Yes, the kingdom is partly manifested right now, but it is seen with the eyes of faith and in visible signs like salvation of souls and bodily healings and demon expulsions and harmony in the household–all done by the power of the Spirit.
In the last post we saw that the kingdom of God is for the future. It will be completed at the Second Coming of Christ. But at his First Coming, during his ministry, Jesus relaunched the kingdom. What does the kingdom look like, right now?
Recall from Part One that the kingdom is defined by his rule, reign, power, authority and sovereignty. All of those qualities are exercised over a realm, invisible to our eyes, and over citizens who have surrendered to those virtues.
Let’s review how God’s kingdom is right now, from creation up to but not including in this post the Second Coming (the down arrow) and consummation.
Diagram of the Kingdom of God
Here are the (simplified) stages in a diagram in relation to God’s timeline from Genesis to Revelation:
← Kingdom of God →
Creation → Israel → Jesus → Church Age → ↓ → Consummation →
Let’s take each term one at a time. The arrows just symbolize one continuous flow of forward progress. They do not represent precise measurements of centuries or years. So the Church Age is the past two thousand years and could last for centuries past right now. That sequence reflects God’s Global Rescue Project–he wants humanity to know him and be in relationship with him. and rescue or save them from themselves, Satan, and the polluted world.
One element at a time in the flow:
The Kingdom of God:
It overarches the whole sequence of stages and produces and causes the flow of history all the way to the consummation. The kingdom is God’s sovereignty, power, authority, rule, and reign. (See Part 1) He does not need anyone’s permission to exert his kingdom, but he gave humans free will, so they need to surrender to the kingdom. Do they have enough insight to see it? Do they have the wisdom to surrender to it after they have seen it? If every human on the planet were to see it and surrender to it, peace would rule throughout all of humanity. But as it is, the vast majority of people across the globe who have seen it, even at a glance, are in rebellion.
God’s kingdom began at creation (Ps. 103:19; 145:11, 13). God is sovereign over all of creation, even over all people around the globe. God gave moral law to people, who mostly stomped all over it (though a few managed to figure it out). So his kingdom is much larger than tiny Israel (next). God’s kingdom is global. However, Scripture proceeds from Israel; therefore his sovereignty, power, authority and reign and rule—the definition of the kingdom of God—was more fully revealed to this tiny nation.
Please see these posts:
Israel ≠ The kingdom of God; or the kingdom of God ≠ Israel. The kingdom is much bigger in scope. It is universal. Israel is contained within and is a small subset of the kingdom.
With Israel, God created a theocracy with an earthly king, but God was the king over the nation (Is. 6:5). (See my post Kingship and Kingdom). And all of Israel was called to live by the law given to Moses. However, the Israelites were unwilling and unable to live by that law. They broke God’s law over the generations. God began anew. The prophet Jeremiah, speaking for God, predicted that God would relaunch the global kingdom by a New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). The Sinai Covenant, though a created by the overarching kingdom, was inadequate to accomplish God’s mission to establish the kingdom of God that flowed out of Israel to the other nations.
People needed a redeemer and savior—the Redeemer and Savior—who would come down to earth and save and redeem people from their sins and infuse them with the Spirit, so they could live by the law that God is about to write in their hearts. God needed to be incarnated (Is. 7:14). He did this through his Son Jesus. The kingdom of Israel was preparation for the highest and most far-reaching kingdom ushered in and inaugurated by Jesus.
He fulfilled and relaunched the kingdom that God began at creation with much more focus and clarity. National Israel rejected Jesus’s call to enter his kingdom as he preached it, though thousands of Jews individually converted (Acts 2:41; 47; 4:4; 6:7; 21:20). After this rejection, the kingdom has now gone global, so God’s universal kingdom, which began at creation, is finding its highest and best fulfillment in Christ. How did he launch it? “Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:14-15). By this proclamation and many teachings and actions, like healing and miracles (see my post What Are Signs and Wonders and Miracles?), he established and relaunched a clearer and stronger kingdom.
The New Covenant replaces the old Sinai Covenant (Luke 22:17-20; Heb. 8, 9, 10). How did it replace the Sinai Covenant in practical terms in the kingdom citizens’ heart? Hebrews 8 quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34, which says that God’s law is written on the hearts of those who have surrendered to his rule, reign, power, authority and sovereignty. They have, in short, surrendered to his kingdom. They have surrendered to its king, Jesus. By this daily dying or surrender they enjoy the kingdom’s blessings.
The kingdom of God ≠ the Church; or the Church ≠ The kingdom of God. The kingdom creates the Church (the capital “C” in Church means the global Church, not one local church or one denomination). Recall that in the diagram the kingdom presides over the flow of biblical history.
To demonstrate even further that the Church is not the same as the kingdom (and vice-versa), when people surrender to the kingdom of God, they enter it (Mark 10:23-25), not the Church. When they enter the kingdom, they receive the kingdom (Mark 9:47; 10:15), not the Church. When they receive the kingdom like little children (Matt. 18:3-4), they do not receive the Church; instead, they receive God’s sovereignty and authority over their lives. When we pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, we don’t pray for the church to come; rather, we pray for his sovereignty to rule and reign. The kingdom existed before the Church was created, and the kingdom is perfect, while the Church is imperfect, since it is made up of imperfect people. Therefore, the Church is contained within the kingdom, which guides the Church to go around the globe, preaching the gospel of the kingdom. But the Church ≠ the Kingdom.
The Spirit, sent by the King and Father God, also created the Church at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). He empowers kingdom citizens to go out and preach God (Acts 1:8). He empowers them to surrender daily to the cross (Luke 9:23). This daily picking up the cross is the same as surrendering to the kingdom of God. The kingdom goes into the hearts of those who have surrendered to it. By the Spirit’s power they live by kingdom principles elucidated, for example, by the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6-7) or the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:17-49). At the moment they surrender to the kingdom, they receive the Spirit, who empowers them to live like citizen in the kingdom, righteously and lovingly.
The Church Age shows the kingdom is right now.
The Down Arrow:
It signifies the Parousia or Second Coming. Jesus will set up his kingdom visibly and irreversibly and powerfully. It will finally come in full glory and majesty, when everyone will surrender to it. However, since this post is about the kingdom right now, we could pause here.
But just a quick word: some would insert a thousand-year reign of Christ (Millennium) between the Second Coming and the Consummation. Others, however, believe that the Millennium is not a literal thousand-year reign, but a figurative expression for a long time, which was launched when Jesus came, ministered, and rose from the dead.
You decide. I kept it simple in this post about the kingdom now.
When it happens, there will be absolutely no more evil or sin or Satan, but a brand-new existence in absolute purity and peace for all eternity (the rightward-pointing arrow). Then all the promises of the kingdom, prepared for Israel, fulfilled in Christ and relaunched by him, preached and lived out by the church, will have been accomplished.
How does this post help me grow in my knowledge of God’s Global Rescue Project?
I hope this diagram helps to explain God’s Global Rescue Project. It is wrapped up in the kingdom and his Son’s incarnation. The kingdom of God is ruling right now, but we don’t see it in its full manifestation. We will see it in that way at his Second Coming.
So the question is: Are you willing to enter and receive the kingdom right now? You need to surrender to his rule, reign, authority and power and sovereignty by exercising your faith in Christ, who is the king. Then he saves and redeems you and fills you with his Spirit, who enables you to live in his kingdom and righteous and loving citizens.
ARTICLES IN THE SERIES
4 The Kingdom Is Right Now
At that link, look for Ladd’s excellent little book, but I don’t agree entirely with his diagram on p. 42.