Pastor: The Gospel Talks About Kingdom of God, Not Heaven

A picture of hot air balloons floating in the sky at sunset
A picture of hot air balloons floating in the sky at sunset (photo:
By Phoebe SunApril 9th, 2024

Pastor Zhang, who has served in East China for decades, highlighted that Christians should prioritize the Kingdom of God rather than Heaven, emphasizing that the gospel of heaven is incompatible with the gospel given by Jesus.

To explain the difference between the "kingdom of God" and "heaven," Pastor Zhang first stated that the bond between man and God is a father-son relationship, which is "the Way of Life," rather than a religious affiliation. Individuals are empowered and equipped with truth in a father-son relationship, which is also facilitated by the Holy Spirit.

Zhang held that religious life primarily manifests as an external organizational structure, which, when overemphasized, can lead to certain issues, including the poaching of believers between congregations. Furthermore, a focus on such external forms has led to the church's "distorted shape."

He claimed that the so-called message preached by religion—"Believe in Jesus and you will go to heaven; if you don't, you'll end up in hell"—is contrary to Jesus' teachings.

According to the Bible, Jesus' original words while preaching the gospel were: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near (Matthew 3:2)," indicating that only people who repent can enter the kingdom. Moreover, the Great Commission in the New Testament proclaims to spread the "gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14)."

The pastor considered that the kingdom of God should be the visible world, while heaven representing the spiritual realm. The kingdom of God that Christ is going to establish is here on earth rather than in the sky, aligning with the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)” However, religion refers to "heaven" as being in the spiritual world, which can also be considered another realm. But the kingdom of God is on this earth based on Revelation 11:15 (“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.").  

Pastor Zhang critiqued, “In contemporary religious teachings, the gospel is about death. Believe in Jesus and you will go to heaven. [They claim] One can’t be saved until they die (then go to heaven). But what Jesus taught is resurrection for the dead and transformation for the living, leading them together into God's kingdom."

He explained that this secret of the kingdom of God is not easy to receive. If a Christian is not on the way of life or involved in the father-son relationship with God, they will not understand it, even if they see it. As Jesus describes the Pharisees and Jews, "They may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding (Mark 4:12)." "Religion" will lead people to a chaotic and ambiguous heaven, whereas the way of life is the transmission of life, the relationship between father and son, he added. 

"In Heavenly Father’s house, we need to address the kingdom of God, not heaven," he stressed.

- Translated by Poppy Chan

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