The Rev. Dr. Ryan Jackson, senior pastor of The Capital Church near Raleigh, North Carolina

In the New Testament, This scholarly article based on Scripture is
the Kingdom is ironically published in the March 2017, online digital
both a present and a Encourage magazine on pages 4 & 5. Visit future reality. www.iphc. This article will be a blessing to you.

Jesus came to declare the good news of the Kingdom of God, and He gave an invincible promise to establish His Church. If the Church and the Kingdom were so important to Jesus, it is worth asking about the relationship between them. What is the connection between the Church and the Kingdom of God?

Jesus only used the word “Church” three times in the Gospel accounts of His teachings. Our understanding of the word is somewhat diminished because it has come to be associated with a building or with a denomination. Yet, as Jesus used the term, it meant neither of those things.

The word we translate as “Church” is the Greek word ekklesia. This is where we get our English word “ecclesiology,” which refers to the study of the nature and structure of the Church. Ekklesia literally means “called out ones.”

When Jesus said He would build His Church, He was referring to a community of people called by God to a holy expression of His character and His love. The Kingdom of God — or its synonym, “the Kingdom of Heaven” — primarily refers to the sovereign reign and rule of God.

The Jewish people of Jesus’ day understood God’s redemptive reign to require an immediate political manifestation. Jesus’ own understanding was different. For Him, the Kingdom wasn’t limited to a particular geographical location, nor was it confined to a specific ethnic group.

Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God was the fulfillment of God’s saving purposes for the entire world. Entrance into the Kingdom was obtained by faith, and the community of believers would be the people through whom the righteous reign of God would be demonstrated.

In the New Testament, the Kingdom is ironically both a present and a future reality. There is clear New Testament teaching that the Kingdom is a future hope. There would be a future resurrection, a final judgment and even physical changes to the universe (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; Matthew 13:40- 43; Mark 13:24–25). The Difference Between the CHURCH and the KINGDOM In the New Testament, the kingdom is ironically both a present and a future reality.

The book of Revelation envisages a glorious future of a renewed world recreated without pain and suffering where God dwells among His people in splendor and majesty. At the same time, there is also an indication in the New Testament that the Kingdom has already come.

Jesus taught that His authority to exorcise demons was proof that “the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28, ESV). He understood His own ministry to be the invasion of the future reality of God’s new creation into the chaotic and compromised present.

What was confusing about this was that it didn’t happen in the way it was expected to take place. The Messianic hope of a conquering warrior to defeat Israel’s enemies was left hanging. Sickness, sin, and death were quite obviously still operative in the world. The powers of darkness had clearly not been fully subdued.

It is easy to see how the people of Jesus’ time may have missed what was beginning to happen right before their eyes. Even John the Baptist wasn’t fully convinced!

John baptized a lot of people, but there was one baptism that stood out among all the others. When Jesus showed up at John’s evangelistic crusade, John dropped his microphone and invited Jesus to the front. He said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”(John 1:29, 36).

Then something unusual happened, unusual even for John, who wore camel skin suits and ate honey straight from the hive! When Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened. The Spirit of God descended on Him in the form of a dove; and a voice from heaven declared, “You are My beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22, ESV). This was not the usual baptismal announcement.

Yet, despite such an auspicious introduction, the end-time events that John expected with the coming of the Messiah did not happen, and John found himself in Herod’s prison. He had to know if he had been mistaken about Jesus. So, he sent some of his followers to go find out what was going on and to report back to him.

Finding Jesus, they asked Him the question that burned on John’s mind, “Are you the One Who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Jesus’ response was not in the form of a theological lecture or a sermon.

Jesus immediately began to heal diseases and set free those who were demonically oppressed. And, He instructed John’s disciples to go tell John what they had seen and heard (Luke 7:18–23). Jesus was demonstrating that the Kingdom of God, which John longed to see, had begun to arrive because the King had come and was plundering the darkness.

So, the Kingdom of God is both something that will happen in the future and something that is already here. Theologians call this inaugurated (or, now-and-not-yet) eschatology. There are aspects of the Kingdom that await future fulfillment (not yet), but the New Testament also speaks about the presence of those future realities in our current experience (now).

The most powerful evidence for this is the gift of the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached that the coming of the Spirit was the fulfillment of Joel’s end-time prophecy. Therefore, the Last Days had already begun to arrive since God was pouring out His Spirit upon his people.
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