Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: The Nature of the Kingdom
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
The Nature of the Kingdom
December 6, 2009
In the next three weeks, I want to share about the King and the kingdom. This week I want to talk about the nature of the Kingdom, next week I want to share about the second coming of the king, and then on the 20th at our Christmas service, we will have a children’s program, a choir, and I want to share about the coming of the king. Let me encourage you to invite someone. Statistics show that most people will come to church when they are invited.
Jesus’ ministry centered on the coming of the Kingdom, which can be summed up as our God reigns. The Pharisees were not convinced he was the coming King because their expectations of the Messiah looked very different than Jesus’ ministry. So we see this dialogue where they ask him when the kingdom was coming, and in their minds, they meant when it is coming with cataclysmic signs and a military coo. Knowing this, Jesus responds that the kingdom is coming in two advents or two comings.
1. The Kingdom is Already Here
In answering the Pharisees Jesus tells them that the kingdom is indeed present, correcting their misunderstanding of the kingdom – that it would come with such observable signs that it would be unmistakable: Rome would be overturned, Israel would be vindicated, and an earthly kingdom would be established. Jesus said, ‘no it is not coming in a way that can be observed like that.’ There is a mystery about the coming of the kingdom that is seen only by faith. It is here in your midst but without those kinds of observable signs (now). It is here because I am here but I will not set up an earthly kingdom (yet).
We also see that the kingdom is present when Jesus commanded people to ‘repent because the kingdom is at hand (Mat 3:2; Mark 1:15).’ He says it clearly also in chapter eleven, “if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you (20). The kingdom is present when Jesus does battle with Satan by the power of the Spirit and plunders the strong man’s house (29) freeing them from his powers. But the kingdom is already here, it is present but it is not here fully.
2. The Kingdom is Not Here Fully
Jesus talks in ways that the kingdom is present and in ways that the kingdom is future. Many of the blessings of the kingdom are here now but many are not yet. Many are here partially but not here fully. There is some power available now but not all of it. Some of the curses of the present old age can be overcome by the presence of the kingdom but some cannot and will not until the future. The decisive battle against sin and Satan and sickness and death has been fought and won by the King because of his life, death, and resurrection but the war is not over. The kingdom is a present reality but we still live in this present old age and we live with the hope of consummation. For instance, sin has been conquered, we have been set free from sin but we must still must fight against sin daily (Rom 6:7-14); Satan has been defeated but he still must be resisted daily (Luke 10:18; James 4:7). Jesus has purchased our healing but we still groan with sickness (1 Pet 2:24); we have passed from death to life but we still die (1 Jn 3:14; 1 Cor 15:26). We have been forgiven of all our sin in Christ but we still must ask for forgiveness of our sins daily (Rom 5:11; Mat 6:12); and we have our citizenship in heaven but we still are subject to the rulers of this world (Phil 3:20; Rom 13:1). In short, in Christ, every blessing is ours but our inheritance is not be fully realized until the second coming of Christ and he establishes a New Heaven and New Earth (Eph 1:3; Rev 21-22). Our God reigns but sin, Satan and sickness are a part of this present life.
I want to show this clearly, because it is extremely important for our faith. It will inspire us with the hope that there is a great and glorious future yet in store for all of us who are followers of Christ. It will deepen our confidence that the glory of the future in the kingdom is secured by precious down payments of that kingdom. It will give us a handle on why so much amazing kingdom power is available today yet why so much of sin and Satan and sickness and suffering remains. If you get a handle on the presence and the future of the kingdom, you will find a pathway of spiritual power, which includes the power to overcome sin, to heal the sick, to set the captives free, but also definitely includes equally the power to suffer patiently through trials, grief and pain. “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, (Col 1:11 ).”