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Luke 17:21

Posted 10/05/21, by Dan Vis

In reflecting upon the spiritual kingdom Jesus spent so much of His ministry introducing, one point in particular seems to stand out. And that is that this kingdom is not like other earthly kingdoms.

The Pharisees had heard Jesus talk about this kingdom, and no doubt had a specific image in mind: breaking the Roman yoke, restoring the Jewish nation to power, etc. One day they came to Jesus demanding He tell them "when the kingdom of God should come" (Luke 17:20And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:). His answer was quite enlightening.

First, Jesus made it clear the kingdom was not something you could see outwardly. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation" (Luke 17:20And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:). And then these words:

Luke 17:21
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

While they were likely looking for soldiers and weapons, or some other physical means of obtaining world dominance, Jesus made clear that was not His kingdom was all about. You couldn't point to it. Or see it with your physical eyes--like a normal kingdom.

Rather, the kingdom of God was something that takes happens inside of us.

Which gives us a pretty good sense what this kingdom is all about. I've come to understand it as the spread of heaven's principles to willing hearts here in this world below. The kingdom advances when the laws of God's government, are implanted within us, and bring us into harmony with heaven. It spreads invisibly, from person to person, inspiring fealty to the King of heaven. And it doesn't use soldiers or weapons, because it doesn't advance by force.

The principles of heaven can only be fully known by those who follow and learn from Jesus--who is the door to this kingdom. In speaking to His disciples, Jesus said "it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given" (Matthew 13:11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.). And a little later in that chapter, He explained that every believer "instructed unto the kingdom of heaven" was like a householder who "bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old" (Matthew 13:52Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.). Those things new and old, of course, hint at the vast treasures all through the New and Old Testaments!

But it is not just knowing the teachings of the Bible. Those teachings must be internalized and lived out. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.). To "be called great in the kingdom of heaven" we must "do and teach" His commandments (Matthew 5:19Whosoever 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.).

Or to quote the Lord's Prayer, for God's kingdom to come, His will must "be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.). The authority of heaven extends only as we freely submit to that authority ourselves, and urge others to do the same.

It's not just having our name on the church books, or even regularly attending a local church that makes us part of the kingdom of God. It's actively working to advance the rule of heaven. To see the principles of heaven internalized in new hearts.

And that starts, of course, with our own hearts, doesn't it? Making heaven the supreme authority in our life. Ensuring its principles shape our choices. Reconsecrating our loyalty to heaven day by day.

The Bible doesn't tell us how the Pharisees responded to His answer. But what matters more today, is how we individually respond...

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Posted by Dan Vis on 10/07/21
Yes Lydia, that's pretty much exactly how I see it--so advancing the kingdom of heaven, is seeing more hearts commit to the rule of Jesus in their hearts. Definitely something that can happen here and now, in this world. And to be honest, it brings a little heaven into this world, doesn't it? :)
Posted by Lydia Gilbert-McClain on 10/05/21
How very timely this topic! The study guide for the 4th quarter of the New Members Bible Study Guide - "In Step With Jesus" "The Power of Mission" (part of sabbath School personal ministries materials) discusses the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of heaven in the first 2 lessons. The lesson writers explain that the expression "kingdom of God" or "kingdom of heaven" also means the reign of God and authority of God. while the kingdom of God would be fully established at his second coming, the reign of God - his will and authority and power is set up in our lives here on earth now. All the comments and the scripture references shared below are consistent with this idea. For any not familiar with the New Believers' study Guide it can be accessed at
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/05/21
Yes, that's very true Kathryn. There is definitely a growth process involved. I'll be talking more about that a bit later this week. I think you have the right idea exactly how the kingdom works. :)
Posted by Kathryn D. Search on 10/05/21
It seems there is a building process starts going on when we have Jesus as our personal Savior. His kingdom becomes more and more a part of our lives. And in the process many things of this world need to be moved out or gotten rid of. You eluded to that when you discussed your personal life moves, etc. When we experience such changes we will want to share with others how they too can start building for His kingdom. Some of our building requires tough changes, pulls and tugs, lifting and may may make us tired and sore. But in the end, it is worth it all. And, the best part is He helps us through it all. And when we look back, we will declare "heaven is cheap enough." Now, if I could just make a poem about it.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/05/21
Thanks Diane, for the encouragement. And those verses are all perfect examples of what that kingdom consists of. The principles upon which it is organized. How it works. And this should be a large part of where our focus is--living by these principles, entering into this kingdom. Great post!
Posted by Diane Castanon on 10/05/21
This was a very thoughtful presentation, as was yesterday’s presentation, and warrants a thoughtful response. I agree wholeheartedly with what you wrote.

In thinking about the kingdom of heaven being within me, caused a plethora of verses to connect in my mind… like Galatians 5:22,23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, . . . Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (the fruit of the Spirit) with Exodus 20 (the 10 Commandments), with Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (the mind of Christ), Colossians 3:2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (setting our minds on things above…), and Philippians 3:15Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (about unity), and many more.

Thank you for writing these deep thoughts about the kingdom of God.🙏🏼💝❤️‍🔥

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