Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Kingdom of God Pt1

The Kingdom of God has been a subject of great interest over the past 15-20 years or so, and a good thing too as it was a subject heard relatively infrequently in the pulpit of many and also lacking in thoughtful discussion amongst many Christians.
That it is so lacking in discussion by Christians is a very sad state of affairs given that the Gospels begin by stating that John the baptist came preaching the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven Matt 3, and Jesus likewise Matt 4:17.
If this Kingdom figures so strongly why is it that we fail so miserably to understand what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of Heaven / God ? Context must be considered in getting the correct perspective on this Kingdom for He was preaching to Jews whom he expected to understand what it was he was preaching about. One thing for sure, to start with we need to repent of our present day glib comments and preaching from the pulpit about preaching the gospel, or using phraseology such as "let's be on about the Gospel" or "let's be Gospel people" when we refuse to expound the passage of Scripture in front of us that clearly mentions the Kingdom of God.
I notice that one of my favorite preachers Alistair Begg has just done a series on the Kingdom of God, at Truth for Life, however although he says many wonderful things I am afraid his perspective on the Kingdom is definitionally warping the Bibles teaching at that point and neutering the breadth of the Kingdom the Bible puts forth and that Jesus preached. Strong words and I will be held to account for saying them and I will indeed need to justify them. I do so not to malign a great man but to hope that in seeking to understand God's Word iron might sharpen iron. So let me attempt that here.
Alistair is quite correct in saying that
God rules over all areas of life, both spatially and geographically
but when he adds that
He even rules over even the disobedience of rebellious men and women
he moves from speaking of the spatial and geographical to the spiritual and moral realms. In this sense I believe he has then evacuated his definition of the Kingdom of God as
representative of the sphere in which God's rule is gladly accepted.
Is that not the spiritual realm or the moral realm? Let's leave aside whether biblically man ever gladly accepts God's rule since although positionally he is in Christ and so he has true legal standing before God, but practically he is in need of sanctification, becoming more like Christ being transformed in his mind Romans 12 etc. What Alistair has done is speak correctly of God's Sovereign rule and yet somehow wanted to distinguish from this the realm of the Kingdom of God which is where his rule is gladly accepted. This is in my mind confusing the issue.
Again he repeats that
the Kingdom of God is expressive of the sphere in which men and women submit to His rule.
Alistair then goes on to ask whether
your heart is a sphere in which God's Kingly rule is gladly accepted.
This then suggests that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual realm, and it automatically rules out any suggestion as to whether the bible teaches it could have broader application as well. It's to build our theology along the lines of the old children's song "I serve a risen Saviour He's in the world today ... He rules within my heart". The only question is whether the bible means a lot more than that when speaking of the Kingdom of God.
As I see it the bible first of all declares that God is Sovereign there is no area in which He does not rule. secondly that there is a clear teaching of Scripture concerning the Kingdom of God. How one holds these together is indeed the issue. I just don't see the bible advancing the concept that the Kingdom of God is the expression of the sphere of where His rule is gladly accepted.
The answer to understand the Kingdom must begin in Genesis. It is at Creation that man is made by God vice regent over the earth. He is to rule the earth as God's Vice Regent. This pronouncement is made despite God being Divine Personal Sovereign Creator. Man is Created in God's image and given rule over the earth and animals and fishes etc as God's ViceRegent. At the fall we see Adam handing over this realm to Satan, something that Satan still rules over post resurrection and Ascension of Jesus as Paul teaches in Ephesians 6. What is being taught is that Adam has rejected this Vice Regency and it awaits the Messiah to take it back fully.
Theologically this is why the old Protestant Theology used to teach the three offices of Christ, that of Prophet Priest and King. As Prophet he is the True Word of God. As Priest he is the full final Sacrifice for Sin that the Old Testament sacrifices were but a shadow of, and as King He will retake the ViceRegency over Creation that that the first Adam surrendered and the second Adam, Christ himself will restore.
Is this not what the Scriptures are teaching?

Yours in Christ

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