Preaching The Kingdom Of God -- By: Tom Wells

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 09:1 (Winter 2000)
Article: Preaching The Kingdom Of God
Author: Tom Wells

Preaching The Kingdom Of God

Tom Wells

Not long ago I had a visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. After we had talked a bit one of them asked me, “How would you define the kingdom of God?” As you may know, the kingdom is one of their favorite themes. I gave my answer and after some further discussion they left.

Does the subject of God’s kingdom have the same interest for Christians as it does for the Jehovah’s Witnesses? It should. Why? Because understanding God’s kingdom—in the broad terms with which I will treat it here—offers a framework for preaching and grasping the ongoing program of God. Two things, particularly, make such understanding important to us. First, our Lord taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Unless we are content with vain repetition, we will want to know what we are praying for. That is doubly true because the Lord Jesus did not leave us large numbers of subjects for prayer. This prayer, then, must be important. We cannot help being interested in its meaning. Second, we see that the message preached in the gospels is the message of “the kingdom of God” or, in Matthew’s gospel, “the kingdom of heaven,” where “heaven” is used as a synonym for God. (Compare “heaven knows” and “God knows” in profane English.) Since this is the message of the gospels, we dare not ignore it.

The Meaning Of The Word “Kingdom”

Let us start by reviewing the meaning of the word “kingdom.” In modern English kingdom most often means a realm or territory ruled over by a king. In the Bible it often has the same meaning. In a vision Satan showed the Lord Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world, and their splendor,” and offered them to Jesus in return for worshiping him (Matthew 4:8–9). If we ask, “What was it that Jesus saw?” most likely the answer is, a vast array of territories that Satan claimed to rule. “Look at all these countries! They’re mine,” Satan said in effect, “but they’ll be yours—every inch of them!”

In Scripture, however, kingdom often means something else, something like royal rule, reign, power, authority or sovereignty. When Paul writes that God “rescued us from the power [Gr. “authority”] of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13), he does not mean that God moved us from one place to another. Not at all! He means he took us out from under the reign of Satan and brought us under the kingship of Jesus Christ. So when we read of the “kingdom of Go...

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