Kingdom of God Part 3

January 3, 2010

Here on A Jesus Moment we have a series of short (20 – 30 minute) teaching videos, audios, and notes that we feel help to explain what being a Christian is all about. We call this collection Preaching in Shorts. This part of the Preaching in Shorts collection is about the Kingdom of God which is central to the message and ministry of Jesus.

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or watch the message below:

Kingdom of God Part 3 from Preaching In Shorts on Vimeo.

We began to talk about the concept of two Ages rather than two worlds last week.

In the New Testament there is an interesting Greek word “aion” which is best translated age but unfortunately is often translated “world” examples:

Matthew 12:32 (KJV)
32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Matthew 12:32 (NIV)
32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. The entire sweep of man’s existence is set forth in terms of this age, and the age to come.

Ephesians 1:21 (NIV)
21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

Mark 10:29-30 (NIV)
29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.

So it is clear we are talking about to periods of time and not two worlds. In this age we are to expect hostility to the Gospel. In the Age to Come, those who have followed Christ will be freed from all opposition and sufferings and will enjoy eternal life.

When we trace this concept further, we discover that these two ages are separated by the Second Coming of Christ (parousia).

Matthew 24:3 (NIV)
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Another event dividing This Age from The Age to Come is the resurrection from the dead.

Luke 20:34-36 (NIV)
34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.

Therefore not only the Second Coming but the resurrection from the dead will terminate This Age and inaugurate the Age to Come.

C stands for creation, P for the Parousia of Christ and R for the resurrection of the dead. This age had its beginning with creation, but The Age to Come will go on endlessly, forever.

So what does scripture teach us about the character of the two ages? We find a sharp contrast. This Age is dominated by evil, wickedness and rebellion against the will of God, while the Age to Come is the Age of The Kingdom of God.

Galatians 1:4 (NIV)
4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

This Age is an evil age. It is an Age in which people need deliverance, a deliverance which can only be accomplished by the death of Christ.

The second chapter of Ephesians talks more about this Age.

Ephesians 2:1-2 (NIV)
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

The character of this Age bears the stamp of the power of the air, that is the Evil One.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In the parable of the soils we see that the character of this Age is to choke the working of the Word of God.

Matthew 13:7 (NIV)
7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.

Matthew 13:22 (NIV)
22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

The care of the Age is not alone worry and the trouble and anxiety of making a living. It is the entire spirit which characterizes this Age: worry and anxiety about one’s physical life to be sure, but also the pressure, the drive of ambition for wealth, success, prosperity and power. All of this is involved in the care, the burden of This Age.

This Age is hostile to the Gospel, and people often yield in conformity to This Age rather than surrender to the claims of the Gospel. There is a conflict between This Age and the Gospel of the Kingdom.

One of the most important verses describing This Age is

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NIV)
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

In this verse we see clearly that the Evil One (Satan) is the god of this age. In God’s sovereign purpose, the Evil One has been permitted to exercise a great deal of authority and power throughout the duration of This Age. So that people could choose. Not to be confused with dualism as though God and Satan, good and evil, were two eternal principles. In back of all things stands the eternal God.

Look at 2 Corinthians 4:4 again

2 Corinthians 4:4 (NIV)
4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

This is the cosmic conflict. This Age is in direct conflict with The Age to Come.

Here is an interesting verse:

Mark 10:17-30 (NIV)
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.

In this verse we discover that eternal life, the Kingdom of God, salvation, The Age to Come all belong together. So we find that the Kingdom of God belongs to The Age to Come and is in sharp contrast to This Present Age. This Age and the Age to Come are not on the same level. This Age is evil, The Age to Come will witness the fullness of God’s kingdom, the perfection of His reign. Therefore we must place the Age to Come on a higher level than This Age.

As we continue to look at scripture the transition from This Age to The Age to Come is not as simple as this diagram suggests. The Book of Revelation adds some information which modifies this structure.

After the Parousia of Christ

Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV)
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

And before the Age to Come

Revelation 21:1-7 (NIV)
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Is an interval when the saints are raised to reign with Christ for a thousand years

Revelation 20:1-6 (NIV)
1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. 4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

This interval is known as the Millennium. From the Old Testament perspective looking forward it would appear that this transition happened all at the same time, but we know that there is this 1000 year period in the mix. This is referred to as the “Biblical Prophetic perspective” where events that are seen in the future are hold to hold in time sequence. So this transition from This Present Age to The Age to come will not occur in a single great event at the Coming of Christ, but there will be two stages. There is one resurrection at the beginning of the millennium

Revelation 20:4-5 (NIV)
4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.

And a second resurrection at its end

Revelation 20:12-13 (NIV)
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

We must once again modify our diagram.

We are not done yet. If this was all there was we would have hope for a future but that is all we would have. There are a number of explicit statements in scripture which tell us there is a further overlapping of the two ages.

Hebrews 6:5 (NIV)
5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age,

The Age to Come is still future, but we may taste the power of that Age. Something has happened by virtue of which that which belongs to the future has become present. The power of the Age to Come has penetrated This Age. Now a taste is not a seven course banquet, but a taste is real. It is more than a promise, it is experience.

Psalms 34:8 (NIV)
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

We have tasted the power of The Age to Come.

Galatians 1:4 (NIV)
4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

He rescues us by the power of The Age to Come which has reached back and projected itself in the person of Christ into the present Evil Age so that we, by the power of The Age to Come, may be delivered from this present Evil Age. This same truth is found in Romans 12:2

Romans 12:2 (NIV)
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world(age), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

How can we live in the midst of the evil Age and not be conformed to it? We are to experience an inner transformation which is itself the result of the power of the Age to Come reaching back into this Present evil Age. While the evil Age goes on God has made it possible for us to experience a new power that we might thereby know what God’s will is.

Such sayings lead us to the conclusion that there is not only a future overlapping of the ages in the millennial period but also a present overlapping of the Age to Come and This Age, and we are now living between the times. We are in fact caught up in the conflict of the Ages. This may be illustrated by a further modification of our diagram

Perhaps the most important scripture expounding the fundamental character of the Kingdom of God is

1 Corinthians 15:22-26 (NIV)
22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

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