The Church and the Kingdom

Joel Stephen Williams

There is frequently confusion on the relationship between the church and the kingdom. The term "kingdom" is primarily a term used in the Four Gospels while the term "church" is primarily used in the book of Acts and the epistles. While the two are not to be equated, neither are they to be totally separated. "Kingdom" primarily refers to the reign of God, not the territory over which he reigns. "Kingship" would be a useful translation in many verses. Thus the kingdom of God, his royal reign, is what creates the church when individuals accept his rulership over their lives.

Everett Ferguson, professor of Bible at Abilene Christian University, recently authored a study of "ecclesiology" (the doctrine of the church). This study is being welcomed by scholars across our brotherhood as the finest study ever written on this topic. In his book Ferguson discusses the kingdom on pages 18-36 and draws these conclusions by way of summary:

1) The kingdom is active. It refers to the kingly activity of God, the rule of God among people. Thus the kingdom is present.

2) The kingdom is God's reign over all his realms, and this is without beginning and end. His rule over Israel and over the church are manifestations on earth and occur within a time frame, but neither exhausts the reign of God, for his reign is in heaven as well as on earth.

3) The kingdom is present wherever Jesus is present. He represents the kingdom of God in the present age. Where Jesus was, there was the power of God; so, where the Spirit of Christ is, the power of God is at work.

4) The kingdom of God is associated in the Gospels with breaking the power of evil. The kingdom was connected with the preaching and miracles of Jesus. It continues to be present where he is preached.

5) The rule of God comes to persons when Jesus forgives their sins. He manifests his power in forgiveness (Mark 2:5- 12). He gives new life, eternal life. When sins are forgiven, the power of Satan over that person's life is broken.

6) Acceptance of the kingdom is obedient response to Jesus.

7) The kingdom of God creates a people.

8) Final victory of God's kingdom is certain. God's kingdom is an eternal kingdom. The present blessings are a pledge of the ultimate fulfillment of hope.

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