Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Christ? Does it matter?

A while back I did a series of studies entitled in search of the kingdom of God. In these, I was trying to investigate what scripture had to say about the kingdom of God. I suspected that the way in which most evangelicals use the term kingdom of God was not really accurate. The first thing that I discovered is the phrase *the kingdom of God* is used most prevalently in four gospels and Acts. I believe that it was a first century Jewish term that anticipated the reign of the Messiah. It therefore would mean to the first century hearers the kingdom of the Messiah. If we were to express that in our terms today it would be the kingdom of Christ.

Why make this distinction, kingdom of God... kingdom of Christ what is the difference? I think there is a big difference from a New Covenant view. National Israel was the kingdom of God. God was their King. When reading I Samuel chapter 8 it is clear that God considered himself king of Israel. When Israel asked for a king they really were rejecting God as their king. Yet, in God's ultimate loving grace he provided a king for them at a future time. In fact, in reading Ephesians one it is seen that God had planned to give them a Messiah from before the foundation of the world. This kingdom was God's first purpose in creation. Before humanity was created and allowed to fall, the kingdom of the Messiah, (kingdom of Christ) had already been proclaimed by the word of God. It was a reality before creation. It merely awaited the time in which it would be fulfilled in linear time.

But you say, you still have not made a case for the importance of the distinction. Well, please be patient, I will. The difference is in who the actual king is. God, Yahweh, was their king under the old covenant. They were under a kingship that was predicated on a legal-constitutional reading of scripture. But, the kingdom of God prophesied in the gospels, would in fact be the kingdom of the Messiah (the kingdom of Christ.) When Israel rejected God as king, he said via the prophet Samuel, that if they wanted him back as their king he would not hear. However, grace and mercy prevailed and it unfolded that He had already made a provision for them to have a King.

It was a mystery to them, but He would become their king again via His Son Jesus. Often, I hear someone speak of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and often I fear that they mean God the Father. Since evangelical Christianity insists on a legal constitutional reading of scripture it is very easy to understand why this is happens, but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords of Revelation 19:16 is the *Word of God* verse 13. So then, make no mistake, the kingdom of God is really the kingdom of the King of Kings. It is the kingdom of Christ.

Now then, when one speaks of the principals of the kingdom of God or kingdom of God principals they are speaking of the kingdom of Christ. As I have demonstrated over and over on this blog, Jesus and his first century followers taught a Jesus of Nazareth centric view of the scripture and gave them a redemptive purpose taking away the legal-constitutional reading in favor of a redemptive view.  You can not teach kingdom of God principals from an old covenant mindset. It must be one that focuses on the risen Christ Jesus.

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