Dispensational Distortions – Kingdom Distortions

06Jan12

As we continue our journey through this section called “Dispensational Distortions” we now turn our attention to the view of the Kingdom from the Dispensational perspective. There are two primary ways in which the Dispensational model distorts the Biblical understanding of the Kingdom of God.

The first is that Dispensationalism, in it’s constant attempt to artificially force an extended period of time between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniels 70 week prophecy, pushes the kingdom from a past (initiated) and present (growing or maintaining) reality. The Kingdom according to Left Behind theology was offered at Jesus’ first advent, but as a result of the lack of faith of the jews at that time, was postponed to some future time period known as the Millennium (Rev 20). The Kingdom’s inauguration will be preceded by a seven year tribulation of immense destruction. So, the first concept is that the kingdom has been “postponed.” Read below some quotes from leading dispensationalist…

“…we are assured that there will be a return to the legal kingdom grounds…of that nation [Israel]” – Chafer

“…the present session of Christ is NOT a fulfillment of the covenant and it must be referred to the future” Walvoord

“It was neither possible nor in the program of God for the present age to become the kingdom of God…” Walvoord

“The fulfillment of God’s plan of the Kingdom was postponed until His second advent, though it was offered at the first advent…” Ryrie

The second ties in with the first in that one proof of the postponement of the kingdom (according to Dispensationalist)  is that the Kingdom must have a physically present and ruling leader – namely Jesus Christ the King.

Let’s look at how the NT writers viewed the kingdom and whether they believed and taught that it was going to be or had been postponed.

Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.“

Matt 12:28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Mark 9:1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

Col 1: 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son

It is clear from those passages quoted above and many more not listed for the sake of brevity that even Jesus Himself believed and taught that the kingdom was initiated at His first coming and was by no means postponed. The Mark passage, which is also found in Matthews gospel, states that not only would the kingdom of God come with POWER, but that there were those standing in the midst of Christ that would not “taste death” before they witnessed this reality.

Paul even makes the case clearer by stating that when we are saved we are immediately (present reality) translated from satan’s kingdom (darkness) to the kingdom of Christ. There is no warrant to push the kingdom into some future expectation. The Church, despite the protestations of leading Left Behind theologians, is the Kingdom of God.

Now, what about the idea, though, that a kingdom must have a physically present and reigning king to be in existence. Where is Jesus’ robe, throne, castle, etc?

Well, before looking at the plethora of Scripture that describes a radically different view of the Kingdom (in fact, one that is diametrically opposed to this worldly version), I would ask even one simpler question. We are told that this “world,” at least as seen in the worldly and unGodly attributes of this planet, is Satan’s kingdom. He is alive and well on planet earth we have been told. He is the “prince” of this world we are reminded by Left Behind gurus. Some, perhaps many, Word of Faith teachers even proclaim this is satan’s world and he is the king of this world and that God was “kicked out” in the garden (Price).

If the above is true, then I would ask…where is satan’s castle? Where is his robe? What geo-political presence provides his country of reign? Simply put…why does Jesus have to be physically present to reign over His kingdom while satan does just well reiging without the same restrictions? Is Satan greater than Jesus in his ability to rule over his kingdom without a physically established presence?

I hope you see the folly in even the demand that Jesus must be physically present to rule over His kingdom. But our answer should not rest on philosophical arguments, but on the word of God. So, what kind of kingdom does the Bible describe and does Jesus need to be physically present to rule over it? Is it a physical Kingdom as described by the Premillennial champions?

Luke 17:20 The Kingdom of God is within you

Is this a physical kingdom as described by Jesus? Where is the Kingdom found?

John 18:36 My Kingdom is not of this world…

This passage can have a dual meaning that not only is the Kingdom of Christ not centered in the earthly realm and therefore it is not necessary for Him to be present to rule over, but also this refers to from “where” the kingdom eminates. It is not a Kingdom founded or created in this world but rather the authority of this Kingdom comes from without – Heaven. And if it is not of this world one should not demand or even expect it has the appearance of this world in it’s function and existence.

Rom 14:17 The kingdom is not of eating and drinking…

Simply put…it is not physical!

Eph 1:20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Not only does the Apostle Paul here clearly state that Christ is ruling “presently” in this Kingdom and has been doing so since He was raised from the dead, but more importantly it obviously declares that His PRESENT reign takes place in the heavenlies and NOT ON EARTH! This verse also states that EVERYTHING has been subjected to His kingship and that this kingdom resides in HIS CHURCH (vv 22-23)

There is no Biblical warrant for postponing the kingdom. Jesus and the NT writers declared the present reality of the Kingdom and, in fact, describe a radically different kingdom than the one most popular among modern evangelicals adhere to.

Next we will look at three of the most popular Kingdom prophesies and how, with the understanding of the concepts above, they paint a wonderful picture of the kingdom as it relates to His Church!

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