Is the Church the Kingdom?
George Ladd, who is a highly recognized author and Newer Testament theologian, writes in his work entitled The Gospel of the Kingdom, a very thought provoking discourse on Matthew 16:17- 19.
- The church is not the Kingdom
- The Kingdom created the church
- The church witnesses to the Kingdom
- The church is the instrument of the Kingdom
- The church is the custodian of the Kingdom
The church is different from the Kingdom, in that the King created the church and uses it to accomplish His purpose here on earth.
The church is not the Kingdom of God. Those who are unlearned in the things of the Kingdom may promote that the church is “just another way” of saying the Kingdom. However, they are incorrect. “Church” and “Kingdom” are not one in the same; rather, they refer to two very distinct, different things.
The Kingdom created the church. The church did not create the Kingdom. Since the Kingdom created the church, the church has a responsibility to serve the Kingdom. The church serves the Kingdom by being a witness, and serving as an instrument and a custodian.
The church witnesses to the Kingdom. It is the role of the church to bear witness to the Kingdom. In other words, the church testifies to people that the Kingdom exists. It is the church’s duty to inform people about Kingdom principles, practices, and culture. However, even though the church has existed for thousands of years, at some point, she lost sight of her role and responsibility to witness to the reality of the Kingdom. As a result of not focusing on this responsibility, the church began to focus on and testify about itself. The result of the church’s inadequate job of communicating the culture and the message of the Kingdom is people are ignorant as it relates to the Kingdom. They know very little about the Kingdom and a great deal about the church.
The church is the instrument of the Kingdom. An instrument is something that you use to accomplish a purpose or task; thus, the Kingdom uses the church to accomplish the goal of evangelism and Kingdom expansion. The church is what the eternal Kingdom of God uses to do its business here on earth. The church is an instrument or a means, not an end. Thus, church is not the destination, but simply a means by which people can enter the Kingdom.
The church is the custodian of the Kingdom of God. In the natural, a custodian is someone who is responsible for taking care of a particular place, and he always has keys! If you need to get into a locked room in the facility, you call the custodian, right? Well, in essence, the church is the “janitor” of the Kingdom of God. Because the church holds the keys to the Kingdom, it is responsible for allowing people access into the Kingdom of God. The analogy of the church being the janitor is not meant to be a statement of dishonor or devaluing the church, but simply to suggest that it serves the Kingdom and makes its entrance possible through the keys to the Kingdom.
While the church is not the Kingdom and the Kingdom is not the church, the church is instrumental to the Kingdom.