"my kingdom is not of this world"

This is the third post in a series, Heaven: Out of this World?

Jesus once said, "My kingdom is not of this world...my kingdom is from another place" (John 18:36).

By itself, you could say this is affirming an other-worldly view of God’s kingdom or heaven such as I outlined in my first post. Yet if we look at the Gospels, we realize that the Kingdom of God/Heaven is more about allegiance and action in the world, than a literal place out in the cosmos.

For example. if we look at the Gospel of Mark, Jesus announces, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (1:15). Surely he doesn’t mean heaven is near? He said this some 2000 years ago and nothing has changed! Plus, Mark’s whole gospel elaborates how the Kingdom of God is the work of God through Jesus in the world – healing, miracles and transformation are all recorded by Mark in describing what it looks like when God’s kingdom is near. Even for Jesus, then, the kingdom of God/Heaven - is not “out there” in some strange metaphysical location no one knows exists.

So we need to realize this important point: Jesus may have said God’s kingdom was "not of this world," but he didn't say God’s kingdom was out of this world. With Jesus’ victory over sin and death through his life, death, and resurrection, God’s kingdom comes to us.
Through Jesus, then, we can realize there is a concrete hope in the image of “a new heaven and a new earth.” "Your kingdom come" echos in history, making the future hope of heaven a realized hope today.

Next I’ll explore some things to remember in light of this understanding of heaven.

This series is adapted from a sermon I preached at Killarney Park MB Church, Vancouver BC.


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