God dynamically active in human history
The kingdom of God, therefore, is to be understood as the reign of God dynamically active in human history through Jesus Christ, the purpose of which is the redemption of his people from sin and from demonic powers, and the final establishment of the new heavens and the new earth. It means that the great drama of the history of salvation has been inaugurated, and that the new age has been ushered in. The kingdom must not be understood as merely the salvation of certain individuals or even as the reign of God in the hearts of his people: it means nothing less than the reign of God over his entire created universe. “The Kingdom of God means that God is King and acts in history to bring history to a divinely directed goal.”
It should be added that the kingdom of God includes both a positive and a negative aspect. It means redemption for those who accept it and enter into it by faith, but judgment for those who reject it. Jesus makes this abundantly clear in his teachings, particularly in his parables. He whor hears the words of Jesus and does them is like a man who built his house on the rock, whereas he who hears Jesus’ words but does not do them is like a man who built his house on the sand-and great was the fall of it (Matt. 7:24-27).
- What are the signs of the presence of the kingdom? One such sign is the casting out of demons by Jesus.
- Another sign is the fall of Satan. Still another sign of the presence of the kingdom was the performance of miracles by Jesus and his disciples.
- Another sign, even more important than the last, was the preaching of the gospel. When Jesus said to the seventy, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20), he was restoring their sense of priorities.
- The bestowal of the forgiveness of sins is a sign of the presence of the kingdom. “The presence of the Kingdom of God was not a new teaching about God; it was a new activity of God in the person of Jesus bringing to men as present experience what the prophets promised in the eschatological Kingdom.”
When the disciples ask Jesus a question about who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus asks a child to join the group and says, “Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:4).
title: The Bible and the Future
author: Anthony A. Hoekema