The Kingdom of God: A Transformational Perspective
by Lloyd Turner, PrayForNewark
This article explores the role of marketplace Christians in advancing the Kingdom of God. We take the position that Christians have been involved in world transformation for more than 2000 years. We then state that Prayer Evangelists have a key role in ushering in the Kingdom of God in contemporary society. Finally, we provide an example from Newark, New Jersey, to illustrate what can happen when a change in the spiritual climate attracts attention from government and business leaders.
What the Kingdom of God is not:
- Legalism—A doctrine that teaches that we can earn God’s favor by strict adherence to moral rules. The practical problem with legalism is that Jesus did not come to earth and die to enforce human laws and moral regulations, but “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
- Social action and social reform—Human efforts to improve society will occur when the Kingdom of God advances, but Jesus said that His Kingdom is “not by outward sign” (Luke 17:20-21).
- Political activism—The Kingdom advances in “weakness” and “humility”, not by exercises of political power (John 6:14-15).
- Theocracy – The Kingdom of God is hidden in this age (Matthew 13:44). Jesus in fact told Pilate that His Kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36).
What the Kingdom of God is:
- The reign of God—His authority—ruling in the hearts of men and women
- What we see at present are the fruits of the Kingdom (Romans 14:17):
- Joy in the Holy Spirit.
Prayer Evangelism and the Kingdom
The believer’s role in advancing the Kingdom of God is described by Jesus in Luke 10:1-9. In this passage Jesus instructs His disciples to go into cities and do four things:
- Bless the people they meet: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house’.”
- Fellowship with them: “Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you, for the laborer is worthy of his wages.”
- Pray for their felt needs: “Heal those in it who are sick. . . . “
- Proclaim the Kingdom: “Say to them, the kingdom of God has come near to you.”
These four steps constitute the Prayer Evangelism model that Ed Silvoso describes in detail in his book, Prayer Evangelism. Note, in particular, that verse 8 that the disciples are to announce that “the kingdom of God has come near to you,” in the New American Standard Bible, or alternatively, “The kingdom of God is at hand for you,” in the New American Bible translation. Note three things about this amazing passage: (1) Jesus wants the people being prayed for to understand that they are being blessed not only by the disciples, but also supernaturally by the presence of God; (2) That this transaction is being triggered by the action of the disciples; and (3) That the context of this verse is that Jesus Himself is “about to go” to every city and place that is prepared for Him (see 10:1). What is being described here is the First Century equivalent of a project plan—a sequence of N tasks that list activities to be accomplished, how these activities are to be sequenced, and who is to perform each activity. What is remarkable about Jesus’ ‘project plan’ is that He gives the disciples specific instructions about task number 1—to go to the city and minister in a particular manner—without telling them what tasks 2-N are! In effect, He is telling them, “Leave the remaining activities to me”. He lets them know, in general terms, that He “was about to go” to the places they prepare for Him to visit, but there is little or no information about when or how His visitations would occur. Observe also that God the Father offered the same ‘project plan’ template to King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.17. After the King proclaimed a fast and urgent prayer to God for protection against the vast army of the Moabites and Ammonites, the messenger Jahaziel comforted him by saying, “This is what the LORD says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem.” “Stand firm” was exactly the same message Moses gave to the Israelites as they prepared to cross the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13), and it was the same message that Paul gave to the Christians who faced trials in Ephesus (Ephesians 6:14) and Thessalonica (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Do you see the pattern? In all of these passages God tells us to go and provides specific instructions about what we are to do, and these actions are absolutely essential to Him. But after the disciples do these things, they are to “stand firm”—and let God perform the remaining, undefined tasks that will fulfill His Kingdom purposes in the situation at hand. In each case the disciples are not to believe foolishly that they are going to win the battle by themselves—like Peter tried to do in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:10). Nor are they to spend their time trying to figure out all the tasks and dependencies about the activities Jesus is responsible for completing—indeed, they don’t even know what these tasks are! They are simply to go, and do what the Master tells them to do in the city. And this is exactly what Prayer Evangelists are called to do today—to go to cities and nations, follow the steps that Jesus has laid out in Luke 10, and then “stand firm and watch.” At this point, they are to eagerly and confidently anticipate the works of grace that Jesus will do when He shows up for His divine appointments, which will lead not only to the salvation of souls but also for the reclaiming of “all that was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Mysteries of the Kingdom
We will not see or comprehend everything about the Kingdom of God in this age. It will be consummated only at Jesus’ second coming. Here are some Kingdom mysteries that remain at the present time:
- Jesus tells us that we are to seek the Kingdom of God above all things (Matthew 6:33), but He needed 40 days to explain it to His disciples after the resurrection (Acts 1:3). There are complexities we still do not understand.
- He tells us that the Kingdom of God has already come, but that we can’t observe it directly. And it won’t be complete until the sound of the 7th trumpet in Revelation 11:15.
- It encompasses all things in heaven and on earth, but it does not include establishing a political system until Jesus’ return at the second coming.
- Scripture tells us, “For the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14), but we don’t know the extent to which this will happen before Jesus’ return as described in Revelation.
- Jesus is coming to claim His bride—but will she be ready? Will she be a spotless bride, or will she have blemishes like the church has today?
- Cities and nations, like individuals, will be changed “from glory to glory” in our time. But at Jesus’ second coming, all will be changed “in the twinkling of an eye”. (2 Corinthians 3:18 vs. 1 Corinthians 15:51, Isaiah 66:8). For marketplace Christians, this means that transformation will be a process that happens in stages in the present age.
Examples of Transformation throughout Church History
|The Early Church||1st Century||Elimination of systemic poverty (“no needy persons”)||Acts 2:42-47 and many other passages in Acts|
|The Wesleyan evangelical awakening in England||18th Century||The spiritual awakening under the Wesleys and Whitefield protected England from ‘the contagion’ of the French Revolution.||Secular historian W.E.H. Lecky documented these impacts in his widely acknowledged book, History of England in the Eighteenth Century, Vol. 3, p. 146. Chippenham, Wiltshire: 1995.|
|Systematic Visitation of the Poor in Glasgow and other cities in the British Isles||19th Century||Visitation of parishes in Glasgow, Scotland, led to dramatic reduct-ions in public welfare expenditures. When Thomas Chalmers undertook the management of the parish of St. John’s, the poor of the parish cost the city £1400 per annum, and in four years, by the adoption of his method, the pauper expenditure was reduced to £280 per annum.||The Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers, Tracts on Pauperism/The Sufficiency of the Parochial System, pp. 105-149. London: Longmans Green and Company, 1901.|
|The Abolitionist Movement in England (and in the US)||19th Century||Christian leaders including John Woolman, John Newton, and William Wilberforce convinced the British Parliament to pass the Slave Trade Act in 1807.||Eric Metaxas, Amazing Grace. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2007.|
|The Transformation Movement||21st Century||Today Transformational prototypes are occurring on every continent.||See Harvest Evangelism’s Transformation videos at (www.TransformOurWorld.org)|
The Believer’s Call to Action
The Kingdom of God was the subject of Jesus’ first and last recorded teachings. It was, indeed, the central theme throughout His earthly ministry.
- His first recorded teaching was about the Kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). His first commands were to repent and to believe, not to try and understand the complexities of the Kingdom. In Jesus’ teachings—and indeed throughout the Bible—obedience trumps understanding (cf. Hebrews 5:7-8).
- The Sermon on the Mount described what we must do to gain access to the Kingdom of God.
In Luke 10:1 we are to go into the city and practice Prayer Evangelism. The last step is to announce that “the Kingdom of God is at hand”.
- Matthew 28:19—We are to go into the entire world and proclaim the Gospel everywhere, to all peoples, and “then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
- Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus spent His last 40 days on earth teaching the disciples about the Kingdom of God. Clearly, He wants us to seek the Kingdom with whatever level of understanding we have.
What Will the Kingdom of God Look Like? A Contemporary Example from Newark
- Consider the example of the $100 million donations to Newark public schools by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, which has subsequently been matched in part by Bill Gates and other philanthropists: A modern-day Zaccheus is providing favor to Newark as it comes back into alignment with its spiritual destiny, which is to be “as nearly as possible a kingdom of God on earth.”
- Governor Chris Christie as a type of righteousness—reputation for convicting 130 public officials in corruption charges without losing a case.
- Newark Mayor Cory Booker as a type of peace—reputation for bringing dramatic reductions in homicides and shootings in Newark during his first term.
- The missing ingredient is joy—That is what the Transformational Movement must add to the mix. Transformational leaders and Transformational Churches are to provide leadership and demonstrate the fruits of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey meeting with NJ Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker to announce a $100 Million matching grant to transform Newark’s schools (9/24/10)
God can do anything He wants—including changing cities and nations in a day (Isaiah 66:8)—but He wants believers to take the first step. Here is the blueprint Jesus gives us to advance the Kingdom of God:
- We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2).
- Creation is groaning, longing for release from captivity. (Romans 8:22) The world is eagerly awaiting its release from sin, disease, crime, and poverty. Believers have important assignments to initiate the reclaiming of what Jesus has already redeemed.
- Marketplace Christians are being equipped to go out into the cities and proclaim the Kingdom. Today, for example, more than 500 Prayer Initiatives have signed up to adopt streets on TransformOurWorld’s Adopt Your Street webpage, preparing the way for Jesus to come to their cities.
- We are called to influence and to transform society, not to establish a Christian government in the present age. The churches are to be salt and light in the present age, not ruling the governments of the world by force but instead leading in humility and weakness.
- Jesus has an open appointment book and is waiting for believers to prepare the way for Him to visit our cities and nations (Luke 10:1). He is knocking at the door of our hearts but will not barge in. He is a gentlemen who honors our freedom of conscience. He promises to come into “every city and place” where the way has been prepared for Him to visit. With this kind of offer, wouldn’t you want Him to visit every street in your city?
1. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Kingdom of God. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2010 (paper).
2. E. Stanley Jones, The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person. Bellingham, WA: McNett Press, 1995.
3. David Naugle, "Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God," Chuck Colson Ministries, 2010. Available at Colson Center .
4. Ed Silvoso, Prayer Evangelism. Ventura, CA: Regal Gospel Light, 2000.
5. Ed Silvoso, Transformation. Ventura, CA: Regal Gospel Light, 2007.