The Kingdom of God
“But unto the Son He (the Father) said, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom.” – Hebrews 1:8
The Bible speaks of one Kingdom of God with two dominions. The Kingdom of God first is a present reality that is advancing slowly but surely (Matthew 13:31-33), and second it is also a future promise that lasts forever (2 Peter 1:11). This present Kingdom of God that is advancing in this wicked world is both spiritual and invisible (Matthew 12:28; Luke 17:20,21), and it will continue to advance until the second appearing of our Lord Jesus. It is then that King Jesus and the Kingdom of God will be seen in all its fullness and glory (2 Timothy 4:1; Mark 14:25). The glory of the present spiritual kingdom advances into the glory of the future physical kingdom wherein dwells righteousness.
According to our opening verse, the Kingdom of God is characterized by “righteousness.” When asked, most Christians would say that love characterizes the Kingdom of God. Even though love will fill the kingdom, the Bible never mentions love as the central characteristic of the kingdom. Are you surprised? This thought comes from both under-estimating what the Bible teaches about the holy and righteous character of God, and a misconception about God’s love. The world and even some religions teach that God is only love and so if a person does wrong then since God is love (1 John 4:16) He can just arbitrarily forgive that person. What is missing with that reasoning is that such an action by God would violate His righteous nature.
All sin, in essence, is against God’s righteous character and standard (Psalm 51:4). If God could forgive sin by love alone then why did God send His only beloved Son to go through the torture and execution of the cross for sinners? That would be a horrible Father who would do that to His Son if there was another way. However, if righteousness and justice demanded that the penalty of sin be paid (Romans 6:23), then God must find a legal way to justify the sinner. Therefore in order to remain just, God the Father made His Son Jesus Christ who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). This magnificent work of grace by God gives all who have child-like faith in Jesus Christ as their righteousness the right to enter into the Kingdom of God and in the end God is just in justifying the sinner (Mark 10:13-15; Romans 3:24-26).
Lastly, the Lord Jesus made no difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 19:23,24). As a result, God’s one everlasting kingdom is filled with unconditional love characterized by righteousness, and all who occupy a place in heaven will be righteous – as righteous as God Himself.
David C. Hale, pastor