What Is The Kingdom? | The Now And The Not Yet Of The Kingdom
In this article, we explore the tension of the "now" and the "not yet" in the Kingdom of God.
Extending the Kingdom of God through church planting and missional living.
The Kingdom Not Yet
While the kingdom of God was breaking into the world through Jesus, all human suffering, pain, and difficulty did not disappear. In fact, it still remains with us to this day. For Jesus, while the kingdom of God was happening in the present, it was also yet to come in all its fullness in the future.
Through Jesus, God had inaugurated the kingdom on earth, but he would consummate it one day in the future. In practical terms, this means that when we pray for the sick (a hallmark of the Vineyard from the beginning), some will be healed and others will not. Yet, with faith, we pray confidently for healing and entrust the results to God.
The Dynamic Tension We Live In
In the Vineyard, we embrace this dynamic tension. While we believe that God’s kingdom can invade any moment of our lives, not everyone will experience God’s love the way we want for them. We rejoice when one person experiences a miracle of healing, while we grieve as another person succumbs to the effects of cancer or poverty.
Some Christians respond to this tension between the now and the not yet of the kingdom by saying that God does not do miracles today. They contend that the gifts given by the Spirit of God were just for Jesus’ time and are not available to us now.
Some Christians respond to this tension by largely ignoring the reality that suffering continues in the world. These groups triumphantly declare that the kingdom should always be experienced demonstrably in the here and now – or something is wrong. If we don’t experience a moment of physical healing or personal transformation, it is probably our fault. For them, unanswered prayer reveals a lack of faith in us – and we had better work up more if want to see God do what he has promised to do.
How We Carry This Tension In The Vineyard
In the Vineyard, we choose to respectfully step away from both of these extremes. John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard, was well known for encouraging us, “Love the whole church.” But we have certain values and practices as part of our common heritage, and they are what cause us to love being in this kingdom-centered movement together.
We believe that a necessary tension will always exist between the now and the not yet of the kingdom. We pray for the sick, and we have seen many healed. We do the work of compassion, and we have seen the poor restored to hope. But we do not always see the results we want to see this side of heaven. Yet we believe that every faith-filled act of prayer puts a deposit of love in to the person who is suffering. And we have testimonies from every corner of the earth that, at times, the kingdom of God does break through with power to heal those who are sick.We believe that a necessary tension will always exist between the now & the not yet of the kingdom. Click To Tweet
As we live in this interim time, the kingdom of God to come is our future hope. It is a day when the Scriptures tell us that “all things will be made new” (Rev. 21:5) and every tear will be wiped away from the face of the brokenhearted (Rev. 21:4). It is the day Isaiah prophesied would come (Is. 35:1-10), and John describes in his vision in Revelation 21:1-5. There will be no more innocent girls enslaved in the sex trafficking industry. There will be no more cancer. There will be an end to poverty. God will one day right this world. Toward that day, we trust, we hope, and we pray in the way Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
Additional Articles in this Series:
5. Implications of the Kingdom
8. How Do We Become Kingdom People?