What do we as Baptists believe about the kingdom of God and the last things? We are going to look at these two articles together, because they are very much related to one another. The only thing that really separates these two articles is the concept of time. Article 9, on the Kingdom, has to do with God’s sovereign rein here and now, in time and space. Article 10 deals with the wrapping up of history and God’s glorious plan of redemption, and the peering beyond time and space into eternity, where all that is wrong here and now will be set right forever.
When we combine these two articles for consideration it makes it easier to see that the Kingdom of God has two aspects: the already, and the not yet. We can see the already when we read passages like Matthew 28:18: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. We can see the not yet in passages like 1 Corinthians 15:25: For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The future fulfillment of the kingdom of God can also be seen in passages like Revelation 21:4: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Article 9 clearly and accurately teaches that God’s Kingdom is already here, firmly in place, and yet we can plainly see from our surroundings that not everything is as it should be. The final consummation of the age will only take place when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead.
You may have noticed as we have moved farther from the first articles to the latter articles in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, that these latter articles have been less detailed than the first articles. Those first articles on Scripture, God, and man deal with vital doctrines of the Christian faith. We need a fairly detailed and concrete statement on these doctrines. Perhaps as you have noticed items missing as we have discussed latter issues. That is especially true here. Why is there no mention of the role of the church in government in Article 9? Why is there no talk of a millennium, a rapture, or the tribulation? The reason for this is that among Southern Baptists there are several views concerning these matters. Let’s look now at Articles 9 and 10.
IX. The Kingdom
The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ.
These two sentences pretty much wraps up the entirety of the concept of the God’s kingdom. An earthly kingdom is always defined by two distinctives: land and possessions, and subjects. God’s kingdom is this way too. He has a general sovereignty which extends over all of what He has created, which is everything. There is nothing too large, nor anything too small or insignificant to fall beyond the sovereign care of God. All of the earth belongs to God (Exodus 19:5), His are the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and even the roll of the dice are determined by God (Proverbs 16:33). Even a sparrow falling to the ground is not outside of the domain of our God (Matthew 10:29). In a more specific sense, God’s kingdom is made up of men and women, boys and girls who have bowed the knee to Him. When questioned about His kingship, Jesus told Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). As we mentioned above, just before His ascension Jesus told His disciples that all authority had been given to Him, in heaven and on earth, and yet His only directive to them was to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God’s will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.
Right out of the model prayer (Matthew 6:9,10) that our Lord gave his disciples, and us, we are to desire the coming of the fullness of the consummation of the age. We are to long for that day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns (Hebrews 9:28). This last sentence rightly assesses the situation, that the full consummation, or completion, of this kingdom waits for one thing and one thing only: the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. More about that in the next article.
Scripture passages listed with this Article: Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Matthew 3:2; 4:8-10,23; 12:25-28; 13:1-52; 25:31-46; 26:29; Mark 1:14-15; 9:1; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; 12:31-32; 17:20-21; 23:42; John 3:3; 18:36; Acts 1:6-7; 17:22-31; Romans 5:17; 8:19; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 11:10,16; 12:28; 1 Peter 2:4-10; 4:13; Revelation 1:6,9; 5:10; 11:15; 21-22.
X. Last Things
God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
As I pointed out above, there is no mention of millennium, rapture, or tribulation in this article. Only what is vital to this doctrine is mentioned here, and that is the way it should be. Here is what really matters when discussing the Last Things:
- God is on His timetable, not ours. Nothing anybody does or can do is able to speed up or hold up God’s perfect plan (2 Peter 3:8,9).
- Jesus will return, personally, visibly, physically. He will judge all men in righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:10).
- There is a Hell, and those who are unrighteous will go there at the last judgment, to be punished for ever (Mark 9:47,48, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Jude 1:7).
- The righteous will be reunited with their bodies, but they will be glorified, Just like Jesus (1 John 3:2), absent of corruption of any kind, perfect in every way.
- We will live in Heaven for ever with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Scripture passages listed with this Article: Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 2; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13.
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #1 (An Introduction)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #2 (On the Doctrine of Scripture)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #3 (On the Doctrine of God)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #4 (On God the Father)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #5 (On God the Son
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #6 (On God the Holy Spirit)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #7 (On the Doctrine of Man)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8 (On the Doctrine of Salvation)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8 (Continued) (On the Doctrine of Salvation)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #9 (On God’s Purpose of Grace)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #10 (On the Doctrine of The Church)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #11 (On Baptism and the Lord’s Supper)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #12 (On The Lord’s Day)