Ephesians 1:15–23 Ephesians 4:1–16
The relationship of the Church to the Kingdom of God is a basic item in our Christian view of life. Chapter 5 of The Bible and the Life of the Christian is packed with significant statements on this problem, and we urge discussion groups to get and study this material, of which this outline is a very brief summary. Here is a subject which we ought to ponder long and deeply!
1–Again, what is the Kingdom of God?
This is the question which we posed at the conclusion of our previous discussion outline in this series. We scarcely touched upon an answer then, and we attempt to reinforce this now. ‘“The Kingdom of God is the magnetic field of the new life of grace in Christ and is intended to embrace the entire cosmos (Rom. 5:21; Eph. 1:20; I Cor. 15:28). Only the elect are its citizens ( Rom. 14:17; I Cor. 4:17–20; II Thess. 1:5; Col. 1:13; John 3:5). These citizens form an organic whole, a people Peter 2:9); they are one Body, viz. the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:15–23; Col. 1:9–23), the congregation, i.e., the community.”
In this Kingdom of Grace God’s original law-order is restored. Marriage (Eph. 5), family (Eph. 6), the servant-master relationship (Eph. 6), government (Rom. 13) are brought under His law and are astir with new life. “For grace does not stand in opposition to nature; rather, it renews nature.”
Questions f0r discussion: Can you think of a good, biblical reason to speak of the Kingdom as a “magnetic field”? What attitude toward nature should a true Kingdom citizen have? If the Kingdom embraces the en tire cosmos, may we speak of certain problems or areas of discussion as indifferent to us? Has the biblical idea of the Kingdom really seized hold of Christians in our time? Can you think of any alterations in opinion and attitude which would follow from the Kingdom idea defined above?
2–What is the place of the preaching of the Word in the Kingdom enterprise?
The Kingdom is also a kingdom of righteousness, be· cause it signifies the reign of Christ by which man and all things are brought back into a right relation with God (Rom. 5:21; 14:13–23; Matt. 6:33). The Spirit’s mighty instrument of energizing power is the preaching of the Word (11 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6). Those who proclaim that Word are “ambassadors” for Christ (II Cor. 5:20). The Kingdom is extended by the Word preached (I Peter 1:23; 1 Cor. 9:2; II Thess. 3:1, 2), which implies the task of Christian mis· sions. The Church must be a city set on a hill, not a lamp under a bushel, for its concern is to herald the realities of the Kingdom of Christ to all creatures.
Questions for discussion: Does preaching stand in Scripture under the sign of the sweet and sentimental, or under the sign of the vigorous and dynamic? If the latter, why do so many seem to prefer a more restricted to a cosmic vision in preaching? If preaching is so important, ought not our future preachers be given the most excellent education possible? Don’t we often de-limit the work of missions to “the soul” in obvious misunderstanding of its wider importance?
3–What is the relationship between Kingdom and Church?
From what we have said above, Church and Kingdom are inseparably related, and of necessary significance for each other. The task of the Church, however, is narrower and more specific than the all-embracing concerns of the Kingdom, which in no wise implies that one might be Kingdom-minded and adopt an attitude of less than the highest appreciation for the Church! The Church has the task of proclaiming officially the Word of power, by which the Kingdom enters history. The result of this preaching is the forming of a separate group which continues in the line of the Covenant of Grace and out of which lines of Kingdom power are drawn over the field of the world. This group is clearly delineated, and is not to be confused with family, state or society. The Church carries out the Gospel task by the exercise of its offices of elder and deacon. These offices serve the primary office of believer, the office of the sons of God.
Questions for discussion: Are ministers, elders and deacons a higher spiritual class than the rest of the members of the Church? Is the realm of the Kingdom inferior in spiritual quality to the sphere of the Church? May the Church under any circumstances wield the power of the sword? Is it right for churches to be directly involved in activities which are not of the nature of the preaching of the Word?