In this sermon about the now and not yet nature of the Kingdom of God and how we can live in the balance of believing in God’s promises now while also acknowledging that the full kingdom is not here yet. Tim tells us that we live with the peace and reassurance of victory in Christ now, while knowing that the full victory is to come. So be bold, ask God for His Kingdom to come into your life and the lives around you!
Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday September 5, 2021.
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I want to talk today, as promised, on the now and the not yet of the kingdom of God.
– On a biblical framework if you like for how do we understand the kingdom Jesus initiated, right now. In our lives. In the church. In the world…
– I admit, this message is at times my random musings on the nature of Jesus kingdom… hopefully deeply grounded in scripture… but also a collection of thoughts I’ve gathered along the way…
– As I said last week, the Kingdom of God is the major theme of the Gospels and an anchor point of hope for my soul, firm and secure.
– But what do I mean by that? Particularly when it can feel a bit elusive. What are we talking about?
The Lutheran theologian Paul Tillich expressed it well: talking about faith and the nature of the Kingdom he said;
– “We want only to show you something we have seen and tell you something we have heard… that here and there in the world and now and then in ourselves is a New Creation.” – Here and there, now and then… the kingdom, the new creation is seen and heard! – That’s good!
Someone from outside our community recently message me.
– Doing it really tough health wise and hoping and praying for a miracle. The more I grasped their situation, the more my heart broke to see the kingdom come in her life!
– By that I mean, that because King Jesus comes to reign and set things right, I longed to see this break into her life.
– Not just in a future hope, but as Jesus showed us to pray, may your kingdom come! – She was asking in regard to healing, is it possible? Can God do something? And if so, how, and what, and lots of questions around why or why not.
– And I think at some stage in our lives all of us will probably be faced with similar questions.
You know, is our faith just something relating to what we believe Jesus did, historically forgiving our sins, and then a hope in eternal life.
– Or is there more? Can we expect to see the same things that Jesus did in the gospels, in our lives and times?
– What is the efficacy of our faith?
– I don’t think any of think God is a slot machine… prayer in, get what we want out… – But Jesus did say things like “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
And I have seen both – remarkable signs of Jesus breaking in.
– Character transformed, addictions broken, pain healed, acts of great compassion and justice. – And also heartbreaking suffering and pain and disappointment when it feels like God has not shown up!
– And there is such mystery to it to me… so to think you can neatly package an answer is really difficult.
– What do you say to someone desperate for a situation to change? Who has faith and hope?
You see, we believe in a God who has moved in the past, decisively through Jesus. And a God who we believe will move decisively at the end of time to make all things new…
– And we believe that in the meantime we should have hope and expectation, while also developing in patient endurance.
– To my friend I said, you may indeed see healing.
– Pray, hope, throw yourself on the mercy of God. But we also have to take comfort sometimes in knowing we have a future hope and peace that can be felt now in our sufferings.
So what are some views on the nature of the inbreaking kingdom?
Came across this from JRR Tolkein said; “Actually I am a Christian… so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a ‘long defeat’ – though it contains… some samples or glimpses of final victory.”
– That’s good. He lived through WW1 and WW2 and saw the suffering and evil of this world. It shaped a lot of his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
– An epic battle between kingdoms. Between good and bad
– But so did his faith. He saw in this world glimpses of the final victory.
– Why in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in this epic battle against evil and the odds, you get these characters who have hope and remarkable kindness and courage!
NT Wright says “Learning to live as a Christian is learning to live as a renewed human being, anticipating the eventual new creation in and with a world which is still longing and groaning for that final redemption.”
– So life in the now is about living as an anticipation of new creation. Of the Kingdom fully coming.
– The signs of our renewal now as human beings (whether in character transformation or generosity or becoming whole) anticipates what is to come.
Of course you get the charismatic giants of the last 100 years who have encouraged us to press into the more…
– John Wimber was the keyboardist for the Righteous Brothers, and got saved in the Jesus People Movement in the 1970’s.
– He got saved went to church and then in reading the gospels asked “when do we get to do this stuff?”
– As he became a church leader, he took his Vineyard church movement on a journey of releasing faith, praying with authority and continuing in one sense the book of Acts… – “when we prayed for no one, no one got healed. When we prayed for everyone, some got healed. Which would you prefer?”
Wimber described it this way;
The kingdom of God is the dynamic reign or rule of God. When Jesus said that the kingdom of God had come in him, he claimed for himself the position of a divine invader, coming to set everything straight: (quotes 1 John 3:8)” ‘The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s works’
– So the kingdom is Jesus invading earth to come set things straight…
– And he is destroying the devils work and hold on this world
– And this continues today as his Spirit empowered people live and work as citizens of King Jesus.
Another Vineyard Pastor, Rich Nathan, “The kingdom of God is what things would be like if Jesus ran everything and if his will was done everywhere. The kingdom of God is what things would be like if Jesus was in charge.”
– Or as someone else said. ‘Our world as God would have it’
– So the kingdom now is seen every time things are like if Jesus ran everything. – You can imagine that with compassion and healing and justice and reconciliation and peace and so on…
Risk as I see it: You can over promise and then underdeliver… which leads to disappointment with God and for some a collapse of faith. Or a bitterness towards God.
– Or you can under promise and then miss out on the dynamic, life giving Spirit of God who moves!
– Right it becomes all pie in the sky when you die, and no cake on the plate while you wait. – So we need to find a framework don’t we… that keeps us hoping and expectant and participating… and seeing stuff happen! And yet patiently enduring through the hard stuff.
So lets talk about the kingdom inaugurated by Jesus, the kingdom consummated by Jesus at the end, and then the time we find ourselves in now – the incomplete kingdom, or the advancing kingdom, or the now and not yet kingdom…
So lets break it up, and talk about what age we live in? So 3 stages…
– The kingdom has come.
– The kingdom will come
– And the kingdom is coming, which is our age, the now and not yet kingdom.
So last week we talked about how in Jesus the kingdom of God has come. It gets inaugurated. – Sometimes this is called, inaugurated eschatology.
– Eschatology refers to the time that we live in… what age we find ourselves in… – So in Jesus, is the age of the inauguration of his kingdom. It begins.
– A flag is stuck in the ground if you like, declaring a new era has begun!
Mark 1:14-15 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
We talked last week about Jesus announcement of the kingdom of God.
– Good news – the evangelion. The announcement of a new Lord coming to rule. – Time has come – the long hoped for expectations of Israel for God’s time to act and set things right.
– Kingdom of God has come near – so in Jesus we see and hear and experience what the rule of God looks like. Healing, casting out evil, preaching truth, coming in grace!
– Repent – have a change of mind and embrace a new way of living under King Jesus. – Believe the good news. Right? Come and receive the gift by believing into this new life.
Then in line with the expectations around Isaiah’s prophecy in in Luke 4 Jesus announces and then begins to fulfil Israel’s hopes…
– Not to keep going too far with the Lord of the Rings analogy, but it’s the return of the King! – Healing the sick – we see Jesus open the eyes of the blind and the lame walk! – Preaching good news – the broken and those on the outside are particularly welcomed! – Setting oppressed free. Those conflicted by evil Spirits are delivered.
– We mentioned how John’s disciples ask him are you the one to come – to which he responds… look and see… It’s happening.
And then the kingdom is to come.
– And the promise in the Book of Revelation is that it is not until the end that Jesus kingdom is fully consummated.
– Right? Christians believe that this life and earth as we know it will come to an end at some stage when God comes to judge evil and renew his creation.
– Let me read the classic passage in Rev 21…
– Now remember this is apocalyptic language. It’s a picture of what is to come that contains the true reality of where history is heading.
21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
– It’s a beautiful picture: The promises of no more death, sickness or pain. Tears wiped away. – New heaven and a new earth.
– God is fully present with his people, like Jesus was God fully present at a moment in history. – And then in other places, the Apostle Paul talks about the Resurrection of the dead and us having physical bodies made new in the age to come.
– And Jesus in John 3:16 talked about receiving eternal life.
– The Greek there would be most accurately translated as receiving the life of the age to come. Right? Life eternal… eternal being the age to come. The life of the age to come!
So the kingdom has been inaugurated by Jesus. It will be consummated by Jesus perfectly at the end, but what about now?
So we live in the age where the kingdom of God is coming. It is advancing, as promised, it is the here and there, now and then.
– It is the now of the kingdom and the not yet of the kingdom.
– It is not the church. But it is the church when it fully does the will of God. It becomes a manifest witness or representation or sign of the kingdom.
– We see things of Jesus in part, just as we believe, one day we will see it in full.
My old professor at Regent College used to explain the age we live through an analogy with World War Two.
– He would talk about D-day and V-day in Europe in the allies fight against the Nazis. – On D-day a decisive victory was won as the allies landed on the beaches of Normandy. From that point victory was really assured for the allies.
– But V-day, victory in Europe was not won until 8 months later with the complete fall of the Nazis.
– And so while victory was assured on D-day, there continued to be many battles, much death and suffering, as well as many victories on the way until that final victory at the end.
Manly Life, that is where we live right now!
– In Jesus, D-day has occurred, victory has been secured by Jesus through his inauguration of the kingdom, his death and resurrection. It secures the hope of final victory.
– And yet we live in that time between D-day and V-day… where the kingdom of God is advancing, but the final victory of Jesus has yet to be won.
– It means we do see his kingdom break in here and there, now and then. But it also means we will endure great battles, defeats and sorrow on the way.
I’ll leave you with this today… and apologies if its all been a bit rambly and not as easy to follow today as usual… I think I’ve had weddings on my mind…
– But I think Paul actually sums it up Philippians 3:10
– He says; “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
– To me that is the mystery of the Christian faith. To know Christ is to know both sides of life between D-day and V-day…
The power of the resurrection… the victory of new life right now.
– The inbreaking kingdom bringing healing, changing character, breaking addictions, wonderful reconciliation and of course salvation in Christ!
– But also to know Christ… to know his kingdom is the participation in his sufferings. – It is that we actually don’t get it all now, we all do suffer and go through loss and pain. – And actually that isn’t even the absence of God, it is truly knowing and becoming like Christ. – The kingdom now and not yet means we see the amazing, even in the ordinary and the hard! – We develop patient endurance and the character of Christ gets formed in us….
Gosh there is a lot you could say right? We could launch off from a hundred points of this sermon into a hundred passages and a hundred more sermons from each of those.
– Lord, let your kingdom come!
– We’ve seen it in Jesus. We hope for it in eternity
– And we experience it now, here and there, now and then… but we want more. – So Lord, let your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is on heaven. – Come Lord Jesus we pray!