Are we living in the kingdom of God?
The kingdom of God is spoken of in two ways in the Bible. First, it was prophesied to come during the days of the Roman Empire (Dan. 2:44). During the reign of Caesar Augustus, both John and Jesus said that the kingdom was “at hand,” i.e., that it was coming soon (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). Jesus said that it would come with power during the lifetime of His apostles (Mark 9:1) and that it was not a worldly kingdom, but a spiritual one (Lk. 17:20-21; Jn. 18:36). After His resurrection, when asked if He would restore the kingdom to Israel, He answered by referring to the events of Pentecost which were soon to occur (Acts 1:6-8).
On the day of Pentecost, the church began (Acts 2). After that event, the kingdom was never spoken of again as not having yet arrived. It would from then on always be spoken of as presently existing (Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 2:12; Heb. 12:28; Rev. 1:6, 9). Thus, the kingdom of God and the church are one and the same. They are even spoken of interchangeably by Jesus (Matt. 16:18-19).
Therefore, Christians are presently living in the kingdom of God, the church.
Secondly, the kingdom of God is spoken of in an eternal sense. We see this when Peter tells Christians, who as we have seen are presently citizens of the kingdom, that “there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” if they diligently add to their faith the Christian graces he listed (2 Pet. 1:5-11).
On the day of Judgment, Jesus will give the kingdom back to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24). All unfaithful Christians who are in the kingdom (“all causes of sin and all lawbreakers”) will be gathered out of the kingdom by Christ’s angels and cast into hell (Matt. 13:41-42). The faithful Christians shall remain in the kingdom and thus be with their heavenly Father eternally (Matt. 13:43).
Thus, we who are presently in God’s kingdom, the church, should heed Peter’s warning to “make our calling and election sure” by diligently working to grow in the areas 2 Peter 1:5-10 tells us to so that we will receive that entrance into the eternal kingdom (v. 11).