Understanding the Church and the Kingdom
Becoming part of the Kingdom is essential to a walk and relationship with God. However, Christ taught us that His Kingdom is not of this world; therefore when we enter the Kingdom, we enter into a spiritual sphere of existence full of spiritual realities that are much different than living as a natural citizen. The ministry and total focus of Christ was the message of the Kingdom, and He provided access to the Kingdom through His life and death.
Christ taught us everything we need to know in this life about the Kingdom, and when we grasp the value of the Kingdom, we will press into the Kingdom passionately. Unfortunately, today one of the biggest hindrances to entering into the Kingdom is joining the church. While the church is a critical organism in the Kingdom, it was never intended to be the ultimate in the Kingdom. The church was designed to be the path to the Kingdom.
The concept of the church was introduced to us by the Messiah Himself. Christ designed her as His property and placed her on earth to serve as the embassy of the Kingdom. The concept of the church is a Newer Testament creation; there was no church proper in the Older Testament, though we can discuss the structure of Israel in light of the church concept, but literally the church is a Newer Testament phenomenon. Jesus built the church upon the revelation that He is the Son of God, which was not known in the Older Testament.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”1
Because most people do not know what the church is or its primary function, they are confused about what the Kingdom is and the difference between the Kingdom and the church. As a result of this ignorance, the church has become something vastly different from what God intended it to be; thus, education about the church and the Kingdom is necessary.
Two of the most controversial and misunderstood theological concepts in the Bible are the Kingdom of God and the church. The Kingdom of God is not the church, and the church is not the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, because we do not know how to interpret the church in light of the Kingdom of God, the church has developed into a sociological phenomenon that reflects the culture of our society and the wishes of the people, rather than the intentions for which God created it: an institution that is inspired by and reflective of the Kingdom of God.
1 The New King James Version, 1982 (Matthew 16:15-19), Nashville: Thomas Nelson.