God is the sovereign Lord of the universe and the centrality of divine Lordship is a prominent theme in the Bible. Scripture reveals that God possesses absolute authority and rule as King. He is the living God, the eternal King. “But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God and the everlasting King” (Jer. 10:10). As King, God has authority (a throne), a realm (the heavens), and subjects (all). His Lordship and absolute sovereign authority over all confronts and opposes our autonomy. It demands our recognition of Him as Lord of all, that all things belong to Him and are subject to Him. Divine Lordship as a central theme in our faith will transform our thinking about God and it will radically alter our attitude in worship. It is a theology that not only educates but sanctifies everyday life.
The doctrine of divine Lordship naturally leads us to His Kingdom authority and the various concepts of the Kingdom of God in the Bible. The word “Kingdom” means “rule or authority.” The concept of the Kingdom of God takes on various shades of meaning in Scripture and needs to be distinguished. Broadly speaking, the Kingdom of God is the rule of an eternal sovereign God over all the universe. When we become part of God’s Kingdom, we come under God’s rule; we are under new management. What a sobering truth for our lives!
Various Concepts of Kingdom
1. The Universal Kingdom
God is the ruler of the whole universe (1 Chron. 29:11; Psa. 145:13). He is King over all the earth (Psa. 47:2, 7, 8, 9). The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His Kingdom rules over all (Psa.103:19). Dominion belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations (Psa.22:28). God’s sovereignty and authority is unlimited in scope. He exercises His rule over all His creation. In the universal Kingdom God is the absolute ruler. He rules over all in time and eternity.
2. The Spiritual Kingdom
All believers have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the Kingdom of His beloved Son (Col.1:13). God’s mighty rescue operation of His people does not stop with deliverance from the authority of Satan. He has also “brought” or “transferred” them positionally into the Kingdom of the Son He loves. The Greek word translated “transferred” was used in secular literature in reference to removing persons from one country and settling them as citizens in another country. They were “reestablished.” Deliverance and transference are two fundamental realities of the new birth.
Christians are already within the sphere of the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom which is totally a spiritual realm of redemptive blessings. It is a present reality. The entrance to this spiritual realm is through the new birth. We are “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), and “seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). Christ is the ruler of this Kingdom and in this aspect of the Kingdom He rules over believers only. It is the sovereign rule of the Lord over human hearts. The Kingdom referred to here is a spiritual reality right now. Paul further explains it in Romans 14:17: “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
3. The Mystery Form of the Kingdom
The parables of Matthew 13 revealed the mysteries concerning the concept of the Kingdom. These truths about the Kingdom were previously unknown. They are revealed by Christ only to those who are properly related to Him (Matt. 13:11-13). The mystery phase of the Kingdom (the present day) encompasses the period between the two advents of Christ. During this period wheat (children of the Kingdom) and tares (children of the wicked one) grow together until the judgment time (Matt. 13:30, 38, 40). The tares or weeds may resemble wheat but can only be distinguished from wheat when fully ripe. Satan will be active during this phase of the Kingdom. He is called the “evil one,” and “enemy” (Matt. 13:19, 25, 39).
In the mystery phase of the Kingdom, the King is away for a time, but He will come back at the end of the age to execute judgment. Meanwhile, wheat and weeds are permitted to coexist. In this phase of the Kingdom the ruled are people who have related themselves to the Kingdom—“Christendom” as a whole, including mere “professors” and genuine “possessors.”
4. The Millennial Kingdom
God’s Word tells us that the next great event after the Second Coming, is the establishment on earth of a thousand–year reign of Christ (Rev.20:1-6). The prophets, apostles, and Christ preached the coming of this Kingdom. The Millennial age will bring about the complete fulfillment of God’s covenants and promises with the nation Israel in the Old Testament. The Millennial Kingdom is sometimes referred to as the Messianic or Davidic Kingdom. The land promise made to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 15:18-21) and the Kingdom-throne promises made to David (2 Sam. 7:12-16) will be fulfilled literally during the reign of Christ on earth. The Messiah’s rule and reign on earth is a major theme in Bible prophecy (Isa. 11:1-10; 32:1-20; 35:1-10; Jer. 23:5-8; Joel 3:17-21; Zech. 14:9-21). Revelation 20 specifically tells about the duration of the Messianic Kingdom on earth. Christ, the Messiah, will rule over the earth and its inhabitants during the 1.000 years that follow His glorious return. During this time the Church will reign with Christ.
The Church & the Kingdom
The Church is the body of Christ; it is not the Kingdom. The Church is not building the Kingdom today. The Church’s mission is to preach the gospel and fulfill the Great Commission. The Kingdom will be established by the King when He returns. When the Lord addressed the Kingdom with His disciples (Acts 1:6-8), He did not deny their expectation of a literal, earthly Messianic Kingdom. But the Lord did not want them to engage in speculations over the time of the coming of the Kingdom. They were to focus on the work at hand—“You shall be My witnesses…” (Acts 1:8). God by His own authority, at the right time, will establish His Kingdom on earth. The Lord did not teach that the preaching of the gospel will usher in the Kingdom. The Church is not the agent in accomplishing Christ’s lordship over all the structures of the world.
Contemporary theonomy (from the Greek word for God and Law) advocates argue that the Church, like Israel, has the solemn responsibility to pressure governments to confirm God’s laws, including those given through Moses—the precepts and the penalties. When this has been realized, they say that God’s Kingdom on earth will have arrived. This is just a reiteration of Postmillennialism (the view that Christ will return after the Millennium. The Kingdom of God is now being extended in the world today through the preaching of the Gospel and the world will become progressively better). You will not find such teaching in the Word of God.
The Church stands unique in the purpose of God and it remains distinct. The Church and the Kingdom should not be equated; these are two different entities. The relationship of the Church to the Kingdom must be carefully discerned. Having briefly surveyed the various concepts of the Kingdom, we can safely conclude that:
The Church comes under the concept of universal Kingdom and is a part of it as God is the ruler of everything in the universe.
The Church, the Body of Christ, is equivalent to the spiritual aspect of the Kingdom into which all believers have been placed.
The Church is also part of the mystery form of the Kingdom since the Church is part of Christendom.
The Church is not part of the Millennial Kingdom, but the Church will reign with Christ in His Kingdom.
Above all powers, above all kings,
Above all nature, and all created things…
You were here…
Above all Kingdoms, above all thrones…