The Kingdom of God: Now or Later or Both?

3. “Now but not yet” – Is this the best unifying concept to sum up the life of God’s people in the present age?

This exam response will discuss whether the phrase “Now, but not yet” is the best concept to sum up the age in which Christian’s live in. As Christians there is no doubt there are expectations of the future and the full unveiling of the Kingdom of God is not yet completed. This response will show a) that through his life, death and resurrection Jesus established a Kingdom that is incomplete on Earth. It will discuss b) a biblical perspective of the future completion of the Kingdom of God and conclude that there is an overlap in the ages, which means Christians both live in the Kingdom of God and are waiting for the completion of that Kingdom in accordance with the scriptures.

Through the life of Jesus Christ we can see the inauguration of the Kingdom of God ‘now’. Jesus was the kingdom in person. He was the temple of God on Earth. (Jn 2:19-21) The kingdom that was promised in the Old Testament comes to actuality in the person of Jesus, but He didn’t stay on earth for long. Christ was raised in glory to be with the Father and continue his reign. Thus He sent the Holy Spirit while Christians wait for his return.[1] The ascension of Jesus, and the sending of the Holy Spirit marks the overlap of the ages.[2]

Christians are victorious now by being re-born in Christ’s victory on the Cross and also His resurrection. Christians have been raised with God in this age. God is working within us now, changing and conforming Christians into His image and likeness. Christians have access to the father now because Christ is reigning King today.

These present and earthly expressions of the kingdom are imperfect and incomplete.[3] The human experience is defined with suffering (Rom 18:19), Christians continually displease God (Gal 5:17), Christians haven’t yet reached glory as God intends (Eph 4:15). There is a day where God’s future will be fully realised and perfected.

So then, Christians are compelled to think of the Kingdom also in terms of the ‘not yet’. It will be consummated on Christ’s return. Jesus will judge the living and the dead. At this point the kingdom reign and kingdom realm will become one. ‘Both-And’[4]

The bible uses certain passages to describe what the Kingdom of God will look like in the future. There is a Old Testament theme of ‘prophecy and fulfilment’ as the scriptures are a linear historical progression. The theme is best described as ‘a movement from creation to new creation’. We find in the Old Testament a prophetic eschatology, as in Isaiah 2:4.[5] This passage, along with others, is focused around the themes of God the King,  the new temple of Jerusalem, a new people with a new heart of flesh, a new land and a perfect union with the King where obedience is also central. Prophetic eschatology is understood by looking back to the garden of Eden in order to show what the future Kingdom of God will look like.

The New Testament has a different eschatological approach but draws identical conclusions. Goldsworthy surmises the New Testament eschatology by saying that the emphasis of the kingdom is no longer on the temple, but on the person of Jesus. Wherever He is, the Kingdom is.[6] Although the emphasis is switched, the theme of God as King is still present.  Phrases such as Kingdom of God’s beloved Son,[7] Kingdom of God,[8] Kingdom of Glory,[9] Kingdom of Christ,[10] show that the Kingdom is described less with land and more with emphasis on Jesus.

Further to this in the gospels Jesus shows that the kingdom of is both near and hear. This is done through his miracles, reign over nature and demons and the forgiveness of sins.

In conclusion through both the New and Old Testaments Christians can visualize what the Kingdom of God will look like. From our human experiences of this world it is clear that the fullness of God’s Kingdom is not upon us. Although we have already experienced Christ’s saving grace and justifying forgiveness; and although we have the Holy Spirit as our present counsel, Christians still look forward to a time where the fullness and completion of God’s Kingdom will be a present reality.


[1] G. Goldsworthy, According to Plan, (InterVarsity Press, 2002) p.212

[2] G. Goldsworthy, Kingdom of God, p.620

[3] G. Goldsworthy, Kingdom of God, p.620

[4] G. Goldsworthy, Kingdom of God, p.620

[5]  see also: Ezek 34, 11:19; Is 65; Jer 31; Joel 2:28-32

[6]  G. Goldsworthy, According to Plan, p.213

[7] Col 1:13

[8] Col 4:11; Rom 14:17; 1Cor 4:20

[9] 1Thes 2:12

[10] Eph 5:5; 2Pet 1:1; Rev 11:15

The Intermediate State: Where do Christians go when they die?

2.What happens to the individual person between death and the return of Christ, in the case of Christian believers?

This exam response will briefly discuss what happens to a Christian believer after they die for the period of time between their death and the return of Jesus Christ. It is beneficial to understand that in the beginning humans where created by God made up from a spirit and body which were tightly joined together. (Gen 2:7) Death was not in God’s plan for the perfect creation, and is directly a result of sin. (Gen 2:17; Rom 5:12) The death of a Christian believer results in a separation of the body and soul.[1] (Ecc 12:7 & Luk 23:43). This time of separation is commonly referred to as the ‘intermediate state’.

From our earthly experience we can deduce that the body is destroyed after death. The question that remains is what happens to the human spirit. For the Christian believer, the bible’s emphasis of the state of the soul after death is always positive. There is no hint of suffering, evil, sin or persecution. (Rev 6:10 and 7:15ff).

While the scriptures don’t spell out in detail what the intermediate state will encompass, the focus is on the fact that Christian believers are going to be with Christ. The key term is ‘with the Lord’. (i.e. Phi 1:23)

Paul’s writings are often positive about the intermediate state and there is also a sense of incompleteness. The vibe is that there is still something incomplete. Despite this incompleteness the soul is undoubtedly in heaven, with God. (2Cor 5:1-10).

The bible doesn’t lead the Christian believer to expect a gap between earth and heaven. This would exclude the idea of purgatory of which the Roman Catholics petition.

The bible teaches that Christian believers are not conscience in the intermediate state, but does suggest that those who have died or ‘gone to sleep’ are in heaven with Christ. Christians are taught that Christ will bring them with Him when he returns for final judgement. (1Thes4:14).  This raises the question of what ‘joys’ the Christians will experience. J.N. Darby fervently advocates immediate joy for the Christian after death.[2] Darby is often criticised for his dispensational views, although this is the case he helpfully differentiates between the intermediate and eternal states of the Christian after death. He argues that the bible never talks about spirits or souls being glorified. He shows that the human soul is not fully glorified after death, but that glorification is saved for the final judgment and reuniting of body and spirit. Darby suggests that there is an immediate joy for the Christian after death.[3] Others would interpret ‘gone to sleep’ as a death with a lack of conscience and therefore no human emotion.

To what end the human emotions are experienced is open for interpretation however we can conclude that after death, the Christian believer’s spirit is in heaven, with the Lord, waiting for Christ’s return and the final judgement where he and his body will be reunited and glorified for eternity. (Heb 12:23, . 2CO 5:1, Phil 1:23; Acts 3:21, Eph 4:10, John 5:21-30).


[1] M. Driscoll & G. Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, (Crossway, 2010) pp.409-410

[2] J.N. Darby, The State of the Soul After Death, (T. Weston Publishers, 1910)

[3]J.N. Darby, The State of the Soul After Death, , (T. Weston Publishers, 1910)

[Insert your deepest darkest thought here]

How would you feel if your deepest and darkest thoughts were transparently projected over YouTube. What would you do if your secrets were shown to your friends, family… to the world.

[Insert your deepest darkest thought here].

The bible shows that we all have inappropriate desires. You most definitely have desires and secrets that you try to hide from the world. What are your desires? What things have you done that you would do anything to keep secret?

Ten years ago, I felt helpless to control my desires. My need for self-gratification left me in a state of dis-repair. No matter how hard I tried too improve, I found myself in a downward spiral. Every time I thought I’d found a solution to my lack of satisfaction, I would find another way of hurting myself, or someone around me. In the time that I spent with a complete disregard for God’s purpose for my life, I collected physical, spiritual and emotional burdens which are still with me in today’s walk. Like me I’m sure there’s tonnes of solid Christians who would agree that the addictions, behaviours, and attitudes of their youth still weigh heavily upon them today.

So whether you are like me and are still dealing with the decisions you made ten years ago, or you are in the midst of making decisions that you just know aren’t right, now is the time to grasp to some truths that can potentially liberate you from the unhealthy desires of your heart.

Maybe it’s something that you haven’t done, but something that has been done to you. What is it that you couldn’t tell anyone because of shame, guilt or fear? Who hurt you so bad, that you feel guilty because of it?

Mike Wilkerson, author of Redemption, writes this:

“it’s not our raw experiences that determine our lives but the meaning we make of them – the stories we tell an the stories we believe. Out of those stories we live our lives”.

Mike encourages his readers to look at abuse, addictions and other assorted troubles through the lens of scripture.  The problem isn’t that God has abandoned us in our pain, but that sometimes we refuse to face it without him.

It’s important to know that God hasn’t just rescued us from our sin, but also our fear, our doubt and our guilt.

I’m not writing to give you the answers, but just to point lost people to the bible. It does have the answers.
A good place to start is to realise that despite how you feel, God loves and cares for you.

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Preaching Portfolio Piece

For my bible college preaching portfolio, I was asked to write a short piece in common spoken form. Hopefully it reads as if I were speaking.

G’day. In 2010 I was sent to Afghanistan as an Army Medic. One of the more nerve racking experiences was waiting on the flight line for the sick and wounded to arrive by chopper. This would happen a few times a week. We’d wait as a team; ready to move a patient from the chopper and take them to the hospital. It was a 300m drive in the back of an ambulance. We never knew what to expect, usually we’d receive a couple of details about the injuries by radio. But it was never enough to give us a full picture.

Picture this: All we know is that an enemy soldier has been shot and he is inbound. And we know he’s in a bad way.  Finally, I can see the chopper coming. My adrenaline kicks in as the noise becomes deafening. I have to brace myself against the gust from the chopper’s blades. We lower our safety glasses and once the chopper is on the ground we go get the patient from the flight medics. As the side door of the chopper opens we see a medic bouncing up and down on the enemy’s chest. They’re doing CPR. He’d died during the flight. Our orders say we can’t stop treatment yet.

Patients who had died during a flight have to get 15 minutes of life support when they land. Only then can we say that the patient has died.

My heart is now pounding. My job is to help carry the stretcher from the chopper to the ambulance. After the short trip to the hospital I am working with a team of doctors, nurses and medics to help save his life. My next task is to get a cannula in his arm so the doc can pump in drugs to try and restart his heart. For those who don’t know a cannula is the little plastic valve used to put medicine straight into a patient’s blood. Yeah I reckon landing a good cannula in someone’s arm is pretty easy… unless someone is bouncing on their chest – shaking their limbs everywhere. Or they’re dead and have no blood flowing through their veins. Lucky for me I hit the flat vein and land the cannula first shot. The doc is impressed.

When the dust had settled we found a gunshot wound to his shoulder. And an artery had been split. The guy had no chance, he’d lost too much blood. You know… it was then that I realised that the guy had no hope. Nothing I could do could save his life. And to be honest I felt pretty useless as a medic. Even though he was an enemy, I felt sorry because chances were he’d never had the chance to meet Jesus.

What Defines You? To whose family do you belong?

This is part one of my story. It’s about how I came to be a co-heir with Christ.

I was two years old when my parents decided that they could no longer be married. An event that I was oblivious to at the time, and one that would define my childhood. Read more What Defines You? To whose family do you belong?

How well do you know the Gospel Message of Christ?

There are DIY guides to access the afterlife, 10 ways to perfection, 7 gospel truths, 2 ways to live, 1 way not to live and a really painful headache at the end of all that reading. Sigh. Why is the most influential and life changing story of mankind so simple yet so hard to understand? Wouldn’t it be easier if God wrote it down somewhere? Lucky for us, he did. Read more How well do you know the Gospel Message of Christ?