The Kingdom of
God...What it's Like
†THE KINGDOM OF GOD
The theme of the kingdom of God runs through both Testaments,
focusing Godís purpose for world history. In Old Testament times God declared
that he would exercise his kingship (his sovereignty, Dan. 4:34-35) by
setting up his kingdom (his rule or reign over peopleís lives and
circumstances) under his chosen king (the Davidic Messiah, Isa. 9:6-7)
in a golden age of blessing.
This kingdom came with Jesus the Messiah as a worldwide relational reality,
existing wherever the lordship of Jesus is acknowledged in repentance, faith,
and new obedience.
Jesus, the Spirit-anointed, Spirit-filled ruler-designate (Luke
3:21-22; 4:1, 14, 18-21, 32-36, 41),
died, rose, ascended, and is now enthroned in heaven as ruler over all things
(Matt. 28:18; Col. 1:13), King of kings and Lord of lords
(Rev. 17:14; 19:16).
The golden age of blessing is an era of present spiritual benefit (salvation
from sin and fellowship with God) leading to a future state of unmixed joy in
a reconstructed universe.
The kingdom is present in its beginnings though future in its fullness; in
one sense it is here already, but in the richest sense it is still to come
(Luke 11:20; 16:16; 17:21; 22:16, 18,
The kingdom came as not only mercy but also judgment, just as John the
Baptist, its forerunner, had said it would (Matt. 3:1-12). Those who
obediently received Jesusí Word and put their destiny in his hands found
mercy, while the Jewish leadership, which would not do this, was judged.
Strictly speaking, the Jewish leaders were self-judged, for
they chose to live in darkness by retreating from the Savior (John
3:17-20). The task of the church is to make the invisible kingdom visible
through faithful Christian living and witness-bearing. The gospel of Christ
is still the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 24:14; Acts
20:25; 28:23, 31), the good news of righteousness, peace,
and joy in the Holy Spirit through entering a discipleís relationship to the
living Lord (Rom. 14:17).
The church must make its message credible by manifesting the reality of
kingdom life. The coming of the kingdom meant a new stage in Godís
redemptive-historical program. The Messiah arrived, redeemed, and withdrew to
his throne with a promise that he would come again. All that was typical,
temporary, and imperfect in the God-given arrangements for Israelís communion
with himself became a thing of the past.
Godís Israel, Abrahamís seed, was redefined as the company of believers in
Jesus (Gal. 3:16, 26-29). The Spirit was poured out, and a new
way of life, namely life in Christ and with Christ, became a reality of this
world. Thus the new internationalism of global church fellowship and global
evangelism was born (Eph. 2:11-18; 3:6, 14-15; Rev.
5:9-10; 7:9; Matt. 28:19-20; Col. 1:28-29).
Although these were great changes, none of them meant that a new set of moral
standards emerged, as is sometimes supposed. The moral law for Christians,
the law of Godís present kingdom, is the law found in the Ten Commandments
and the prophets, now applied to the new situation. Jesus has not abolished
that law but has merely filled out its meaning (Matt. 5:17-48).
This article was excerpted from Concise Theology: A Guide
to Historic Christian Beliefs by J. I. Packer.