The Heresy of “Kingdom Now” Theology
In a recent discussion with a member of my church, some of our talk revolved around the concept of “the Kingdom with us”… not a new concept for this person. What he was making reference to, in a more formal sense, was something called “Kingdom Now”, which is a charismatic branch of a larger movement known as Dominion Theology, which came to the forefront in the 1980s.
Obviously, “Kingdom Now” is a concept still discussed, and a way of religious discipleship still practiced, by the evidence of my fellow church member!
I won’t go into great detail about Kingdom Now, but the basic idea is that although Satan has been in control of the world since mankind’s fall from grace, God is looking for people who will help Him take back dominion. Those who yield themselves to the authority of God’s Apostles and prophets will take control of the kingdoms of this world, those being defined as all social institutions: the “kingdom” of arts, the “kingdom” of education, the “kingdom” of science, and others. In effect, these people will “bring” the Kingdom of God.
I have two words: Excuse me??
Since when does God the Father Almighty require any help from us?
There are more verses from Holy Scripture that can refute the heresy of Kingdom Now, but a telling one to start with is this one:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)
God is synonymous with knowledge, presence and power. Among His infinite and perfect attributions are the “Omnis”… omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence, defined as follows:
God possesses unlimited knowledge.
God is present everywhere, past, present and future, both inside and outside of time.
God possesses unlimited power.
Holy Scripture is replete with examples of God’s power; a few samples suffice to demonstrate this:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, “This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. (Exodus 9:13-16)
Notice that God tells Pharaoh that He raised Pharaoh up for the purpose of showing Pharaoh His power… no man, however masterful and skilled, accomplished that: God alone accomplished that for the glory of His name. All people, and all things, are subject to the power of God.
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)
God alone, not any man, determines what happens.
Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future. (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14)
When God has decided, He has decided.
Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do. (Isaiah 46:9-11)
God is alone in His singularity, He is before ages, He is from age to age, He is after ages, His purposes stand, in His perfection He does as He pleases, knowing His judgment is righteous and He exploits all that He has spoken into existence to plan and execute His will.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
God’s Word is not without power: it never fails, but always accomplishes the purpose for which God spoke it.
Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (Lamentations 3:37-38)
Men do not have the power that God has… when He speaks, what His will is becomes reality, whatever it is that He has planned to either actively bring about, or allow to happen, whether calamities or good things.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
God calls men to accomplish His purposes. God does not require men to bring about His purposes… He calls them and equips them with the appropriate spiritual gifts to serve Him as His will indicates, in accordance with His plan.
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:14-21)
From the above verses, one can easily infer that God is in control of everything. Man, in his pride, does not understand this, especially during the times when it appears that God is in control of nothing at all; man seeks his own justification because he does not understand that God always acts out of a larger sense of what His plan is and where He knows it is going: something that man cannot, by dint of his limited knowledge, know. The bottom line is that God knows exactly what He is doing, whether or not we understand that.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-12)
God has a plan, and He has known before the ages who would be called to be a part of that plan, that all His purposes would be achieved as He envisioned and planned them. The plan of God is the salvation of man, and no man in a fallen state is able to “bring” the Kingdom with its salvation… that is the exclusive province of the One who was sacrificed upon the Cross of Calvary, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God:
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:10-11)
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)
Salvation is the plan of God for man, and to achieve it, we must work in accordance with God’s plan, for that is the purpose to which we as believing Christians have been called… Jesus Christ gave His life as the ransom for our sins, to allow us to stand blameless before God on the Day of Judgment, and this is the Good News that we have been commanded to tell all the world.
Nowhere in all of Holy Scripture is the magnificent power of God more clearly stated than in the 38th through the 41st chapters of the book of Job… Job, challenging God as if to receive justice that he had been denied by God, was answered by God in such a manner as to display the infinite sweep of His powers… behold the declaration of God as to His being in all its mighty power:
Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? “Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food? (Job 38:1-41)
“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth? They crouch down and bring forth their young; their labor pains are ended. Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return. “Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver’s shout. He ranges the hills for his pasture and searches for any green thing. “Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will he stay by your manger at night? Can you hold him to the furrow with a harness? Will he till the valleys behind you? Will you rely on him for his great strength? Will you leave your heavy work to him? Can you trust him to bring in your grain and gather it to your threshing floor? “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork. She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand, unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them. She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain, for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense. Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider. “Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’ He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry. “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build his nest on high? He dwells on a cliff and stays there at night; a rocky crag is his stronghold. From there he seeks out his food; his eyes detect it from afar. His young ones feast on blood, and where the slain are, there is he.” (Job 39:1-30)
The LORD said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Then Job answered the LORD: “I am unworthy – how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer – twice, but I will say no more.” Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm: “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you. “Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron. He ranks first among the works of God, yet his Maker can approach him with his sword. The hills bring him their produce, and all the wild animals play nearby. Under the lotus plants he lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh. The lotuses conceal him in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround him. When the river rages, he is not alarmed; he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth. Can anyone capture him by the eyes, or trap him and pierce his nose? (Job 40:1-24)
“Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope? Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook? Will he keep begging you for mercy? Will he speak to you with gentle words? Will he make an agreement with you for you to take him as your slave for life? Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls? Will traders barter for him? Will they divide him up among the merchants? Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears? If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering. No one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. “I will not fail to speak of his limbs, his strength and his graceful form. Who can strip off his outer coat? Who would approach him with a bridle? Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth? His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn. Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds. His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth. Strength resides in his neck; dismay goes before him. The folds of his flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing. The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make him flee; slingstones are like chaff to him. A club seems to him but a piece of straw; he laughs at the rattling of the lance. His undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. He makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair. Nothing on earth is his equal – a creature without fear. He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.” (Job 41:1-34)
God needs to consult with no man: yet, in His mercy, He did not destroy Job for his challenge to His authority and sense of justice; rather, He demonstrated for Job the infinite breadth, width and height of His power and majesty. God does not require our assistance in any matter whatsoever… “bringing” the Kingdom or otherwise! The chapters above readily refute “Kingdom Now” theology. Any arrangement God desires for any reason He can put into place without human assistance, and the idea that we can “help” God in any way is the absolute height of insolence.
Now, that having been stated…
I am not saying that we as believers cannot work toward becoming more Christ-like in our beliefs and behaviors. That is a worthy goal that every believer must strive for, because when we have a desire within ourselves for the things of God, our thoughts and actions will reflect the love of God toward those we share our lives with, whether or not they are members of our immediate family: we all become members of God’s family, with concern, compassion and love for each other overriding all other considerations.
If the Kingdom does not arrive as a result of our efforts in working toward it… a basic predication of the “Kingdom Now” theology… how then does this happen?
His testimony is telling:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:5-17)
There are two lynchpin concepts here. First, Jesus said plainly… ‘apart from me you can do nothing.‘ We can do nothing for God without Jesus Christ. If we believe in Jesus Christ as the One God has sent, honoring His Father’s words and remaining in them so that they become the focus of our lives (driving service to God and to others), we will receive whatever we ask for… which will be the good things of the Kingdom of God, the things that are on God’s heart for us, and the fulfillment of our purpose in God’s creation. Second, Jesus also made it plain that the love of God depends on obedience to His commands, and submission to the will of God. There can be no spiritual growth without obedience and submission to God. If you do not believe that, then please witness the words of Job in reply to God’s testimony regarding Himself as detailed in the 38th through 41st chapters of Job, from the 42nd chapter of Job:
Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)
With regard to obedience, Jesus is again plain:
“Why do you call me, ‘LORD, LORD,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
OBEDIENCE … SUBMISSION
So what should we embrace to be ready for the work that the LORD has for believers to do?
1) Fulfill both the letter and the spirit of the law in this way:
Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
2) Know what the Lord requires of you:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)