Hoekema in The Bible and the Future offers an in-depth analysis of the several paradigms surrounding the kingdom of God as depicted in the New Testament. Fundamentally, the main principle is that God's kingdom is established through his sovereign grace and the benefits due to its inauguration are to be received as gifts by humankind. As such, man has no mandate to bring the kingdom into existence but rather to pray and strive to enter it through faith and submission to the beneficence rule of our Creator in every aspect of our lives. Moreover, the advent of the kingdom of God is designed to set its course into human history and assert its dominance by propagating His purposes for man. Nonetheless, the kingdom is like a double-edged sword whereby its inauguration implies redemption for those who willingly accept and enter it through faith and destruction for those who reject it. On the other hand, there exists the controversy as to whether the kingdom of God manifests itself in the present, in the future or both. The answers to this contentious issue may be drawn from the teaching of Jesus and Paul the Apostle who assert that the kingdom exists in future reality as well as the present.
Insights From Literature Review of Material
Without a doubt, Anthony Hoekema's The Bible and the Future vividly explicate the debates surrounding the existence of the kingdom of God and the general perceptions of the impending apocalypse. Additionally, the captivating element of the book is the inclusion of texts quoted from the Bible that have been used with much efficacy to justify the different notions that are incorporated in the theologies advanced. Accordingly, the author addresses the major themes that may be deduced from the debate on the end of times and the expression of the kingdom of God and the resolve for its existence.
Significant Ideas from the Readings
Presence of the Kingdom of God
The casting out of demons by Jesus during his mission on earth demonstrated that God's kingdom had already arrived. Moreover, this act was symbolic in the defeat of the powers of evil while at the same time Jesus confirmed to the Pharisees that His powers were ordained by the Spirit of God. Consequently, the kingdom of God has been witnessed in the history of humankind thus its presence may also be defined as enduring.
Good Versus Evil in the Bible
The dawn of the kingdom of God did not ultimately imply the total annihilation of the forces of evil. The tussle between good and evil has existed throughout history, and its perpetuity culminates in the suffering of God's people. Besides, the coming of Jesus further catalyzes the contrast between the above-mentioned components.
Mechanisms of the Kingdom of God
Verses about the kingdom of God exemplify in one Jesus parables where He teaches that whoever hears and heeds to the words of the Messiah is a man who builds his house on a rock solid foundation but whoever hears the words but does not abide by them is like a man who builds his house on a sandy foundation. Additionally, the primary purpose of the advent of the kingdom of God is to bring salvation to humankind for He did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save it.
Present Manifestation of the Kingdom of God
The kingdom may have been perceived to have already reached and manifested itself in human history. Additionally, the physical existence of Jesus Christ and His subsequent mission to overcome evil was aimed at bringing deliverance from its trappings so that the glory of the Lord may be seen. For example, the parables of the Hidden Treasure and Pearl of Great Price teach that individuals ought to sell their earthly belongings now in pursuit of the kingdom of God (Hoekema 1994).
Future Manifestation of the Kingdom of God
In essence, the Kingdom of God is characterized by the redemptive reign of the Almighty. In addition, regarding the Bible and the end times according to Hoekema, its vigorous activity has imposed its influence upon men and will appear as an apocalyptic manifestation at the end of times. For instance, the Parable of the Marriage Feast denotes a time of blessedness for those who accept the invitation while casting individuals to utter darkness if they fail to meet the requirements (Hoekema 1994).
Role of the Church in the Bible
The church must attend to the sense of urgency by spreading the news of the kingdom of God as the end is nigh. Moreover, the church ought to plan and work towards asserting its influence for the future generations to come. Conversely, the church experiences quagmires between the current and the anticipated age as the church may have experienced victory in God's kingdom yet it may be perceived and seen as being at the mercy of the powers of the world.
Elements for Entry Into God's Kingdom
Indeed, faith is a mandatory requirement to gaining entrance into God's kingdom as it was analyzed by Jesus that individuals ought to humble themselves and subscribe to the will of God. One also must be born of the Spirit, including exercising full commitment by seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness, which would ultimately culminate in granting the desires of our hearts (Hoekema 1994).
The Second Coming of Christ: Bible
The second coming of Christ is inferred as a two-stage process dubbed the pre tribulation dispensationalism. It denotes a seven-year difference between the two periods with the initial being the rapture while the second involves the establishment of the millennial kingdom. The seven-year gap will be characterized by the reign of the antichrist whose mission would be to inflict pain and suffering on the remaining on-believes (Hoekema 1994).
Rapture Versus Return
In rapture, Jesus does not come all the way to the earth while the resurrection of true believers occurs at this phase. Those who will be alive at this time will be transformed and glorified and will rise with other believers to meet the descending Lord amongst the clouds. The seven-year period that is to follow will be marked with great tribulations and judgments on earth after which Christ's second coming will be signified with His descent to earth accompanied by the church. Later, he destroys His enemies in the battle of Armageddon and sets up a throne in Jerusalem to symbolize the commencement of his millennial reign (Hoekema 1994).
Hoekema, A. (1994). The Bible and the Future. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.pp. 79-108, 239-287.
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