The Centrality of God’s Kingdom, by Dr. Gary North

Matthew 23:15: 

15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

Dr. Gary North, Priorities and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Matthew

A. The Centrality of God’s Kingdom
Jesus made it clear that seeking God’s kingdom is priority number
one for the individual. Most people today and in the past have not ac-
knowledged this fact, not even to themselves. They suppress the truth
that their own nature and the creation reveal about God (Rom. 1:18–25).
This does not mean that Jesus was wrong about mankind’s top
priority. It means only that most men are in rebellion against God.
Evangelical Christians too often believe that God’s top priority is
the salvation of men. This is a man-centered viewpoint, a kind of bap-
tized humanism for Christians. It makes them think that they are the
center of God’s concern. They are not. God is the center of God’s con-
cern.

The universe is theocentric.

If the salvation of men were God’s primary concern, then He is
surely suffering a massive program failure, for comparatively few people so far have been saved.
The glory of God, which includes hell (Luke
16:23) and the post-final judgment lake of fire (Rev. 20:15), is God’s
chief priority. The salvation of men is God’s means of extending His
kingdom in history, but the way in which it is built, which includes the
eternal destruction of those who oppose His kingdom, is part of God’s
decree. As Paul wrote, “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for
this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power
in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he
will he hardeneth” (Rom. 9:17–18). The destruction of His enemies
glorifies God.
1.
Jesus defined a person’s personal salvation in terms of entering
into the kingdom of God. This kingdom is spiritual because men enter
it through the Holy Spirit. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto
thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter
into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). It is also eternal (Rev. 21; 22). It is
also historical. As the parable of Lazarus and the rich man indicates,
men enter God’s kingdom only in history (Luke 16:19–31).
2
There is continuity between the historical and eternal aspects of God’s kingdom.  This continuity will be revealed for all to see at the Second Coming/general resurrection (I Cor. 15:40–50) and the final judgment
which immediately follows: the corporate spiritual inheritance of the saints (I Cor. 15:51–57).
3
There is also continuity personally: heavenly
eternal rewards will be handed out in terms of a person’s earthly productivity in building God’s historical kingdom.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus
Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire (I Cor. 3:11–15).
4
Finding and then building the kingdom of God in history is the
central theme of the New Testament, culminating in the fulfillment of
the New Heavens and New Earth (Rev. 21; 22). This theme is an extension to the gentile world of a commandment and promise of the Old Testament: the building of God’s city, Zion. This theme is ultimately a recapitulation of the pre-Fall dominion covenant: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over
the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that
creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the
image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And
God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply,
and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the
fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing
that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:26–28).
5
Adam, as God’s agent, was assigned this task representatively for all mankind. Through their adoption by God, God’s people are commanded to extend His kingdom. God’s kingdom is not limited to the church or the Christian family. It is all-encompassing. God is the creator. Everything that He created is part of His kingdom. To deny this is necessarily to affirm that Satan, through Adam’s rebellion, possesses a legal claim to part of the creation. He does not have such a legally valid claim. Adam was in God’s steward, not the original owner. Adam could not forfeit to Satan
what he did not own. God’s kingdom is therefore co-extensive with the
earth: every realm in which men work out their salvation with fear and
trembling (Phil. 2:12). Wherever there is sin, there is an area fit for re-
conquest.

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