The Kingdom of God is Now…All the Time!
When one false teaching is introduced or reintroduced to the church, it tends to proliferate other false teachings. For this reason, our commitment must be to the truth. True doctrine is derived from the Bible and correct interpretation. False doctrine is often derived from the Bible, but in every case, it is accompanied by inaccurate interpretation.
Our case example here is Dispensationalism’s idea that the kingdom of God is something exclusive to the future. With its penchant to separate Israel and the church (false teaching), instead of separating ethnic Israel from true Israel, as the Apostle Paul does in Romans 9:6, the Dispensationalist segments God’s story in a rather uninspired way. Their objective is to create two different groups of God’s people (ethnic Israel and Christ’s church). Thus, there are two ways of salvation (one for Jews and one for Christians).
Segments (periods) of time also add to the confusion brought by these “lovers of Israel (ethnic unbelievers).” Terms like “church age” demarcate God’s changing His plans. Instead of seeing the continuity of God’s covenant and people, the Dispensationalist teaches discontinuity. They teach that God was doing one thing with Old Testament Israel, and He is doing something different with the New Testament church. The claim of “the birth of the church” being Acts 2 is indicative of this discontinuity.
Church simply means, “God’s called out people.” In the Old Testament, the representative group of called out ones was the remnant of believers within unbelieving, ethnic Israel. This group still exists, today, but the inclusion of the remnant of believing Gentiles, from every unbelieving nation is more prominent (Rev 5:9; 7:9). Together, the chosen remnant, both Jews and Gentiles (Gal 3:28), is called, “Christ’s church (Mt 16:18; Gal 3:28)” and “the Israel of God (Gal 6:16).”
The synonymous terms, church and Israel, demonstrate continuity in God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge for His chosen people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. The elect people of God, predestined to adoption as sons (Rom 8:15, 23, 30; Eph 1:4–5) and whose names were registered in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8; 17:8), are revealed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. God has always had a representative people to bear witness of His Person and works.
Instead of seeing Jesus as King of Israel (synonymous with Head of His church), the Dispensationalist separates the church from the kingdom of God. According to this false teaching, the church is now, today, while the kingdom of God is some future time when Jesus will rule and reign on earth.
Jesus Christ is Lord, today (Phil 2:11). All authority in heaven and on earth is His sovereign domain, today (Mt 28:18). Our God reigns, today, from the right hand of Majesty (Ps 110:1). Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For the kingdom of God does not consist of words but in power (1 Cor 4:20).” The same Apostle wrote to the Romans, “…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17).” Philip the evangelist preached, “the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12),” as did Paul in Rome (Acts 28:31). Obviously, the early church believed the kingdom was still at hand after the King ascended to His throne in heaven (Acts 1:9–11).
Jesus Christ is King of Israel and King of kings (Jn 1:49; 12:13; 1 Tim 6:15). His kingdom is “eternal” according to the Apostle Peter (2 Pet 1:11). So, it is right for Christians to bear witness that the King of all is Jesus Christ, the King of glory (Ps 24). His kingdom in both space and time is universal. Our God reigns forever and ever (Rev 11:15) and in every place. Who could or who would claim to be a Christian and deny Jesus is the sovereign Lord of all (Acts 10:36)?
In order to clear up the confusion introduced by Dispensationalists, let us make a few simple statements that will delight the believer who has formerly been led astray by errant Bible interpretation.
First, Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the King, whose kingdom is eternal, as is His rule and reign over all.
Second, subjects belonging to Christ the King were set apart by name in eternity and transferred into the kingdom of God’s Beloved Son during their respective times and seasons on the earth.
Third, this “transfer” is also called, “salvation.” The elements and order of salvation have remained the same throughout history. Abel was saved by grace through faith, just as God’s elect are saved today.
Fourth, God’s Spirit has always been the divine agent by which salvation comes. Denying the salvific work of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament Israel is an error. It has always been the Spirit revealing God’s Word, replete with promises to be believed. Faith simply does not exist without the Holy Spirit of adoption (Jn 10:26; Rom 8:9).
Finally, wherever the Spirit of the Lord is working to bring the will of God to fruition, there you have the kingdom of God at hand. This has been true in every conjured epoch of men.
In conclusion, Dispensationalists must repent of severing the people of God into two groups. They must repent of severing the church and the kingdom into two distinct ages. We have one Lord, one Spirit, one baptism into one church, which is the kingdom of royal priests from every age and every place — serving the body of Christ, the Israel of God, whose Head has always been King Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 3, 2022