The Kingdom of God and the Church
In the third part of this series on understanding the difference between religion and the kingdom of god as it relates to humanity.
We are going to dig further into the relationship of the Church as it relates to the Kingdom of God.
In the New Testament, The Church is the community of the Kingdom of God.
In which Jesus is acknowledged as Lord of the Heavens and the Earth. And through which, in anticipation of the end. The Kingdom is concretely established in history.
The ‘Messiah’ and the ‘Messianic‘ community are correlated terms.
If Jesus is the Messiah, and indeed He claimed He was. Then it is not strange that He should surround himself with a community that recognizes the validity of His claim.
They are the ones whom He will acknowledge before His Father who is in Heaven (Matt. 1O:32).
They are His family, closer to Him than His brothers and mother in the flesh (Matt. 12:50).
Jesus references this messianic community as ‘my church’ (Matt. 16: 18).
- To fit perfectly with one purpose of His mission.
- To surround Himself with a community of His own.
- The promises of God’s covenant with Israel would be fulfilled.
The context of Jesus’ revelation is that He will build a ‘church.’ Which will be characteristically His own by itself. Suggests the relation between the Church and his Messiahship.
Only after the disciples have realized that He is the Messiah does He announce His intention.
He is the Messiah in whom the Kingdom of God has become a present reality.
The Church is the community that comes into existence due to its royal power.
With that being the case, the Church must not be compared with the Kingdom.
As G. E. Ladd states:
“If the dynamic concept of the Kingdom is correct, it is never to be identified with the Church… In the biblical idiom, the Kingdom is not recognized by 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 of God itself … The Kingdom is the rule of God, and the Church is a society of humans.
In God’s purpose after Pentecost, the Kingdom of God was to continue to be a present reality through the gift of The Holy Spirit.
This is made clear. By Jesus’ response to His disciples’ question concerning the Kingdom. ‘Lord, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel at this time?’
He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is God the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you. you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.” Acts 1: 7 MSG
The Holy Spirit is thus the agent of eschatology in the process of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God that has broken into history in Jesus Christ continues to act through the Holy Spirit.
The Church is the result of God’s action through His Spirit.
It is the body of Christ, where the life of the new era started in Jesus Christ’s works.
Likewise, the Spirit gives the Church the charismata, which makes her existence in a missionary community possible (1 Cor. 12:4).
This means that the Church Is not primarily an organization. But an organism whose members are united by the action of the Spirit. ‘One body’ corresponds to ‘one Spirit (Eph. 4:3).
The representation of the Church is called the Bride of Christ. And Christ is declared the Head of the Church, His Bride.
As individual believers and in the Church, we must have an intimate relationship with Christ.
This relationship is closer than an earthly husband and wife relationship. It is the marriage between the bride (The Church) and The Groom (Jesus Christ).
The legally and formally recognized union of two beings as partners in a personal relationship. It is a combination or mixture of two or more components—Jesus through His holy Spirit- within the Church.
Marriage is the beginning—the beginning of the family—and is a life-long commitment.
The vision of this union is recorded in the book of Ephesians:
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church.
His body, and himself its Savior. As the Church submits to Christ, wives should offer everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.
Having cleansed her by washing water with the word so that he might present the Church to himself in splendor. Without spots, wrinkles, or any such thing, she might be holy and without blemish.
In the same way, husbands should love their wives as much as their bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
No one ever hated his flesh but nourished and cherished it, just as Christ does the Church because we are members of his body. “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church. However, let each of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33 MSG
The importance of this relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Church. It is for the correct understanding of the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the Church. It can hardly be exaggerated.
The Church is dependent on the Spirit for its very existence. No Holy Spirit, no Church. So, its words and deeds can only be the means for the present manifestation of God’s Kingdom.
It cannot be fully explained as human deeds and words.
The Kingdom of God does not belong exclusively to the future.
It is also a present reality manifested in the community of the believers in Christ, which is a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Eph. 2:22).
The Church is NOT the Kingdom of God but the concrete result of the Kingdom.
It still bears the marks of its historical existence. The influences of the not yet characterize the present time.
But here and now, it participates in the ‘already’ of the Kingdom of God. That Jesus has set in motion. As the community of the Kingdom indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
The Church is indeed called to be a new society that stands alongside both Jews and Gentiles (1 Cor. 10:31).
The Church must not be identified with the Kingdom as the Kingdom. But it must not be separated from it either.
Here and now, it is intended to reflect the principles of the Kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is not to claim that the Church is already ‘the Church victorious.’ Nevertheless, recognizing that the Church is the Israel of God (Gal. 6: 16).
The people of God are called to confess. Jesus Christ as Lord and to live in the light of that confession.
The result of Pentecost was not merely the power to preach the gospel. But also, the apostles did many wonders and miraculous signs, and a community of people committed themselves.
Pentecost, therefore, meant power for a new lifestyle, including a new economy.
The powers of the new age, released by Jesus Christ, were present then and are present now.
His Spirit among God’s people enables them to be a credible sign of the Kingdom.
The Mission and Good Works
Because the Kingdom has been launched in Jesus Christ.
The mission of the Church cannot be effectively understood. Apart from the presence of the Kingdom.
The mission of the Church is an extension of the mission of Jesus.
It is the manifestation, though not yet complete, of the Kingdom of God through declaration, social service, and action.
The apostolic witness continues to be the Spirit’s witness. To Jesus Christ as Lord through the Church.
God, who placed the whole universe under Jesus. ‘Appointed him to be the head of everything for the Church. Which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Eph. 1:22, 23).
As the community of the Kingdom, the Church confesses and proclaims the Lord Jesus Christ.
She (The Church) also performs good works that God prepared her to do in advance. And for which God created her in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2: 10).
It is true that through the apostolic writings, Jesus and the apostles continue to speak.
It is equally legitimate through the Church. And her good works, the Kingdom becomes historically evident as a present reality.
Good work is not an optional addition to the mission. Instead, they are an integral part of the present manifestation of the Kingdom.
They point back to the Kingdom, which has already come, and forward to the Kingdom yet to come.
What are your thoughts on The Kingdom of God and the Church?
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Make sure you read the first and second parts of this series,
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Have You Received Salvation?
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it.
And why? Because that person failed to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:16-18
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
“I assure you and most solemnly say to you. Unless a person is born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
How Can Anyone Be Born Again Who Has Already Been Born and Grown Up?
“I assure you and most solemnly say to you unless one is born of water and the Spirit. He cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh [the physical is merely physical], and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” John 3:5-6
Born from Above
What does the Bible say about how you get salvation?
The ABCs of salvation is the acronym for admitting, believing, and confessing.
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and is justified; with your mouth, you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
Because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God]. And believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved.
With the heart, a person believes [in Christ as Savior]. Resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God].
With the mouth, he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. Romans 10:9-10 (AMP)
We receive salvation in Christ through repentance and faith. This means changing our thinking, turning away from sinful ways (repentance) and, turning to God (faith), trusting in Christ.
Jesus will forgive our sins and set us on a path to life with Him. We cannot earn this right. It is His free gift.
It is a free gift because Jesus has already forgiven you. He is waiting on you to decide to choose Him in this very moment at this exact time in the present.
What If You Die Today?
Have you ever thought about that question? People die every day, and many of those deaths are totally unexpected. Have you ever considered your eternal destiny?
Choose to receive the Kingdom of God by Confessing that Jesus is Lord.
Pray this Prayer
“Father God, Holy is your name. Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done in my life.
Come into my heart and my mind as my Lord and Savior.
Take complete control of my life and help me to walk in your Spirit and not in my flesh daily by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father God, I welcome your word into my life and declare and decree that “Jesus is my Master .”
Embracing, my body, soul, and Spirit, I am calling out to you, God, trusting that you do it for your glory.
I believe God, you have set everything right between You and me!
Thank You, Lord, for saving me and for answering my prayer. In Jesus’ Name. It is so. Amen.”
That’s salvation. With your whole being, you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”
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Acts 1:6-8 – Restoring the Kingdom – Reading Acts. https://readingacts.com/2015/01/17/acts-16-8-restoring-the-kingdom/
Acts 1:8 – Bible Gateway. https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Acts%201%3A8
Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife as … – Bible Hub. https://biblehub.com/ephesians/5-23.htm
Ephesians 5:25-33. Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.
Ephesians 2:22. Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Eph.+2%3A22&version=MSG;AMP
Acts 2:42-44. Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+2%3A42-44&version=MSG;AMP
Eph. 1:22-23. Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Eph.+1%3A22%2C+23&version=MSG;AMP
Messianic. Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/messianic
Pentecost. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentecost
The Mission of The Church Is In Light Of The Kingdom Of God. C. Rene Padilla. –
The Kingdom and The Church Part 1. Myles Munroe. https://youtu.be/83cBiiyYdd0