One of the great revelations of the Gospel surrounds the nature of the Kingdom of God. When we enter the New Testament, the very first words uttered by John the Baptist and Jesus Christ are draped in Kingdom language, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17) The Kingdom was the heart of Christ’s proclamation. The Kingdom was to be an ordinary fixture on Christian’s lips as the Lord taught us to pray saying “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 ESV) Also, the Kingdom is to be sought by believers (Matt. 6:33). It is simultaneously a present dynamic (Matt. 12:28), as well as a far off event (Matthew 8:11-12). What are we to make of this then?
The first question to ask is “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Depending on one’s church background, there are various answers to this question. However, I think Scripture plainly teaches that the Kingdom of God ought to be understood as an ALREADY present reality, while simultaneously being a future or NOT YET finalized event. In theology, this is often understood as the “Already-Not Yet” of the Kingdom of God.
Why do we speak in these terms? The Lord Jesus likened the Kingdom of God to something that starts rather small but progressively grows bigger and bigger. In Luke’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed that starts meagerly and almost insignificantly but in time grows to such a degree that even the birds can dwell within it. Another example is that of dough growing in size (cf. Luke 13:18-21). The Kingdom is present, though meager by some estimations, but it will grow and accomplish the end for which it was made.
Jesus made it clear that the Kingdom had come when He shamed the Pharisees who claimed that his miracles were the work of demons. Jesus said, “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matt. 12:28). New Testament scholar, D. A. Carson, rightly notes that Jesus’ language in Matthew 12:28 simply means this, “the kingdom age has already dawned.”
The Kingdom of God has come because has the King has come. God did not leave His people when they abandoned Him or were conquered by their foes. Every place where the sole of Christ’s feet go, the kingdom goes as well. This Kingdom comes in greatness and vast demonstrations of the Spirit’s power in the Son of God, but it is still just getting started. We are reminded in these images that God’s Kingdom is vast and has already bound Satan, the strong man of Matthew 12:29, meaning that the Kingdom is enabled to grow. The book of Acts is testimony to this Kingdom-growing dynamic as Christ’s message continues to go even to the outer most parts of the earth.
Contrary to the majority of voices today, Christ’s kingdom is not going anywhere. Christ’s kingdom is not going to be conquered by modern secularism, or the modern sexual revolution. In fact, every philosophy, every government, every earthly power will eventually fall. Period. History has revealed this over and over again. Worldly empires always presume themselves immortal, but God and His people have outlasted them all.
The Kingdom of God will never falter or waiver. Instead, we are told that the nations will come to Christ (Isaiah 2:2; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). The Gentiles, once forbidden from the temple, will draw near to God as the wall of partition separating Jew and Gentile is undone forever in Christ who draws both to Himself. As Paul testified, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:13-14 ESV)