For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Jesus, in speaking to one of the Jewish Religious leaders, tells him that God promises unending life to those who believe. Just before Jesus said this, he told the man that the way to gain eternal life was through belief, water baptism and spiritual re-birth.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
Here, Jesus connects the Kingdom of God with Eternal Life. The Bible speaks a great deal about the Kingdom of God and Eternal Life. All kingdoms have: a king, a throne from which to reign; a territory or domain; people of the kingdom, and law. The Kingdom of God is the same, except, it is different from the governments and powers of the world today in that those given eternal life will live in this kingdom.
The Old Testament prophet Daniel spoke of the time, still future even to us, that God would remove and replace the governments of this world with His kingdom.
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever. (Daniel 2:44)
Daniel said it would be the true believers who would be given eternal life and therefore be the people of the kingdom.
And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them. (Daniel 7:27)
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah spoke of the time when the earth would be transformed, the Kingdom of God established, Jerusalem would be the capital city, all people would come to Jerusalem, there would be one law, one religion and no more war. He spoke about the physical changes that would happen to this earth to accommodate the perfect conditions that Jesus will bring.
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:2-4)
They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2)
It was foretold in the Old Testament that the Messiah, who we know to be Jesus, would be the the King of God’s Kingdom. He will reign over the world in righteousness and peace forever!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
The Lord Jesus Christ was born and died as ‘King of the Jews’, but he did not at his first coming establish the physical Kingdom, nor did he take Jerusalem from the Romans and claim it as his capital city, nor did he sit upon the throne of David as was promised him from God, his Father. In fact, we are told that when he returns the second time, he will be King over all the earth, not just the Jews.
The point here is that the Kingdom of God is a literal Kingdom that Jesus will establish on this earth when he returns to this earth. This was a promise made in the Old Testament, endorsed by Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament, and yet to be realized. This kingdom will be eternal and it is in this kingdom, that those who are given eternal life, will live and reign and serve the king forever.
When Jesus returns he will have to subdue the earth in order to effect such a dramatic transformation and most of the governments will not willingly submit to his authority.
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26, ESV)
It is important to note, that eternal life is given by Jesus to believers who are either alive when he returns or who have died and are raised from the dead. This will happen on a specific day in the future, at which point, Jesus will begin to establish the Kingdom of God. So Eternal life is granted at a future point in time and it coincides with the establishment of the Kingdom of God. What a wonderful promise of a transformed world and a transformed people!