What is it? Why Is It Important? How Does It Affect Me? I hope to explain it a bit more.
As a church and part of the Vineyard movement, we have the privilege of proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God and being witnesses of the “already and not yet” of the kingdom in our words and deeds. How? Through praying for healing (physical, emotional, and social), helping those who are oppressed, and delivering those who are held captive by evil. (See Luke 4: 18,19 where Jesus laid out His marching orders.) The kingdom of God is the future reign of God breaking into the present through Jesus’ life and ministry in and through us.
- Some Things Jesus our King Said About His Kingdom –
- Jesus said to repent for the kingdom is at hand (right here among you) – Matthew 4:17 Since Jesus the king was present then His kingdom was also present wherever He was.
- Jesus said you must enter the Kingdom as a child – Luke 18:17
- While God’s kingdom is present in his ministry, it is not fully present. There is a future fulfillment when Satan, sin and all darkness will be forcefully dealt with. In the present, Jesus comes to manifest God’s direct rule here and now, healing the sick, casting out demons, bringing justice to the poor and defeating our enemies. (Matthew 4:23) The future kingdom has started. It has broken into our daily reality. It is God’s intention to spread this kingdom around the world (to all people) and down through history until its final and complete arrival. The kingdom is ‘really here’ but it is not ‘fully here’. We as believers, then, live in the tension between the kingdom that has come and the kingdom that is coming, the “already and the not yet.”
- Oscar Cullmann wrote a book with the title: ‘Christ and Time’. Culmann used the example of the difference in World War II between “D-Day” and “V-Day.” When the allies established the Normandy beachhead on “D-Day,” the war in Europe was really won. Yet, “V-Day” remained in the future and the battle went on.
- When Jesus came as God’s Messiah, it was “D-Day,” the beachhead of God’s kingdom was secured. It broke in upon us as the future became present. Still though, we await its final arrival. When Jesus returns it will be “V-Day.” The Christian life is then lived in this tension between the kingdom come and coming.
- This helps explain our experience as Christians.
i. We triumph in Christ on the one hand and we continue to fight spiritual warfare in many ways (Ephesians 6).
ii. We have died with Christ (Gal 2:20), and yet our flesh still wars against the spirit. (Romans 7, Galatians 5:17)
iii. It explains why some people are dramatically healed by the power of God and also continue to get sick and die.
iv. It explains why we have strength through weakness and life through death. The good news is that the future kingdom is now at work in the present. We are not waiting for the end times. We are living in the end times. The Holy Spirit gives us daily strength.
2. Already / Not Yet People
- “Already” Verses
i. ii Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
ii. ii Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
- “Not Yet” Verses
i. ii Corinthians 5:2-5
ii. Colossians 3:5
- “Already” and “Not Yet” Passages
i. ii Corinthians 6:4-10
- For us, the Christian life will always be lived in a SORT OF tension. Not everyone we talk to about salvation in Christ will be converted. Not all that we pray for will be healed. But some/many will as the kingdom of God breaks into their lives. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) This is not a magic prayer. It is a prayer asking for the future kingdom to break in upon us right now. It is also our prayer for the final wrapping up all things. As we live in the end times we wait and pray for the end to come. Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God, the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (I Corinthians 15:22-25)
- Jesus began his earthly ministry by announcing the arrival of the Kingdom of God. Because of Jesus–his life, death, and resurrection– we can once again experience the reign of God in our lives.
We now have access to reality as God experiences it and as we will one day experience it in complete fullness when Jesus returns and renews all things. God’s reality breaks into our reality, giving us glimpses here in the present of what will be in the future. The Kingdom has already come.
While we are welcomed into God’s Kingdom now, we await the full experience of his reality in the future. God’s reality breaks into our reality, but not as much or as often as we would like. The world is not yet as it should be. So we continue to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The Kingdom has not yet arrived.
This is the tension we live in – between the ‘already and not yet’ of God’s Kingdom. Our only path into God’s reality is through our King, Jesus Himself. We have the Holy Spirit living in our lives, so we have God’s kingdom living inside us. Jesus promises to guide us into experiences of God’s reality. He gives us the strength to live lives of the future here in the present.
- To wrap it up – we need to walk daily in His kingdom. We need to live in the now of God. We aren’t just ‘on hold’, waiting for the ‘sweet bye and bye’ – We have the privilege of reaching out, talking to, praying for, ministering to the hurting people around us, inviting them to experience His kingdom power NOW. Plus we can and need to invite them to enter His kingdom for the first time and to experience the ‘life more abundantly’ that we experience.