How does the Kingdom of God come? This is an important question. Our answer to this question will shape our attitude to the world and to the future.
God has given his peoples the tools they need to establish the Kingdom of God.
The Government of God comes by the following means:
The saints of God establish the Kingdom of God for Jesus. In Daniel 7:27, the Beast is destroyed, and the Kingdom comes to fullness when the saints begin to exercise their authority.
Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.
When the saints exercise the authority that Jesus has given to them, they will establish his Government on the earth. All rulers will come to obey his word, and to worship his name. It is the saints, and not Jesus, who will establish the Kingdom. Psalm 149 teaches that it is the "glory of the saints" to establish the Kingdom. They are to bring down the deceptions of the strongholds of error and establish the truth in the world. They are to teach those with authority to live in obedience to Christ. It is a sin to be waiting for Jesus to do something that he has commanded the church to do.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the principal means by which the Kingdom of God will be established. Jesus said that no man can enter the Kingdom unless he is born again of the Spirit (John 3:3). Sin is the only obstacle to the kingdom of God. The only solution to sin is the rebirth which comes through repentance and faith in Jesus. This allows the Holy Spirit to dwell in a person, so that he can live in obedience to Jesus.
Nothing can be done to build the Kingdom without the preaching of the gospel. Unregenerate men have no place in God's Kingdom. So the first step to bringing in the Kingdom is to preach the gospel to all nations. And this is what Jesus has commanded the church to do. If the church is faithful to this command, it will be successful. The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). All his power is behind the gospel, so where it is proclaimed in the power of the Spirit, it will be effective. The time will come when the majority of the people in the world will have heard the gospel, and come to faith in Jesus. As they choose him as their Lord, each one will become part of the Kingdom.
The Word of God
The proclamation of the Word of God is also essential for the coming of the Kingdom. It is not enough for each person to be born into the Kingdom. Each believer must bring the areas of life where he has authority under the lordship of Christ. The church must teach Christians to exercise their authority in accordance with biblical principles.
Political rulers will have to be taught to exercise their authority in a biblical way. They will have to implement laws that are based on the law of God.
Judges and lawyers will need to learn how to administer the law, in a way that is pleasing to God. Businessmen will need teaching on biblical business principles. Educators will have to develop a Christian system of education. Parents must be taught to run their families along biblical patterns. More than just a change in individual lives is needed. The whole political, social, economic and cultural life of mankind will have to be brought into line with the Word of God. Only then, will Jesus be Lord of all creation. The church has the responsibility for teaching the world how this can be done.
The church must not become imperialistic. It is wrong for church authorities to try and rule directly over political leaders or businessmen, as has often happened in the past. Church leaders discharge their duty by proclaiming and explaining the Word of God to those who hold authority in the world. This is their sphere of authority.
Political leaders and businessmen are responsible to God for their obedience to the Word. They are not accountable to church leaders. The kingdom develops as individual members exercise their authority, whether as political leaders or individuals, in obedience to God. The church or its leaders should not exercise authority in other spheres of responsibility.
The church must not become an institution controlling every aspect of life. The church is a network of relationships, it is not an institution or hierarchy. The Church cannot make decisions, as their is no decision making body that can decide for the whole church. No one person or group of people has authority over the whole church. This is Jesus role. Likewise, there is no one person (like a pope) who can speak for the church. Therefore, the church cannot, and should not attempt to control business and political leaders. An imperialistic church is as bad as a totalitarian state.
There will be individuals in the church, who speak prophetically to political and business leaders. However, they will speak as individuals and not on behalf of the church. Their authority will not come from their position in the church (they may be recognised as prophets by the church). They will only have authority, if they words are true and anointed by the Holy Spirit. They will not be able to make decisions for the government or businesses. Those with authority in business or the government must test the words of the prophets and only obey them if they are true. They should listen to those who are skilled at hearing form God, but they are not required to obey them blindly. We must all obey God, rather than man. Controlling prophets are as dangerous as an imperialistic church.
Adam was told by God to have dominion over the earth and subdue it. He was to search out the laws of nature, and learn how to use them so that he could become master of the creation. This task could only be done in obedience to God. Mankind can only have a full understanding of creation when it is studied in the light of the Word of God. The Church must apply the Word of God to every area of life and every aspect of creation, so that all things can be brought into submission to Christ. This is what Jesus meant when he told us to teach the nations to obey everything that he had commanded.
The Bible is not a book about personal salvation, it is a manual for our total lives, for law, politics, economics, family, school, church, university, business, and more (Andrew Sandlin)
The Word of God is living and active, and more powerful than a double-edged sword (Heb 4:12). As the church proclaims that word in the power of the Spirit, and applies it to every area of life, it will be effective. The will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven; his Kingdom will come.
Prayer is a powerful weapon in the hands of the church. Jesus said that a prayer of faith can cast a mountain into the sea (Matt 21:21). In the Bible, powerful nations are often symbolised by mountains (Israel is often called Mount Zion.) Jesus' promise means that even mighty nations can be brought down through prayer. Wicked rulers can have their hearts changed through prayer (1 Tim 2:1,2). Since all things are possible through prayer, and Jesus has given the church authority to ask in his name, there is no limit to what the church can do.
God has told us to pray that his Kingdom will come. Psalm 2:8 says,
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, and the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron sceptre.
God has promised the church that, if it prays in obedience to him, he will give it authority over all the nations. The church's inheritance includes the whole earth, so if it is faithful in prayer it will receive the nations and rule over them in Christ's name. It does not rule as an organisation, but through Christians exercising the authority they hold in obedience to Christ. When that authority is exercised according to the will of God, the Kingdom will have become a reality.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is vital for the coming of the Kingdom. Prayer releases power, and God's power comes in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is the Spirit of God, so there is no limit to his power. There is no limit to what the church can do, when it moves in the Spirit's power.
The coming of the kingdom will be a work of the Spirit. He will inspire the church to pray. He will inspire the proclamation of the gospel. It is the Spirit who convicts sinners and brings them to repentance and faith. He is the teacher who teaches people the meaning of the Word of God, and how it should be applied in daily life. It is the divine power of the Holy Spirit which makes it possible for the church to be victorious in the world. Greater is he who is in the church, than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4). The Holy Spirit will bring the Church to victory and establish the Kingdom.
God has promised that after the conversion of the Jews, he will pour out his Holy Spirit in a powerful way, so that the Kingdom may be established (Joel 2:28,29,32). Up until that time, the Holy Spirit is constrained. We have not yet seen the best that He can do. After the calling of the Jews, the Holy Spirit will go forth in a new way, that will make the Book of Acts look tame. He will move in a mighty way to defeat the world and establish the Kingdom.
The Law is also a tool for dominion. Many of the passages in the Old Testament which speak of the Kingdom also emphasise the law (Is 42:4: 51:4; Mic 4:2). In the Kingdom, justice will prevail; but apart from God's law there can be no true justice.
Christians have tended to drive a wedge between the law and the gospel. This has allowed humanistic justice to prevail, as apart from the law, Christians have no other standard of justice. In fact, Jesus did not set aside the law. He came to fulfil the law, and said that not the least stroke of pen will disappear from the law until everything is accomplished (Matt 5:17,18).
The biblical standard for economics, law and politics is contained in the Old Testament law. As the law goes forth, justice will be established in the earth. Proclaiming and teaching the law is part of the church's task, as it brings in the Kingdom.
The law must be used with wisdom and at the right time. It is wrong to try and impose Christian law on a society which does not acknowledge Jesus as Lord. When this is done, the church appears to be harsh, legalistic and dominating. The task of the church in a non-Christian society is to preach the gospel, and to speak prophetically, warning of the consequences of sin (The law may provide a basis for a prophetic word to rulers or kings). People must be converted before they are taught to live according to Kingdom principles. Only when the majority of people have become Christians is it possible to establish a legal system based on the Bible. People will then be glad to live according to the will of God.
Good judges implementing God's law are the ideal government. There will be no need for politicians and parliament, because God will be judge and lawgiver.
For the LORD is our judge,
the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our king;
it is he who will save us (Is 33:22).
The coming of the Kingdom does not need some new dispensation of power or authority by God. The church already has at its disposal, all the means which it needs to establish the kingdom. Its resources are sufficient for its duties. They are not defective in any way, and nothing more is needed from God. All the church needs is additional boldness and faithfulness. It has the Word of God. In the gospel it has the means for changing lives throughout the world. The Holy Spirit is present in the church empowering it for its task. Christianity does not need to be changed before the Kingdom can be established. The church can complete this task by using the means that it already has with greater zeal and faithfulness.The Kingdom has already begun. It was established in heaven on the day of the ascension. It began in part on earth, when the church began to do its work. Even today in certain parts of the world, among certain people, and in certain areas of life, the Word of God is obeyed. That means that the kingdom of God is partially in existence now. The Kingdom will continue in the same form until the judgment day, with Jesus reigning in heaven, and the church exercising his authority on earth, to bring all things into submission to his word. The only difference during the times of the Kingdom will be in the extent and the effectiveness of the God's authority. The organisation of the Kingdom will not be changed; the church will simply increase in its influence and success.
The Bible teaches that the Kingdom will be established gradually (Deut 7:22). The church's enemies will not all be overcome at once. God will leave some opposition to keep it on its toes, but gradually as the church becomes stronger and stronger all opposition will be worn down. It will be just like Joshua taking the land. There will be some major victories which demoralise the opposition, but it will take longer to clear away all opposition. At the time of the calling of the Jews, the church will have a tremendous victory which will totally demoralise the opposition. It will take longer to extend the Kingdom into every aspect of life, in every area of the world. A lot of preaching will have to be done, followed by a lot of teaching. Study will be necessary to determine what the Bible really teaches about law, economics, science, politics, education, medicine, family life, etc. All this work will take time to complete.
The Kingdom will be established through the proclamation of the gospel and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Christians already have the power and the authority that they need to establish the kingdom of God. We do not have to wait for the return of Christ to see it become a reality. Instead we should be going to work in the power of the Spirit, to win the world for Jesus, now.
The church will not be victorious until it gets Back to a more positive eschatology.
Return to the Kingdom of God