I want you to picture a couple of diagrams in your head. I know, it would better if you could see, but just imagine. This was the Jewish mindset. You have two ages: this age and the age to come. This age is present and evil; the age to come is the age in the future where the Messiah reigns and his enemies are destroyed and there is peace and righteousness. They saw this age going in a straight line, then the Messiah, then off into the age to come. But that’s not how Jesus explained things which is part of the reason why they didn’t like him as their Messiah. For the Jesus, and the rest of the New Testament, the two ages work like this. You have this age, then overlapping it is the age to come. When Messiah came he announced the in-breaking of the age to come which was realized in principle. This in-breaking is called the kingdom of God. With the coming of Christ and especially his death and resurrection, the present evil age has become in principle the age to come. But it’s not a clean break from one to the other. They overlap such that this age is growing into what it is in principle. And when the ideal announced by Christ which broke in during his life becomes the reality, then the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
Here’s an analogy. It’s not a perfect analogy. So don’t press it too far. But it’s kind of like election day and inauguration day. In this country the president is elected on the first Tuesday in November, but his presidency doesn’t officially begin until January 20. He’s won. His opponent has been defeated. It’s all in the papers and on the internet. The whole country preparing for the transition. The winner starts forming his cabinet and putting together his administration. The new era has begun, but on the other hand it hasn’t. See, in one sense, we live in the time between the election and inauguration. Christ has defeated sin and Satan and death. It is appropriate to talk about Christ as the King. The news is all over the place. And we are supposed to make sure everyone hears about this news. But opposition to King is still strong, and in some ways, growing stronger all time. He is the already, but not yet King. And it will be this way until his enemies are thoroughly defeated and his reign fully in place.
This already and not yet is really important. It’s how the kingdom works and how your salvation works. What’s true on a macro level is true on a micro level too. Your life is not a straight line with a clean break between old man and new man, or non-Christian and Christian. It doesn’t work like that–unconverted, selfish, prideful, boom, in Christ, now I’m completely holy. What happens is that you have your life outside of Christ then you are converted, regenerated, justified, adopted, all of that and now you are positionally in Christ. But who you in actuality is not yet that Christlike. Which is why New Testament ethics are based on who you are in Christ. Be who you are. Work out your salvation. Make your calling and election sure. In other words, grow into in reality who Christ has made you to be positionally.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I'm finding Kingdom Theology and the "now but not yet" concept everywhere now a days. Here's an excerpt from Kevin DeYoung at DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed: A Sermon on the Kingdom of God (Revelation 11:15-19)