Christ’s Kingdom: Righteousness and Justice Are the Foundation of His Throne

Dr. Tony Evans speaking about Christ's kingdom

Dr. Tony Evans is passionate about discipleship that applies the whole of the Bible to all of life. The founder and pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship first found this passion for making disciples while attending Bible college and seminary during the 60s and 70s. In the years following the civil rights movement, the American church was still characterized by a racial divide, and Evans experienced segregational prejudice in several evangelical churches. “I could tell that something was missing—that people were not reading the Bible fully or not interpreting it accurately,” says Evans. “That led me on a journey to see how the Bible applies to all of life, not just segmented parts of it.”

Kingdom agenda

This concern led Evans deep into the study of Scripture. “I came to discover, from Genesis to Revelation, there’s only one theme in the Bible: the glory of God through the advancement of his kingdom. The moment you strip the Bible from that central theme, it becomes disconnected stories, doctrines, and personalities that are not stitched together in a unified way. But when you understand that the whole Bible is God’s goal to advance his kingdom in history, then you can tie everything to that and apply it everywhere. It is our failure to have a comprehensive view of the Bible that has got us divided as a church, bifurcated as Christians, and destroyed as families.”

This approach to understanding Scripture has become a hallmark of Evans’ ministry and the guiding ministry philosophy of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. “We call it the kingdom agenda: the visible manifestation of the comprehensive rule of God over every area of life: the individual, the family, the church, and then society or civil government.”

Advancing the kingdom

At OCBF, this begins by teaching members “the principles of the kingdom of God so they can learn to function under the authority of the kingdom in all areas of life.” Evans says Bible study is key for growing discipleship. “When people are doing Bible studies and it’s working, their decisions change. They begin to act in different ways based on their knowledge and application of the word. If decisions aren’t changing, then either the Bible is not being utilized, or it is not being believed and taken seriously.”

If decisions aren’t changing, then either the Bible is not being utilized, or it is not being believed and taken seriously.

OCBF then encourages members to consider how they extend the application of kingdom principles to every sphere of their lives. “What does it mean to be a kingdom husband, kingdom wife, or a kingdom parent raising kingdom kids?” says Evans. “How do you affect other church members, inspire them, care for them, and serve them? We require every member to serve in some capacity where they’re being a benefit to another church member.”

From there, members of Oak Cliff are encouraged to look to the community. “We have broad-based community outreaches. We adopt public schools to have an impact. We adopt the police precinct to have an impact and be a bridge between police and community. We reach out to give hope to the homeless. We provide job training and job placement. And we speak into the community issues of poverty to show that when kingdom people go public, they bring good to the community that they serve. So we challenge our people to be kingdom witnesses in the broader community, as disciples of Christ.”

Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship is divided racially, culturally, politically, and socially, and sometimes this kingdom agenda can be met with resistance. “You’re bringing a biblical worldview in areas that normally didn’t accept a biblical worldview or didn’t accept it comprehensively. And so it’s counter cultural in many ways and on many issues. But our job is to be true to Scripture, not to the culture, as our first priority. And we find that, as people see the benefit of a kingdom worldview, they become more interested in it.”

Righteousness and justice

Evans sees a disparity in the wider church between valuing righteousness and valuing justice, a disparity which can affect the church’s ability to be a witness to society. He emphasizes that righteousness, the moral law of God, and justice, the application of that moral law, are often paired in Scripture and should be equally valued. “Psalm 89:14 says that from God’s throne comes righteousness and justice. Unfortunately, evangelicals often choose between the two—some will emphasize justice and others righteousness. But these are joined at the hip, not see-sawed to go up and down. They will be in parallel, always operating simultaneously. Once those two things are disconnected, then you have an unbiblical division among God’s people.”

“When you work together to address issues in your community, you have to address issues of righteousness and justice. You have to make sure that the moral standards are held high, but that you’re also holding forth the dignity of people, the image of God in each individual. When you are able to do that as your church, when you’re able to do it as a collective of churches, you’re able to have a visible impact in your community.”

Evans knows that many are concerned about how to address issues in their communities; he has put together a biblical strategy for community transformation. “We’re challenging churches to do three things: First, come together for a solemn assembly where you invoke God’s return to God’s people, because even God’s people are distant from God and God’s word. Second, address issues collectively from a biblical point of view. Let the community know that the biblically based churches in this community hold this position on this issue. And then third, act. We just can’t just talk; we’ve got to act.”

Evans’ years of preaching, studying, and writing about advancing God’s kingdom have resulted in a comprehensive library on kingdom discipleship. This led Evans to create the Tony Evans Study Bible and Tony Evans Commentary. “We thread the kingdom theme through the whole Bible, and the commentary explains, from a kingdom perspective, every paragraph in the Bible.”

Moving forward

Evans believes that the church has the opportunity and responsibility to respond to the challenges that we’re facing. “All these pandemics we’re going through—racial pandemic, medical pandemic, economic pandemic, police and community pandemic, political pandemic—all of these have been allowed by God to wake up the church. … He’s allowed it to get the church to be what he had created and called it to be.”

He believes that moving forward, pastors need to be focused on making kingdom disciples. “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew. We need pastors who will make disciples and not just church members. Until we develop kingdom disciples, then we will not have the effective church that God has created it to be.”

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Written by
Rebecca Van Noord

Rebecca Van Noord is the former editor of Bible Study Magazine. She resides in Bellingham, Washington, with her husband and three children.

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