In light of the recent blogosphere eruption to Dr. MacArthur's provocative message against Amillennialism last week at the Shepherd's Conference, I thought this would be a good opportunity to gently remind us all of our present duty to kingdom living from this previous post from 19 months ago.
Eschatology is a worthy study, but it should not divide true believers needlessly or be used as a weapon to bludgeon others. IMHO, it seems both the speaker and the hearer missed a great opportunity for clarity and study. In the aftermath, both sides could have demonstrated a more Christlike demeanor, exercised godly wisdom, displayed the self-control of verbal restraint, and mostly, shown charity for one another for the purpose of bringing glory to the Lord and to encourage each other to further examination of God's Word in this important theological arena. IOW, we need a bold orthodoxy, but a humble eschatology. I will write further about this in the days ahead.
Until then, I would encourage you to read through this week Matthew chapters 5-7; for it is without question, the greatest sermon ever preached - The Sermon on the Mount.
As the Day Draws Near,
2 Cor. 4:5
"The King's Manifesto of the Character and
Standard of True Righteousness"
Kingdom Living in a Fallen World
"For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20)
Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords and where the King rules, is the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not of this world (John 18:36). It is not governmental; nor is it meant to be something that Christianizes the planet so that Jesus can come back for His church as our mislead, confused and aberrant theonomist/reconstructionist/dominion theology brothers suppose. However, the kingdom of God is "already and not yet." It is here now, for our Lord reigns over His people and His creation. It is not yet, for we wait for the new heaven and new earth in which at the consummation of the ages all things will be placed in subjection under Him who has been given all rule and authority (1 Corinthians 15:20-28). God's kingdom is not “a strikingly political reality...”; nor is it a “reign [that] would not be otherworldly, but would mean the transformation of this present cosmos into the dwelling-place of God, with the creation restored to its primeval glory with its rightful kings and queens—human beings—ruling over it.” The kingdom of God is not for the purpose of returning society to O.T. civil law and its codes. Nor is His kingdom to achieve some sort of political societal utopia of peace and moral rightness upon the planet. If His kingdom were of this world..."His disciples would be fighting"
Here are some key references pertaining to the kingdom of God for your encouragement:
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
[ The Parable of the Weeds ] He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,
[ The Mustard Seed and the Leaven ] He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.
He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."
[ The Parable of the Hidden Treasure ] "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
[ The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value ] "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,
[ The Parable of the Net ] "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."
And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.
[ Laborers in the Vineyard ] "For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.
[ The Parable of the Ten Virgins ] "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,
"The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.
Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 15:24
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
1 Corinthians 15:50
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Thessalonians 2:12
we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
2 Timothy 4:1
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
2 Timothy 4:18
The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."
[ The Seventh Trumpet ] Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God."
It is abundantly clear from the Scriptures mentioned above, that the kingdom of heaven and God is already a spiritual reality for those who know the Lord.
In this great sermon called: "The Sermon on the Mount" our Lord Jesus Christ describes what a "better righteousness than the Scribes and the Pharisees" is and acts like. It is first the product of regeneration, salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. It is the new life lived in the righteousness of Christ as He has prescribed in His Word. This new life is evident in every area of our lives touching everything from the family to the public square. This is God's work of grace in our sanctification; it is inseparable from our salvation, yet distinct. This is the fruit of Christlikeness born in and through His people.
In this sermon The Two Great Commandments and The Great Commission unfold the richness of their truth. This is what it means to love our God with every fiber of our being and then love our neighbor as ourselves. This is not a how to manual to Christianize the earth; or to whitewash society with the veneer of moral values upon an unregenerate world absent of the gospel. This is what it means to engage our world with the gospel and the fruit of holy living. This is what it means to be changed by "transforming grace" which evidents itself as "those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people." (Titus 3:8).
I present to you an adapted outline of this great sermon that I trust will help unpack specifics from this great text. This is, if you please, the pro-active positive side of the debate on evangelical co-belligerence. This is what ECB would look like if it was operating and functioning biblically. I have coined this as: Evangelical Biblical Engagement (EBE) - calling the church to be the church once again. This is what it means to live in a pagan world, biblically. This is how the church should be acting in and to a lost world. This is how the church should be addressing the culture wars and societal moral decline. This is what the church should be known for among those who don’t know the Lord.
This is grace “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:12-14).
This is kingdom living in a fallen world.
This is an impactful message greater than any government or political strategery known to man. This is the most powerful transforming truth ever given to sinful people. This is the hope for the family, the victory over abortion, and the solution to the most severe moral depravity in our nation. This is The King's Manifesto of the Character and Standard of True Righteousness. And it begins with the gospel (Matthew 5:1-12) and ends with the gospel (Matthew 7:13ff).
May these words encourage us to live unto God and His glory by the grace of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit according to His infallible Word each day; so as to be a faithful witness to our neighbor and impact our lost world for Christ.
1. Righteousness and The Beatitude-Attitudes (5:1-12)Grace and peace,
a. Blessed are the poor in spirit
b. Blessed are those who mourn
c. Blessed are the meek
d. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
e. Blessed are the merciful
f. Blessed are the pure in heart
g. Blessed are the peacemakers
h. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake
2. Righteousness and The Effective Witness (5:13-16)
a. The salt of the earth
b. The light of the world
3. Righteousness and the Law of God (5:17-20)
a. Christ came to fulfill the Law
b. Christ's command to keep the Law
c. Christ's condemnation of a lesser righteousness than the Law
4. Righteousness and Moral Integrity (5:21-48)
5. Righteousness and Genuine Unfeigned Worship (6:1-8; 14-18)
6. Righteousness and The Disciples Prayer (6:9-13)
7. Righteousness and Living Between Two Worlds (6:19-34)
a. Treasures on earth; treasures in heaven
b. Serving two masters
c. Guard against anxious living
d. Seek first His kingdom
8. Righteousness and a Matter-of-Fact Theology (7:1-12)
a. Playing God
b. The 2x4 Hypocrite
c. Pearls and swine
d. Knock, knock, knocking on Heaven's Door
9. Righteousness and The Gospel According To Jesus (7:13-29)
a. Two gates
b. Two ways
c. Two destinies
d. Two crowds
e. Two fruits
f. Two trees
g. Two confessions
h. Two foundations
i. Two men
j. Two futures
1 Corinthians 15:58