When I began my formal training for the ministry in 1958, the kingdom was an important part of liberal conversation. People talked about “bringing in the kingdom”, “building the kingdom”, “growing the kingdom”, “for the kingdom”, and many other such characterizations. It was obvious that they were not referring to what the Bible teaches about kingdom theology. In recent days, moderate evangelicals have made some of these same terms popular by use. The problem is that their errant view of this important subject has bled into our own ranks.

It appears that much of the time people do not understand what they are referring to when they use the word “kingdom”. Some may be using it only because they have heard other people doing so, while others simply may not have a biblical view of the subject. Music is the worst place from which to get your theology, but it has been readily used by those who are basically without understanding of the subject.

When I hear the word “kingdom”, I am forced to ask, “Which kingdom is that?” Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, in his excellent book, Israelology: The missing Link in Systematic Theology, discusses this issue at length, attempting to categorize the several facets of kingdom theology. Dr. Fruchtenbaum notes that with each kingdom one must identify (1) the ruler, (2) those ruled, (3) the realm that is ruled, and (4) the period that is covered by the kingdom. One might add other clarifying points, but this is sufficient for my discussion. You can pursue this line of thinking if you choose further study.

DIFFICULTIES

One of the major problems in this study is that if the one biblical hermeneutic is not used; there is no hope of getting a consistent answer. The tools of interpretation that are undeniable must also be utilized. The first tool is that “the part is not equal to the whole”. While one kingdom may be part of another, that does not make them equal. Those who tend to isolate a text in order to arrive at a presumed end will not find a biblical answer; therefore, the answer is always in the whole and not in a part. When we view a single text, we have a question, but not an answer until the whole is carefully considered. One of the dangers of presupposition is that it makes it easy for a reader to invent something. You have a kingdom when the text states there is one; concluding or assuming something that is not in the text is destructive. Finally, “similarities are not equals”. Just because the word “kingdom” is used does not mean that it is equal to all or any of the others.

There is a point in this discussion where we become aware of the “Lucifer Syndrome”: “I will know as much as the most high God”. If we don’t have a clear answer, there is always the temptation to create one. I fear that some of our best scholars have done this upon occasion. We don’t have to know everything, so it is perfectly alright to say “I don’t know”.

VIEWING THE KINGDOMS

If I consider that most of our readers are conservative, it should be evident that there are some kingdoms outlined in scripture about which there should be no debate. God is the ruler of all things for time and eternity, and there is no exception to this. It includes all time and space, every grain of sand, and the entire universe. We will let you argue about the name, but this universal kingdom includes all other kingdoms; yet it is not like any of them. This kingdom is the whole; all others are the parts. Finite humans are not building, growing, or making this kingdom. While we may participate in it, God is totally responsible for everything about it.

Most of us would agree that there is a millennial, Davidic, messianic kingdom to come. Christ is king of this one-thousand-year rule, and it will include all the earth and the people living on it. It is prophesied, but it is not here yet. We are not building it, growing it, preparing it, or making it. We do not need to pray for it. It will come in the time that God has promised. Theologians love to invent things, and they even like to take credit for things they have not done and cannot do. This kingdom is part of the universal kingdom, but it is not the whole. It is similar, but not equal to it.

Any elementary student of the Old Testament would know that there was a kingdom that was a theocratic monarchy. While that kingdom may be characterized as folding into the millennial kingdom, it is not the same as, or equal to it. That kingdom is part of the universal kingdom, but it is not the same as and not equal to it. It may even have similarities, but it is a part and not the whole.

There are many earthly kingdoms recorded in the Bible. There is even a kingdom of darkness over which Satan reigns. Even these are part of the universal kingdom, because God rules over all things and has the final word on anything.

WHAT IS NOT A KINGDOM

You will note that some of the kingdoms other folks might list are missing. This was done deliberately, because at this point they tend to enter the “guessing zone”. I will admit there is a lot of room to discuss the various terms used in that circle of debate. What needs to be made clear is that we do not live in a kingdom age. Yes, the church is part of the universal kingdom; and we will reign with Christ in the messianic kingdom. The church, however, is not a kingdom. Such a view is not stated in the text, and Christ is not king of the church. Yes, he is the Lord, the head, the bridegroom, the cornerstone; but the text does not say he is king of the church. He is ruler, but similarities are not equals. He is king of Israel, but that does not make him king of the church.

We are not building, growing, making, or producing a kingdom or the church. God is building the church, and it is dangerously assumptive to attach our name to His creation. This is the age of the church; it is not the age of a kingdom or the kingdom. So, is it alright to sing “King of my life, I crown thee now”? That would depend on what He really is to you personally. I want Him to rule my life. I want Him to be Lord. I want him to control me. You can call it anything you choose, but the question would be, “Is He ruling your life and mine”?