Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory |
of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (Titus 2:13)
KING OF HEARTS?
And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever." 2 Sam. 7:16
First Place In Everything
The Apostle Paul reveals the preeminence of the preincarnate Son of God by calling Him the "first born" of all creation." A term traceable back to patriarchal times in which the "first born" held the exclusive right of inheritance. In other words, by this term He is revealed not as a created being, as the cults would assign to Him, but rather He is the Lord of all creation, because as the "first born" He is the heir of all the created order, as expressed in Scripture: "For in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -- all things have been created through Him and for Him" (Col. 1:15-16; cf. Heb. 1:2; Rom. 11:36). As the second Person of the triune God He is not only the co-creator of all things, He is the Heir of all creation.
This "First Born" of all creation, according to eternal divine decree, incarnated into the human race and as the unblemished "Lamb of God" (Jo. 1:29) died a sacrificial, substitutionary death for the redemption and reconciliation of sinful mankind (2Cor. 5:17-21; 1Pet. 2:24). He was buried and on the third day, by divine power, bodily resurrected and is now called the "first born from the dead." He ascended into glory and now sits at the right hand of the Majesty on High (Heb. 1:3).
Head of the Body, the Church
"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything" (Col. 1:18 cf. Eph. 5:23)
As illustrated in the Colossian verse above, Jesus, as the "first-born from the dead," is called the "Head of the body" which is the Church. And by this designation and relationship to the Church He is known throughout the New Testament epistles.
It is important to note that nowhere in the New Testament epistles (which explain the faith during this Church age) is Jesus ever given the designation "King of the Church." In 1Jo. 2:1 He is called our "Advocate" before the Father, and in the book of Hebrews He is called our "High Priest" who has taken His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on High there continually interceding for us (Heb. 7:25; 8:1), and as previously pointed out in Col. 1:18, called the "Head of the Body." But none of the New Testament writers refer to Him as our "King." For instance, in Phillippians 3:20 Paul says we, the Church, eagerly wait for a "Savior" from heaven who will transform the humble state of our bodies into conformity with His own glory -- not a "King."
Replacement theologies such as Amillennialism and Postmillennialism take the liberty to teach, apart from Scriptural authority, that our "King" Jesus is now reigning over His Kingdom while sitting on His Father's throne in heaven. His kingdom either being the Church on earth or believers now in heaven with the "spiritual realm" of His kingdom being either heaven itself or the hearts of believers still on earth; referencing Luke. 17:21 where Jesus tells His listeners that the kingdom of God is "within you." However, the Greek word "entos" may be translated "among." Therefore the translation, "the kingdom of God is in your midst" (NASB), or "among you," is more accurate and congruous with the rest of Scripture. In Luke 17:21 Jesus was saying that if the King was now in their midst, so was the kingdom. He was not referring to some kind of inward, intangible, spiritual kingdom residing in the hearts of men, but He Himself in their midst.
J. Dwight Pentecost discusses two Amillennial views and their belief regarding Christ and the kingdom:
"Amillennialism today is divided into two camps. (1) The first, of which Allis and Berkhof are adherents, holds essentially to the Augustinian amillennialism, although admitting the need for certain refinements. This of course is also the view of the Roman Church. It finds the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises concerning a kingdom and kingdom blessings in Christ's reign from the Father's throne over the church, which is on earth. (2) The second is the view advocated by Duesterdieck and Kliefoth and promoted in this country by Warfield, which attacked the Augustinian position that the kingdom is earthly and viewed the kingdom as God's reign over the saints which are in heaven, thus making it a heavenly kingdom" (Things To Come J. Dwight Pentecost)
Though the Reformers aspired to return to Biblical roots regarding salvation and justification by faith alone, they nevertheless continued to embrace the Augustinian method of spiritualizing the kingdom and therefor in the realm of eschatology they did not depart from Romanism. A later form of Protestant kingdom eschatology developed called Postmillennialism and was first systematized by Daniel Whitby (1638-1726) who was himself a Unitarian. Postmillennialism like Amillennialism spiritualizes the kingdom passages and essentially sees the kingdom as the Christianization of the world prior to the 2nd Coming of Christ. And a more recent construct of postmillennialism is called Reconstructionism with a law-based teaching coined, "Theonomy."
Replacement theology would argue from the book of Hebrews that our "King" now reigns from the true tabernacle in heaven, made by God, not made with human hands. But kings don't reign from tabernacles (Heb. 9:11-15), they reign over their kingdoms from their thrones. Jesus did not enter the heavenly holy place with a scepter, but as our High Priest through His own blood for the purpose of acquiring eternal redemption for all who believe (Heb. 9:12,24). Sitting now at the right hand of the Majesty on high exercising the office of High Priest. And as our High Priest and Advocate before the Father He continually lives to intercede for and to defend His own.
Although the theocratic kingdom revealed and anticipated throughout the Old Testament prophetic Scriptures is spiritual, it is never "spiritualized" by Jesus or any of the New Testament writers. A concept found only in the writings of Replacement theologians.
Replacement theology arose not from study of prophetic Scripture, but rather from its neglect. It is rooted in the presupposition (not Biblical revelation) that God is finished with national Israel and the Church (Israel's replacement) is now seen as the consummate work of God on earth, equating the Father's throne in heaven (now shared by the Son) with the Messianic, earthly, Davidic throne promised in the unconditional Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7:16; 1Chron 17:14; Ps. 89:19-37) of which Jesus is prophesied to take possession (Lk. 1:32-33). However, in Revelation 3:21 Jesus Himself distinguishes the throne of His Father in heaven from His future throne by saying that those who overcome (by faith) during this Church age He will grant to sit down with Him on His throne, as He also overcame and sat down on His Father's throne.
The New Testament reveals Jesus in heaven yet awaiting His return to Jerusalem to sit upon His father David's earthly throne as King of kings and Lord of lords over Israel and the nations (Lk. 1:32-33, ref. Rev. 3:21, 19:15-16, see also: Is. 2:2-4; 9:7; Dan. 2:34-35,44; Zech. 2:10-13; 3:9-10; 6:12-13; 8:1-8,13,20-23; 9:10; 12:10; 14:9,16). Afterall, He was "born" King of the Jews (Matt. 2:2) and destined to sit upon His father David's throne over the house of Jacob forever (Lk. 1:33).
That the Messianic throne of Jesus is not only future but earthly is expressed in Matthew 25:31 where Christ returns to earth to judge the Gentile nations: "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory (earthly), and all the angels with Him, then (future, 2nd advent) He will sit on His glorious throne"(emphasis mine).
The Old Testament Scriptures closed with the hope and anticipation of a literal fulfillment of an earthly Messianic, Davidic Kingdom, calling for the "fortunes of Israel" [yet] to be "restored" (Jer. 30:3; 31:23; 33:7; Eze. 39:25). And Jesus Himself did not change that anticipation by teaching some kind of spiritual fulfillment of the Messianic Kingdom after his ascension; exampled by He not correcting His Apostles when they communicated to Him their continued expectation of a literal, earthly fulfillment of the Old Testament, Messianic Kingdom promises. Just prior to Jesus' ascension His Apostles approached Him asking, "Is it at this time you are restoring the Kingdom to Israel" (Acts 1:7)? Jesus did not rebuke them by saying they were mistaken in their understanding of the Scriptures, as He did with the Sadducees who rejected the idea of a future bodily resurrection from the dead (Matt. 22:23ff); but He simply told them it was not for them "to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority" (Acts 1:7). Instead, the New Testament Scriptures go on to reveal that during this age He is building His Church, the Body/Bride of Christ, called out from both individual Jews and Gentiles . A whole new entity, a mystery administration that was not revealed in the Old Testament (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:9) but is now revealed in the Church which is being built upon the foundation of the Apostles and New Testament prophets (Eph. 2:20-21).
James also agrees that the Church is not the spiritual fulfillment of the anticipated Davidic Kingdom. In Acts 15:14-18 he quotes the prophet Amos: "After these things (that is, taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name during this Church age, vs. 14) I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it..."
Ryrie comments on this passage by citing Gaebelein:
In regard to the Amos quotation in Acts 15:14-17...Gabelein gives a good analysis of James' words citing four points in the progression of thought. First, God visits the Gentiles, taking from them a people for His name. In other words, God has promised to bless the Gentiles as well as Israel, but each in his own order. The Gentile blessing is first. Secondly, Christ will return. This is after the outcalling of the people for His name. Thirdly, as a result of the Coming of the Lord, the tabernacle of David will be built again; that is, the kingdom will be established as promised in the Davidic covenant. Amos clearly declares that this rebuilding will be done "as in the days of old" (9:11); that is, the blessings will be earthly and national and will have nothing to do with the Church. Fourthly, the residue of men will seek the Lord, that is, all the Gentiles will be brought to a knowledge of the Lord after the kingdom is established. Isaiah 2:2; 11:10; 40:5; 66:23 teach the same truth ( The Basis Of The Premillennial Faith Charles C. Ryrie, emphasis mine).The Apostle Paul also taught a literal, earthly fulfillment of the kingdom promises in Romans eleven warning "Gentiledom" not to be arrogant toward the natural, broken off branches and to not be wise in their own estimation, but to understand that a partial hardening has happened to Israel (national) "until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in (to the Church) and then all (national) Israel will be saved just as it is written." Why? Because "the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:25-29).
The allegorical teaching of the broken branches restored in Romans chapter eleven can only refer to God's future program for national Israel when He fulfills the long anticipated earthly, Davidic Kingdom. The natural branches that were not broken off (11:5) figuratively refer to the remnant of believing Jews who make up part of the Church today. However, starting with verse eleven Paul says, "But they (in reference to national Israel) did not stumble so as to fall (i.e., never to recover) did they? May it never be! But by their transgression (unbelief) salvation has come to the Gentiles (via the gospel during this Church age) to make them (national Israel) jealous."
That God intends to yet fulfill His promises to national Israel regarding an earthly, Messianic Kingdom is clearly taught by Paul in the following verses of the chapter:
12: "Now if their (national Israel's) transgression (unbelief) be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles (during this Church age) how much more will their (national Israel's) fulfillment be" (vs. 12, i.e., the fulfillment of the earthly, Messianic, Kingdom promises)?.
15:"For if their (national Israel's) rejection (which caused the kingdom to be postponed) be the reconciliation of the world (ref. 2Cor. 5:17-21), what will their acceptance be but life from the dead" (vs. 15, cf. Jer. 31:31ff., Eze. 36-37; Zech. 12:10)?
The grafting back of the broken branches into the olive tree is God's faithful but future fulfillment an earthly, Messianic Kingdom historically promised to national Israel. Paul then concludes with the national conversion of Israel at the time of Christ's 2nd Advent in verses 25-29, which concurs with the literal, prophetic teachings by the Old Testament prophets (Eze. 36:22-32; 37; 39:25-29; Amos 9:11-15; Mic. 4:1-8; 5:2-5; Zeph. 3:14-20; Hag. 2:7-9; Zech. 9:9-10; 14:9,16) as well as Christ Himself and all the New Testament writers.
"He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev. 3:21; cf. Lk. 1:32-33; Rev. 19).
Yes, Jesus was born King of the Jews (Matt. 2:2) according to His Royal Davidic lineage (Lk. 1:32-33) and was promised a throne according to the unconditional Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7:16). And as King of kings and Lord of lords He will return to earth to take possession of that Davidic throne and rule over His Kingdom forever (Rev. 19).
The Church is not the fulfillment of these kingdom promises but we, the Church, are promised to sit down with Him on His glorious throne to rule with Him when He returns to set up His kingdom on earth. Jesus does not say He is now sitting on the promised Davidic throne, nor does Scripture teach that the saints in heaven are reigning with Him there over some intangible, spiritual kingdom. But this glorious event is yet to come and assigned to the earth to the glory of God (Ps. 2; Dan. 2:34-35,44; Zech. 14:9,16).
Written by Gary Nystrom