The Coming Kingdom 041Acts 17:11 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 11, 2018 • The Coming Kingdom
The Coming Kingdom
4-11-18 Acts 17:11 Lesson 41
Let’s open our Bibles to the Book of Acts, chapter 17, verse 11. And we’re kind of at a transitional point in the study that we’ve been doing on the kingdom. Really what we’ve done thus far in the study is we started in Genesis and gone all the way through the very end of the Book of Revelation to explain what the Bible says about the doctrine of the kingdom. And basically what we’ve learned, in a nutshell, is that the kingdom today is in a state of, not cancellation but postponement. The kingdom program is yet future and God is doing something very authentic to the church but it’s not the kingdom.
The last time we talked about number 18 where we saw that the actual view that we’re presenting was what the early church believed for its first few centuries. So for 200 years after the apostles left the earth the early church fathers believed in a future kingdom. And it really wasn’t until the church fathers drifted into, around the fourth century, allegorical interpretation that they started to formulate a kingdom now theology.
And from there, moving into part two, which we’re going to try to finish tonight, Lord willing, and now that we’ve looked at what does the Bible say about the kingdom what is the main couple of problems with the idea that people articulate all the time today that we’re in the kingdom now? Kingdom now theology, which is really the dominate buzzword today, the kingdom this, kingdom that, everybody’s growing the kingdom, building the kingdom, bringing in the kingdom. So I’ve used this quote, a quote from within the book from Dallas Willard, just as an example, he wrote a book called The Divine Conspiracy, and I just saw this and I wanted to use it as sort of an example of how people view the kingdom.
He says, “Sometimes the places where God’s effective or actual rule is not yet carried out, and His will is not yet done, lie within the lives and little kingdoms of those who truly have been invaded by the eternal kind of life itself‒those who really do belong to Christ because His life is already present and growing within them. The ‘interior castle’ of the human soul, as Teresa of Avila called it has many rooms, and they are slowly occupied by God, allowing us time and room to grow. That is a crucial aspect of the conspiracy.” That’s where he gets the title, The Divine Conspiracy, for his book. “But even this does not detract from the reality of the kingdom among us.’ Nor does it destroy the choice that all have to accept it and bring their life increasingly into it.” [Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, pg. 30]
So really what’s popular today is this idea that well, don’t get me involved with a biblical study of the kingdom and what the future says. The kingdom is inside all of us. You know, Jesus is reigning in our hearts sort of mindset. And this kind of is what passes today in Christianity for the concept of the kingdom. Now when people argue this what I want to communicate to you tonight, Lord willing, is that there’s two main problems with what they’re doing.
Problem number 1, the first problem is that the kingdom in the Old Testament, and we’ve gone through all the verses, I think we’re on lesson 41, the kingdom in the Old Testament is always earthly over a repentant Israel. And we’ve talked about the earthly dimensions, passages like Genesis 15:18-21, over repentant Israel, Ezekiel 36-37, and only when that comes into existence will you have the kingdom on planet earth. It’s not just for Israel, it’s through Israel to the world. And as we’ve tried to carefully document, unless you have that (a repentant Israel) you can’t have the kingdom of God present unless you can look over into the Middle East and see Jesus reigning on a literal throne of David in Jerusalem, over a world that’s taken their swords and beaten them into plowshares. Unless all of that criteria is satisfied you can’t have the kingdom.
So therefore if you’re in the business of trying to communicate to people (like Dallas Willard and other) that we’re in the kingdom now and Jesus is reigning in our hearts and all of these kinds of things, what you have to do is you have to change… and that’s a key word here, CHANGE, you have to change the definition for what the Old Testament says concerning the kingdom; it has to be changed.
I gave you this quote last time by Renald Showers, who I think is on the right side of this whole kingdom discussion, and he writes this, he is a longtime minister or theologian with Friends of Israel. And by the way, I was very happy that they ordered 500 copies of my book, Friends of Israel and they’re promoting it in their magazine. I didn’t even know that was going on, someone had to tell me about that, so I just say praise God! So they apparently like what I wrote, I’m glad somebody out there does.
So in the book I quote Renald Showers and he says this: “Several items of Scripture reveal that no form of the future Kingdom of God foretold in the Old Testament will be established before the Second Coming of Christ. . . .” So you’re not going to have the kingdom until Jesus returns and sets it up is what he’s saying. “No Old Testament revelation concerning the future Kingdom of God indicated that the Kingdom would consist of two forms, one spiritual and the other political, established at two different points of time in the future.” [Renald Showers, “Critique of Progressive Dispensationalism,” Friends of Israel National Conference (June 2003), 5.]
So you go through the Old Testament and there’s nothing that says well, you’re going to get a spiritual form of the kingdom first and then you’re go get the GEO political kingdom through Israel second. To make that work you have to change, which is a key word, you have to change what the Old Testament says. You have to come up with an interpretation of the New Testament which changes the Old Testament.
Now Arnold Fruchtenbaum, who many of you know or at least you’re familiar with his work, a Hebrew Christian scholar, calls this out for what it is. He says, “It is incorrect to say that the Old Testament should be interpreted by the New Testament because if that is the case, the Old Testament had no meaning and seemed to be irrelevant to the ones to whom it was spoken. On the contrary, the validity of the New Testament is seen by how it conforms to what was already revealed in the Old Testament.” So if I’m coming up with some interpretation of the New Testament that contradicts the Old Testament then I have to rethink my interpretation because God, as I’m going to show you tonight, can’t lie, it’s impossible! And he goes on and says, “The Book of Mormon and other books by cultic groups fail to stand because they contradict the New Testament.”
So the reason why we would reject the Jehovah Witness’s doctrine, Mormon doctrine, because you can look at the canon of Scripture and you can compare their writings to the canon of Scripture and see obvious contradictions. The Jehovah’s witnesses basically teach that Jesus is a created being; that would contradict the Scripture, wouldn’t it. The Mormons have many other contradictions; they don’t believe in the Trinity for example, they have many other contradictions with the closed canon of Scripture. So basically we can’t accept Mormonism, we can’t accept Jehovah Witness doctrine because it contradicts what God has said. And what Fruchtenbaum is saying is in the same way, in the same vein you can’t accept an interpretation of the New Testament that contradicts the Old Testament because God can’t contradict Himself. And what I’m going to show you is all of these “kingdom now” theologians are coming up with interpretations and definitions that go against what God has plainly revealed in the Old Testament.
So Fruchtenbaum goes on and he says, “By the same token, if the New Testament contradicts the Old Testament, it cannot stand. It is one thing to see fulfillment in the New Testament, but it is quite another to see the New Testament so totally reinterpret the Old Testament that what the Old Testament says carries no meaning at all.” [Arnold Fruchtenbaum, “Israel’s Right to the Promised Land,” 17–18, accessed March 9, 2013, http://www.pre-trib.org.com.]
And yet this is what kingdom now theology does; it says don’t worry about that Old Testament stuff, pay attention to our interpretation of the New Testament. And I gave you a couple of examples of this last time. One is by Colin Chapman who wrote a book called Whose Promised Land, and he is a big kingdom now theologian and he says: “When the New Testament writers like John had seen the significance of the land and the nation in the context of the kingdom of God which had come into being in Jesus of Nazareth, they ceased to look forward to a literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies of a return to the land and a restoration of a Jewish state.” So what basically he’s saying here is all that information in the Old Testament about a return of the Jews to the land and Jesus ruling over Jerusalem and over the world in a kingdom, all that got cancelled. That’s what he’s saying, all of that is rewritten. And he says, “The one and only fulfillment of all promises and prophecies was already there before their eyes in the person of Jesus. The way they interpreted the Old Testament should be the norm for the Christian interpretation of the Old Testament today.” [Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Conflict over Israel and Palestine (Oxford, England: Lion, 2015), 262.]
He’s basically saying Jesus came along and cancelled the Old Testament, or rewrote it. Now I don’t think Jesus did that but he thinks Jesus did that. And if Jesus and the apostles did that then we have the right to do it too. And this is how kingdom now theology works. The New Testament changes the Old Testament.
I also gave you this quote from Naim Ateek, who’s very involved with the Christ at the Checkpoint conferences. Are you all familiar with Christ at the Checkpoint conferences? They meet in Bethlehem, almost yearly, and they put on these conferences, basically about why Israel is the oppressor. You know, Israel is the bad guy, after all, Israel built this security wall and you can’t get in and out of the country unless people pass through the wall, and after all, it was the Nazi’s that built walls, that kind of mindset. Well, the reason they built a wall is there’s people trying to get into the country to blow them up periodically. Amen! There’s a reason they put the wall up but they make it sound like Israel, by putting up the wall and making people pass through a gate barrier to get into their country is somehow doing something oppressive. So this is the mindset of Christ at the Checkpoint. And all of these guys congregate there, I think almost every year and they give talks and things about how Israel is the bad guy. I call it the transforming the David into Goliath syndrome. I should have brought in my map, Israel is just a little speck on the in comparison to Islamic dictatorships. And Israel is about the size of Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, I mean, just a little tiny dot in a sea of Islamic dictatorships and theocracies, surviving for her life in the Middle East, and yet Israel is somehow the bully. So they’ve taken David and made him into Goliath. It’s propaganda, that’s what it is. Hank Hanegraaff, The Bible Answer Man, is a typical participant at this Christ at the Checkpoint conference.
So Naim Ateek, who basically has a theology that Israel is written out completely because the New Testament rewrites the Old Testament, says, “The use of this “new” hermeneutic,” now hermeneutic is method of interpretation, that’s what the word “hermeneutic” means. “This use of this new hermeneutic is accessible to all Christians, even to the simple of faith. . . . The constant application of this hermeneutic, therefore, is the best key for Christians to interpreting and understanding the biblical message. Furthermore, this theological understanding can determine the validity and authority of the Scriptures for the life of the Christian. It is grounded in the knowledge and love of God as revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The revelation of God, God’s nature, purpose, and will as revealed in Christ, becomes the criterion by which Christians can measure the validity and authority of the biblical message for their life.”
Did you guys know that, that you can go through the Bible and determine which ones are valid for today? I didn’t know I had that freedom. According to Naim Ateek I have that freedom. Well, how does it work.? He says, “When confronted with a difficult passage in the Bible . . .” now in his mind what’s a difficult passage? Anything that contradicts kingdom now anti-Israel theology, that’s a difficult passage, which would include the whole Old Testament. Right. See, this gentleman has a problem, it’s called the whole Old Testament.
“…which calls for a future kingdom in the land of Israel with Jesus on David’s throne reigning over the whole earth.” He’s got to get rid of that. So he’s got to come up with a hermeneutic or a method of interpretation to just take out liquid paper and write all those passages out of the Bible. “When confronted with a difficult passage in the Bible . . . one needs to ask such simple questions as: Is the way I am hearing this the way I have come to know God in Christ? Does this fit the picture I have of God that Jesus has revealed to me? Does it match the character of God whom I have come to know through Christ? If it does, then that passage is valid and authoritative. If not, then I cannot accept its validity or authority.” [Naim Ateek, Justice, and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation (Maryknoll, NY: Ortis, 1990), 81–82.]
So basically what he’s saying is I’m going to come up with my definition of who Jesus is. In his mind Jesus doesn’t care about land, He doesn’t really care about the Jews, He doesn’t care about the kingdom. In fact, people like this will tell you that Jesus was Palestinian. When Anne and myself, on an Israel trip that we went on with Dr. Randy Price a couple of years ago, we’re coming out of Bethlehem, which as you know is the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and you probably know this also, that Bethlehem is controlled by the Palestinian authority, it was part of one of those deals where the Jews gave that territory up in exchange for the promise of peace which to me is you just gave away a piece, not p-e-a-c-e, but p-i-e-c-e of God’s land. But anyway, you come out of Bethlehem and… you remember this Anne, we were greeted with a giant sign, it was like a poster hanging on a wall and it was positioned in a way where everybody had to look at it as you were leaving, and basically it read something to this extent: Welcome to Bethlehem, we hope you enjoyed your stay here to the place where Jesus was born, Jesus, the first Palestinian, and we were the first to greet Him here. We were the first Palestinians to greet Him and Jesus was a Palestinian.
Well, I’m sorry, but my Bible, Matthew chapter 1 tells me that Jesus is connected genealogically to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In fact, the name “Palestine” wasn’t even used until after the time of Christ. The first time it was used was by Emperor Hadrian, if I remember right around the second century and this is after the Romans had driven the Jews out of the land and they wanted to pretend like the Jews had never lived there, sort of like what the Muslims want to do today. And they came up with this name for it, not Israel, which is the biblical name for it. When you refer to Israel you refer to it as the land of Israel; that’s the biblical definition. You’ll find that in Matthew 2:21 the land of Israel. [Matthew 2:21, “So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.”] You don’t call it Palestine.
So where did this title “Palestine” come from? It came from Emperor Hadrian in the second century after the Jews had been driven out by the Romans and he wanted to pretend like the people of Israel were never there. So he de-Judaized the land and he humiliated the Jewish people by calling it after their ancient enemies, the Philistines, because Philistine sounds like what? Palestine! And so every time a Christian uses the word “Palestine” without even knowing it they’re using an anti-Semitic slur; they’re using an anti-Jewish word. A lot of times we use vocabulary and some of our study Bibles, I love the Ryrie Study Bible but he’ll even sometimes use the word Palestine. Palestine is a non-biblical word. The land properly called is the land of Israel, Matthew 2:21. [Matthew 2:21, “So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.”]
So anyway, Naim Ateek comes up with this definition of who Jesus is, He wasn’t Jewish, He was Palestinian and He didn’t care about land and a future kingdom because He ushered in the kingdom now. So therefore that becomes the grid through which He reads the Old Testament. See that? And anything that doesn’t fit his grid in his mind he has the ability to say well, that passage over there that talks about a land of the Jews, that’s not a valid passage. So it’s all rewritten or reinterpreted or re-filtered through a Jesus that he has made up. This is what they specialize in at this Christ at the Checkpoint conferences. This is classic kingdom now theology . But you’ll notice that both the Colin Chapman and with the Naim Ateek quote the name of the game is the New Testament, at least their interpretation of it, changes the Old Testament. And wave a magic wand and all of these prophecies for Israel’s future disappear [snaps his fingers] just like that!
And then we have in my Alma Mater what’s called progressive dispensationalism. And they are also arguing that we’re in the kingdom now. That’s a picture there on the screen of my professor, Dr. Darrell Bock, sometimes you’ll see him on TV defending the resurrection and things like that, the historicity of Jesus. And I’m a fan of his when he’s in that lane, when he’s in that area. But what you have to understand is he is a progenitor of something that started in the 90’s called progressive dispensationalism. Progressive dispensationalism, to my mind, is an outworking of postmodernism. Postmodernism says nobody has the truth; the dispensationalist don’t have the truth, the kingdom now theologians don’t have the truth, so truth is in the middle. And that’s postmodernism; they’re always trying to pursue what I call middle ground mania. They’re always trying to find areas where two sides of a theological debate agree with each other. And once you find that area of agreement then that becomes the new truth. See that.
So you have synthesis, thesis, antithesis (two opposites) and where is the truth? It’s the synthesis in the middle somewhere. And by the way, this is how people kick the ball forward on practically every issue, abortion, gun control, you name the issue, someone will stand in one area with a thesis, let’s take this one, the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, the individual right, which I believe is what our Founding Fathers gave us. And then someone else will come along with an antithesis and say no, Americans should not keep and bear arms. So what they come up with is synthesis, in the middle, that yeah, we believe in the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms but it’s very regulated, it’s very restricted. So what have they done? They’ve kicked the ball down the road. See that? And everybody is fine with that solution until the next round of thesis/antithesis/synthesis happens, then the goal post gets pushed even further. Then the next round comes, thesis/antithesis/synthesis and the goal post is moved even further. And over the process of time your Second Amendment rights have disappeared, whereas you thought all along the goal was to find truth in the middle but that was never the goal. The goal was to keep pushing the goalpost further and further and further until the left finally gets what they wanted, a complete outlaw of the private use of firearms in America.
Now I’m not trying to get into politics, I’m just trying to give you an example of how this is. And this essentially is what Darrell Bock and progressive dispensationalists have done. They said well one camp says Jesus is not reigning on David’s throne now and the kingdom is yet future. Another camp says well, Jesus is reigning on David’s throne now spiritually in heaven and we’re in the kingdom now. So thesis/antithesis, let’s find a middle ground synthesis, middle ground mania—I know, we’ll come up with progressive dispensationalism, which is this idea of already but not yet! Yes, Jesus is reigning on David’s throne now in heaven, oh but don’t worry, don’t worry, there’s still going to be a future earthly kingdom. See that? And this is what’s called already not yet view of the kingdom.
Now remember what Renald Showers said? Second sentence there after the ellipsis? “No Old Testament revelation concerning the future kingdom of God indicated that the kingdom would consist of two forms, one spiritual and the other political, established at two different points of time in the future.” This idea of a present spiritual form of the kingdom in any form is not found in the Old Testament. And yet he’s been able to introduce this doctrine as a middle ground between the two camps, a synthesis between the two camps through thesis, antithesis, synthesis and it fits with postmodern epistemology; epistemology is how do we know what we know? Postmodern epistemology says nobody has the truth so where do you find truth? It’s where the two camps agree on something; that becomes the new truth. See that?
And once you get the community, typically of scholars, to all agree on something that becomes the new truth. And everybody is fine with it until the next generation comes and we go through the same process again, thesis, antithesis, synthesis and what just happened? We just moved further into replacement theology. And then within a generation or two or three the church is back right into replacement theology and they don’t even know what happened. See that? This is what Darrell Bock has done, a very intelligent man, you could dance intellectual rings around a lot of people, myself included, he looked at me, I think, when I was there at Dallas Seminary as sort of a long-term project. You know, he was always a very winsome, very engaging, very intelligent guy but really into this process of dialogue, always trying to get me to… he knew what I believed for whatever reason, always trying to get me to shift just a little bit and if he could get me to shift through the process of dialogue just a little bit then he’s basically, in his mind, I think he’s largely winning.
But he writes this, this is what’s called complimentary hermeneutics: “…the New Testament does introduce change and advance;” now the key word there is “change.” Every kingdom now theologian you ever deal with is always trying to tell you that the New Testament changes the Old. “… the New Testament does introduce change and advance; it does not merely repeat Old Testament revelation. In making complementary” what’s the next word? “additions, however, it does not jettison Old Testament promises. The enhancement” that’s another key word, “is not at the expense of the original promise.” [Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock, “Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: Assessment and Dialogue,” in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 392–93.]
And this is why you can’t accuse Darrell Bock of doing the same thing that Naim Ateek is doing or what Colin Chapman is doing. Colin Chapman and Naim Ateek are basically saying the New Testament has completely written the Old Testament, that’s how they get their kingdom now theology to work. Darrell Bock is much more clever than that, he basically in the whole argument is how does the New Testament use Old Testament citations? And there are many, many times when the New Testament will quote the Old Testament. Have you noticed that? It happens many, many times, I can just give you one example.
You’re in Acts 17, if you go back to Acts 15 and if you look at verses 15-18, this is the debate about the early church and should the early church require saved Gentiles to convert to Judaism to join the church; very early on in the Book of Acts it says, and I believe it’s James, the half-brother of Christ speaking, it says, Acts 15:15, “With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,  ‘AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT.  SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,  SAYS THE LORD, WHO MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM LONG AGO.”
Now as a traditional dispensationalist how do I interpret this passage? This is quoting Amos 9:11-15 in Acts 15; that’s what’s going on. [Amos 9:11-15, “In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old;  That they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,” declares the LORD who does this.  “Behold, 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.  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.”]
Amos 9, end of the chapter is being quoted in Acts 15. How do I interpret that? Well, here’s my interpretation: the early church really can’t figure out whether saved Gentiles have to convert to Judaism to join the church so there wasn’t a direct word from the Lord so they pulled out the Old Testament, which was the only Bible they had at the time, Hebrew Bible, and they read this passage about the millennium, which indicates that Gentiles are going to be full participants in the millennial kingdom. And they reasoned to themselves, they had to reason because there wasn’t a direct word from the Lord on this, that if the Gentiles are going to be full participants in the millennial kingdom then let’s let them in now as full participants in the age of the church. So it would be an argument from analogy. See that?
So what have I just done there? I have come up with an interpretation of how the New Testament uses the Old respecting the original context of the Old Testament. See that? So in the interpretation I just gave you the New Testament never changed the Old Testament. It never rewrote it, it never added what he calls complimentary editions, it never did any enhancement. Now Darrell Bock doesn’t like that, he calls that… the word he uses or the terminology he uses to describe this is flat interpretation which is kind of a condescending term, isn’t it. How would you like it to be said well, you’re involved in flat interpretation. That kind of sounds like flat earth to me. So how does he interpret it? Oh, you see, the New Testament comes along and adds a layer of meaning that the Old Testament writers never saw. And from this passage this is how he gets Jesus in a kingdom now reigning on David’s throne in an already sense. The whole thing here is a battle of hermeneutics. Now he’s very clear, oh don’t worry, Amos 9:11-15 is still going to be fulfilled one day in an earthly kingdom, but for the time being He’s reigning on David’s throne because when James, in Acts 15 quotes Amos 9 he just filled the sails with new wind, new meaning, new understanding.
And from examples like this he gets this idea that Jesus is now reigning on David’s throne in an already sense. Whereas I’m looking at the exact same passage, the exact same citations and I’m not seeing that because Darrell Bock approaches it through the lens of complimentary hermeneutics; I approach it through the lens of traditional hermeneutics. So the whole name of the game is complimentary hermeneutics. And I asked him once, if I reject complimentary hermeneutics can I be a progressive dispensationalist? Can I believe what you believe that we’re in an already phase of the kingdom. He said no you couldn’t believe that. His whole argument is based on this invention that he’s come up with called complimentary hermeneutics. See that?
Now why is that every single generation at Dallas Seminary never saw this? John Walvoord never saw this. Charles Ryrie never saw this. Dwight Pentecost never saw this. But suddenly Darrell Bock goes to get some education in Europe, which is part of the problem, because when you send your best and your brightest to Europe for theological education are they sitting under believers or unbelievers? Unbelievers! And then you come back thinking sort of like an unbeliever, and maybe you don’t believe everything unbelievers have taught you but you can’t tell me that an intensive three, four years, however many years you spend over there, doesn’t affect you somehow. And this is how institution after institution after institution has toppled formerly evangelical schools, because we bought into this idea that to gain acceptance and credibility in the scholarly world we have to send our best and our brightest to sit under unbelievers to be qualified to teach believers.
Now can you all find that passage for me in the Bible, thus saith the Lord, Take your best and brightest and send them over and sit under unbelievers to be qualified to teach believers? There’s no biblical authority for that at all but that’s the academic accreditation model that we have bought into. So this is why Darrell Bock is seeing things that prior generations never saw. Now he’s not saying there won’t be a future kingdom; his is very different from… not too different than Ateek or Chapman but it’s still this idea that the New Testament changes the Old Testament in some respect.
So anytime someone comes along and tells you that the New Testament is changing the Old Testament that should send up warning signals; warning lights should be going off in your mind. So this is how this game is played. And what I want to show you tonight if time permits is three problems with that.
The first problem is this: can God lie? What do you think? He CANNOT lie! People say are there certain things God can’t do? Can God make a rock so big that He can’t move it? No He can’t, because He’s sovereign over His creation. There are some things God can’t do; if God did those things it would contradict who He is. One of the things He cannot do is lie, Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie.” Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18 both indicate it’s impossible for God to lie. [Titus 1:2, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Hebrews 6:18, “so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”]
So therefore everything that God has revealed in the Old Testament concerning the kingdom must come to pass. And if somebody is saying well, I think what happened is Jesus changed the Old Testament. I think what happened is Jesus added complimentary additions to the Old Testament. I think what happened is that Jesus rewrote the Old Testament, Jesus rejected the Old Testament, whatever buzzword you want to use you ultimately turn God into a liar. God has communicated in a way that everyone can understand and when you go through the Old Testament it’s very clear that there’s going to be a future kingdom on planet earth. Amen! So when you see the word “change” automatically you think that’s a problem.
The second issue: truth is determined by its conformity to the Old Testament. Truth is determined by its conformity to the Old Testament! Truth is always determined by whether it conforms to what God has already revealed. God cannot say something on Monday and say something completely different on Tuesday. And this is how you determine if things you’re hearing are accurate or not. Now this is a principle taught in both Old Testament and New Testament.
Take a look, if you could, back into the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 13:1-5. This is Moses’ warnings as the nation is about ready to enter Canaan and Moses says this: “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,” oooh, look at this.  “and the sign or the wonder comes true,” in other words, they perform a miracle, “concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’  you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” [4, “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.  But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.”]
He’s basically saying that’s how you determine truth; if a prophet comes along and even performs a miracle but says let’s follow other gods you know that that prophet is a false prophet because he just articulates something that contradicted what God said earlier. What are the first two commandments in the Decalogue to Israel? No Gods before me, no graven images.
[Exodus 20:1-17, “Then God spoke all these words, saying,  “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of]slavery.  You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,  but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.  You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who]stays with you.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.  Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.  You shall not murder.  You shall not commit adultery.  You shall not steal.  You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”]
Was God pretty clear on that in the Book of Exodus? I think so! So if a false prophet comes along, even performs a miracle and says let’s go follow other gods, you know that that prophet is false because they just contradicted what God originally said. It’s impossible for God to lie. [Hebrews 6:17, “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,  so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie….”]
It’s impossible for Him to say something one day and something different on another day. So if someone is coming up with a definition of the kingdom which contradicts everything you know in the Old Testament, you know that their interpretation of the New Testament can’t be accurate. See that? Because truth is determined by its conformity to prior Scripture. I had you open initially to the Book of Acts, let’s go to the Book of Acts, chapter 17 and verse 11. These are the Bereans. It says this, “Now these” that’s the Bereans “were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness,” in other words, they didn’t oppose necessarily what they were hearing, but what does it say, “examining the” what? “Scriptures” how frequently? “daily to see whether these things were so.” Paul came up revealing doctrine.
Now how in the world were they ever to tell that what Paul was saying was true or not? They had the Scriptures, in this case Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament and they were looking for contradictions. Is Paul here contradicting what God has already said. And in fact Luke, in the Book of Acts, commends the Bereans for doing this. In fact, they’re even more noble than other groups, like the Thessalonians who weren’t doing this. [Acts 17:11, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”] Now how could you do this unless truth is determined by prior revelation?
How about the Book of Galatians, chapter 1, let’s look at that real fast. It talks about a false gospel. How do you determine a true gospel from a false gospel? Paul says, [Galatians 1:8} “But even if we” that’s an apostle, “or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!”  “As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”
So if an angel shows up at your bedside tonight, a beautiful angel, and begins to articulate to you doctrine… I believe an angel showed up to a young man named Joseph Smith one day, and gave him the doctrines of Mormonism; I believe an angel, at least a fallen angel posing as an angel of light, showed up to a young man named Mohammed, even taking the name Gabriel, which is a biblical name, isn’t it, and gave him the doctrines of Islam. Now if that happens to you tonight how in the world are you able to tell if it’s true or if it’s false. You can’t tell based on the experience because the experience is very real. Satan himself can give experiences, can’t he? I mean, can’t Satan perform signs and wonders? Can’t he cause angelic appearances? So how would ever be able to tell? The only way you could tell if it’s true or if it’s not true is does it conform to prior revelation. Paul says if it contradicts what I’ve already told you about the gospel then it’s to be accursed. See that? Truth is determined by prior revelation. This is a basic principle of God’s Word.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:19-:21, “Do not quench the Spirit;  do not despise prophetic utterances.  But examine” what? “everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;” Now this was in the early church where there very real prophets and extra biblical sort of prophetic gifts happening and Paul, the apostle says don’t quench the Spirit, don’t despise these prophetic utterances but examine it, examine what you’re hearing because truth is determined by what? Conformity to prior revelation. You have to examine it by what God has already said. If it’s a ball place contradiction then it can’t be from God because God cannot lie. Do you see that?
Look at 1 Corinthians 14:29, same circumstance in the early church, and what does it say here? “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others” what? “pass judgment.” A prophet speaks, you don’t just believe it’s true just because it’s a prophet, you “pass judgment.” How do you “pass judgment”? You determine it’s true by does it contradict prior revelation, because God cannot lie.
You say well here at Sugar Land Bible Church we really don’t have prophets, do we? We have people that think they’re prophets; in a certain sense I’m a prophet, aren’t I? Aren’t I a proclaimer of truth. How do you know what I’m saying is true? I mean, some of you come here, you sort of know me, some of you don’t, how do you know I’m not lying through my teeth to you? How do you know I’m not making mistakes? How would you ever determine that? You have the completed canon of Scripture which gives you the ability to listen to everything that I say and determine if it’s true or its false because you’re looking for contradictions to prior revelation. Truth is determined by its conformity to prior revelation.
Look at 1 John 4:1, and what does John say: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but” what? “test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” well how come John, “because” a couple of false prophets, it doesn’t say that does it, “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” I mean, there are false prophets outside the church, there are false prophets inside the church, there are all kinds of hucksters that stand up in the name of God claiming that they’re some kind of prophet, wanting to give you spiritual truth.
How in the world do you determine what is true and what’s not? Truth is determined by its conformity to what? Prior revelation, because God can’t lie. A lot of people will go on and on about their dreams or their experiences; I’m not denying that these experiences aren’t even real but here’s the issue—have you tested the Spirit? That’s a biblical command. NEVER are you called ever to ascertain what is true by some sort of dream or some sort of revelation or some sort of experience, or even based on a manmade sermon. The biblical responsibility of the Christian is to test it by God’s Word because truth is determined by what? Conformity to prior revelation.
Look at Revelation 2:2, Jesus is speaking here to the church at Ephesus, “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the” what? “test those who call themselves apostles,” you mean not everybody who claims to be an apostle is an authentic apostle? Is that what you’re saying? Jesus is saying that’s exactly what I’m saying. “…who call themselves apostles and they are not, and you found them to be liars.”
Now a bunch of folks came into Ephesus saying I’m an apostle, I’m an apostle, I’m an apostle, listen to me, listen to me, and the folks there at Ephesus said not so fast. They tested them and because the message of these “apostles” was contradicting prior revelation they found that these apostles were false and were liars. And you know what Jesus says to the church at Ephesus? He says thumbs up! He’s commending them here. He doesn’t say you know, you all are so closed minded, you all are so narrow. Jesus doesn’t say that. He commends them for their discernment.
So what’s the point I’m trying to get at? If the Old Testament lays out a definition of the kingdom, which is earthly and involves the nation of Israel and it involves Jesus reigning on David’s throne from a literal Jerusalem, and it lays out all of those things with great clarity what do you do with somebody like Darrell Bock? What do you do with somebody like Naim Ateek? What do you do with somebody like Colin Chapman who basically wants you to almost ignore the Old Testament. And all of a sudden they are coming up with this new definition of the kingdom that seems to contradict everything that we’ve studied in the Old Testament concerning the kingdom. What do you do with that? You test it. You say that interpretation can’t be accurate. Why? Because it contradicts everything that God has said in the Old Testament concerning the kingdom.
Are you following me on this? Because the “kingdom now” crowd can really talk and they can really wow you with a lot of pizzazz about the mystical kingdom is now, Jesus brought in this mystical kingdom, you know, the whole Dallas Willard thing about the rooms inside of us and all these kind of things. And your average person sits and hears that and it sounds so spiritual. I mean, it sounds so good… unless you’ve done the inductive study that we’ve done on what the Old Testament reveals concerning the kingdom and you say to yourself that can’t be an accurate interpretation because it would contradict what the Old Testament says.
One final problem and I’ll probably get back into this next week, is when you look at the word “kingdom” in the New Testament, the Greek word βασιλεία (basileía) kingdom, almost every single time it’s used it puts “kingdom” in the future tense. It doesn’t give you the impression that there’s a spiritual form of the kingdom now. Now that would make sense because that’s how the Old Testament presents the kingdom so why would the New Testament come along and cancel the Old Testament and say we’re in the kingdom now.
Just two quick examples; remember the Lord’s so-called Lord’s prayer. Now we all know that’s not the Lord’s prayer, right. Jesus didn’t pray that because there’s a clause in there that says “forgive us our debts” and I don’t think Jesus had sin in his life. Amen! So it’s better called the disciple’s prayer. But how does that prayer start? “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy name, They kingdom (basileía) come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s praying for the kingdom to arrive on the earth. Why would Jesus teach the disciples to pray for the kingdom to arrive on the earth if they were already in it? Are you with me? And that’s typically how your New Testament is going to deal with the subject of the basileía, the Greek word for kingdom, because the New Testament is not going to contradict what the Old Testament has already presented concerning the kingdom.
Take a look at Acts 14:22, and we’re getting ready to close so hang in there with me, Acts 14:22 it says, this is Paul retracing his steps on missionary journey one in southern Galatia, “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.’” Basileía, and what he’s saying there is if you’re having a lot of problems and struggles in your life that’s normal. “Through many trials we enter the kingdom of God.” Now does that present the kingdom as now? That clearly presents it as future, in the normal course of the life of the child of God as they go through various struggles until the enter the kingdom, yet future.
Acts 14:22 says, “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.’” Thomas Ice says, “If they were in the kingdom, this statement would make no sense.” [Thomas Ice, “Amillennialism,” in The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2004), 20]
If they were in the kingdom the Lord’s prayer wouldn’t make any sense. Now in my book on pages 192-193 I give you every reference to kingdom in the New Testament. And as you walk through those references, and I encourage you to look those up on your own, we may do some of that next time, you’ll notice that the kingdom is always portrayed as yet future. Why does the New Testament portray the kingdom as yet future in its overwhelming number of usages? Because the New Testament is coming up with a definition of the kingdom which matches the Old Testament. And you’ll notice here in Acts 14:22 that the kingdom is not defined, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” What does that mean, “kingdom of God.” There’s no definition. So where do you think I try to go to fill in the gaps? To the Old Testament which spells it out in great detail.
When Jesus said pray “Thy kingdom come” He doesn’t explain what the kingdom is. Where do you think I ought to go to fill in the gaps? The Old Testament which spells it all out in great detail. And that’s why these references keep putting the kingdom into the future because the New Testament is not contradicting the Old Testament.
So there are at least three problems to this spiritual form of the kingdom people are promoting today. Number one, it makes God a liar. Number two, it interprets the kingdom in a way that contradicts what God has already said in the Old Testament. And that can’t be true because truth is always determined by how it conforms to prior Scripture. And then number three, the overwhelming New Testament references put the kingdom into the future because the New Testament is coming up with a definition of the kingdom that doesn’t contradict the Old Testament. I think I’ll stop talking at this point, hoping and praying I didn’t lose everybody tonight.