A very important issue that must be discussed inside Dispensationalist Tradition. It is the relation of present salvation benefits and the OT Eschatological Kingdom. We must discuss whether the present benefits experienced by the church (composed of Jews and Gentiles) are something related to OT Eschatological Promised Kingdom.
If that relation is correct, therefore, in some sense, we must recognize that the church already participates of some benefits of OT Eschatological Kingdom, while it awaits for more fulfillment of elements in the future Dispensation–that include the restoration of Israel, the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of a worldwide theocracy. I will denominate this view as “Inclusive View” of OT Kingdom in relation to the Present Salvific Benefits experienced by the church.
This view is supported by Walter Kaiser, Darrell Bock, Craig Blaising, Robert Saucy and others. However, the degree of “already elements” of Kingdom in the present dispensation may vary from author to author. For example, I see the present salvific benefits as something related to OT, as Dr. Bock has exegetically shown in his writings. However, differently from Bock, I just say that the Church already participates in the OT Kingdom Spiritual Benefits or that some OT Kingdom Benefits has already been dawned upon us in present dispensation, without claiming that Jesus is already at the Davidic Throne or claiming that the meaning of David Kingdom has been changed in NT to be a Spiritual One (as some dispensationalist accuses the progressives).
The present spiritual benefits of the Kingdom does not imply a negation of a future material Kingdom (this is a false accusation raised by some). Indeed, while I see present benefits of OT Kingdom, I also await the fulfillment of the political elements that, according to the Bible, will take place at the Second Coming of Christ (not with our human effort, but through a divine intervention in the world). If that will happen through a physical and personal coming of Christ, we need to differentiate that Dispensational view from the liberal view that we are building the Kingdom by our human efforts and progress. This is very important to note.
In sum, to affirm that we participate in some salvific benefits related to the Kingdom, then, is not a 1) spiritualization of the Kingdom; 2) nor an utopic view that we are building the Kingdom; 3) nor an affirmation that the NT changed the material meaning of OT Kingdom. This affirmation only means that the Kingdom presented as a whole in OT (both with spiritual and material elements) it is being fulfilled at stages. In the present stage, I am experiencing a literal fulfillment of the spiritual blessing promised in OT as part of the Kingdom. Just it and nothing more!
We must also note that the “Millennial Kingdom” cannot be confused with the “OT Eschatological Kingdom,” because of the “Millennial Kingdom.” It is just a stage of the “OT Eschatological Kingdom” and not its full and complete fulfillment, as expressed by Dr. Ryrie. So the OT Eschatological Kingdom it is a bigger category or concept that contains the Millennial Kingdom (which is indeed just one phase of its fulfillment). The OT promised a Kingdom that would be established forever and ever (Dan. 2, 7) and not a Kingdom that would be established for 1,000 years. So, we are premillennialists, holding a belief in a future literal 1,000 years Kingdom, according to Revelation 20. However, this one thousand literal Kingdom it is just a phase of the promised Eschatological Eternal Kingdom.
Please, understand it:
We are not building the Kingdom of God by our human efforts; we are just experiencing some of its benefits.
We are not experiencing a Kingdom that has been spiritualized by a NT change of meaning; we are, indeed, experiencing a literal fulfillment of spiritual blessings promised in OT.
Therefore, let me try to represent the two common views in Dispensationalism through the following charts:
For a more traditional and common view, I will call Parallel View:
For those who want to understand why I just wrote this post, it is because I wrote the following words on Facebook:
THE RELATION BETWEEN OT ESCHATOLOGICAL KINGDOM AND SALVATION BENEFITS OF THE PRESENT DISPENSATION.
I am reading Walter C. Kaiser Jr. chapter on Kingdom in the book “Continuity and Discontinuity.” I must confess that his argumentation is very persuasive and solid. I will try to summarize his view expressed in this specific chapter. For him, the Bible provides us with some information about the Kingdom of God that must be harmonized: 1) The kingdom has both spiritual and material aspects; 2) That kingdom is also present, in some sense, as well as yet future. Can we harmonize them under the same expression or concept? He says:
“Can these dual aspects of the kingdom be both spiritual and material, present and future, related to Messiah and the Messiah’s restoration of his people Israel, to their land as well as related to the present ministry and missionary outreach of the church and is it encompassed in the single concept of a single kingdom of God? We believe they can be and, in fact, are united in the biblical descriptions we have surveyed here.” (Kaiser)
Kaiser proceeds to explain how the “obsolete distinction between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God” must be the cause of the tendency in Dispensationalism to distinguish the Political and Spiritual aspects of the Kingdom. He quotes Chafer as an example: “Salvation and kingdom themes cover widely different fields of Biblical doctrine.” Kaiser, then, contends that “salvation and kingdom themes are not all that “widely different.” So he states: “The kingdom of God is both a soteriological and an eschatological concept.” This statement of Kaiser, in my opinion, agrees with Dr. Darrell Bock’s view on Kingdom. Reading Bock, we see that he exegetically shows how the salvific benefits are presented in the Gospels as a sign of the Kingdom presence.
If I am right in my conclusion, traditional and revised Dispensationalist are not open to recognizing the presence of some elements of the OT Kingdom because they make a tight distinction between the plan of Salvation and the Kingdom Plan. I must confess that I agree with Bock and Kaiser when they include salvation benefits inside the Kingdom plan (in this point, I must state I do not go as far as to say that Jesus is already on the Davidic throne).
Kaiser points out: “Thus, the kingdom of God embraces everything in one single plan, rule, authority and realm, even though we may isolate for the purposes of political/spiritual, earthly/heavenly, salvific/Davidic, present or future aspects of that kingdom.” He finishes his chapter with the following precious words:
“To be sure, one must not confuse the real presence and power of the kingdom in its inaugurated, seminal and earnest-form with the grandeur and completeness of the theophany in that day of the Lord when the Messiah sets up his everlasting kingdom. To do so is to collapse eschatology into soteriology and to believe that the final justice, power over all diseases, and the new exodus of the people of God has already been handed over to the church for her immediate implementation in our times without ever so much as a hint that there is any work left for the Messiah in that awful but glorious day of his appearance.
We cannot give up either our expectation of a visible kingdom of God with a restored nation of Israel or our confidence that by faith Jews and Gentiles have already begun to experience the powers of the age to come, seminal and rudimentary though they are. But Christ’s kingdom remains a single kingdom in all its history past, present, and future. It is the rule, reign and realm of God over all beings, all nations, and all creation: currently in small pockets of realization, but finally with no exceptions anywhere in the universe.” (Kaiser)