Monday, June 08, 2009

Already/Not Yet (Part 1)

A large portion of our series on eschatology has been dedicated to correctly understanding the significance of the Destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

This has been an important step because many texts that are commonly thought to apply to the second coming of Christ are actually fulfilled in his first coming, which culminated in the destruction of the temple and of the city of Jerusalem.

We are still expecting the second coming of Christ, which will be a physical return to earth. We are also looking forward to the resurrection of the dead, the rapture of living, and the judgment of all men.

The Present Age
We are going to look at our present age in which we live. So far, we have looked at eschatological texts as being fulfilled in either the first coming or the second coming.

However, there are many eschatological texts that are being fulfilled in the present age. Such texts are gradually fulfilled throughout history over a long period of time.

As our present age is framed by the two advents of Christ, we best understand these texts in reference to these. The first coming of Christ inaugurates, while the second coming consummates. Our present age represents growth, development, and partial fulfillment.

First Coming = Inauguration
Present Age = Growth
Second Coming = Consummation

Theologians use the principle “already/not yet” to describe such fulfillments. The first coming of Christ inaugurates and some of the promises are already fulfilled in part. However, because the second coming represents the consummation, some promises are not yet fulfilled.

First Coming = Inauguration (Already)
Present Age = Growth (Already/Not Yet)
Second Coming = Consummation (Not Yet)

The Kingdom
One easy example is the kingdom of God. At Jesus’ first coming, he preached the good news of the kingdom.

“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, 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 announced that the kingdom of God was at hand. It had been inaugurated.

However, the kingdom of God was far from being completed. At his second coming, the kingdom will be complete. When Jesus returns, he will usher in the perfected kingdom. It will be consummated.

In the meantime, we live between the already and not yet. The kingdom has already come in one sense

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).

In another sense, the kingdom not yet come in its fullest. However, the present age is not a static age of waiting for the kingdom to be completed. We are to pray that the kingdom would come.

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10).

As we live between the two advents of Christ, we see how the kingdom is growing, but we do not demand perfection.

This is how we will see eschatology affect our daily lives. We are optimistic, in that we expect the kingdom of God to continue to grow, but we are realistic in that we do not expect perfection until Christ returns.


Frontier Forest said...

Pastor Eric, your comment, “We are also looking forward to the resurrection of the dead, the rapture of living, and the judgment of all men.” Kind of through me? Can you expound on this a bit? These seem to be dispensational, pre-mill thoughts, i.e. believers are taken away before judgment?

Eric Adams said...

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 describe the return of Christ, the rapture, and the resurrection. The final judgment follows these events.

Frontier Forest said...

So how does your position on the second coming differ from Pastor Tony's?

If you are believing in a "rapture", the removal of all believers, isn't this a dispensational stand?

Eric Adams said...

The rapture will be when believers who are alive at the second coming will meet Christ in the air (1 Thess 4:17). Thus, the rapture is a part of the second coming.

Dispensationalists teach that the rapture occurs 1007 years before the second coming.

Amills and postmills teach that the rapture and the second coming are the same event, precisely what your favorite Sicilian-American pastor would teach.

Frontier Forest said...

Very Good! Thanks so much for the clarification! Now I am seeing the true light on the meaning of the "rapture!" I am sure my Sicilian/American Pastor will concur. DIADATIC my bro!