If Christ is King, he must have a kingdom. As King of kings and Lord of lords Rev. 11:15 pronounces that “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” It is God’s purpose that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father, “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:10). This is a glorious thing, this is a glorious kingdom, this is a glorious King; and we were made to see this King in all of his glory. You should love the Church because of the part she plays in this kingdom. The Church is not identical with the kingdom, though some have thought that to be so, because the kingdom is bigger than the Church. Kingdom is a sphere of reign, so the aim of the kingdom being “all things in heaven and on earth” necessitates that it be larger than the Church. What is important is that the Church is included in the kingdom, that the Church has a vital role in the manifestation of the kingdom, and that it is the most visible expression of the kingdom. It is where the kingdom is announced, it is where we are brought into this kingdom, and it is where the law of the King is expressed. Moreover, the Church is the only institution which has been given the keys to the kingdom to bind and to loose.
This kingdom is simultaneously present and future. Christ announced that the kingdom of God is here now, but it is not yet present in its consummated form. We live in this period of time between the already and the not yet. God is building his kingdom as men are born again, he is putting his enemies under his feet, but we don’t yet see the reign of Christ in its fullness. This we await and we will see when he returns in glory. It is a reality that is spiritual at present but will become tangible at Christ’s coming. There are two ways in which we generally err regarding the kingdom. The first is to see the kingdom as fully realized and to see ourselves as building the kingdom by transforming or redeeming culture. The other is to push the kingdom entirely into the future as in dispensationalism. In these ways we see it as ascending (building the kingdom) or only as linear, (it being in the future). In actuality, we are presently receiving this kingdom. Believers are (as those who belong to the King) experiencing a foretaste of the age to come (Heb. 6:5). We are those who are united to Christ, raised with him, and who have been seated in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2). The age to come has already dawned in Christ’s resurrection and ascension; he is our forerunner. The age to come is breaking in on this present evil age. Where do we see this? We see it in the baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Where do we hear this? We hear it in the Word of the King that is preached to us. Where do we see his righteous reign? It is in those that he is conforming to his image and it is through the officers which he has given to exercise his rule in his Church. How can we not love the Church if we love the Head and King of the Church, for it is here that we see a foretaste of the age to come.