Summary: In a less literal sense, the Kingdom of God is now; in a more literal sense, it will be established when Christ returns to reign. We can bank on it, because God is a Sovereign who keeps His promises as originally understood.
The Kingdom: Now, But Not Yet
1. In 1999, an article in Time Magazine discussed the influential people of the millennium. The article said, quote, “"It would require much exotic calculation to deny that the single most powerful figure—not merely in these two millenniums but in all of human history—has been Jesus of Nazareth… A serious argument can be made that no one else’s life has proved remotely as powerful and enduring as that of Jesus." (Man of the Millennium. Time Magazine, Dec. 6, 1999).
2. If Jesus is really the Savior, the Messiah, then we need to understand as much as we can about Him and His plan.
3. If the Bible is the Word of God, we need to understand as much as we can about it.
4. The motivating force behind the educational push of the Puritans was so that people could read and deeply study the Bible.
5. To read the Bible, you first have to be able to read. To read, you need to learn the alphabet.
6. So it is that we must sometimes study material that helps us to interpret the Bible so that we can understand it better, and that better understanding seems to affect our lives directly, even though what seems to be preliminary study does not seem to apply to life. But it does.
7. And understanding the nature of the Kingdom of God affects more than you realize: daily life, your decisions, your expectations, and even your political views. So today, I am asking you to think, and to think deeply. Come to this sermon with a view to learn, not just to be inspired.
What you learn today will pay dividends as you read & study the Bible on your own.
8. But in order to understand the end times, we need to delve into the realm of prophecy itself.
In the Bible, many prophecies have a DOUBLE fulfillment: a near (in time) LESS literal fulfillment and a further (in time) MORE literal fulfillment.
Psalm 22:16b-18 "They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."
Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."
Indeed, the church age is the “last days” in the less literal sense, while the Tribulation is the “last days” in the more literal sense. We see this double fulfillment everywhere, even in the NT.
*If you accept this pattern, it logically leads to a recently defined school of interpretation called Progressive Dispensationalism
MAIN IDEA: In a less literal sense, the Kingdom of God is now; in a more literal sense, it will be established when Christ returns to reign. We can bank on it, because God is a Sovereign who keeps His promises as originally understood.
I. In one sense, the Kingdom of God has BEGUN.
A. When Christ’s ministry BEGAN
• Matthew 12:28 "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."
• Matthew 16:28 "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
• 2 Peter 1:16-18 and double fulfillment
B. On PENTECOST
• The prophecy of Joel was fulfilled in a less literal way
• One day, it will be fulfilled more literally
If you allow God to be the King of your life, if you have a relationship with Him, you are in the realm of His Kingdom! Are you in His Kingdom? If not, why not?
II. In its most literal sense, the Kingdom will come when Christ RETURNS.
A. The disciples’ QUESTION of Acts 1:6-7.
1. 40 days of TEACHING (1:1-3)
2. Had been anointed by the SPIRIT
3. Note that this Kingdom will be given to ISRAEL
• Zechariah 8:20-23 reads:
20"Thus says the LORD of hosts, ’It will yet be that (peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, "Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts; I will also go."
So)many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to (entreat the favor of the LORD.’
"Thus says the LORD of hosts, ’In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."’"
• A Protestant Minister and a Catholic Priest enjoyed teasing their Rabbi friend, continually asking him when he was going to convert to their faith.