by Samuel Whitefield
God’s promises are fulfilled in the context of a King and His kingdom (2 Samuel 7). This kingdom is more than a spiritual reality. It is coming to the earth, and we are citizens of this new kingdom (Philippians 3:20).
Because most modern nations are not ruled by a king, we can tend to become disconnected from Jesus’ identity as a king. This can lead to two errors about Jesus’ identity as King:
The first is to think of Jesus primarily as a future King and not a present King. This idea emphasizes the future reality of a kingdom, but misses that God has already revealed Jesus as His King. This leads to Jesus being viewed primarily as a savior rather than an actual leader who commands our allegiance and loyalty now. When we fall prey to this error, we can become apathetic about engaging in God’s mission and also become vulnerable to nationalism.
The Bible calls us to live as ambassadors of the kingdom who are presently empowered to be a witness of King Jesus. We are called to honor, submit, and pray for our governmental leaders, but give our full allegiance to Jesus.
The second error we sometimes make is to think of Jesus primarily as a present King, but not look forward to the kingdom He will establish on the earth when He returns. When we make this error, we think of Jesus only as a “spiritual” King and we think of His kingdom as a spiritual reality we experience now but not a real kingdom that will be established on the earth.
While we do experience benefits now from belonging to the King, and God certainly does demonstrate the authority of Jesus through the church, there is far more coming than what we have now. The Bible predicts a day when Jesus will subdue the nations and establish His kingdom on the earth.
Jesus is presently a King in heaven who is also going to establish His kingdom on the earth.
We tend to separate the spiritual from the earthly, but God has connected the two in Jesus (Ephesians 1:10). John the Baptist preached Jesus as the One who has come from heaven (John 3:31) and, therefore, has all authority. However, when Jesus came from heaven, He came as a real man. He was fully human while still being fully God.
Likewise, when He ascended to the right hand of God and returned to heaven, He returned to heaven as a real man. He did not lose His humanity in any way. A real human man is sitting on a throne in heaven, and that Man holds all spiritual power.
Jesus is bringing His kingdom from heaven, but His kingdom will also be completely earthly. The church is called to live with this perspective.
We have a King now. This affects the way we live and the way we understand our allegiance to the present kingdoms of the earth. Because He is a real King, there is a kingdom that is coming on the earth. This is the good news of the kingdom that Jesus said must be declared through the nations as a witness:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
Join us May 12–13 for a two-day symposium as we explore political and theological issues surrounding Israel with Calev Myers, Founder of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice. This intimate gathering will not be recorded or streamed online, so reserve your space today.
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Samuel Whitefield serves as faculty at IHOPU.