The Kingdom of God:
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. Fact is, get the kingdom of God straight and many other, vital, and interrelated realities of the Christian faith readily fall into place. Miss it, even slightly, and you’re liable to be way off on these many other aspects. That is how pivotal the kingdom of God is.
The kingdom of God was the central teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, at the heart of his earthly ministry, and central to his worldview and that of his first followers—the New Testament writers and the early Church. It was the very essence of 1st-century Christianity. But today, the kingdom is no longer the central teaching of most of his Church, at the heart of its ministry, nor its worldview or very essence. RED FLAG! What has happened? What has changed?
Once again, Dr. Billy Graham aptly demonstrates this omission deficiency in his syndicated newspaper column addressing the question of why we Christians “Celebrate Christ’s birth:”
- Yes, Christmas should be a time of celebration—the celebration of the coming of God’s son into the world for our salvation. . . . He came as a baby, but he grew up to become God’s appointed sacrifice for our sins by his death on the cross. And because he rose from the dead we have hope now and for eternity.
- (Billy Graham, “My Answer,” The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, IN), 3 December 2011, E-4)
Of course, what Dr. Graham writes is true. But notice that he makes no mention of the kingdom. The kingdom has been edited out. Therefore, his statement is only partially true. And as Christian Overman writes, “The most effective lies are those which come as close to the truth as possible. That’s no lie” (Christian Overman, Assumptions That Affect Our Lives (Bellevue, WA.: Ablaze Publishing Co., 1986, 1996, 2006), 95).
The most blatant example of Dr. Graham’s kingdom-deficient worldview and theological bias, however, comes from his column in today’s paper (as I write). I quote his sentence exactly and fully:
- In his first sermon, Jesus declared, “The time has come. . . . Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). (Billy Graham, “My Answer,” The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, IN), 26 December 2011, E-4.)
Here the kingdom of God is literally edited out by a three-dot ellipsis. Mark 1:15 actually reads in the NIV, “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’”
What Scripture Says:
At the very 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 1:14-15 KJV [NIV]). What “time” (kairos meaning “set,” “proper time,” or “season”) was Jesus talking about that He claimed was “fulfilled?” Many Bible scholars maintain that “it is impossible to know the time.” Consequently, they wrestle with the tension of the kingdom being both present and future, and insist that the “time of apocalyptic consummation remains in the future.” Or does it?
- When would the everlasting kingdom come?
- How we lost Jesus’ kingdom—so what?
- False kingdom views in the Church today.
- Not postponed.
- Not ‘already / not yet.’
- Not just initiated or inaugurated.
- How long would Jesus’ kingdom last?
- What truly is the kingdom?
- A Once-Mighty Faith (future book – est. 2014-15) by John Noe
- The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
- The Great Omission by Dallas Willard
- The Presence of the Future by George Eldon Ladd
- Assumptions That Affect Our Lives by Christian Overman