Friday, March 27, 2009

Implications of the Not Yet

In our Ministry Class we teach an "inaugurated Eschatology" concept of the Kingdom of God, also know as the "now and not yet" concept. I also like to call this "down-payment" eschatology.

During His ministry on earth Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is at the door, already here, delayed and in the future.In Christ we receive now a down payment on our future kingdom inheritance. It is real kingdom life, just not all of it now.

Kingdom ministry is a demonstration of the breakthrough of the Kingdom into the now, of the age to Come into this age.Understanding and living in the tension between the "Now" and the "Not Yet" of the Kingdom enables us to avoid both a defeatist "pie-in-the-sky" mentality on one hand and a phony triumphalism on the other.

Some implications of the "Not Yet" of the Kingdom are for prayer ministry are:

1. God is sovereign - He acts or doesn’t as he wills and we do not always know his ways or reasons. The Spirit moves as he wills.

2. Struggles continue while this life and age continue. There will be no end to problems.
We never fully arrive until the Kingdom fully comes upon the return of the King.

3. Spiritual warfare is important, because sometimes “soaking prayer” is needed

4. Not all are healed. Sometimes nothing obviously happens, and sometimes nothing happens period.

5. If you do not take the credit when God acts you do not have to take blame if nothing happens.

6. As the physician's oath says: Do no harm. There are times when pastoral counselors must confront sin. However, during our Sunday prayer ministry time we have a rule that ministers should not, under any circumstances, condemn the person being prayed for or say that there problem is the result of their sin. There are other times for trained people to do that, if necessary.

7. At the worst case, healed or not, the person being prayed for should feel they have received love and been valued.

"Too much 'kingdom now' leads to arrogance and presumption, demanding healings as if on tap. Too much 'kingdom then' leads to pessimism and fatalism, leaving healing to 'if it is God's will'. 'Balance' leads to neutralising of the radical edges, loss of risk taking, a passive middle road and theologically correct approach to healing... It leads to persevering faith, optimistic realism, dependence on God, discerning the moment, honoring people's dignity, respecting the unknown, and leaving the results with God."

- Alexander Venter, Doing Healing, page 78.