And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:18-19)
The Kingdom Of God
There are many names the Holy Spirit attributed to the New Testament church. It was called the Way, the body of Christ and the bride of Christ, the house of God and the flock of the Lord. The nature of the church is seen from a structural viewpoint as well as the organizational emphasis of the human body. When Peter confessed that Jesus was the long-sought Messiah or Christ, the Son of God declared the divine pattern of the kingdom of God fulfilled in the church. Jesus said He would build His church and Peter would receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven showing the church and the kingdom of heaven are one and the same entity. On the Day of Pentecost when three thousand devout Jews obeyed the gospel of Christ, the Father added them to the church or the kingdom of heaven. Luke records in the Acts of the Apostles the growth of the church which can also be seen as the growth of the kingdom. Whenever the church is mentioned it also includes the nature of the kingdom. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the church or caused havoc to the kingdom of God. When Saul obeyed the gospel he became a citizen of the kingdom of Christ leaving his allegiance to the kingdom of Israel and the Law of Moses. One of the great challenges of the New Testament church was to convince citizens of the kingdom of Israel to become citizens of the kingdom of Christ. The Law of Moses was the law governing Israel and the new covenant of God took the Law of Moses away. This was hard for many to accept. Some tried to bind portions of the Law of Moses (like circumcision) upon new Christians but through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, the church established the new covenant of Christ as the law for the kingdom or church. For the Gentiles, the conflict came from the allegiance to the law of the Roman Empire and the law of Christ. Jesus taught in His ministry that a disciple should render to Caesar those things that belong to Caesar but to render to God the things that belong to God. This became very difficult for the First Century Christian who faced more than two hundred years of persecution as the two kingdoms clashed. They were taught to honor the king and submit to every law but never allow their allegiance to the kingdom of God to be overshadowed by allegiance to man.
The church is the kingdom of God with one king, one law and one spiritual territory. A kingdom is recognized when a law is established and land created. Jesus purchased the church with His own blood and thereby established the kingdom of God by His sacrifice. When the early Christians began to teach the gospel the borders of the kingdom began to spread from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. The kingdom of God was found in cities like Antioch, Derbe, Lystra, Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica and the imperial city of Rome. Citizens of the household of Caesar including the palace guard were members of the body of Christ thereby making them citizens of the kingdom of Christ. In time the gospel began to spread to the furthest reaches of the world as souls became obedient to the law of the kingdom of God and enjoying the fellowship of being fellow citizens with all saints. After the persecution from the Roman Empire ceased the apostate church began to persecute the true believers and citizens of the kingdom of God. For nearly fifteen hundred years the Roman Catholic Church held sway in the Western world while the kingdom of God silently continued to assemble in places seldom recorded by history. The writer of the book of Hebrews boldly asserted the kingdom of God could not be shaken and two thousand years have proven the statement to be true. Churches of Christ continue to dot the landscape all over the world showing the character of the kingdom of God in fulfillment of the promise of Jesus. No power or might will be able to subdue the kingdom of God. It is everlasting according to the will of the Lord.
Jesus promised to build His church and He is the head of one church. That church is the kingdom of God where Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is only one King. As lawgiver, there can only be one law given by the word of the Lord. Many churches have been created in the past five hundred years attempting to dethrone Christ from His throne. They have tried to change the law of God teaching things not according to the Bible. Churches have embraced different names that distinguish them as man-made religions that appeal to the whims of carnal wisdom. The Bible shows there is one kingdom and that one kingdom is the one church of Christ. No kingdom has multiple kings or multiple laws according to the interpretation of one group of citizens over another. All those who are members of the kingdom of God abide by the same law without deference to the period of time lived, national identity or historical preference. The kingdom of God today is the same church established in the First Century when men follow the same laws of the New Testament kingdom. Jesus built one church and He established one kingdom.