By Richard F. Ames
Do you imagine spending eternity perched on a cloud, playing a harp? Or do you wonder whether God has something much more exciting planned for you? Your Bible reveals a glorious future awaiting His faithful saints!
Jesus said that the meek will inherit the earth, but millions believe that they will go to heaven when they die. What does your Bible say?
Millions—perhaps billions—believe that the bliss of heaven is the reward of the saved. This belief is shared not only by most who call themselves Christians, but also by members of many other religions around the world. Christians believe in the words of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave some of His most basic and fundamental teachings in what is commonly called the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5–7). How did He begin His teaching? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3–5).
Notice carefully. Did Jesus say that the poor in spirit would go to heaven, while the meek would inherit the earth? No! He said that the poor in spirit would be blessed with the Kingdom of heaven. The Kingdom of heaven will come to planet Earth when Christ returns! That is when the saved will be resurrected, and will inherit the Kingdom.
Jesus taught us to pray: “Your Kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). Was He asking us to pray for something to come that is already here? If the Kingdom is here, then why has the world experienced such horrors as the two great World Wars of the last century, as well as the terrible genocides carried out against different ethnic groups?
No, the Kingdom of God is not already here. Christ must return to establish it.
Where Is the Kingdom?
The Apostle John explained that God has called His servants and redeemed them “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). What will be their destiny? Will they go to heaven? The Apostle John explains in the very next verse: “And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).
God did not offer to save us so that we could rest idly in bliss in heaven. He calls us to become kings and priests, who will assist Jesus Christ—the King of kings—in establishing lasting peace on earth. This is why Jesus said that the meek—those who humbly follow Jesus rather than their own self-will—will inherit the earth. When we pray, “Your Kingdom come,” we are praying for the coming of that Kingdom which will bring peace to all humanity, and in which faithful Christians will serve their beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, as kings and priests under His direction.
Over the years, some have taught that the Church, on earth, is the Kingdom. Others believe that the Kingdom is in your heart. However, the Kingdom of God is a coming literal kingdom, established upon Jesus Christ’s return, with Him as its King!
What, exactly, is a kingdom? Every kingdom has four basic elements: a ruler, a territory, laws and subjects. But how does this apply to the Kingdom of God?
Who is the ruler of God’s Kingdom? The Bible answers this question in many places, Notice what the Apostle John wrote: “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself” (Revelation 19:11–12). Jesus Christ, wearing many crowns, will return to planet Earth as its conquering King (Zechariah 14:3–4).
Here is another description of Jesus’ appearance at His Second Coming: “He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:13–16).
Yes, the Ruler of the soon-coming Kingdom of God will be Jesus Christ Himself! Are you praying, “Your Kingdom come”? Are you eagerly anticipating Jesus’ return to planet Earth? The Apostle John certainly was. John concluded the next-to-last verse in your Bible with his prayer and fervent hope: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
When Jesus Christ comes, His territory will be the whole earth! And His subjects will be all of humanity. Scripture describes that the whole world will learn the way to peace. People will come to worship their King, every year, in Jerusalem. The whole earth will learn to observe the same biblical Holy Days that Jesus and the Apostles observed. “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).
Every nation on earth will worship the King—and will keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Many do not realize that the Holy Days are still filled with meaning for Christians today. The New Testament Church was founded on the day of the Feast of Pentecost, though many today have forgotten that Pentecost is one of the biblical Holy Days that God gave to His people. In the book of Acts, we read that throngs of people were gathered together to observe the Feast of Pentecost when the Apostles preached to them and converted thousands. The people were gathered together to observe the day because it was commanded in the Bible! As the NIV Study Bible states: “Pentecost is also called the Feast of Weeks (Dt 16:10), the Feast of Harvest (Ex 23:16) and the day of firstfruits (Nu 28:26)” (p. 1,645). True Christians today understand that the Feast of Pentecost commemorates that stage in God’s plan of salvation when He calls the “firstfruits” to salvation in this present age, preparing them to rule under Christ in the Millennium.
What Is the “Gospel”?
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, came preaching a message that many may think they know, but that surprisingly few actually understand. What did Jesus preach? “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus taught that it was time to stop sinning, believe His message and prepare for the soon-coming Kingdom of God.
Have you repented? To “re-pent” means to acknowledge that you have sinned—transgressed the Ten Commandments, God’s law. It means not only to express sorrow, and repugnance at your sin, but to hate that sin so much that you turn from it, and begin to live a new life without that sin. Repentance means that you commit—with God’s help—to change your life. What is sin? John wrote: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). As another translation puts it, “sin is the transgression of the law” (v. 4, KJV).
You cannot believe the gospel unless you understand it! Many who say that they believe in Jesus Christ do not, in fact, believe—or act on—what He preached. Jesus asked: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). If you are truly a Christian, you will do what Jesus commanded. If you truly become a Christian, you will accept Jesus not in some abstract way as a “Savior” whom you do not obey, but as your Lord and Master whom you strive to obey, with the help of the Holy Spirit. As Paul wrote: “Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? And ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, ASV).
True Christianity is a way of life. Once you repent, believe the Gospel and commit your life to Jesus Christ through baptism, He can live in you through the Holy Spirit. Then, you can grow as a Christian, and transform your life from a life of selfishness into one of service and love toward God and your fellow human beings. Those whom God is calling today are not being called merely for their own salvation; He is calling them to prepare to serve in His coming Kingdom as kings and priests, as we saw earlier. Their first opportunity to rule will come in the Millennium—the thou-sand-year period described in your Bible, when Jesus will rule a healed planet. As John wrote: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).