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Church-State Relations and the Book of Revelation
An Introduction to The Parousia: A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming
by James Stuart Russell (1878) // Written by
Todd Dennis, Curator
 


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MODERN PRETERISTS
(Major Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Firmin Abauzit
Jay Adams
Luis Alcazar
Greg Bahnsen
Beausobre, L'Enfant
Jacques Bousset
John L. Bray
David Brewster
Dr. John Brown
Thomas Brown
Newcombe Cappe
David Chilton
Adam Clarke

Henry Cowles
Ephraim Currier
R.W. Dale
Gary DeMar
P.S. Desprez
Johann Eichhorn
Heneage Elsley
F.W. Farrar
Samuel Frost
Kenneth Gentry
Steve Gregg
Hugo Grotius
Francis X. Gumerlock
Henry Hammond
Hampden-Cook
Friedrich Hartwig
Adolph Hausrath
Thomas Hayne
J.G. Herder
Timothy Kenrick
J. Marcellus Kik
Samuel Lee
Peter Leithart
John Lightfoot
Benjamin Marshall
F.D. Maurice
Marion Morris
Ovid Need, Jr
Wm. Newcombe
N.A. Nisbett
Gary North
Randall Otto
Zachary Pearce
Andrew Perriman
Beilby Porteus
Ernst Renan
Gregory Sharpe
Fr. Spadafora
R.C. Sproul
Moses Stuart
Milton S. Terry
Herbert Thorndike
C. Vanderwaal
Foy Wallace
Israel P. Warren
Chas Wellbeloved
J.J. Wetstein
Richard Weymouth
Daniel Whitby
George Wilkins
E.P. Woodward
 

Pro:

“I preached a sermon last Sunday on ‘The Prayer That May Be Too Dangerous To Pray’ – the line from the Lord’s Prayer: thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth . . . . I wish I had read your article [paper] BEFORE the sermon. . . . It gives me good material to use for a Bible study.”

“Only one word to describe it. AWESOME! I emailed the link to my pastor and said that I thought every pastor and Christian ought to read it. Thanks for putting it on your website.”

“You stated some conclusions my own study of the kingdom has produced more clearly than anything else I have read. . . . We have paid a high price for our truncated gospel that no longer contains the good news of the kingdom. . . . thank you for sharing such powerful research.”

“It is very well written and is in line with many of the themes I am studying in regards to giving more concrete understanding to the ‘what is the kingdom’ question. I am sure that I will return to this time and time again.”

“As long as Christians continue to separate themselves from the government of this world, things will NOT work. Always, always remember Revelation: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord . . .’ We need to make it happen!”

“We are rulers in this country, not our elected representatives. One can rail against that responsibility until the culture is completely lost but we are stewards of a sacred trust and God will hold us accountable. It is not a matter of ‘allying with political powers.’ It is about Christians becoming the political power and ruling in righteousness. The moral vacuum we see today is the result of decades of 1) teaching (at best) a water-down gospel and 2) the failure of the Christian community to engage the culture in a meaningful way in all arenas of life . . . . We have compartmentalized our lives . . . and lost our vision the vision our faith permeating the culture. . . . our children and grandchildren will inherit the fruit of our failure.”

“God in His sovereign will saw fit to bring us into this world under a system of government where the people are the rulers. Our founders understood that . . . . We have forgotten that . . . . like Pilate, many Christians wash their hands of the whole mess in an attempt to escape . . . . It didn’t work for Pilate and it won’t work for us. Duty is duty and it is inescapable.”

“People do nothing because we are, generally, a theologically illiterate generation of Christians. We rely on pop theologians like LaHaye (website) and Jenkins to inform us of our theology. What do we expect? . . . . We need to be better students of Church history, especially in a ‘Movement’ that claims to want to restore New Testament Christianity.”

Con:

“My observation is that the forces of evil always ‘seem’ to be winning in every area of life. This shouldn’t stop our efforts to resist evil . . . . [as we are] ‘fighting the long defeat,’ meaning we probably will not be ultimately successful in turning the tide.”

“I believe efforts to ‘call our nation back’ are meaningless and almost certainly doomed to fail. Efforts to call the Church to discipleship are a different matter altogether. It would be of great value, for example, if 9/10 of America’s churchgoers were revealed as cultural accommodators and not representative of the voice of Jesus, which would spotlight the other 10% as they choose to think, speak, and act like their Lord. I am probably in the pastoral minority on this one, but I am not overly bothered by the moral and social breakdown of America.”

“Mark Noll said it best in his book, ‘the scandal of the evangelical mind, is there is no evangelical mind.’”

“I do not think we are so far off our view of culture and our responsibilities to be involved in kingdom building. I think you are a bit unfair . . . . Even some premillennialists like Falwell and Robertson have been very active in a form of kingdom building . . . . Sometimes I think the [eschatological] debates—pre, post, a, etc. can detract from the battle and send a confusing message to the world.”

“I think that in all the New Testament stories, not once do I see direct attacks of the pagan culture . . . . I don’t see any sort of rising up against powers (other that hypocritical moral leaders) endorsed by the NT. . . . Instead – let’s keep our eyes on heaven and work to be blameless and teach the gospel. After all, that is all we are asked to do. I look forward to seeing where I error here.”

“Any attempt by Christians as such to ‘take over’ will fracture into fifteen different sects in short order. I’d be happy to partner with Jews, Muslims, atheists, etc. if we could return to basic constitutional principles . . . and to the mindset of the founding fathers.”

 

Restoring the Kingdom-of-God Worldview to the Church and the World
  (1 of 7 Steps)

By John Noē

John Noe Study Archive | The Only Defense in the Major Case Against Christ, Christianity, and the Bible. | Armageddon: Past or Future? | Restoring the Kingdom-of-God Worldview to the Church and the World | 12 Most Common Mistakes People Make About Bible Prophecy and the Endtimes | 7 Demanding Evidences Why Christ Returned As and When He Said He Would | What About Paul's Man of Sin? | Are the End Times Behind Us? | The Millennial Book Awards

 

 Presented at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Midwest Region of the Evangelical Theological Society on the campus of Lincoln Christian College and Seminary, Lincoln, Illinois, March 19-20, 2004. The conference theme was: “Taking Every Thought Captive to Christ: Theology and the Formation of a Christian Worldview.”

            Next to the Person of Christ, the kingdom of God is the most important and all-encompassing concept of Scripture. So much is contained within it. Yet the kingdom remains one of the most misunderstood, misconstrued, confused, abstracted, and contested realities in Christianity. Most churches today rarely mention the kingdom, let alone teach and obey its established and present-day elements. For centuries, even theologians have been divided over both its timing and nature. All the confusion and differences have led to a number of bizarre behaviors and avoidance practices.

Yet, the kingdom of God was the central teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and at the heart of his earthly ministry. It was also central to his worldview and that of his first followers, the New Testament writers, and the early Church. It was the very essence of New Testament Christianity.

But today, the kingdom is no longer the central teaching of the Church, nor its very essence. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the kingdom? Or, attended a Sunday School class whose topic was the kingdom? Or, signed up for a conference or seminar whose theme was the kingdom of God?

Dallas Willard in his thought-provoking, kingdom book provocatively titled, The Divine Conspiracy, quotes Dr. Howard Marshall of the University of Aberdeen as commenting:

During the past sixteen years I can recollect only two occasions on which I have heard sermons specifically devoted to the theme of the Kingdom of God . . . . I find this silence rather surprising because it is universally agreed by New Testament scholars that the central theme of the teaching of Jesus was the Kingdom of God.[1]

The kingdom also has been written out of current biblical- and Christian- worldview presentations.[2] Yet in 1890-1891 James Orr, a leading theologian of his day, presented a series of lectures in Edinburgh, Scotland entitled The Christian View of God and the World. Orr listed nine specific areas covered by “the Christian view of the world.” His  eighth area was described thusly:

(8) the founding of the Kingdom of God on earth, which includes the spiritual salvation of individuals and a new order of society (“the result of the action of the spiritual forces set in motion through Christ”); . . .[3]

In contrast, in the most widely acclaimed, modern-day book on this subject, Understanding the Times: The Religious Worldviews of Our Day and the Search for Truth, author David A. Noebel, compares and contrasts his conception of a Christian worldview with those of secular humanism and Marxism/Leninism, but without a discussion or even a significant mention of the kingdom of God.[4] What has happened? What has changed? 

Ironically, the kingdom of God was also central in the worldview of our forefathers in the faith who came to this country, not just to escape religious persecution, but under a postmillennial eschatological mandate to expand the kingdom of God. They believed that the world was to become a better and better place and more and more Christianized as the kingdom came (i.e., expanded) into more areas of society. When this goal was realized, Christ would return. They preached that each Christian was responsible to do his or her part in expanding the kingdom, here and now, in every area of influence. Propelled by this optimistic worldview, they founded the great institutions of our country—the government, the schools, the universities—under Christian principles—and Christianity became the moral influence in our society.

 

The Great Retreat

But today, things are entirely different. This change led Willard to raise three, most-relevant questions in quoting a leading American pastor: “Why is today’s church so weak? Why are we able to claim many conversions and enroll many church members but have less and less impact on our culture? Why are Christians indistinguishable from the world?”[5] He laments that “those who profess Christian commitment consistently show little or no behavioral and psychological difference from those who do not.”[6]

Fact is, in the last 50 to 75 years, we Christians here in America have given away almost all of the institutions our forefathers founded—and without a fight. Remarkably, we were not pushed out by a superior force. We simply withdrew, and into the vacuum poured the secularists. Again, what has happened? What has changed?

A prime reason for this change is the dominant, eschatological worldview in conservative Christian circles switched from one of historical optimism to one of historical pessimism. That is, the postmillennial worldview was replaced by the dispensational premillennial worldview as the majority report among evangelicals. This relatively new view in church history (originating in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby) believes the world is supposed to get worse and worse before Christ returns. Its ascendancy into dominance perfectly coincides and statistically correlates with the withdrawal of Christians from societal involvement and the decline of morality and public life here in America.[7] 

John W. Chalfant characterizes this great retreat thusly:

much of the clergy, along with their millions of victimized American Christians following their pastors’ lead, have retreated from the battlefront to the social, non-confrontational, noncontroversial reservation [i.e., their church]. They say that Christians should confine their religious activities to politically noncontroversial roles and keep their Bibles out of the political process.[8]

Chalfant pinpoints dispensationalism’s emphasis that “these are the ‘last days’” as being the number one reason why many modern-day Christians—in stark contrast to our predecessors in the faith—now believe that “any efforts we make to restore righteousness to this nation will be in vain and need not even be undertaken.”[9]

The much revered evangelist, Billy Graham, for one, in a recent article titled “The End of the World” in his Decision magazine preaches we are “heading toward a catastrophe. . . . We can’t go on much longer morally. We can’t go on much longer scientifically. The technology that was supposed to save us is ready to destroy us.” He reports that the “Doomsday Clock” kept by “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” . . . “At this writing . . . stands at seven minutes to midnight – two minutes closer to potential destruction than the clock read in 1998 and seven minutes closer than it did in 1995.”[10]

Popular Left Behind co-authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins agree with Dr. Graham. In their recent book, Are We Living in the End Times?, they cite “twenty reasons for believing that the Rapture and Tribulation could occur during our generation.” To emphasize their tone of contemporary urgency, they further claim that “ours is the first generation that has the technology and opportunity to uniquely fulfill many prophecies of Revelation.”[11]

John MacArthur, another prominent dispensational author and a pastor, has been trying to convince Christians that “‘Reclaiming’ the culture is a pointless, futile exercise. I am convinced we are living in a post-Christian society—a civilization that exists under God’s judgment.”[12] He also argues that “people becoming saved. That is our only agenda . . . . It is the only thing that we are in the world to do.”[13]

Amazingly, fellow dispensationalists Tim LaHaye and David Noebel think MacArthur is off base. In their co-authored book Mind Siege they affirm that “There is plenty to do in all spheres of life. The importance of Christians entering the cultural sphere . . . cannot be overlooked or underestimated . . . . Christian parents need to prepare their sons and daughters to invade the fortress of the left.”[14]

But Gary DeMar, a postmillennialist and Senior Editor of Biblical Worldview magazine is highly critical of dispensationalist calls for social activism. He writes, “Unfortunately, while LaHaye’s points are well made, his call for any type of social action cannot be sustained over time because of his eschatology.” DeMar further claims that LaHaye’s short-term and popular eschatological worldview faces a “logical dilemma . . . . on the relationship between Bible prophecy and Christian activism.” But he relents that “I would rather have LaHaye’s prophetic schizophrenia than MacArthur’s prophetic fatalism.”[15] 

But ideas do have consequences. And, as Edmund Burke, the 18th century British statesman once wrote, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Likewise, Willard points out one of the psychological implications of these popular views:

If we think we are facing an irresistible cosmic force of evil, it will invariably lead to giving in and giving up—usually with very little resistance. If you can convince yourself that you are helpless, you can then stop struggling and just “let it happen.” That will seem a great relief—for a while. . . . But then you will have to deal with the consequences. And for normal human beings those are very severe.[16]

 

Not surprisingly, the kingdom of God is no longer the central teaching of the Church.[17] 
 

Worldview Poll

In a recent poll among Americans (Sept-Nov. 2003), Christian researcher, George Barna found that “only 4% of adults have a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision making” and “only 9% of born again Christians have such a perspective on life.” Barna defined his biblical worldview as follows:

believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views are that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.[18]

Admittedly, this is a bare-bones list. The Trinity and the Deity of Christ, for instance, are not mentioned. But also conspicuously missing, once again, is any reference to the kingdom of God. What has happened? What has changed? 

In a recent Christianity Today article titled, “The Postmodern Crackup,” Charles Colson sadly refers to Barna’s findings that “90 percent . . . have no understanding of worldview.” And yet he believes postmodernism is “losing strength” and may soon collapse. So, he encourages Christians in writing, “I can’t think of a more critical time for pastors, scholars, and laypeople to be grounded in a biblical worldview and to defend it clearly to those hungering for truth.” However, Colson fears the Church will miss this opportunity. He laments, “Ironically, just as there seem to be encouraging signs in the culture, there are also signs that the church is dumbing down, moving from a Word-driven message to an image- and emotion-driven message.”[19] 

The question I’d love to ask Charles Colson is this, Does his idea of a biblical worldview include a mighty kingdom of God, here on earth, here and now, or not?[20]

 

Caught-Up in Eschatological Mid-air

 Fact is, get the kingdom of God straight and many other, vital, and inter-related realities of the Christian faith fall readily into place. Miss it, even slightly, and you're liable to be way off on many other aspects as well. That is how pivotal the kingdom of God is.

But today the kingdom of God seems caught-up in eschatological mid-air. The majority of evangelicals have been led to believe God has withdrawn his kingdom, and someday it will be established and visibly set up in a future Jewish millennial era. Others believe it is here but only partially “in some sense” but question in what sense. Some say it is here but major elements have ceased to function, having been withdrawn by God. On the other hand, Jesus’ first followers were accused of having “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6; 20:25, 27) with the kingdom. Most, today, however, only give the kingdom of God a small place in their lives and have totally neglected Jesus’ admonition to “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

Gorden D. Fee and Douglas Stuart are right on target regarding the consequences of our confused understandings of the kingdom. 

 

One dare not think he or she can properly interpret the Gospels without a clear understanding of the concept of the kingdom of God in the ministry of Jesus[21] . . . . [however] the major hermeneutical difficulty

. . . lies with understanding ‘the kingdom of God.’[22]

 

Kingdom-deficiency Confirmations

 

Darrell L. Guder terms this change in kingdom orientation  “reductionism of the gospel.”[23] He defines this reductionism as “the inadequate exposition of the kingdom of God” and as “the curious separation of salvation from the kingdom of God in the church’s evangelistic proclamation.”[24] He decries that the Church has reduced the gospel when it is “proclaimed as only personal salvation but leads no further.” While he recognizes that “the gospel is always the message of God’s salvation,” he also insists that it must contain “the call to God’s service as Christ’s witness.”

Guder advises that “any local church that wants to be renewed must, therefore, confront its own gospel reductionism.”[25] How does a church do that? Guder claims it is only by “rigorous biblical learning” in which the people of that church learn to “become the means through which God’s will is done in the life of the world.”[26] 

In an earlier book, he calls for “a theological revolution”[27] and a “reorientation of our theology under the ‘mission of God.’”[28] He further emphasizes that this “must be centered on the hope, the message, and the demonstration of the inbreaking reign of God in Jesus Christ.”[29] In other words, it is by restoring the kingdom-of-God worldview back into the message, mission, life, and works of the Church, and then on into the world through their individual, kingdom-expanding missions. Guder

appropriately terms this reformational thrust, “missional renewal.”[30] It is this kingdom orientation and mission that has been largely lost in the Church, especially in evangelicalism, today. 

Willard concurs that the Christian gospel basically has been reduced to “Jesus died to pay for our sins, and that if we will only believe he did this, we will go to heaven when we die.[31]” He decries this as “bumper-sticker theology”[32]—i.e., “Christians Aren’t Perfect, Just Forgiven”[33]—and scripturally challenges those who contend that “forgiveness alone is what Christianity is all about.”[34] He further terms this reductionism “the gospel of sin management”[35] and contrasts it to “the gospel” which is “the good news of the presence and availability of life in the kingdom, now and forever . . . .”[36]

In a similar manner, Wakabayashi boldly answers the question, “What is the Gospel?”  this way:

 

Christianity is not merely about isolated individuals going to heaven. It’s about God transforming the entire world and making things right. Sicknesses will be healed, sins will be forgiven, injustice will be eradicated, and all creation will be redeemed. But this is not merely a distant future. It’s happening now through what Jesus came to establish—the kingdom of God.[37]

 

Jewish secular humanist, Alan Wolfe, made note of this change in his recent book, The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Live Our Faith.  He concludes that “faith in the United States, especially in the last half century or so, has been further transformed with dazzling speed.” Consequently, “culture has transformed Christ[38] . . . . American faith has met American culture—and culture has triumphed.”[39]

Wolfe summarizes that “in short, American religion has been tamed.”[40] He advises secularists who might “worry about faith’s potential fanaticism”[41] that they have nothing “to fear” because “believers in the United States are neither saviors nor sectarians,”[42] and because they have essentially “succumbed to the individualism and . . . narcissism, of American life.”[43] In other words, once again, the Church has lost its kingdom orientation. Consequently, at least two generations of American Christians have grown up accustomed to and comfortable with a Christianity without a mighty kingdom.  

In a review of Wolf’s hard-hitting book, syndicated newspaper columnist Cal Thomas terms it “must reading,” “some sobering conclusions,” and a “stinging indictment of contemporary Christianity.” Thomas suggests that “people looking for reasons why the church has lost power and real influence need look no further than Wolfe’s book.”  He credits Wolfe as having “discovered the source of the church’s contemporary power failure.” It is the fact that “people who call themselves evangelicals increasingly dislike sharing their faith with others for fear that doing so might ‘make them seem unfriendly or invasive.’” In citing Wolfe’s contention “that in the battle between faith and culture, ‘American culture has triumphed,’” Thomas rightly notices that “It was supposed to happen the other way.” He ends his article with this poignant advice:  

 

If Christians really want to see culture transformed, Wolfe’s book, especially, shows they need to begin with their own transformation.  Only then do they have a prayer of seeing cultural change. To expect it to happen the other way around is futile.[44]

 

Christianity Today magazine, in an editorial review of Wolfe’s book, admits “the cultural success of evangelicalism is its greatest weakness.” CT editors seem to agree with Wolfe as he “paints a picture of a privatized religion that lacks confidence and is eager to avoid offense.” They term this “toothless evangelicalism” since most evangelicals have grown accustom to “‘practicing the culture’ rather than ‘practicing the faith.’” They also recognized “that Bible study has been so personalized as to effectively block its implications for radical social transformation; the way the fear of offending others has reduced most witness to ‘lifestyle evangelism.’” The review closes with “a call to serious Christianity” and a conclusion that “something must be done.”  That something “must nurture an evangelicalism that is truer to its robust heritage” and that has a “demanding vision for both individuals and society.”[45]

National Review magazine’s review of Wolfe’s book focused on “those who fret about the danger of the ‘Christian Right’ lurking within our borders.” They agreed with Wolfe “that there is ‘no reason to fear that the faithful are a threat to liberal democratic values.’” They laud the fact “it’s great that a scholar of Wolfe’s stature is willing to stand up” and put forth “the principle that a vigorous exercise of religious faith poses no threat to the constitutional separation of church and state.”  They cite Wolfe’s three reasons for this principle: 1) “the reason people of faith should not be feared by the body politic is that religion has been watered down, robbed of both supernatural mystery and intellectual vigor.” 2) “The evangelicals in their megachurches, Wolfe says, are more interested in emotion and experience than in theological disputation.” 3) “Evangelicalism” has entered “a ‘Faustian pact’ with the culture.”[46]

Lastly, an Associated Press article reviewing Wolfe’s book and  “allegations of ‘culture war’” highlights that “Wolfe is writing for fellow secularists, whom he depicts as frightened that their devout neighbors are undermining democracy.” It reports that Wolfe calms their fears relaying that “the culture has reshaped the evangelicals more than vice-versa” and that “American religion has been so transformed that we have reached the end of religion as we have known it.”[47]

 

A Call for Serious Kingdom Christianity

 

In view of the prime importance that the kingdom of God has in the Bible, the central emphasis Jesus put on it, and it’s primacy in the worldview of our forefathers in the faith who founded this country, this writer proposes to place it central, again, and to teach it “boldly and without hindrance,” as did the Apostle Paul (Acts 28:31; 19:8; 2 Ti. 4:17). Hence, many erroneous notions and unsound concepts must be corrected and unlearned (unlearning is the hardest part of learning).  Those choosing to participate in this restoration process will be encouraged to grow in a straightforward scriptural understanding, to more confidently establish themselves as Christ’s ambassadors to a needy and hurting world, and to boldly “reign on earth” (Rev. 5:9-10) as all believers have been commissioned and commanded to do¾there and then, and here and now (Matt. 21:43; 28:18-20; Rev 1:6).

Truly, restoring the teaching, preaching, and practices of the kingdom of God to the Church and the world, as well as this worldview, is sorely needed. We are paying a tremendous price in settling for less—i.e., a kingdom-deficient Gospel, worldview, and faith. We are reaping what we have sown.

           

Common Conceptions and Misconceptions

about the Time and Nature of the Kingdom of God

 

 

  • It’s here. It’s not here. It’s not fully here. It’s kind of here in some sense (?)

  • Jesus has not yet set up/established his kingdom.

  • Jesus failed to deliver/bring in the promised kingdom.

  • It’s “in mystery” now and only spiritually discerned. But someday it will be established in glory for all to see.

  • Today, all we have of it is a foretaste.

  • It’s a political administration.

  • It’s a personal religious experience and exists only in human hearts.

  • Now, it’s the invisible kingdom of grace. But the visible kingdom of glory is yet to come at Christ’s second coming.

  • The kingdom is the Church.

  • It’s the Holy Spirit empowerment within Christians.

  • It’s everywhere Christians live and work—i.e in all of society.

  • It’s God’s future program for the world.

  • The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are two different things.

  • They are synonymous.

  • It’s a spiritual kingdom in Heaven.

  • It’s a progressive Christianization of the world.

  • It’s achieved on earth through a natural process of social actions.

  • It’s not present today at all, but ceased after the first century. When Jesus comes back, He’ll set up his glorious kingdom, forever.

  • When Jesus comes back (second coming), He’ll set up His visible kingdom for 1,000 years in this world.

  • The kingdom was postponed due to the Jews’ rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. The Church is a temporary substitute, a parenthesis.

  • It’s a general symbol.

  • It’s a concrete reality.

  • It’s not of this world but of the next.

  • It’s an apocalyptic symbol standing for realities the human mind cannot apprehend and a transcendent order beyond time and space.

  • It won’t come until the world (as we know it) ends. Our entrance into or exclusion from it will be determined by how we lived our life on earth.

  • We are currently living in a pre-kingdom time. When Jesus returns, He’ll set up his theocratic, millennial kingdom (a restored nationalistic Israel)... to be followed by the eternal and final kingdom.

  • It’s here fully, as a spiritual kingdom, but with its miraculous signs and wonders manifested by Jesus et al. withdrawn.

  • When Jesus’ kingdom finally comes, you’ll know it. There will be no more sin, evil, wars, injustice, strife, sickness, disease, pain, dying, crying, or pollution. There will be abundance of food, animals and man living in perfect harmony, people living to be a thousand years old, a perfect world, a restored garden of Eden with everything provided, perfect joy, perfect fellowship with God and Christ as Christians reign and rule over this entire world.

 

 

Attitudes and Behavioral Comparatives

 

                Depending on how one envisions the kingdom, he or she will be motivated quite differently in regard to what believers should or should not be doing, here and now, in this world. Here is a comparative of different and conflicting attitudes and behaviors produced by differing views of the kingdom:

Wait until the kingdom comes.

Advance the kingdom that’s here.

The world is destined to get worse and worse until Christ comes back.

The world must get better and better so Christ can come back.

There’s nothing we can or should do to bring in the kingdom.

God has commanded His people to expand the kingdom.

We win by leaving and forsaking this world.

 We win by staying and taking dominion over this world.

Let’s save as many people as we can before it’s too late.

 Let’s take over this world for Christ before it gets away from us.

Set your mind on things above not on things of this earth, as God and Christ have commanded.

Take authority over all things in Heaven and on earth, as God and Christ have commanded.

  

Pessimistic of the future of humankind.

Optimistic of the future of humankind.

Resigned to the failure of the Church in today’s world.

Upset with the failure of the Church in today’s world.

Social-political indifference/impotency.

Social-political activism/potency.

Separate yourselves from the evil of this world – world negating, pietism.

Bring all society and institutions of this world under the rule of Christ –  world transforming.

 

            These are real differences and create real problems for the Church. So, who’s right? Which view represents true Christianity and how we should be living the Christian life? Does a solution exist?

 

 

Absence of a Scriptural Definition

              

Another problem contributing to the confusion that surrounds God’s kingdom is the absence of a scriptural definition. 

George Eldon Ladd feels that while “New Testament scholars generally agree that the burden of Jesus’ message was the Kingdom of God . . . . The critical problem arises from the fact that Jesus nowhere defined what he meant by the phrase.”[48] As perplexing and ironic as this omission may seem, a definition by at least one biblical writer would surely have alleviated much of our modern-day confusion.

Ladd also remarked, and erroneously deduced, that “It is not recorded that anyone asked him [Jesus] what ‘the Kingdom of God’ meant. He assumed that this was a concept so familiar that it did not require definition.”[49] Ladd must have forgotten that Jesus’ presentations of the kingdom departed radically from the Jewish expectations. Jews in the 1st Century (and many Jews and Christians yet today) were/are looking for their Messiah to bring a visible and political kingdom which would overthrow the Roman/governmental authorities and elevate Israel to supremacy over all the nations (Acts 1:6). Problem is, Jesus never taught, promised, nor delivered that kind of a kingdom.

      Likewise, R. David Kaylor acknowledges “that the meaning of the kingdom is ‘undefined.’” Yet he assumes that it must have “involved the destiny of Israel as a nation.”[50] He quotes Richard Horsley’s definition, with which I largely concur, but which suffers from vagueness and ambiguity:

By kingdom of God Jesus expresses the active engagement of God’s power with the forces threatening God’s people. Both individual and social renewal were included in Jesus’ expectation that ‘God was bringing an end to the demonic and political powers dominating his society.’ The coming of the kingdom means not an all transforming act but a transformation of relationships—social, political, and economic.  The kingdom of God is not a single act but continuing action, entailing a response and participation by the people. The kingdom is not God’s intervention to end an abandoned world but God’s active participation in a continuing world-transforming process. In that process personal wholeness is an integral part of social renewal; the well-being of persons is integrally related to the well-being of society. Jesus’ use of a banquet or feast to symbolize the kingdom, following a widespread tradition in Israel, suggests the restoration of the people as a new covenant society.[51]

 

      Kaylor construes that Jesus and his kingdom “sought the transformation of society” and that “Jesus was apparently a revolutionary, but not a violent political revolutionary.”[52] Yet he identifies this compromising factor:

 

In the context of its evangelical preaching, the church tended to use kingdom as a metaphor for eschatological salvation (=eternal life or life after death). Thus the church transformed . . . . and removed the implications for social and political change the term had for Jesus, just as it transformed Jesus into a more spiritual savior.[53]

 

Kaylor ends up leaving his reader hanging and rather empty-handed as he concludes. “we cannot be sure . . . what he [Jesus] meant by kingdom of God.”[54]

Donald B. Kraybill takes a different tact. He asserts that the kingdom of God “defies exact definition.”[55] So he terms it “a general symbol [that] offers us many referents with multiple meanings.”[56] He vaguely adds that it is “a new order of things that appeared upside-down in the midst of Palestinian culture in the first century . . . . its contemporary expression has upside-down features today as it breaks into diverse cultures.”[57] Later on he rambles on that “the kingdom refers to the rule of God in our hearts and relationships”[58]

Ladd, like so many others, subscribes to the commonly accepted, short definition of the kingdom as simply “the rule of God.”[59] He ends up, however, saying more about what the kingdom is not than what it is:

 

The Kingdom of God cannot be reduced to the reign of God within the individual soul or modernized in terms of personal existential confrontation or dissipated to an extraworldly dream of blessed immortality.[60]

 

In A Theology of the New Testament, Ladd elaborates upon his previous definition as he contrasts the kingdom from the all-to-common tendency of identifying it with the Church. He writes:

 

The Kingdom is primarily the dynamic reign or kingly rule of God, and derivatively, the sphere in which the rule is experienced. In biblical idiom, the Kingdom is not identified with its subjects. They are the people of God’s rule who enter it, live under it, and are governed by it.  The church is the community of the Kingdom but never the Kingdom itself. Jesus’ disciples belong to the Kingdom as the Kingdom belongs to them; but they are not the Kingdom. The Kingdom is the rule of God; the church is a society of women and men.[61]

 

            Willard succinctly defines the God’s “kingdom” or “rule” as:

 

the range of his effective will, where what he wants done is done. The person of God himself and the action of his will are the organizing principles of his kingdom, but everything that obeys those principles, whether by nature or by choice, is within his kingdom.[62]

A Working Definition

 

            To help us begin resolving this definitional issue, here is my working definition for the phrase kingdom of God.[63] It is not a political administration, a geographic territory, or an abstract notion. However, it is a rule, it does have a realm, and it is a pragmatic and dynamic reality. Simply defined, the kingdom of God is:

 

The sphere of God’s will, reign and rule. — It is located throughout heaven and the cosmos, and wherever on earth the manifestation of his sovereignty, holiness, power, and kingly authority is acknowledged and obeyed. That means it is realized both internally and externally, within and among, to draw human hearts to Him, to bless and discipline his people, and to defeat his enemies. It is to be entered, exercised, and advanced by every Christian who follows Jesus, and experienced in every aspect of society. However, it is not universally recognized, is contested, opposed, and persecuted, and is greatly under-realized.

 

The Kingdom and Eschatology

 

            God’s kingly rule over the world and its affairs has existed from the beginning and is eternal. The kingdom theme is traceable from Genesis to Revelation. Fact is, as long as there has been a King, there has been a kingdom. It is derived from the fact that God is sovereign and has the right to exercise ruling authority. 

In Old Testament times, God acted in kingly power to create the world, and to deliver and judge his people. King Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed, “How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:3). Both the King and his kingdom are eternal (Dan. 4:34; 5:21; 6:26; Ps. 103:19, 145:13; 1 Chron. 29:11). But over the course of redemptive history both have also varied in their earthly manifestations and in relationship with humankind.

                The coming of the final form of the eternal kingdom of God, predicted and anticipated throughout most of the Bible, however, is eschatological —as is salvation. This kingdom and salvation are both the work of the Messiah (Acts 28:31; Rev. 12:1). Most evangelicals agree that the kingdom’s final and “everlasting” form was to be established on earth by the Messiah (Dan. 7:14-28). And with the coming into history of the promised Messiah, God’s kingdom began to manifest itself in a new and more clearly revealed way, both internally and externally. Jesus taught that it was central and extends into every arena of life.

Restoring the centrality of the kingdom of God, and what Jesus meant by it, is no small topic or undertaking. It is also an area in which almost everything is contested. But, it is crucial

Ladd succinctly identified the two central problems in a study of Jesus’ ministry and his central teaching on the kingdom of God as those of “time” and “nature.”[64] Unfortunately, the Church has the kingdom caught-up in eschatological mid-air in both of these categories. Below are some specific and prime examples from respected spokespersons in each of the four major evangelical, eschatological views:

 

Dispensational Premillennialists[65]The kingdom of God is not here anymore. It was postponed and withdrawn by God when the Jews rejected Jesus and the kingdom He was offering, and crucified Him.  Some acquiesce that it is here but only in “mystery” form:

 

·         The “kingdom was postponed when the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah, but it will be established when Christ returns.”[66]                          

·         In the interim, “Jesus established the church as the ‘mystery’ form of his coming kingdom.” It is a “spiritual reality” with the “physical messianic kingdom, promised in the Old Testament . . . yet to come”[67] and “yet to be established.”    

·         After the millennial kingdom comes and goes, “the eternal kingdom” will be “established.”[68]

 

Amillennialists – The kingdom of God is here in some sense but in an eschatological tension between the “already” and the “not yet” fulfillment/establishment.

 

·         “the kingdom of God is now hidden  . . . . to all except those who have faith in Christ . . . . but some day it shall be totally revealed . . . . when the final phase of the kingdom is ushered in by the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.”[69]

·         We await the kingdom’s “final establishment . . . at the time of Christ’s Second Coming,”[70] as well as the “final judgment” and “final stage”[71] “at the end of history”[72] “at the end of this present age . . . . at the time of Christ’s Second Coming.”[73]                                          

·         Today we are “living between the times” of the “‘already of the coming of the kingdom” and “the ‘not yet’ of its consummation.”[74] This interim time is the time of the “semirealized kingdom.”[75]

·         “The Bible favors the idea that the present dispensation of the kingdom of God will be followed immediately by the kingdom of God in its consummate and eternal form.”[76]

·         “God’s great plan . . . . includes not only the salvation of individuals and the redemption of the church but also the reestablishment of God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and justice in a new heaven and a new earth.”[77]

·         “whose Kingdom rule is already established and not yet fulfilled.[78] . . . . the coming of Jesus . . . [was]his inauguration of the Kingdom of God[79] . . . . We are constantly faced with the ‘not yet’ existence of the Kingdom of God.”[80]                             

·         “along with the ‘already here’ there obviously remains a ‘not yet’ aspect with regard to God’s present rule on earth.”[81]

 

Postmillennialists – This kingdom of God is mostly here, but much more is yet to be fulfilled/established.

 

·         “The postmil looks for a . . . glorious age of the church upon earth through the preaching of the gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit.  He looks forward to all nations becoming Christian and living in peace one with another.”[82]                                                         

·         “A brighter era is destined to arrive; a golden age is to dawn upon us, when the predictions of prophets, and the descriptions of apostles, are all to be fulfilled.”[83]         

·         There is “a clear distinction between the Messianic kingdom and the consummated kingdom in eschatology.” The former “begins in time and ends in time.”  The latter comes at “the last judgment”[84] . . . . when “the Lord will terminate history. . . . [at] the second coming”[85] “at the end of time.”[86] 

·         When Christ returns to the earth He will take his Church to be with Him and bring an end to all earthly existence and to the earth itself, as He executes “the final judgment”[87] and institutes “the eternal state.”[88]

 

Preterist – The kingdom of God is here, but less of it is here than was present in the 1st Century. Major elements have been withdrawn by God after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70.

 

·         “the charismata . . . . the charismatic gifts which the Paraclete poured out upon the first century church for revelatory, confirmatory and consummatory purposes [ceased] . . . . once the plan [of redemption] was completely revealed and consummated [in A.D. 70].”[89]                                             

·         “The last days of the Jewish nation ended then. A new age had begun. The charismata associated with the last days ceased.”[90]                                                                                      

·         “Christ’s advent at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem to receive the Kingdom, the church of the firstborn, terminated an altogether exceptional state of things which had prevailed since the day of Pentecost, and caused these abnormal miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit to cease.”[91]

 

            Is it any wonder that Christians by the millions are confused about the kingdom? Is it any wonder then why they have basically ignored Jesus’ admonition to “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33)?

            Fortunately, understanding the time and nature of the eschatological, eternal kingdom is not as complicated and confusing as we have made it. It is rather straightforward. In the balance of this paper we will address the first of seven steps for restoring the kingdom-of-God worldview to the Church and the world—as we ground the establishment of the eschatological kingdom of God, time-wise.

 
Step #1 of 7
 
Discovering the Time for the Establishment of the Eschatological Kingdom and Grounding It within Human History –

 

                At the start of his earthly ministry, “Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God.  The time is fulfilled [has come] . . . the kingdom of God is at hand . . . .” (Mark 1:15 KJV [NIV]). What “time” (kairos meaning “set,” “proper time,” or “season”) was Jesus talking about that He claimed was “fulfilled?”

            Many scholars maintain with Ladd that “it is impossible to know the time.”[92] Consequently, they wrestle with the tension of the kingdom still being both present and future, and insist that the “time of apocalyptic consummation remains in the future.”[93] Or does it?

 

‘In the days of those kings’ (Dan. 2:44)

 

Six centuries before Christ, and in two parallel dream-visions, God set the time parameter within human history for the establishment of the eschatological and everlasting form of the kingdom of God on this earth:

 

·         In Daniel 2, Daniel both declared and interpreted the king’s dream of a statue with four sections (head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and legs and feet of iron and clay). He said these symbolize four earthly kingdoms or world empires.

 

Daniel isolated the time thusly:

 

In the days (time) of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever” (Dan. 2:44, italics mine).

 

·            In Daniel 7, Daniel’s prophetic dream of four beasts (a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a ten-horned beast) symbolizes the identical scenario¾the same four earthly kingdoms or world empires. 

 

I agree with the majority of evangelical scholars that these two dream-visions portray the same thing. Four¾not five¾Gentile kingdoms or world empires that would transpire during this divinely predetermined course of history. They began in Daniel’s day and successively unfolded. They were: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and the old Roman Empire, respectively.[94]

Four questions clarified re: Daniel 2:44

 

            Daniel’s time-restrictive words seem clear and straightforward.

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary states about Daniel 2:42-47 that “the grammatical meaning of the verses is not obscure.” But most Christians have great difficulty accepting a plain and natural meaning. To be sure we are understanding Daniel 2:44 correctly, let’s explore the variety of answers and clarify the correct answer to the following four simple questions:

 

Question #1 – How many coming kingdoms of God (or forms thereof) are          prophesied here?  The correct answer is, One. But, as we have seen . . .

           

Dispensational premillennialists’ answer is “four” – 1) Jesus’ 1st-century kingdom, 2) the withdrawn or present mystery kingdom, 3)  the millennial kingdom, 4) the eternal kingdom. 

Amillennialists’ answer is “two” – 1) the present kingdom Jesus brought, which is a foretaste of . . .  2) the eternal-state kingdom in fullness.

Postmillennialists’ answer is “two or three” – 1) the present kingdom Jesus brought, 2) a future golden age, 3) the eternal-state kingdom.          

Preterists’ answer is “two” – 1) the pre-A.D. 70 version of the kingdom brought by Jesus, 2) the post-A.D.-70, spiritual version with major elements removed (i.e., the charismatic gifts, ministries of the Holy Spirit, and angels).

 

Question #2 – When would this kingdom be set up? The correct answer is, “In the days of those kings.”

 

Matthew Henry's Commentary confirms this natural and plain understanding of Daniel 2:31-45:

 

It was to be set up in the days of these kings, the kings of the fourth monarchy, of which particular notice is taken (Luke 2:1), that Christ was born when, by the decree of the emperor of Rome, all the world was taxed, which was a plain indication that that empire had become as universal as any earthly empire ever was.

 

                Again, the problem is, most commentators and most Christians cannot accept this natural, plain, and straightforward meaning of Daniel’s inspired prophetic words. Why not? Because “the days of those kings” ended in A.D. 476! 

To alleviate this time problem, the essence of most scholarship has been to find ways to re-explain Daniel 2:44. To do so, one must either reinterpret (i.e., re-define) the “time” or the “nature” of fulfillment. In other words, one must concede that the Bible does not mean what it clearly says. Or, as Charles L. Holman admits, “The prophetic hope of a culminating act of God in history has continued to be reinterpreted.”[95]

A classic case in point is the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary which emphatically states that “‘these kings’ cannot mean the four successional monarchies.” Instead, these commentators look for a future “final state of the Roman empire.” They further comment: 

 

Moreover, the visible “setting up of the KINGDOM” of glory on earth by the God of heaven is plainly here meant, not the unobserved setting up of the kingdom of grace. That kingdom of glory is only to come [at] Christ's second advent (Acts 1:6). We pray, “Thy kingdom come.” The kingdom was and is still preached as “at hand” (Matt 4:17), but not yet come in manifestation (Luke 19:11-27). We live under the divisions of the Roman empire, which began 1,400 years ago . . . .

 

Dispensational premillennialist, John Walvoord, concurs that the kingdom was not established back in the time of Jesus, nor in the times those four world empires. Yet his popular eschatological view does recognize that that was when it was supposed to have been set up/established. So, they have conceived the idea of “a revival of the Roman Empire”[96] to accommodate a yet-future fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, “in the days of those kings.”  

The Baptist Faith and Message (IX) agrees, “the full consummation of the kingdom awaits the return [coming again] of Jesus Christ and the end of the age.”

            Amillennialists also disregard a plain, straightforward meaning of Daniel’s words. They, too, advocate a yet-future (to us today) fulfillment. Willem A. VanGemeren writes, “Even the coming of Jesus Christ did not fully establish the kingdom of God, though he did inaugurate it more fully.”[97] Guder concurs and adds, that Jesus only “announced and inaugurated” the kingdom and “the formation of the church” was its “foretaste, firstfruits, and agent.”[98]

            D.S. Russell in his commentary of Daniel contributes to the confusion noting that “in a literal sense the hopes of the writer [Daniel] fell short of realisation, and the kingdom did not come in the way that he and others had hoped and prayed it might.” Yet he acknowledges that “the coming kingdom is ‘eternal’ in retrospect as well as in prospect. . . . There will come a day . . . when the kingdom will come ‘in power’ . . . That coming will mark the end of history and indeed the consummation of all things.”[99] But Daniel prophesied the kingdom would be set up within human history, and not at its end.

            Historic premillennialist, Ladd tries to circumvent Daniel’s apparent time-restriction this way:

 

The great image of gold, silver, brass, and iron represents four successive nations in history before the coming of God’s kingdom (Dan. 2), as do the four beasts in Daniel 7.[100]

          

But Daniel said the eschatological kingdom would be “set up” in—i.e., “during” and not after those days.

Apparently, these commentators only want the Bible to say what they want it to say; so compromises are made and liberties taken. Man says what God meant. At best, this is slippery theology and highly problematic. In reality, these are denials of the simple, clear meaning of Scripture. But what standard for understanding should we use?

 

Question #3 – What does the word ‘set up’ really mean? The correct answer is, “Established.”

            If we follow basic hermeneutical principles, it is not difficult to determine what the Hebrew word quwm (pronounced “koom” and  translated as “set up” in Daniel 2:44) really means:

 

1)      Quwm means to: “appoint, establish, make, raise up, stand, set (up).”[101] According to Vine, its primary meaning is “to arise, stand up, come about . . . . It may denote any movement to an erect position.”[102] The only qualification Vine mentions is “when used with another verb, qum [sic] may suggest simply the beginning of an action.”[103] But quwm is not so used with another verb in Daniel 2:44.

2)      Daniel uses this same word nine times in his very next chapter (Dan. 3:1, 2, 3, 3, 5, 7, 12, 14, 18). This verb describes King Nebuchadnezzar’s erection of a ninety-foot-high image of gold on the plain of Dura—i.e., he “set up” this image.

3)      Nebuchadnezzar did not just begin to nor only partially “set up” this ninety-foot-high image. Nor did he merely announce that he was going to do it, or only initiate it, or only inaugurate it. He finished the job. He established the image. He completed and fulfilled his plan. Nor did he come back later and remove an arm and a leg, or any other parts. It stood established, completed, and erected. This comparative usage and illustration is in such close proximity, contextually, that it must not be ignored or diminished. 

Likewise, the one, “never [to] be destroyed,” and to “endure forever” kingdom in Daniel 2:44 was “set up”—i.e., established, completed, fulfilled, and consummated—“in the days of those kings.” I suggest that this literal meaning and realization is absolutely demanded by the text. And, its           eschatological and worldview implications are profound!         

Further validating this understanding is the popular dispensational-premillennial, eschatological view. Its proponents recognize this same literal meaning for the Hebrew word translated as “set up.” But then they must conceive the non-biblical ideas of “a revival of the Roman Empire” and a rebuilt temple to accommodate their yet-future fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy.[104]

 

Question #4 – How long would it last? The correct answer is, “Forever.”

 

            Neither dispensational premillennialism’s mystery kingdom nor its millennial kingdom “endure forever.”

            Amillennialism’s current kingdom, which was only inaugurated “in the days of those kings,” also does not “endure forever.”

Neither does postmillennialism’s current kingdom, which likewise was inaugurated “in the days of those kings,” nor its anticipated golden age, millennial kingdom “endure forever.”

 Only preterists recognize a 1st-century establishment. The problem here, however, is not all of the kingdom that Jesus was bringing “endure[s] forever.” Major elements (the charismatic gifts) are removed from its post-A.D.-70 form. But this removal violates what the writer of Hebrews stated in circa A.D. 65. He wrote that they were in process of “receiving a kingdom than cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28). He clarified that “shaken” means “removing” and “cannot be shaken” means “remain[ing]” (Heb. 12:27). The writer of Hebrews was confirming that they were receiving the kingdom, back then and there, which Daniel prophesied about: “the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever – yes, for ever and ever” (Dan. 7:18). Glasser rightly terms this verse “an unconditional promise of ultimate triumph.”[105] And what is true of the whole is true of its constituent parts.[106] Furthermore, Isaiah prophesied that this kingdom was only to “increase” (Isa. 9:7). Removal of these supernatural elements would be a decrease.

 

Conclusion #1

 

One thing the four major evangelical eschatological views have in common is that they are all at variance with some portion of the natural, plain, and straightforward understanding of Daniel 2:44.

Again, the days of those kings—that last world empire—  ended in A.D. 476! That was 15 centuries ago.

The reason proponents of these views have not been able to accept a literal understanding, is their exegesis is driven by their eschatological position. Hence, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary accurately diagnoses about Daniel 2:42-47 that “disagreement about interpretation is rooted in the varying points of view with which readers approach the passage.” As we have seen, these interpreters must come up with alternative explanations and/or exegetical devices to get around the plain, natural meaning.

The bottom line is this. These at-variance kingdom positions and consequential debates detract from the battle in which we are to be engaged and send a confusing message to the Church—i.e., the troops— and the world.

 

Conclusion #2

 

            I agree, no longer do “scholars as well as plain Christians” need to be “puzzled about what Jesus meant when he spoke of the kingdom.”[107] But I disagree that we must continue submitting to the ambiguity that “no one knows when the kingdom will come in the full, future sense.”[108]

When Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God that “the time is fulfilled [has come] . . . the kingdom of God is at hand “ (Mark 1:15 KJV [NIV]), the “time” He was referring to that He claimed was “fulfilled” was the long-promised and intensely awaited kingdom spoken of by Daniel in Daniel 2:44 and 7:14, 18, 22, 27. 

It is a fact of history that Jesus lived and ministered “in the days of those kings”—which ended in A.D. 476. It is a fact of Scripture that He was ushering into human history the one and only, greatly awaited, “kingdom [that] will never end” (Luke 1:33; Hebrews 12:27-28; Matt. 28:18). This was precisely what the Messiah was to do—from his birth to his judgment (to be covered in Step #2). Once again, all this was to take place “in the days of those kings:”

 

For to us a child is born

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace

there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

with justice [judgment] and righteousness [justice]

from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty

will accomplish this.

 

Isaiah 9:6-7 (italics-bold emphasis mine [KJV])

           

The establishment of the non-ending, ever-increasing, eschatological kingdom, “in the days of those kings” and “from that time on and forever” was a major part of the work Jesus did, precisely as prophesied. God actually kept his word—his “perfect” and “flawless” word (Ps. 18:30). 

I submit that Daniel’s two, parallel, and general time prophecies and his time-restrictive words in Daniel 2:44 must be naturally, plainly, and literally understood and fully honored—something the vast majority of Christian commentators, scholars, and lay people alike have not been willing or taught to do. But this straightforward understanding firmly grounds the establishment of the everlasting, ever-increasing, eschatological kingdom of God in human history.

No other kingdom, form of this kingdom, or ultimate different establishment or fulfillment beyond this one is prophesied in Scripture or is yet-to-come.[109] Furthermore, there is no scriptural warrant for conceiving of “a revival of the Roman Empire”[110] to accommodate a yet-future establishment and fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. Nor do we need to await an unscriptural “end of time” for kingdom’s final establishment, as has been devised by amillennialists and postmillennialists. These are all man-made ideas that only cause deception and confusion. Why don’t we just believe the Bible and stop trying to stretch prophecy like a rubber band way out into the future?

            Interestingly, when Satan tempted Jesus (Matt. 4:1-11), he quoted Scripture out-of-context. We have taken the establishment of the kingdom out of context. There is much unlearning to do. But the context for the establishment of the one and only everlasting and ever-increasing kingdom was clearly “in the days of those kings” which ended in A.D. 476.

In my opinion, this timely realization is one of “the secrets of the kingdom of God [that] has been given” (Luke 8:10). Sadly, it has been lost in the Church because it has been covered back up by our traditions, with which we “nullify the word of God” (Matt. 15:6; Mark 7:13). Lifting this fulfillment out of its divinely determined time frame in human history has been the most significant factor for dis-establishing the kingdom of God and producing what Guder terms, “the reductionism of the gospel.”[111]  Hence, while fully established, the kingdom is greatly under-recognized and under-utilized—much to our detriment.

 

Conclusion #3

 

We Christians are in a battle, at war, not only for souls but for the culture as well.  And by many accounts, we are losing (See Appendices A and B). We must wake up! The time is over for sitting back and watching those who reject God assault God in our culture and take over more and more territory.

In my opinion, the only potentially effective approach capable of breaking through the barriers of apathy and resistance, of shaking and awakening the “sleeping giant,” and for energizing and rallying the Church toward achieving radical social transformation is restoration of the gospel of the kingdom message, mission, and worldview. The kingdom of God must simply be placed central, once again. Your and my grandchildren, and future generations of Christians are depending on us. Let’s not be the generation that lets them down.

We must call forth the kingdom and take God’s will, reign, and rule into a lost and hurting world. Unfortunately, we have raised over two generations of Christians here in America who are kingdom illiterate. They have become conditioned to and comfortable with a Christianity without a mighty kingdom. What we now find are millions of God-loving, Scripture-studying, heaven-bound Christians today sitting around and complaining about our country’s declining morality and the demise of a Christian consensus. They readily profess that they are against this and against that. But I ask, What are we for?

From this day forward, let us resolve to be for the task of making the kingdom of God central, once again, as it was for Jesus, the 1st-century Church, and our forefathers in the faith who first came to this country.[112] Let us remember the motto of the American Revolution: “No king but King Jesus!” Let our vision, rallying cry, and motto be “For Christ & Kingdom,” as it was for the apostle Paul:

 

Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 28:31; also 19:8; 2 Tim. 4:17)

 

Any lesser, reductionistic gospel, merely focusing on personal salvation, will not produce the results we desire. Likewise, claiming God has only one agenda—getting us ready for heaven—will not enable us to pass along the kingdom in greater shape than we found it. 

Christianity in America is, indeed, in trouble today because we have diluted and diminished our message and changed our mission-focus. We are not here to blend into society, to look the other way, or to withdraw into our comfortable and growing churches. Nor are we  here to succumb to the anti-God, secularist forces when they tell us to “keep your morality to yourself” and “stay out of politics.” And we are not here to be intimidated by tax-exempt status laws or to let liberal-activist judges rule our country and toss God out of our schools. Nor, are we here to be forever known as the generation that lost the culture our forefathers in the faith came to this country and founded. 

John Chalfant is right. “We still have at our disposal the superior, available power and strength to ‘take it all back.’ The hour is late, but the bell has not yet tolled for America.”[113] We also have the numbers. Our challenge is to rally the troops. And much, if not all, can be changed with a “rebirth of the Christian worldview of the Founding Fathers” even though . . .

 

Today we are swamped in an increasing tidal wave of evil on every front which has found its access through the worldviews of Secular Humanism and Marxism/Leninism which have increasingly dominated our public educational systems and public institutions to the exclusion  of God. Whose business is this? According to the Bible, it is your business, my business, and the Church’s business.[114]

 

If we truly believe we are here to be salt and light, then let us engage our society on every front. Let us begin the process of taking back everything we have lost. And let us do so with no less than the gospel of the kingdom of God (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:14 KJV).  Truly, this is a “high calling” (Phil. 3:14; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:11; Heb. 3:1; 2 Pet. 1:10), much higher than most preachers have preached, most teachers have taught, and most Christians have practiced, to date. 

The established, eschatological kingdom of God demands a strong response. It demanded it of Jesus’ first followers. It demands it from us, here and now. This kingdom is not something one just talks about. It is things one does. 

So will you join us as “fellow workers for the kingdom of God” (Col. 4:11; Rom. 16:13) as we pursue restoring the kingdom-of-God worldview to the Church and the world, together? 

 

A Call to Greatness

 

I believe . . .

·         God wants us to RESTORE the 1st-century truth of the preaching, teaching, practices, and worldview of kingdom of God to the Church and the world.

·         God wants us to REDISCOVER and RECOVER “the keys of the kingdom” that Jesus revealed to Peter and the original apostles (Matt. 16:19). 

·         God will anoint and empower our efforts to turn “the world UPSIDE DOWN” again with his kingdom (Act 17:6).

·         We must UNLEARN and RID ourselves of some biblically false ideas which will not stand up to an honest testing of Scripture (1 Thess. 5:21) and which have produced a low-level conception of Christianity that absolves Christians of responsibility to manifest the kingdom in this present world.

·         The MESSAGE of the established, eschatological kingdom must be widely HEARD (Rom. 10:17) and preached BOLDLY and WITHOUT HINDRANCE (Acts 28:31).

·         The Church must be more effectively SPURRED ON toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24), HELD to a higher standard and calling (Phil. 3:14), and its members more aggressively SENT OUT (Rom. 10:14-15) with the message and mission of advancing the kingdom.

·         If we seriously HOPE to someday hear the words from our Savior, “Well done good and faithful servant,” we must set our hearts and minds to SEEK FIRST the kingdom and CEASE playing church and being content to live with a Christianity without a mighty kingdom.

·         The need is GREAT! The time is NOW! Will you JOIN this restoration?

 

What’s Next?

 

So often we believe something because everybody believes it. In the days of the Polish astronomer, Copernicus, everybody knew the sun revolved around the earth, and the earth was the center of the universe.  They could walk outside and see the sun move across the sky. But in 1543 Copernicus’ work began to change all that.

At the heart of any biblical or Christian worldview worthy of the name must be the present reality and responsibilities of the kingdom of God. Without difficulty or complication, we have begun to restore the kingdom-of-God worldview by grounding the time for the establishment of the everlasting, never-changing, eschatological kingdom to being “in the days of those kings” (Step #1). No longer does the kingdom of God need to be caught-up in eschatological mid-air. Next, we need to ground its nature and our responsibilities in it, etc.—(Steps #2-7).

Since we have largely misunderstood the time of the kingdom, it stands to reason that we also may have misunderstood its nature. Since Jesus corrected many misunderstandings and preconceived notions in his day, I propose that we allow Him to set us straight on these nature issues as well. 

“Through rigorous engagement with the Bible,” I believe working through the following 7 Steps will enable us “to discover and repent of these reductions of the gospel so that it [the Church] can become more faithful as incarnational witness.”[115]

The first four steps are foundational and must be resolved and established first. Otherwise, the later three application steps will be like trying to build a second story on a vacant lot.

 

 

7 Steps for restoring the kingdom-of-God worldview to the Church and the World:

 

Step #1Discovering the time for the establishment of the everlasting, eschatological kingdom and grounding it within human history.

 

Step #2 – Documenting, scripturally and historically, how the kingdom came and was established “in the days of those kings.”                                               

Step #3Differentiating the kingdom clearly from salvation and the Church.                                                                                                                

Step #4 Delineating the present-day nature and status of the kingdom.                       

Step #5 Determining our duties, responsibilities, and rewards in kingdom service.                                                                                                                    

Step #6Detailing how then we should live, reign in, and pass along the kingdom to future generations.                                                                         

Step #7Devising a strategy for awakening the Church, taking back lost territory, and turning the world upside down again (Acts 17:6 KJV)—with the rallying cry of “For Christ & Kingdom”— similar to the rallying cry of the American Revolutionary War, “No king but King Jesus.” 

                               

            The realization of this 7-step restoration process will, in my opinion, change the face of Christianity—i.e., the way it is preached, practiced, and perceived. And, this will make a huge difference in the world.

            I further submit, that in America, when the Church lost the kingdom, we started losing the culture. When we lost the culture, we started losing our kids, in droves. But all this can be changed for the better as we re-discover and restore the 1st-century truth to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

Willard puts it this way, “we get a totally different picture of salvation, faith, and forgiveness if we regard having life from the kingdom of the heavens now—the eternal kind of life—as the target.”[116]

But he diagnoses as “the problem currently” which prevents this as being “consumer Christianity,” which he claims “is now normative.” He defines a consumer Christian as:

 

one who utilizes the grace of God for forgiveness and the services of the church for special occasions, but does not give his or her life and innermost thoughts, feelings, and intentions over to the kingdom of the heavens. Such Christians are not inwardly transformed and not committed to it.[117]

               

 

The Need for Total Eschatological Reform

 

As we have seen, the prime reason we have not accepted the plain, natural, and straightforward understanding of Daniel 2:44 is because our four traditional, evangelical, eschatological views will not allow it. Each one is at variance with some aspect of the everlasting, eschatological kingdom having been established “in the days of those kings.” 

Since the coming and establishment of this kingdom is a major component in the whole eschatological scenario, this past-fulfillment, time restriction should be a real eye-opener. It underscores the need for a total revamping our system of four confusing, conflicting, and divisive views. As Christianity Today magazine stated, “few doctrines unite and separate Christians as much as eschatology . . . .one of the most divisive elements in recent Christian history.”[118]

            I believe the whole field of eschatology is ripe for a total reform.  Again, as with the kingdom, it must be pursued through “rigorous biblical learning” as Christians are “led into fuller and fuller apprehension of the truth.”[119]

Notably, the subject of my recently completed Ph.D. dissertation was an evaluation of the four major evangelical views of the return of Christ and a synthesis of the four into one, coherent, and consistent view that is more Christ-honoring, Scripture-authenticating, and faith-validating than any one view in itself. On this topic, as well as the 7 Steps listed above, I welcome your thoughts, inputs, and criticisms.

 

Appendix A

 

Why Bother?
Restoring the Kingdom-of-God Worldview to the Church and the World—

 

A transcription of Bill O’Reilly’s memo on Fox News’

“The O’Reilly Factor” (aired March 4, 2004)

 

It’s a fact. Special interests in the USA are now dominating the cultural debate.

            For example, all the polls say most Americans don’t want to change the traditional definition of marriage. Yet, the will of the people is being battered by a media sympathetic to gays, by activist judges, and well-financed special interest groups. Thus, the battle may be won by the minority. And, this is happening in many different areas.

Right now, religious people are the ones speaking out for traditional values. But America doesn’t forge public policy based on religion. Thus, as soon as God enters the debate, the secularists win.

            Think about your own life in this country. How many changes have you seen in the past 20 years? Gangster rap would have been unthinkable in 1984. Ditto on taking God out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Gay marriage? Not even on the radar screen.

            So what has changed in America?

            #1 – The media has shifted dramatically to the left as network news and powerful urban newspapers promote secular causes all day long. And these entities often demonize those who oppose them with labels like “fundamentalists.” The powerful media is aided by people like billionaire George Soros who pumps tens of millions of dollars into special interest groups allowing those groups to file lawsuits to change local standards. That’s why you’re seeing the words “Christmas Holidays” being taken off some school calendars. The school districts can’t afford the legal fight.

            But most importantly, traditional Americans lack a strong leader on social issues. I mean think about it. You have a conservative leader in the White House who rarely engages in these issues. So, the secularists have the bully pulpit. And, they are using it very effectively.

            What kind of a country to you want? Denmark— where pretty much any conduct is acceptable? Do you want gay marriage? Do you want legalized drugs? Do you want vile entertainment mainstreamed by powerful media companies? Do you want your kids taught about all kinds of sexual activity in the 2nd grade? Well, those things may well happen in America and soon, because the forces that want them are well-financed, well-organized, and extremely aggressive. All the things the traditionalists are not.

            And, that’s a memo.

 

So why bother?  Do you think these are the results Jesus has in mind when He instructs us to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”?  Or, do you think we will hear the words someday “Well done, good and faithful servant” from our Lord if we leave this kind of a legacy?   – John Noē

 

Appendix B

 

The Church in Nazi Germany
—Are We Repeating the Mistakes of the Past?—

 

They are a nation without sense

there is no discernment in them.

If only they were wise and would

understand this

and discern what their end will be!

 

                (Deut. 32:28-29)

 

Twice, before the national election of 2000, Dr. James C. Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio program aired a speech by Lutheran pastor, Rev. Laurence White. It was titled, For Such a Time as This.[120]  Dr. Dobson introduced it calling it “a powerful message . . . it moved me very deeply.” 

In a dramatic and comparative fashion, Rev. White lays out the reasons why pastors and people of faith need to get involved in the public square. 

Rev. White tells the story of taking his two, 20- and 23-year-old sons on a trip to Germany over a Christmas vacation. He explains that “as a Lutheran Christian that’s where my historical and theological roots are and I wanted the boys to see where they came from and to get some context . . . a setting in which to evaluate and assess what’s happening in our country and in their lives.” And also “because I wanted them to see what happened to this great Christian nation, this homeland of the Reformation, almost overnight.” 

            One afternoon they rented a van and drove . . . to Sachsenhausen, one of Hitler’s prototype concentration camps. They toured the barracks, and saw the bails of human hair and the piles of children’s shoes, and the medical labs where gruesome experiments were conducted on living human beings without anesthetic.

 

Below is an abbreviated transcription of the rest of his speech:

 

And finally we walked to the back where far in the corner the crematorium once stood, the oven where they burned the bodies of the dead.  And out in front of it was a grotesque wrought-iron statue of two emaciated inmates hauling the dead body of one of their cohorts toward the gaping doors of the oven. . . . as we came up there three days after Christmas, in front of that doorway to that crematorium there was a withered Christmas wreath with a white ribbon on it. And the slogan on that ribbon said:   

 

                        From the Christians of Germany:

 

                        We kneel before God in bitter regret and humble

repentance and we ask his forgiveness for the death

of the Jews and all the others who died in this place.   

 

        . . . . For the first time my boys understood within the depths of their hearts what’s happening in America today. . . . There in Sachsenhausen, for the very first time, they saw for themselves how much is at stake in our America, and how desperately important these issues are and how much we stand to lose if we do not awaken and rouse ourselves, quickly.

        The Christians in Germany learned only too late that the people of God in Christ cannot disengage from the culture in which they live.  We cannot withdraw to the comfortable security of our beautiful sanctuaries and sit in our padded pews while the world all around us goes to hell.  For to do so is a betrayal of the Lord whose name we bear and is a denial of the power and efficacy of his Word, the Word that He has given us to proclaim.  

        In Germany, as here in the United States, one of the most clever tools in the enemy’s arsenal used to silence and intimidate Christians, to drive them out of the public square was the lie of the separation of Church and State. . . .

        So Hitler called together the most important preachers in the land . . . . to reassure them, and intimidate them, if he could, to silence their criticism so he could go on with his plans for the country . . . . He told them their state subsides would continue, their tax exemptions were secure, that the church had nothing to fear from a Nazi government.

And finally, one brash young preacher who was there . . . had had enough. He was going to tell the truth even if that truth was not popular.  And he pushed his way to the front of the room until he stood eye to eye with the German dictator. And he said, “Herr Hitler, our concern is not for the Church. Jesus Christ will take care of his Church. Our concern is for the soul of our nation.” It was immediately evident that the brash young preacher spoke only for himself, as a chagrined silence fell over that room and his colleagues hustled him away from the front.

        Hitler with a natural politician’s instinct saw that reaction and he understood exactly what it meant. And, he smiled as he said to himself almost reflectively, “The soul of Germany, you can leave that to me.”  And they did. They kept their religion and their politics strictly separate from one another. And as the innocent were slaughtered and as the nation was led down the path to destruction, they looked the other way and they minded their own business. And their country was destroyed [in twelve short years].

        I would submit to you today that we in America find ourselves in a frighteningly similar predicament. Once again, the innocent are being slaughtered in a 26-year holocaust [over 40 million boys and girls] that makes Hitler look like a humanitarian by comparison. Once again, a nation is being led down the path of destruction and, once again, by and large, God’s people are looking the other way.

        I don’t have to tell anyone in this room tonight how far down that path to destruction we have already traveled. . . . And that’s because in large part every time a Christian, particularly a Christian pastor, raises his voice on a matter of public policy, the immediate hue and cry from the media and from the political and educational elite and the establishment is “Wait a minute! We have the separation of Church and State in this country. You Christians, you keep your morality to yourselves.” As history repeats itself, they smile reassuringly as they tell us, “The soul of America, you can leave that to us.” And we have.

        Brothers and sisters, the time has come and is long since past [for us to] stop listening to and being immobilized by these lies from the father of lies.  This is the genius of America. The recognition that a country like ours, a country where the people rule, must be a country where morality prevails!

        But that’s not the kind of country we have seen developing all around us every day. That’s not the kind of country we read about when we pick up the newspapers every morning. America has forgotten who she is.  And if she does not remember soon, it will be too late. . . .

        America will not turn from the path of destruction until the Christians of this land stop blending in and going along . . . . We must stop compromising and yielding. We must start standing and confessing . . . . but of this one thing we can be absolutely certain, the Lord God Almighty hates the murder of innocent, unborn children. We can win the next election, or the next ten elections. We can balance the budget. We can reduce the deficit. We can bring down taxes and build the mightiest military machine on the face of the earth. But if we do not stop abortion, then God will destroy, and God should destroy, America! . . . .

        On that great day of reckoning, it will not be enough to say, “Lord, we were in church every Sunday. We built great churches in your name. We established great programs in your name. We raised millions of dollars in your name.” On that great day of reckoning to those who stood silent while the killing went on, the Lord will say, “Depart from Me you cursed ones for I do not know you.”

        But in the amazing grace, the incredible mercy and longsuffering of our wonderful God, that day has not yet come. America may turn her back on God but God, for some reason, has not yet turned his back on America. So let us work while it is still day before the night comes, when no man can work. Let us arouse the Christians of this city and of this land to be what God has called and enabled them to be—the stinging salt that stops the decay of death, the shining light that dispels the darkness of doubt and despair, the gleaming city set high upon a hill that stands as a beacon light of life and hope to this nation and every nation. Let us learn from the mistakes of the past.  Let us stand upon the Word of God. Let us save this country that we claim to love, as we become involved in the process in this crucial moment that God has given us. 

        God is placing before us a challenge before it is too late. And I pray that we will find within the depths of our hearts and souls the courage and the faith and the conviction to rise to that challenge and make the most of that opportunity. It is within our power because God has placed it there. It is within our grasp to change this America before it is too late, to snatch our country back from the brink of destruction. 

All the signs of the deadly decay all around us are unmistakably clear. Our nation’s leaders wallow in decadence and deceit. While the polls tell us that people don’t care. And apathy and indifference prevail. We must care as the people of God in Christ. We must be the salt, and the light, and the shining city. 

As Christians gathered here today, let us resolve not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Let us resolve not to allow evil men to triumph simply because good men have done nothing. Let us stand together as the people of God, bold in the confidence of the Spirit, and declare before our nation, “The soul of American, you can leave that to us!”    

 


[1] Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco, CA.: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), 59.

[2] Prominent examples of this include: David K. Naugle, Worldview: The History of a Concept (Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans, 2002); David S. Dockery & Gregory Alan Thornbury, eds, Shaping a Christian Worldview (Nashville, TN.: Broadman & Holman, 2002); J.P. Moreland & William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 2003); N. Allan Moseley, Thinking against the Grain: Developing a Biblical Worldview in a Culture of Myths (Grand Rapids, MI.: Kregel, 2003); Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 1992).

[3] James Orr, The Christian View of God and the World (Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot, 1897), 32-34.

[4] David A. Noebel, Understanding the Times (Eugene OR.: Harvest House Publishers, 1991, 1995), 8-17f.  Paradoxically, on page 11, Noebel lists Orr’s nine specific areas including #8 about the “Kingdom of God on earth” and its purpose of establishing “a new order of society.”  But without explanation, Noebel drops the kingdom from his biblical worldview. 

[5] Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 40.

[6] Ibid., 43.

[7] See “Some Statistical Evidence” in John W. Chalfant, America—A Call to Greatness  (Longwood, FL.: Xulon Press, 2003), 83-90.

[8] Ibid., 142.

[9] Ibid., 143.  Unfortunately, Chalfant’s book also advocates a Christian or biblical worldview without mention or inclusion of a mighty kingdom of God.  In my opinion, this is equivalent to and about as effective—for rallying the troops (the Church), taking back lost territory, and producing cultural change, nowadays—as a dog barking at the moon.

[10] Billy Graham, “The End of the World,” Decision, January 2004, on www.billygraham.org/article (1/14/04).

[11] Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Are We Living in the Last Days (Wheaton, IL.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), back cover.

[12] John F. MacArthur, The Vanishing Conscience: Drawing the Line in a No-Fault, Guilt-Free World (Dallas, TX.: Word, 1994), 12.

[13] Quoted in John Zens and Cliff Bjork, “A Better Society Without the Gospel? The Unbiblical Expectations of Many Christian Leaders,” Searching Together 27:1, 2, 3 (Spring-Fall 1999), 12.

[14] Tim LaHaye and David Noebel, Mind Siege: The Battle for Truth in the New Millennium (Nashville, TN.: Word, 2000), 228.

[15] Gary DeMar, “Give Up, Caught Up, or Get Up?” Biblical Worldview, November 2003, on www.americanvision.org., Biblical Worldview Archive.

[16] Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 343.

[17] One pastor, reading an advanced copy, criticized this section as being “a bit unfair.” He suggests that many “like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have been very active in a form of kingdom building.”

[18] Barna Research Online, “A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person’s Life” (www.barna.org/cgi-bin/PagePressRelease.asp., 1 December 2003), 1-2.

[19] Charles Colson, “The Postmodern Crackup,” Christianity Today, December 2003, 72.

[20] A positive sign was a Christianity Today review of Colson’s latest book, Being the Body.  It summarized that “Colson’s approach is not quietistic.  He stresses the call to holy living and social and cultural action that characterized the 18th-century evangelical renewal and its heirs.” – (David Neff, “Connecting Colson’s Dots,” Christianity Today, June 2003, 51.)

[21] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 1981), 131.

[22] Ibid., 113.

[23] Darrell L. Guder, The Continuing Conversion of the Church (Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans, 2000), xiii.

[24] Ibid., ix.  Unfortunately, Guder’s amillennial view of the kingdom is deficient and impotent, as we shall see.

[25] Ibid., 151.

[26] Ibid., 160.

[27] Darrell L. Guder, Missional Church (Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans, 1998), 7.

[28] Ibid., 8.

[29] Ibid., 10.

[30] Ibid., 12.

[31] Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 42.

[32] Ibid., 36.

[33] Ibid., 35.

[34] Ibid., 36.

[35] Ibid., 41.

[36] Ibid., 49.

[37] Allen Mitsuo Wakabayashi, Kingdom Come (Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 2003), back cover.

[38] Alan Wolfe, The Transformation of American Religion (New York: Free Press, 2003), 2.

[39] Ibid., 3.

[40] Ibid., inside cover leaf.

[41] Ibid., 4.

[42] Ibid., 5.

[43] Ibid., 4.

[44] Cal Thomas, “American culture has triumphed over religious faith,” The News-Press (Fort Myers, FL.), 2 October 2003, 9B.

[45] Editors, Where We Stand: CT’s Views on Key Issues, “Walking the Old, Old Talk,” Christianity Today (October 2003): 34-35.

[46] Michael Potemra, “That Old Time Religion,” National Review (15 September 2003): 46-47.

[47] Richard N. Ostling, Associated Press, “Author: America is harmonious in matters of faith,” The Indianapolis Star, 30 October 2003, E1, 8.

[48] George Eldon Ladd, The Presense of the Future, (Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans, 1974), 122.  Jesus’ “kingdom-is-like” parables are perspectives, and not definitions.

[49] Ibid., 45.

[50] R. David Kaylor, Jesus the Prophet (Louisville, KY.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994), 88.

[51] Ibid., 89-90.

[52] Ibid., 90.

[53] Ibid., 75.

[54] Ibid., 87.

[55] Donald B. Kraybill, The Upside-Down Kingdom (Scottsdale, PA.: Herald Press, 1978, 1990), 20.

[56] Ibid., 27-28.

[57] Ibid., 12.

[58] Ibid., 172.

[59] Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 171.  Another example of a simple definition is: “the realm in which God’s rule is to be exercised . . . here in our world and in our history.”—   Arthur F. Glasser, Announcing the Kingdom (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Academic, 2003), 188.

[60] Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 331.

[61] George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament  (Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans, 1974, 2000), 109. Ladd next offers five specific aspects relating the kingdom and the church, pages 109-117.

[62] Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 26.

[63] Most scholars recognize no difference between the “kingdom of heaven” (used in Matthew) and the “kingdom of God” (used in the other gospels).  They are synonymous and used interchangeably.  This can be verified by comparing the following verses:  Matt. 11:12; Luke 16:16; Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:14, 15; Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20; Matt. 10:7; Luke 9:2; Matt. 13:31; Mark 4:30, 31; 10:14; Matt. 19:23; Luke 18:24.

[64] Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 125. Ladd was a historic premillennialist.

[65] I will not break out historic/classic premillennialism or progressive dispensationism views in this paper since this position along with the amillennial position basically cover the territory.

[66] John H. Sailhamer, Biblical Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 1998), 80.

[67] Ibid., 68.  The idea of a mystery form arises from two sources:  1) Matthew 13:11 – “to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” in the KJV version (Charles C. Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith (Neptune, NJ.: Loizeaux Bros., 1953), 94, 95).  2)  “The conclusion is easily reached.  Since the fundamental characteristics of the Church are called mysteries, the Church itself is a mystery, that is, it was unforeseen in the Old Testament but revealed only in the New Testament” (Ibid., 134, 132).   “The real form is still expected in the future” (Ibid., 101).

[68] Sailhamer, Biblical Prophecy, 33.

[69] Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, (Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans, 1979, 1991), 52.

[70] Ibid., ix.

[71] Ibid., 1.

[72] Ibid., 253.

[73] Ibid., 255.

[74] Guenther Hass, “The Significance of Eschatology for Christian Ethics,” in David W. Baker, ed., Looking into the Future: Evangelical Studies in Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Academic, 2001), 326.

[75] Vern S. Poythress, Understanding Dispensationalists, (Phillipsburg, NJ.: P& R Publishing, 1987, 1994), 36.

[76] J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of Victory (Phillipsburg, NJ.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1971), 3, in a quotation from D.H. Kromminga, Millennium in the Church, pp. 257, 258.  Kik was a postmillennialist.

[77] Paul G. Hiebert, in Forward to, Arthur F. Glasser, Announcing the Kingdom (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Academic, 2003), 8.

[78] Glasser, Announcing the Kingdom, 123.

[79] Ibid., 141.

[80] Ibid., 343.

[81] Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 29.

[82] Kik, An Eschatology of Victory,  4.

[83] Ibid., 9-10.

[84] Ibid., 17.

[85] Ibid., 166.

[86] Ibid., 258.

[87] Keith A. Mathison, Dispensationalism, (Phillipsburg, NJ.: P&R Publishing, 1999), 126.

[88] Loraine Boettner, The Millennium (Philadelphia, PA.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1987), 18.

[89] Edward E. Stevens, What Happened in A.D. 70? (Bradford, PA.: Kingdom Publications, 1997), 23. Not all preterists are cessationists, however.

[90] Ibid., 29.

[91] Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ (Warren, OH.: Writing and Research Ministry sponsored by the Parkman Road Church of Christ, 1987), 370.

[92] Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 328.  Some cite Jesus’ answer to his apostles’ question in Acts 1:6-7 to support their contention that neither they nor we can know the time. But here Jesus is answering a flawed question—based upon a false understanding of the kingdom’s establishment—with basically a non-answer.  Moreover, his answer that “It is not for you to know the times and dates” [note the plural] cannot be extrapolated to meaning that they and we cannot know the general time. Similarly, another popular assumption is attached to Jesus’ statements that “No one knows that day or hour” (Matt. 24:36, 42, 44; 25:13). Here, Jesus’ only restriction against knowing was “day or hour.”  Literally, this does not preclude knowing the week, month, year, or the generation. Nor can this specific restriction be extrapolated to not knowing at all, as is commonly done.  For more see: John Noe, Beyond the End Times (Bradford, PA.: IPA, 1999), 134-142.

[93] Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 120.

[94] The prevailing view attempts to make five world kingdoms out of the four described in Daniel 2 and 7. It’s done by spinning off some of the descriptive attributes of the fourth kingdom, inserting a time gap of indeterminable length and making them into a futuristic, fifth earthly kingdom, which is then called the revived (or revised) Roman Empire. No sound reason exists for taking such latitude. It is totally arbitrary, and is only asserted in order to support a particular futuristic doctrine. Not only does it not fit the picture given by Daniel, Daniel emphatically stated that these visions represented four¾ not five¾ earthly kingdoms (Dan. 2:40; 7:17).  Their attributes were portrayed by four sections of a statue and four beasts, and not five. Furthermore, each of the two parallel descriptions of the fourth kingdom fully applies to the old Roman Empire, and was historically and precisely fulfilled. Several preterist and historicist scholars have documented the symbolically portrayed attributes of each kingdom, and I will not duplicate their work in this paper. But Daniel assured both the king and us that his interpretation was “trustworthy” (Dan. 2:45). All Daniel’s prophesied events happened and were fulfilled within this time frame in history. There is no credible reason to repeat these events or to revive the political, social, and religious conventions of those times.

 

[95] Charles L. Holman, Till Jesus Comes (Peabody, MA.: Hendrickson, 1996), 133.

[96] John F. Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 1991), 162-164.

[97] Willem A. VanGemeren, Interpreting the Prophetic Word (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 1990), 347.

[98] Guder, Missional Church, 76.

[99] D.S. Russell, Daniel – The Daily Study Bible Series (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrews Press / Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1981), 54-55.

[100] Ladd, The Presence of the Future, 86.

[101] James Strong, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, n.d.), #6966.

[102] W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Jr., An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Nashville, TN.: Thomas Nelson, 1984), 10.

[103] Ibid., 11.

[104] Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies, 162-164.

[105] Glasser, Announcing the Kingdom, 22.  Unfortunately, Glasser insists “His present rule over the redeemed [only] foreshadows his ultimate rule over all, over ‘a new heaven and a new earth’(p. 24) . . . . the kingdom of God will be fully and finally established in the last day” (p-42).    

[106] Discussion of preterist arguments for the cessation of the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are beyond the scope of this paper.  They will be addressed in Step #4.

[107] Glen H. Stassen and David P. Gushee, Kingdom Ethics (Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 19.

[108] Ibid., 20.

[109] In Step #4, we shall see that this kingdom does keep coming, but not in an eschatological manner.

[110] Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies, 162-164.

[111] Guder, The Continuing Conversion of the Church, xiii.

[112] The kingdom, of course, is not just about America, but the whole world.

[113] Chalfant, America A Call to Greatness, 193.

[114] Ibid., 194. Unfortunately, again, Chalfant’s book advocates a Christian or biblical worldview without mention or inclusion of a mighty kingdom of God.

[115] Guder, The Continuing Conversion of the Church, 202.

[116] Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 47.

[117] Ibid., 342.

[118] Kenneth S. Kantzer, ed., “Our Future Hope: Eschatology and Its Role in the Church,” Christianity Today (6 February 1987): 1-14 (I).

[119] Guder, The Continuing Conversion of the Church, 160.

[120] Laurence White, For Such a Time as This, (Colorado Springs, CO.: Focus on the Family, BR292/22119, 1998, 1999), audio cassette, side 1.

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Date:

30 Jan 2004

Time:

14:18:16

Comments

Step #7 – Devise a strategy for awakening the Church, taking back lost territory, and turning the world upside down again (Acts 17:6 KJV)—with the rallying cry of “For Christ & Kingdom.” God's kingdom has never been the world-at-large, viz-a-viz the planet earth. God was the King of the Nation of Israel, alone and the Messiah came as His regent to that same Nation, alone. The Messiah completed his work of restoring the 12 Tribes to their inheritance and then returned the crown to God. Trying to "awaken" something that passed away thousands of years ago is a waste of time and is in direct conflict with God's revealed will.


Date:

17 Feb 2004

Time:

21:29:38

Comments

can't say anything


Date:

20 Feb 2004

Time:

09:25:30

Comments

Since both amil and postmil positions recognize there is some sort of present expression of the kingdom, they have had some positive effects on the history of this nation. Postmil was the domininant view that led the the creation of our Republic. The amils in my church talk about fulfilling the 'cultural mandate', which is to bring every sphere of life under the control of the word of God. It is the pre-mils (rapture folks) who have most contributed to our cultural decline. It is not necessary to go all the way to full preterism to reverse the trend (tho that may be the best interpretation of scripture). regards robgeneva@hotmail.com


Date:

29 Mar 2004

Time:

14:34:35

Comments

Having moved in the direction of preterism, I am confused over the criticism of it in this article. Did the kingdom come prior to AD 70 or at AD 70. The article leaves me confused about the charismatic gifts also. Are they available or not? What about 1 Cor 13? If you can answer these, please email me at i.bowden@mueller.qld.edu.au Thank you. Ivan.


Date:

17 May 2004

Time:

16:53:23

Comments

Denmark is not a bad place to live. Not many guns, not much poverty, not known as the home of gangsta rap, health service for all, only problem is rich:poor gap is so small some Americans probably think it's a last bastion of communism. Let's bomb it and with alittle luck we'll get the Sedish and Norwegian commis too.


Date:

17 May 2004

Time:

16:54:05

Comments

Denmark is not a bad place to live. Not many guns, not much poverty, not known as the home of gangsta rap, health service for all, only problem is rich:poor gap is so small some Americans probably think it's a last bastion of communism. Let's bomb it and with alittle luck we'll get the Sedish and Norwegian commis too.


Date: 25 Mar 2005
Time: 14:06:03

Comments:

Thanks so much for the overdue concern for the glory of God in the expansion of His Kingdom which happens to be our kingdom too! It must be every Christian's concern for the glory of God to be over all the whole earth as the waters cover the earth. It is my incessant prayer that God may awaken His people to this concern and my comfort is that He will do it because it is Him who is at work in His people both to will and to do for His good pleasure. I take great pleasure in Hab.2:13,14; "Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the peoples labor to feed the fire and the nations weary themselves in vain? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." It seems the Church is the loosing the battle but let us not be in despair Christ our LORD is King over all the whole universe and every knee bows and every tongue confesses that He is LORD and of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end for the zeal of the LOD

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