Depending on your viewpoint, either the Kingdom of God can be fully manifested now as God originally intended when He first created Adam, or it can only be manifested in part and not fully until Jesus Christ returns. For those who have concluded the latter scenario, it will be more of a challenge to bridge the gap between the manifestation of the Kingdom now – but “not yet.”
The question has immediate implications about understanding why you were created, what your life mission is, exactly what you are supposed to be doing, and how you are to go about that work. If you believe that the Kingdom can be fully realized in our time and in the future generations, then your life priorities will be acutely focused and defined on the end goal and how to accomplish that. You will be motivated to take action and do whatever it takes!
If, on the other hand, you believe it cannot be fully manifested in our time or in future generations apart from the visible return of Christ, then you may struggle with defining and realizing what your purpose is and if there is really anything left to do that is not already being done or can be done. Are you quietly discontent about that?
What I have discovered is that the question about whether the Kingdom of God can be fully manifested now or not goes to the heart of personal perspective. And perspective is based on one of two things:
- Either this present dark world system, as it appears, seems so overwhelmingly powerful that we can’t see any possible hope that it could ever be conquered, or
- We know and understand what God has already revealed about the Kingdom and stand by faith firmly in that, and therefore, it becomes the true reality.
Let me offer an example. In Matthew 17:14-18, after Jesus and three of His disciples came down from the mountain where He was transfigured before them, they encountered an intense situation.
When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” – Matthew 17:14-16
Here was a father’s son who was really out of control and out of his mind accompanied by serious, violent, self-destructive behavior. Jesus’ disciples “could not cure him.” They had done other great miracles (Matthew 10), but not in this case. What was the problem?
Christ Jesus assessed the situation clearly in v. 17: And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”
The disciples were “unbelieving and perverted.” After all, they witnessed Jesus performing many signs and wonders, and they themselves performed miracles also, but they could not believe they could do this miracle and cure this boy. They were not only unbelieving, but Jesus called them “perverted.” This word is translated from the Greek word, diastrepho which means “to cause to depart from an accepted standard of oral or spiritual values” sometimes translated “crooked” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Danker, p. 237).
The disciples’ perspective was “perverted.” This is not to say Jesus meant morally perverted, but the truth about Jesus’ power and the Kingdom of God was not predominant in view of this seemingly impossible situation. The disciple’s faith could not overcome what they saw and believed to be an impossibility to conquer. They let a visible circumstance control their perspective and that dictated their theology. Their perspective was determined by the circumstance and not from God’s perspective.
So, theology is influenced from one of two sources – the written Word of God or the perceived overwhelming circumstances.
Teaching about Faith
I love what Jesus our Lord taught His disciples as the remedy for an unbelieving and perverted perspective in Matthew 17:20 in response to their question about why they could not drive out the demon (v. 19):
“And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you’ ” (v. 20).
It wasn’t that they did not have great faith, but Jesus taught about the kind of faith that, if engaged, can move mountains. Impossibilities can be overcome and the object of faith realized. Hebrews 11:1 explains: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction (or assurance) of things not seen.”
Faith is realizing into being that which is not visible, but is, in fact, the reality of God’s Kingdom already present. In God’s Kingdom, there is nothing that is impossible. That is the corrected perspective.
I know – easier said than done. But it takes practice and it takes a local church.
At the Homecoming Conference in Branson, Missouri (April 3-5), we will be discussing the manifestation of the Kingdom in your local area. If you have not already made your reservation, please do so now. It’s filling up and there is limited seating. Hope to see you there!
Lawrence Blanchard, ND, MDiv
P.S. Here is your free download for the introduction of the Manifestation of the Kingdom of God (Book Seven): Introduction to Book Seven