Message: ‘The Kingdom: already but not yet’ pt.1
Text: Luke 17:20-37
Introduction: Teenagers… That’s a tough age for most… and more so for their parents.
PP: Especially those who have recently graduated high school.
- Do you have one, had one?
- How’d it go?
It’s an extremely precarious time, as this will often challenge the strength, and faith, of most households. Why? Because of one word, that so fills their minds, that everything is seen through it’s often very distorted lens.
- The word is: adult
On one hand they already are adults… but on the other hand, they really aren’t yet.
- Legally yes, physically, yes,
- emotionally, behaviorally, financially, responsibly, no.
Webster defines adult as:
- fully developed and mature: grown up.
Dictonary.com defines it:
- having attained full size and strength; grown up; mature
It’s in those definitions that we see the struggle:
- Those who have recently graduated High School are already adults; in that they are full size and strength, fully developed.
- But, they’re not yet adults; in that they lack maturity, experience and independence, the ‘grown up’ part.
They’re already adults… but not yet.
PP: Next Slide
Now, keep that picture in mind as we take a look at Luke 17:20-37. Because Jesus will also talk about the kingdom of God being ‘already, but not yet’.
The official deep-end term for ‘already, but not yet’ is Inaugural Eschatology.
- I gave the people who came to the ‘Couple’s Night Out’ dinner on Thursday some homework. Told them to look it up…
- BTW, we had 5 couples and it was a great time of fellowship. Hope to see even more at our study night at the end of March.
PP: OK, let’s take a leap into the deep end of discipleship, by breaking down the term ‘Inaugural Eschatology.’
- marking the beginning of a new venture
Synonyms for inaugural are:
- beginning, debut, inception
CARM.Org: Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.
- The study of the teachings in the Bible concerning the end times or of the period of time dealing with the return of Christ and the events that follow.
That’s a very specific definition of the term eschatology. I believe a broader definition would be:
- The study of the fulfillment of OT and NT prophesies concerning the Kingdom of God.
You see, when we study the ‘end times’ we’ll always end at the same place…
- the eternal Kingdom of God.
In other words, eschatology is concerned with all that God is doing to bring His creation to its ultimate consummation… which is, the eternal kingdom.
And when we read both OT and NT prophecies about God’s Kingdom, we find references to both present and future aspects of that Kingdom.
- So eschatology is not just ‘end times’ or Jesus’ 2nd
PP: So, Inaugural Eschatology means:
- There is a fulfillment of the OT prophecies of the consummation of all things, already in progress… Jesus bring that fulfillment in His birth, life, death and resurrection.
These are the events that began the Kingdom of God on earth.
- It’s begun, but it’s not complete because we still await Jesus 2nd
Already, but not yet. Do you see it? Here’s an example from Scripture dealing with eternal life:
- Whoever believes in the Son has (present) eternal life (John 3:36a)
- Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent me has (present) eternal life. (John 5:24a)
PP: But not yet
- keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to (future) eternal life. (Jude 21)
- to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give (future) eternal life (Romans 2:7)
PP: Next Slide
Dr Vern Poythress; scholar, author and professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, explains it this way:
- OT prophecies talk and point to a coming great day of salvation … ‘in the last days it shall be’. The scriptures repeat
- It’s the description of… God coming to save His people, in a definitive way.
- Hebrews 1 picks up on this theme and talks about how, in the last days, God has spoken through His son Jesus.
- Therefore Hebrews points out that those ‘last days’ OT prophecies have already begun to come to pass.
- Christ has come, His reign of salvation has begun. (End Quote)
So, why the advanced theology lesson?
- Because if there’s any Bible study that can get Christians worked up, its eschatology.
- most only see it as an ‘end times’ study,
- and as such, they miss out on the ‘already’ part of the Kingdom of God
- and how we’re supposed to be living as kingdom citizens.
Many Christians are so focused on the ‘end times’ that they’re tripping all over what Jesus is doing, in the ‘present time’.
All throughout Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of God, He does so, from either the ‘already’ or the ‘but not yet’ aspects.
- It’s here that Jesus puts them together.
Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 17:20, for it’s there we’ll begin to examine the Kingdom of God, already, but not yet.
PP: 1. Luke 17:20-21 The KOG: Already
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
- Luke 17:20-21a ‘When will the KOG come’?
The Pharisees ask Jesus a question:
- When will the Kingdom of God come?
They asked this for a couple of reasons.
First, because they believed they were experts on Spiritual things, especially prophesy.
- They taught that the Kingdom will come with great power and signs, with majestic splendor.
- They taught that the Kingdom of God was an earthly kingdom where Israel’s Messiah would defeat Rome and Israel will be returned to its OT glory… but even greater!
And Jesus just didn’t fit that picture. He didn’t look like or act like that kind of king, He couldn’t be Israel’s Messiah.
Second, they asked the question because Jesus kept teaching about the kingdom.
- To be honest, that made it a legitimate question…
So when Jesus answered the question with
- the Kingdom of God is not coming the way they taught;
I’m sure they weren’t happy. Once again even though the people thought the Pharisees were professional Bible teachers, Jesus was showing them to be false teachers. He told them:
- The KOG will not come in a way that’s over the top, with pomp and circumstance.
- But instead, it will come silently, attracting little notice.
Take note: The phrase not coming in ways that can be observed is not in the future tense… it’s present.
- He’s setting them up for the last part of verse 21.
- Luke 17:21b ‘It’s already here’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.
Jesus told the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed. The Greek word parateresis means ‘to lie in wait’ or ‘to spy’.
- The idea is that you shouldn’t devote your time looking to the future to find the Kingdom of God.
- Because the Kingdom of God is right here in front of you. Right now!
They misunderstood the nature of the Biblical teachings on the Kingdom and therefore missed, its present reality.
The major focus of Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God:
- was on the present reality, the already,
- on what God was doing right now, right in front of them, through Jesus.
OK, let’s get something out of the way. Some translations such as: KJV, NKJV, GW, NCV of verse 21b say the kingdom of God is within you.
This is considered by all conservative theologians to be poor scholarly work. Jesus is talking to the Pharisees. Obviously He’s not saying that they’re saved, that they’re a part of or have the kingdom inside them.
- Jesus confronted them many times about them not being in the Kingdom.
The correct translation is the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.
So, what exactly does Jesus mean by that?
PP: First, and most obvious, is that He’s talking about Himself, He is the King of God’s Kingdom and where He is, where the King is, so is the Kingdom.
Second, it means that the OT prophecies of the consummation of all things, including the end times, have begun to be fulfilled, in Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection.
Third, it means that the Kingdom of God is now present on earth, it’s a reality and something to which we should strive to be a part of.
PP: Next Slide
I think Jesus’ main point here is to tell the Pharisees not to ask the question ‘When will the kingdom come?’, but ‘Where will it come from?’
In other words,
- If you want to be in God’s Kingdom,
- you must look for the King.
- And I’m the King.
Here’s another bit of deep end teaching:
- The word Jesus uses here for kingdom basileia, does not actually refer to a realm but to a reign.
That means, the Kingdom of God is where Jesus rules and reigns… And that means
- If Jesus doesn’t reign in your heart now,
- you won’t live in His realm later. (Brian Bell)
One more example, a very clear one, I hope.
In Luke 9:27, Jesus told His disciples But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.
That text has confused many.
But if you look at the context, at what’s around it, it becomes clear and has great relevance to the ‘already,’ the present reality of the Kingdom of God.
Here’s what comes after that.
- Verses 28-36 is Jesus’ transfiguration.
- Those present; Peter, John and James, did see the Kingdom of God before they died, because they saw Jesus in His glory as King.
The Pharisees taught that the Kingdom of God will come, in the future, with great spectacle. But Jesus is saying
- though the everydayness of life doesn’t seem exciting, or special
- God’s power and presence continues to be in your midst.
- God is with you and He is at work!
And we need to remember that
- Biblical prophecy was not given so that we would sit around and speculate about how things will end in the future.
- It’s given so that we would apply it, to how we live in the present, today, in light of what God has promised about the future.
That’s what Jesus was trying to get through to the Pharisees…
- Don’t worry about the end times…
- pay attention to the present, to Me,
- repent of your sin, receive My grace…
- and your future in the KOG will be secure.
One last thing.
- If Jesus is King of the Kingdom.
- If you have given your life to the King and desire to live in His Kingdom.
- Then you’re expected, to submit to the rule and reign of King Jesus.
The themes of ‘faith in’ and ‘obedience to’ Jesus, are constant throughout Luke’s Gospel and in all of the NT. Jesus in Luke 9:23 said:
- Let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.
The Kingdom of God is ‘already,’ is present with us.
- But it’s also unfolding, being fulfilled all around us,
- moving towards the ultimate consummation of all things, that ends with the eternal kingdom.
And that’s what we’ll examine next Sunday.