Supreme Court Justice Scalia died. Some said it was God’s judgment, others said it was for the better.
When tragedy strikes, Christians try to justify their wrong belief that Christ is ruling over the world today.
They think all that happens is decreed from Christ as the ruler of this world, but is the Lord Jesus Christ reigning in judgment and righteousness over the whole world today?
While it is true that Christ is risen above all things today (Eph 1:22; Col 2:10), and he will reign for ever over all the earth in the future (Rev 11:17), it is not true that the world is living in his kingdom now.
Here are a few reasons explaining from the Bible:
1. Sin not Righteousness
The kingdom rule of God is described by righteousness, peace, joy, justice, mercy, and love.
Is this an apt description of the world you see around you? Certainly not. We live in a present evil world as Paul describes, filled with sin, corruption, lies, injustice, and death (Gal 1:4; Eph 5:3-6).
When Christ holds rulership over the world, the Bible says “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom” (Heb 1:8). Ubiquitous and unchecked sin does not describe the reign of Christ on earth.
This is fatal to the idea that Christ is ruling now over all things on the earth.
2. Wicked Rulers
If not Christ, then who? Certainly Christ is the Head over all things, especially of those who are saved.
But Paul says the rulers of this world are not Christ, but the devil and his spiritually wicked minions. The rulers are in rebellion.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Eph 6:12
The “god of this world” works against the work of preaching the gospel of Christ (2 Cor 4:4).
The prince of the power of the air rules the course of this world with a spirit of disobedience toward God (Eph 2:2-3). The world is in active rebellion against God and any right he claims over them.
3. Grace Not Judgment
In response to this rebellion, God has withheld judgment.
If Christ sits above all principality and power in heavenly places, then why does he not exercise his right to judge over all? What kind of rule is it that never judges? (That people claim God is judging the world, but injustice continues makes a mockery of Christ’s ability to judge.)
This is because before the Lord establishes his judgment and kingdom on the earth, he has offered terms of peace and reconciliation toward him. Paul calls this the dispensation of grace, and it explains why God is not preventing every evil, imputing every sin, and judging every wrong today (Rom 5:1; 2 Cor 5:19; Eph 3:1-2).
When God offers grace to the world (not judging them by their works), he cannot judge them for their actions at the same time. That God is offering grace to all sinners means the Saviour is withholding judgment (Rom 5:8).
4. Church not Israel
Whenever someone declares that Christ’s kingdom is on the earth now, they are diminishing God’s faithfulness to keep his promise to Israel.
God promised the nation Israel would reign over all the nations in the earth, but today God is building his church not a nation.
That God is continuing to build his church, where there is no distinction between Jew or Gentile, means God has not established his reign over the earth (Col 3:1, 3:11). His earthly kingdom requires Israel’s rise from their fallen position and a change in the operation of God on the earth (Rom 11:26-27).
The kingdom of God will not be present on the earth until Israel is saved and sits in a position over the other nations of the world.
5. Not Yet All Things
The book of Hebrews is written to the believing Hebrews who were promised a kingdom, but had since been scattered out of Jerusalem where the kingdom should begin. It contains some of the clearest evidence that the Christ is not yet ruling over all today.
Hebrews 2:8 declares that the kingdom has not yet come.
“For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.” – Hebrews 2:8
“For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” – Hebrews 13:14
Christ is risen from the dead to sit in power over all things, but not yet do we see all thing subject to him. The scripture could not be any plainer.
Christ still resides in heaven, Israel has fallen, sin is still the course of the world, and the only people left on the planet are not called citizens of a city, but ambassadors to an evil dominion.
A Greater Hope
When tragedy strikes many Christians try to find comfort in the wrong doctrine that Christ is ruling over all today. They think that God is communicating to them good or evil through the circumstances.
This creates confusion as to what the Lord is doing when we see conflicting circumstances and interpretations.
A greater hope is found in the knowledge that the kingdom of Christ is greater than what we now see (Rom 8:18; Col 1:27). Christ is in a position above all things in heaven, but we see not yet his kingdom on the earth. The earth is being run by the rebels, and the representation of Christ here and now are ambassadors of grace (2Cor 5:20).
When bad things happen we know they are the consequence of sin and bad rulership by evil forces. God does not intervene to stop them because he is offering the perpetrators grace and salvation.
All are accountable to the Lord, and there will be a day in which he will return to the world in judgment and conquest.
In that day the Lord will reign and rule in righteousness, and all will bow to him. This is called in the Bible the “world to come” not the world which now is (Heb 2:5).