the wise Samwise Gamgee, “darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.” Jesus, the rightful king, will return someday. There is so much to say about Jesus, but as we gaze intently at his beauty, and as we meditate on the grace and love poured out on the cross, may we be filled by the Spirit’s power with joy to obey as citizens of a heavenly realm.