"This is reflected in numerous sayings. The Kingdom is like a treasure or a costly pearl whose possession outranks all other goods (Mt. 13:44-46). It is something to be sought here and now (Mt. 6:33) and to be received as children receive a gift (Mk. 10:15 = Lk. 18:16-17). In this saying the Kingdom is God's rule, but it includes the gift of his rule. The divine reign is not a fearful power before which people are compelled to bow, but a gift. Children exemplify the trustfulness and receptivity required of the 'sons of the Kingdom.' The Kingdom belongs to them, not because their humility is a virtue that merits it, but because they are responsive. 'The Kingdom belongs to such because they receive it as a gift.... [It] is the gift of the divine rule.' Matthew 19:14 echoes the same thought that the Kingdom of God is a present possession of the childlike. The promise that those who ask shall receive, and those who seek shall find (Mt. 7:7), is to be understood in this context. 'The thing to be sought is the Kingdom of God, which, being found, is the satisfaction of all needs (Lk. 12:31). The door to be knocked at is the door which gives entrance into the Kingdom of God.'"- George Eldon Ladd
"The New Age of Salvation
We saw in the last chapter that the meaning of basileia ('kingdom') cannot be reduced to a single concept but is a complex concept with several facets. Its root meaning is the reign or rule of God. It can designate the eschatological act of God when God acts... It can also designate the future realm of salvation into which God's people will be gathered to enjoy the blessings of his reign. As such, it is interchangeable with the Age to Come.
The most distinctive fact in Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom was its present inbreaking in history in his own person and mission. We should not be surprised to find basileia tou theou ('Kingdom of God') used of a new realm of redemptive blessing into which people enter by receiving Jesus' message about the Kingdom of God...
The Kingdom as a Present Gift
When we ask about the content of this new realm of blessing, we discover that basileia means not only the dynamic reign of God and the realm of salvation; it is also used to designate the gift of life and salvation. Here is another original element in Jesus' teaching. The Kingdom of God stands as a comprehensive term for all that the messianic salvation included. Dalman recognized that the Kingdom in Jesus' teaching could be 'a good which admits of being striven for, of being bestowed, of being possessed, and of being accepted.'
In the eschatological consummation, the Kingdom is something to be freely inherited by the righteous (Mt. 25:34). The word here designates neither the reign of God nor the Age to Come but the blessing of life that is the gift of God's rule in the coming age (Mt. 24:46). In answer to the young man's question about inheriting eternal life (Mk. 10:17), Jesus spoke of entering the Kingdom (10:23-24) and receiving eternal life (10:30) as though they were synonymous concepts.The Kingdom is a gift that the Father is pleased to bestow upon the little flock of Jesus' disciples (Lk. 12:32).
If God's Kingdom is the gift of life bestowed upon his people when he manifests his rule in eschatological glory, and if God's Kingdom is also God's rule invading history before the eschatological consummation, it follows that we may expect God's rule in the present to bring a preliminary blessing to his people. This is in fact what we find. The Kingdom is not only an eschatological gift belonging to the Age to Come; it is also a gift to be received in an old aeon.
This is reflected in numerous sayings. The Kingdom is like a treasure or a costly pearl whose possession outranks all other goods (Mt. 13:44-46). It is something to be sought here and now (Mt. 6:33) and to be received as children receive a gift (Mk. 10:15 = Lk. 18:16-17). In this saying the Kingdom is God's rule, but it includes the gift of his rule. The divine reign is not a fearful power before which people are compelled to bow, but a gift. Children exemplify the trustfulness and receptivity required of the 'sons of the Kingdom.' The Kingdom belongs to them, not because their humility is a virtue that merits it, but because they are responsive. 'The Kingdom belongs to such because they receive it as a gift.... [It] is the gift of the divine rule.' Matthew 19:14 echoes the same thought that the Kingdom of God is a present possession of the childlike. The promise that those who ask shall receive, and those who seek shall find (Mt. 7:7), is to be understood in this context. 'The thing to be sought is the Kingdom of God, which, being found, is the satisfaction of all needs (Lk. 12:31). The door to be knocked at is the door which gives entrance into the Kingdom of God.'
The Beatitudes view the Kingdom as a gift. The poor in spirit, those persecuted for righteousness' sake, receive the gift (Mt. 5:3, 10). It is not easy to decide whether the Kingdom is these sayings is future or present. The Beatitudes certainly have an eschatological cast. The sayings about inheriting the earth, obtaining mercy (in the day of judgment), and seeing God are primarily eschatological. However, the main objective of the Beatitudes is to teach a present blessedness rather than to promise blessing in the consummation. The comfort for those who grieve because of their spiritual poverty is both present and future, as is the satisfaction of the hungry (Mt. 5:4, 6). The gift of the Kingdom, twice mentioned, probably includes both present and future. The Beatitudes expound both the eschatological salvation and the present blessedness.
The Gift of Salvation
The Kingdom as God's gift may be further illustrated by a study of the word 'salvation.' In the Gospels, the words 'to save' and 'salvation' refer both to an eschatological and a present blessing.
Salvation is primarily an eschatological gift. In Jesus' answer to the rich young ruler about eternal life, salvation is synonymous with eternal life and entrance into the Kingdom of God in the Age to Come (Mk. 10:17-30). This eschatological salvation is elsewhere described merely as a saving of one's (true) life in contrast with losing one's physical life (Mk. 8:35; Mt. 10:39; Lk. 17:33). This eschatological salvation can be described simply as entrance into (eternal) life (Mk. 9:43; Mt. 25:46) or into the joy of the Lord (Mt. 25:21, 23).
This future salvation means two things: deliverance from mortality, and perfected fellowship with God. The Gospels do not say much about resurrection, but the saying of Luke 20:34-36 (cf. Mk. 12:24-27) makes it clear that eschatological salvation includes the whole person. Resurrection life will have something in common with the angels, namely, the possession of immortality. This immortal resurrection life is the life of the Age to Come (Lk. 20:35). The evils of physical weakness, sickness, and death will be swallowed up in the life of the Kingdom of God (Mt. 25:34, 46)."
George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (1993) pp. 68-72
"Ladd's New Testament Theology is a helpful introduction to the Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Ladd's primary contribution to the field of Biblical Theology is the incorporation of the 'already' 'not yet' eschatological dimension into New Testament theology. In his work he argues that there is a tension between realized and future eschatology throughout the entire New Testament. The future Kingdom of God has broken into the present and has radically shifted the entire redemptive history of the New Testament. While this Kingdom of God has become a present reality the entirety of its reign remains a future hope. This tension exists throughout the entire New Testament."- William E. Turner
"But while the authenticity of these parables can be critically defended, many believe it impossible to speak about Jesus' purpose in giving them. There are, however, a number of features in these parables that seem to reflect something of Jesus' own intent and what he wanted to teach his disciples about his ministry (and, derivatively, their ministries) and about the reign of God in people's lives and in the world.
First, it needs to be noted that implicit in both the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven -- whether in all three Synoptic Gospels, as with the former, or only in Matthew and Luke, as with the latter -- are suggestions that the growth of the reign or "kingdom" of God takes place through the mysterious operation of divine power (whether represented as being in the seed itself or in the leaven) and that such divine power is already at work in Jesus' preaching. As Joseph Fitzmyer notes regarding the Parable of the Mustard Seed: "The parable implies the same divine operation of which Ezek 17:22-24 spoke explicitly, in connection, however, with a cedar (cf. Ezek 31:2-9)" (Luke 2:10-16)...
It may be postulated, therefore, that Jesus' intent in giving the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven to his disciples was not only to assure his disciples that the kingdom of God would surely come, but also to reveal something of importance to them about his ministry, their ministries, and the nature of the reign or "kingdom" of God vis-a-vis their inherited understandings of ministry and the kingdom of God. In these two paired parables, therefore, it may be postulated that he wanted his disciples to be assured that the kingdom of God would certainly come, whatever might be thought about its beginnings in his or their ministries. But also, it seems, he wanted them to realize (1) that the kingdom would come about only through the mysterious operation of divine power, not by human authority, expertise, or ingenuity (using the metaphors of a mustard seed and leaven, which have power in themselves), (2) that it has to do with eschatological realities, not with mundane actualities (using the eschatological figures of a tree and a great amount of dough), and (3) that the eschatological kingdom has universal dimensions, and is not to be confined to the national interests of Israel (using the imagery of "the birds of heaven" making "nests" in the tree's branches). And these are matters that he wanted his disciples to know as he began his ministry with them."
The Challenge of Jesus' Parables, edited by Richard N. Longenecker
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000, p.142
"But you know that you have eternal life. You can never die. Death is not this body disappearing. Death is where you are absolutely without any control of your soul. Once you are a realized soul you have all the control, all the powers to take your soul wherever you feel like to be born if you like—if you don't want you will not be born—to be born with the people, in the families, in the communities, wherever you like."
To Achieve Complete Freedom, Cabella, Italy—May 7, 1995
"Birth, play, marriage, children, old age — life is finished. That is not living! Life is much deeper and more wonderful... When you know God there is no more sorrow.
All those you loved and lost in death are with you again in Eternal Life. The souls of those loved ones who departed before will come to welcome: fathers, mothers, wives, children, friends. Hundreds and thousands and millions of them! From hundreds and thousands and millions of past lives and rebirths! From hundreds and thousands and millions of millenniums ago! How many wives we must have had in previous lives and how many husbands God alone knows."
London, U.K.—June 21, 1981
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