Monday, January 10, 2011

On rocks and mustard seeds

...And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose Kingdom shall have no end. — Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed

Regarding the eschaton, that's as far as the Church takes it, officially.

However, it does have some definite teachings regarding the Kingdom and the End. Here is my understanding of her teaching.

The Kingdom is already established and active. (Or did you miss the whole "Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" bit?)

1 Cor. 15, and Heb. 2 make it quite clear that Christ is reigning now, "for He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet."

This is the Gospel of the Kingdom: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" (Is. 52:7)

This is why Jesus said, as the foundational reason ("Go ye therefore") for the Great Commission: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Matt. 28:18)

To "preach the Gospel" doesn't mean we go get people to check a doctrinal box that says they believe in Christ (although that box will be checked somewhere along the line, as the beginning of their salvation).

No, to "preach the Gospel" means to herald to all that Christ reigns, by death having trampled down death!

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. — Ps. 2:5-9 (MT)

This is why the Apostles (and we as their successors in the Faith [II Tim. 2:2]) were witnesses "unto the uttermost parts of the earth." (Acts 1:8, cf. Is. 52:10)

This is also why the first Gospel Sermon on the day where Acts 1:8 began to be fulfilled was from Ps. 2. :)

Now, there is an admonition that goes with the Proclamation:

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. — Ps. 2:10-12 (MT)

So, since God the Father has set His Son on His Holy Hill of Zion, we proclaim the Kingdom, and teach all men to observe all His (our King's) commandments, lest they perish from the way.

The Jews, who knew the Psalms, understood this, which is why they were "pricked to the heart," and replied, "what shall we do?"

This is why all those who believe the Gospel are saved (I Cor. 15:1); because if you really believe that He is King over all, you will obey Him. (Luke 6:46) Or at least sorrowfully acknowledge your failure to do so, and truly repent, which counts too (I John 1:8-10). The Judgment in Matt. 25 is not a catechetical quiz. It's an examination of life-style, of obedience to the command to of our King to love our neighbor as ourselves.

I mean, how else did Paul get from "gospel = death, burial, resurrection, public witness" (I Cor. 15:1-8) to "He reigns" (v. 25)? Because it was the death, burial, and resurrection that was in mind in Ps. 2, as Peter clearly says (the "public witness" part) in Acts 2.

(In this context, Heb. 2 makes a whole lot of sense! Let the reader understand.)

That's also why Jesus quotes Isaiah 62:11 to John in Rev. 22:12 -- He is The End to whom YHWH said, "Say ye to the daughter of Zion..." So He did. :)

(That He is The End, we see in the next verse, Rev. 22:13: "I am...the end...")

Getting back to eschatology: None of this makes any sense if we are still waiting for the Kingdom. It's here already. Get used to it. :)

(NB: The reason this may not be so obvious to some is that the Kingdom is not a Kingdom of this world [John 18:36], and it's not an outward Kingdom [Luke 17:20, 21], easily seen.)

The Kingdom is already established and growing. "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands," has already come ("which Rock was Christ").

"The stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." That's happening now. (cf. Matt. 13:31, also cf. Matt. 21:44 with Dan. 2:35)

Anybody care to guess what another name for the Kingdom is? (Hint: see I Pet. 2:1-10, cf. Rev. 1:4-7, 5:10, cf. Eph. 1:20-23)