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The Covenantal Kingdom

by Rev. Ralph Allan Smith

Chapter Four



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.[57]

The remedy to this condition is a return to the Biblical covenantal worldview.[58] 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 Jn. 5:4).


57. The Bible and the Future, p. 23.

58. Ray Sutton, That You May Prosper.

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