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The Kingdom has come, but society is not uprooted. This is the mystery of the Kingdom.

I was converted at a young age and grew up in church. I heard expositional preaching and cut my teeth on Sunday School flannelgraphs, Vacation Bible School, and “Sword Drills” at Christian summer camp. At the encouragement of my grandmother, I read the Bible cover to cover as a teen. Later, I attended a Christian college, where I minored in Bible. So, by the time I hit my twenties, I knew lots of verses, could give you summaries of Bible books, and was very familiar with the message of salvation.

But never had I heard anything quite like what I encountered in a particular paragraph I read while preparing for ministry.

When Jesus Became Scandalous

I don’t remember how I came to be reading George Ladd’s A Theology of the New Testament, and I never read the entire volume, but these sentences (and the chapter of which they’re a part, “The Mystery of the Kingdom”) fired my imagination and permanently altered my understanding of God, the Bible, history, and my own life:

The coming of the Kingdom, as predicted in the Old Testament and in Jewish apocalyptic literature, would bring about the end of the age and inaugurate the Age to Come, disrupting human society by the destruction of the unrighteous. Jesus affirms that in the midst of the present age, while society continues with its intermixture of the good and the bad, before the coming of the Son of Man and the glorious manifestation of the Kingdom of God, the powers of that future age have entered into the world to create “sons of the kingdom,” those who enjoy its power and blessings. The Kingdom has come, but society is not uprooted. This is the mystery of the Kingdom. (94)

Until that moment in my life, I had read the Bible as a more or less static record of God’s revealed truth. I knew many important biblical facts, but had little sense of a larger story line, of a dynamically unfolding plan, of a developing work of salvation through time. Ladd began to put those pieces together, to excite me with a sense of the dynamism and progress of God’s redemptive work.

Before reading that paragraph, I hadn’t ever considered the ways in which Jesus’s ministry might be surprising or scandalous. Sure, it was extraordinary that he performed miracles and challenged the religious leaders. But having grown up hearing about those miracles and confrontations, they were familiar to me. Ladd opened my eyes to the mystery of the kingdom.

The rest of the article can be found HERE.