What is the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven?


Some hold that there is a difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, and that only those who are born again are in the former, while all who profess are in the latter. If such be the case, how can they explain Matthew 5:20 and Matthew 18:3? I was under the impression that both were the same, and that conversion and regeneration also were the same. Am I correct?

Some, I believe, maintain that the Kingdom of God is the real thing and the Kingdom of heaven inclusive of all profession. But does not the first Beatitude seem to refute this? “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5. 2). A comparison of Matthew 13: and Luke 13: shows that in the two chapters the same parables—of the mustard seed and of the leaven—are referred, in the former to the Kingdom of heaven, in the latter to the Kingdom of God. This would seem to indicate that the difference cannot be vital. In the one phrase, the seat of the authority exercised is emphasised. It comes from “the heavens”: In the other, the one who exercises the authority is the predominant thought—it is God Himself.

I believe both are real. How could it be otherwise when both belong to God? It is dangerous, however, to shuffle Bible terms. But in the Kingdom of Israel remnants of the Canaanites, e.g., the Gibeonites remained, but were not subjects of the Kingdom. In the Kingdom of this land, foreigners, enemy spies, alien communists, ever hostile to our king, may live and lurk; they must recognise the law of the land, but they are not recognised as British subjects and they can be repatriated at the will of the Sovereign. So there are doubtless some who profess the name of Christ who are not really subjects of the Kingdom. They will be purged out, but it does not follow they were ever included in the Kingdom.

As regards the terms, “conversion,” and “regeneration,” they may coincide and I believe do, but they are far from being synonymous.Conversion is the turning of the sinner to God and represents the man-ward side of things; regeneration is the new-birth wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit, when conversion takes place. This represents the God-ward side.