This article was written by Eugene Clingman of the International Church Council Project
The advance of the Kingdom of God is the most exciting thing happening on planet Earth! God disclosed to Abraham his intention to include all people groups (cultures, languages) in his redemptive plan. Abraham was told to look at the stars, to count them if he could, “So shall your descendants be,” God said. Psalm 67 proclaims God’s purpose to bless us, his people, in order “That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.” And Psalm 72 is a marvelous picture of the growth and triumph of Messiah’s Kingdom throughout the world…“He (Jesus) shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him, and His enemies will lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him” (Psalm 72:8-11). This vision accords with Jesus’ parable about the growth of the Kingdom of God−the mustard seed which would grow into the largest of garden plants (this parable causes us to think back to Nebuchadnezzar, who was given a vision similar to this parable, a tree under which the beasts of the field found refuge, and which represented the worldwide dominance of his kingdom (Dan 4:19-22)). Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the statue in Daniel 2 also accords with this. The statue represented four sequential world empires, ending with the Roman Empire which would crumble at the inauguration of Christ’s Kingdom. This Kingdom is the stone which struck the statue, smashing it to pieces, crushing and putting to an end it and every other kingdom, but itself becoming a great mountain (kingdom) filling all the earth. This Kingdom will never be destroyed, nor be taken over by another people (Daniel 2:31-45). This is Christ’s Kingdom. Even today Jesus reigns from Heaven, subduing his enemies day by day.
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth,” Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). How far does Jesus’ authority extend, and for how long? The “how far” is easy. The passage tells us his authority includes the realms of Heaven and Earth. Every place in the universe is under his authority today. How long does this authority prevail? Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:25-27 that Jesus will reign, in this, his present reign from Heaven, where he is seated at God’s right hand (Mark 16:19; Hebrews 1:3; 10:12,13), until he has put all things in subjection under his feet, including the last enemy, death. This authority, then, extends to all of Earth and Heaven, and endures until all Christ’s enemies are put under his feet. To bring this home−it includes right now, right where we are. Jesus intends to bring all things in subjection to himself (Hebrews 2:8).
Another question to ask is, What does it mean to make disciples of all the nations? Does it mean to make disciples of individuals or of nations? Individuals must be won, baptized, and trained to obey Christ. What does this include? Does it mean going to church on Sunday and keeping your nose clean the rest of the week? Or does it include the hope of moving society, the nation, to a significant degree, into obedience to Christ’s commands? Once a person is saved, what is the scope of influence they ought to have?
When the prophet admonished − “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan, plead for the widow,” (Isaiah 1:17) did he envision God’s people involved in society in ways that would enable them to fulfill this admonition? Should God’s people actually go into messed up society and do something about it? I believe the prophet would answer a resounding, “Yes!” Does the predominate Evangelical pattern of “going to church on Sunday and keeping your nose clean the rest of the week,” answer this cry from God’s heart? I think the prophet would answer a resounding, “No!”
As we go into all the world to disciple the nations, we are to give to the disciples a bigger vision than just staying saved, helping a few others get saved, and waiting “until Jesus comes to get us out of this mess.” We must put into the disciples a vision of changing their society as they go about making disciples. Jesus pictured the Church as salt. Salt gets into what it preserves and makes a change. Preserving salt does not sit on top of what it preserves, nor does it reside in another compartment, or in a corner of the container. Salt gets into the very fibers of what it is preserving. Salt fights for the preservation of what it is preserving by getting into every area. So also we believers are to be in every legitimate area of society and bring to it Christ’s Kingdom of righteousness, love, and mercy. Legitimate areas certainly include (not limited to) business, medicine, politics, the media, the arts, and education. I don’t mean we Christians ought to simply get jobs in these places, and be like little church mice, quiet, but hoping we will somehow have a little effect. I mean we ought to hope to bring significant change by our influence in Christ’s name. We ought to hope that we, rather than the wicked, will be at the head, instead of the tail, in every realm of life, even as God has told us it should be (Deuteronomy 28:13). We ought to hope for and believe that righteousness will reign in every realm of human activity. Jesus deserves it, he is Lord!
Evangelicalism has three vision options it lives out, and passes on to its children. Option #1 is, attend church on Sunday, during the week work a job to feed your family, keep your nose clean, raise kids who will grow up and do the same as you have done, or who will possibly choose option #2 or #3. Option #2 is, become a missionary, go some place else, tell others about Jesus, teach them to get out of the world, and to choose option #1, #2, or #3. Option three is, become a pastor or pastor’s wife (church secretary, youth leader, etc), and teach the flock to keep their nose clean, and choose option #1, #2, or #3. Isn’t this pretty much the extent of our Evangelical vision?
As good and basic, and necessary as church attendance and holy living are, there is more we are called to do, and more we must give our kids to grow up into. When Isaiah said, “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan, plead for the widow,” did he mean tell people about Jesus, but leave the public and political arenas to the ruthless?……..Selah!…….The homosexual movement is not the only ruthless force in our society, but is a good example. The homosexual spirit will not stop or be satisfied until it can come to the front door of YOUR house, and have what it demanded at the doorstep of Lot’s home (Genesis 19:5). Are we to sit quietly witnessing to our neighbor or co-worker while the ruthless continue to grow in domination of our society? What did Isaiah mean by “learn to do good?” Surely it includes more than most Evangelicals are doing. Can we defend the orphan, and plead for the widow effectively without getting involved in the public and political arena. Legislation is passed almost daily that continues to strip away rights and freedoms, especially of the less fortunate, the orphan and widow. Shouldn’t Christians in every nation work with as much or more energy in the political realm to bring about good, secure God-given rights, promote true freedoms, and establish righteous laws in their nation as others do to bring it into foolishness, bondage and wickedness?
Like a trampled spring and a polluted well, Is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.