What Is The Kingdom: Both/And
This article explores how Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God as coming both "now" and in the future- and how we can make sense of this tension.
John and Eleanor Mumford
Vineyard International Executive
Experiencing Healing In The Kingdom
In her early thirties Eleanor had severe meningitis and was prayed for by some faithful Christian friends – and she was healed . . . instantly. The rule and the reign of the King, the reality of his kingdom, had burst upon us!
We immediately went back to the Bible, because my experience called for an explanation. And there we re-read the first recorded words Jesus spoke: ‘The time has come, the kingdom of God is near, Repent and believe the good news’ (Mark 1:15).
This is momentous. Jesus Himself announcing Himself. The King proclaiming the kingdom. Herein lies great drama. With the coming of Jesus, the King has arrived, and thus the kingdom has come. But Jesus spoke of the kingdom come and the kingdom coming. The idea in Mark 1:15 is of the kingdom almost here, about to arrive any minute. This is exciting and tantalizing, but it is also mysterious and – to be honest – (sometimes) frustrating.
This is the now and the not yet – the already and the not quite. Only when we grasp this reality does the explanation make sense, the experience resonate.
When Some Are Not Healed
We had dinner only last night with people who were puzzling over why some people are healed and others are not. It was only as we began to talk about the Bible’s understanding of the kingdom, which we first heard articulated by John Wimber at his most groundbreaking, that any possible answers seemed to satisfy.
Over the centuries as the Church has struggled to understand this idea of the now and the not yet, the pendulum has swung from one extreme to the other. Some Christians have said all healing is available now and all the time, and unhelpfully have gone onto suggest that if you don’t experience it, there’s something wrong with you. Other Christians, probably in reaction, have said ‘no, no, it’s not yet’ and have pushed it all off to the future. But in the Vineyard we are convinced it’s not either/or but both/and. The truth lies at both extremes. It’s both ‘now’ and ‘not yet.’Both the ‘now’ & the ‘not yet’ are realities and the tension in which we will always live -J Mumford Click To Tweet
And this makes sense to us. It explains why some people are dramatically healed by the power of God and others get sick and die. It explains why for every Peter who was released from prison by an angel, there was a James who languished and died there.
Now And Not Yet
It explains Hebrews where we read of those heroes of the faith who conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fire of the flames, escaped the edge of the sword. And yet in the very same verse (Hebrews 11:35) . . . ‘Others were tortured, other faced jeers and flogging, others were chained and put in prison…put to death.’
Only our theology of the kingdom of God can explain why some are carried from the field of battle shoulder-high, while others are dragged off…dead. Both the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’ are realities and the tension in which we will always live this side of Heaven.
Additional Articles in this Series: