Where Is the Kingdom of Heaven? Is It Really in Heaven?
I’m a sailor. I learned about the Bible from abroad in the middle 90’s, and loved reading the Bible. But because of my job, I never attended meetings. That, however, made no difference to my faith in the Lord. Through reading the Bible, I was fascinated by the kingdom of heaven mentioned many times by thein the of Matthew, and knew by heart many verses about it. For example, “Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). “Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Facing these verses, I was filled with imagination, and firmly believed that the kingdom of heaven must be in heaven, especially when I thought of the words of the Lord Jesus: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2–3). It was into heaven that our Lord Jesus ascended after resurrection and He said He would take us to where He was. This made me more assured that in the future the Lord must take us into heaven and we would meet Him in the kingdom of heaven. Every time I saw these passages, I would fall into a reverie about it. The kingdom of heaven must be like the mysterious fairyland presented in the film: The road there is covered with precious stones; the cities there are built with gold; and the people there freely enjoy their eternal life. I had such a great longing for the kingdom of heaven that I even dreamed of such scenes sometimes. Later, on the ship I met some sailors who believed in the Lord. They harbored the same thought that the kingdom of heaven should be in heaven.
However, as I studied the Bible further, I came to find that some verses were different from my imagination, such as: Chapter 6, verse 10 of the Gospel of Mark said, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” In chapter 21, verses 2 and 3 of Revelation, it was written, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Chapter 11, verse 15 of Revelation said, “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” “These verses all tell that God’s kingdom is on earth; what is this? The kingdom of heaven should be in heaven; how can it be on earth? The words of the Lord Jesus are God’s words, so are the words in Revelation because they are the vision that John saw under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They both are God’s words, but why are they different?” I thought about these questions for long but just couldn’t figure them out. Later, I saw chapter 1, verses 20 and 21 of 2 Peter said, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” I thought, “Right! God’s thoughts are higher than all heavens, how can I explain the Lord’s words according to their literal meaning or my own imaginations?” Nevertheless, the question—where the kingdom of heaven actually was, in heaven or on earth—had been nagging me for many years.
The Spring Festival of 2012 had just past when I received the boarding notice. One afternoon before I set off, my grandma (my paternal grandpa’s sister who ever preached the Lord Jesus’ gospel to me) suddenly came over to my house, saying that she had marvelous good news for me. I was quite wondering at it. She said excitedly, “Our long-expected Lord Jesus has returned! God’s kingdom has been realized! The kingdom of heaven has already descended!” I was surprised asking, “The Lord Jesus has returned? The kingdom of heaven has descended? What’s going on?” She said, “The Lord Jesus we have been yearning for day and night has come back. He is Christ of the last days–Almighty God. This time, God incarnate comes to the earth, mainly to express words, to do His work of judgment and purification, so that we can know our filthy and corrupt nature and substance, to see through our corruption by Satan, so that we can thoroughly forsake Satan andby God. This is the last stage of work God does among man. After the work is completed, God will send down the great disaster to reward the good and punish the wicked. All those who don’t and who oppose God will be destroyed; all those who truly believe in God, that is, those who are saved by God, will be protected by God and survive. After that, people on earth are all God’s people and all the nations of earth become God’s kingdom. That’s when we mankind enter the beautiful kingdom of heaven and enjoy the bountiful blessings God has prepared for us.”
Hearing the good news told by my grandma, I was also a bit excited. But why did she say that God’s kingdom is on earth? Where ever was the kingdom of heaven, in heaven or on earth? This was the question that had been haunting me these years. Today I must seek it earnestly. I asked, “Grandma, you just said all the nations of earth became God’s kingdom, which means that mankind will be living on earth forever. But according to copious verses in the Bible about the kingdom of heaven, many Christians believe the kingdom of heaven is in heaven, and we all wait for the Lord to receive His believers into heaven when He returns. But why do you say God’s kingdom is on earth?” She said smilingly, “This is a common view. Many people believe that God’s kingdom must be in heaven and that when the Lord Jesus returns in the last days, He will certainly rapture all His believers into heaven to live. But let’s think it over: It was on earth that God created man and prepared everything for man to live in the beginning. And ever since God created man, who has ever heard of someone going to heaven? The Lord Jesus also said, ‘And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, evenwhich is in heaven’ (John 3:13). So, you see, man can only live on earth.” Her fellowship was much reasonable: Man’s ancestors Adam and Eve were made of dust on earth by Jehovah God, the Garden of Eden where they lived was also on earth. If man could live in heaven, then why did Jehovah God not set Adam and Eve in heaven after He made them? It seems that man really can’t go to heaven.
While I was still thinking about this, I saw grandma take out a book entitled The Word Appears in the Flesh, opening it, and read, “Almighty God says, ‘When God and man enter into rest together, it will mean that humanity has been saved and that Satan has been destroyed, that God’s work among man has finished entirely. … God has God’s destination, and man has man’s destination. While resting, God will continue to guide all of humanity in their lives upon earth. While in God’s light, man will worship the one true God in heaven. God will no longer live among humanity, and man will also be unable to live with God in God’s destination. God and man cannot live within the same realm; rather, both have their own respective manners of living. … Man’s place of rest is on earth, and God’s place of rest is in heaven. While man rests, he will worship God and also live upon earth, and while God rests, He will lead the remaining portion of humanity; He will lead them from heaven, not from earth. God will still be the Spirit, while man will still be flesh. God and man both have their different respective manners of resting’ (‘God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Almighty God’s words have made it very clear that man can’t live in the same place with God, because God’s dwelling place is in heaven while man’s dwelling place is on earth. Man is only a creature, so man can only live on earth and man’s destination is also on earth. That is to say, the kingdom of heaven that we speak of is still on earth, but not in heaven. At that time, all the nations of earth will become God’s kingdom; on earth man worships God in heaven; the life of people in the kingdom of heaven is that of man entering into rest.”
After I listened to grandma’s fellowship, I said with emotion, “Almighty God’s words have untied the knot in my heart. The future mankind will be living on earth forever, instead of in heaven. Because the living environment God has prepared for man is on earth, and man’s final destination is also on earth. This totally agrees with the Revelation prophecy. Now I see, the kingdom of heaven really doesn’t refer to the kingdom in heaven, but to the beautiful destination man will enter after they accept God’s salvation of the last days. Almighty God’s words counterattacked my former notions and imaginations and bring me a real and practical hope.”
When we were talking in high spirits, my wife came back, bringing along her families. Seeing the visitors coming, grandma stopped her fellowship. When she was leaving, she gave me a memory card, saying there were Almighty God’s words in it, and exalting me to read them diligently while on board.
On the ship, I read much of Almighty God’s words. Through pondering again and again, I was certain: Almighty God is the return of the Lord Jesus, is God Himself who created the heavens and earth and all things, and is the lamb mentioned in Revelation who opened the seven seals. He has expressed all the truths of man’s being saved and entering the kingdom of heaven, and has told all the mysteries to us. As for man’s final destination, Almighty God has spoken a great deal. Almighty God says, “Once the work of conquest has been completed, man will be brought into a beautiful world. This life will, of course, still be on earth, but it will be totally unlike man’s life today. It is the life that mankind will have after the whole of mankind has been conquered, it will be a new beginning for man on earth, and for mankind to have such a life will be proof that mankind has entered a new and beautiful realm. It will be the beginning of the life of man and God on earth. The premise of such a beautiful life must be that, after man has been purified and conquered, he submits before the Creator. And so, the work of conquest is the last stage of God’s work before mankind enters the wonderful destination. Such a life is man’s future life on earth, it is the most beautiful life on earth, the kind of life that man longs for, the kind that man has never before achieved in the history of the world. It is the final outcome of the 6,000 years of work of management, it is what mankind yearns for most, and it is also God’s promise to man. But this promise cannot come to pass immediately: Man will enter the future destination only once the work of the last days has been completed and he has been completely conquered, that is, once Satan has been utterly defeated” (“Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Almighty God’s word and work are real and actual. On earth, God created man. According to man’s needs, God prearranged everything on earth very appropriately and they were prepared in abundance by God for man. In the last days, He has once again become flesh on earth to do the last stage of work in His six-thousand-year management plan. His work is to thoroughly overcome the mankind who has been corrupted by Satan, to make all mankind return to Him, thus completely defeating Satan and restoring man’s life on earth as in heaven. Man’s life then, totally different from today’s, is the one free of Satan’s disturbance, the one more beautiful than we have imagined, the one of angels, and the one man can forever live. This is the biggest blessing for me, a man born in the last days.
After I returned home on leave, I managed to contact with the local church of Almighty God after many difficulties, and became a church member. Since then, I have lived the church life, enjoying the leading and watering of God’s words; I have tasted the sweetness of church life, feeling the incomparable joy and peace in my heart. All the glory be to Almighty God!