What Is The Kingdom: The Now Of The Kingdom
This article explores what it means for God's Kingdom to come "now".
Extending the Kingdom of God through church planting and missional living.
God’s Rule Breaks Into Our World
Through Jesus’ life and ministry, God’s future world – and its entire value system – was breaking into our human experience. Using a theological phrase, we call this inaugurated eschatology. Put simply, this means that Jesus inaugurated (ushered in) the gifts of God’s future, perfect world (eschatology is about the “end” of the world).
God’s future kingdom, where healing and justice and love will reign supreme for eternity, was being brought into the present through the ministry of Jesus. In Jesus, humanity was experiencing the presence of God’s future (George Ladd).
The kingdom of God, God’s rule and reign, was being established in hearts and lives as Jesus not only proclaimed the good news of God’s plan to crush the works of Satan (1 Jn. 3:8), but he also demonstrated that good news by healing the sick, casting out demons, offering radical forgiveness, extending compassion, and delivering the oppressed. Every act of physical healing, every act of forgiveness, every action addressing poverty, is a foretaste of God’s kingdom that will come one day. God’s kingdom has broken into the world, is breaking into the world, and will break into the world one day.In Jesus, humanity was experiencing the presence of God’s future (George Ladd) Click To Tweet
Two Ways Of Talking About The Kingdom
As Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God that he was demonstrating, he seemed to speak about it in two different ways. The kingdom of God, for Jesus, seemed to be both now and not yet. In other words, the kingdom was something that was invading the earth through his ministry in the present. But then he would talk about the future kingdom, when all wrongs would be made right, and he would reign forever and ever.
In the Vineyard we call this “living between the times.” We as human beings live in the tension between the kingdom touching us now, and the kingdom that will be fully revealed at the end of time.
The Kingdom Now
What does it mean for God’s kingdom to come “now”? Wherever Jesus taught, signs and wonders followed him. Children were raised from the dead. Lepers were cleansed of their diseases. The lame walked. The blind were given sight. Multitudes were miraculously fed with small amounts of food. Prostitutes were shown mercy and kindness. Arrogant religious leaders were rebuked for their lack of compassion. The poor were treated with dignity as fellow image bearers of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Women were afforded equal dignity as men. Compassion was shown to beggars, thieves, and drunkards.
The hand of God was touching the world through Jesus, and God was confirming Christ as his royal regent through signs, wonders, and miracles (Heb. 2:2b-4). He was a living, breathing revolution – and hearts were being changed everywhere.
Jesus Starts A Kingdom Apprenticeship
But it didn’t stop there. Jesus then commissioned his disciples to do the same things that he was doing. They were going to proclaim, preach, and demonstrate God’s rule and reign. Working with their obedience, the Holy Spirit then extended the kingdom into people’s lives. Jesus never meant for the miracles to end with him! This rag-tag band of fishermen, tax collectors, and Jewish laymen were participating with Jesus in the revealing of the kingdom.
Every miracle, every act of justice and compassion, was pointing to the future day when God would completely set the world upside right again. The “presence of the future” was truly upon them – God’s kingdom had come near and the disciples were participating in his great restoration project. In the Vineyard we believe that God acts in healing, power, and deliverance today. We also believe that the kingdom apprenticeship Jesus began has never stopped – and is an invitation open to every Christ-follower.
Additional Articles in this Series:
5. Implications of the Kingdom
8. How Do We Become Kingdom People?