Living In The Kingdom of God

Steve Viars May 22, 1990

Introduction

- maybe it would be best for me to introduce our subject

  by asking you a question (not expecting you to answer)

- are we living in the kingdom of God today?

- not an easy question to answer

  - might respond "no" - why would Jesus instruct us in the

                   Lord's prayer to pray "Thy kingdom come"

  - might answer "yes" - thinking of Col. 1:13 - "Who has

    delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath

    translated us into the kingdom of his dear son"

- the bottom line answer to the question is "No, but..."

- in other words - when the Bible speaks of the kingdom of

  God and the kingdom heaven, normally it is referring to the

  millennial kingdom - thats something that is to happen in

  the future - we'll be talking about that for the rest of

  the evening

- however, we always need to keep in mind, that God, in some

  senses, has in the past, is now, will always rule this

  world

   - Psalm 103:19 - The Lord has prepared his throne in the

                    heavens, and his kingdom ruleth over all

 

    - Psalm 145:13 - Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

                     and thy dominion endureth throught the

                     generations

    - cf. Dan. 4:17, 25, 32, 35, 6:27

 

- the point is - though we're going to be talking about a

  millennial kingdom that is still out in the future, we

  can't fall into the trap of thinking "If only God would

  take control of this world..."

     - the reason is, that kind of thinking often leads to

       justifying sinful thoughts and sinful acts

     - "Well, I know I shouldn't have cursed at my boss, but

        you should have heard what he said to me - if only

        God would take control of this world"

     - see, just because we're talking about a future

       kingdom, we can't forget that God has never abdicated

       his control

          - thy kindom is an everlasting kingdom

 

- you might ask - how is God exercising that control today?

   1) Providence - Psalm 148:5-8 (read)

 

      def. - the control of God over the events of this world

             through natural means

 

      - if God didn't do that - most of us would be dead -

         ILLUS - car switching

 

   2) Preservation - Col. 1:17 - "And he is before all

                      things, and by him all things consist"

 

      - world is held together by natural means

      - He made a world that is consistent

 

- so, even though we'll be studying about a coming time when

  God will directly rule and reign, that doesn't mean that

  things are somehow out of his control today

     - I think we heard a good example of that Sunday about

       the Russin believers - God put me here

 

- with that in mind, lets look at Rev. 20

- you remember that last week Pastor Dutton spoke to us about

  the final event of the tribulation - the battle of

  Armageddon

 

- at the end of that battle, the antichrist and the false

  prophet are cast into hell, the lake of fire

- they are the first inhabitants of that place - we'll talk

  more about that next week

 

- now we're going to read about how the kingdom begins

 

- read 20:1-6

 

- tonight, I want to take the remaining time to answer these

  three questions

    - what is the millennium?

    - why should we be expecting one?

    - what should that mean to me today?

 

I.  What is the Millennium?

 

    - we need to say that the word millennium never occurs in

      the Bible

    - its just like the word rapture - the actual word is

      never found - but the concept of course is taught in

      many places in the Scripture

 

    - the word millennium is actually a Latin word

        - "mille" - thousand

        - "annum" - year

 

    - that concept is taught six times in Rev. 20:1-7 alone

 

    - def. - 1000 year rule of Christ on this earth following

             the tribulation

 

II.  Why Should We Be Expecting A Millennial Kingdom?

 

    A.  O.T. prophecies

 

        - the Bible is chock-full of passages that promise

          Israel a kingdom ruled by the Messiah

 

        1.  Gen. 12:2-3 (to Abraham) - I will make of thee a

             great nation, and I will bless thee, and make

             thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing.

             And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse

             them that curse thee, and in thee shall all the

             families of the earth be blessed

 

             - point is - those promises made to Abraham have

                          not been completely fulfilled

             - that becomes more apparant as the prophecies

               are developed

 

        2.  Num. 24:17-19 - (Baalam's prophecy) - I shall see

               him but not now, I shall behold him, but not

               near: there shall come a star out of Jacob,

               and a sceptor shall rise out of Israel...out

               of Jacob shall he come who shall have dominion

 

              - again, those prophecies made to Israel have

                not been fulfilled

 

        3.  II Sam. 7:16, cf. Heb. 1:5 - "And thine house and

               thine kingdom shall be established forever

               before thee; and thy throne shall be

               established forever"

 

        4.  I Chron. 17:11-14, cf. Luke 1:31, 33 - "And it

             shall come to pass, when thy days are ended,

             that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I

             will raise up thy seed after thee, who shall be

             of thy sons; and I will establish thy kingdom.

             He shall build me a house, and I will establish

             his throne forever.  I will be his father, and

             he shall be my son; and I will not take my mercy

             away from him, as I took it from him that was

             before thee.  But I will settle him in my

             kingdom forever, and his throne will be

             established forevermore.

 

        5.  Psalm 89:3-4, 34-37 - Read (great verses)

 

 

        note: this is just a small sample of literally

               hundreds of verses on this subject.  If you

               are interested in doing further research,

               please see Pastor Viars

 

        - point is - the Bible predicts in many, many places

          that a kingdom is coming which will be established

          forever, where the Lord Jesus christ will directly

          rule and reign over all the earth.

 

        - obviously, these promises have not yet been

          fulfilled, so you would think that everyone would

          believe that those promises still have to be

          fulfilled yet in the future.

        - but the truth is, not everybody sees the issue of

          the coming kingdom the same way.  Thats why Marc

          Blackwell talked about the Russian pastors quizzing

          him about what he believed.  Let's talk about:

 

    B.  Various Positions on the Coming Kingdom

 

        - there are three primary choices

 

        1. amillennial - ("a" - negative = no millennium)

 

        2. postmillennial - ("post" - after = Christ will

                                 return after the millenium)

 

        3.pre-millennial - ("pre" - before = Christ will

                               return before the millennium)

 

    - we are pre-millennial - we believe Jesus will return to

      the earth prior to the millennium to set up his 1000

      year reign

 

    - a post-millennialist believes that it is the job of the

      church to usher in the millennium.  This position isn't

      that popular, but what do you think a church like that

      would emphasize heavily? (social issues - because

      Christ can't come back until the church gets the world

      cleaned up)

 

    - amillennialists - most presbyterians, people who would

      call themselves reformed would fit into this group,

      believe that the church is the fulfillment of OT

      Isreal, and that there will be no literal kingdom

 

    - you might say, how is it that good people with the same

      Bible can differ so much on these issues?

 

    - answer is - hermeneutics (how we interpret the Bible)

      - I want to talk about that a little bit tonight,

        because our subject presents a good example of the

        differences

 

    - there are at least three different ways to interpret

      the Scripture

 

    C.  How O.T. Prophecies Are Interpreted

 

        1.  literal or normal method

 

            - God said what He meant and meant He said

 

            a. if the plain sense makes good sense, seek no

               other sense

 

            b.  still leaves room for figures of speech

 

                Psalm 72:6 - (read 1-6)

                    - passage is about the coming King

                    - just because we believe in interpreting

                      Scripture literally, we don't believe

                      that Christ is somehow going to appear

                      like rain

 

                    - the writer is using imagery

                    - INPUT - what is the image?  (see next

                      verse) - What does rain do to grass?

                      (makes it flourish)

                    - point is - Christ rulership in the

                      Millennial kingdom will make everyone

                      and everything flourish

                    - INPUT - have we ceased interpreting the

                       Scripture literally when we handle the

                       passage that way?  (no, its a literal

                       figure of speech)

 

 

        2.  spiritualizing method

 

            a.  God was not speaking literally in the OT

                prophecies

 

            b.  the NT church is the same as Israel

 

                INPUT - what difficulty would you see with

                        this in light of this (Roman Numeral)

                        point we're making? (the promises

                        have not been fulfilled in Israel,

                        so who do they apply to?)

                 - let me show you how this method would

                   affect Psalm 72:6.  They would say that

                   this verse was fulfilled on the day of

                   Pentecost when the church was born.

                     - grass - church at Pentecost

                     - mown - unsanctified state of the

                              disciples

                     - rain - gift of the Holy Spirit

 

                 - of course the problem with all this is -

                   who decides?  Scripture can mean anything

                   I want it to mean.  If a particular verse

                   doesn't fit my lifestyle, I can just

                   spiritualize it to mean something else.

 

 

 

 

 

        3.  critical method

 

            a.  Bible is merely a collection of human

                writings which contain error

 

            b.  the OT prophecies were meant to be taken

                literally, but they were wrong

 

 

    D.  Diagrams - draw circles

 

        Liberal - takes promises literally, but promises are

                   wrong

 

        Amil - Bible is true but not literal

 

        Pre-Mil. - Bible is true and should be taken

                   literally

 

    - POINT - clearly the book of Revelation and the OT

              promises predict that Jesus will return to this

              earth and set up a literal kingdom that will

              last 1000 years

 

    - let me just say quickly that there are a number of

      other reasons why we believe in a literal coming

      kingdom

    - we've already looked at:

        - predictions in the book of Revelation

        - Old Testament promises

 

    E.  God's Future Plan For Israel

 

        - Rom. 11:1 - I say then, hath God cast away his

                      people?  God forbid.

 

        - point is that God's plan for Israel is not over

        - we've seen that all through this study of

          Revelation.

        - point is - if God still has  aplan for Israel,

            there has to be a place for that plan to be

            carried out, and that place is the millenial

            kingdom

 

    F.  NT predictions

 

        - many verses in the NT predict a literal coming

          kingdom

 

        1.  II Tim. 4:1 - I charge thee therefore, before God

              and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the

              living and the dead at his appearing and his

              kingdom

 

        2.  II Tim. 4:18 - And the Lord shall deliver me from

              every evil work, and will preserve me unto his

              heavenly kingdom, to whom be glory forever and

              ever, Amen.

 

 

 

 

        3.  II Peter 1:10-11 - Wherefore the rather,

              brethren, give diligence to make your calling

              and election sure, for if ye do these things,

              ye shall never fall.  For so an entrance shall

              be ministered unto you abundantly into the

              everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior,

              Jesus Christ.

 

        This is just a partial listing of verses.  Many mor

        could be added.

 

III.  How Should Expecting A Millennial Kingdom Affect Us

      Now?

 

    - Jesus wanted John to reveal this information about the

      coming millennial kingdom because He wanted it to have

      a certain effect on the Revelation churches, and on us

      as well

 

    A.  exemplify kingdom living here and now

 

      - I mentioned a passage earlier that I'd like us to

        think about now

 

      - Col. 1:12-13 (read)

 

      - I think that one of the reasons there is confusion

        over this kingdom of God issue is because there are

        verses like this one that clearly speak of us living

        in the kingdom of God now

 

      - thats true, at least in the sense that we are

        personally related to the king, the Lord Jesus Christ

 

      - in essence, we have said voluntarily what every

        person in the millennial kingdom, at least at the

        outset will say, that is that we want to submit to

        the rulership of the king

 

      - its not just Jesus Christ--its the Lord Jesus Christ

      - and we want to submit to His leadership now

 

      - let me ask you tonight - are you in submission to the

        Lordship of Christ in your life

 

      - now I hope your answer to that question would be -

        PV, I have some trouble with the way that question is

        phrased

           - I purposely asked it that way to get us thinking

           - perhaps a better way to ask it would be - are

               you growing by submitting more and more of

               your life and lifestyle to the Lordship of

               Christ?

 

           - lets just pick some areas that check out:

 

         1) if we looked at the way you made a recent

            decision, would we conclude that you had been

            translated into the kingdom of His dear Son?

 

         2) if we brought your car radio in and listened to

            it, would we conclude that Jesus is the Lord?

         3) if we examined your desires and life goals...

 

         4) what about your view of integrity...the

            importance of telling the truth

 

         5) your impact on your family

 

       - question is - would an examination of your lifestyle

         reveal that you are conforming more and more of your

         thinking and more and more of your behavior to the

         Lordship of Christ?

       - would those around say - that person is living for

         someone different than theirself

 

    B.  Helps us achieve a balance between

        evangelism/discipleship/family issues & social and

        civic responsibilities

 

        - there's no question that the word of God places

          responsibilities on us as citizens

        - we're to pray for government, be informed about

          issues, vote intelligently and faithfully, some

          may even seek public office - there's no question

          about that

 

        - but if you're like me - the problem is finding the

          balance between civic and social responsibilities

          and other issues such as evangelism, discipleship,

          and family

 

        - the reason for that is - it would be very easy to

          spend every available minute on some social or

          political concern

 

        - is this true for you, too - all I have to do is

          read the editorial page and I'm exercised about any

          number of things

 

        - point is - while social and civic responsibility is

          important, at best its polishing the brass on a

          sinking ship

 

        - the church's job is not to usher in the kingdom

        - yet I could tell you of individuals from other

          places who are always off on some social crusade

          but never have any time for evangelism

              - never have any time for discipleship

              - never have any time for family

 

        - you may have wondered, why doesn't our church get

          involved in this action and this coalition - why

          didn't we have "earth day" and all the rest

        - answer would be that we're involved in all we can

          and still do justice to the "majors", that is the

          things that God surely wants us to be involved in

 

 

    C.  Gives opportunity to believe the promises of God

 

      - sometimes I wonder if one of the reasons the folks

        who spiritualize the Bible do so is because they

        aren't sure God could literally pull his promises off

 

      - next week we're going to look more specifically at

        what this millennial kingdom will be like, but even

        what we've studied so far

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video