How Christ’s Kingdom Comes
Christ’s coming Kingdom is the major theme of Bible prophecy. This theme of Christ’s Kingdom is found throughout the Bible from Genesis through The Revelation. I deal with it at length under PROPHECY on this web site. In the previous message, we showed that the Bible teaches both Christ’s present Kingdom in the hearts of Christians today and His Millennial Kingdom yet to come. We will say more about that Millennial Kingdom in a future message; but in this message, I am dealing with the general idea of His Kingdom.
Don’t Be Deceived
If you will take time to read Luke 17:20-37, you will see that Jesus’ primary burden here is to warn of the deceptive teachings concerning His coming Kingdom. Not only Jesus, but the Apostle Paul warns of this deception in II Thessalonians 2 and II Timothy 3. Furthermore, the Apostle Peter also warns of this deception in II Peter 2 & 3.
People’s preoccupation with this topic is evidenced by the numerous books and conferences on prophecy; some edifying and others that add to the confusion,
Looking, Loving and Longing for Christ’s Return
The Bible teaches in Philippians 3:20-21, Titus 2:11-14 and Hebrews 9:28 that we should be looking for Christ’s return.
In I Timothy 4:7-8 we are encouraged to love His appearing.
The Bible ends in Revelation 22:20 with the longing prayer of every Christian for Jesus’ return for His own.
Don’t attempt to pry into that which is not your concern.
In Acts 1:7-9. as Jesus prepared to ascend to Heaven in His glorified body, He warned us to avoid prying into prophetic details that have not been given to us in Scripture. Instead, we are to concentrate our concern and efforts on reaching the lost for Christ.
The Thessalonian Christians had the proper balance in this matter. In the first chapter of I Thessalonians these godly saints were examples to Christians in their generation and to us as they spread the Gospel throughout their region; while at the same time, earnestly longing for Christ’s return.
Luke 17:20 shows that the main concern of the Pharisees and the Jewish people in general was the coming Messianic Kingdom. Keep in mind that the Pharisees were antagonistic towards Jesus and everything He said. By their question they were implying, “Jesus, if you are the Messiah, as you claim to be, when are you going to get around to changing this mess we are in as slaves to this oppressive Roman Empire? We don’t see any evidence of your Kingdom!”
Jesus answered them, “The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is! or There it is!’ for the kingdom of God is in your midst.” That is, Jesus, the King, was standing in their midst.
So the Kingdom of God is at work in the world today in a limited way, as Jesus’ Spirit lives and moves in the hearts of Christians, surrendered to Jesus, our Saviour and King. Jesus, in His glorified bodily form, is in Heaven today. Imminently, He will return to this earth to catch up or rapture His own to Heaven. At that time the Antichrist will be revealed and rule this earth for seven years known as The Tribulation. Then Christ will return with His saints to establish His thousand year reign, prophesied in Scripture.
The Old Testament Thread
Christ’s Millennial Kingdom is alluded to and also clearly mentioned throughout the Old Testament. Let me just mention some of the main prophecies. It first appears in Genesis 3:15, the Seed Plot of the Bible. Here we have the whole story of the Bible condensed in one verse. Basically the Bible is the story of the ongoing warfare between God and Satan. This verse tells us that Satan wounds Jesus in His heel, but eventually Jesus mortally wounds Satan’s head. So this verse informs us that though there will be ongoing warfare between Christ and Satan and between Christ’s people and Satan’s people, Christ is the final victor. His Kingdom is eternal.
Genesis 17:6 shows us that kings will come from Abraham’s seed, including Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Genesis 49:10 narrows the line down to the tribe of Judah, from whom the promised Messiah will come.
In Number 24:17 we find Prophet Balaam prophesy of Jesus, the Star who will arise out of Judah and the Scepter that shall arise out of Israel. This is a prophecy of Jesus future reign over the earth.
Though Balaam faithfully prophesied the truth, sadly he used his influence to weaken the testimony of Israel by encouraging them to intermarry with the heathen. Sadly, he is condemned in the New Testament for his evil ways, II Peter 2:15, which became known as error, Jude 11 and became the doctrine which Christ hated. Revelation 2:14.
In the same way, some preachers and evangelists in our day; though they preach the Truth, have gone the way of Balaam by using their influence to encourage God’s people to compromise with unbelievers. The compromise of some Christian evangelists and pastors to minister in cooperation with and under the sponsorship of religious liberals back in the 50’s has had a devastating affect on the state of the church today. See my series on SEPARATION for more on this.
The Kingdom of Christ is prophesied clearly in God’s Covenant with David, recorded in II Samuel 7:4-17. From this point onward, we know that the Messiah will arise from the line of David.
In Isaiah, written 700 years before Christ, we have many prophecies of Christ. A major kingdom passage is Isaiah 9:6-7. Here Christ is prophesied as the future King who will one day reign on David’s Throne from Jerusalem. This refers to the Millennial reign of Christ which we will deal with in a later message in this series. In Isaiah 40 we learn of a forerunner who would one day introduce the Messiah to the world. That was fulfilled in John the Baptist who introduced Jesus when He commenced his public ministry when He was about 30. You can read the details of this in Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3 and John 1. Note, that when he introduced Jesus, he announced “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
Jesus introduces His Kingdom
Early in Jesus public ministry He preached His famous Sermon on the Mount in which we find the Beatitudes. These describe the attitude of those who are in His spiritual Kingdom. Learn more on this under BEATITUDES on this web site. In this Sermon Jesus teaches that the righteousness God desires in us is the righteousness that springs from a regenerated heart; not the failed, legalistic, Pharisaical righteousness that concentrated on the letter of the Law, rather than the spirit of the Law.
Long before, the Prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31-33 had written by inspiration of God of a New Covenant that God would make with His people; a covenant that promised us an internal power that would enable His people to live a genuine righteousness that springs from a regenerated heart.
Christians are given regenerated hearts that desire to love and obey God. Though we still have our sinful, flesh natures that constantly try to pull us down, a Romans 7 teaches; yet we have the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables us to live the righteousness of the Law. That’s the message of Romans 8:1-4. Read it and rejoice in it. I consider it one of the most thrilling truths in all the Bible.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount also describes the negative, hateful reception that Christians and Christ’s message will receive in this Satan-dominated world.
A curious, concerned seeker of Truth
To the Pharisee, Nicodemus, who came in curiosity and concern to Jesus by night asking questions about the Kingdom, Jesus explained the spiritual nature of it. He taught Nicodemus the need to be born again by the Spirit of God in order to enter the Kingdom. This, of course, is the same message taught throughout the New Testament. We are born again, or regenerated by the Holy Spirit, when we believe the Gospel that God, in the person of His Son, Jesus, died and rose again the third day to pay the penalty for our sins. Those who recognize they are lost and hell bound sinners, but put their trust in Christ; are saved and are brought into the spiritual Kingdom of God.
In the parables of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 13 and other passages in the Gospels, Jesus taught many truths concerning the Kingdom. Some of them can be found in messages under the category, DISCIPLESHIP.
Christ’s Kingdom Rejected
Because Christ’s Kingdom did not come as the Jews expected and because Jesus dealt with heart issues, Israel as a nation rejected their Messiah. “We have no king but Caesar. We will not have this man rule over us! His blood be upon us and on our children!” they shouted as they rejected their King and turned Him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. John 19:15, Matthew 27:23,25
Christ’s Millennial Kingdom Postponed
This rejection was not unexpected by Jesus, nor should it be to anyone who knows his Bible. It was clearly prophesied in Isaiah 8:14-15, and chapter 53. The New Testament writers wrote about it in Luke 20:17, Acts 4:10,11, Romans 11 and I Peter 2:6-8.
Someone has pictured it this way. In Old Testament times Israel was the train on the main track of God’s purpose.
At the cross, Israel rejected their Messiah and God then moved Israel to a siding track, where they have been sitting for 2000 years now.
At Pentecost the Church Age began and the Church began moving down the main track of God’s purpose, while Israel as a nation continues to sit on the siding.
But the good news for Israel is that God is not finished with them. Read Romans 11 to learn of the glorious future for that nation. When Christ returns in the Rapture for His Church, the Church will disappear to Heaven. Then Israel will be switched back on to the main track of God’s purpose. Through the Tribulation, they will be converted, and at the end of the seven year period of time, Christ will return and Israel will receive Him as their Messiah, Saviour and King. The story is prophesied in Zechariah chapters 12 through14.
In this present Church Age, Christ is silently reigning in the hearts of those who have received Him as Saviour and Lord. Jesus is still despised by the world who literally hates Him. The unconverted of this world are like Saul of Tarsus who almost frothed at the mouth like a rabid dog with hatred for Jesus and for those who belonged to Him, until he was confronted by the risen Christ and converted. Then Saul (now Paul) became a firebrand for Christ, preaching the Gospel and enduring tremendous persecution. Eventually he was beheaded by the enemies of Christ.
Are you in His Kingdom today?
Colossians 1:13 informs us that we Christians have been translated from the Kingdom of sin and darkness into the Kingdom of His Dear Son, Jesus.
I Peter 2:9 describes Christians as a royal priesthood. We need no human or angelic mediator to go to God for us. Christ Himself, fully God and fully man, is our one and only Mediator, I Timothy 2:5-6 declares. We need not go to Mary nor to those the Roman Catholic Church has declared saints, nor to a human priest to contact God. Through Christ alone, we can approach God and through Christ’s shed blood alone, we are made fit for Heaven.
Revelation 1:5-6 declares that everyone who has come to Christ through faith in His cleansing blood are made Kings and Priests unto God.
The Age of Humiliation, Hatred and Suffering.
Because Christ is hated in this present age, we who belong to Christ, gladly share with Him the sufferings they would heap on Him if He were present. Read the following Scriptures and rejoice if you are a Christian and that you are counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. Matthew 5:3-16, Philippians 1:27-29, 2:5-16, 3:10, Romans 8:16-18, I Corinthians 4:9-16, II Corinthians 1:5-10, I Peter 4:12-19, Hebrews 11 & 12.
Worship and Suffering
Today, exciting, emotional worship services are the rage, complete with feel-good, pious experiences. I do not deny for a minute that in these services are found genuine worshippers of Christ. But Christian friend, Psalm 138:2 teaches that we are to magnify His Word above His name. I encourage you to read Psalm 34 and note that true worship involves a humble, broken, contrite heart, a turning from sin and a desire to love and please God. It also involves sharing in the suffering that comes when we identify ourselves with Christ. It involves the same desire John the Baptist had for Christ to increase in his life and for self to decrease. John 3:30
Christian, don’t expect exaltation in this life. This is the age of humiliation and suffering for Christ. If you are in Christ’s Kingdom, your heart is surrendered to King Jesus. Presently Christ is establishing His reign in the hearts of all true believers. When that is accomplished, then He will return to establish His Millennial reign over all the world.
Will You Reign with Christ?
One day Christ will return and those who have suffered with Him in this age will be exalted with Him in His Millennial Kingdom. II Timothy 2:12 II Thessalonians 1:2-5, Revelation 20:4. Would you pray with me John’s prayer of Revelation 22:20? “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
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