Kingdom of God/Heaven

July 16, 2019

“Christ said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He did not say, “Help me build a Kingdom.” He did not say, “Let’s work towards the advancing of the Kingdom.” The Kingdom of God is a reality that was in-breaking in the coming of Jesus Christ. Everywhere He went, the Kingdom was at hand. Everything He did was the advent of the Kingdom of God…This understanding of the Kingdom of God as mystery, as the fully completed end of all things and yet presently entering our life and our world, is absent from contemporary Christian thought. It has been lost and replaced with historicized chronologies that exalt historical process over Christian eschatology. Indeed, “eschatology” itself has been changed to mean “things that happen at the end of time”...The Kingdom of God has been moved off-planet and has become synonymous with a “heaven” that exists somewhere else, and, at best, will come here only at the end of time. This is not the Christian faith as revealed by Christ and preached by the Apostles.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

 

“He [God] looks for a heart full of true faith into which to send his Spirit. For the heart of a man is capable of containing the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God are one.” (St. Seraphim of Sarov)

 

“...the Church is both the preparation for and the experience of the life of the Kingdom of God here and now…Through the decisions that we make day by day that show the disposition of our heart, we are either moving closer to the Kingdom of God or further away from it. Thus, the innermost desires of our heart will either lead us to Heaven or to hell…If in our heart of hearts we love God and give of ourselves and earnestly seek peace and goodness, then we will be able to enjoy the blessedness of life with God. But, on the other hand, if we close off our hearts in selfishness and pride, we imprison ourselves in a hell of our own making.” (Clark Carlton)

 

“…the kingdom of God is within you. For ask not, He [Christ] says, about the times in which the season of the kingdom of heaven shall again arise and come; but rather be in earnest that you may be found worthy of it, for it is within you, that is, it depends upon your own wills, and is in your own power, whether or not you receive it.” (Saint Cyril of Alexandria)

 

“It is...impossible for the Kingdom of God to come to us without purity of heart…A humble person lives on earth as if in the Kingdom of heaven—always happy, peaceful, and satisfied with everything.” (St. John Cassian, St. Anthony of Optina)

 

"Christ told the misguided religious people of His day that ‘tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you’ (Matthew 21:31). It’s a curious thing sometimes how some people outside of the Church are closer to God in their hearts than some of us inside. It’s because some of us inside too often forget that the Church functions to form our hearts for Christ and we get too caught up participating in the life of the Church in the spirit of following rules and regulations to earn our way to God. The Church is the means God gave us to give us Himself to change us. God cares about our hearts and how our whole person – body, mind and soul – function through a heart filled with the Spirit.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

 

“People can end up worshiping their own rules and regulations about what they think God wants instead of worshiping God Himself." (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 12:1-2)

 

“Because they [the Jews] only saw the letter of the law, they missed both its spirit and its profession of Christ, the Lawgiver, who was to come. Because they saw the letter of the law as being greater than its fulfillment, Christ becomes their stumbling stone (Romans 9:32)… In themselves, traditions are good, but the traditions of men are those that contradict and nullify the teachings of Scripture.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Romans 9:30-33, Deuteronomy 4:2)

 

“…living by external rules is futile (Galatians 2:16). Only when we acknowledge that it is impossible to be justified before God do we actually find the gateway to the life in Christ, to the true faith “in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).” (OCPM 10/25/2015)

 

“God is not honored when we celebrate the high days of our relationship out of a mere sense of duty. He is honored when those days are our delight!” (John Piper)

 

“The work of the Church is not progressive in nature. Whatever we do, preaching the Gospel, serving the poor, reconciling enemies, etc., are not a movement in history working towards or bringing about a desired end or result. We are in no way the cause of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is solely the work of God. We are called to keep the commandments in light of the Kingdom of God and its coming into the world.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

 

“Our place is to be ceaselessly aware of the primacy of God’s Kingdom and to have full control over our spiritual faculties….The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force, but gradually, not all at once. This occurs through constant vigilance, self-denial, patience, guarding of the senses, repentance, self-reproach and above all quietude, silence and prayer.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Elder Michael II of Valaam)

 

“Christ’s Kingdom is spiritual. It begins with the overthrow of sin in people’s hearts” (Life Application Study Bible, Mark 3:12)

 

“The Gospel demands that Christians usher the Kingdom of God into this world...by the individual Christian’s transformation of self…The coming of the Kingdom is marked solely by the inner transformation of believers – it is not a human project of social improvement.” (Abbot Tryphon, Father Stephen Freeman)

 

“We must resist looking to institutions or programs for evidence of the progress of God’s Kingdom. Instead, we should look for what God is doing in people’s hearts The Kingdom of God begins in the hearts of those who believe in Christ.” (Life Application Study Bible, Luke 17:2021, Luke 9:11)

 

"The kingdom of God is a spiritual reality present within the Christian believer and within the community of the Church…The kingdom of God is within us, like a dynamic leaven which fundamentally changes man’s whole life, his spirit and his body.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 17:21, Archimandrite Vasileios)

 

“Our Savior guards us against the false idea that we can locate the kingdom of God here or there. It is in the depths of the heart, implanted in the center of our being.” (Dynamis 11/24/2014)

 

“…the kingdom of God is within you. For ask not, He [Christ] says, about the times in which the season of the kingdom of heaven shall again arise and come; but rather be in earnest that you may be found worthy of it, for it is within you, that is, it depends upon your own wills, and is in your own power, whether or not you receive it.” (Saint Cyril of Alexandria)

 

“Saint Cyril reminds us that the kingdom is not far from any man – not even the deluded Pharisees, nor anyone willing to look where Christ directs us. We do not need to wait for the day of our Lord’s return to see it, to taste of its life-giving fruits and be transformed by God’s visible reign. We need only to enter into our hearts with the help of the Holy Spirit.” (Dynamis 11/24/2014)

 

“It is...impossible for the Kingdom of God to come to us without purity of heart.” (St. John Cassian)