Q: “Well, who is Jesus talking to then?”
A: “Israel (the Jews) – pork abstaining, temple attending, Saturday worshipping and animal sacrificing Jews … trying to keep, but with absolute failure, the Ten Commandments, while ONLY COVERING their past sins (remission) with animal blood sacrifices.”
Q: “Is he telling them how to become Christians? Is he preaching the gospel to them?”
A: “How can he? He hasn’t died and gone to the cross yet!”
Q: “Well he seems to preaching about a kingdom of some sort?”
A: “Yes, it’s called the kingdom of heaven. He’s got them on a mountain somewhere, and he’s giving them the Sermon on the Mount, as it is popularly called, and yes, he is preaching the gospel to them … it’s called the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN GOSPEL.”
Q: “What’s that about?”
A: “It no longer exists! Today we only have the KINGDOM OF GOD GOSPEL.”
Q: “What’s the difference?”
A: “Jesus says to them ‘Look men and women of Israel, I have come to set up a kingdom here on earth … we will call it the kingdom of heaven.
(You can almost hear Jesus saying “Look dear Jews, here is your big chance before I go to the cross, because after that, the kingdom of heaven will not be available to you anymore … we will have the kingdom of God … the Apostle Paul will tell you all about that kingdom.)

Q: “Well, what will this kingdom of heaven be like Jesus?” they say
A: “Good question, it will be one of pure works from start to finish.”
Q: “Like what?”
A: “Like the following –
1. You must be pure in heart to see God (Matt 5:8)
2. Your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees (
Matt 5:20).
3. Saying “Thou fool” with no good cause will mean hell fire (
Matt 5:22)
4. Lusting after women is adultery and equal to the act (
Matt 5:27-28)
5. Pluck your eye out if necessary if it causes you to sin (
Matt 5:30)
6. There will be no oaths using heaven’s name (
Matt 5:33)
7. Limit your agreements to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (
Matt 5:37)
8. Don’t pay back evil for evil (Matt 5:38-41,42-44
) but go the extra mile (Matt 5:41)
9. You have to be perfect like God (
Matt 5:48)   
10. Give alms in secret (
Matt 6:1-4)
11. Pray in secret (
Matt 6:5-8)   
12. Forgive others or God won’t forgive you (
Matt 6:14
13. Fast in secret (
Matt 6:16-18)   14. No hoarding up money or goods (Matt 6:19-21, 24)
15. No worrying about food and drink (
Matt 6:25-28,29-32,33)
16. Take no thought about tomorrow (
Matt 6:34
17. No hypocrisy (
Matt 7:1-4,5)
18. Beware of false prophets (
Matt 7:15-18,19-22,23) 

Q: “But they are impossible rules to keep Jesus!” they said
A: “I know, they are just like the Ten Commandments which you couldn’t keep either … but they go even further into the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Q: “How can we ever keep these rules here on earth?
A: “I’ll do it for you on our behalf … but theirs is also one other thing. You’ll need animal blood to cover your past sins … it’s called remission for past sins (Rom 3:25)”
Q: Can we then go to heaven when we die?”
A: “No, you’ll go to a place under the earth called Abraham’s Bosom (Luke 16:22) and I’ll come and take you to heaven after the cross (Ephesians 4:8)
Q: “Can’t we just become Christians and go straight into the kingdom of God?”
A: “No, you’ll have to wait till I die for that. Till I die, you must believe on me (John 3:16) that I will keep the Sermon on the Mount rules (Matt 5-7) and you must keep going to the temple cover your past sins with animal blood.”
Q: “So we are not Christians then?”
A: “Of course not!”

According to Romans 14:17  and Luke 17:21, this is a SPIRITUAL kingdom which is presently within the hearts of God's people. Those who have received Christ as Saviour have been translated spiritually into this great kingdom (Col. 1:13; Eph. 1:3; 2:6). As a Christian, I am already in the Kingdom of God and it is in me.

Kingdom of Heaven
Most immediately assume that this kingdom is the same as the Kingdom of God, but it isn't. Just as God and Heaven are not the same, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are not the same. God is spiritual (John 4:24, while Heaven is God's physical creation (Gen. 1:1). Hence the Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, while the kingdom of Heaven is a literal and physical kingdom. God gave Adam dominion over this kingdom in Genesis 1:28. It's an earthly kingdom, but it was God's will for it to be run "as it is in heaven" (Mat 6:10). As the Old Testament continues, we find God appointing different men over this Physical kingdom (Noah, Abraham, David, Solomon, etc). Evidently, the Kingdom of Heaven departed in Jeremiah chapter 22, when God swore that no descendant of Coniah would prosper sitting upon the throne of David. This ushered in the "times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24) with the Babylonian captivity. Then came the kingdoms of the Medes and Persians, then the Greeks, then the Romans, According to Luke 4:6, Satan is in charge of these worldly kingdoms, and he gives them to whomever he wishes. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that he is the "god of this world."

Then came GOD'S King, the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews. The Jews knew that God had promised them a kingdom (Gen. 49:10; Isa. 2:1-4,5; Isa 49:5-8,9-12,13; Psa 2:8; Jer. 23:5; Luk. 1:30-33, etc.). John the Baptist and Jesus both preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Mat. 3:2; 4:17), but the Jews REJECTED their King and chose a GENTILE king instead {John 19:15). Therefore the kingdom was NOT restored to Israel. After the resurrection, the disciples asked Jesus if He was now going to restore the kingdom to Israel (a literal, physical, and visible kingdom--the Kingdom of Heaven), and He said, ". ... It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power " (Acts 1:6-7) They were not asking Him to restore the SPIRITUAL Kingdom of God (Romans 14:17), for they never had it to start with. They'd never been born again by the Spirit of God. They wanted THEIR kingdom back--the literal and physical Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, when Jesus returns the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven will actually become one, but let's not make the mistake of thinking that they're the same now. One is spiritual, while the other is physical.

Harley Hitchcock

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