Did the rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah by some Jews force the almighty Omnipotent God to postpone His Kingdom? Is the resurrected and glorified Christ sitting on His throne of glory and reigning over His kingdom NOW - or - does the Scriptures teach this Christ will come back to this physical earth and sit on a physical throne in a physical temple in the physical city of Jerusalem and reign for 1000 literal years?
The Kingdom: Christ Reigns
In my last effort on the subject of The Kingdom (LINK) I tried to show that The Kingdom of God, of Heaven, and of Christ, are all terms referring to the same kingdom. The Kingdom under consideration does not refer to the sovereign rule of God over his creation, but to the “spiritual dominion” of Christ over his elect people. “God that made the world and all things therein” is and has always been sovereign over his creation. He says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." The true and living sovereign God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). The all powerful, merciful God says, “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me – I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil (RA = judgment): I the Lord do all these things” (Isa. 45:5-7). Before the omnipotent God that liveth forever “all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doeth thou?“ (Dan. 4:35). This is not to say that Christ is not sovereign in His kingdom. For he is. But “The Kingdom of Christ” is not of this world. The kingdom of God cometh not by observation. “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy IN the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).
The kingdom of God is spiritual, even though it has both a visible and an invisible aspect to it. The visible aspect is seen in the individual “earthen vessel” in which dwells the Holy Spirit of God, and in the Assembly of the true New Testament Church of which Jesus Christ is the head. Paul wrote, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ?” and again, “What ? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own ? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 3:16-17, 6:19-20, also see II Cor. 6:14-18). Take this truth beyond the individual and apply it to an Assembly of called out believers who have been scripturally baptized in water and you have a New Testament Baptist church over which Jesus Christ is the head (king or reigning). This is what I call the “church kingdom” with Christ reigning over her. All of God’s elect are spiritually “baptized” into Christ and will make up the Bride when she is presented to him “without spot and wrinkle” in eternal glory. All of God’s elect are in the invisible kingdom of God, but not all of God’s elect are in the visible Church Kingdom here in time. I will deal with this in more detail in a later article, the Lord willing.
As we approach the end of the 20th century and another thousand years of human history, much talk is being made about the New Millennium. This has provided fuel for the Futurist to dispense their unbiblical theory that Christ will return physically to this earth and restore the Davidic kingdom they call the “Millennial Reign on earth." This heretical theory got its foothold back in 1830 under the direction of John Darby and with the help of the Scofield Reference Bible spread like a canker throughout many religious orders until it now dominates most schools of Eschatology (the doctrine of final things). One can not listen to religious television without soon hearing of the secret “Rapture of the Church” to be followed by the “One Thousand Year Kingdom of Christ on Earth." Sadly many so called Baptists, and especially the Calvinist Sovereign Grace Baptists, with whom the “Philippines Effort” got started, have been “caught up” in this heresy. Without a doubt, the Futurist Theory has gotten a foothold among liberal Primitive Baptists. But this is another subject for a different article at another time.
Many are not able to discern the ministry of Jesus the Christ as “prophet, priest and king." When he walked on this earth, most look on him as “one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:13-14) whom God was with (John 3:2), because he preached and performed miracles. Many today think of him as “just a good man, who was a good teacher, who set an example for us." Without a doubt those who were not of God could not hear his word (John 8:47), while there were others whose eyes and ears were closed due to the hardness of their hearts (Matt 13:10-17). But there were some who were blessed with seeing eyes and hearing ears to know the mysteries of the kingdom. Peter tells us of one thing they understood. When Jesus said “But whom say ye that I am”, Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:18). Take note of all the THE’s in Peters answer. Jesus is not A Christ, or A son of A living God.
The sum of the whole matter is that Christ came to redeem and to save his people and then reign over them throughout eternity. The Bible makes it clear that “he shall save his people from their sins” and “he shall reign -- and of his kingdom there shall be no end." The angel of the Lord said to Joseph concerning Mary and the birth of Christ “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall SAVE his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:18-21 - emphasis on save). The same angel said to Mary, “Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall REIGN over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 30-33 - emphasis on reign). These two passages were in fulfillment of the words of the Lord given to the prophet Isaiah who wrote, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us)” and again “For unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of host will perform this” (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7).
Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of man, came to deliver his elect people from the condemnation of sin and death (Rom. 8:1-2), from the power of darkness (Col. 1:13), and the power of sin (Rom. 6:14), from the wrath of God (I Thess 1:10), and one day, Praise God, will deliver us from the very presence of sin (I Cor. 15:51-57, I Thess. 4:13-17). The man Christ Jesus, as God manifest in the flesh came to die for his elect people and save them from their sins. He was the only one ever born into this world without the nature to sin, and the only one who ever lived without sin, and the only one who could offer himself as the ONE sacrifice that would perfect for ever them that are sanctified (the elect) AND “This man, after he offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Heb. 10:12-13). Jesus Christ is sitting today on His throne of Glory reigning over His people Israel (Gal. 6:15-16).
While some say the kingdom was postponed, and for almost 2,000 years, others say the kingdom was not established until 70 AD. They say that the New Covenant did not begin until the Old passed away with the Destruction of the Temple. But with no undue disrespect, that is a false perception of the truth. 70 AD is an important historical event that ended a forty year probationary period for the Jewish Nation. But it was not the end of the Old and the beginning of the New Covenant. God forbid that the sacrifice of Christ should be set aside for 40 years. Paul did not teach this in the book of Hebrews.
The kingdom of Christ began when John came preaching in the wilderness (Luke 16:16) for there is none greater IN the kingdom than John, except for the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 11:11-15). For three and one half (3 1/2) years The Christ, Messiah, King, Saviour, our Lord was here among his disciples teaching them the way of righteousness. Then when “His hour was come” (John 12:23), he was delivered for our sins and raised again for our justification (Rom. 4:25) “because it was not possible” that he should remain in the grave (Acts 2:22-27). When He came forth from the grave (fifty days before Pentecost) He ascended unto his Father. That’s right beloved, the perfect sacrifice for sins could not be held back, for the time was determined before hand (Gal.4:4, Dan. 9:24-27).
Christ had been crucified on Wednesday evening, the 14th of Nisan, just before 6 P.M.. He had spent three days and three nights “in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had come to the tomb, “In the end of the sabbath, (after 6 pm Saturday) as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week” (Matt. 28:1) --“early in the morning, while it was yet dark” (John 20:1). “There was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone, from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightening, and his raiment white as snow” (Matt 28:2-3). Mary found the “stone taken away from the sepulchre” and she ran and found Peter and John, (that disciple whom Jesus loved) and said to them “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre." John out ran Peter to the tomb, but when they got there they found only “the linen clothes” in which Jesus had been wrapped. It appears Peter and John returned to the rest of the waiting disciples, while Mary Magdalene remained at the tomb.
Mary was weeping, and as she stooped down, she saw two angels sitting inside the tomb “where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:11-12). Jesus was standing outside the tomb, but it was so dark Mary did not recognize him. She thought he was the gardener in charge of the cemetery, until Jesus said “Mary." Oh, beloved when he calls your name, you will know it is Him. Yes, it was the first day of the week – but it was yet dark – Jesus had already risen from the grave. There was no Babylonish sunrise service to be found in the resurrection of Christ (John 20). When Mary recognized Jesus standing outside the tomb, he said, “Touch me not; for I have not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and to your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). TOUCH NOT him who must enter into the heavenly sanctuary and the eternal Most Holy Place through the veil of his flesh to present to the Father the ONE sacrifice that would perfect forever them that are sanctified. Oh no, don’t touch him yet. Touch him only after he had offered himself to his Father.
How long, O Lord, must we wait to feel that gentle touch of the Master’s hand? Just a moment, for he can ascend in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye! And he did ascend that morning while it was yet dark! Shortly after that Jesus met both Marys and said “All hail. And they came and held him by the feet and worshipped him” (Matt. 28:9). Now you can touch him! Now the sacrifice has been safely presented to the Father. It is recorded twice that He appeared to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34, I Cor. 15:5). Later that same day, THIS SAME JESUS can be found on the road to Emmaus walking and talking and dining with two of his disciples (Luke 24:13-35). Then later that same day, in the evening Jesus appeared to his disciples, entering into the room without opening a door, but Thomas was not there (John 20:19). After eight days, over a week after his resurrection, Jesus appeared again to his disciples, and “doubting Thomas” was there. Jesus said to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing – And Thomas answered him, My Lord and my God” (John 20:26-28). Mary could not touch him because he had not yet ascended, but after he ascended he walked and talked with his disciples and was touched and handled (I John 1:1) by his disciples.
We find where Jesus appeared to his disciples at least ten times during a forty day period after his resurrection, before he ascended “in the clouds” according to Acts 1:9-11. But we have no record of where Jesus stayed on earth during the forty days after his resurrection. Did he spend all that time upon the earth or did he “ascend and descend” to and from heaven ? I have reason to believe he “ascended and descended” to and from heaven. Some might say, How could this be? Remember Jesus had seen Nathaniel sitting under the fig tree, and knew his name before they ever met. When Nathaniel learned this, he said to Jesus, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel." Jesus said to Nathaniel, “Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou ? thou shalt see greater things than these. – Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:47-51). Remember also the ladder Jacob saw at Bethel (God’s house), which was “set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven, and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it” (Gen. 28:12).
Beloved, the resurrected Christ could ascend and descend, come and go, as he pleased. The expressions “the angel of God” and “the angel of the Lord” can refer to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said “For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve” (Acts 27:23). IF that is not Christ, who is it? Peter had a similar experience, “The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth –“ (Acts 5:19). Christ can come and go as he pleases, but he will never reign on this earth for a thousand years.
The reign of Christ began “when He (as the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world) had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” - and God the Father said to God the Son, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness if the sceptre of thy kingdom – Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Heb. 1:3-13). We read in this passage that the Father said to the Son, God to God, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." It is my humble opinion that this Oil of Gladness speaks of the Holy Spirit that was poured out upon the Church on the Day of Pentecost, and the kingdom of Christ was given to the Saints of God.
The “pouring out of the Spirit” was preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost when he said, “For these are not drunken, as ye suppose – But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: -- and upon my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy –“. Jesus had said to the disciples, “I will pray the Father and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you” (John 14:15-18). Before Jesus ascended back to heaven, he breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22).
Peter went on in his message on the day of Pentecost, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:29-36).
Jesus now reigns at the right hand of the Father on his throne of Glory. Daniel, the prophet wrote, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14). I have often wondered if the “clouds of heaven” do not represent “the angels of God” who were ascending and descending to and from heaven. Daniel continued “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever” 15-18).
Stephen saw the Reigning Christ standing by his throne in heaven. As Stephen was being stoned, the Jews laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man whose name was Saul (later to be changed to Paul). As they gnashed on Stephen with their teeth, he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man (Christ - the Messiah) standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:54-60). The young man Saul, who later became known as the apostle Paul wrote, “For he MUST reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:25-26).