Thursday, February 10, 2011

Christ's Kingdom is Spreading

In Romans 4:13 the Apostle Paul interprets a key event which happened in the book of Genesis when he says "For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith." [emphasis mine] Therefore God's covenant promises to Abraham were not limited to one single spot of land over in the Middle East but the entire world! I would go so far as to say the entire universe or the created realm was promised to Abraham and his Offspring.

And who is Abraham's Offspring anyway? It is none other than Christ himself. Paul explains this clearly in Galatians 3:16 "Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ." So Jesus is not only the Offspring of Abraham, which would make Him the True Israel but He is also the New Adam, the New Moses and the New Temple. In other words, there has been a whole New Creation afoot and it has been spreading sense the time of Jesus! The coming of the Son of God into the world as the long promised Messiah and the ascension of the Son of Man to be seated at the right hand of the Father not only fulfilled the promises made to Abraham but also inaugurated the Kingdom of God and the eternal covenant.

Christ's Kingdom is ruled and reigned by Him from His glorious throne in heaven. It is the impetus for His kingdom on earth. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him. Jesus taught us to pray like this: "your Kingdom come...your will be done..., where? "on earth as it is in heaven!" The driving force or the stimulus of the transformation of this lowly place or earthly kingdom is the heavenly kingdom in other words the New Jerusalem or Zion. In principle, the Kingdom is already here and has been here for 2000 years but the application of redemption is not just for individuals but has implications for the entire world; Christ came to be the Savior of the world! His Kingdom is spreading and cannot be stopped. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it!


Jonathan said...

Question for 'ya..> How can Christ have supreme authority but still his kingdom is somehow still spreading?

Chris said...
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Chris said...

Jonathan...great question! Christ told His disciples that He had been given ALL authority in heaven and earth. His sovereign rule is over all things. The command is to "go and make disciples." Making disciples involves telling the nations about the Lordship of Christ. As the nations (which are made up of individuals) surrender to His Lordship, the Kingdom spreads. An example would be Japan just after the end of WWII: The allies had won and yet there were many Japaneese who did not know this. Decisive victory had been accomplished but there were many rebels that were in need of surrendering. As folks surrender to the Lordship of Christ, in other words, surrender to the gospel, the kingdom spreads. Hope this helps

Jonathan said...

ah, ok. I like your example of the japanese surrender. It makes sense that there would still be a few rebels who have not yet surrendered to Christ's lordship. I guess this calls into question the idea of free will. If we do not submit to Christ, is he still Lord over us?

Chris said...

Yes, and there are more than a few rebels left in this world.

To answer your question: Yes! objectively speaking Christ is the Lord. In the strictest sense, that what Jesus meant when he said "all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me..." He is the Lord. And every knee will bow and tongue will eventually confess that Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.

"Free will" is a tricky term and you're right, this whole conversation is related the the sovereign Lordship of God. But back to "free will" a moment. We're "free" according to our abilities. I may want to be 6ft. 5 in. tall but in reality I'm shorter than that. I may want to flap my arms and fly like a bird, but I'm limited according to my abilities. My freedom is also according to my desires at any given time. The greatest desire will always win out in the end. The strongest motives always makes the final choice. The Bible teaches that not only are our abilities limited (John 6:44) but our ultimate desires are also wicked and tainted by sin, (Jeremiah 17:9). So yes, we're free in one sense (the mind always chooses what it thinks is best at any given moment) but we're bound by hearts which are contrary to loving God and doing as He commands. In other words, "obeying by faith." "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinth. 2:14 Our only hope is God. Unless we're given His Holy Spirit, we'll never exercise our freedom in a way that pleases God. In other words, we'll never believe the Gospel unless our eyes are first opened by the Holy Spirit to the beauty and glory of Christ.

This is a much larger subject than I can hope to address here but my prayer is this will help a little,

Jonathan said...

Hmm, it is a bit too much of a stretch for me to believe that Christ is lord even over those who do not subject themselves to him. However, I completely agree that all authority in heaven and on earth has been granted to him. In my understanding, this is why he has the power to eventually bring all things under his lordship, as you mentioned: "every knee will bow and every tongue confess that he is lord." I like to think that while Christ has this authority, he has not yet assumed it, waiting until the final day of judgement to exercise his might. As Hebrews 2 puts it:

"In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."

According to my belief, those who oppose him are NOT under his authority or lordship and will therefore be annihilated when he pours out his wrath. It's as if there are a few rebels left after WWII that won't listen to any messages from mainland Japan about surrender, thinking that the broadcast is merely a trick of the enemy. They keep fighting and the only option left to the US is to swiftly take them out.

Chris said...

When the Bible speaks of Christ as being Lord (see Acts 2:36) it is simply speaking in objective terms. A captain of a ship is - objectively speaking - the head of the ship. The husband is the head of the wife (notice Paul doesn't say "should be head" but rather he is the head). Now a husband may rule his family as a tyrant or he may rule through abdication, nevertheless, objectively speaking, he is the Lord of the house.

A lot of confusion can be cleared up when it comes to interpreting the Bible when we recognize the distinction between things which are indicative in the Bible and things which are imperative. Husbands are told to "love their wives as Christ loved the church." That's imperative or a command to do something. Indicative is telling the way something is - objectively. The husband IS the head of the wife, whether he wants to be or not, he is and God hold him accountable to it, just as a captain of the a ship is responsible, though it may not have been his fault that the ship ran aground in the middle of the night by a lowly seaman. Christ is Lord! This is an objective statement from Scripture.
Do you see the difference between imperative and indicative statements? Just because we don't see (picking up on your quote from Hebrews 2) everything in subjection to Christ doesn't mean that it isn't because EVERYTHING is very much under His subjection. If he were not Lord of the nations (presently) that would mean He is not Lord of any nation and if He is not Lord of any nation, that would mean He is not Lord of any individual and therefore you are still in your sins. But thankfully this is not the Gospel. The good news is that Jesus was victorious at the Cross and He has been vindicated and raised from the grave and is seated at the right hand of His Father. He has been given a Kingdom that will never pass away. Now, practically speaking, it doesn't LOOK like much of a Kingdom from our perspective. But that's okay because what is objectively true is much more important. John and Jesus' mother Mary were no doubt distressed when they saw Jesus hanging on the cross but that was not the end of the story! He was, at that moment achieving His greatest victory.

Don't be mislead, Christ has full authority and has been crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is presently ruling and reigning from the New Jerusalem and He will reign forever and ever. He's presently putting all enemies under His feet. He can do that and is doing that because He is the Lord! Remember Jesus' words just before He went tot he cross, "Now is the ruler of this world (Satan) cast out."

Jonathan said...

I really like your example of a husband's headship in the home. I guess that in my understanding, the analogy would be that the husband is automatically the head of the wife, but only her lord if she submits to him as such. As Peter commends women to follow the example of Sarah in considering Abraham her lord, or as Paul commends women to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, giving lordship is a choice. Headship, then, seems to be indicative while lordship is imperative.

Within this paradigm, a tyrannical husband is the head of his home in much the same way as a passive husband is, but neither are fulfilling the imperative duty to lead as Christ leads the church. A healthy home requires a wife who gives lordship to her husband and a man who willingly ascends the throne of his home, however challenging that sacred place of authority may be.

As for your thoughts on Christ's rule of the nations, may I propose a paradigm that is the exact mirror image of yours? If I have understood correctly, you say that Christ is the current Lord of the nations. If some nations are excluded then scripture has lied, and therefore Christ is Lord of none. Did I get that right?

My thoughts are that Christ is lord of a nation if even one person from that nation recognizes him as lord. You and I both know that Judgement has been postponed until people from every tribe, nation and tongue have been included in the great number of God's children (you and I included). Therefore, he is not yet lord of every nation. However, he will be once the full number have been included. Here is some scripture that I think supports this concept:

Revelation 12:15-18

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever."

And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:

"We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
The nations were angry,
and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
both great and small -
and for destroying those who destroy the earth."

Chris said...

Jonathan, the big difference between our views is where we understand Revelation 12 to take place in history. A futurist, such as yourself sees that as yet to occur whereas a preterist (I'm a partial preterist) sees that Christ has already been given that Kingdom.

I used to hold to the view that you hold to now but the evidence of Scripture overwhelmingly has convinced me otherwise. Jesus said, "all authority in heaven and earth HAS BEEN (emphasis on the past tense) given to me. Go therefore and make disciples. According to the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:36, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God HAS MADE (emphasis on the past tense) him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

I would encourage to read Daniel 7 and examine what's going on there concerning the Son of Man being presented before the Ancient Days. What is He given? When did that event occur? Are there any striking similarities about that passage and what happens at Christ's ascension in Acts 1? Where did Jesus go to when he was "taken out of their sight.." in verse 9? I would suggest what you see happening in Daniel 7 is what occurs directly after what you find in Acts 1:9. We see the earthly picture in Acts 1 - we see the heavenly viewpoint in Daniel 7:13-27. Also, a lot of this discussion has to do with the Olivet Discourse and the events which occurred in A.D. 70.

Jonathan said...

Thanks for the info, I will certainly look into it!