Saturday, June 2, 2012

What is "Christ's Kingdom"?

"For the kingdom of God is…a matter…of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17)

I have recently realized that I have had this blog titled "For Christ's Kingdom!" for almost two years without ever really defining what this means. So here I will try to lay a foundation for doing this. It is very hard to summarize, but I hope this helps.

Christ's Kingdom is also called by other names, such as the "kingdom of heaven" and the "kingdom of God," that emphasize some aspect of the Kingdom, such as its source, the God in Heaven. It is called Christ's Kingdom to show His authority that He has been given to reconcile and redeem this kingdom to God. As Joe Morecraft has said, "This mediatorial kingdom was given to Christ in order to secure and apply the salvation of His people and to administer all the promises of the covenant of grace" (Authentic Christianity, vol. II, page 136). As God, Christ has always had sovereignty over all creation, but as our Redeemer He comes specially to put this sinful world into subjection to God. Thus the end of redemption is subjection. As R.J. Rushdoony has said, "The goal of atonement, of redemption, is the rule of God over a kingdom wholly subject to the law of the covenant, and joyfully so....Without the dimension of law, life is denied the meaning and purpose of re-birth."(Institutes of Biblical Law, page 73) See Revelation 5, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Colossians 1:15-20, etc…

This Kingdom is not "from this world" (John 18:36), meaning that it does not derive its power from this world but from Heaven (thus it is called the Kingdom of Heaven). This Kingdom comes by the giving of the kingdom by the Father to the Son on the basis of His redemptive work, and is applied to us by the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Kingdom is a matter of "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17), in other words, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:21-24). This Spirit works primarily by the Word of God (Eph. 6:17). Thus we advance Christ's Kingdom primarily by proclaiming God's Word, as well as the right use of the sacraments, prayer, etc…, relying on the Spirit's work in applying Christ's saving work, and manifesting the fruits of the Spirit in everything we do.

It is good to add that the visible Church has a vitally important (may we say, central?) role in the Kingdom (for example, its ministers hold the keys of the Kingdom, Matt. 16:19), although the Kingdom is not limited to the visible Church. As Louis Berkhof says,
"The visible Church may certainly be said to belong to the Kingdom, to be a part of the Kingdom, and even to be the most important visible embodiment of the forces of the Kingdom…In so far as the visible Church is instrumental in the establishment and extension of the Kingdom, it is, of course, subordinate to this as a means to an end. The Kingdom may be said to be a broader concept than the Church, because it aims at nothing less than the complete control of all the manifestations of life. It represents the dominion of God in every sphere of human endeavor." (Systematic Theology, page 570)
As for its extent and growth, look at the dream and interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:31-45, especially with regard to the rock. The rock is the kingdom that God will set up in the days of the kings of the iron and clay (i.e. the emperors of Rome). It will shatter the kingdoms of man and will fill the earth. It will never be destroyed. The New Testament parables also tell of this irresistible growth and eventual universal impact (i.e. Matt. 13:31-33). And in the parables of the wheat and weeds (i.e. wheat and tares) in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, the field is the world at the beginning (vs. 38) and the wheat that is sown is the sons of the kingdom (vs. 38). The weeds will mix with the kingdom until the final judgement when the kingdom will be completely refined (13:41-43). But by the end, the field (that the wheat and weeds are taken from) is already the Kingdom (13:41).

For Christ's Kingdom!

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