If This Isn't Heaven, I Don't Know What Is

Biblical Reasons Why We Should
And Practical Suggestions on How We Can

Create Heaven on Earth

Does the Kingdom of God GROW?

One of the enduring myths about the Kingdom of God during the last 100 years is the idea that the Kingdom won't really exist until Jesus returns physically, and at that Great Moment, all of the sudden, we will make the instantaneous transition from the present age into "THE KINGDOM AGE."

Nothing could be plainer from Scripture than that this is not the way the Kingdom comes about.

The message of John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, was, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:1-2). Jesus had a similar message at the beginning of His ministry:

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matthew 4:17

What did Jesus and the Apostolic writers mean when they said the coming of the Kingdom was "at hand" and "must shortly come to pass" (Revelation 1:1)? Many people were confused by this, and have been for two thousand years. Some people have said Jesus was flat-out wrong, and this is one reason why they are not Christians. Atheist Bertrand Russell, in his book Why I Am Not A Christian, discredits the inspiration of the New Testament based on the failed prediction of Christ and the Apostles:

I am concerned with Christ as He appears in the Gospels . . . and there one does find some things that do not seem to be very wise. For one thing, He certainly thought that His second coming would occur in clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living at the time. There are a great many texts that prove that. He says, for instance, "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come." Then He says, "There are some standing here which shall not taste death till the Son of Man comes into His kingdom"; and there are a lot of places where it is quite clear that He believed that His second coming would happen during the lifetime of many then living. That was the belief of his earlier followers, and it was the basis of a good deal of his moral teaching. [1] 

But was Jesus actually teaching what many expected?

Many people in those days expected the Messiah to come with spectacular displays of power, overthrow all oppressors in an overwhelming military victory of angels over empire, and establish the Kingdom of Heaven in Jerusalem. They expected the work of Kingdom-building to be instantaneous.

And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Luke 17:20

Bertrand Russell must have missed that verse.

The Geneva Bible of 1599 had these notes on this verse:

The kingdom of God is not discerned by many although it is most present before their eyes, because they foolishly persuade themselves that it is to come with outward pomp.
The kingdom of God cometh not

With any outward pomp and show of majesty to be known by: for there were still many plain and evident tokens by which men might have understood that Christ was the Messiah, whose kingdom had been so long looked for: but he speaks in this place of those signs which the Pharisees dreamed of, who looked for an earthly Messianic kingdom.

To those who look for an instant Kingdom, Jesus says:

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 17:21

Again, the 1599 Geneva Bible paraphrases Jesus:

You look around for the Messiah as though he were absent, but he is amongst you in the midst of you.

Over and over, Jesus says the Kingdom doesn't just pop into existence:

The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Another parable spake He unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Matthew 13:31-33

Matthew 13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Does your conception of the Kingdom of God have a place for evil-doers (tares) who are not killed off, but allowed to live?

Matthew 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Does your conception of the Kingdom of Heaven include an early time when it seems hidden, a minority, and then a later time when it has influenced the entire culture and becomes the majority opinion?

Mark 4:26 He also said, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground,
27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.
28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.
29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come."
30 He also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?
31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."

Most people see The Kingdom of God coming into existence all at once, at the Second Coming. Even the Disciples failed at first to see the true picture. Repeatedly, Jesus told them He must suffer and be executed by the powers that be. The Disciples, along with most people, believed that the Messiah would conquer His enemies with a blazing display of military might. Most people today believe that when Jesus comes again and rules bodily from Jerusalem, he will put down all insurrections, and defeat any who would attempt to overthrow His Kingdom in a violent coup d'etat. But Jesus had to correct His disciples and everyone else.

John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here."

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Most people have a humanistic (man-centered, not God-centered) view of the Kingdom. They long for a humanistic kingdom with outward pomp and military power. Jesus knew His disciples would long for such a day.

Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
22 Then he said to the disciples, "The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.
23 They will say to you, 'Look there!' or 'Look here!' Do not go, do not set off in pursuit.
24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.
25 But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.

When lightning flashes behind your back, and someone who saw the bolt says "Look there!" and you turn around, what do you see?

Do Christians have anything to do with the leavening of the loaf? Do we have any responsibility to work in the garden until the small mustard seed becomes a tree that fills the globe?

This is the question this book attempts to answer: Should Christians be working to "bring in the Kingdom of Heaven?"

Table of Contents

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[1] Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not A Christian (New York: A Touchtone Book by Simon & Schuster, 1957), 16.