Friday, September 28, 2012

Already Begun, Not Yet Done

At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus came “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” (Mark 1:14-15). Jesus was announcing that the kingdom of God, long ago promised in the Old Testament, had now come.

After the cross and the resurrection, and before He ascended to heaven to sit on His throne at the right hand of the Father, the place of ruling and reigning, Jesus declared to His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Jesus was announcing that He was now King over heaven and earth.

What happened in between was about how the kingdom came into the world and Jesus became the King. That is why the Gospels spend so much time on the kingdom of God (a.k.a. the “kingdom of heaven,” in Matthew). That is why Jesus spent so much time teaching about the kingdom of God and demonstrating it through healings and exorcisms and other miracles.

So the kingdom of God has begun in the earth. However, it has not yet arrived in all its fullness. That will not happen until King Jesus returns. We are living in between the times of its inauguration and its final fulfillment. Some refer to this reality as “already/not yet.” I call it, “Already begun, not yet done.” As the apostle John said, “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8). This present age has been invaded by the age of God’s kingdom and is already in the process of passing away. The age of God’s kingdom has already begun to shine, and its light continues to increase as more and more people turn to the Lord Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:31 AM

    Matthew's special use of the kingdom of "heaven" portrays that kingdom already beginning at Jesus' baptism: the heavens open and the Spirit descends on Jesus, anointing him as the new king; a voice from heaven affirms he is the son who pleases his Father; the kingdom of (and from) the heavens has begun; Jesus will rule in the power of the Spirit.

    When Jesus begins to teach his disciples in Mt. 5, he speaks a blessing on the poor in the Spirit, for theirs is (already) the kingdom of (and from) heaven. Yet so far Jesus is the only one who is led by the Spirit; the Spirit has led him into the desert to be hungry and tempted; he is the first and foremost "poor in the Spirit." In the future, John the Baptist has said Jesus will baptize with the Spirit; thus in Mt. 28 Jesus commissions his disciples to make new disciples, and baptize them in(to) the name (the presence and power) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The book of Acts chronicles the beginning of this new international kingdom of disciples: filled with the Spirit they bear witness to the risen Lord (king) and suffer from the jealous lords of the earth; filled with the Spirit the poor apostles gather new disciples in homes, teaching them and enabling generosity in feeding those most destitute among them (especially the widows).