A Solidly Catholic View of the Kingdom of God

As we all know, Jesus Christ spent His preaching years proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God.

And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Luke 4:42-43, English Standard Version

Wouldn’t it be good, if we Christians actually know what He was talking about?

Christians Must Produce Fruit, and Expand the Kingdom of God

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Mathew 6:31-36, English Standard Version

Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Matthew 12:25-28, ESV

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:21-16, ESV

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Matthew 21:31b-32, ESV

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Matthew 21:42-44, ESV

And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

Luke 8:9-15, ESV

So, if we are going to produce good fruit… if we are going to be worthy servants… then we should know what our Master’s will is, true?

This kingdom, the Kingdom of God, is very important to Jesus Christ.

Jesus wants to see this kingdom grow.

So let’s find out

  • what the Kingdom of God is, so
  • we can learn to expand it, until it fills the whole world.

—<Quote from Christian Reconstruction,
by Gary North and Gary DeMar>—

Protestants and Catholics

It always astounds me when I hear Protestants cite John 18:36 in order to defend a narrow definition of God’s kingdom in history. Four centuries ago, this narrow definition was the Roman Catholic view of the kingdom. Roman Catholics equated the kingdom with the church, meaning the church of Rome. The world is outside the church, they said, and it is therefore doomed. The institutional church is all that matters as far as eternity is concerned, they argued. The world was contrasted with the kingdom (“church”), and the church could never encompass the world.

In sharp contrast, the Protestant Reformation was based on the idea that the institutional church must be defined much more narrowly than God’s world-encompassing kingdom. Protestants always argued that God’s kingdom is far wider in scope than the institutional church. So, from the Protestant viewpoint:

1. The kingdom is more than the church.

2. The church is less than the kingdom.

The Protestant doctrine, “every man a priest” – as Protestant an idea as there is – rests on the assumption that each Christian’s service is a holy calling, not just the ordained priest’s calling. Each Christian is supposed to serve as a full-time worker in God’s kingdom (Romans 12:1). What is this kingdom? It is the whole world of Christian service, and not just the institutional church.

What we find today is that fundamentalist Protestants have unknowingly adopted the older Roman Catholic view of church and kingdom. Writes Peter Masters of Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle: “Reconstructionist writers all scorn the attitude of traditional evangelicals who see the church as something so completely distinct and separate from the world that they seek no ‘authority’ over the affairs of the world.”[1] We do not argue, as this critic argues to defend his own position of cultural isolation, that “The kingdom of God is the church, small as it may sometimes appear, not the world….”[2]

This definition of the kingdom of God as the institutional church is the traditional Roman Catholic definition of the kingdom, and it has led in the past to ecclesiocracy. It places everything under the institutional church. The church in principle absorbs everything.

This same definition of the church can also lead to the ghetto mentality and cultural isolation: it places nothing under Christianity, because the kingdom is narrowly defined as merely the institutional church. Because the institutional church is not authorized to control the State (correct), and because the kingdom is said to be identical to the church (incorrect), the kingdom of God is then redefined as having nothing to do with any- thing that is not strictly ecclesiastical. This is our critic’s view of the kingdom.

So, pietists have sharply separated the kingdom of God (narrowly defined) from the world. Separating the institutional church from the world is necessary, but separating God’s kingdom from this world leads to the surrender of the world to Satan’s kingdom. Thus, it is never a question of “earthly kingdom vs. no earthly kingdom”; it is always a question of whose earthly kingdom, God’s or Satan’s? To deny that God’s kingdom extends to the earth in history – the here and now – is necessarily to assert that Satan’s kingdom is legitimate, at least until Jesus comes again. But Satan’s kingdom is not legitimate, and Christians should do whatever they can to roll it back. Rolling back Satan’s earthly kingdom means rolling forward Christ’s earthly kingdom.

What Christian Reconstructionists argue is that this originally Protestant view of the kingdom of God in history has been steadily abandoned by Protestants since at least 1660, to the detriment of the gospel in general and Protestantism specifically. They call for the recovery and implementation of the older Protestant view of God’s kingdom. This is what has made Christian Reconstructionists so controversial. Today’s Protestants do not want to give up their medieval Roman Catholic definition of the kingdom of God, and they deeply resent anyone who asks them to adopt the original Protestant view. Their followers are totally unaware of the origins of what they are being taught by their leaders.

The Kingdom of God

There are a lot of definitions of the kingdom of God. Mine is simultaneously the simplest and the broadest: the civilization of God. It is the creation – the entire area under the King of Heaven’s lawful dominion. It is the area that fell under Satan’s reign in history as a result of Adam’s rebellion. When man fell, he brought the whole world under God’s curse (Genesis 3:17-19). The curse extended as far as the reign of sin did. This meant everything under man’s dominion. This is what it still means. The laws of the kingdom of God extend just as far as sin does. This means every area of life.

God owns the whole world: “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). Jesus Christ, as God’s Son and therefore legal heir, owns the whole earth. He has leased it out to His people to develop progressively over time, just as Adam was supposed to have served as a faithful leaseholder before his fall, bringing the world under dominion (Genesis 1:26-28). Because of Jesus’ triumph over Satan at Calvary, God is now bringing under judgment every area of life. How? Through the preaching of the gospel, His two-edged sword of judgment (Revelation 19:15).

Reform and Restoration

The kingdom of God is the arena of God’s redemption. Jesus Christ redeemed the whole world – that is, He bought it back. He did this by paying the ultimate price for man’s sin: His death on the cross. The whole earth has now been judicially redeemed. It has been given “a new lease on life.” The lease that Satan gained from Adam has been revoked. The Second Adam (Jesus Christ) holds lawful title.

The world has not been fully restored in history, nor can it be; sin still has its effects, and will until the day of final judgment. But progressively over time, it is possible for the gospel to have its restorative effects. Through the empowering of God’s Holy Spirit, redeemed people are able to extend the principles of healing to all areas under their jurisdiction in life: church, family, and State.

All Christians admit that God’s principles can be used to reform the individual. They also understand that if this is the case, then the family can be reformed according to God’s Word. Next, the church is capable of restoration. But then they stop. Mention the State, and they say, “No; nothing can be done to restore the State. The State is inherently, permanently satanic. It is a waste of time to work to heal the State.” The Christian Reconstructionist asks: Why not?

They never tell you why not. They never point to a passage in the Bible that tells you why the church and family can be healed by God’s Word and Spirit, but the State can’t be. Today, it is the unique message of Christian Reconstruction that civil government, like family government and church government, is under the Bible-revealed law of God and therefore is capable in principle of being reformed according to God’s law.

This means that God has given to the Christian community as a whole enormous responsibility throughout history. This God- given responsibility is far greater than merely preaching a gospel of exclusively personal salvation. The gospel we preach must apply to every area of life that has been fouled by sin and its effects. The church and individual Christian evangelists must preach the biblical gospel of comprehensive redemption, not just personal soul-winning.[3] Wherever sin reigns, there the gospel must be at work, transforming and restoring. The only area of life outside of the reach of Spirit-empowered restoration is an area that was not affected by the fall of man. This, of course, means no area at all.

Denying Responsibility

There are millions of Christians today (and in the past) who have denied the obvious implications of such a view of God’s earthly kingdom. Nevertheless, very few of them have been ready to deny its theological premises. If you ask them this question – “What area of life today is not under the effects of sin?” – they give the proper answer: none. They give the same answer to the next question: “What area of sin-filled life will be outside of the comprehensive judgment of God at the final judgment?”

But when you ask them the obvious third question, they start squirming: “What area of life today is outside of the legitimate effects of the gospel in transforming evil into good, or spiritual death into life?” The answer is obviously the same – none – but to admit this, modern pietistic Christians would have to abandon their pietism.

What is pietism? Pietism preaches a limited salvation: “individual soul-only, family-only, church-only.” It rejects the very idea of the comprehensive redeeming power of the gospel, the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and the comprehensive responsibility of Christians in history. In this rejection of the gospel’s political and judicial effects in history, the pietists agree entirely with modern humanists. There is a secret alliance be- tween them. Christian Reconstruction challenges this alliance. This is why both Christians and humanists despise it.

[1] 1. Peter Masters, “World Dominion: The High Ambition of Reconstructionism,” Sword & Towel (May 24, 1990), p. 18.

[2] Idem.

[3] Gary North, “Comprehensive Redemption: A Theology for Social Action” (1981), reprinted in North, Is the World Running Down? Crisis in the Christian Worldview (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1988), Appendix C.

—<End Quote>—

So, to summarize:

The Kingdom of God is not limited to the church walls, or within the skulls of observant Christians. Far from it!

The Kingdom of God is everywhere Christians can serve, wherever they can make the world a better place: safer, healthier, honest, just, merciful, compassionate, comfortable. A better understanding of the world around you, better tools to shape it, and better goals to aim for.

We can separate the institutional church from the world, but we may not separate the Kingdom of God from the world. Satan has actual power in this world, as every aborted baby, robbed man, or raped woman could tell you. This Satanic power, on this world, in the here and now, MUST BE BROKEN.

That is where the Kingdom of God comes in.

“Satan’s kingdom is not legitimate, and Christians should do whatever they can to roll it back. Rolling back Satan’s earthly kingdom means rolling forward Christ’s earthly kingdom.

Amen, Amen.

What is the extent of the Kingdom of God? Wherever sin can be found, that sin is to be rooted out, and replaced with obedience to King Jesus.

A king rules a territory, a Kingdom. In Jesus’ case, that territory is all of creation, every thought, word and deed, every atom and photon and quark, every star and galaxy. Every nation, every institution, every man, every woman, every child.

Note: this is the Kingdom of God. This is not the territory of the church or the pastorate. The institutional church is but one of the many training and operation centres for people who wish to expand the Kingdom of God.

Sinful, rebellious religious institutions & organizations have been destroyed before, and will be destroyed in the future. But the Body of Christ, the people Christ is pleased to call His adopted brothers and sisters, will live forever.

Christ has come to redeem the world. He and His people work to drive back the domain of Satan, in time and on earth. But you cannot fight something with nothing. This something we fight for is Christ and the supremacy of His Law-Word, over all things.

The Kingdom of Christ must expand, in time and on earth.

The Kingdom of Satan must crumble, be shattered, and fall. In time, this fall must eventually be permanent. Christ struck the Kingdom of Satan, creating a flaw, a crack, in the gates and walls of hell that can only spread and deepen, in time and on earth. We will work under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to rip apart the Kingdom of Satan in great ways and small, by obeying Christ in great ways and small.

Our sins before Christ can be repented of, making any setbacks in the growth of the Kingdom of God a strictly temporary, if painful, matter. In contrast, any and all strongholds Satan hold on this world grow weaker over time, more likely to be lost. It may be that the foolishness of Christians may allow the Kingdom of Satan to have a temporary resurgence: but it’s never as strong as it was before. And when God’s people repent, the gates of hell are even easier to shatter!

There is no biblical reason why the State must be Satanic.

There is a strong biblical expectation for the State can be redeemed, brought down from some self-serving fake god, to a humble minister of Christ, careful not anger Him with oppression or lies or theft or murder.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20, English Standard Version

Obedience to God brings blessings. This is true of nations, as well as individual men. The Old Testament demonstrates and proclaims this truth; the New Testament expects it.

It is time to break the Kingdom of Satan, in time and on earth.

It is time to expand the Kingdom of God. Into all things, all areas, every law book, every philosophy, every science, every business.

Not by the power of some totalitarian state, or some totalitarian church, or some murderous revolutionary movement, however secularist or religious.

But by the power of demonstrated, comprehensive obedience to Christ, a refusal to tolerate inferior work, sinful behavior, or the exaltation of power over Objective truth and Effective justice.

Both of which comes from the Power of God, and defined by His Word.

And not the hands or tongues of powerful men.

(Regardless of their choice of raiment: military uniforms, kingly cloaks, priestly cassocks, judicial robes or white smocks.)

All power has been given by God, to Christ. In time and on earth, as for all eternity.

It’s time Christians actually take Christ at His world!

THAT is the way to victory: in time, and on earth.

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