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The Kingdom is Progressive, not Instantaneous
I’ve received a number of emails in response to my series of articles on the Kingdom. Most are positive, but I would like to take the opportunity to respond to a critical comment from one of our readers. I believe it will help us begin to understand the progressive nature of Christ’s Kingdom. He writes,
The kingdom is here and now. Please tell me in which part of the world you are seeing anything that comes close to the kingdom being HERE AND NOW. If it is here, I suggest we need a new king.
We have over a billion Roman Catholics who think they are the one true church sacrificing the Lord Jesus Christ over and over again upon their altars every day. They have convinced a billion people that they will have to serve time in a place called purgatory because the Lord Jesus Christ didn’t quite complete the job.
We have over a billion Muslims who believe that Jesus Christ didn’t die on the cross and is in no way the Son of God. We have nearly two billion isms in the Near East and South East Asia who believe they all can become “gods” or everything that walks is a “god”. This is one awesome kingdom you have here. Talk about having your head in the sand.
Still, he raises as a good point. If the Kingdom is here, then why do we still have problems to overcome? The Bible indicates that Christ’s Kingdom is progressive in that, his government and peace will continually increase. Isaiah 9:6-7 reads:
For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government is upon his shoulder, and he shall call his name, Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The prince of peace. The increase of his government and peace shall have none end: he shall sit upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to stablish it with judgment, and with justice, from henceforth, even forever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
I’d like to remind my brother that the Reformation was successful and the Roman church is not cutting off heads or burning "heretics" at the stake any more. Furthermore, the Roman church also lets her parishioners read the Bible for the first time in centuries. Science and technology, an outgrowth of a Christian worldview, has improved the quality and length of life more than ever before in the history of mankind. Islam’s days are numbered because the Christian worldview of the West is superior. The Gospel is spreading like a wild fire in Africa and Asia. Compare the world in 1000 AD to 2007 AD. There are more Christians and more opportunities to advance the Gospel than we’d ever imagined. You see, progress is being made, but it takes time and we must be faithful!
God gave us a beautiful picture of the progressive nature of His Kingdom in the Old Testament account of Israel and how they acquired the Land of Canaan. In Numbers 13, we read how God told Moses to send 12 spies (one from each tribe) to scout out the Promised Land. They returned after forty days to give their report. With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, the small-minded and pessimistic spies returned frightened.
So they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched for the children of Israel, saying, The land which we have gone through to search it out, is a land that eatheth up the inhabitants thereof: for all the people that we saw in it, are men of great stature.
For there we saw giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants, so that we seemed in our sight like grasshoppers: and so we were in their site. (Numbers 13:33-34)
Joshua and Caleb believed God’s promises and eventually led Israel into the Promised Land. After years of battling enemy after enemy, God kept all of his promises to Israel and gave them the land (Joshua 21:43-45). The historical account of Israel battling to acquire the Promised Land depicts the Church’s battle to advance the Kingdom of Christ. God did not instantly purify the land for the Israelites any more than he has purified the whole earth for us. Rather, he instructs His people to trust in His power, roll up their sleeves, and get to work in fulfilling the Great Commission!
Plus, there is a greater blessing by participating in the work of God as opposed to taking the fatalist approach of expecting God to do all the work while we sit idly by! The Church, like Israel, is required to obey the Law in order to succeed.
Only be thou strong, and of a most valiant courage, that thou mayest observe and do according to all the Law which Moses my servant hath commanded thee: thou shalt not turn away from it to the right hand, nor to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. Let not this book of the Law depart out of thy mouth, but meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe and do according to all that is written therein: for then shalt thou make thy way prosperous, and then shalt thou have good success.” (Joshua 1:7-8)
God will always be with His Church just as He was with Joshua and the Israelites.
Have not I commanded thee, saying, Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be discouraged? For I the Lord thy God will be with the whithersoever thou goest. (Josh. 1:9)
and lo, I am with you alway, until the end of the world, Amen. (Matt. 28:20)
God has given the earth to His Church just as he gave the land to Israel. We simply need to obey and claim it!
Remember the word, which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. (Joshua1:13)
Likewise, we too can trust that God will fulfill His promises to the Church. One day, we are promised that all nations will worship the Lord and His kingdom will fill the whole earth (Daniel 2:44). We believe these promises and we believe that God will be with us to accomplish them. Isn’t the Christian life exciting? God has given our families a real purpose and a very important job of reclaiming this world for His Glory. As we obey, we will see the progressive sanctification of both men and nations. That’s why we are still here after 2,000 years of Church history!