I cannot go forward without addressing the differences of opinion [among the Body of Christ] as to whether the Kingdom of God on earth is a future event [at the return of Christ] or whether it is present today. I can only share what my spirit is telling me, and each of you have to study the Word and come to your own theological understanding.
NOTE: And that's why I often return to the same subjects that I have written about years before ... because these truths need to be stated again and again, until everyone has a chance to receive them. And they are a good reminder to established believers [including myself] to review what we believe and why, so that we are ready to "Preach the word; [and] be prepared in season and out of season, [to] reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction, the teaching of God's message".
So, if I had to give you a concise statement as to my belief, it would be this .... Both John the Baptist and Jesus warned those who would hear them to "Repent!" .... John, saying "for the Kingdom of God is near", and Jesus telling them, "for the Kingdom of God is at hand". It is my belief that both John and Jesus were announcing that God's representative from Heaven (Jesus) had come to plant Heaven's flag, so to speak, in the earth, staking territory for the Kingdom of God; in effect, inaugurating [or beginning] the heavenly Kingdom system of government on the earth. So, in that sense, the Kingdom is present now, or "in your midst" (Luke 17:21), but is not yet complete. The Kingdom is here in a partial sense as we Christians continue to take territory from the devil and take back dominion of the earth until the Day of the Lord, when Jesus will return, bringing His Justice and destroying the evil and corruption in the world, while establishing the good and perfect Kingdom realm on earth that God had planned from the beginning. That event will usher in the complete and fulfilled existence of the Kingdom of God on earth.
And one of the reasons that I love the Book of Matthew so much is that it focuses on Jesus's teachings about how people are to behave as citizens of that Kingdom realm on earth, with Jesus as their ruling King. Which takes me to the born again experience that Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about in John, Chapter 3. Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." To me, this says that we come into the Kingdom as a citizen through being born again -- [reborn from above by the Holy Spirit—spiritually transformed, renewed, and sanctified].
When we are born again into the Kingdom, with Jesus as our King, we use a key to enter into that Kingdom. Jesus is the door and our salvation is that key. Romans 10:9-10 tells us, "For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation." To sum it up, when you are born again and confess your faith in Jesus, you are saved and become a citizen of the Kingdom. And with that citizenship come keys.
We see this confession/citizenship/keys relationship in Matthew 16:13-20. Peter, who confesses Jesus as the Christ (Anointed One from God), is given keys of the kingdom of heaven, and now has the authority "to forbid [bind, stop] on earth that which is forbidden in heaven, and to release [loose, permit] on earth that which is released in heaven." Those rights are only conveyed to one who is a citizen of the Kingdom of God/Heaven! And that is the purpose of the keys of the Kingdom -- to transform this earth, so that it looks like Heaven!
I also want to point out that it is my belief that there is a false narrative that this passage is establishing Peter as the head of the Church; which is a corruption of Scripture promulgated by Constantine. I believe, truth be told, that the keys to the Kingdom are principles given to all who are born again into the Kingdom as citizens; principles to rule and reign until the return of our King. These keys represent our authority and provide access to the Kingdom of Heaven. And that access is initiated through Scripture. It's not enough to just know Scripture ... we must DO Scripture! You see, God is moved by His Word, not our tears. Hebrews 6:17 says, "in His desire to show to the heirs of the Promise the unchangeable nature of His purpose, [God] intervened and guaranteed it with an oath" -- in other words, He says He is bound by His Word. So when we DO His Word, He will move in our lives and in this world; we will see results.
But here's something to think about .... to have a key to the Kingdom and never use it, is no different than never having a key at all. If you don't know the principles or purpose of the keys to the Kingdom then you will likely have no effect [fruit] for the Kingdom. And something else we need to understand is that the keys are also unique and specific. You can't take one Kingdom key (principle) and think it's going to necessarily work in another place. For instance, Praise is a key that bestows honor upon the one who receives it, and we are to praise our Lord for all He does for us. But I can't praise a demon and expect to throw him out! And I think Jesus exemplifies this when He tells the disciples, "But this kind of demon does not go out except by prayer and fasting." Here, we have two more principles of the Kingdom.
We must realize that there is no Master Key of the Kingdom, and it is inherent upon us to know what the keys are; to understand and employ them to their fullest effect. If not, "my people perish for lack of knowledge", comes to mind. We also need to remember what our Lord tells us in Luke 12:32: "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom". We are to remember that we are citizens of the Kingdom; "sons of Light", and we are to be operating in the Kingdom system, not the system of the world.
So, here's a truth we need to be aware of ... If we are born again and Saved, we are citizens of the Kingdom. But which system are we operating in? We can be considered citizens of the Kingdom, but still be operating in the world system. I believe we are all guilty of that at one time or another in our lives. For instance, if we get offended by someone [which is one of Satan's favorite schemes] do we withdraw and sulk, or do we work in the Kingdom government system and handle it with a Kingdom principle; for instance praying for those who curse you? We must recognize that the system of this world is not our system! Our system is Kingdom government!
The bottom line is this: we must know that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, and walk in our power and authority! Yes, we wait for the fulfillment [completion] of the Kingdom on earth. But we serve our Lord, who is King of that Kingdom, and He has entrusted us to continue His work in establishing the Kingdom He came to inaugurate. Just because He has not yet returned, it doesn't mean we are to remain idle until that glorious Day. When He returns, we will give an account of the fruit we have borne for the Kingdom. I can imagine Him embracing us as Saved Christians; welcoming us as citizens of the Kingdom of God. And then I can hear Him ask, "What did you do with the keys of the Kingdom that I gave you? Did you read my Word? If so, did you seek to understand and experience it? Did you DO My Word?"
It is my prayer that each of us know that the Kingdom in us is greater than the kingdom of this world. Let us use the keys He has given us in His Word to lock and secure our hearts in His Kingdom system. Let the reality of God's Kingdom be apparent in the present through the abundant and prosperous fruit we bear, in the Name of Jesus.
Luke 17:21 "The Kingdom is not discovered in one place or another, for God’s Kingdom realm is already expanding within some of you."