“The Kingdom of God” (Part 2)

The story of the world is the story of a King and His Kingdom. That this fact has been neglected by many evangelicals is a deep tragedy, for without a proper doctrine of the Kingdom of God we read scripture poorly, we pray poorly, we worship poorly, and we understand the gospel poorly. That Jesus is King and that He has come to proclaim the Kingdom is at the heart of the gospel itself.

We have defined the Kingdom of God in this way:

The Kingdom of God is the reign and rule of God that has broken into the fallen world definitively in Jesus, is now proclaimed by and demonstrated in the lives of God’s people, and will come in fullness and completion with the victorious coming again of Jesus.

Now we need to see how the Kingdom of God fits into the story of the world.

Originally, the created world resided in harmony with the Kingdom of God.

As the Kingdom of God is the reign and rule of God, it is necessarily bigger than the world. Yet the world was created to reside peacefully with and within the Kingdom of God and, for a time, it did. This harmony can be seen in a repeated refrain from Genesis 1.

4a And God saw that the light was good.

10c And God saw that it was good.

12e And God saw that it was good.

18c And God saw that it was good.

21f And God saw that it was good.

25i And God saw that it was good.

31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

The seven-fold repetition of the goodness of creation highlighted the peaceful positioning of the created world within the Kingdom of God. The earth stood joyfully under the reign and rule of God!

The fall of humanity into sin ushered in a chasm between the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of God.

Yet, not for long did the world embrace the reign and rule of God. Adam and Eve sinned and fell and rebelled against God. And so, sin entered the world.

A Personal Dynamic

There was a personal dynamic to sin, and it can be seen in Romans 6.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Human beings are born dead in their sins and trespasses, are born outside the Kingdom of God, not recognizing God’s reign and rule. Human beings reject eternal life until they come to Christ in faith!

Worldwide Subjection to a False Ruler

But the entry of sin into the world also means that the world is now subject to a false ruler, to the devil himself. This helps us understand the terminology of Ephesians 6 and its picture of the world.

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The world is now subject to this present darkness, to the devil and his minions, to these demonic powers, these spiritual forces of evil. Indeed, the devil is depicted in Ephesians 2 as a kind of wicked prince.

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

This prince of the power of the air enslaves us, condemns us, woos us. We do his bidding and so are by nature children of wrath, subjects of a false ruler in a fallen kingdom.

Two realities compelled God to move toward the repairing of the fissure: (a) God’s love and (b) God’s sovereignty.

And yet, even so, God moves toward the fallen world. Why? Because of two realities: (a) His love and (b) His sovereignty.

The love of God for fallen humanity is revealed in John 3:

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

The primary disposition of God toward the world is that of love. He loves His creation! He desires for the fissure to be removed, for the breach to be healed.

But there is another reality at play here: God’s sovereignty. When we speak of a “chasm” or a “breach,” we are speaking of a relational reality, not a positional reality. Positionally, our sovereign God reigns over all and, in an ultimate positional sense, the world has never not been under God’s reign and rule! All that happens happens either by His direct sovereignty or His permissive will.

The positional sovereignty of God over even the fallen kingdom of the world can be seen in Psalm 2.

1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Thus, our sovereign God with the loving heart moves toward the world.

God therefore steps into the fallen kingdom of the world in the person of His Son, Jesus, who is fully God and fully man.

But God does not merely move toward the fallen world; He steps into the fallen world! He steps into the world in the person of Jesus, His incarnate Son, fully God and fully man. John gives us the great expression of this in John 1.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus is God entering this fallen and condemned world of sin and darkness, Jesus “moving into the neighborhood,” as one translator has rendered John 1:14.

The coming of King Jesus meant two things: (a) the Kingdom of God has broken into the world and (b) the world could now, by grace through faith, enter the Kingdom of God.

This means that, in King Jesus, the Kingdom of God has broken into the world. Now we can understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 4 when He said:

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

But it also means that, through Jesus, the door has now been opened for lost humanity to enter the Kingdom of God. Only now can we understand what Paul means in Colossians 1 when he writes:

13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus makes a change of Kingdoms possible and salvation can now be understood as a change in citizenship: away from the kingdom of the world and its trajectory of judgment and to the Kingdom of God and its trajectory of eternal life!

But the King does not merely come into the world and then depart; He establishes a beachhead, a Kingdom of God outpost: The church.

Jesus is born. Jesus lives. Jesus dies. Jesus ascends. But Jesus did not come only to come and win our salvation and depart. He did something else. He established a Kingdom outpost, a people who would be a Kingdom-of-God-people in the fallen kingdom of the world. This outpost is called “church,” and this is why Paul can write this in 1 Corinthians 12.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

The church, then, is the continuation of the presence of King Jesus in the fallen kingdom of the world.

The work of Jesus now means two things for the church: (a) that those who were strangers to the Kingdom now have a home and (b) that those who are saved are now strangers to the world.

This means two things. First, it means that, through Jesus, we who were strangers now have a home. In Ephesians 2, Paul writes:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone

And it also means that the church, as citizens of the Kingdom of God, are now strangers in the world, as Peter in 1 Peter 2 writes.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

At play here is a very important dynamic: Our residency is of the world but our citizenship is of the Kingdom of God! We must not confuse residency with citizenship! We are a Kingdom-of-God-people, even and especially while living in the world!

But the church is not an isolated outpost. It is an advancing and engaging army that exhibits the beauty of the Kingdom and our King.

But the church is not a closed-door, inwardly-focused outpost. Far from it! We are a moving, advancing, engaging army tasked with the privilege of displaying to the world the beauty and glory of our King and His Kingdom! In 1 Peter 2, Peter positively loses himself in describing what it means to be the people of God in the world.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Do you see? We are a nation among the nations, a people among the peoples. And our privilege is to be able to proclaim the excellencies of Jesus! What an honor! What a joy! What a delight!

The church is therefore a Kingdom ambassador. We represent the interests of the Kingdom of God in the fallen kingdom of the world and call men to come under the rule of King Jesus.


Put another way, this means that we are ambassadors, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

As citizens of the Kingdom of God living in the foreign and fallen world, we get to represent the interests of our King in the world! This means showing the world what life in the Kingdom looks like. But it also means pleading with the lost world to come under the authority and reign and rule of King Jesus!

Church, we get the honor of inviting people into the eternal Kingdom of light and life! We get the honor of carrying the banner of our great King!

Yes, the story of the world is the story of a King and His Kingdom. Relish and celebrate and proclaim and live out of the story and reality of the Kingdom of God and our great King!

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