- Christ's Words
- Secrets and Symbols
- The Pivotal Person
What do we know from Christ about the kingdom of heaven? I assume that humans cannot really understand what heaven is. The New Testament Greek that is translated as “kingdom of heaven” is, basileia (reign, rule, or kingdom) ouranos (heavens, sky, universe). This can also be translated as “the universal rule” or even “the highest rule” as well as “the heavenly rule.” To avoid our idealizations of heaven, I used the term, “universal rule” in my early discussions of Christ’s words. However, as I have learned more about the way Christ used symbols as the keys to the Gospels, I realize that what Christ is referring to is a highly specific view of the world in which the “the spirit” is “supreme.” In later posts, I am referring to the “kingdom of heaven” as the “rule of the spirit” or “superiority of the spirit.” However, it is also worth noting that Christ also refers to heaven as what is hidden.
What is the Kingdom of Heaven?
Did Christ refer to the the afterlife as “the kingdom of heaven?” Was he describing the community of Christians? Or was he describing our increasing understanding of the natural, social, and personal nature and the healing of the divisions within them?
There are several statements that Christ made that seem to indicate that the “kingdom of heaven” is not merely the afterlife or the Christian community, but the entire social order of the world as established by God. For example, Christ said: Mat 11:12 “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”
How does this statement make any sense of the kingdom of heaven is the afterlife or the community of believers? However, if the kingdom of heaven describes the worldly order of things, and that order changed with the coming of Christ, then it does make sense. After Christ’s coming, human society began to change: the meek began to inherit the earth. Those ruled by spirit were no longer totally dominated by those who ruled by violence. Today’s, though our world is far from perfect, this process if very far advanced compared with the ancient world. Today, those who are violent are much less successful than those who embrace more cooperative methods. Much of the world is ruled by consent rather than coercion. This results from our increased understanding of the world.
Also, if Christ was referring to the afterlife, how can the afterlife change in the way that Christ describes the kingdom of heaven? How can it start small and grow like a mustard see? How does it get mixed through everything like the dough? This does describe the community of believers but specifically how they affect and changes the worldly order arising from our increased understanding.
Mere humans seem to have been given the keys to understanding the social order by Christ and from that understanding, gotten control over it, a control that was missing before the time of Christ.
This kingdom is hidden, a secret. In Mat 6:6, Christ departs from his usual formulation of describe God as the “Father in heaven” and instead describes Him as “Father in secret.” The Greek word is kruptos, which means “secret” or “hidden.” We cannot see the kingdom of heaven in our everyday lives, because we are too close to it. We see heaven by looking at the sky. The sky literally covers everything in the sense that we might say, “the big picture.” So the kingdom Christ talks about is a hidden, big picture of what is really going on.
The kingdom of heaven includes all type of people, but it makes a judgment filtering out the good from the bad. There is “a natural selection,” but only because God’s will works through nature. The hierarchy of the kingdom of heaven is important. but it is something more than the mere judgment of men.
According to Christ, the Rule of Spirit is:
Near or coming to all places and times. Mat 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Mat 10:7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mysterious, but we can understood it. Mat 13:11 Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
It offers the greatest value. Mat 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he hath, and buys that field.
Until Christ, it was overwhelmed by violence. Mat 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
Offers the greatest value. Mat 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Promotes both new and traditional values. Mat 13:52 Therefore every scribe [which is] instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man [that is] an householder, which brings forth out of his treasure [things] new and old.
How the Superiority of the Spirit Evolves
The universal rule starts small and grows big and has lots of room. Mat 13:31 The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
It gets mixed through everything. Mat 13:33 The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
There are secret keys to its control. Mat 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
The Hierarchy of Spirit
There is a hierarchy among people under the universal rule. Mat 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Both those who break minor commandments and teach others to do so can still be part of it. Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Mat 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Humility makes you great under it. Mat 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Who Can Be a Part of the Superiority of Spirit:
People of all types. Mat 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
Both good and bad, but in the end, their acts are sorted out. Mat 13:24 The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: Mat 13:47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
Those who are In and Out of the Spirit
In Spirit: Those lacking spirit. Mat 5:3 Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In Spirit: Those who are hounded for perfection. Mat 5:10 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Out of Spirit: Those who aren’t better than scribes and Pharisees. Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Out of Spirit: Those who only praising Christ (or God)
In: Those whose actions follow God’s will. Mat 7:21 Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Very In Spirit:: Those become little children. Mat 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Mat 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Hard to Get In Spirit: The rich. Mat 19:23 Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
In Spirit: Those who God admits. Mat 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man [that is] an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard.
Out of Spirit: Those who have other priorities. Mat 22:2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
In Spirit: Those who are productive. Mat 18:23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
In Spirit: Those who are vigilant and patient. Mat 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
Those who are out of Spirit want to keep others out of Spirit. Mat 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.