10 Things You Should Know about the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God is a massively important topic and spoken of throughout the Word of God. So reducing its essence down to only ten things feels silly, if not impossible. But here goes anyway.
(1) Jesus claimed that the fulfillment of the Old Testament hope with its attendant blessings was present in his person and ministry. The unexpected element was that fulfillment was taking place without the final consummation. The prophetic hope of the coming Messianic kingdom of God as promised to Israel is being fulfilled in the person and ministry of Jesus, but not consummated. Our Lord came with the message that before the kingdom would come in its eschatological consummation it has come in his own person and work in spirit and power. The kingdom, therefore, is both the present spiritual reign of God and the future realm over which he will rule in power and glory.
(2) The kingdom of God is not a geographical realm with clearly defined boundaries, such as those that separate the U.S.A. from Canada and Mexico. The kingdom, therefore, is not to be identified with any one nation or political body.
(3) The kingdom of God is not that place we call heaven, at least not yet! That doesn’t mean the kingdom of God is absent from heaven. Far from it. Jesus rules as King and Lord as he sits enthroned at the right hand of the Father. But the kingdom must never be thought of as restricted to some sort of celestial or entirely spiritual and invisible locale. When God’s kingdom comes in its consummate fullness it will be manifest in a new heavens and on a new earth. We must guard ourselves from over-spiritualizing the kingdom, as if it were little more than the spiritual dominion of Christ and not also a cosmic reign that encompasses the material creation as well.
(4) The kingdom is not the Church. The Church is the people through which the dynamic reign of God’s presence and power is manifest. Of course, we must never forget what John tells us in Revelation 1:5b-6.
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
There is thus a very real sense in which we, the redeemed and forgiven people of God, are “a kingdom, priests” unto God.
(5) The kingdom is not a place, but a power. It is not a static thing, but a dynamic and living reign. It is not an issue of land, but of Lordship. This is a healthy reminder for all who would mistakenly think that the kingdom is bounded by territorial lines either in the Middle East or in North America! That being said, may we never forget that bound up with the promises of God to his covenant people is our inheritance of a “heavenly” country (Heb. 11:16) that we know to be the New Heavens and New Earth.
(6) The kingdom is not yet deliverance from political oppression (but it will be). Advocates of the social gospel once argued that the kingdom should be identified with “liberty and justice for all.” By all means the kingdom will bring true freedom and cosmic justice, when Christ returns. But we must never identify the kingdom of God with the success of any social or political program or the victory of any particular political party.
(7) The kingdom is not yet renewal of the creation (but it will be), nor is it material prosperity (but it will be).
(8) The kingdom of God is the presence and powerful Lordship of the person of the King himself: Jesus. The Kingdom is known and seen wherever Christ is acknowledged, where his subjects are saved, where his enemies are vanquished, and where his ways are obeyed.
(9) The kingdom of God, then, is anywhere or anytime or anyone over whom Jesus Christ exercises Lordship. The kingdom is the King reigning in hearts and minds.
(10) God’s dynamic and sovereign presence is now among us in Jesus. God is exerting royal force. The kingdom is God in strength, God in saving action. And the one in and through him this kingdom reign is manifest is Jesus Christ, his Son!