Aug 20, 2006

Intro: Kingdom of God

Introduction to the Kingdom of God

As Christians we should be nominally familiar with the phrase, the kingdom of God. We’ve heard it everywhere. We might pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done.” Or we might remember Jesus making reference to the kingdom of heaven in Matthew’s gospel. Perhaps we’ve heard pastors or writers using language like, spreading the kingdom or kingdom preaching or bringing people into the kingdom of God. Ring’s a bell, doesn’t it? But do we know what it means? I’m not sure I always did. My experience isn’t probably very significant, but I’m not sure I ever really paid much attention to the phrase. I heard it used and it sounded important and authoritative, but I guess I didn’t give much more thought to it. I probably assumed it had to do with God and his people, the church. But I really didn’t know how.

More recently, however, my ears are tuned into the phrase, the kingdom of God. It started with a careful reading and teaching of Mark’s gospel. At the beginning, Mark records John the Baptist saying, “The time has come, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the good news!” (Mk 1:15 // Matt 3:2). It wasn’t until I began to read Mark along with Deuteronomy, the Psalms and Isaiah that I really began to grasp hold of an incredibly important and far reaching theological theme under-girding the entirety of biblical revelation. That God is establishing his everlasting, glorious and righteous kingdom is perhaps the most central - and important - message of the Bible. What that means, in simple terms, is that the kingdom of God is really important to the message of the gospel.

George Ladd, a prominent evangelical of a former generation, specially studied and wrote about the kingdom of God. He stresses the importance of God’s kingdom in this way:

The kingdom of God is the redemptive reign of God dynamically active to establish his rule among men, and that this Kingdom, which will appear as an apocalyptic act at the end of the age, has already come into human history in the person and mission of Jesus to overcome evil, to deliver men from its power, and to bring them into the blessings of God's reign. The Kingdom involves two great moments: fulfillment within history, and consummation at the end of history.

Ladd, NT Theology (italics mine).

As Ladd states, the kingdom of God is best understood to be both a reign and a realm. It is a dynamic act of God centered upon the person and work of Jesus the Messiah. It has both a present and future aspect. So understanding the intricacies of the biblical message is absolutely crucial.

This series on the kingdom of God will talk about how this theme is clearly taught in the New Testament. From there, we will spring-board back to the Old Testament, to which the NT writers refer us. We’ll then have the opportunity to grasp a biblically-broad picture of the whole idea of the kingdom of God. Following this foundation, I’d like to talk about texts in both the OT and NT that have a forward looking perspective, especially in the prophets, gospels and epistles. My reading has lead me to believe that a good deal of instruction for Christian living is directed towards God’s people that has it’s framework or context or logical grounding in a kingdom of God theology. As we will see, the message of the kingdom of God is intended to give people hope, confidence in God and motivation for Christian mission on the grounds of God’s momentous work of sending his king into the world.

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Seven Star Hand said...
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