The Now and Future Kingdom
Do you have an over-realized eschatology?
Do you have an under-realized eschatology?
Eschatology– a theological word. Simple explanation: eschaton “last” -completion, final blessings.
An over-realized eschatology would be one where a believer thinks that all the powers and promises and blessings of heaven are here NOW. It is only a matter that the believer “claim” these promises by faith and they will be received. If they are not received it is due to the lack of faith of the believer. i.e. healing and health, financial supply, victory over sinful habits are ours for the taking “by faith”
This viewpoint is characteristic of some Pentecostal/charismatic churches.
A rather odd outlier cult that believes something like this is the so-called “Christian Science Church” which teaches that sickness is an illusion. Chr.Sci. practitioners teach followers that if they will believe they are well, they will be well.
An under-realized eschatology focuses on the darkness and sinfulness of the world and expects and experiences very little of the blessings promised to believers.
- At best it provides the promise of heaven.
- At worst it provides an excuse for a Christian life that is defeated by sin and its effects with no hope of deliverance except in heaven.
Years ago I heard a preacher in a Presbyterian Church in Chicago tell a story about a woman who came a rather staid and formal church service. She sat in the service soaking in every word and song about Jesus. She got excited a few times and said out-loud “praise the Lord,” “halleluiah,” “glory to God.” After a few of these outbursts of joy an usher came to where she was sitting and told her to be quiet. She apologized and answered exuberantly, “Oh, I’ve met Jesus and I just can’t get over it.” The usher answered, ‘that may be madam, but you did not meet him here’
That is the sort of church characterized by an under-realized eschatology.
What does this have to do with Jesus’ parable in Luke 19:11-27?
Remember the situation: Jesus is on a Journey to Jerusalem.
He is doing amazing things, such as healing, deliverance, teaching about a revolution where God’s kingdom raises the faithful poor and casts down the rich despots.
He is teaching and pronouncing blessing on those who were considered unimportant: Children, women, poor, Gentiles….and lately a chief tax gatherer named Zacchaeus. In fact he has just announced “Salvation” to Zacchaeus’ house with a wonderful transforming response on the part of Zacchaeus!
It is more than likely that some of those watching and hearing are thinking that the Kingdom is ready to appear in all its eschatological fullness…. as soon as Jesus reaches Jerusalem.
Jesus has tried to make it clear: And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (Luke 18:31-34 ESV)
But, they are not getting his words: they did not grasp what was said.
Now we may understand the parable:
As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore,
“A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’
BTW: This actually did happen in 4 BC when Archelaeus went to Rome seeking to be made king:
Archelaus received the Tetrarchy of Judea by the last will of his father, though a previous will had bequeathed it to his brother Antipas. He was proclaimed king by the army, but declined to assume the title until he had submitted his claims to Caesar Augustus in Rome. Before setting out, he quelled with the utmost cruelty a sedition of the Pharisees, slaying nearly three thousand of them. In Rome he was opposed by Antipas and by many of the Jews, who travelled there to testify against him, who feared his cruelty; but in 4 BCE Augustus allotted to him the greater part of the kingdom.
So Jesus is using a past current event to illustrate something: Archelaus had been named king, but went away to get royal authority and then returned to rule.
Jesus was teaching them that although He is king by rights, he must go away to receive the Royal Authority before the kingdom will be fully realized. This is the true eschatology: The kingdom really has come in Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of David the King, but there are aspects of it that are some distance future.
What should Jesus’ faithful disciples do in the interim?
He is going to be rejected, condemned, killed, rise from the dead… and ascend to heaven.
What should his disciples do while they await the full redemption, the fullness of the Kingdom?
v. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’
“Ten” represents the full number of his disciples, and a fullness of gifts to use.
They are to ‘Engage in business until I come.’ That is, do the work of the kingdom!
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
This is what Jesus’ disciples are to do NOW! We live in the interim. Christ has ascended and is at the right hand of God. “and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.”
We are to engage in the business of his Body, the church, the new society of God.
WCF 25 “The visible church….…is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God…”
(1 Corinthians 12:12-26 ESV)
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
The church is to proclaim the gospel- the good news of a present and future SALVATION……and we are to demonstrate the same by the way we live in the Body and in the world around.
We are to be the kindest, most gracious, most charitable, most loving people because we have been given the undeserved kindness of God!
We are to live in the light of the 100% forgiveness of sins purchased for us by Christ’s death on the cross and received by faith, given and nurtured in the means of grace ordained by Christ in his church.
We are to preach the gospel and send the gospel messengers throughout the world which IS Christ’s greater domain!
We are to do this in a world rife with sin and its devastating effects, but with sure and certain hope in the future restoration of all things.
15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’
What is in view here? What is Jesus telling them?
Answer: He is telling them that they must use the gifts of grace He has given to them for the Kingdom! Spiritual gifts, callings, offices, talents, temperaments, training, time! It is not that everyone will do the same thing but that everyone will do something appropriate to their endowment.
He is promising to bless them and reward them for their faithful service.
Not salvation by works, but works by salvation!
He is showing them that there are different circumstances and situations in which they will serve with different results:
(1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV)
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
Our missionaries in Karamoja, Uganda have a great and arduous task!
The Karamoja region in northeast Uganda is the most marginalized in the country and one of the least developed in the world. Home to cattle-herding nomads, Karamoja has been trapped in a cycle of conflict and neglect for generations as clans of warriors have battled the government—and each other—for cattle and survival. Meanwhile the region continues to hemorrhage people as they leave to eke out a living begging on the streets of Uganda’s bustling capital, Kampala. Invisible even in their own country, are the lives of ordinary Karamojong, from cattle rustlers to child beggars.
The Karimojong have immeasurable pride in their traditional way of life, and many have remained resistant to change no matter the force trying to change them. After all, in a desert-like land, the Karimojong have survived for centuries, and sometimes survival is all that matters.
Our Missionaries: Painfully slow work! Many hours of highway travel from Kampala to Mbale then a 40 mile dirt road trip just to get there. A clinic with doctor and nurse, an evangelist/pastor and family, a missionary deacon and family.
A congregation of Jesus Christ! The kingdom has come and yet it must come as the believers “engage in the King’s business” in remote Karamoja
While I was writing this sermon: My Daughter-in-law, who works with very poor immigrants wrote this on Facebook:
This morning I saw a cruel reality…. a 14 yr old and her mom waiting in the pavilion of a growers nursery to start working at 7 am but got there at 5:30 am because that is the only ride they have. The pavilion has no windows or doors to protect them from the cold weather, no coffee pot… the saddest part of all, this girl will not go to school and get an education, not get a better job. A cycle of poverty will be repeated because it is her duty to help her family by working- not by going to school. What is it that I can do, O Lord?
I do not have the answers to all the problems of this world, but Jesus Christ has given to His 10 (full measure of his Body) a 10 (full measure of his gospel and grace gifts) to us to ‘engage in kingdom works” until he comes.
God has given some of the gifts and answers to you!
Recently, two women in this congregation decided to offer to serve some of our young adults by an act of gracious hospitality! Will this save the world?
It will do something in that direction! Something is much when God is in it! Something is better than NOTHING! Something is an act of love and faith and stewardship of grace gifts.
20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” (Luke 19:11-27 ESV)
Someday Christ our King will return.
What will he say to us?
- The church is to proclaim the gospel- the good news of a present and future SALVATION……and we are to demonstrate the same by the way we live in the Body and in the world around.
- We are to be the kindest, most gracious, most charitable, most loving people because we have been given the undeserved kindness of God!
- We are to live in the light of the 100% forgiveness of sins purchased for us by Christ death on the cross and received by faith, given and nurtured in the means of grace ordained by Christ in his church.
- We are to preach the gospel, send the gospel messengers throughout the world which IS Christ’s greater domain!
- We are to do this in a world rife with sin and its devastating effects, but with sure and certain hope in the future restoration of all things.
We are to “engage in this business” until The King returns.
How is your eschatology? Over-realized or Under-realized?