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The Kingdom of God and Missions

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A REFLECTION ON THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND MISSIONS

God produced the created order from nothing, exercises particular sustaining sovereignty over every molecule, and promises to fulfill His purpose for creation, which is to glorify Himself through His Son. With God’s reign over everything, how should we describe the biblical phrase “Kingdom of God”? Daniel 4:32 says that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He pleases. Isaiah sees the LORD seated above all the powers of the earth (6:1). God’s omnipresence means that His lordship is manifested over everything. David says in Psalm 139 that neither by ascending into the heavens nor descending into Sheol will anyone escape God’s rule.

However, Jesus instructs His followers to pray that the Father’s kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6). I do not think that Jesus means that we should pray that God have control over everything, but rather something more specific. Jesus wants us to pray that God’s reign, as covenant king over the lives of men, be established, just as God promised the Israelites that He would be their God in texts such as Exodus 6:7. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is the saving presence of God on earth, in which through His Son He saves those who repent and trust in Him, and casts into darkness those who remain hardened.

First, the Kingdom is a particular reign with particular citizens. In Matthew 5, the Kingdom is for the poor in spirit and the persecuted. Matthew 7 says that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven.1 Being a citizen of the kingdom of man is not enough—we must be brought into the Kingdom of God. It is essentially the difference between common grace, in which all men learn enough about God to be condemned, and saving grace, which regenerates the hearts of sinners unto salvation. Secondly, the Kingdom is brought by and through Jesus Christ. John the Baptist proclaims that the kingdom of God is at hand, pointing to the arrival of Jesus Christ into the world. This is why Paul says that God delivers people from the domain of darkness and transfers them to the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13-14). Thirdly, the conditions of being in the Kingdom are repentance and faith in King Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:14 closely links forgiveness of sins with citizenship. Jesus and John the Baptist demand repentance along with the “good news of the kingdom” (ex. Matt 3:2,8; Luke 4:43). A corrected relationship with the King is a requirement for being in the Kingdom. His wrath must be turned away, which was accomplished by Christ for those who trust in Him.

When Christ arrived in the world, He declared war on the demonic powers holding God’s people captive to sin. Jesus came to set prisoners of sin free to have a saving relationship with God. Proclaiming the message that the Son came in the flesh and that all who trust in Him are brought from the power of evil into the Kingdom of light is the task of missions. Jesus sent Paul into the world to “open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God…” (Acts 26:17-18). The language here is very close to Colossians 1:14- 15. God transfers us to the Kingdom of Christ so that we would go to the world as missionaries in hope that among all nations, the binding power of Satan would be broken and sinners would be delivered into the joy of the kingdom of God through the proclamation of the Gospel.

1Kingdom of heaven = kingdom of God. See Mark 1:15 and Matthew 4:17, in which the phrases are used interchangeably.

 

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Written by keywoodblog

March 12, 2011 at 4:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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