What great changes we are seeing in practice and thought patterns, I firmly believe that we live in an age that the people of God are experiencing a new reformation at every level. A massive transformation is happening around us, Dispensational practice and theology is in the last shakes for survival as the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ is growing and affecting the thinking of the church, the people of God. Its onward advance is transforming our responsibility for creation rather than upholding a hoped escapism, it brings an accountability for transformation in our societies rather than doing away with a fallen world, it is the Kingdom of God at hand!
We are born to a very challenging yet exciting moment of advance as Father God makes known God’s purpose and will. Today we are much more given to the language and practice of ‘mission,’ ‘transformation,’ bringing the rule of God to earth to see the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus said the kingdom ‘…has come….and is coming…’, for some this means that over the years we have had to deal with the immediacy of the kingdom ‘…has come…’ being careful not to get lost into triumphalism with ‘Kingdom now’, only now having to deal with the onward transformation of ‘…the Kingdom is coming and will come…’, this is where our labour comes in, the travail until Jesus receives the ‘travail of his soul’ Isa 53:11
Church historians tell us that following every move of God approximately 30 to 35 years on, those affected in the move turn to transformation initiatives prior to another move of God. Historically an example of this can be seen following the move of God in the UK with John and Charles Wesley in their education, health, etc, initiatives. The UK experienced a move of God some 30/35 years ago commonly name the ‘house church movement’, this was a move, as it changed the structure of the church and theology. Note it also was not isolated to the UK. Similar move happened with a groups of men and women in South America, South Africa, USA and I am told Australia, they may have been under different names but there was a move of God afoot.
However, I can only comment on the UK, I believe what we are seeing in the UK now is not a recycling of history but the impact of a Kingdom Gospel. Time will only tell, if it is history recycling we are on the verge of another move, but I seeing it as the coming of the Kingdom along with our growing grasp of understanding relating to the Kingdom of God. I write this as an introduction to a book review that I believe all should take time to read to ensure our Kingdom is foundationally correct in all the changes we are seeing. Please note this book was written many years ago and does not contain all the advances made over the last 40 years however a good place to commence a journey from. It is imperative we establish continually our foundation as we advance and fresh revelation breaks in on us, it is necessary to be able to contain revelation.
I will introduce chapters for you, this blog will only deal with the initial chapters so you can think on them, then we will return in the next blog to further chapters continuing our thinking.
‘The Gospel of the Kingdom‘ George Eldon Ladd
Chapter 1 – What is the Kingdom of God? – There are diverse interpretations of the Kingdom of God. This is the result of the many varying different interpretations that are found within the Bible. The Kingdom of God is seen as a present spiritual reality, (Rom 14:17) the Kingdom is also an inheritance which God will bestow upon His people. (Mat 25:34) The Kingdom of God therefore holds two tensions closely; it is a present spiritual reality but at the same time the Kingdom has a future realm as well. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule, reign and sovereignty now. Gods rule is also an everlasting rule and reign. In order for one to enter the future realm of the Kingdom of God, one must submit himself in perfect trust to God’s rule here and now. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule, reign and sovereignty now. It is an everlasting rule and reign.
Chapter 2 – The Kingdom is Tomorrow – George Eldon Ladd explains how the Kingdom of God can be held in two different spheres as a present spiritual reality & a future hope by explaining that there are two different ages; this age and the age to come.
This age is dominated by wickedness, evil & rebellion against the will of God, whilst the age to come is the age of the Kingdom whereby God’s rule and reign will be at the centre. Ladd explains that the drive of ambition for wealth & success are all involved with the cares of this age. He suggests that the spirit of this age is hostile to the Gospel of Jesus. In Ephesians it talks about Satan being the prince of the air, this age is defined by Satan having the power of the air.
The age to come will witness the fullness of God’s Kingdom, the perfection of God’s reign. Ladd explains that we will never experience the full blessings of Gods Kingdom in this age as he argues that death will not be destroyed until the final judgment at the end of the rule of Christ talked about in Revelation.
Chapter 3 – Kingdom of God is Today – Heb 6:5, ‘who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the power of the age to come,’ displays that which belongs to the future has become a present reality. By the power of the age to come may be delivered from the from this present evil age. Within this chapter Ladd goes onto explain that the Kingdom of God has invaded this age.
In the last chapter it was suggested that death will not completely be destroyed until the end of the millennial rule of Christ. Although this is true it is important to note that through Jesus’ resurrection the triumph over death has begun and Satan has already been defeated. (Heb 2:14) Jesus life on earth broke the power of Satan. Satan is a defeated enemy and because of this we may be delivered from the power of this evil age into the Kingdom of God. Therefore we can bring God’s rule and Kingdom, age to come into the present evil age.
Chapter 4 – The Mystery of the Kingdom – The Mystery of the Kingdom is that it has come amongst men, but yet men can reject it. God’s Kingdom is working among men, but it will not compel them to bow before it, they must receive it through a willing heart and a submissive will. The Kingdom of God does not force itself upon men; it is not like a stone grinding an image to powder but the Kingdom requires a submissive heart & will.
The Kingdom of God has come to work among men, destroying human rule & abolishing all that stand against the Father will from the earth. The Kingdom offers men blessings of God’s rule, delivering men from the power of Satan. However the Kingdom will not work with an ‘irresistible power,’ but will work within the hearts of men that have submitted to God’s rule & reign.