And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 16 February 04, 2007
In this issue:
Jesus Christ will never again set foot on this earth. Some say this is a heretical statement. Yet, it is entirely supported by the word of God (1 Ths. 4:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:23-24; 2 Pet. 3:7-13). False views about what Jesus will do when he returns are due in part to false views about his kingdom.
Jesus is very clear that he came to this world to be a king: “Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are you a king then?’ Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” (Jno. 18:37)
Jesus did not say he would be a king when he comes to earth a second time. No, Jesus said “I am a king.” Just as surely as the ruler of this world (Satan) was being cast out through the redemptive work of Christ, the Lord’s Messiah was enthroned in fulfillment of God’s plan (Jno. 12:27-36). His coronation at the right hand of God was soon to occur, and would be proclaimed on Pentecost (Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 26:64; Acts 2:31-36). Today, Jesus reigns as king over Zion (the kingdom of God) in fulfillment of God’s promises and prophecies (Psa. 2:6-7; Acts 13:32-39).
Those who hope in a future millennial reign of Christ on earth are deceived about the nature of the king and his kingdom, just like the first century Jews. Their vision of a liberating, warrior king was no doubt shaped by centuries of oppression and the expectation of a glorious return of the Davidic monarchy. However, their failure to understand the nature of the king and his kingdom led them to reject and murder the Prince of Life (Acts 3:13-15).
Consider some of the errors about the king and his kingdom that continue to clutter the religious landscape, deceiving millions.
Error #1: The king and His kingdom will be “of this world.” While those who anticipate a future kingdom will deny it, the fact remains they look for a physical kingdom with an earthly capitol (Jerusalem) and a physical throne (of David) with King Jesus reigning from it.
Jesus forever dispelled the notion that his kingdom would be established and maintained by military might:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (Jno. 18:36)
Jesus sat down upon the throne of David when he was raised from the dead and exalted at the right hand of God (read Acts 2:29-35).
There will be no future “Armageddon” at which the forces of evil and good converge on a Palestinian plain in a climactic battle for world supremacy. Those who look for such things woefully misinterpret the word of God. The kingdom of God exists today. Christ has cast out the “ruler of this world” and by the mighty hand of God, a kingdom that cannot be shaken has been established (Dan. 2:34-35, 44; Heb. 12:28).
Error #2: The kingdom promise was withdrawn and the church was substituted in its place. This false doctrine proposes that when Jesus was on earth he withdrew the offer of the Kingdom to the Jews and “announces the inception of an entirely new, unheralded, unexpected program – THE CHURCH” (Things to Come, Dwight J. Pentecost, 463-464). This is perplexing, since John 6:15 says that “when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” That sounds like the Jews, at least on that occasion, wanted Jesus to be king! The problem was their concept of the king and his kingdom was purely physical and not at all like the spiritually-oriented king and kingdom described in Isaiah 2:2-4; 35:1-10 and many other OT prophecies.
The fact that Jesus was eventually rejected by the Jewish nation did not prevent him from doing exactly what God had planned and promised. In fact, the rejection of the Messiah was the occasion God used to establishment the King’s reign (Psa. 2:1-7; Acts 4:25-28; 2:22-24). God was not taken by surprise by the rejection of his Son (Isa. 53). The church is not a substitute for the kingdom; it is the kingdom. Jesus referred to his church as “the kingdom of heaven” in Matthew 16:18-19. Furthermore, the gospel is the “word of the kingdom” that is planted in the hearts of sinners, saving those who believe it and obey it (Matt. 13:19-23; Jas. 1:21-22). On Pentecost and every day since, when sinners believe, repent and are baptized, the Lord adds them to his church, his kingdom (Acts 2:36-41, 47).
If unbelievers prevented the giving of the kingdom the first time Jesus came, who is to say it won’t happen again? This false doctrine destroys faith and hope by denying what God has already accomplished in Christ. Jesus said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:32). Men did not hinder the Father’s pleasure about the kingdom.
The kingdom of God does not come with outward display, but like its King, lowly and humbly, as the word of the kingdom is implanted in the hearts and lives of believers (Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:5; Lk. 17:20-21).
On Thursday San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom admitted an adulterous relationship with the wife of one of his closest advisors. In part, his apology stated: “I want to make it clear that everything you’ve heard and read is true, and I’m deeply sorry about that. I’ve hurt someone I care deeply about — Alex Tourk and his friends and family. And that is something I have to live with.” (Lee Romney, Chicago Tribune, 2/1/07)
This article is not intended to rake Mr. Newsom “over the coals.” No one is above sin; all must heed the warning and take care (Rom. 3:23; 1 Cor. 10:12). But it is vital we remember that sin is a choice (Ezek. 18:20-24, 30-32).
Our point here is to plead for a mindset and lifestyle that honors marriage (Heb. 13:4). Consider that
“Some residents in this city famous for its sexual liberalism rolled their eyes at the news. “Sooooooo what ????” wrote one poster late Wednesday on the Chronicle’s website.” (Ibid.)
This is not particularly surprising, given the liberal mindset in San Francisco. But, the following statistics should get our attention:
“Recent studies reveal that 45-55% of married women and 50-60% of married men engage in extramarital sex at some time or another during their relationship.” (Atwood & Schwartz, 2002 – Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy), cited by Dr. Reena Sommer, “What Do Infidelity Statistics Mean?”
Our job is to save marriage, not destroy it (Matt. 19:4-6). We can start in our own marriages by honestly assessing whether we are fulfilling our role as a husband or a wife, and whether we are properly responding to our spouse by giving them the love and respect they are due, without which, marriage fails (Eph. 5:33).
Marriage succeeds when husbands and wives make right choices that honor what God has joined together.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 02/04/2007
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA