Over the last two thousand years Kings and theologians have tried to understand how the Kingdom of God functions in both Church and State. This was a huge question for Martin Luther when he was dependent on Frederick 111 to protect him from the Pope in the 1500s. Similarly John Calvin revolutionized Geneva with marketplace ministry during the reformation.
In Europe state churches like the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian churches were established with foundational theology such as the Westminster Confession of Faith as an act of parliament.
The US and Australian constitutions separated church and state to prevent the state from overruling the independence of the church. But today the downside of this separation is the rise of secularism that wants to lock the church out of any influence in the State. How then can today’s Church influence the state with the principles and values of the Kingdom of God?
The scriptures are very clear that the nation belongs to God and that the church has a responsibility to disciple the nation:
- “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1 & 1 Cor 10:26).
- “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:18-19).
Let’s work through this tremendously important issue but not from the perspective of political argument. Instead let’s explore this question from the viewpoint of heaven.
The Three Offices of Jesus
Forty days after Jesus death and resurrection he ascended into heaven to be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords forever. In his glorified position scripture tells us that Jesus holds three offices of Prophet, Priest and King in his one person (Heb 1:8, 9:11, Luke 13:33, Matt 13:57, Col 1:15-20).
On a Personal Basis these offices describe three beautiful aspects of Jesus love and care of us:
- He is our Prophet who conveys to us by Word & Spirit the guidance, truth and light we need for success in all aspects of our daily lives (Luke 13:33, John 16:13, Rev 19:10);
- He is our Priest who receives our prayers offered in humility and faith and intercedes before the Father on our behalf (Heb 7:17-25);
- He is our King whom we love, worship, honour, praise, thank and obey daily (Rev 15:1-4).
On a Global Basis scripture tells us who Jesus is. This understanding comes through his miraculous powers (John 14:11), his unique “I am” statements, the account of his life and teaching, his substitutionary death on the Cross on our behalf, his resurrection and ascension to heaven, his majesty in the book of Hebrews and his authority in the book of Revelation.
From his enthroned position in heaven Jesus delegates Kingdom authority on earth with a separation of powers for our own protection. His three offices of prophet, priest and king in heaven function on earth through three separate jurisdictions or dimensions: the prophetic, the priestly (church) and the kingly (state). We will explore this further in the next blog.