Scott Balbin is doing a great job teaching Ezekiel and Daniel on Sunday mornings. Yesterday, he briefly touched on what the class had seen in Daniel two the prior week. It was my pleasure to sit next to our resident sage and my dear friend, Johnson Kell. At the end of the class, he asked me the question, "How are we doing in the fifth kingdom?" I knew exactly what he was asking. Nebuchadnezzar's dream and visions about the "last days" concerned a great image, which represented four great kingdoms. Historically, these were the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires. Daniel says that during the days of the Roman "kings," another kingdom would be set up that would never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44). That kingdom is clearly shown in Hebrews 12:23-29 to be the church of the firstborn. This is the church Jesus promised to build (Mat. 16:18-19), a kingdom the establishment of which was imminent (Mat. 16:28). A kingdom that came with power on the Day of Pentecost, at which time we see first reference made to that church being in existence (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 47). That "fifth kingdom," the church, will never be destroyed and nothing will bring about its utter and complete demise.
Yet, Johnson's question is valid. How are we doing in this "fifth kingdom"? Some individual congregations are thriving, while others are languishing. Some are growing and some are dying. Some are being faithful to the New Testament pattern and are boldly proclaiming the whole counsel, but others have abandoned such an approach.
Beyond that, how is each congregation doing to educate, evangelize, edify, equip, entrust, and endow? As we look at individual components of our congregation, how are we doing in church leadership, organization, involvement, outreach, benevolence, spirituality, morality, discipline, and the like?
We should never be satisfied that we are doing enough. We can always grow and improve. But, oh the wisdom in asking the question. If we stop self-analysis and self-examination, we are in a dangerous place! This starts with me asking, "How am I doing in the fifth kingdom?" That is the area over which I have the most control!