Is there a sense in which we are in the Kingdom of God now?
“Kingdom Now” is the theological belief that the Church is presently subduing the enemies of Christ in order to pave the way for his appearing. Mishandling such verses as Acts 3:19ff and Ephesians 4:13 and 14 leads to the view that the Christian Church will remain on the earth and become a dominant force in the world by winning millions of people to the Lord in a great end-times revival. It is easy to understand why someone who believes that would be confused as he reads the Church Epistles, however, because they say that we are lights in the midst of a world that is growing ever darker. Paul’s Epistles testify that things will get worse and worse until one day, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be taken out of this world, caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Christians will not set up God’s kingdom—only the Lord Jesus Christ will do that.
Those who hold to Dominion Theology also misapply to the Church some prophecies from the Old Testament that promise material abundance to Israel. These scriptures are all related to the Millennial Kingdom, not some other “kingdom” that the Christian Church will in some way reign over now. There are many verses in the Old Testament that foretell the wealth of the world being brought to the Messiah’s Kingdom (Isaiah 60 is a good example), but there are no similar prophecies for the Church being so enriched before the Rapture.
According to Dominion Theology, the Church is also the Bride of Christ, who is “making herself ready” for her eternal husband, as described in Revelation 19:7. This is a great example of the confusion created by failing to make dispensational distinctions. Ephesians 5:25-27 is a clear reference to Christ’s relationship with his Church, and there it says that he is sanctifying and cleansing her, “to present her to himself” a glorious Church. He is not leaving it to her to “make herself ready.” The solution to the “problem” is to see two distinct groups of believers. Ephesians 5 relates to the Christian Church in the age of grace when Christ is clothing us with his holiness. Colossians 1:12 says that God has “qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” This means that we have a place in his Millennial Kingdom, not because of our works, but because of Christ’s work on our behalf. Christians are raptured into the air to be with Christ before the Tribulation. The other group, the one in Revelation, is the Bride that is composed of believers who make it through the Tribulation period. They are clothed with fine linen, which are the “righteous acts of the saints” (19:8), i.e., their own works.