Let’s open our Bibles to the Book of Zechariah, chapter 14 and verse 16, and we’re continuing to progress on the subject of the kingdom, continuing in chapter 11 of the book that I wrote which just organizes biblical information, continuing to talk about what does the Bible say about the kingdom. And as we have studied the kingdom was developed and offered to Israel on a silver platter and as you know it was turned down by first century Israel. So we’re in a time period where the kingdom is not cancelled but postponed. And even though the kingdom is in a state of postponement God never leaves the earth without a witness of Himself so He begins to explain, Jesus does, an interim age of time which will take place while the kingdom is not here.
The first is called the interadvent age developed in the Matthew 13 parables, eight of them. And we’ve had the opportunity to go through those in depth but there’s a second facet of the interim age. It begins with the day of Pentecost and ends with the rapture. And God, in this age, is doing something else, He is building His church. So Jesus makes a reference to the church for the very first time in Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” So Jesus, in so doing, is giving a second phase or development of what is happening during this interim age.
So we’re spending our time the last couple of weeks and the next few weeks talking about this issue of the church. We’ve talked about the definition of the church; the church consists of all people, Jew or Gentile who have trusted for personal salvation in the Messiah that Israel rejected. And the moment they do that they become baptized or identified with this new man called the church, the body of Christ. And I started a Sunday School class Sunday mornings on this as well, so there’s a little bit of overlap between what we’re talking about here and that Sunday School class.
Then we moved from the definition of the church to the beginning of the church. The church started in Acts 2 and I gave you, I think six reasons why that’s so. And then last time I didn’t plan on this but we spent most of our time talking about the purpose of the church. The church, as we saw last time, has three basic purposes, to glorify God, to edify the saints and to fulfill the great commission. And then we really started getting to the meat of this which is where I really wanted to go last time but didn’t quite get there and that’s an explanation as to why the church, or the body of Christ is not the kingdom. And herein lies the confusion; people believe that we are advancing the kingdom today and you hear it all the time in evangelical vernacular…we’re building the kingdom, we’re advancing the kingdom, we’re doing kingdom work, and nobody really defines what the kingdom is.
And what I want to show you is the kingdom is yet future, it’s going to come but it’s not the church. What God is doing today is so unique or different than what the Bible reveals about the kingdom. And if you remember, I said I had 13 points to make on that; 13 points of dissimilarity between the kingdom on one end of the stick and the church on the other. And a lot of people might think this is sort of academic but it really gets to the nuts and bolts of why we’re here, why we exist and what we’re supposed to be doing. And if Satan can confuse us on this fundamental issue he can get us outside of what our priorities should be.
So reason number one of the 13, I think we covered this last time, Jesus is never called the king of the church. He’s called the head of the church, He’s called the groom and we’re the bride, He’s called the head, we’re the body, but king/subject imagery is really not used in the New Testament. Now that imagery is used all the time relative to the nation of Israel. For example, in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 33 and verse 22 it says, “For the LORD is our judge, The LORD is our lawgiver, The LORD is our king; He will save us— ” So king, subject imagery, is used all of the time to describe Israel but it’s never used to describe the church, meaning that the Lord today is doing something very special or unique that’s quite different than the way the kingdom is described.
And then secondly, and I think we covered this last time as well, Jesus Christ’s relationship to His church is never depicted through the king/kingdom metaphor. Now there are many, many word pictures of the church, shepherd, sheep, head, body, bride, groom, temple imagery, high priest, priesthood, the church is the pillar of the truth, he’s the vine we are the branches. I mean, you see all of these word pictures developed in the New Testament but never once do you have a word picture of He’s the King and we’re His kingdom.
So this takes us to reason number three, I would put it this way: there is a lack of correspondence between spiritual realities and kingdom conditions. One of the things to understand about the kingdom is once it is established on the earth Jesus is going to rule with a rod of iron. Psalm 2:9 talks about that, Revelation 12:5 talks about it. [Psalm 2:9, “’You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.” Revelation 12:5, “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.”]
That’s why I had you open up to Zechariah 14:16-18, it’s a prophecy about the kingdom, it says, “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.” This is a millennial passage.  “And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.” So you see what’s happening there, if they disobey the Lord in the kingdom in the slightest way there’s immediate retaliation. There is no delay of justice at all. And then it goes on in verse 18 and it says, “If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.”
So everybody in the kingdom age is going to have to go to Jerusalem and commemorate Jesus Christ during the Feast of Booths and some folks won’t want to do that. And so immediately God puts a plague on them, He denies their crops, the moisture or the rain that they need, and that’s basically the way the kingdom is, He’s ruling with a rod of iron. And that’s why at the end of the kingdom age in the Book of Revelation, chapter 20 verses 7-10 when Satan is released from his abyss and he goes out to deceive the nations, it talks in those verses, Revelation 20, really verses 7-10, it says immediately fire comes down from heaven and devours the adversaries.
[Revelation 20:7, “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,  and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.  And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”]
So any rebellion of any sort God doesn’t put up with, even a worldwide rebellion like the kind you’re going to have at the end of the kingdom, they are instantaneously and immediately dealt with. Now compare that to today. Does God work that way today? Well, we can praise the Lord that He doesn’t, right, or else we’d all be in a lot of trouble because the church age is characterized many times by prolonged carnality.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 says, “And I, brethren,” Paul speaking, “could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. says,  I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able  for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” Now Paul here is describing an ongoing problem in the Corinthian church related to carnality, and here is the famous passage where he divides the world into two parts: unbelievers and believers. And within the ranks of the believers you have spiritual believers (these are all words that Paul uses in these verses that I just read), those are the growing believers. Then you have the infant believers, baby Christians and those are the ones that are sort of cute because they’re doing age appropriate things. You know, it’s cute to see a little baby sucking their thumb, right? But when the child is 16 years old and still sucking their thumb it loses its cuteness. You have sort of a developmental problem at that point.
And that swings him in the last category, the carnal Christians. These are Christians that really are still living for the flesh and they should have grown beyond that a long time ago. And when you look at this he says, “even now you are still not able” at the end of verse 2. You get the idea that these people had been in this state of carnality for a long time. so that, by nature, cannot be the kingdom. Do you see that? This kind of thing will not be tolerated in the kingdom; there will be immediate discipline.
Over in the Book of Hebrews, chapter 5 and verse 12, it talks there about the carnal Christian or carnal believer, which a lot of ministries are denying today. A lot of ministries don’t believe there is such a thing as a carnal believer. All you have to do is read what Paul says here in 1 Corinthians 3. Why are they denying the reality of a carnal believer? Because they think we’re in the kingdom. See that? If you think we’re in the kingdom now the doctrine of the carnal Christian disappears. The writer of the Book of Hebrews, we’re not sure Paul wrote it but the writer could be Paul, we don’t know. In the Book of Hebrews, chapter 5 and verse 12 says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers,” and he goes on and he says “you have need of milk, not solid food, solid food is for the mature.” So they had been in the state of immaturity for a long time. And the author of Hebrews says by this time you should have grown up.
Now when you see that kind of language describing the church that cannot be the kingdom, a time of instantaneous discipline, a time of instantaneous justice. That’s why many people refer to our age as the age of grace. Grace is unmerited favor. You’re not going to have that kind of thing in the kingdom. It’s going to be an age of justice. You go into the Book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3 and you run into seven letters to seven churches and here’s where we discover that five of the seven are in a backslidden state and they need to repent. You go into the Book of Acts, chapter 20:17-38 and Paul talks about an apostasy taking place within the church as the church age unfolds. That cannot be describing the kingdom.
So John Walvoord puts it this way: “The Christian era has been no golden age of righteousness nor has the church conquered the world. It’s more accurate to recognize that the world, to a large degree, has possessed the church.”
Thomas Ice and Wayne House say this: “Notice the large volume of Scripture in the epistles that are devoted to the issue of apostasy.” Apostasy is an issue Gabe is covering as he covers the Book of Jude periodically here at SLBC. And if you have my book and you look at chapter 8 and footnote 12 when you get a chance you’ll see all those verses talking about apostasy within the church and they say apostasy and its evil effects provide the main message for books as Galatians, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews and Revelation.
So obviously what’s happening today is something that’s very different than what the kingdom is because none of this is even tolerated in the kingdom. And people say well, you know, isn’t Jesus reigning in our hearts? Well, does He reign in our hearts perfectly? Doesn’t Ephesians 4:30 tells us to not grieve the Holy Spirit? Doesn’t 1 Thessalonians 5:19 tell us to not quench the Holy Spirit?
[Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit;”] Those commands don’t make any sense, do they, if Jesus is reigning perfectly in our hearts. So you begin to look at the way the church is described versus the way the kingdom is described and it’s very difficult to confuse the two.
And this takes us to number 4, the church age gospel versus the kingdom gospel. The kingdom is going to be preceded by the kingdom gospel. What is “the kingdom gospel”? It was preached by John and it was preached by Jesus, it was preached by the Twelve, it was preached by the seventy. Does anybody remember what that gospel was? “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” That is what is being held out to national Israel on a silver platter in the first half of Matthew’s Gospel. And Jesus, when He sent the disciples out to preach this gospel said, “Do not go the way of the Gentiles.” [Matthew 10:5, “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;’”] See that there; I mean, is that what we tell people to do with the gospel today, don’t go the way of the Gentiles. No, it’s the opposite, isn’t it? “…do not enter any city of the Samaritans  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of the house of Israel.  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” The kingdom is going to be preceded by this language.
Now obviously that’s not what we preach today at all. What do we preach to people? “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” That’s our message. We don’t go around to people and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” In fact, that message was preached by Paul, Acts 16:30-31 in Philippi. [Acts 16:30-31, “and after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved’”  They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”] So obviously Paul, to do this, had gone outside the borders of Israel, hadn’t he? So if the message of Matthew 10 is the message of today then Paul just disobeyed Christ’s instructions, right? Because Jesus go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
So the fact that he is going against those instructions must mean that those instructions go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, those instructions had been suspended in the present age and temporarily replaced with the gospel of grace which is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. And this message, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” is not going to be preached again until what time period. The tribulation period. In the church age a different message is going out entirely. So we have to be faithful to the message God has given us.
Dwight Pentecost, my professor, says the new command of Christ, “you shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem and to Judea and in Samaria and to the uttermost part of the earth,” [Acts 1:8] does not coincide with the gospel of the kingdom which must precede the institution of the kingdom. According to Charles Fienberg when men are invited to receive the grace of God in salvation today they not urged “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” So that’s another distinction is we have a completely different message than what was proclaimed and what will be proclaimed related to the offer of the kingdom. And yet how many Christians today would you say understand this? It’s such a simple point to make but if you don’t have somebody in front of you explaining these things to you, you just grab any verse you want out of the Bible and toss that into the lap of the unsaved. And yet you can see very clearly here that you don’t just grab any verse of the Bible and toss it into the lap of the unsaved; you grab the message that’s pertinent to our age.
The fifth reason why the church is not the kingdom, and this is something that I hardly hear anybody talk about, the kingdom’s arrival is instantaneous; by contrast the church’s instruction is gradual. So when we look at various passages about the coming of the kingdom, we think of Daniel 2:44 where that giant stone cut without human hands immediately crushes the feed of the statue and the antichrist’s empire crumbles in a second. [Daniel 2:44, “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”]
Jesus described His Second Advent and the manifestation of the kingdom as lightning coming, Matthew 24:27-28. [“For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.  Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” In fact, when Jesus comes to establish the kingdom there’s going to be so many dead bodies at the instantaneous judgment that takes place that the birds of prey, the vultures, will come and gorge on the corpses, Revelation 19, verses 11 and following.
Now look at those descriptions as I’ve just described them and compare them to how the church is described. The church is never described as something that happens instantaneously. What the Lord is doing is He, for the last 2,000 years has been gradually building His church. Didn’t Jesus say “I will” what, “build my church,” which is a lengthy construction project. The Book of Acts, chapter 15 and verse 14 talks about how God in the present age is calling out a people for His own name, sort of a gradual process. Ephesians 2:22 says that we are being built into a spiritual temple. You get the same idea in 1 Peter 2:5, that the Lord is gradually putting stones into this temple, metaphorical temple called the church. [Acts 15:14, “Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.” Ephesians 2:22, “in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” 1 Peter 2:5, “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”]
And this gradual process that He is doing is not going to be completed until the full number of Gentiles finally comes in. There is a full number that has to be reaches and then the work of the church will be over. So what the Lord did with the church is He, through His death, became the cornerstone. The cornerstone is the most important stone in the temple structure because that stone you use to line up all the other stones. So He put in the corner stone and then He laid the foundation with the apostles and the prophets. And then He began to build gradually on this foundation as the various stones were put in, Ephesians 2:22, 1 Peter 2:5, there’s so many verses on this it’s hard to cover them all, I wish I could. 1 Peter 2:5 says, ““you also, as living stones, are being built up” see the process there that’s gradual, you “are being built up as a spiritual house….”]
Ephesians 2:22, gives you that same gradual building process. It says, “in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” So this can’t be the kingdom because when the kingdom comes it’s cataclysmic, it’s instantaneous, it’s violent, it’s so sudden in terms of its arrival, it’s like lightning. And compare that to the church. In the Book of Acts there are these things in the Book of Acts called progress reports; sometimes they’re numerical counts, sometimes they’re just generic mentions of the numerical growth of the church and the Book of Acts covers a time period of about 30 years, really from the ascension of Christ all the way to the first imprisonment of Paul, about three decades there. And all the way through that three decade process Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts, puts in these little reports about how numbers were increasing and there were great numbers at Antioch and 3,000 were saved on the day of Pentecost in Acts 6, right in there, it talks about how there were 5,000.
And you see how gradual this process is, this building of the church. This is going on over a three decade process as recorded in the Book of Acts. That can’t be the kingdom, which is cataclysmic and instantaneous and sudden. When the kingdom comes it’s not going to be a gradual construction project; it’s going to be here it is, like lightning. The full manifestation of the kingdom will come instantaneously.
There is a sixth reason why the church is not the kingdom. The church cannot be the kingdom because the church is called the heir of the kingdom. Now when you study kingdom references what you’ll discover in the epistles is the kingdom is almost always, without exception, there’s a few exceptions which we’ll be going into at some point, but the kingdom is almost always put in the future. For example, Paul, in southern Galatia, in Acts 14:22 says through many trials we enter the kingdom of God, indicating that we’re going to enter the kingdom of God yet future but before the kingdom comes we go through many trials.. [Acts 14:22, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’”] Jesus said we should pray “Thy kingdom” what? “Thy kingdom come.”
You might want to jot down some of these: 2 Thessalonians 1:5, 2 Timothy 4:18, 2 Peter 1:11, and you’ll see it’s always future, future, future, the kingdom, as far as our age is concerned. 2 Thessalonians 1:5, “This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.” 2 Timothy 4:18, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Peter 1:11, “for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”]
And then the Book of James, the Lord’s half-brother, writes this little five chapter book and he seals the deal in chapter 2 and verse 5 and he says, “Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and” what? “heirs of the kingdom [which He promised to those who love Him?”] What’s an heir? An heir is somebody that has a legal right to something, they just haven’t received it yet, they’re not enjoying it yet but it’s legally theirs. So if we are in the kingdom why in the world would we be called the heirs of the kingdom. That doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?
The great scholar, G. N. Peters says, “If the church is the kingdom and believers are now in it, then why designate them as heirs of the kingdom?” Good question. I mean, if we were in the kingdom why in the world would we be called heirs of the kingdom?
And this takes us to number 7, the church is not reigning today in kingdom authority, but the church is a suffering people in a hostile world system. Do we realize that when the kingdom comes the tables are switched, just like that? Currently Christianity is oppressed around the world, even in our own country sadly, we’re seeing more and more laws and things turning against Christians and certainly that’s the case in Islamic countries and China and Cuba and Saudi Arabia and it’s almost like medieval times today where you can watch people actually being crucified on You tube, Christians. You can watch Christians being put in cages and drowned or burned to death, having their heads cut off. I mean, is this really the kingdom? Come on! When the kingdom comes we will be reigning over our oppressors. That’s what the Book of Revelation says when it describes the kingdom, it says, “and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” [Revelation 20:4, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”]
Is that what’s happening now? We can’t even get our own Christian country on the right track most of the time. And what the Scripture reveals in the present age is the church is not ruling, the church is not reigning. What is happening is the church is being oppressed. Jesus said in John 15:18-19, He says, “Do not marvel, if the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own; [but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”]
2 Timothy 3:12 says “All who seek to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be” rewarded with a giant throne on planet earth… “will be persecuted.” So the New Testament descriptions of the church in the devil’s world is one of a suffering people. George Peters, again says, “The church, instead of being represented as a kingdom is held up as a struggling, suffering people.” Now when you read the Book of Corinthians you see Paul being sort of sarcastic about this because the Corinthians actually thought that they were ruling and reigning in kingdom authority. And Paul sarcastically in that book talks about how oh, you’re ruling and reigning but what about us apostles, us insignificant people, you know, we’re only the foundation of the church, us apostles, look at what’s happening to us, we’re being persecuted, we’re being driven from place to place, we’re being martyred. And so you see a lot of this theme sort of develop in Paul’s writings.
This takes us to number 8, when the kingdom comes satanic influence on the earth is over for a thousand years. I mean, whatever sin man commits during the kingdom is due to his or her sin nature. It’s not due to satanic temptation. And the only exception to the rule is at the end of the thousand years Satan is going to be released from his abyss for a very short time and he and his rebels are immediately judged and Satan at that point his sentence is executed where he will be confined to the Lake of Fire.
So you don’t have manifestations of Satan during the kingdom age. Revelation 20:1-3 says, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;  and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”
Think of a time period with no Satanic interference. Would you describe that as our current time period? [Laughter] If you want to sense the resistance of Satan in your life try to step out by faith and do something for God; you’ll immediately be resisted by Satan and his cohorts. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:18, “For we wanted to come to you– I, Paul, more than once– and yet Satan hindered us.” Think of all the things the devil does to hinder ministries, hinder saints, hinder us from doing the will of God.
1 Corinthians 7:5 also talks about the presence of Satan, “Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” So there’s Satan at work in marriages, seeking any kind of inroad that he can get to tempt one or both marital partners into some kind of sexual immorality. Satan is there soliciting, that’s what a temptation is, by the way, it’s a solicitation to sin.
Ephesians 4:26-27, says do not let the sun go down on your anger lest you give the devil a” what? “foothold.” Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, [against spiritual wickedness in high places.]” Revelation 2:10, of one of the churches there in Asia Minor, Jesus says Satan is about to throw some of you in prison, to test you for ten days. [Revelation 2:10, “’Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”]
So you read the descriptions in the New Testament about the present age and it cannot be the kingdom because in the kingdom none of these things will be possible. Satan will be found. Think of the havoc Satan wrecked by speaking through Peter, by enticing Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit, and by even getting us to not be forgiving. You know, if we’re unforgiving towards people we give Satan not possession, I don’t think he can possess us because I don’t think God and the devil can be roommates, because your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. But he can certainly influence you as a Christian. He will take whatever ground you want to give him; you give him an inch, he’ll take that and if you’re not careful he’ll turn that into a mile pretty quick. That’s basically his nature.
This takes us to number 9, this can’t be the kingdom age because the times of the Gentiles keep continuing. You all remember the times of the Gentiles; it’s described in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7; it’s the time period when there is no reigning king on David’s throne. It started with the deposing of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, 586 B.C. And the times of the Gentiles continue on until when? Not the rapture but the second advent of Christ at the end of the tribulation period. And so what Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 reveal is don’t expect the kingdom, the “stone cut without human hands” to come until the times of the Gentiles, including the antichrist kingdom (which is yet future) run their course.
So guess what folks? Are we still in the times of the Gentiles now as member of the church? We’re still in it! So if we’re still in that time period then the kingdom of God can’t be here, can it. I like the way Clarence Larkin puts it. He says: “As the times of the Gentiles is still running the church cannot be in this dispensation a governing, or kingdom power.” Merrill Unger writes: “How futile for conservative scholars to ignore that fact and seek to find a literal fulfillment of these prophecies in history or in the church” a lot of people are doing that, ”when these predictions refer to events yet future and have no application whatsoever to the church.”
The tenth reason why the church is not the kingdom is New Testament kingdom references, I made a reference to this a little earlier, the New Testament kingdom references are primarily future. So in chapter 11 I have a point here, I list all of the references to the kingdom in the New Testament, basilea, and you can look at that list on your own, overwhelmingly the New Testament puts the kingdom in the future, over and over again. And what people do is they find a handful of verses that seem to say something different and they build their doctrine on that handful of verses. By the way, this is what people do with the doctrine of salvation. It says 160-200 times that we’re saved by faith alone. I can show you probably 160-200 passages that say that in the New Testament.
So what do people do when they put their evangelistic tracts together? They ignore all those verses and let’s find the one verse, Romans 10:9-10 where you have to confess Christ and let’s build our evangelistic tract around that one verse and ignore the 200. That’s the mindset that we’re in with folks. Instead of interpreting the one obscure verse in light of the 200 clear ones it goes the other way around. And that’s what people are doing with the kingdom. I’ll show you the obscure verses that they use but you have to understand right out of the gate that the one or two obscure verses that they come up with go flatly against the plethora or the abundance of verses that put the kingdom in the future.
Number 11, and this one is big; in the present age Jesus is never said to be ruling from David’s throne now. If we were in the kingdom you would be able to travel to Jerusalem under the worldwide rule of Christ; you would be able to go to David’s throne on the earth in Jerusalem and see it occupied by the Messiah, Jesus Christ. That has to be in existence for the kingdom to be here.
Now go to Jerusalem today, I recommend you go, but you’re not going to find Jesus reigning on David’s throne. What you’re going to discover there is a nation in unbelief that’s yet unconverted. So if Jesus is not ruling on David’s throne right now, where is He? He is at (watch very carefully) the right hand of the Father. It is the position, according to John 17:5, it is the position of preincarnate glory that He had with the Father before the world was. And then He became a man, He came into our world, He paid the penalty for our sins and just before His crucifixion in His high priestly prayer, which is found in John 17, he says in verse 5, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” So He prayed for that position of glory to be restored at the Father’s right hand and that prayer request has been honored. Jesus ascended, Acts 1… see, if we were in the kingdom He wouldn’t have ascended, He would have set up His earthly rule from Jerusalem. But Acts 1 tells us very specifically that He ascended and the Bible is very, very clear about this.
Romans 8:34, it says, “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” That’s where Jesus is now; He’s not on David’s throne. Jesus has three offices: prophet, priest and king. Those are His three offices. He was a prophet in His first coming. He functioned like a prophet because He called Israel to repentance, which is what prophets did, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” He will be a King at His second coming, when He rules from David’s throne (over this planet) in Jerusalem. Matthew 25:31 says when the Son of Man comes He will take His seat on His glorious throne.” That’s the Davidic throne. [Matthew 25:31, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.”]
So prophet first coming, king second coming… well, if He’s prophet first coming and King second coming what is He doing now? Right now He’s functioning as high priest, not after the order of Aaron but the order of Melchizedek, it’s a higher priesthood than Aarons. The Book of Hebrews develops it. And that’s what Jesus is doing now; He is not reigning as King; If He was reigning as King this Las Vegas shooting and other terrorist type incidents that we see going on around the world, that wouldn’t happen. All of that would be brought under His dominion.
Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Now He’s doing a lot of things and what I’ve discovered is most Christians really don’t understand what He’s doing now. They know what He did and what He will do but what’s He doing now? And that’s a section of Christology called the present session of Christ where it details what Jesus is doing now as high priest at the right hand of the Father. He’s not reigning as King but He is building the church, gave the church spiritual gifts, interceding for us (aren’t you glad for that), restoring broken fellowship between us and God the Father when we sin.
And what is happening today in the world of theology is the three offices of Christ are being comingled. At Dallas Seminary, my Alma Mater, sadly not everybody but a large chunk of the people there are teaching that Jesus, right now, is on David’s throne reigning. They just say it’s a heavenly throne. Well that can’t be because the Davidic throne is always earthly. And so they’re merging His role as priest and king by arguing that we are in an already form of the Davidic Kingdom. That’s a doctrine called progressive dispensationalism which to me is a tragedy because the school wasn’t started on that basis. In fact, that very doctrine will contradict the doctrinal statement of the school which mentions these three offices of Christ and says they are to be kept separate and they are chronological and they’re not to be comingled.
So the moment you go down the road saying that Jesus is on David’s throne now… now He’s the heir to David’s throne; He will be on David’s throne one day but what people are doing is confusing the language of Him being the heir to David’s throne to making it sound like He’s on David’s throne now, in heaven, which changes David’s throne, number 1. And number 2, the problem with that is it changes the whole purpose of the church. No longer are we a struggling people in Satan’s domain, suddenly we’re here to take over, bring in social justice, and all of these kinds of things that only the kingdom itself on planet earth, the real kingdom can do. It’s a game changer.
So should I drop dead of a heart attack (I’m not planning on doing that any time soon) and you start interviewing for a new pastor I hope one of the questions you’ll ask the person that wants the job is do you believe that Jesus is on David’s throne now? Or if you move away and you go shopping for a church and you want to talk to the leadership and figure out where they are on this, that’s question that will just get right to the heart of the matter. Do you believe that Jesus is reigning on David’s throne now, because how they answer that question will shape their doctrine of what the church should be doing in the present. Does that make any sense?
Number 12, we cannot be in the kingdom now because the kingdom will be a time where miracles will be unrestrained. People say do you believe in miracles today? Yes I do, if I didn’t believe in that I wouldn’t pray for people. The Book of James, chapter 5 I think it is says call for the elders of the church, anoint so and so’s head with oil, pray for them, it talks about if it’s God’s will they could be healed physically of their disease. So there are, I believe, intermittent periodic miracles but many times the prayers go unanswered because it’s just not God’s will for a healing to occur.
Paul, you remember his thorn in the flesh, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, pleaded with God, take it away, three times, and God said three times no, “My grace is sufficient for you.” [2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!  Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.  And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”]
Now in the kingdom had Paul prayed that before the word would even be spoken the healing would have happened. So we’re living in an age where if a miracle happens it’s very intermittent. But that’s not what the kingdom is; the kingdom is a time where miracles and healing are the norm. See right now miracles and healing are the exception. The kingdom is a time period when miracles will be common place. The Book of Isaiah, chapter 35 and verses 5 and 6, of the kingdom, says: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.  Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah.”
It’s just talking about miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle; that’s what the kingdom is. Now compare that to our time period. You know Paul, the apostle who raised people from the dead as an apostle, you get towards the end of his ministry, what was the very last book Paul wrote? 2 Timothy. Paul, who in the Book of Acts, raised people from the dead at the end of his ministry what you start to discover is even that miracle-working ability that he had was starting to peter out because in 2 Timothy 4:20 (keep in mind this is the same man that raised folks from the dead, remember Eutychus, Paul preached too long… you guys think I preach too long, you wouldn’t want Paul as your pastor, he preached all night. And Eutychus in the window sill fell asleep, this is all in Acts 20, and he hit the ground and he died, and Paul went down there and didn’t say well, you shouldn’t be sleeping in church, you got what you deserved. He laid hands on the guy and the guy rose from the dead.
[Acts 20:9, “And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead.  But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.’”]
Those are the things that are happening in Paul’s ministry. But you get to the end of his ministry, in his final letter, and what does he say? He says sin 2 Timothy 4:20, “Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.” Paul left a guy sick, this is the same guy that rose folks from the dead, he’s now leaving people sick because miracles, in the church age, can happen but they’re not the norm. That won’t be the reality in the kingdom; there won’t be anybody sick. That’s why we’re to pray “Thy kingdom” what? “come.” So a lot to look forward to when the kingdom manifests itself.
And number 13, and this is my last one of the 13 reasons, when the kingdom comes there will be total financial prosperity. There won’t be bankruptcies, there won’t be financial stress or pressure, there won’t be budgets, there won’t be scarcity, there won’t be lack of any kind, there won’t be malnutrition. The Book of Amos, chapter 9, verses 11-15, actually let’s do verses 13-15Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved.  Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. [15, “I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,’ says the LORD your God.”
There’s another reference to kingdom prosperity, and see, you wonder why so many people on so-called Christian television are teaching the doctrine of prosperity? It’s related to their doctrine of the kingdom. These folks, nine times out of ten believe we’re living in the kingdom. Well, if we’re living in the kingdom the financial prosperity should be a guarantee, shouldn’t it, to every child of God. And they market this over and over again on so called Christian television. The interesting thing about the prosperity gospel is it all has a tendency to stop at the borders of America, because I can go into Mexico, I can go into some other country, a third world country and you have very devout Christians in those countries and you don’t see them living our standard of living at all. And yet are we more spiritual than them? That’s just silly talk; if anything it might even be the opposite. Those are people that are far more spiritual than us because they’ve got nothing to depend upon but God. We have all of our creature comforts and thing.
So, you know, you can tell the prosperity gospel doesn’t work if you just travel around the world a little bit. The reason the prosperity gospel thrives in this country is we have an economy that can support it. You don’t have that in other world countries. But in the kingdom prosperity will break out all over the world. Isaiah 65:21-22 says, “They will build houses and inhabit them; they will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  They will not build and another inhabit. They will not plant and another eat; for as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people, and My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands.”
See the prosperity that’s described here? Compare that to passages in the New Testament that talk about famines. For example, in the church age in Acts 11:28, tell me if you think this could be describing the kingdom. It says in Acts 11:28, “One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.” Now that could never occur in the kingdom; there won’t be famines in the kingdom.
Paul, in 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 talks about the Macedonians and how they were at a very low level of poverty, yet they gave out of… whatever they had they gave, they gave to the point that it hurt and He commends them for it. [2 Corinthians 8:1, “Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,  that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.  For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord,  begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,”]
Well, that couldn’t happen in the kingdom; you can’t have people living in poverty in the kingdom.
The Book of Philippians, chapter 4 and verses 11-12 Paul says, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; [in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.]” So Paul in his life says I’ve seen it all, I’ve gotten along with very little, I’ve gotten along with much. Now Paul wouldn’t be making that statement in the kingdom because the only condition the world will know in that time period is prosperity.
The Book of Revelation, chapter 2 and verse 9, this is my last verse, Jesus speaking to the church at Smyrna, “’I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), [and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.]” So you’re materially poor but spiritually wealthy. That kind of statement could not be made in the kingdom because in the kingdom financial prosperity will break out all over the world.
So what am I trying to get at here with all this stuff? My major point is look, folks, if we’re honest with the New Testament and honest with the Bible the current age is an ager where God is working but it can’t be the kingdom. Jesus is never called the king of the church. Christ’s relationship to His church is never depicted through the kingdom metaphor. Prolonged carnality that we see in the church wouldn’t exist in the kingdom. The kingdom gospel is different than the church age gospel. The kingdom’s arrival is instantaneous and the church’s construction is gradual. If anything we are heirs to the kingdom. We’re suffering, not reigning. Satan, as Hal Lindsay said in one of his books “is alive and well on planet earth.” The times of the Gentiles continues. New Testament kingdom references are predominantly future. Jesus is never said to be ruling on David’s throne. Kingdom miracles are absent today; so is kingdom prosperity.
So the next time we reconvene, next Wednesday we’ll be talking about how not only is the church not the kingdom but just to make the point very clear the church is not Israel. The kingdom is set up to come through Israel; the church, contrary to what many people teach, is not Israel, so we’ll be getting into that subject next time. We’ve looked at the definition of the church, the beginning of the church, the purposes of the church and why the church is not the kingdom.