The Coming Kingdom 045

Andy Woods

The Coming Kingdom

5-9-18    Matthew 6:33                 Lesson 45

Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6 and verse 33.  We’re continuing to move through our study on the Kingdom.  And we’re in chapter 16 of the Book I wrote and I was very happy, Ed just handed this to me, but my book has been featured in Friends of Israel, so praise the Lord, which is something I had prayed for to happen when I wrote it, that it would take root in the thinking of people.  So if you guys can keep praying for that I’d appreciate it.  I was so happy with this advertisement I asked Ed if I could keep it and so he gave it to me.  But the book that I wrote is really not the important book, the Book that God wrote is the important book.  My book just sort of topically organizes the material on the Kingdom.

We have completed part number one, what does the Bible say about the Kingdom and we’ve studied very carefully that the Kingdom was offered and rejected by first century Israel.  And what happened to the Kingdom at that point, it was what?  Postponed!  So we studied that concept very carefully from Genesis to Revelation.  And then we spent a little time talking about the two major problems with saying that we’re in the kingdom now.  If you say we’re in a spiritual form of the kingdom now (as many people are saying) that has two basic problems.  The kingdom is always earthly over a repentant Israel so you change the definition of the kingdom.  And then number two, the kingdom is only going to manifest after a time of tribulation.  That’s the great tribulation and that hasn’t happened yet so how could the kingdom be here.

And from there we started to go through, and this is what we’ve done the last few weeks, New Testament passages that people use over and over again to argue that we are now in the kingdom.  And that’s sort of what the belief that I’m promoting is up against; it’s up against a doctrine called amillennialism which is the dominant view of the church, really going back to the fourth century A.D.   And amillennialists believe that Jesus Christ set up a spiritual form of the kingdom in His first coming.  So there are obviously if that’s true a lot of passages they use from the New Testament and what we’ve been looking at are passages from Christ’s ministry that amillennialists or kingdom now theologians routinely use.

The first three of these we’ve already looked at.  The first one is this belief that the kingdom is at hand, that’s in Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  And we’ve talked about how the expression doesn’t mean that the kingdom is here in the ministry of Jesus or John the Baptist but the kingdom is what?  Near, not here but near.  And had Israel enthroned the King the kingdom conceivably could have come to the earth.  But Israel didn’t do that, she rejected the offer and so the kingdom has been postponed.

And then from there we looked at Matthew 5:3 and verse 10 where Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, says “theirs is the kingdom.”  [Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is     the kingdom of heaven.”  [10]  “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”]  And when we were looking at those verses      I tried to explain that “theirs” is the use of the present tense, not to communicate a present manifestation of the kingdom but rather it’s there to communicate the certainty of the coming kingdom.  In other words it’s so certain the Scripture talks about it in the present tense and I tried to show you that not every present verb in the New Testament means there’s a present reality.  One of the examples we used was 1 John 2:17 which says “the world is passing away,”  which is a present tense verb.  [1 John 2:17, “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”]

Now obviously the world hasn’t passed away yet, because that was written two thousand years ago so why is the present tense very used?  It’s demonstrating that the passing away of this present world is so sure that God could speak of it as a present reality.  It’s not communicating that it’s a  present reality, it’s communicating it’s a certain reality.  And that’s how to understand those verses in Matthew 5:3 and 10 which says “theirs is the kingdom.”

And then from there we went to the statement that Jesus made, number 3 actually, “Thy kingdom come,” which is part of the so-called Lord’s Prayer, better categorized as the disciple’s prayer.  And when you understand that prayer Jesus is not at all saying that the kingdom is here.  What He’s saying is the first three petitions are requests for the kingdom to come, and then the last three petitions are petitions for certain needs to be me in the lives of His people that we have today that we won’t have once the kingdom comes.  So it’s really three requests for the kingdom to come and three needs to be met in the interim.  So obviously if that’s the prayer Jesus was not saying through the expression “thy kingdom come” that they were in the kingdom yet.  That would violate the whole structure of the prayer.   So we move away from that, I think we spent the last couple of weeks on the so-called Lord’s Prayer.

And tonight, if time permits I’d like to cover number four, five and six.  But here is the fourth one that people use over and over again to say that we’re in the kingdom and it’s Matthew 6:33, that’s why I had you open there and this is where Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, tells  us to “seek first” the Kingdom. So notice what Matthew 6:33 says, Jesus says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Now in context what are “all of these things?”  Well, He had been talking about the problem that we have called anxiety.  Anybody ever suffer from that, worry, anxiety?  And the things that we suffer from are basically the necessities of life, what we’re worried about are the necessities of life going to be met.  So we’re worried about what are we going to drink, what are we going to eat, what are we going to wear, those sorts of things.  And Jesus says why are you worried about that, doesn’t God take care of the animals, doesn’t He take care of the flowers of the field?  If He takes care of them certainly He’ll take care of you since you are His child.  I mean, He already gave you the greater gift, His Son and His death and His resurrection on our behalf and if He dealt with the issue in your life, which is a greater thing, certainly He’ll take care of the lesser things.  Right.

So in that context He tells His people to not seek these material things but to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all of these” other things will sort of take care of themselves. And just as a way of personal testimony I can completely testify in my life that’s exactly how God has worked.  I was worried many times about a career and where am I going to live and how much money am I going to make and am I going to have enough money to retire and I’ve got to put my kids through college and all of these kinds of things… “my “kids” I only have one.

And so these things sort of preoccupy us and what you discover is you just sort of put the Lord first, you don’t really know how everything is going to work out materially but what you discover is when you put the Lord first and you try to live out His value system it is very interesting that all of these material things that we’re so preoccupied with have a way of sort of taking care of themselves.  Has anybody else experienced that in their life?  That’s sort of how the Lord works and the devil wants to get the cart before the horse, he wants us to get all worried about all these other things and suddenly we’re not worrying about the kingdom any more.

But having said all the when He says “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all of these things will be added to you” what does He mean there when He says “seek first His kingdom”?   An awful lot of people will tell you that  what He’s saying there is we need to bring in the kingdom or live out the kingdom.  And I don’t think that’s what He’s saying at all.  You’ll notice here that the word “kingdom” is undefined, it’s the Greek word basileia, and since it is undefined where do you think we ought to go to get a definition of the kingdom?  The Old Testament, and we spent forty plus lessons filling that out, haven’t we?

So the kingdom,  you can’t just come into this word and unload any meaning you want,  your church or your Sunday School class, you have to load into it how the Old Testament has already developed the word.  So as I’ve tried to explain Matthew was the first gospel chronologically and therefore the only other books that had been written prior to Matthew’s Gospel would be what we call Tanach, or Hebrew Bible.   You might be familiar with that term, Tanach, another word for it is Old Testament, TNK, that’s what Tanach means, those are the three major divisions of Hebrew Bible; T stands for Torah, which means the Law, N stands for Nabim, the “im” ending means plurality in Hebrew; it’s sort of like how we use the word “s” after a noun in English, we’re talking about plurality.  So Nabim means prophets.  And K means Ketuvim or writings  and those were the three major divisions of Hebrew Bible, Law, Prophets and Writings.

And so the expectation of Jesus or Yeshua as He is speaking to Hebrews at this time in the Sermon on the Mount is when He throws out the word “kingdom” He is expecting them to fill into that word everything that Tanach or Hebrew Bible or what we call the Old Testament has revealed about the subject of the kingdom.  And if that’s what’s happening here there’s no way you could say that He’s arguing for a spiritual form of the kingdom because the kingdom is never developed that way, it’s always earthly.  Certainly it has a moral quality but it’s always earthly; it’s a time period when they’ll beat their swords into plowshares and the world will be governed from the city of Jerusalem.

So when Jesus says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” He’s not saying bring in the kingdom or you’re in a spiritual form of the kingdom today.  In fact, if He had said that in front of this audience they would have thought you’re crazy for even thinking that because that’s not how Tanach or Hebrew Bible develops the doctrine of the kingdom, as we’ve diligently studied.

So to explain the kingdom we’ve got to go into the Old Testament and we’ve already done that, we know what the kingdom is based on the Old Testament.  And we also have to look at context, right?  What are the three rules of real estate?  Location, location, location!  What are the three rules of Bible study?  Context, context, context!   Now would you all agree with me on this that Mathew 6:33, “Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” would you agree that that verse is preceded by Matthew 6:9-13?  I mean, I think that’s a fair statement, that Matthew 6:9-13 would come before Matthew 6:33.  Right? Amen!  Okay.  And what did we just study in Matthew 6:9-13?  The so-called Lord’s Prayer.  And as we have explained in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus never said you’re in the kingdom now.  What He said is you’re to request for the kingdom to come in three petitions, and until the kingdom comes you have three needs, one physical, two spiritual and you’re to pray for those needs to be met and when the kingdom comes  you won’t have to pray any of that prayer anymore because the kingdom will be here and those needs will be satisfied.

So since that comes before Matthew 6:33 it’s completely unlikely that Jesus would have jumped ship or switched horses in midstream and then all of a sudden started talking about a concept that the audience would have no familiarity with.  Everything in Tanach and everything in the so called Lord’s Prayer, and the future kingdom and so therefore we need to interpret verse 33 that way.  He’s not saying  you’re in the kingdom; what He’s saying is prioritize your life according to the values of the coming kingdom.  That’s what He’s saying.

So what is Jesus saying then in Matthew 6:33?  “Seek  ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”  What He’s saying is God’s people need to prioritize their lives, not according to the value system of the devil’s world but according to the value system of the coming kingdom.  So as you live your life as a believer you try to organize your life not according to the value system of  this world but you try to organize it according to the value system of the future world, the kingdom that’s coming to the earth.  And so we are to prioritize our lives according to the values of the coming kingdom while living in Satan’s domain, while the kingdom is in a state of abeyance or postponement.

And if we, as the people of God do that then the material things, the promises, the material things, what you’re going to eat, what you’re going to drink, what you’re going to wear, where you’re going to work, where you’re going to live, those other little details of life will sort of have a way of working themselves out naturally.  So when Jesus says, “Seek  ye first the kingdom… and His righteousness,” He’s not saying bring in the kingdom.  What He’s saying is organize your life according to the value system of the future kingdom, and the things of this life will have a way of working themselves out.

And this is the great benefit of studying the future.  How would you ever know what God’s priorities are unless you study what God’s Word reveals about the future.  When you study Bible prophecy, that section of the Bible that is yet to come, what you see very clearly are the things that God values.  And when  you see the things that God values you look at your own life and you say wow, I’m kind of misprioritized, I’ve got too much effort and energy over here when God says what I’m pouring myself into is not an important issue, I ought to pour myself into something else. And you would never have that vantage point unless you study the future.  Do you see that?

You can’t learn this by studying the world; the world that we’re living in, Satan’s world, has its own value system.  You can never learn the value system of God unless you study what His Word reveals about the future.  For example, over in 2 Peter 3:10-11  you have a tremendous statement about the future.  Peter says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and all its works will be burned up.  [11] Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way,” look at the next line there, “what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.”  So if I understand that the future program of God is to take this world and take a blowtorch to it (in essence) and destroy it all, then why am I so wrapped up in worldly things?  I mean, why am I so worried about how immaculate my lawn is, why do I get so upset when the guy next to me in the parking lot opens his door and puts a ding in my car door, brand new car, I’ve got a ding in my car door and so I’m all upset, I want to exchange numbers and all this stuff, I want to get all worked up about it, when in reality the car is going to burn, the lawn is going to burn.

And what you discover in the prophetic Word of God is there’s two things that are going to make it from this life into the next; only two things are going to survive the burning.  The first thing we’re looking at right here, the Word of God.  This book is eternal.  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My Word will” what? “never pass away.   [Matthew 24:35]   The prophet Isiah said, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God abides forever.”  [Isaiah 40:8]

So God is going to take a blowtorch to this world and one of the two things that’s going to survive the blow torch is this Book.  The only other thing that’s going to make it through this burning process is the souls of people.  The Book of Ecclesiastes, I think it’s chapter 3, verse 11, says God has put eternity into the hearts of men.  [Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”]

So when God burns everything and 2 Peter 3:10 tells us He is, there’s two things that are going to survive: the Word of God and the souls of people.  So since that is the case every opportunity you get to invest in this book, something you guys are doing tonight by taking a Wednesday night, in which you could be doing a million other things, and investing it into trying to understand His Word better.  You have just made an investment that’s eternal; you’re investing into something that will survive the burning process.  And the more you can pour yourself into the lives of people through discipleship, mentoring, teaching, one on one evangelism, anything like that, helping somebody, helping a fellow person, helping a brother or sister in the body of Christ, helping a fellow member of the human race, you’ve just made an eternal investment there as well.

So you look at that and  you say well, gosh, most of my life is not spent invested into the Word of God and invested into the people of God.   I’m invested in all these other things and I’m leaning from prophecy that those priorities, although they seem very important to us they’re really not going to stand the test of time.  So I study the prophetic Word of God and I re-alter my life so that it’s aligned with the priorities of God, which would be the Word of God and the people of God.  And I am reorganizing my life based on what?  Based on my knowledge of prophecy.  So I’m seeking first His kingdom, what will last, and His righteousness, even though the kingdom is not here yet.  And what about all of these material things?  Well, the promise of Matthew 6:33 is while you’re living in the devil’s world those things will just sort of take care of themselves.

And how would I ever know what God’s priorities are unless I understand prophecy and truths about the coming kingdom?  So that’s why Peter makes this tremendous statement about the future, 2 Peter 3:10, the heavens will disappear with a roar, and then verse 11 says, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way ‘“what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.” In other words, the knowledge of the future helps us reorganize our lives in the present.  And that’s all Jesus is saying in Matthew 6:33. Study the kingdom, understand what its values will be when it comes upon the earth and while you’re living in Satan’s domain realign your life consistent with the values of the coming kingdom and then let the Lord take care of the things that we have a tendency to become wrapped up in that really are not going to stand the test of time anyway.  And that’s what Christ is saying; a knowledge of the future changes our priorities in the present.  And so what I’ve done there is I’ve kept the definition of the kingdom, basileia, consistent with how it’s used earlier in the chapter and consistent with how it’s used in Hebrew Bible, or Tanach.

  1. R. Craven, a commentator from a prior era, in 1874, and I like to throw these quotes in just so you don’t think I’m making things up. He says, “The exhortations of our Lord to ‘seek the Kingdom of God,’ Matt. 6:33;” and there’s a parallel passage in “Luke 12:31.” Do you all know what I mean by a parallel passage?  Same teaching, different book.  So Jesus says, “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  You’ll find that in Matthew 6:31 and the parallel passage in Luke 12:31.  Craven says, “It is manifest that both these exhortations are consistent with the hypothesis of a future Kingdom—as though He had said, So act, that when the Basileia” now basileia is the Greek word for kingdom, “when the Basileia  is established you may enter it. Indeed the contexts of both exhortations require that we should put that interpretation upon them: the one in Matthew follows the direction to pray ‘Thy Kingdom come’(verse 10), and that in Luke is manifestly parallel with the exhortation to wait for an absent Lord (Luke 12, verses 35–40).”  [E. R. Craven, “Excursus on the Basileia,” in Revelation of John,  J. P. Lange (New York: Scribner, 1874), 95.]

And what he’s saying in this quote is Jesus in Matthew 6:33 is not saying we’re in the kingdom now at all, He’s not saying establish the kingdom, He’s not saying bring in the kingdom, He’s not saying you’re living in a spiritual form of the kingdom.  All he’s saying is align your life in the present with the values of the coming kingdom which you can only learn about by studying the future in God’s Bible.  And as the coming kingdom’s priorities becomes  your priorities then all of the things we’re so worried about, what are we going to eat, what are going to drink, what are we going to wear, those things will sort of take care of themselves.

I don’t think God promises to make us rich, although some believers are rich, they have means beyond what the need which is the definition of rich, and if God has done that in your life then praise the Lord, but I don’t think that’s a promise. What God does promise is to meet our needs, the basic necessities of life, food, clothing, shelter, and that’s a promise that the Lord gives us until our dying day as we live lives in accordance with His value system of the coming kingdom.

So in this world, 2 Corinthians 5:20, we ambassadors for Christ.  Paul says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”   Now think about this for a minute; what is an ambassador?  If I’m, for example, America’s ambassador to Iran I am representing American values on Iranian soil. See that?  I’m not going over there as an ambassador to overthrow Iran and to set up a miniature United States of America in Iran.  If I was doing that then I really wouldn’t be an ambassador, would I?  I’d be a conqueror.  So our position in this world is that of ambassadors; we represent, through salt and light, the values of the coming kingdom.  That’s who we are. That’s why we’re estranged and peculiar people, you know, we don’t really march to the drumbeat that the rest of the world is marching to because we are ambassadors, we are representing kingdom values in a time period before the kingdom is established.

Now if we were in the kingdom right now then how could we be ambassadors of the kingdom?  See that?  So that imagery would get lost.  Not only are we ambassadors… by the way, do we understand that we’re living in the devil’s world?  I’ve  used that expression a couple of times tonight.  Do we understand that’s a biblical truth?  Satan is called “the prince of this world,” “the god of this age,” “the prince and power of the air.”  I mean,  if we weren’t living in the devil’s world why would we be told to put on the what?  The “whole armor of God.”  That wouldn’t make any sense, why would we need armor if we’re at home.  He is called a roaring lion seeking someone to devour and one of my favorite verses on this is 1 John 5:19 which says the whole world lies in the lap of the wicked one.  [1 John 5:19, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”]  I think it was Lewis Sperry Chafer that described that verse as kind of a mother rocking a baby to sleep.  And that’s basically what Satan has with this world, he’s like rocking it to sleep, it’s sound asleep, it’s within his grasp.  And that’s why we’re called ambassadors.

So how do we live for God in this territory? Well, rather than getting wrapped up with the value system of the world we need to align our lives with what the future reveals concerning what’s important to God and as we live that way the divine promises, the basic necessities of life that we’re very focused on will be supplied.  We are also called “sons of the kingdom,” Matthew 13:38.  [Matthew 13:38, “and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;”]  What’s a “son”?  Doesn’t Paul say in Galatians 4:7, “if a Son” then a what? “an heir.”  [Galatians 4:7, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”]  What’s an heir?  An heir is someone that legally is entitled to receive something; they’re legally entitled to enjoy something but have they received it yet?  No they haven’t.  Legally it’s theirs but they’re not yet enjoying it.

So because we are sons of the kingdom we are heirs of the kingdom, we are citizens, if you will, of the coming kingdom.  We are ambassadors of the coming kingdom, but none of this imagery, heirship or ambassadorship makes any sense if we’re in the kingdom now.

Toussaint and Quine, in an article on the kingdom, say this: ‘When Jesus explained in Matthew 13:36–43 His parable of the tares among the wheat (vv. 24–30), He said ‘the sons of the kingdom’ and ‘the sons of the evil one’ are represented by the good seed and the tares, respectively (v. 38). The latter are obviously unbelievers, and the former are sons of the kingdom” watch this very carefully, “not in the sense that the kingdom is present but in the sense that as believers they will inherit the millennial kingdom.”    [Stanley D. Toussaint and Jay A. Quine, “No, Not Yet: The Contingency of God’s Promised Kingdom,” Biblioteca Sacra 164 (April–June 2007): 140.]

So that’s who we are in God, sons, heirs, ambassadors.  And all this imagery that the New Testament use needs to be studied very carefully so we can understand our proper identity in the world.  James 2:5 tells us that we’re heirs of the coming kingdom.  James, the Lord’s half-brother says, “Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith” and to be what? “and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”  That’s our legal title; legally we have citizenship in the kingdom but we’re not enjoying it yet because the kingdom is not here.

G.N.H. Peters, all the way back in the 1800’s wrote a three volume set called The Theocratic Kingdom,  and if you really want to understand and study this doctrine of the kingdom that would be the main source to go to, three volumes single spaced, and it’s unbelievable what he created.  He did it during a time period when there was no internet, there was no mass libraries, at least not one that he had access to.  He was a very poor poverty stricken Lutheran itinerate preacher and he was so poor he couldn’t even afford the paper to write on, he had to write on these sort of wrinkled tarnished pieces of paper and once his denomination discovered what he had written they kicked him out of his denomination because he was defending premillennialism and he was in a denomination that was amillennial and postmillennial and the man basically died in obscurity.

And it really wasn’t until subsequent generations came along and recognized what he had created and saw the amazing amount of scholarship that he had produced that they took his scribbled notes and put into this three volume set called The Theocratic Kingdom by G.N.H. Peters.  These are easily accessible on Amazon, we might even have some of these in our library.  But you go and you read it, it’s single spaced, it’s proposition, observation, observation, observation, proposition, it’s not exactly the kind of reading that you would do unless you’re trying to fall asleep at night. But it probably is the greatest defense of premillennialism, which is the viewpoint that the kingdom is future, it’s never been produced in church history.

Wilbur Smith, who writes the preface to it for the introduction says there that it’s still a mystery how Peters, who quotes all of these church fathers and all of these sources could have gotten his hands on all that information as a poverty stricken itinerant Lutheran preacher.  So somehow, by a miracle of God he did it, somehow, by a miracle of God it was preserved in a denomination that retaliated against him for his efforts.  And praise the Lord we have his work today in this three volume set The Theocratic Kingdom.  And he makes tremendous statements in here about the kingdom.

One of the things he says, Volume 1, page 600, to show you how lengthy his work is, he makes a simple statement about James 2:5, he says, ““If the church is the Kingdom, and believers are now in it, why designate them ‘heirs of a Kingdom’?”  [G.N.H. Peters, Theocratic Kingdom, 1:600]  It’s sort of like you slap  your head and say wow, why didn’t I think of that?  Why would James call us “heirs of the kingdom” if we’re in the kingdom now.  You see, the name of the game today is to try to build this idea that we’re in the kingdom and they to use the teachings of Jesus to communicate that point.

So you can see how Christ’s statement, “seek first the kingdom” is not talking about a spiritual form of the kingdom that Christ established in His first advent.

And we have time probably for one more.  Let’s go over to Matthew 11:12, here is yet another statement that people use in the teachings of Jesus to argue that we’re in the kingdom.  Notice, if you will, Matthew 11:12.  Jesus says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”   So apparently Jesus made the statement that the kingdom of heaven is suffering violence when Jesus was on the earth.  Now kingdom now theologians will grab that statement and say aha, well then the kingdom must have been present.  The kingdom must have been present in the ministry of Jesus Christ, Jesus must have set up some kind of invisible spiritual form of the kingdom or else it couldn’t have been resisted violently.  I mean, how do you resist something violently if it doesn’t exist yet, because Israel never responded to the offer of the kingdom.

So at Dallas Seminary, unfortunately you have not people that aren’t full-blown amillennial but they take a middle ground position between what I’m trying to articulate here and amillennialism; they call themselves progressive dispensationalists and they try to argue for what’s already/not yet, that we’re already in a spiritual form of the kingdom but the not yet portion is  yet future, which is basically trying to find a middle ground between premillennialism and amillennialism, already not yet.  And Craig Blaising, one of the progenitors of that doctrine called progressive dispensational­ism uses this passage to argue that an already form of the kingdom must be present, because how in the world can people resist the kingdom if the kingdom wasn’t in existence in spiritual form?

Now how would I answer that?  Well, one of the clues that’s helpful is looking at the parallel passage.  Remember what a parallel passage is?  The same teaching found in another  book.  So if you hold your place here in Matthew 11:12 and go over to Luke 16:16 you find Jesus giving this a slightly different nuance.  And as you’re turning there this is a good teaching moment for us to communicate this point; whenever you build a doctrine from the Bible, I don’t care what doctrine it is, the doctrine of creation, the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of Christ, you never build a doctrine from one verse.  What you try to do is you try to look at everything the Bible has to say on a particular subject.  If you want to understand the Holy Spirit you wouldn’t just look at one verse, you would look at everything the Scripture says on that doctrine.  See that?

And that keeps you balanced and so many people, what you discover is they are kind of lopsided in their theology because they really don’t take the time to investigate the whole Bible, all 66 books, on a certain subject.  They’ve got their pet verse or their favorite verse and many times the way they’re relying on their favorite verse is out of balance with all the other verses on the topic.  So try to examine the whole Bible when you study any doctrine, including this doctrine of the kingdom.

You can’t built a present spiritual form of the kingdom just on Matthew 11:12; you’ve got to look at the parallel passage in Luke 16:16 where it says this, and I’ve got the relevant portions underlined there.  “The Law and the Prophets were” what? “proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been” what? “preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”  See, if you were just to look at the Matthew passage it looks like the kingdom is here and suffering violence but when you look at the parallel passage what you discover is Jesus here is not high-lighting the spiritual present form of the kingdom.  What He’s highlighting is the proclamation of that kingdom.  What He’s highlighting here is the preaching of that kingdom.

Now that would make sense, wouldn’t it?  Because as we have studied in the early gospels, particularly the first half of Matthew’s Gospel, what was faithfully preached?  The offer of the kingdom.  That was preached by John the Baptist, and we’ve gone over all these passages in this study that we’ve been doing.  It was preached by John the Baptist, Matthew 3:2.  It was preached by Jesus Christ, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand,” Matthew 4:17.  It was preached by the twelve apostles, Matthew 10:5-7.  And finally it was preached by the Seventy, Luke 10:1, 9.

So what were people rejecting?  They weren’t rejecting the kingdom, they’re rejecting the offer of the kingdom.  They weren’t rejecting the kingdom which had already been established; what they’re rejecting is the proclamation of the kingdom, the preaching of the kingdom, or the offer of the kingdom.  Now how in the world would I arrive at that conclusion?  I couldn’t arrive at that conclusion just looking at Matthew 11:12.  I’ve also got to look at Luke 16:16 where the emphasis is not on the kingdom itself but its proclamation of the nearness in the person of Jesus Christ.  And so when Matthew 11:12 talks about the kingdom suffering violence and rejection how could that be the kingdom?  You can’t reject God in the kingdom?  What is being rejected and suffering violence is Israel’s rejection of the offer of the kingdom. Do you see that?

And when you slip down to, you leave Matthew 11:12 and you slip down to Matthew 11:16-19 suddenly the interpretation that I just gave starts to make sense.  Would you all agree that Matthew 11:12 is followed by Matthew 11:16-19?  Are we all in agreement on that, that verse 12 comes before verses 16-19.  So I can’t just look at verse 12, I’ve got to look at the parallel passage, and then I’ve got to look at the verses that follow, the subsequent verses.  And I say that sort of tongue in cheek, my lame attempt at trying to be funny, but really I’m not trying to be funny, what I’m trying to teach you is basic Bible study methodology.  This is how you flush out or study any doctrine in the Scripture.

And when you leave Matthew 11:12 and you go down to verses 16-19 what you see is people are rejecting the message of the kingdom.   [Matthew 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” ]

Not the kingdom which had been established but its proclamation of its nearness.  Notice, if you will, Matthew 11:16-19, it says, Jesus is speaking: “But to what shall I compare this generation?”  Which generation?  First century Israel.  “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market place, who call out to the other children, [17] and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge,” which is a funeral type of song, “a dirge and you did not mourn.’”  So no matter what music was played the people weren’t happy; if they played the flute people wouldn’t dance or sing, if they played a funeral type of arrangement then people wouldn’t mourn and so based on that Jesus makes the following analogy related to how the message of the kingdom was being rejected by first century Israel.

Verse 18, “For John” that’s John the Baptist, “came neither eating nor drinking,” remember he would eat the wild locusts and all that kind of stuff, or what is it, locust and honey wasn’t that what John the Baptist ate.  He was sort of an ascetic, he didn’t come with a lot of pomp and circumstance, he came with the basic necessities of life.  “For John came neither eating or drinking and they say, ‘He has a demon!’”  So when John came and offered the kingdom said well, we can’t receive that, that’s from a poor person.

And then, [19] “The Son of Man came eating and drinking,” the opposite of John, remember Jesus was hanging out with the tax gatherers and the prostitutes, and Jesus was teaching the exact same message, wasn’t he?  But were both John the Baptist and Jesus teaching, “repent, for the” what, “kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  The exact same words that came out of John the Baptist’s mouth are the exact same words that came out of Christ’s mouth.  When John came they said well, he has a demon.  When Jesus came and offering the same message and hanging around with the tax gatherers, prostitutes and so forth they say well, He’s obviously a glutton.  “The Son of man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”  And then Jesus said, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

And what is Christ’s point?  It doesn’t matter how the offer is extended, you people will come up with some excuse to turn it down.  John comes with the same message with one lifestyle, you didn’t like him, I came with the same message in a different lifestyle and  you don’t like Me.  And the point that Jesus is making here is you are rejecting the message of the kingdom or the offer of the kingdom.  See that?  What they were rejecting is its preaching; what they were rejecting is its proclamation.  And that fits the context much better than Craig Blaising and all of these other progressive dispensationalists trying to argue from Matthew 11:12 that they were rejecting a spiritual form of the kingdom.  That’s not the context at all.

I guess I could conclude that if all I had in my Bible was Matthew 11:12 but that’s not all the Holy Spirit has given me; He’s given me the parallel passage, Luke 16:16 and He’s given me subsequent verses, verses 16-19 and you put all of this together and Jesus is never arguing here for a spiritual form of the kingdom that apparently got set up in his first coming. What he’s arguing and demonstrating is these people have turned down the offer of the kingdom, the message of the kingdom, the proclamation of the kingdom.

So the following verses cannot be used to support kingdom now theology.  “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” [Matthew 6:33] that verse isn’t talking about a present form of the kingdom; that’s just saying align your lives according to the value system of the coming kingdom.  The other verse that can’t be used to support kingdom now theology is this verse that says the kingdom suffers violence until now.  When you study everything the Bible has to present on it people were turning down the message of the kingdom, the preaching of the kingdom, the proclamation of the kingdom.

And then one more, I’ve got a couple of seconds left here, and I don’t think I’ll be able to get through too much of this tonight, but people use this verse, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven,” and they say there it is, Jesus came into the world, He bound Satan, and He started the kingdom.  And they use these verses here, Luke 10:17-20, “The seventy” now who are “the seventy”?  The seventy were the ones that Jesus sent out, Luke 10:1, Luke 10:9, to offer the kingdom to Israel.  [Luke 10:1, “The seventy were the ones that Jesus sent out, Luke 10:1, Luke 10:9, to offer the kingdom to Israel.”  Luke 10:9, “and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”]

[Luke 10:17-20] “The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” [18] And He said to them,” Jesus is speaking, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. [19] Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. [20] Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”  Now what do people do with this?  They camp there on verse 18 where Jesus says “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” and that they try to convince you of is Jesus evicted Satan from heaven right then and there.  And some would even go so far as to say that Jesus bound Satan right then and there.  And they use this sort of as proof that the kingdom has started.

One of the progenitors of progressive dispensationalism, Darrell Bock, who wrote a very scholarly two volume commentary on Luke goes out of his way over and over again, in the Gospel of Luke particularly, to argue that Jesus established the kingdom, at least an already form of it in the first century.  So let me just read very fast what Darrell Bock says and then next week we’ll see if we can poke some holes in it.

Darrell Bock says, “Though the Acts message has more detail and focuses more clearly on Jesus, the message is essentially the same: the reign of God is inaugurated. In that inauguration” see this is the direction everybody is moving in today, “the reign of God” or “the kingdom of God” has started.  “In that inauguration the deliverance of God in the future God has been guaranteed…. Luke 10:18 confirms the arrival of authority with the announcement of the kingdom.”  See, he’s not saying the kingdom is being offered, he’s saying the kingdom is set up in an already spiritual form.

“Luke 10:18 confirms the arrival of authority with the announcement of the kingdom. Here the ministry of the messengers is also discussed. Jesus notes that he saw the fall of Satan from heaven, a clear message of defeat for the arch demon in the exorcism ministry of the Seventy-two. In Judaism, the coming of the Messiah and the demonstration of His authority were seen as marking the end for Satan….  In Luke 10:18, however, the stress is on current events in Jesus’ earthly ministry that spell the defeat for Satan. The image of Satan’s defeat is important for it pictures his fall not just from heaven, but from rule as the next passage shows. The portrait of Luke 10 is of Jesus’ authority as expressed in His followers….”

“Although this is not Satan’s ultimate fall” see, he believes in already-not yet, if he was a full blown amillennialist he would say this was the end of Satan right here.  But he’s not saying that, but I think he’s still going in the wrong direction because he’s arguing we’re in an already form of the kingdom now.  “Although this is not Satan’s ultimate fall his authority now stands challenged and defeated in a decisive way. The ministry of Jesus and the disciples is a turning point. The exorcisms by Jesus and the disciples are tied to the kingdom’s presence,” see that, “as the next key text, Luke 11:20, makes clear.” [Luke 11:20, “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”]   Now don’t worry about Luke 11:20, we’re going to be dealing with that one in depth as well.  “Any attempt to limit the meaning of this fall of Satan to just the activity of Jesus or to see it as merely proleptic” in other words future “fails. Any appeal to the presence of God’s kingly power in the person and message of Jesus misses the significance of this transfer of power to others and ignores the kingdom association Jesus makes in explaining these activities in Luke 11:20.”  [Darrell Bock, “The Reign of the Lord Christ,” in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 40–41.]

There’s a lot of  scholarly gobbledy-gook in there.  What he’s basically saying is the kingdom was established in the first coming of Christ.  And the fall of Satan, right then and there, in the ministry of Jesus Christ proves that.

Now the next time we’re together I’m going to be showing you three reasons why that is not what that passage is saying.  There was no fall of Satan right then and there in Christ’s ministry.  What Jesus is saying is I saw Satan fall from heaven.  Wasn’t Jesus around when Satan originally fell?  Yeah, Jesus is eternally existent.  In other words, Jesus is saying I saw Satan fall, I have authority over Satan.  And it’s on that basis that He tries to get the disciples to understand that their ability to cast out demons is only under His delegated authority.  And I’ll show you how that works out next time, but he’s not at all arguing that Satan fell right then and there to bring an already form of the kingdom.  So that’s just a little bit of info to whet  your appetite for next week.  I think we’ll stop talking at this point.  I hope you found that interesting and does anybody have any comments?