kingdom of God

Pastor Anderson preaches a sermon in which he attempts to discount dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is the belief that God has given various methods of salvation to various people depending on contextual variables (when, where, who). Because, Pastor Anderson sets up a straw man dispensationalist who says that the method of salvation switched upon Christ’s death, Anderson sees fit to quote John as proof faith was utilized before Jesus’ death:

Joh 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

So, to John the Baptist, what did “believing on the Son” entail? This statement seems more like a deferring to Jesus, saying to trust in Jesus’ message. It would be a mistake to equate modern Christian cliches with chance ancient phrases. To believe in Jesus was to believe in his message. Jesus’ ministry was not one of believing in his death, burial, and resurrection, but one of salvation of righteous Jews through the imminent coming of a worldly kingdom of God. Jesus’ gospel is explicitly labeled as the Gospel of the Kingdom of God:

Mar 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
Mar 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Elsewhere, the reader gets a glimpse of particulars of the coming kingdom:

Mar 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Mar 9:1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Here the chapter layout of Mark is a little deceiving. Mark 8:38 transitions directly to Mark 9:1 with no verses in between. Mark 9:1 is completing the thought of Mark 8:38. The kingdom of God is specifically when God returns to earth and establishes a physical kingdom, delivering the Jews from their oppressors. This is exactly what God prophesied through Zacharias (Luk 1:57-65). The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Jews returning to power under a righteous king. It was characterized by the wicked being destroyed and the righteous being elevated (Mat 25:33-41). It is no wonder that Jesus’ ministry was for the Jews only (Mat 1:21, Joh 4:22, Mat 15:24).

The Jews readily accepted this message. The kingdom of God has been prophesied to destroy earthly kingdoms and set up a Godly reign:

Dan 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

In Luke 19, Jesus specifically tells a parable alluding to his death, but prophesying the kingdom of God would come to earth:

Luk 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Jesus then goes on to tell a story about a king who goes away but then returns. Upon returning (referencing the kingdom of God appearing), the king checks the investments of his servants (progress of the disciple’s preaching). The kingdom of God, Jesus is teaching, first is postponed by an absent King. It is clear that the apostles were mistaken about the timeframe of the kingdom of God coming to earth, not the process.

Later in Luke, Jesus goes over the various signs of end times: wars, earthquakes, the sun being blotted from the sky. This, Jesus equates as signs that the “kingdom of God” is at hand:

Luk 21:29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
Luk 21:30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
Luk 21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

Kingdom of God, at least when used by Jesus, in no way resembles the Christian concept of salvation in heaven. It is on earth. It is physical. It is thoroughly Jewish.

Jesus, does sometimes use this term figuratively, but not in the sense suggested by Pastor Anderson:

Mat 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Mat 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

If a demon is cast out of a person then is that person saved? No Christian would think that. Instead this is an instance of Jesus using his power to foreshadow the blessings of the coming kingdom. The kingdom of God, figuratively, is anything under the power and control of God (as a side-note: this is antithetical to Calvinism). An alternate translation of “kingdom of God” is “reign of God”.

Jesus’ ministry was not one of salvation to an eternal life in heaven, but one of resurrection to eternal life in an earthy Kingdom of God to believing and righteous Jews. This is contrasted with Paul’s own ministry: one to the gentiles and one of faith alone. If those who want to discount dispensationalism want to contend that John the Baptist is preaching faith alone, they have Jesus with whom to contend.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, Dispensationalism, Figures of Speech, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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