The Covenantal Kingdom
by Rev. Ralph Allan Smith
GOD'S COVENANTAL KINGDOM
Both premillennialism and amillennialism fail to present a Biblical
view of God's covenantal kingdom. This is a failure to offer a fully
Biblical worldview, a failure that has tremendous practical consequences
for the Church. Hoekema quotes Hendrikus Berkof's profound statement
of the Church's present defeatism:
The twentieth-century Church of Christ is spiritually unable to stand
against the rapid changes that take place around her because she has
not learned to view history from the perspective of the reign of Christ.
For that reason, she thinks of the events of her own time in entirely
secular terms. She is overcome with fear in a worldly manner, and
in a worldly manner she tries to free herself from fear. In this process
God functions as no more than a beneficent stop-gap.
The remedy to this condition is a return to the Biblical covenantal
worldview. In particular, we should understand the present unfolding
of the kingdom of God in the following terms:
1. Christ rules from heaven as the Melchizedekian Priest-King over
all creation. He is fulfilling the Davidic promise of kingship and
pouring out the blessings of the New Covenant on the world that He
died to save, and that He is now leading to salvation through His
Spirit's work in the Church.
2. The Church, the seed of Abraham, rules the world in and with Christ.
Her first task is Biblical worship of Christ. Her members also rule
as His representatives, priest-kings on earth under His authority.
Their authority in Christ is limited and divided into the distinct
covenantal institutions of family, church, and state.
3. Christ has given His Church a detailed and definite law-word to
which she must submit and with which she must rule. His detailed,
ethical instruction defines the duties of Christian individuals, families,
churches, and states.
4. Christ applies the sanctions of the covenant to His Church in
history. He disciplines her so that she will grow and develop into
the full possession of the kingdom. He blesses her for obedience to
His law-word so that she will bear fruit more abundantly. He punishes
her when she is disobedient so that she will return to Him. His blessings
and curses are distributed both indirectly through the covenantal
agencies that He has ordained and directly in the manifold working
of His wisdom.
5. Christ's inheritance of all things is the legal foundation for
the Church's conquest of the world. She is His co-heir. But she must
work to actually possess the inheritance. It gradually becomes hers
as she spreads the Gospel and applies the teaching of the law where
she has dominion. In the end, the whole world will be transformed
as Jesus leads the Church to realize the Creation Mandate in history.
When the historical work is done, the kingdom will be committed to
the Father, and the Church will receive her eternal reward.
The covenantal worldview of the Bible is our basis for confident evangelism,
for we know that He died to save the world, and He reigns on high to
lead history to a glorious end. He will bless our evangelistic efforts
by His Holy Spirit. The Biblical covenantal worldview is the basis of
our assurance that our cultural labor has meaning, for we know that
our work is part of a larger historical movement. God's kingdom is being
realized in part through us. Artistic, industrial, educational, political,
familial, and every other kind of human endeavor are necessary to the
growth of the kingdom of God. The Biblical covenantal worldview calls
us to worship Christ as our primary task, for the Church is a nation
of priests. The kingdom of God grows as the influence of the Spirit
flows through the Church.
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this
is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1
57. The Bible and the Future, p. 23.
58. Ray Sutton, That You May Prosper.