Kingdom of God
The Church Is Not the Kingdom! Week 3
Observing the Stuff!
The Kingdom and the
ChurchHow is the Kingdom of God and the Church to be identified? Are
they different or the same? If they are not the same, what is their
relationship to each other? These are mportant questions in light of current
language which often implies that the terms and concepts are
It was St. Augustine who first identified the Kingdom with the
Church. This idea has been maintained since the Reformation. The suggestion has
been made that Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom, but the result was the
Church. Some systems of theology still view the Church and Kingdom as the same.
The language we use today often exchanges the word kingdom and
church. We may say something like, "Let's build the Kingdom." What we
are saying is "Let's build the church." It is my belief that the mission of
Jesus was to invade this Present Evil Age with his Kingdom rule, the Age to
Come. Those who chose to receive the proclamation of the Rule of God are, in
fact, the Church.
The Remnant is the Church
Focus.Jesus did not
seem to begin his mission with the focus of starting a new movement inside or
outside of Israel. He came as a Jewish man to Jewish people. He accepted, as
binding, the authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. He conformed to the
practices of the temple. He worshipped in the synagogue. He lived and worked as
a Jew. While he would sometimes travel outside the Jewish territory, he
insisted that his mission was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel
15.24). When he sent his disciples out to minister, he told them to go to
There are at least three exceptions to this fact:
These three stories all seem to have mitigating circumstances,
which called for exceptional steps to be taken by Jesus.
His central mission was to proclaim to Israel that God was
acting to fulfill his promises and bring Israel to her true destiny as his
rejected the message of Jesus about the Kingdom of God. His proclamation came
early in his ministry
1.14-15) and drew instant denial
3.1-6) and only intensified during his ministry culminating in his
sacrificial death on the cross.
Israel refused to accept the offer of Jesus, the Kingdom, a small group, a
remnant, did respond in faith. The Jewish idea of discipleship was to call for
a commitment to the
(the first five books of the Old Testament). Jesus' idea of discipleship was to
call for a commitment to himself and his message. So he raised disciples who
were committed to him and his message.
The Church and
Since Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom to Israel as an
offering of her fulfillment to her true destiny and they rejected, the mission
was still accomplished in those followers who received his message and became
his disciples. These disciples were to become known as the Church, the true
Israel of God. The choice by Jesus of these twelve was an enacted parable in
which Jesus authenticated that he was raising a new congregation to replace the
nation of Israel who had rejected his message. Five illustrations from Dr. Ladd
will make this concept clear.
The Kingdom and the Church are
Not Equal. Since the Kingdom of God is dynamic (his rule), the
Church and the Kingdom are not the same. The Church is made up of those who are
ruled by the King of the Kingdom, but it is not the Kingdom
The Kingdom and the Church are
Not the Same. The writers of the New Testament never equate the
Church with the Kingdom. As their first preachers they never preached the
Church, but proclaimed the Kingdom
8.12; 19.8; 20.25; 28.23, 31). One will have great difficulty in
substituting the word church for the word kingdom in these
verses. John Bright is correct when he says in his book, The Kingdom of
God, that there is never the slightest hint that the visible Church can
either be or produce the Kingdom of God. It is safe to say that the Church is
the people of the Kingdom, but never the Kingdom itself.
The Kingdom Creates the
Church. The rule of God as presented in the words and works of Jesus
confronted men and women to respond and come under his rule, forging a new
relationship with him as King
3.31-35). When the powerful rule of God impregnates an individual, he or
she is made a part of the body of Christ, the Church.
The Church's Mission is to Bear
Witness to the Kingdom. The mission of the Church is to give witness
to the Kingdom of God. The Church cannot build the Kingdom or become the
Kingdom. The Church is the vessel through which the powerful redeeming acts of
Jesus are performed. This is illustrated in the commission of Jesus to the
10) and to the Seventy
10). The proclamation of the Apostles in the book of Acts reinforces
The Church was to witness to all mankind about the
Kingdom. The seventy disciples that Jesus sent out was symbolic. Jewish
tradition believed that there were seventy nations in the world and that the
Jewish Torah had been first given in seventy languages. The sending of seventy
missionaries appears to be an implicit claim that the message of Jesus must be
heard not only by Israel but by all mankind (Ladd, 1993. 112).
The rejection of God's offer of the Kingdom by Israel
became irreversible. Jesus soberly announced that Israel was no longer to be
the people of God's rule. Their place was going to be taken by others who
21.43the inclusion of the Gentiles).
Since the Church is the recipient of the life and
fellowship of the Kingdom, then one of her main purposes is to demonstrate in
the life and power of the Age to Come in this Present Evil Age. The Church
lives in two ages at the same time. We are the people of the Age to Come living
in this Present Evil Age. The Church must provide a model to display the life
of the future perfected order.
The Church is a Conduit through
which the Kingdom Acts. The Church is the conduit through which
God's Kingdom acts are performed
10.17). This makes discipleship important. The Church has often fallen
short of making true disciples of Jesus. The Church tends to promote character
and community to the neglect of performing such Kingdom ministry as praying for
the sick and casting out demons. Proclamation of the Kingdom must be words and
Responsibility and Authority
Jesus left the
keys to the Kingdom in the hands of Peter
16.19). The background of this idea comes from
22.22 where God gave
the keys to the House of David commissioning him with its care. The art of
caretaking is often understood as conserving or protecting. We must not make
the mistake of the third servant in the parable of Jesus found in
25.13-40. He received his talent, conserved it by burying it, and by doing
so earned the wrath of his master. Jesus redefined caretaking to involve
investing and risking.
According to Jesus the Church is built on the rock of his
Messiahship. Hell will not prevail against it. To insure that the Church
understands its authority Jesus said, I will give you the keys of the
Kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and
whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Loosing
denotes freeing those under the control of Satan. Binding means to
prohibit or forbid Satan from harming the Church. Binding and
loosing do not automatically mean that God will do what the Church
speaks. Binding and loosing means that the Church does in this
Age what the Father has already ratified and determined in the Age to Come. The
Church is attentive to what God is doing, binding what he has bound, and
loosing what he has loosed.
The Kingdom of God is his rule and
reign. The Church is the fellowship of those who have experienced the rule of
God and entered into its blessings. The Kingdom creates the Church, works
through the Church, and through her demonstrates the rule of God to the world.
The Kingdom is not the Church and the Church is not the Kingdom.
Doin' the Stuff!
It is always important
to apply what you have learned. Pause at this point and ask for the help of the
Holy Spirit to meditate on and put into practice some or all of the
How well do you conform to your religious
How do these ideas fit into a Dispensational theological
view of the past, present, and future?
How are you a part of the remnant?
How often do you interchange the word Kingdom for church?
What difference does the language make?
What are your responsibilities as Kingdom people?
Does our Christian practice have both words and
In what ways are you a witness of the Kingdom of God?
BibleHandbook: Resource Stuff
Read the following Dictionary Articles from Easton's Bible
Dictionary. Easton's is about a century old, therefore, some of the
information is not current with newer Bible Dictionaries. You might read the
articles off-line in a number of different Bible Dictionaries. If you do not
own a Bible Dictionary, I would recommend New Bible Dictionary 3rd Edition. If
you like lots of color pictures, try
Dictionary. One of these should suit your personal