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The KINGDOM of GOD

 

For your information, inspiration and intercession, please study this ICCP Discussion Document from the Reformation 500 Church Consultation in Wittenberg, Germany, October 2017, in preparation for the upcoming Reformation 500 Global Church Council Zürich, 15-19 July 2019.

 

If you have any suggestions on how these may be improved, or to communicate the support of your church, mission, or ministry, write to the International Church Council Project.

 

The KINGDOM of GOD: A SUMMARY of the BIBLICAL and HISTORICAL VIEW

 

ARTICLES of AFFIRMATION and DENIAL

 

GOD’S ETERNAL, SOVEREIGN REIGN

 

Article I

We affirm that the Triune God has reigned sovereignly as King of the universe throughout all time, both before and since the Incarnation and will continue to reign eternally.

We deny that the reign of Jesus Christ, the God-man, beginning in the first century, suspends the providential reign of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Exodus 15:18; Psalm 96:10, 99:1, 146:10; Proverbs 8:15, 9:6-7; Isaiah 24:21,23, 40:12-17; John 19:11; Acts 4:27-28, 17:30; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Colossians 1:16-19; Hebrews 1:13-14; Revelation 1:5, 11:15,17-18, 15:3-4, 19:6, 22:3-5.

 

DEFINITION of the KINGDOM

 

Article II

We affirm that the term Kingdom of God has several applications and may denote (a) the universal rule of Christ over all things, both redeemed and non-redeemed; (b) the special, saving rule of Christ over His people: (c) the life, wisdom, holiness, power and authority that Christ grants to His people; (d) the permeating influence of the Word and Spirit in the world.

We deny (a) that the term Kingdom of God refers only to the providential rule of the Triune God and (b) that Christ’s rule and realm are limited to the Church. Galatians 5:21-25; Ephesians 1:20-23, 2:4-9; Philippians 2:9-11; 1 John 2:8,15-17, 3:8, 4:4, 5:4-5; Revelation 1:5, 5:8-13, 19:11-16,20-21, 22:3-5.

 

PURPOSE and FALL of MAN

 

Article III

We affirm (a) that God purposed from the beginning to share His rule over the earth with man; (b) that God created man in His own image and endowed man with faculties for ruling the earth; (c) that God, in the Creation Mandate, commissioned man to take responsibility and improve the earth and granted him delegated authority to fulfil this commission; and (d) that man, by God’s design, was made to be the highest created being in the universe because he is the only creature that bears God’s image.

We deny (a) that man’s fall into sin eradicates the image of God in man; (b) that the fall eliminates or reduces man’s responsibility or mandate for exercising dominion under God over the earth; and (c) that all mankind, the righteous or the wicked, ever ceased to be responsible to live under the rule of God in grateful obedience to Him as Lord and King in every area of life. Genesis 1:27-30; Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Psalm 8:4-8; Romans 1:18-25, 2:6-12; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:1314, 2:6-8; Revelation 1:5.

 

INAUGURATION of the KINGDOM

 

Article IV

We affirm (a) that the New Testament phase of the Kingdom of God was inaugurated in fact and history at Jesus’ first coming to earth and (b) that it now operates in reality and power among men in this present age.

We deny that the Church must await the second coming of Christ for the Kingdom of God to be inaugurated on earth in time-space reality and in power. Isaiah 9:6-7, 52:13-15, 53:1-12; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Daniel 2:32-35,43-44; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 2:2-6, 3:1-3, 4:17,23, 6:9-10, 10:7, 12:28, 14:40-52, 16:18-19, 21:45, 22:42-45, 28:18; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 8:1, 23:3; John 18:36-37; Romans 16:20; Ephesians 1:19-23, 2:6; Hebrews 1:3, 8:10-13; Revelation 1:5.

 

CONSUMMATION of the KINGDOM

 

Article V

We affirm that the Kingdom of God will increase until it is consummated when Jesus delivers it to the Father and that, at the present time, this Kingdom is both already present and not yet consummated.

We deny that the Kingdom of God will be either consummated or realized totally, comprehensively, or perfectly on earth before the return of Jesus. Isaiah 2:2-4, 9:6-7; Daniel 2:32-35; Matthew 24:14, 25:31-34; Luke 22:29-30; 1 Corinthians2:9, 15:23-28, 51-55; Romans 8:21-25.

 

THE KINGDOM TOUCHES ALL SPHERES of LIFE

 

Article VI

We affirm (a) that the Bible reveals God’s intentions for the growth of His Kingdom in all nations of the earth during this present age through the proclamation and obedient application of His stated will in Scripture and (b) that His intention includes the increasing manifestation of His rule over individuals, voluntary associations, families, the church, the state and all spheres of human activity, some of which are: law, government, economics, business, occupations, education, sports, medicine, science, technology, arts and media.

We deny that God’s rulership is limited to transforming only the private lives of individuals to His will. Isaiah 2:2-4; Daniel 2:32-35; Psalm 2:1-10, 96:1,7,9-13; John 1:1-4; Acts 4:10-12, 17:30; Romans 1:19-20, 2:6-10; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 3:17,22-24.

 

MAN’S DOMINION OVER the EARTH RESTORED

 

Article VII

We affirm that Christ alone, as representative Man and last Adam, by His life, death, Resurrection and Ascension to the Throne at the right hand of the Father, accomplished Redemption, the defeat of satan and the beginning of the restoration of man’s godly dominion over the earth as God’s vice-regent.

We deny that the restoration of man’s God-ordained dominion (a) lies outside the scope of Christ’s redeeming work as Mediator on the Cross, or (b) awaits the physical presence of the returned Christ for its inauguration and expansion. Gen1:26-28, 2:19-20, 3:15; Ps 2:6-8, 8:6, 72:1-2,8, 110:1-2, 132:11; Is 9:67, 11:1, 16:5, 42:1, 45:23; Jer 23:5, 27:5-6, 33:14-17; Dan 7:13-14,18,22,27; Zech 9:9-10; Matt 16:18-19, 28:18-20; Luke 1:31-33, 9:1-2, 10:18-19; John 5:27, 12:31; Acts 1:6-8, 2:32-35, 4:25-26, 5:31, 7:55-56; Rom 5:14-15,17, 6:911, 8:16-22, 16:20; 1 Cor 15:20-28; Gal 4:4-7; Eph 1:17-23, 2:5-6; Phil 2:9-11; Col 1:13-20; Heb 1:2-4,8,13, 2:5-9,14, 10:12-13; 1 Pet 3:22, 4:11; Jude 1:25; Rev 1:5-6, 5:9-10, 11:15, 12:5, 19:15-16, 20:6. 

 

SATAN’S DEFEAT and CHRIST’S RULERSHIP

 

Article VIII

We affirm that Jesus Christ rules sovereignly over the kings of the earth not only as eternal God but also as the sole Mediator between God and men and that He in accordance with the Law defeated satan de jure by His victorious life, death, Resurrection and Ascension.

We deny that satan is the ruler of this world in any sense that undermines the recognition of the rightful rule of Christ over the earth during this present age. Ps 2:1-6, 110:1-2; Matt 4:10, 10:1, 12:24-29, 16:18-19; Luke 10:17-19; John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11; Acts 2:34, 4:25-26, 13:9-11; Rom 16:20; 1 Cor 15:24-26; 2 Cor 10:3-5; Eph 6:11-13; Phil 2:9-11; Col 1:13; Heb 1:13; 1 John 4:4, 5:4-5; Rev 19:15,19-21, 20:1-3,10.

 

ALL AUTHORITY GIVEN to CHRIST

 

Article IX

We affirm (a) that Jesus, the Son of David and Son of God, was given all authority in Heaven and on earth by God the Father; (b) that after His Ascension He sat down on the Throne at the right hand of God; (c) that from this position of absolute authority in the universe He is bringing all things into submission under His feet, exercising His authority ever more widely and fully on earth as the Gospel spreads and people are converted to Him; and (d) that His exercise of that authority will become more fully manifest after His second coming.

We deny that Christ will ever be given any more power or authority over the earth than He was given at His first coming. Ps 2:1-6; Is 9:6-7; Dan 2:32-35; Matt 28:18-20; Acts 4:10-12, 4:25-26, 17:30; 1 Cor 15:25-28; Eph 1:19-22, 2:6; Phil 2:9-11; Heb 1:2-5; Rev 1:5, 5:5-12, 19:1121.

 

EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW to CHRIST NOW

 

Article X

We affirm (a) that now, even before Christ’s second coming, every knee in every nation on earth should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of this universe and rightful Ruler of all lives and (b) that only those who, trusting in His grace alone for forgiveness of sins, repent of their sinful rebellion and submit to Christ as Lord are justified and stand accepted at the bar of God’s Judgment.

We deny that anyone, Jew or Gentile, believer or unbeliever, private person or public official, is exempt from the moral and juridical obligation before God to submit to Christ’s Lordship over every aspect of his life, in thought, word and deed. Ps 2:1-6; Dan 2:32-35; Matt 4:17,23, 28:18-20; Acts 4:10-12, 17:30;Rom 3:2324, 5:8, 8:1-4; Phil 2:9-11; Rev 1:5.

 

SUBMISSION to the LORDSHIP of CHRIST is ESSENTIAL to SALVATION

 

Article XI

We affirm that, because the King demands obedience from His subjects and children, (a) repentance is necessary for citizenship in the Kingdom of God and (b) genuine repentance is evidenced by deliberate and continuing choice to submit obediently to the Lordship of Christ.

We deny (a) that anyone can rightly claim Christ as Saviour who does not submit to Him as Lord; (b) that Christ will save anyone who refuses to submit in grateful obedience to Him as Lord and King; (c) that this view embraces the idea of salvation by works; and (d) that Christians ever become sinless or outgrow the need for repentance in this life. Matt 4:17-23, 7:21-27; John 14:21,23, 15:5-6,10; Rom 6:1-2,12-14, 8:1314;Gal 6:7-8; Eph 4:20-24, 5:3-6; Col 3:1-7; Heb 10:26-29; James 1:22, 2:1726, 3:11-17; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 1 John 2:3-4,9-11, 2:3-4, 3:10,17-18. 

 

THE CHURCH and THE KINGDOM

 

Article XII

We affirm (a) that the Church, which is Christ’s Body and Bride, consists of the redeemed and is manifested in the community of believers; (b) that Christ’s Kingdom authority is not limited to His Church but extends over all areas of life; and (c) that the Church is the focal point of Christ’s Kingdom work here on earth.

We deny (a) that the Church is to be equated with any denomination; (b) that Christ’s authority is limited to His Church or any group of believers; and (c) that any institution other than the Church is God’s primary instrument for the spread of the Gospel and the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Ps 110:1-3, 118:22-23; Is 28:16, 45:23, 60:3,11-15, 61:3-6; Dan 7:14,18,22,27; Matt 16:18-19, 18:18-20, 21:41-44, 28:18-20; Luke 9:2; John 17:18-22;Acts 1:6-8, 20:25-28, 28:28; Rom 8:16-19; 1 Cor 6:2; Eph 1:18-23; Phil 2:9-11; Col 1:13-18; Heb 2:6-9, 8:8-13, 12:22-24,28; 1 Pet 2:6-9; Rev 1:6, 2:26, 5:9-10, 20:6, 21:2-7,23-27.

 

THE GREAT COMMISSION

 

Article XIII

We affirm that the Church has an absolute responsibility to obey the Great Commission and the task of the Church is: (a) to herald Christ as King over all the earth and Judge of all mankind, who now commands all men everywhere to repent; (b) to proclaim the good news of salvation by grace through faith in the atoning blood of Christ; (c) to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all things that the Lord has commanded.

We deny (a) that the Church can disregard the Great Commission and still walk in godly obedience; (b) that the Great Commission is restricted solely to proclaiming the Good News of salvation without the accompanying call to repentance and faithful obedience; (c) that the deliverance believers enjoy from the condemnation of the moral Law exempts them from the obligation to obey it; and (d) that obedience to the Law is a means of salvation. Matt 4:17-23, 10:1,7-8, 28:18-20; Luke 4:17-20; Acts 1:8; Rom 6:12-16; Gal 3:1-5, 23-28.

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER

 

Article XIV

We affirm (a) that the intention of the Great Commission is essentially the same as the intention of the second and third petitions of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creation Mandate, namely, that the Father’s will should be done on earth as it is in Heaven and (b) that these instructions from God call believers to participate by both prayer and action in the expansion of His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven to whatever extent that is possible before Christ’s second coming.

We deny (a) that anyone can pray the Lord’s Prayer with sincerity and understanding without desiring that increasing numbers of individuals, private groups and civil states should grow in obedience to the will of God the Father and (b) that Christians need to agree in advance to what extent Christ’s Kingdom will be operational on earth prior to His second coming before they can work together humbly and productively. Gen 1:27-29; Matt 6:9-15, 24:36, 28:18-20; Luke 11:1-4; Acts 1:7.

 

THE KINGDOM and THE HOLY SPIRIT

 

Article XV

We affirm that the Kingdom of God, however guaranteed in the promises of the Father and embodied in the person of Christ, can never gain entrance or come to full realization in the fabric of human life apart from the agency of the Holy Spirit, who is indispensable to insure Kingdom entrance, to seal Kingdom membership, to implement Kingdom obedience, to build Kingdom character, to furnish Kingdom gifts, to empower to Kingdom outreach, to produce Kingdom growth and to secure Kingdom victory.

We deny that character strength, personal charisma, skilful management, creative imagination, evident talents, financial strength, political action, or educational prowess by themselves can build or advance the Kingdom of God. Ps 104:29-30; Is 30:1, 59:19-21, 61:1-3; Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-29; Zech 4:6; Matt 3:11, 12:28, 28:19; Luke 11:13, 12:12; John 3:5-6, 6:63, 14:26, 15:26, 16:13; Acts 1:5,8, 2:4,16-18,33, 4:31, 9:31; Rom 8:4-17,26-27, 14:17;1 Cor 2:4,14, 3:16, 6:9-11, 12:4-13; 2 Cor 1:22, 3:3-11,17-18, 10:3-5;Gal 3:3, 5:1625; Eph 1:13, 4:30, 6:12-18; Phil 3:3; 1 Thes 1:5; Titus 3:5; Heb 2:4; 2 Pet 1:21; 1 John 3:24; Jude 1:19.

 

THE CHURCH RESPONSIBLE for ADVANCING THE KINGDOM

 

Article XVI

We affirm that God holds the Body of Christ responsible for advancing His Kingdom on earth, to whatever extent God has ordained, by applying His Biblical principles through service in all spheres of human activity in all nations, prior to our Lord’s glorious return, the second coming.

We deny (a) that any belief regarding the timing of Christ’s second coming, the sequence of events leading up to it and the possible extent of the Kingdom’s growth prior to Christ’s return releases anyone from such responsibility; (b) that seeking to apply Biblical principles to the stewardship of all earthly creation detracts from the believer’s Heavenly hope; and (c) that one can properly lead without an attitude of humble servanthood. Deut 4:5-8; Matt 10:1,7-8, 16:18-19, 18:1-4, 21:25-28, 28:18-20; John 15:5-8, 17:13-21; Acts 1:8.

 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD and HEAVEN

 

Article XVII

We affirm (a) that our primary citizenship is in Heaven, though we are citizens of earthly nations as well; (b) that Heaven is our true home and treasure; (c) that the Bible teaches us to be Heavenly-minded and that only Heavenly-minded men and women are useful for God on earth; (d) that we are seated in the Heavenly places to rule in and with Christ; (e) that Heaven is the pattern for earth; and; (f) that we are to live in eager expectation of our being with the Lord in Heaven and of Christ’s second coming in glory, when Heaven shall come down to earth in fullness.

We deny (a) that our Heavenly citizenship reduces our responsibilities in society and (b) that our expectation of Heaven and of Christ’s coming gives us permission to neglect our duties in this world. Ps 27:4; Matt 6:19-21,33; Luke 12:31-34, 20:25; Rom 8:18-25, 13:1-7; 1 Cor 13:12; 2 Cor 4:16-18, 5:1-9; Eph 2:6-7; Phil 3:20-21; 1 Thes 4:13-18; 1 Tim 4:8, 6:13-19; Titus 2:11-13; Heb 12:22-23,28, 13:14; 1 Pet 2:11-17; 2 Pet 3:13-15; 1 John 3:2-3; Rev 21:1-5,10-27, 22:1-5.

 

THE BIBLE IS the PLUMB LINE for ALL NATIONS

 

Article XVIII

We affirm that the Kingdom task of making disciples of all nations requires us to hold forth the Bible as God’s standard and plumb line by which to measure the justice, morality and practice of all human endeavours in all jurisdictions, individual, voluntary association, family, church and civil government.

We deny (a) that the Bible and its view of reality bind only those who voluntarily claim them as their own and are irrelevant to those who reject them and (b) that unwillingness relieves anyone of the duty to believe and to obey the Bible. Ps 1:1-3, 2:1-6, 96:9-10, 99:1, 148:7-12; Is 9:6-7; Obed 1:15; Jonah 3:2-6; Micah 1:2; Nahum 1:13; Matt 2:1-2, 5:18-19, 28:18-20; Acts 1:8, 17:30; Phil 2:9-11; Rev 1:5. 

 

CAUSE and EFFECT of KINGDOM PRINCIPLES

 

Article XIX

We affirm (a) that when people — individuals or societies, Christian or non-Christian — generally follow, consciously or unconsciously, the moral, economic and practical commands of the Bible, they tend to reap earthly blessings as a result and (b) that when people generally fail to follow the moral, economic and practical commands of the Bible, they tend to reap earthly judgments as a result. Everything has consequences.

We deny (a) that God will forever allow people to sow the wind without reaping the whirlwind and (b) that obedience guarantees the believer whatever he claims from God. Num 21:5-8; Deut 4:2-9, 6:10-19, 28:1-20; Josh 1:8; Judges 2:1-12,14-17; Neh 9:26-30; Ps 106:10-15; Prov 1:5-9,16-19, 3:13-18, 4:4, 11:9-11; Jer 7:5-15,23; Matt 5:18-19, 10:32-33; Rom 2:6-11; 2 Cor 9:6; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Tim 3:8-9.

 

SUFFERING AS PART of KINGDOM LIVING

 

Article XX

We affirm that suffering and persecution are a normal part of the Christian life by which the believer participates with Christ in His sufferings, in selfless service for the advance of the Kingdom.

We deny (a) that suffering is always a sign of God’s judgment or displeasure with sin and (b) that suffering adds to the work of Christ in Redemption. Matt 5:10-12, 10:16-25; Luke 9:23-24; John 21:18-19; Acts 7:52-58, 8:1, 16:25; 2 Cor 12:10; Gal 5:11; 2 Tim 3:11-12.

 

CONTINUITY BETWEEN the TESTAMENTS

 

Article XXI

We affirm that there is continuity between the personal and social moral principles of the Old and New Testaments.

We deny that the moral principles of the New Testament are different from the moral principles of the Old Testament, whether individual or social. Gen 15:5-11 (Rom 4:3); Ex 11:3-8 (John 1:29, Luke 22:14-20, Rev 5:4-10); Ps 2:1-6 (Acts 4:25- 26); Ps 110:1 (Acts 2:34-35); Ps 118:22; Dan 2:32-35 (Matt 21:2-4, Acts 2:11, 1 Pet 2:7); Is 6:1-4 (Rev 4:2-8); Jer 31:31-34 (Heb 8:8-10); Joel 2:28-32 (Acts 2:17-18). See also Matt 5:18-19; Luke 16:17; Heb 1:1-2, 12:26-28.

 

THE KINGDOM in THE OLD TESTAMENT

 

Article XXII

We affirm (a) that the Old Testament Kingdom of Israel was brought about and shaped by the acts of God in history; (b) that this Kingdom was to be based on the principles and Laws given by God, but the people fell far short of the ideal and righteous Kingdom that those Laws prescribed; and (c) that the development of the Davidic Kingdom was God’s way to prepare His people for the coming Messianic Kingdom.

We deny (a) that the Old Testament Kingdom of Israel is to be understood only through naturalistic and nationalistic principles and had nothing to do with God’s eternal principles and Laws and (b) that anyone could properly understand or anticipate the Messianic Kingdom apart from Old Testament history and the Davidic Kingdom. Deut 4:5-9; 1 Sam 8:3-7; 1 Chron 29:11; Ps 2:1-12 (Acts 4:25), 6:8 (Matt 7:23), 16:8-11 (Acts 2:25), 110:1-4 (Acts 2:35); Is 40:3 (Matt 3:3); Jer 31:31; Dan 2:32-35,44; Micah 2:12-13, 4:1-4, 5:2-5,15, 7:14-17; Hab 2:14; Zeph 3:8-20; Hag 2:6-9,21-23; Zech 2:10-13, 3:8-9, 9:9, 14:6-11; Mal 3:1-3, 4:1-6; Matt 5:19, 6:10; Acts 1:6; Rom 9:25-29, 10:19-21; Col 1:12-20. 

 

CHURCH and STATE

 

Article XXIII

We affirm (a) that the Biblically proper relationship between civil government and ecclesiastical government in any nation consists in each freely conducting its affairs in obedience to God’s Laws in creation and the Bible, without usurping the other’s lawful jurisdiction; (b) that civil government is to enforce on all people laws of civil justice revealed in creation and restated in Scripture, with the physical sword, while ecclesiastical government is to enforce on the church redemption laws of personal and social morality revealed in Scripture, with the spiritual sword; (c) that the state must respect and protect religious liberty for its citizens; and (d) that religious liberty does not grant anyone the right to harm other people physically in their persons, liberty, or property.

We deny (a) that the church ought to rule over the state; (b) that the state ought to rule over the church; (c) that separation of church and state means separation of state and religiously motivated activities, such as Bible reading and prayer or evangelism; (d) that it is even possible to separate religious motivation from activity in any sphere; and (e) that the church may properly use violent coercion. Deut 4:5-8; Ps 2:1-12, 96:9-13, 110:1-4; Dan 2:32-35; Matt 22:17-21; John 18:36-37; Rom 13:1-7; Heb 5:5-10; Rev 1:5.

 

THE KINGDOM TRANSCENDS ALL NATIONAL ENTITIES

 

Article XXIV

We affirm that the Kingdom of God transcends all national, political, linguistic and ethnic boundaries, uniting all believers in its King, Jesus Christ.

We deny that the Kingdom of God can be identified or equated with any geographical, national, political, or ethnic entity. Luke 13:27-30; John 12:32; Rom 4:9-13; Gal 3:7-9, 26-29; Eph 2:11-22; Rev 5:9-13, 21:24.

 

HISTORIC ORTHODOXY SUPPORTS these AFFIRMATIONS

 

Article XXV

We affirm (a) that the Kingdom of God is a central teaching of the New Testament and cannot be neglected without loss to the Church and the Church’s influence upon society; (b) that millennial issues flow from the understanding of the Kingdom of God rather than vice versa; (c) that it is more important strategically for the Church to engage in building the Kingdom of God on earth than for it to resolve its disagreements about the millennium; and (d) that the foregoing affirmations and denials are consistent with the mainstream of historic orthodox Christianity.

We deny (a) that orthodox Christianity has ever adopted a universally accepted position regarding eschatology or regarding the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God and (b) that Christians should make views such as premillennialism, amillennialism, or postmillennialism a test of orthodoxy. Note: There are no Scripture references for Article 25 since it concerns a historical period subsequent to the writing of Scriptures.

 

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See also:

Reformation 500 Church Council Zürich

Ulrich Zwingli and the Reformation in Switzerland

1. The Authority of Scripture

2. Biblical Hermeneutics

3. The Essentials of a Christian World View

      

 
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