The Hearing of Faith
In a general sense, the kingdom is the sphere in which God exercises His authority so that He may express His glory. As revealed in the Bible, the kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom (Dan. 4:3); it existed in eternity past without beginning, and it continues throughout all time to eternity future without end.
In the first book of the Bible, God created man in His image and according to His likeness so that man might express God. He also gave man dominion over all created things and charged man to multiply and fill the earth and subdue it so that God might have a kingdom on earth in which to carry out His purpose in man (Gen. 1:26-28). However, man became corrupted and fallen to such an extent that God could no longer accomplish His purpose through the created race. Eventually, God called Abraham out of that race and promised to make of him a great nation, which is the kingdom of God (Gen. 12:2). Abraham’s descendants fell into slavery in Egypt, but after 430 years God brought them out through Moses and told them that He would make them a kingdom of priests (Exo. 19:6). Thus, the nation of Israel was the kingdom of God in the Old Testament (Matt. 21:43).
At the beginning of the New Testament, the kingdom was the first thing preached as the gospel by both John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus, who told people to “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near” (Matt. 3:1-2; 4:17). Those who hear the gospel, repent, believe in the Lord Jesus, and are baptized enter into the kingdom of God. In John 3:5 the Lord told Nicodemus that he had to be born of the Spirit in order to enter into the kingdom of God. This indicates that to enter into the kingdom, we must be born of God and receive the divine life, the life of God. Those who live in the divine kingdom must have the divine life, just as those in the animal kingdom possess the animal life. When we live by the divine life, not by our natural human life, we live in the reality of the kingdom of God. In Romans 14, in his word concerning the life of the church, the apostle Paul referred to the kingdom of God (v. 17), indicating that in the New Testament age, the kingdom of God is actually the church, composed of all the real believers in Christ (Matt. 16:18-19).
Although every believer is a member of the church and is thus included in the kingdom of God, there is still a need for believers to overcome every form of degradation (Rev. 2:7, 17, 26-29; 3:5-6, 12-13, 21-22). The overcomers are those who enjoy Christ and live Christ as the life of the kingdom, and in so doing they grow in the divine life unto maturity (2 Pet. 1:3-11). At Christ’s second coming, the overcoming believers will inherit the kingdom in the millennium as a reward and will reign with Christ over the nations for 1000 years (Rev. 2:26-27; 20:4, 6). Eventually, the kingdom will consummate in the New Jerusalem as the eternal kingdom of God, an eternal realm of the eternal blessing of God’s eternal life, which all God’s redeemed people will enjoy in the new heaven and new earth for eternity (Rev. 21:1-4; 22:1-5, 14).
For further reading on this subject, please see A Brief Definition of the Kingdom of the Heavens, by Witness Lee, published by Living Stream Ministry.
From Issue No. 21, January 2000