“The kingdom of God, in the Gospels, is never a realm. It is a rule. And it is the rule of God. The primary idea in this language is that God Himself has begun to rule. It is present, but this reign still has to be concluded and consummated at some point in the future.
Let us not miss an important point here. It is that this reign, this rule, is something God is doing. The reason, clearly, is that this is not something that emerges from ‘below,’ which we ourselves can get going. It must come from ‘above.’ We cannot bring it about; only God can.
We can search for the kingdom of God, pray for it, and look for it, for example, but only God can bring it about (Luke 12:31; 23:51; Matt. 6:10, 33). The kingdom is God’s to give and to take away. It is ours only to enter and accept (Matt. 21:43; Luke 12:32).
We can inherit it, posses it, or refuse to enter it, but it is not ours to build and we can never destroy it (Matt. 25:34; Luke 10:11). We can work for the kingdom, but we can never act upon it. We can preach it, but it is God’s to establish (Matt. 10:7; Luke 10:9; 12:32).
God’s inbreaking, saving, vanquishing rule is His from first to last. It has no human analogues, no duplicates, no parallels, and no surrogates. It allows of no human synergism. The inbreaking of the ‘age to come’ into our world is accomplished by God alone.
This is all about the spirituality that is from ‘above’ and not at all about that which is from ‘below.’ It is about God reaching down in grace and doing for sinners what they cannot do for themselves. For if this is God’s kingdom, His rule, the sphere of His sovereignty, then it is not for us to take or to establish.
We receive, we do not take; we enter, but we do not seize. We come as subjects in His kingdom, not as sovereigns in our own.”
–David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 196.