Listen: 70 Question 3

ANSWER:   I really appreciate your question.  All three of these terms are used in the scripture, and all three are different from each other, yet have some similarities.  Very briefly, let’s look at each term and see how the Word of God uses each one.

What is the church?  As many know, the church began on the day of Pentecost with the coming down of the Holy Spirit to indwell each believer on the Lord Jesus Christ.  We find the word ‘church’ used twice in the Gospel of Matthew, and 77 times in the epistles.  Let’s begin by reading the words of the Lord to Peter in Matthew 16:17-18, “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Peter had just boldly declared that the Lord Jesus was the Son of the living God in Matthew 16:16 and the Lord highly commended him for his declaration.  The Lord’s remark that He would build His church shows that the church had not yet been established.  Now let’s look at Acts 2:1-4, which says, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  Beginning on this day of Pentecost, we read of the establishment of the church as in Acts 2:46-47, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”  Notice the language of verse 47, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” or better translated, “such as were being saved.”  It’s easy to see that we cannot join the church; the Lord adds us when we are saved.  So, briefly, we see that the church is composed of every believer on the Lord Jesus Christ since the day of Pentecost.

What is the Kingdom of God?  In Daniel 2:44 the Lord speak of His kingdom.  It says, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”  The Lord Jesus stated that the Kingdom of God had come in Matthew 12:28 when He said, “…the kingdom of God is come unto you.”  The Kingdom of God is made of those who are truly under the Lordship of God.  We can see from the words of the Lord Himself to Nicodemas that the kingdom of God is composed only of those who have trusted in the Lord.  Let’s read John 3:3-5, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”  All those who are in the church are also in the Kingdom of God.  Those who trusted in the Lord before Christ went to the cross are also in the Kingdom of God.

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?  This expression is only found in the book of Matthew.  While sometimes the Kingdom of Heaven in synonymous with the Kingdom of God, most of the time it is different.  Consider the parable of the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 25Matthew 25:1-2 says, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.”  If you read the entire parable, you’ll see that the five wise virgins represent those who know the Lord and are truly saved.  The five foolish virgins represent those who profess to know the Lord, but do not.  In Matthew 13:24-30 we have another parable of the Kingdom of Heaven.  In this parable we see that both tares and wheat are in the Kingdom of Heaven.  In Matthew 13, we have seven parables of the Kingdom of Heaven.  So, generally, we see there are in the Kingdom of Heaven those who are truly saved and those who are not saved.  We understand the Kingdom of Heaven to be composed of all those who profess to belong to the Lord.  All those in the Church and in the Kingdom of God are also in the Kingdom of Heaven.  While there are those in the Kingdom of Heaven who merely profess to be saved, we are assured in 2 Timothy 2:19 that, “…The Lord knoweth them that are his.”  Mere professors are neither in the Church nor the Kingdom of God.

I realize this is a very brief answer to a very in-depth question.  I hope that there is enough here to help you begin to realize the differences between the Church, the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of Heaven.