The kingdom of God: both a present and a future reality
“It is Jesus who rules over His church. Let us therefore be careful that we do not act like kings.” Strong words from the Chief Apostle in a divine service in Santo Domingo. How it came to this …
Hispaniola Island is situated in the Caribbean archipelago, known as the Greater Antilles. It is the second largest island in the region after Cuba. Two separate independent states share the island: the Dominican Republic in the east and Haiti in the west. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider conducted a divine service in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic on Saturday, 22 June 2019. All members of the Church in the country were invited for the occasion. The Chief Apostle based his service on a short Bible text: “Your kingdom come” (Luke 11: 2).
The Chief Apostle explained that as the Lord Jesus was praying with His disciples, they realised that something special was happening. “That is why one of them asked Him to teach them to pray. And He began to say what came to be known as the Lord’s Prayer and instructed them to pray just like this.” The first important thing is the invocation of God and praising Him. The first plea, however, is: “Your kingdom come.” Here Jesus demonstrated a clear priority. The Son of God did not come into this world in order to do miracles or to solve all problems. He came in order to save mankind and to lead them into the kingdom of God. That is what salvation means. “And when we pray, ‘Your kingdom come,’ we acknowledge this principle: He wants to save us and lead us into His kingdom. He doesn’t want to heal us or make us rich.”
The future kingdom of God
Of course, the Chief Apostle continued, this plea from the Lord’s Prayer first of all refers to the kingdom of God to come. For Christians today the text underlines the belief that God wants to free mankind from the bondage of evil and lead them into the kingdom of heaven. It is therefore the declared goal to be part of the bride, whom Christ will allow to enter His kingdom upon His return. Ultimately, it means living in God’s eternal kingdom in the new creation, created by God, in order to replace the one forfeited by human sin.
The present kingdom of God
However—and the Chief Apostle made a point of emphasising this in his sermon—the kingdom of God is also an image that refers to the presence of Jesus Christ among mankind today. Anyone who has been reborn of water and the Spirit can participate in it if he knows that he is completely dependent on grace and cannot earn salvation through his own works, if he allows God to rule over him, and knows that he must work for his salvation today.
What does that mean for us?
Then, continued the Chief Apostle, the presence and dominion of Jesus Christ will be become more and more noticeable in our congregations.
- “The kingdom of Jesus is not of this world. The primary task of the church is the preparation for the return of Christ. Let us never forget: what Jesus does in His church is far more important than what we do!”
- “It is Jesus who rules His church. We are all just servants who serve the Lord and one another. Let us therefore not act like little kings.”
- “Our peaceful coexistence is subject to the law of Jesus. Let us contribute so that love, patience, and grace rule in our congregation.”
- “Let us be confident: ‘Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ (Luke 12: 32).”
After the divine service, the Chief Apostle and his party continued to Haiti on the other side of the island, where he conducted another service the next day.