Let’s open our Bibles to Luke chapter 17 and verse 20 and 21. We’re continuing our study on the doctrine of the Kingdom, which we haven’t talked about since May and that’s over three months ago, isn’t it. So we are in, in this book that I wrote, which just leads you through the Scripture, we’re in chapter 16 and we’re looking tonight and probably next week at pages 215-226. And if you never got a copy of this book we give them out free to people that are class participants or attendees, so see me afterwards if you never got one and I’ll give you a copy of the book. I’ll even sign it if you don’t think it’ll deflate the value of it too much. You might want to sell it on e-bay or something so you may not want my signature on it.
Luke 17:20-21, as I mentioned before we’re in chapter 16 of my book, The Coming Kingdom and sometimes my reviews are longer than the actual lectures for that evening so I’m going to try not to do that, just to kind of remind you a little bit of where we’ve been. The first major section is what does the Bible say about the kingdom. And that’s the Genesis to Revelation study that we’ve done and we’ve developed the kingdom from the Old Testament.
We’ve seen that it’s basically a geopolitical reality over the earth with Jesus ruling and reigning the earth from which city? The city of Jerusalem. And that’s everything that the Old Testament promised concerning the kingdom, as we’ve carefully documented. And that’s the kingdom that was offered to Israel in the first century on a silver platter. Had they received the offer the kingdom could have come. Tragically we know that they turned the offer down and so the kingdom was not cancelled but postponed. And it’s awaiting a future generation of Israel to receive the offer.
In the meantime God is at work through which institution? The church which would be us. And as I’ve tried to explain, the church is not to be confused with the kingdom although many people today are trying to merge the church with the kingdom. And we’re trying to say that’s not a right way of understanding the Bible.
And from there we just took a quick look at the name problems with kingdom now interpretations. Probably the dominant view of the church, going back to the fourth century and Augustine onward, through his book, The City of God, is that the church is the kingdom. And they take all of the kingdom promises and sort of repackage them non-literally and make it sound like they’re being fulfilled today. And the biggest problem with that is you just changed everything the Old Testament presented. With the postponement model, which is what I’ve been trying to teach, you don’t have to change anything. What was promised has been postponed. But with the kingdom now model what you have to do is you have to repackage everything. So since God can’t lie and can’t contradict Himself I’ve tried to explain that that kingdom now teaching is one thing that really doesn’t work.
Then from there we moved into part three, why is it that so many people believe that we’re in the kingdom now? I mean, there must be verses that they use. So in this portion of it we’re looking at passages that people use to promote the idea that we’re living in the kingdom. So one of my teaching methods is not just to lay out what I think the Bible says; it’s to lay out what other people believe the Bible says and how to deflate their use of the Bible. Anybody can kind of get up in front of you and give you their view of things and we’re trying to go a step deeper in this.
For those of you that were with us for our soteriology series when I got to eternal security I tried to do that also, not just lay out the case for eternal security but what are the passages that people use to deny eternal security and how can those be answered. So I’m basically trying to do the same thing with kingdom now theology.
So this portion of it we’ll look at passages from Christ’s ministry from the Book of Acts, from Paul, from the general letters, from Revelation, and then some miscellaneous arguments that people use. And back in May we were just starting to look at verses from the ministry of Jesus that people us to say that we’re in the kingdom now. So we looked at the following statements in Christ’s ministry: the kingdom is at hand, theirs is the kingdom, Thy kingdom come, seek first the kingdom, the kingdom is suffering violence until now, I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven, which Jesus says in His earthly ministry, the kingdom has come upon you.
Now do any of those sound familiar? I know it’s been about three months but we worked through all of those and I sort of gave you the answer to each of those. In other words, how would a person who believes in a postponed kingdom answer those passages?
So from there we move into Luke 17, that’s why I had you open there in your Bibles, Luke 17:20-21, and this is probably, of all of the verses not only in Christ’s ministry but really in the whole New Testament, this is the main verse people go to. Anybody that argues that we’re in the kingdom will instinctively go to Luke 17:20-21. In fact, when you’re talking about this subject, even with people that don’t know much about this they’ll say well wait a minute, doesn’t Luke 17, they may not know the address but they’ll say doesn’t Luke 17:21 say the kingdom is in our midst or the kingdom is in our hearts. In fact, has anybody ever heard somebody use those verses to support a kingdom now idea? Okay, I see a few hands.
So what do those verses say. Let’s look at them. Luke 17:20-21, it says, “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees” now that’s a big deal right there, if you’re an under liner in your Bible you should underline the word “Pharisees.” “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “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 behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.””
One of the things that’s happened is people are, for whatever reason, are attaching less significance to the things that Paul says and they’re trying to move the discussion from Paul into the middle of the Bible and trying to make it sound as if the things that Jesus said were the most important. Now we’re kind of prone to that argument because Jesus was the Son of God and Paul was just a mere humanist but the way to understand the Bible correctly is to understand that many of the things that Jesus was saying and doing were what we would call non-normative today. In other words, Jesus was presenting that generation in the first century with the opportunity to do something that no other generation in the history of man has ever had the opportunity to do and that opportunity has been taken off the table for the last two thousand years for the simple reason that Jesus is not here anymore. See that?
But because we have the red letter editions of the Bible where we underline, in my Bible version here it’s got all the words of Christ in red so we think well, that must be the most important and Jesus was the Son of God, people are basically building their theology on what Jesus was saying and doing even though what Jesus was saying and doing what we today believe is not normative because Jesus is not present. So people are no longer taking our key cues from Paul but they want to go into the gospels and that’s a turn that you see. And as people do that they become open to the idea that we’re in the kingdom now.
Just as an example of that here’s a quote from Gibbs and Bolger who are arguing from what’s called the emergent church and they say: “How did Emerging churches come to emphasize the Gospel of the Kingdom? [It began with a shift from the Epistles to the Gospels as a way to understand Jesus more profoundly.” [Gibbs and Bolger; cited in Paul Smith, New Evangelicalism (Costa Mesa, CA: Calvary, 2011), 119.
Now emergent churches, if you don’t know, it’s kind of trying to leapfrog the Protestant Reformation and go back into the medieval liturgical practices of desert fathers and bring those back into modern day Christianity. So if you have children or grandchildren there’s no doubt that they’re being hit with emergent church doctrine. And one of the big teachings of the emergent church is that we are in the kingdom now.
So these guys, emergent church writers, are basically explaining why the emergent church is so open to kingdom now theology and the answer is they’re moving the spotlight away from Paul back to Christ who was doing a lot of things that obviously are not normative today because Jesus isn’t present. And sometimes this is called red letter Christianity, where I don’t really care about the rest of the Bible, I just care about Jesus kind of thing, despite the fact that Jesus Himself said in the Upper Room Discourse. John 16:12-13, “I have many more things to tell you, but you are not able to bear them now.  But when the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; [for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”]
So as counter intuitive as it seems Jesus never claimed to be the final disclosure of truth; He clearly taught that somebody else would come along, i.e. the apostles, and complete the teaching package that He had just given, sort of in infant form or seed form. How many books of the Bible did Jesus write? I don’t think He wrote any books of the Bible. Now we have four books of the Bible (the Gospels) about His life but He never claimed to be a biblical writer, at least directly. And He very clearly was doing things that are one-time occurrences related to first century Israel that He’s not doing today because He’s not physically present and so He opened the door in John 16:12-13 to the apostles, i.e. Paul being the main guy, coming along and completing the package.
But you see, that’s the kind of teaching you’re not getting today in the emergent church; it’s not about Paul, it’s all about Jesus and I would say this: the things that Jesus said and the things that Paul said are on equal par, not because Paul is God (like Jesus was) but Jesus said the Holy Spirit Himself would guide the apostles, i.e. Paul, into all truth. [John 6:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”]
So you can’t take one part of the Bible and make it more important than another part of the Bible. And if you’re trying to figure out what’s normative today you don’t build your house in the Gospels, you build it primarily on what the Apostle Paul said. The emergent church is going the exact opposite way on this; these guys say how did emergent churches come to emphasize the gospel of the kingdom? It began with a shift from the epistles to the gospels as a way to under-stand Jesus more profoundly.
Now I hope you understand what I’m saying; I’m not saying that Paul is more important than Christ at all. What I’m saying is if you want to get a bearing on what’s normal today you don’t build your house on the gospels; you’ve got to factor in the things that Paul says. Paul is the guy that wrote 13 letters concerning the churches. Jesus, other than the Book of Revelation chapters 2 and 2, really didn’t dictate letters to churches the way Paul did. And so Paul, you have to take him as a priority in terms of what’s normal. But the emergent church has taken the spotlight away from Paul and put it completely in the things that Jesus said and taught in the Gospels, if that makes sense. So one of the verses that people camp on is Luke 17:20-21 and so Luke 17:20-21 become the key verses that people use to argue that we’re in the kingdom now.
So since I’ve sort of set the table and explained how people are using this passage what I’d like to give you are three responses to that. The first two I’ll be lucky to get through before time is up tonight and the third one most likely we’ll have to save for next time. But three responses to the kingdom now theologians views of Luke 17:20-21.
Response number one: These verses do not say that the kingdom is within you. Most Christians, for whatever reason, think that’s what Christ is saying, that the kingdom is within you. You know, I’ve invited Jesus into my heart, people say, so the kingdom is inside of me, the kingdom is now, and all of this kind of thing. In fact, many Bible translations, like the NIV for example.
Here’s a quote from the NCV, this is called the New Century Version, it basically gives you the kingdom is inside of us. How does the NCV translate these verses? “Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?” Jesus answered, ’God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.’” [Luke 17:20-21]
So because of these type of translations people think that that’s what these verses are saying, that the kingdom is within us. And let me sort of explain why these verses cannot be teaching the kingdom is inside of us. First, who was Jesus addressing? The Pharisees! Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming He answered and said how in the world could the kingdom be inside the Pharisees. I mean, were the Pharisees believers? No! Were the Pharisees trying to murder Christ? Yes! In fact, Jesus would say of the Pharisees in John 8:44 tell me if you think the kingdom is inside of these guys as I read this verse: “You are of your father the devil,” does it sound like the kingdom is inside of them, “and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature,” in other words, how do you know when Satan is lying? His lips are moving is the answer, “for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
E.R. Craven says, “The supposition that he indicated an existing Basileia,” or kingdom, “implies that it was set up in or among the Pharisees.”
So there’s no way the Bible translations that say the kingdom was within you could be correct if you just pay attention to the context of the passage and who Jesus is talking to.
Beyond that, why is it that those verses are not saying the kingdom of God is within us? Another reason is this: The Scripture always portrays people entering the kingdom and not vice versa. The Bible never portrays the kingdom as coming into people; it’s always the opposite, people, once the kingdom is established, will enter that kingdom.
For example, notice, if you will, Matthew 5:20, what does Jesus say there to the Pharisees? “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” So you’ve got to have a righteousness that’s better than the Pharisees themselves to enter the kingdom. Now obviously that’s talking about what kind of righteousness? Transferred righteousness, imputed righteousness, alien righteousness, righteousness that is not our own. And unless I receive that by way of faith from Christ I cannot enter the kingdom. So notice that it’s people entering the kingdom, not the kingdom entering people.
Another verse on this is Matthew 23:13, “But woe to you scribes and Pharisees and hypocrites because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” So you see the emphasis here? The Pharisees, because of false doctrine, were basically inhibiting people from entering the kingdom. So it’s all these people entering the kingdom and not the kingdom entering people. That’s the basic order in the Bible.
You probably know this verse from Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:5, “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot” what? “enter into the kingdom of God.’” So a person has to be born again to enter the kingdom once it’s established. It doesn’t say you’ve got to be born again so the kingdom of God can enter you See that? And the mistranslation of this verse reverses the order, when it says the kingdom of God is inside of you it makes it sound like the kingdom comes into us, which is not EVER what the Bible teaches.
You might want to jot down Matthew 25:31-46, that’s the great judgment that will take place at the end of the tribulation period called the sheep and goat judgment.
[Matthew 25:31-46, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;  and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’  “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;  for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’  Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’  Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”]
It’s for tribulation survivors and the goats will be cast off the earth into Hades at that time and the sheep will be redeemed believers and they will enter the kingdom and the whole basis of that judgment is how folks in the tribulation treated Christ’s brethren, who I think is the Jewish people who will have been greatly persecuted during the tribulation period by the antichrist, Satan and the antichrist.
So you’ll demonstrate, people in the tribulation period itself (which by the way won’t be us because we’ll be translated and raptured in heaven watching the whole thing kind of from the balcony seats unfold. But there’s going to be a lot of folks that are saved in the tribulation period and a lot of folks will survive the tribulation period; most of the world’s population will not survive but there is a handful that do survive. And how does Christ determine which of these survivors are believers that will enter the millennial kingdom that He just established and which ones are unbelievers that will be cast off the earth into Hades. The whole basis of the judgment is how they treated Christ’s brethren because “faith without works is” what? “dead.” [James 2:20]
In other words, you’re not saved by works ever but in that time period you’ll demonstrate your true faith by having a natural desire to help the Jewish people. But all of that to say the whole tenor of that judgment is which folks are not going to enter the kingdom and which folks are going to enter the kingdom. See that? So it’s just another example where the kingdom doesn’t come into people, people who are born spiritually on the other hand will enter the kingdom. So that would be yet another reason why these Bible translations say the kingdom of God is within you couldn’t be accurate.
Another reason why the kingdom is not within us is because what is the kingdom? The kingdom is the perfect rule of Jesus Christ when He’s reigning with a rod of iron. In fact, you might want to take your Bible and go over to Revelation just for a minute, Revelation 12:5, and notice what it says here of Jesus Christ. “And she” that’s Israel, “gave birth to a son, a male child,” that’s Jesus, “who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron;” see that, “and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.” Now “rule all the nations with a rod of iron,” that’s an allusion back to Psalm 2 where God the Father is going to vest His authority in the God-Man, Jesus Christ, God the Son, and He will rule all the nations with a rod of iron. Why does there have to be a rule with a rod of iron? Because the survivors of the tribulation period entering the kingdom will do so in their mortal non-glorified bodies. And they will have children and their children will have children and their children will have children and the earth will be repopulated. And what do you think just got passed down through the bloodline? The sin nature.
The kingdom is a very interesting time where we, as members of the church, will be in resurrected bodies ruling alongside Christ in His delegated authority and you wonder, well who are we going to rule over? Well, we’re ruling over the survivors of the tribulation period that happen to be believers and they’re offspring. And we, in that day under Christ’s authority will have to rule with a rod of iron. Now once you get to the eternal state, Revelation 21 and 22, when everybody is in a resurrected body the rod of iron won’t be necessary. See that? But during the thousand year kingdom the rod of iron is very necessary to subdue the rebellious impulses of the population because they’re still have the sin nature.
Over in Zechariah 14:16-18 it talks about people that really will get tired of it and they won’t want to go to Jerusalem to worship Jesus Christ, and what happens is instantaneous justice is imposed on them. They’re not given any rain for their crops and you’ll find all that in Zechariah 14:16-18. [Zechariah 14:16, 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.  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.  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.”]
It’s not like today where you get delayed justice, or perverted justice. The kingdom is a time period where Satan is bound, Jesus’ reign is unrestricted and it’s with a rod of iron. And consequently there’s going to be an awful lot of people in the kingdom that will behave correctly because they don’t want to get punished, and that’s why Satan is let loose out of his abyss at the end of the thousand years to reveal what’s happening in the hearts of the descendants of those who repopulated the earth. And you read all about that in the Book of Revelation, chapter 20:7-9. He’s able to kind of stir up one final rebellion because there’s a lot of people that are obeying Christ, not because they love Christ but they just don’t want to be punished. So Satan is released to reveal this reality in people and according to Revelation 20:7-9 the rebellion is immediately crushed. It’s not like today where rebellion is allowed to fester and continue on for long periods of time. It’s immediately crushed, fire comes down from heaven, consumes the adversaries, Satan then is thrown into the lake of fire.
[Revelation 20:7-9, 7When 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.”]
So that’s the kingdom. The kingdom is a time period with Jesus ruling with a rod of iron. You’re not going to have carnal believers in the kingdom. If there’s any carnality it’s people masking it because they don’t want to be punished. It’s not like today when you can have a carnal Christian. That ruling with a rod of iron instantaneous justice, instantaneous punishment, and so when people try to argue that the kingdom is inside of us today… I mean, is that what happens? When we step out of line do we get immediately punished? I don’t think that’s true at all. Sometimes God does that, in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, but I, as a New Testament Christian, have the complete and total ability to: number one, quench the Spirit. Don’t I have the power to do that? I must have the power to do that because what does 1 Thessalonians 5:19 tell me.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not quench the Spirit;” that command wouldn’t make any sense unless I had the ability to what? Quench the Spirit. How could I have the ability to quench the Spirit in the kingdom when Jesus is ruling with a rod of iron in perfect justice? See that?
Over in Romans 5:12 it says, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body.” Now that command wouldn’t make any sense unless I had an ability as a Christian to do what? Let sin reign in my mortal body. If I didn’t have the ability to let sin reign in my mortal body then the Bible wouldn’t tell me to “not let sin reign in” my mortal body. See that?
A verse that I used on Sunday is Romans 12:21, it says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Now why would the Bible say, “Do not be overcome by evil” unless I had the ability as a Christian to be overcome by evil.
Ephesians 4:30 says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit who is within you.” Now why would Ephesians 4:30 tell me not to “grieve the Holy Spirit” unless I today, in the church age, had the ability to do what? “Grieve the Holy Spirit.” But let me ask you a question: when the kingdom comes and Jesus is ruling with a rod of iron is there going to be any quenching of the Spirit through rebellion? No, it’ll be immediately punished. Are there going to be people letting sin reign in their mortal body? No, it will be immediately punished. Are there going to be people grieving the Holy Spirit? No, it will be immediately punished.
So when you understand the nature of the kingdom as perfect justice it does not fit the New Testament description of a New Testament Christian where we still have the ability to do those things that are displeasing to God.
By the way, when people hear me talk like this they get very nervous because they think I’m promoting that, like yeah, let’s get out there and grieve the Holy Spirit. I’m not promoting it at all; what I’m saying is it’s a possibility. In the kingdom there is no such possibility. Do you see that? So that’s another reason why the kingdom couldn’t be inside of us, if you understand the perfect justice ruling with the rod of iron nature of the kingdom.
Another reason why the kingdom could not be inside of us is the way the kingdom is portrayed as we have developed it in the Old Testament. What is the kingdom? It always has certain characteristics and we’ve gone through all of the prophecies, all of the Old Testament passages, all of the covenants that explain this. If you were just to go home tonight and you were to read those verses at the top of the screen, all in the Book of Isaiah, Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 11:6-9, and Isaiah 65:17-25, and keep in mind we’ve gone through a lot more Scriptures than that.
[Isaiah 2:1-4, “The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.  Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it.”  And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.”
Isaiah 11:6-9, And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them.  Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.  The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.  They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
Isaiah 65:17-25, For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness.  “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying.  “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed.  “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.  They will not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, and their descendants with them.  It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.  The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.”]
But if you were just to read those three sections you would walk away with what the kingdom is and you could obviously look around at the world and you could look around at the church and say obviously these things aren’t happening today. So what do those verses reveal about the kingdom? The kingdom is a time period when Jerusalem will be the center of world, spiritual and political authority. Today the city of Jerusalem is bullied by the nations of the earth and I was reading somewhere recently that almost two-thirds of United Nations Resolutions go against the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. So obviously Israel is a factor today but she’s not ruling over the planet; she’s despised by the nations. So we couldn’t be in the kingdom, could we?
The kingdom, according to these verses, is a time period of perfect justice, as we’ve talked about. World peace, where the nations will beat their swords into plowshares, obviously that’s not happening today, the storm clouds are always on the horizon. There’s even going to be perfect peace in the animal kingdom where lamb and wolf, wolf and lamb will lie down together. Have you been to the zoo lately? Wolf and lamb are in different cages, aren’t they, for obvious reasons.
It’s a time period when a little child will be able to put their hand in a cobra’s nest and not be harmed because there will be peace in the animal kingdom. Is that what you’d do with your child, go out there in the backyard and they find a cobra’s nest and hey mom, dad, look here, I’m putting my hand in, this looks like a lot of fun. Go for it Junior, have a great time… obviously you would be terrified if your child did something like that.
And then the kingdom is a time period when there’s going to be universal spiritual knowledge, it says “the knowledge of the LORD will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” [Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:9, “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.”]
This planet is about 80% ocean, something like that. Just as the ocean covers this planet the knowledge of God is going to cover the whole world during the kingdom. You say well, is that happening today? Are you kidding me? We can’t even get the Bible taught in the public schools any more and sad to say most evangelical churches, many of them anyway, have kicked the Bible out of their own church, instead opting for self-help or motivational speaking or psychology or whatever. The Bible, at least in the United States is losing ground and influence all the time.
So that’s what the kingdom is. And when people come to a verse like Luke 17:20 and 21, where it talks about the kingdom is in our hearts supposedly in this translation, they’re forgetting everything that the Old Testament reveals. And let me ask you a question—does Jesus do any explaining of what the kingdom is in Luke 17:20-21? Look again at those verses, Luke 17:20-21, it says, “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “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 behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”’
You see how the word “kingdom” there is not even defined by Christ? So obviously… and you see this over and over again with New Testament references to the kingdom, it’s not redefined. So if it’s not redefined the meaning of the basileia, the meaning of the kingdom, must be static. I mean, if it somehow has changed Jesus would have given a whole bunch of explanations as to how it changed. See that? Jesus would have said all that stuff from Isaiah, don’t worry about that, here’s really what the kingdom is, it’s the rule of God in our hearts. But Jesus never does that. And the reason He never does that is because the meaning of the kingdom is the same no matter what passage of the Bible you’re in.
So that’s really another reason why I don’t think these verses are saying the kingdom of God is within you. And beyond that, if the kingdom of God was set up in spiritual form (which is what everybody is arguing today) in our hearts, in Luke 17:20-21 then what do you do with the other teachings Jesus gave late in his ministry? Those teachings don’t make any sense.
For example, notice Matthew 19:28, this is very late in Christ’s ministry, and He starts talking about an earthly kingdom yet to come because the nation of Israel had rejected the offer. What does He say there in Matthew 19:28, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne,” now what throne do you think that is that He’s seated on one day? David’s throne, going back to the Davidic Covenant. Where do I find that in the Bible? 2 Samuel 7:12-16. We covered that Davidic Covenant very early on in our teaching. “…the Son of Man will sig on His glorious throne and you also shall sit upon twelve thrones,” speaking of the apostles, “judging the” what? “twelve tribes of Israel.”
Now when you study Ezekiel 47 what you’ll learn is in the kingdom in the land of Israel, the nation of Israel is going to be divided according to different tribal allotments. Each tribe will govern a specific literal geographic section. And what Jesus is saying here is during that time period Jesus will be on David’s throne, not up in heaven somewhere, not in the human heart, but in which city? Jerusalem, and under Him will be the twelve apostles, and underneath each of the twelve apostles you can throw Ezekiel 47 into the mix will be a tribe governing a specific plot of real estate.
Now this passage makes zero sense if we’re going to say well, Luke 17 verses 20-21, Jesus set up a spiritual kingdom. If Jesus set up a spiritual kingdom in our hearts and changed the definition of the kingdom then what in the world is He talking about here. To me it doesn’t look like He changed anything. Christ’s teaching on the kingdom is consistent with what has been developed within the Old Testament.
Take a look at Matthew 20:20-21, “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee” James and John, also called the sons of thunder, and she’s one proud mamma, isn’t she; I mean, she’s proud of her boys, she’s looking out for her boys. A good mother does that. It says, “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him.  And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She said to Him, ‘Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.’” Wow! And you’ll notice that Jesus never tells her oh, you silly woman, don’t you know that there’s not going to be a future kingdom on the earth? Don’t you know I’m reigning in your heart right now? He never says that.
In fact, it’s interesting that if he taught that back in Luke 17 she must have been taking a nap because she missed the whole teaching, because she’s still believing in a future earthly kingdom and Jesus never corrects her. The only thing He corrects her on is the authority is given to those who bear the cross in this life. The cross comes before the crown. That’s what He corrects her on. He never corrects her on the reality of the future kingdom. But again, what Christ is saying here makes zero sense if the kingdom has not been repacked, Luke 17, and Jesus is now reigning in our hearts.
Go over to Matthew 26:29, and I’ve had amillennialists, kingdom now theologians on twitter try to tell me this in arguments, they’ll say Jesus never mentioned an earthly kingdom. And my response is I don’t know if we’re reading the same New Testament; I’m seeing Jesus mention an earthly kingdom in Matthew 19:28; Matthew 20:20-21. [Matthew 19:28, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” [Matthew 20:20-21, “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him.  And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?” She said to ‘Him, ‘Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.”]
He mentions a future kingdom in Matthew 26, look at verse 29 if you could. He says, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” So he never cancelled a future earthly kingdom on earth with literal eating and drinking from the fruit of the vine, which is a very physical experience.
How about the thief on the cross? Did the thief on the cross believe in a coming kingdom. Remember the people on the cross that trusted in Christ at the last minute in what might be called a death bed conversion? Remember what He said? The penitent thief, remember Jesus was crucified between the two thieves, one thief mocked Him to His grave and presumably went to hell, the other thief trusted in Christ and His salvation at the last minute and presumably went to Paradise, not presumably, he did go to Paradise because Jesus said, “I tell you today you shall be with me in Paradise.”
But look at what that penitent thief said; Luke 23:42, it says, “And he was saying, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!’” I mean, the penitent thief on the cross understood there was going to be a future kingdom. Jesus didn’t stop and say well, let me cancel that, there really is no future earthly kingdom because I’m reigning right now in the hearts of My people. I mean, everybody that hung around Jesus and was influenced directly by His teaching, none of them had this amillennial idea that the kingdom is now.
Look at Mark 15:43, remember Joseph of Arimathea, the rich disciple in whose tomb Christ was buried? You say well how come Jesus had to be buried in the tomb of a rich man. 700 years ago in Isaiah 53 Isaiah said that would happen. [Isaiah 53:9, “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.”] That’s why. Prophesies in the Bible come to pass literally, short term and long term.
But Joseph of Arimathea who was a secret disciple, so he was obviously close to Christ, he was a secret disciple, he was around the teachings of Christ, it says, “Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for” what? “the kingdom of God; [and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.” [Mark 15:43] You see, the error of their thinking is they thought it was coming right now. They just didn’t understand the postponement completely but they were still looking for a kingdom. They never had in their minds this idea that Christ cancelled everything the Old Testament says about the kingdom or changed the definition, because He’s ruling and reigning in our hearts today.
See, that’s what I’m trying to point out. If Jesus set up a spiritual form of the kingdom in the hearts of people in Luke 17 then everybody that was close to Christ didn’t get the message; they didn’t get the memo, they were taking a nap when Christ taught that spiritual lesson. Of course I’m being facetious because Christ never taught that lesson. The only people that are teaching that lesson are the amillennialists and the replacement theologians who want you to believe that the church is the kingdom. You know, if you were to stand up in front of all of these people that were hanging around Christ in the first century, all of His disciples, and you were to tell them that there is no future kingdom because the kingdom is being fulfilled now in spiritual form, I think they would all just start laughing out loud. I mean, the whole idea would be so foreign to their total understanding.
One more for good measure, take a look at Acts 1:6-7. What does it say there? This is just prior to His ascension, remember there’s forty days in between His resurrection and His ascension. The resurrection has happened, the ascension is yet to come, forty days down the road. So He’s giving them teaching during this forty day interval. It says, “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to” who? “to Israel’” The disciples still believed there would be a kingdom on the earth through the nation of Israel. What they didn’t understand is the timing of it; they didn’t understand there was going to be a long delay or an age but they never got the idea that the kingdom was cancelled.
And what does Jesus say there in verse7, “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know” the what? “the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” See Christ never told them forget the kingdom, forget Israel, Israel is going to be replaced by the church; I’m reigning now in your hearts. He never gave them any such teaching. They never understood Him to be teaching any such doctrine. The only thing they didn’t understand is the timing. That’s what baffled them. They thought it was going to come instantaneously, they didn’t understand this long period of time called the church age when the kingdom would be in postponement.
And that’s why Jesus taught the parable of the minas in Luke 19 where He begins to talk about a long age of time when God’s people are given certain things to invest on His behalf, while He’s gone. That was a new teaching to them. Why was it a new teaching to them? Because according to Luke 19:11, which immediately precedes the parable of the minas and explains why He taught the parable of the minas, it says, “While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable,” why? “ because He was near Jerusalem,” the prophesied headquarters of the kingdom, “and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.” So He says the kingdom is going to come but it’s in a state, not of cancellation but postponement. So the only issue they had wrong was not the future earthly kingdom, they knew that was going to come, they just didn’t understand the timing. That was their misunderstanding.
And the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, misunderstood not the reality of a future kingdom but they didn’t understand that the positions of authority in the kingdom are given to those who bear the cross in this life, because the cross comes before the crown. And you’ll notice that in all these stories when Christ is correcting them He’s never correcting them on their definition of the kingdom, on their understanding of the reality of a coming kingdom, He’s just correcting them on timing and on whose going to have authority. See that?
And my point is very simple; all of those statements that Christ has made to these folks that we just went through don’t make any sense if Jesus is reigning in our hearts because He set up the kingdom in Luke 17:20-21. [Luke 17:20-21, “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “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 behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”]
So having said all that what’s the conclusion of the matter here? The NIV and the NCV [New Century Version] have it completely and totally wrong when it says the kingdom of God is inside of us or the kingdom of God is within you, completely wrong translation of the Scripture. That’s why you have to be very careful about what Bible version you’re using. The NIV, some of you might be NIV positive, what is the NIV? The NIV is a paraphrase, see that? What’s a paraphrase? It’s sort of a general summary of the teachings of the Bible. Am I against all uses of the NIV? Not necessarily because sometimes you want to read the Bible and get kind of a devotional understanding, you’ve got to get through the work week, you’re on lunch break and you need that kind of liver quiver to get you through an unhappy day with a mean boss, you know, those kinds of things.
I mean, I get all that, I used to read The Way and different translations of the Bible but I was reading it from a devotional level. And there’s a place for that. What I’m saying is to do the type of detailed study that we’re doing here, trying to figure out what does the Bible say about the kingdom, you don’t use the NIV for that. You’ve got to use the NASB or the NKJV those are my two favorites, because those are English translations that claim to be word for word. They’re not just paraphrasing things. They’re doing careful word for word study. So the deeper you go in your study of God’s Word, like what we’re doing here, trying to flush out the doctrine of the kingdom, I would not use the NIV for that. You use different Bible translations for different purposes.
So I think the NIV and the NCV is completely wrong. I think the NASB has it right when it says, “For behold the kingdom of God is in your midst.” In other words, that generation had an opportunity to do something that no other generation in the history of mankind, up until this point in time and even after this point in time has had the opportunity to do. They had the ability to take Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son, and enthrone Him over the nation on His terms, not their own terms, but on His terms. That was their opportunity. And had they done that the kingdom, as predicted in Isaiah and everywhere else in the Old Testament in a nanosecond would have covered the whole earth.
And the story of the gospels is how that generation turned down that opportunity. And that is the significance of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, because that sermon reveals, not just the politics and the economics, which is what everybody was interested in, it reveals the moral quality of the kingdom. So they wanted the politics but they didn’t want the morals and the righteousness so they turned it down. And consequently this opportunity has been completely taken off the table, because Jesus Christ, the King, is gone, He’s in heaven. And that opportunity will not be re-extended to any generation until after the rapture of the church when that same opportunity will be given to the nation of Israel yet future, in the tribulation. See that?
And as we know from our studies, the nation of Israel always gets it right, not the first time but the second time. We’ve gone through that. And the next time it happens they’re going to get it right, it’s going to take the events of the tribulation to do it, and then the kingdom of God will come. So I’ll try to unpack that next week, sort of as a way to better understand Luke 17:20-21. So I think I’ll stop talking at this point.