|A Scriptural view of the advancement
of Christ's Kingdom 2010 By Jack Kettler
The following is a study dealing with the
advancement of Christ's Kingdom in history. It is a survey of traditional postmillennial
Protestant eschatology. I make no claim for originality and am dependent on numerous
The God of Holy Scripture is Sovereign. Right now,
He is governing this world by the word of his power. He is presently giving covenantal
blessings and cursing according to his good pleasure. None can stay his hand. He controls
all things including history. Men should fear and tremble before him.
The Scriptures set forth a much different view of history than many would like to believe. God not only controls history but has planned it as well. See Dan. 4:34,35 and Eph. 2:11. There is a continual advancement of redemptive history in the Bible. God's purposes are not thwarted. Satan will not be a winner in human history. Christ Jesus has gained the victory. Satan's power has been broken. He is presently chained. He has always been restricted to doing only what God Almighty has permitted. Will Jesus be the winner in history or Satan? What sayeth the Scriptures?
We will survey Old and New Testament passages to see the continual advancement of redemptive history. The kingdom of Christ in history will subdue all others. Then and only then will come the end. At this point death itself will be forever defeated and the kingdom turned over to God the Father. Let us start in the book of Genesis. The first passage we will consider is Genesis 3:15. This verse is significant because it sets forth God's promise of redemption and the defeat of Satan:
This verse is recognized as the first messianic prophecy. The verse speaks of the war between the followers of righteousness and Satan. From the seed of the woman, Christ would come and defeat Satan. Satan appears to gain the victory when Christ is crucified. Christ then rises victoriously from the grave and crushes Satan's head. Eve says that she had gotten a man from the Lord. It is significant that Adam and Eve named their first son Cain (to possess, or to bring forth). See Genesis 4:1. The meaning of Cain's name evidences the fact that Adam and Eve understood God's promise of a redeemer who would come forth from Eve and would defeat Satan. They thought that this promise would be fulfilled immediately as evidenced by their first born son's name. They thought God would through Cain bring forth deliverance from the curse.
It is important to see the promises of growth of the godly seed in human history. The verses that follow will continue to set forth the theme begun in Genesis 3:15 of the Messianic victory in history:
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 15:5,6
And I will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. Genesis 17:6
That in blessing I will bless, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. Genesis 22:17,18.
And, behold the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Genesis 28:13,14.
The above verses set forth the clear promises of victory for the godly seed. Consider the following points that we see from the above passages: 1.) All families would be blessed, 2.) All nations blessed, 3.) Unable to number the Godly seed, 4.) Nations and kings (plural) to come forth, 5.) Possessing the gates of your enemies. The following New Testament passages prove that these Abrahamic promises are fulfilled in Christ:
Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with out fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. Acts 3:25,26.
The universal Abrahamic promises of victory flow right into the new covenant of Christ. These promises are fulfilled through the preaching and teaching of the gospel. There are other important messianic promises to consider:
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is governor among the nations. Psalm 22:27,28.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him, and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. Psalm 72:8-11.
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Psalm 110:1,2.
These Messianic Psalms clearly show Christ's dominion over all of the earth. In II Samuel we see the promise of the Davidic covenant:
He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever...And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. II Samuel 7:13,16.
The Davidic promise shows there will be a kingdom and One who sits upon a throne forever. This is fulfilled in the New Covenant of Christ. The earthly throne of David was a type of the heavenly throne. Christ now sits upon this throne and rules:
It is significant that Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 as proof that this is now happening. Christ is now ruling and exercising dominion. Christ does this through the preaching of the gospel. Men and women are converted, and begin doing what he has commanded. See Matt. 28:20. Those converted are part of Christ's inheritance. See Psalm 2. There are more passages that show Christ's dominion:
The above verse shows Christ's victory and rule in history. The phrase "last days" has specific reference to the end of the old Jewish world order. See I Cor. 10:11 and Heb. 9:26. These verses speak of the end of the world, as it relates to the end of Old Testament Covenant order. I Peter 4:7 speaks of the Old Covenant as ready to pass away. Heb. 1:2 says specifically that the Christians in the first century were living in the "last days". We see the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D., and the end of the Old Testament sacrificial system. We are now living in the New Covenant world order, which is characterized by the rule of Christ in history through the preaching of the gospel and its effects in history. Isaiah has more to say concerning Christ's dominion:
The phrase "no end to his government" presents a powerful argument against the concept of the defeat of Christ's kingdom before the second coming. Premillenialists say, "yes there will be an end to Christ's government". Consider the next verse:
This passage speaks of the gospel age. "...to it shall the Gentiles seek" clearly finds fulfillment during the gospel age. The phrase "...the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD" speaks of the extent of the influence of the gospel. There is no hint of the defeat of Christ's kingdom.
These passage in Isaiah 65:17-25 is not talking about heaven because it is said there are still sinners and death. It is also interesting to note that Jesus is not said to be physically present upon earth, which constitutes a powerful argument against a premillennial interpretation of these passages. These verses should be understood in a figurative sense. Some premillenialists believe these verses are talking about the millennium, but it should be noted that the word millennium is not even mentioned. Revelation chapter twenty contains the only passages in the Bible that use the word millennium. Sound hermeneutic principles demand that we do not use an obscure passage in a book, which utilizes apocalyptic writing to interpret other portions of scripture. This is exactly what the proponents of premillenialism do.
Isaiah in Old Testament figurative language sets forth the blessings of Christ's gospel upon the earth during the New Covenant Church age. In the book of Ezekiel we can see the growth of the church and the spread of the gospel utilizing Old Testament forms:
The passages in both Isaiah and in Ezekiel show an advancement of God's redemptive purposes in history. We do not see defeat for God's kingdom in history. In the book of Daniel we see that Christ's kingdom will defeat all human kingdoms:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13,14.
Jesus identified himself as the very person of Daniel 7:13,14. Matthew 26:64 provides biblical proof of this. The Jews knew the significance of this claim as evidenced by their reaction in verse sixty-five. The Jews delivered Christ to the Romans to be crucified, seemingly giving Satan the victory. Remember Genesis 3:15. Christ rose from the dead victorious and is now seated on the heavenly throne (Acts 7:55). Satan's power has been broken:
Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. Matt. 12:29
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:15.
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. Rev. 20:1,2.
The above four selections are a reality now. The passage in Revelation is not something that will happen in the future, it is a present reality. Some comments concerning the time frame when this book was written will be necessary. This is because futuristic interpreters inadvertently undermine the clear teaching of scripture that Satan is bound or restricted. The texts that reveal when the prophecy of this book will take place are called time indicator texts. They show that the book of Revelation is historical, not eschatological. See Rev. 1:1,3 and Rev. 22:6,10. John in 22:10 is told "...seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand". Compare Rev. 22:10 with Daniel 12:4. Daniel is told to "shut up the words, and seal the book". The burdens of Daniels prophesy deals with the coming of the Messiah. See Dan. 9:24-27. This would happen in approximately 500 years. Daniel is told to "seal the book" and John is told "seal not...the prophecy of this book. These two commands are exact opposites, proving that John's Revelation was fulfilled in the first century. The Biblical conclusion is that: Just as the time indicator texts of Revelation show "The time is at hand" 1:3, and "...which must shortly be done", and "Behold, I come quickly" 22:6,6. Many Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled and bring glory to God and build the faith of God's people. The prophecy of Revelation is fulfilled like the prophecy of the virgin birth.
It will be important to consider the extent of Christ's power. Does He only have partial control of the Universe, or sovereign control? Consider the two following verses:
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places. Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1:19-23.
What did Jesus teach concerning the growth of his kingdom? Consider two parables:
These parables set forth an identical teaching as Daniel 2:31-35 showing how Christ's kingdom will subdue all other kingdoms. Now let us turn to an important passage that ends the debate concerning the alleged earthly defeat of Christ's kingdom in history:
The Scripture is clear, right now Christ is reigning. His kingdom is moving forward in history. He will continue reigning until all things are put under him. Not until then, and only then, will this present age of the gospel close. It is time for Christians to renew their efforts of preaching the gospel and disciplining of the nations. We have good reasons to believe that our efforts will be successful. Our reasons are found in the promises of God who cannot lie. We also have seen repeatedly in Scripture the fulfillment of prophecy, which provides encouragement for our efforts.
Will our efforts to fulfill this great commission and the disciplining of the nations be successful? It should be noted that this commission comes with a promise. The stone of Daniel 2:35, will never be destroyed. The stone becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth. This is the kingdom that can never be destroyed Daniel 2:44. This is Christ's Church. The mustard seed (the Church) will become a great tree.
Let us close with the two following scriptures:
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Eph. 3:21.
I will close with the words of one of the great Christian hymns. It is again time in our churches sing and take seriously the words of this great hymn that so clearly sets forth the teaching of the Bible concerning Christ's victory over the nations. This hymn was composed during a time when believers took seriously Christ's command to disciple the nations. Today many believers are caught up in attending speculative prophecy conferences and reading into the Bible (eisegesis) contemporary news events.
With the cross of Jesus Going on before.
Christ the royal Master leads against the foe
Forward into battle, See, his banners go.
At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee.
On then, Christian soldiers On to victory.
Hell's foundations quiver At the shout of praise.
Brothers, lift your voices, Loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army Moves the church of God,
Brothers, we are treading Where the saints have trod,
We are not divided, All one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, One in charity.
Crowns and thrones may perish, Kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus Constant will remain,
Gates of hell can never Gainst that church prevail
We have Christ's own promise, And that cannot fail.
On ward, then, ye people, Join our happy throng,
Glory, laud and honor Unto Christ the King
This through countless ages Men and angels sing.
Onward Christian soldiers Marching as to war, with
the cross of Jesus going on before. Sabine Baring-Gould, 1865. Amen!
Mr. Kettler is an ordained Presbyterian Elder and the owner of the http://www.Undergroundnotes.com web site where his theological, philosophical and political articles can be read. He has worked in corporate America for over 30 years. Mr. Kettler can be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org