George Ladd, in The Gospel of the Kingdom, points to five differences between the Kingdom of God and the church:
- The church is not the kingdom
- The kingdom creates the church
- The church witnesses to the kingdom
- The church is the instrument of the kingdom
- The church is the custodian of the kingdom
In A Theology of the New Testament, Ladd writes:
The Kingdom is primarily the dynamic reign or kingly rule of God, and derivatively, the sphere in which the rule is experienced. In biblical idiom, the Kingdom is not identified with its subjects. They are the people of God’s rule who enter it, live under it, and are governed by it. The church is the community of the Kingdom but never the Kingdom itself. Jesus’ disciples belong to the Kingdom as the Kingdom belongs to them; but they are not the Kingdom. The Kingdom is the rule of God; the church is a society of women and men.
That is, we are the people of the King but we are not the Kingdom itself. We do not build the Kingdom or become the Kingdom, but we witness to it. Here is a short list of what the church can and cannot do with the Kingdom.
The below is John Wimber on the Kingdom of God. We need both the illumination and the demonstration of the Kingdom of God. Amen!