January 23, 2017

Inauguration Day: God’s Kingdom Already, Not Yet

by Clint Archer

trump tower protestWith President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration behind him a dilemma faces those who marched on Trump Tower waving signs that declared “NOT MY PRESIDENT.” They can either submit to the reality ushered in by the inauguration day—that Donald Trump is now POTUS—or they can ignore reality and keep protesting.

If they remain at Trump Tower they will look rather pathetic since their target has now moved to his new, blanched digs. If they do show up at the White House it will prove that in some begrudging respect those who aver that he is not their president tacitly concur that he is in fact the president of their country.

At least they have the security blanket of term limits for consolation.

This cognitive dissonance will thrive in the afterglow of the Oxford Dictionary’s party to unveil its word-of-the-year: “post-truth” (which is actually two words, but ignoring that fact is the epitome of post-truth, which makes the choice even edgier).

The same existential crisis loomed heavy over the Jews of Jesus’ day. Here was a man who claimed to be the King of the Jews, the fulfillment of the prophecies that he would rule in power and justice and liberate his people. But he was submissive to authority, happy to pay taxes to Caesar, not looking for any trouble with the Roman oppressors, and generally not very regal in his behavior. He might be their king, but he was not yet the king of their country. Some Jews rejected him outright as “not my king” and others were devoted followers, acknowledging him as their king, and eagerly awaiting the day his kingdom arrived.

So did the kingdom of God come when Jesus came?

Jesus told his followers to pray that God’s kingdom would come, reinforcing that it hadn’t. He expressly told Pilate that his kingdom was “not of this world.” He told several parables about what the kingdom was like (see Matt 13), and even hinted that it would start small like, say, a mustard seed, and be constantly expanding until it was a global empire like a mustard tree housing birds from all over. When his disciples saw that he was about to leave for Heaven without establishing the kingdom they probed about the apparent oversight: “Lord, is it now that you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Jesus didn’t disabuse them of the notion that the kingdom wasn’t a literal, earthly establishment; he just said the timing was none of their business. It’s understandable that there is confusion around this topic.2 bibles

Clarity comes from the concept that authority can be inaugurated without being recognized by those under that authority. Bluntly, an unbeliever could say “Jesus might be the king, but he’s not my king.” A believer would say he is the King and he is my King and that question will one day no longer be disputed.

Philippians 2:9-11  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So in a real sense the kingdom is already here. It has a King who is in charge, it has subjects who submit to him, and it has an agenda to expand. Already, the kingdom is expanding in the hearts and souls of people who are being added as citizens. The kingdom’s “culture” (in the sense of a way of thinking and living) is already being adopted by swaths of the global population. There are way more Christians today than there were people alive on the planet in Jesus’ day.

The kingdom is here and it is here to stay…already.

But…

The kingdom of God is not yet here in its final and consummated form.

The advent of the spiritual dimension of the kingdom does not obviate the promises of Scripture that there will be physical ruling and reigning of the King from his throne in Jerusalem. The promises of spiritual peace that already are a mark of citizenship do not stop there also being a political peace among all nations (Micah 4:1-5) that is not yet present. The eternal life that we already gain spiritually from being in God’s kingdom now, does not mean there won’t also be an environmental reversal of the curse seen in the animals and plants and planetary rejuvenation and renewal (Is 65:17-25) that is not yet part of our experience.

All that to say: the kingdom of God has been inaugurated already, but it has not yet been realized. Jesus is already the King, but to some he is not yet their King. At some point all protesters will need to lay down their placards and face facts: Jesus is the Lord of all. And his reign has no term limits!

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Archepoimen

    Yep! Amen!
    Tim

  • Zachary

    The “existential crisis” of today does not compare well. The United States of America does not have a king. We the people are not governed without our consent, contrasting with the divine right of kings. In this republic men derive their “just powers from the consent of the governed”. Donald Trump has only his hateful rhetoric and outright lies to thank for his lack of consent.

    • alexguggenheim

      Hmmm…”If you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” POTUS DJT.

      I think there is some hateful rhetoric, alright, but I don’t believe it is coming from Donald Trump.

      Apart from his campaign which forced him to manhandle a lot of snot-nosed brats in general is 40 years in business have been exceptionally inclusive and one of team-building and solidarity among a rather diverse group of people whom he has brought to surround him.

      • Zachary

        Trump’s language in regard to American POW, is one of many examples objectionable rhetoric. One needn’t look past yesterday’s press briefing to find an example of continued lying by the administration. It’s not just liberals who hold this sentiment.

        • alexguggenheim

          Such as?

          • Zachary

            DJT “He’s a war hero cause he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured OK”_in reference to John McCain

          • alexguggenheim

            Ok. That is a single opinion of a single situation which, whether you know it or not, has been uttered by more than one CO, and a rather well-known general.

            So he said something unflattering about McCain, and this tiny anecdote rules your opinion?

          • Zachary

            No, you asked for a specific example, so one was given. Just because others feel the same way about American POW does not make it acceptable.

    • Jason

      Previous presidents have been perceived as standing for reprehensible behavior in the past as well (from something as blatant as their agenda explicitly being morally wrong to perceived wrongdoing based on words spoken).

      The only real difference this election is people’s reaction.

      • alexguggenheim

        Well if we want to go by “perception is reality” I slightly understand that but not when we are ultimately arguing substance. If his biggest failure is not creating the right perception I can live with that. However the last guy that did not create the right perception was Bush 43, who did far more better while failing to control the narrative and the last guy that did create the right perception was a dismal failure which was Obama.

        But remember the 90% leftist media are the one who frame against any Republican so they have to be hyper aggressive in framing their own narrative and mr. Trump may have decided that the path of 43 will only result in someone else controlling his narrative so he’s going to have to create the perception he needs.

        At this juncture, thus, I am not sure of the value of your point in this case though I acknowledge it as a reality of our existence and how people tend to frame things.

        But it does seem to suggest that Mr. Trump has not stood against things either smaller immorality or larger events. While accompanied by his own personal flaws he has not failed to stand against a great deal of corruption which is why he made the Litany of promises to the American people and is now acting upon them in fulfilling them the way those never trumper’s insisted he would not do.

        Of course he’s only been president a few days so let’s give him time and we’ll see exactly what he stands against and what he does not.

        But if his time between being elected and inaugurated as an indicator of what he stands for so far he is in a plus plus plus column

        • Jason

          My point is simply that the argument of “the reason this reaction exists is because there’s something especially wrong with Trump” is false.

          The reaction is unique this election because we’d reached a point where too many people have lived in an echo chamber so long that they just can’t believe so many of their neighbors think so differently from what they’ve been told is the “consensus”.

          This coming from someone who thought Trump wouldn’t win the primaries and was even more certain that his win meant 4 years of Hillary myself.

          • alexguggenheim

            Thanks. Grasped it.

      • Zachary

        Past consent to past presidents does not guarantee consent to the current.

        • Ok, let’s move the political discussion to a political forum. I was just using an illustration. Did anyone read the rest of the blog post?

    • Hey Zachary, the point of my illustratin was just that sometimes there are people who do have authority, and yet not everyone recognizes that authority, like when Jesus was already king of the Jews but they did not yet acknowledge him as such.

      • Jason

        Just wait for the atheists Trump supporters to realize you find a parallel between them and the protesters!

      • Zachary

        Clint, I see the parallel you are trying to illustrate, and disagree that the situations described are at all comparable. Jesus Christ is sovereign God and King, His authority and reign originate and emanate from Himself. In contrast the authority and powers of the POTUS are given by consent of the people of the republic. Without continued consent from the majority of citizens DJT’s presidency will be illegitimate even in the face of electoral victory. Regardless of consent Jesus Christ’s reign is eternal. Let us pray that consent will be granted, and that Donald Trump will honor the constitution of the USA and be loving toward all mankind.

  • Jane Hildebrand

    But don’t you remember in the Bible where the early Christians protested in Rome after Nero burned their bodies on stakes, carrying signs that said, “God hates Nero” and “My body, my choice?”

    Yeah, my neither.

    • Jason

      But only I should have the right to burn me at the stake!

    • Ray Adams

      Love the comment. Protesting has changed a lot.

  • Any comments about the blog post itself will be most welcome. Anyone agree/disagree with inaugurated eschatology?

    • dothinkblog

      Hi Clint, as part on my MTh I have been studying George Eldon Ladd through whom I was first introduced to inaugurated eschatology. I have found his arguments largely convincing.

      However, coming from a dispensational background, and discussing his conclusions with my peers, has shown that most dispensationalists (that I know) are uncomfortable or opposed to inaugurated eschatology.

      I wonder is there any way I can affirm both, or if one comes at the cost of the other.

      Thanks.
      Matt

    • alexguggenheim

      It appears divine economies have been inaugurated more than once. A consistent theme.

  • Stand with the marginalised.

    • bs

      Sara, IMO that is certainly part of where we see Jesus’ reign coming. So that the reign begun with Jesus’ death and resurrection grows a bit more whenever God’s people show mercy, bring peace, bring goodness and healing into the lives of others, create things of beauty and so on. His reign will be complete when he returns and judges and banishes evil for ever.
      Peace

  • NinaRuth

    Thank you, Pastor Clint, I’m not sure how this turned into a political discussion, as it’s abundantly clear that you were merely using a current event to illustrate a spiritual truth. So, to the point of your speaking of our present “already” and “not yet,” thank you! Sometimes in the difficulties of life (I know many dear brothers and sisters who are in a fiery trial right now), living in this “in between” can feel so heartbreaking and hard…and yet…it’s this very same “already” and “not yet” that give hope to us followers of Jesus. For the child of God, purchased by the precious blood of Jesus, even in the most harrowing of times we’re actually in a win-win situation! 🙂

    • NinaRuth, you win the comment of the day award. Thanks for your input.