“The primary idea of the Kingdom of God in Scripture is that of the rule of God established and acknowledged in the hearts of sinners by the powerful regenerating influence of the Holy spirit, insuring them of the inestimable blessings of salvation, ─a rule that is realized in principle on earth, but will not reach its culmination until the visible and glorious return of Jesus Christ.” —THE KINGDOM OF GOD, pg. 107
For some two thousand years since Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, the church of Christ has had its ups and downs because of the guilt of sin and the corruptions of flesh inherent in every human being since Adam’s disobedience toward a holy God. These days, there is so much out there that calls itself Christianity that is NOT Biblical Christianity, that Jeff Johnson’s book, The Kingdom of God: a Baptist Expression of Covenant & Biblical Theology, is an oasis in a wasteland; a well of refreshment as we weep and grieve and struggle in the valley of Baca.
What is the basic premise behind the book, The Kingdom of God? It first asks the questions, “Is there a central plot to the Bible? And if so, why is the Bible divided into two different testaments? Moreover, how do these two testaments relate to each other?” Jeffrey D. Johnson tackles the answers to those questions head-on and “explains why the maze of the Old and New Testaments cannot be properly navigated or understood without a knowledge of the dual (law and gospel) nature of the Abrahamic Covenant.” He further explains that “the law of the Old Covenant and the grace of the New Covenant flow out of the Abrahamic Covenant and are wonderfully reunited in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, out of the earlier dichotomy comes the later unity of the gospel message.” For many professing Christians today, getting a comprehensive grip on the grace of God from the scriptures can be an overwhelming, and even sometimes a daunting task. Dr. Johnson puts it all together, clearly, concisely and coherently.
Except for the works of Bunyan and Spurgeon and a select handful of others (who have all passed into glory many years ago), rarely will I read the works of an author more than once. Jeff Johnson has been added to my personal list of re-readables. His book, The Kingdom of God, and his earlier book, The Church: Why Bother? are two of his titles that stand proudly on my ready-reference bookshelf in my home office, next to my worn and cherished copy of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress and my favorite works of C. H. Spurgeon.
The Kingdom of God is not a long book, but it is deep and wide. Dr. Johnson brings forth serious theological thought without being overly academic. The points he ponders and presents are as deep as anything John Owen has written, in my humble opinion, yet they are accessible to every child of God. Like my favorite authors, Bunyan and Spurgeon, author Johnson has a pastor’s heart and desires Christ’s sheep to draw near to the Master in the Biblical truths that sanctify and uplift the humble reader. His passion for Christ’s person and work run passionately through the pages of this book and because of the gospel back of every chapter and every thought, Jeff Johnson makes theology palatable for the everyman. In that regard, he reminds me of Richard Hawker, who points to Christ in everything, whose brevity speaks volumes. Jeff speaks volumes more in 278 pages than others writing 1200 pages and beyond. Because of that, every Christian believer will benefit from this book; and I believe that it is a must-read for every Baptist believer, whether they are Reformed in theology or not. The perspectives gained from the insights contained therein are, as the back of the dust jacket states, “CLEAR, COHESIVE, [and] HISTORICAL.”
If you have read this far in my review, you will have obviously gathered that I most highly recommend this book. I read through it twice since I got my copy in September and I’m sure I will read it again as I can hear many of the truths expounded by Pastor Johnson spilling forth in my own sermons on Sunday mornings and evenings.
The only negative thing I can say about this book is that it is not yet in paperback or on Kindle eBooks. I would love to see this work reach as wide an audience as possible.