Kingdom now theology is found in many forms, from full-blown dominionist-kingdom-now-only to prosperity-kingdom-now-mostly to charismatic-kingdom-now-partially, and a multitude of others. Whatever the view or expression, the universal assumption is that the messianic kingdom prophesied in the OT was somehow “inaugurated” at the first coming (either fully or partially, in quality or quantity). The question is: where is the evidence? Where do the scriptures actually say that this long awaited kingdom has actually come?
There are about 145 instances of the kingdom (Gk. basileia) in the NT which relate to God (there are about 15 which relate to man, e.g. of the world, of Harod, etc.). In roughly 120 of those instances the context is clearly in the future. Around 25 times (including repetitions in the synoptic gospels), its usage is debatable (e.g. Mt. 3:2; 11:12; 12:28; 16:19; Lk. 17:21; Jn. 18:31; Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20; Col. 1:13). But of all these there are three that always seem to be the heart of the kingdom now doctrine:
- “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt. 3:2),
- “The kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt. 12:28), and
- “The kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17:21).
Though a detailed exegesis of each is impossible in this context, the main point of all three passages (if you look at the whole passages of Mt. 3:1-12, Mt. 12:22-37 and Lk. 17:20-37, not just the individual phrases) is:
- a bad thing of judgment,
- aimed at unbelievers,
- corporately (i.e. “you” is plural),
- in the future.
The irony of Kingdom Now is that they interpret the individual phrase perfectly opposite of the passage:
- a good thing of blessing,
- aimed at believers,
- in the present.
These three passages are actually three of the most fearful indictments of the Pharisees and their self-righteousness in light of the future Day of the Lord and Kingdom of God. And just like the Pharisees, the Cross is a stumbling block to Kingdom Now. God becomes schizophrenic in his governance, executing the recompense of the Kingdom and extending the mercy of the Cross at the same time. However, if the above three passages (and the other 10 instances) are actually in context to the Day of the Lord and the return of Jesus, then God is simply extending the Cross now in light of the Kingdom to come. If this is God’s mission, then the church is relieved of all its worldly pursuits and commissioned to preach the return of Christ Jesus, the wrath of the Day of Christ Jesus, and the forgiveness of sins in the blood of Christ Jesus.