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The Kingdom of God is Not Here Yet

Posted by Matt Postiff November 4, 2022 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Theology  Kingdom of God 

I received this comment from an acquaintance:

Some people say there is no present fulfillment of the kingdom for believers. My difficulty in fully agreeing with them on this is based on passages such as Col. 1:13 and Rom. 14:17.

And another:

There is a present heavenly sphere of the Kingdom of God into which the Church has entered.

Here is how I reply to the above thoughts. It took me a little while to become untangled from the doctrine that there are many kingdoms—kingdom of God, kingdom of Heaven, spiritual kingdom, millennial kingdom, kingdom of Satan.

After much study, I came to agree with the statement that there is no present fulfillment of the kingdom for believers.

One big reason: I believe the disciples' prayer (commonly known as the Lord's prayer) in Matt. 6:10 is still relevant: "Your kingdom come." We should not pray for something to come if it is already here. We pray for the kingdom to come precisely because it is not present yet.

A second reason: "heavenly sphere" language is vague. It is better to say plainly something like this: church saints have not yet entered the kingdom; they have entered the CHURCH. That is what this present age is about—the church. We are not in the kingdom age. We are awaiting the coming of the kingdom. See for example Acts 14:22—we have not entered the kingdom of God yet, but we must through many tribulations enter into it. See also 2 Peter 1:11 and 2 Tim. 4:18 for forward-looking and entrance language regarding the kingdom.

A third: the sphere idea and the texts that are "troublesome" like Romans 14:17 and Col. 1:13 can be explained—fairly straightforwardly in my understanding—like this: when we are saved, we are immediately constituted as citizens of the future kingdom. Without being born again, we cannot see that kingdom, but being born again does not mean you immediately enter it. God is busy right now calling out a people for His name in the church, and preparing them to be members of the Kingdom which will come in the next dispensation.

As citizens and ambassadors of that kingdom, "kingdom ethics" should be displayed in our lives now, in advance of the king's coming. We are not citizens of the kingdom of darkness anymore. Our priorities are not food and drink, but righteousness, etc. Those ethics are not required of us because we are IN the kingdom, but because we are displaced citizens, ex-patriots, ambassadors of that kingdom to the kingdoms of this world.

This citizenship idea is a crucial notion for our relationship to God and this world. Our citizenship is indeed in heaven (Phil. 3:20) but the harsh fact is that we are not in heaven. Indeed, in Christ we have a place there (Eph. 2:6), but we are actually on earth. The heavenly connection demands something of us in the here and now.

Fourth: if a kingdom has a ruler, realm, and a functional actual reign, a quick look around the world will tell us that we are not in the kingdom at all because those features of the heavenly-kingdom-sort are not present. These features include spiritual and societal blessings that are just simply not present today.

Fifth, the Lord's parable in Luke 19:11-27 teaches that He was going to go away on a long journey to a far country. There He will receive a kingdom (be invested with the right to rule) and then return to actuate that rule. Christ has to be back on the earth for the kingdom to be operational. While He is away, other rulers are ruling.

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