1137867715_f17aee6226.jpg

“The basileia [Greek word for kingdom] is the great divine work of salvation in its fulfillment and consummation in Christ; the ekklesia [Greek word for church] is the people elected and called by God and sharing in the bliss of the basileia. The former, therefore, has a much more comprehensive content. It represents the all-embracing perspective, it denotes the consummation of all history, brings both grace and judgment, has cosmic dimensions, fills time and eternity. The ekklesia in all this is the people who in this great drama have been placed on the side of God in Christ by virtue of the divine election and covenant. They have been given the divine promise, have been brought to manifestation and gathered together by the preaching of the gospel, and will inherit the redemption of the kingdom now and in the great future…the ekklesia can be viewed in all kinds of ways from the standpoint of the basileia. It is a community of those who await the salvation of the basileia. Insofar as the basileia is already a present reality, the ekklesia is also the place where the gifts and powers of the basileia are granted and received. It is, further, the gathering of those who, as the instruments of the basileia, are called upon to make profession of Jesus as the Christ, to obey his commandments, to perform the missionary task of the preaching of the gospel throughout the world. In every respect the church is surrounded and impelled by the revelation, the progress, the future of the kingdom of God without, however, itself being the basileia, and without ever being identified with it.” Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom

As much as I appreciate many things I’ve recieved from reading Ridderbos’s writings this portion of his book, The Coming of the Kingdom, is left just a bit underdeveloped. Ridderbos is right on the money about not identifying the Kingdom of God with the Church be it local or global, visible or invisible; but his explanation of the already/not yet relevancy of the Kingdom of God in the church’s life struck me as falling just a bit short of describing its full relevancy.

Particularly what Ridderbos says here, “Insofar as the basileia is already a present reality, the ekklesia is also the place where the gifts and powers of the basileia are granted and received. It is, further, the gathering of those who, as the instruments of the basileia, are called upon to make profession of Jesus as the Christ, to obey his commandments, to perform the missionary task of the preaching of the gospel throughout the world.” Profession, obedience, and performance are great adverbs to use here, but I think Ridderbos could have expanded the performance adverb to include more than just ‘preaching’ but rather embodying the kingdom now in the those received gifts and powers, BOTH in word and deed – preaching grace and doing justice as Harvie Conn said.

With this simple expansion the missiological relevancy of the Kingdom of God as an already/not yet reality in the churches cultural witness is extended toinclude both word and deed ministry. The local churches missional efforts under this paradigm would include political, social, and cultural imports.

Thoughts, criticism, suggestions…

(Photographic art by Ash)