This topic of connecting God’s kingdom from heaven to earth reaches from the supernatural: visions/dreams, miracles, deliverances, and healings, into the natural realm of life. However, the scope is magnified in the ordinary, daily life of a believer in Jesus Christ.
Peter experienced this overlapping of heaven and earth while on a rooftop when God visited him in a trance (Acts 10:9-48). The heavens opens and a great sheet descended connecting heaven and earth with divine purpose. Peter, who lived in strict obedience to the Law of Moses, was instructed by God to eat what was considered unclean. God was communicating with this leader of the Church that He was opening the door of the gospel to Jew and Gentile alike.
This entrance into faith, open to all people through the Jewish Messiah, caused some confusion. It was only the priests who could declare clean and unclean, permit and forbid, grant or refuse but now God was changing things. The Church was now given authority to unlock the door of salvation to whoever would believe. Jesus referred to this when He spoke to Peter:
“And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”” Matthew 16:19 NLT
Peter had declared his revelation that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and was given priest-like authority to declare entrance into kingdom living to those with like-faith. Jesus was telling Peter that he would be making some decisions in the future that would affect this new entity called the Church. These keys would lock and unlock, permit and forbid, grant and refuse. The connection of heaven and earth is clear; God has permitted entrance to all people therefore the Church follows. As time progressed we know that other things were forbidden or permitted. Circumcision was required for a Jew but no longer necessary for a Christian. In Jesus’ day fellowshipping between Jew and Gentile was forbidden: not true in the Church. There were many day and food restrictions under the Law of Moses (Col. 2:16) but in Christ every day and all food has already been blessed by God.
The Holy Spirit teaches us today what is permitted or forbidden in heaven and therefore on earth; these doctrines or teachings of the Church help us navigate when ‘hot topics’ cause confusion. We need direction from heaven since our culture seems to permit everything these days.
Faith and morals are pivotal points in the Church as we discuss forbidding and permitting or binding and loosing. Jesus told Peter later in this passage (vs. 23) that he should set his mind on heavenly things, kingdom ways, and refuse a worldly viewpoint. Not always easy or comfortable, certainly not politically correct, but it’s how His kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven.