The Kingdom of Heaven is intimately tied with evangelism, but in ways that many do not suspect.
The Kingdom of Heaven is Not Heaven
For many centuries now, at least since the Reformation, and possibly before that, people have understood the “Kingdom of Heaven” (or the Kingdom of God) as being equivalent to “heaven.” People have also noticed that in Scripture, the topics of the Gospel and the Kingdom of Heaven are intimately connected. In many places, the Gospel is the message about the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven.
And so when people assume that the “Kingdom of Heaven” equals “Heaven” then it seems logical to assume that the gospel message is focused on “How to get to heaven when we die.”
But in recent decades, many Christians around the world have begun to teach and write about the Kingdom of Heaven in a different way. Noticing, for example, in Matthew 6:10 that the prayer of Jesus for the coming of the kingdom is for God’s will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven, many teachers and writers have argued that the Kingdom is not heaven, but rather God’s rule and reign on earth, just as God rules and reigns in heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
With this understanding, the Kingdom of Heaven is already “in heaven” but through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven is expanding to the earth as well. It is not here fully, but the standard has been placed, and the claim has been made. The present rulers of this age are not happy with the arrival of the Rightful King, and so they fight with tooth and claw to hold on to their power, dominion, and authority.
But we, as followers of Jesus, must continue the work He started in spreading the rule and reign of God across the entire earth and into the hearts and minds of every person. This good news that God is restoring His rule and reign upon the earth is to be spread to all corners of the world, not just by what we say, but also by what we do.
I am convinced that this is the right and proper way of reading Scripture. Therefore, the gospel message is about way more than just how to get to heaven when we die. Certainly, it includes truths about this, but the Gospel does not just concern what happens after we die, but is even more concerned with what happens while we live.
It is a message for the here and now; not just a message for the hereafter. It is a message about how the rule and reign of God has been planted in our own lives, and is spreading and growing to cover every area of our life, and how from us, seeds of the kingdom are being scattered into the lives of all people we come into contact with, with the hope that some of them also come under the rule and reign of God.