Introduction: The Kingdom of God is something that Jesus spoke about a lot. It was, perhaps, his favourite topic. At times, he said, “The Kingdom is here,” while at other times, he proclaimed, “The Kingdom is coming.”
For starters, the Kingdom is everywhere that God rules and reigns, but what did Jesus mean with his apparently contradictory statements? Let’s look at the Bible…
The Kingdom of God is… Now
Ask people in your group to read these verses out loud, have some Bibles ready for those who don’t own one and let them take them away as their own.
Luke 17: 20-21 (NIV)
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
Matthew 11: 12 (New Living Translation) From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.
Mark 1: 15 (NIV) “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Question for discussion
•What’s your favourite Bible story where the Kingdom of God breaks through? Where Jesus heals someone, casts out a demon, feeds the 5,000 or raises someone from the dead? What do you like about it? Unpack the stories as a group.
•When have you seen the Kingdom of God breaking through? Healing stories, God’s power breaking through in difficult situations? Encourage your group to share stories and then ask questions of each other.
As a leader, be prepared to share some stories from what you have seen in your life and how you have seen God move miraculously, which demonstrate the ‘now’ of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is… Not Yet
Ask people in your group to read these verses out loud:
2 Thessalonians 1: 5-7 (NIV)
All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
Luke 22: 29-30 (NIV)
And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Revelation 11: 15 (NIV)
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
Question for discussion
•When have you prayed for someone or something and not seen the results you expected? Have you been prayed for and wondered why you haven’t been healed even though you know that God is capable? What questions does this raise for you?
So, which is it? Is the Kingdom Now or Not Yet?
In the Vineyard we call this conundrum the “now and not yet”; in other words, it’s a paradox. It’s both. The kingdom is everywhere that God’s rule and reign breaks through, yet his rule and reign is not fully set-up on earth and won’t be until Jesus returns to reign as we read about in Revelation.
This is the reason why we don’t always see the fullness of the Kingdom evident when we step out in faith.
Allow questions at this point and have copies of this book or the ‘What is the Kingdom?’ Vineyard booklet handy, to hand out to people or to use to help explain their questions.