Pastor, are you still trying to make sense of what God’s doing in your church?
Do you know how your life and your work dovetails with his?
This is the place to start. I promise that things will make sense if you stick with me for a few weeks. If you read this series of posts on “Mission and Vision” you’ll begin to see yourself and your church in a new, brighter light.
Let me set the stage for what’s coming.
The first article in this series promised help for bewildered pastors. I’m deeply burdened for my colleagues who have tried everything and gotten nothing. Despite their best efforts to bring new life to dead churches, it’s all been for naught. That’s what I promised. As I said in that first article:
I want to help you reconnect with God’s mission for your church. I’d like to coach you through the process of discerning a wise vision for your ministry.
This post is actually the first in a series designed for the bewildered pastor who doesn’t have any place else to go. Over the next several months I’ll be rolling out an online course, one post at a time, to help you get back on track.
If you haven’t already read it, go back and read “Where bewildered Pastors go when there’s no place to go.”
Go ahead. I’m in no hurry.
Okay, now that you’ve got the basic gist of this series, it’s time to launch. So let’s start with that promise to “help you reconnect with God’s mission for your church.” The first link in that connecting chain anchors us to the doctrine of God’s Kingdom.
The Doctrine of God’s Kingdom
The doctrine of the Kingdom is the theological center of the Old and New Testaments. It is the exegetical key that illuminates and links even the most puzzling texts from Genesis to Revelation.
The Kingdom first appears in Genesis and persists through to the concluding words of the Old Testament prophets. It was the central thrust of Jesus’ teaching.1 Paul indicates in Ephesians 1:9-10 that God’s purpose in creation is to show his Son — the Christ and God-Man — as the supreme Sovereign of creation Luke saw it as the fitting summation of Paul’s apostolic mission (Acts 20:25 cf. 28:31).
A clear understanding of the central role of the Kingdom in biblical revelation is essential to correct interpretation. This means that it is vital to understanding the Church’s mission, which opens the door to sustainable church revitalization.
The kingdom of God forms a grand inclusio that opens with the creation narratives in Genesis and concludes with eschatological promises in the closing chapters of the book of Revelation.
In this morning’s lecture we will briefly show the major elements of this inclusio and then see the kingdom program’s development in the biblical covenants. Our purpose will be to give you a basic framework that you can use to put your congregation within the biblical narrative of God’s Mission to restore the status quo ante the Fall Among the themes we’ll touch on are the following:
The creation of a kingdom by God's word.
Humans rule the kingdom in God's behalf.
Humans populate the kingdom with new life.
Humans have immediate access to God within his kingdom.
God creates a Kingdom
1. God creates a realm by the power of his word
The creation narrative serves a theocratic purpose, displaying or suggesting numerous kingdom motifs that will become prominent as narrative unfolds. It also prepares us for the emergence of the kingdom restoration program that will emerge in the patriarchal narratives and develop in stages through the various biblical covenants that give ever greater clarity that program.
God’s sovereign rule of the theocratic Kingdom is clear in the power of His Word.2 The creation narrative begins with the verb, “and he said,” a phrase occurring ten times in the first chapter (3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29). A series of jussives follow: “let there be” (3, 6, 14, 15), “let the waters” (9, 20), and “let the earth” (11, 24). In every case the creation obeys the God’s command. Finally, his dominion is seen in the repeated expression “and God called” (5, 8, 10), and in acts of naming proving His sovereignty.3
In this way the creation narratives introduce two important themes. First, when the Sovereign speaks, his subjects obey.4 This becomes the crucial issue in Eden where God’s theocratic rule consisted of one law: do not eat from this tree on pain of death5. Second, when the Sovereign speaks, his subjects believe. This theme emerges more clearly when the covenants appear (e.g., Gen 15:6). Obedience to and faith in the Word of the Lord continue as an important theocratic principles for those who wish to enjoy the Lord’s blessings today (e.g. John 8:31-34).
God creates humankind to rule in his behalf
- Kenneth L. Barker, ‘The Scope and Center of Old and New Testament Theology,’ Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 314. â†©
- Allen P. Ross, Creation & Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), p. 102. â†©
- Wenham, Genesis 1-15, p. 19; TWOT, p. 810; Speiser, Genesis, p. 16. Compare Genesis 2:19 where God delegates his sovereignty to the man, giving him the privilege of naming the animals brought to him. â†©
- In the patriarchal narratives this kingdom principle is expanded. In the covenant stories we discover that the Word of the Lord must be believed. â†©
- Wenham, Genesis 1-15, p. 64. â†©