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The King Is Coming

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Do you find it strange that as you witness to people about forgiveness of sins, they often couldn’t care less about going to heaven? Either they don’t believe in heaven at all or they believe all people go to heaven when they die—except perhaps rapists and axe murderers. Mostly, however, they take an agnostic approach: they just don’t care.

We should not be surprised. When the gospel message is presented in Scripture, we find little emphasis about receiving forgiveness of sins so we can “go to heaven.” Rather, the focus of the biblical gospel message is, “Repent, because the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. It’s near; it’s right in your midst; it is coming here!”

This is the message of John the Baptist: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).

Throughout His ministry, Jesus preached the same Kingdom message. “From that time on,” the Scripture tells us in Matthew 4:17, “Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’”

This theme characterized the apostles’ preaching as well:

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:19–21).

An Answer to Prayer

Christ our Coming King is the answer to the prayer Jesus taught His followers: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). In fact, Christ’s return as King was so prevalent throughout His teaching ministry that Jesus’ disciples finally asked Him to lay out the details for them:

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3).

Amazingly, Jesus gave them what they asked for: an outline of critical events leading to the coming of Christ our King, recorded in three of the four Gospels. That outline—the Olivet Discourse—provides the grid by which we are to understand all other eschatological teaching. It is the singular place in all of Scripture that specifically answers the two questions we all want answered: When will it happen, and how will we recognize it when it does?

Heaven on Earth

The “times of refreshing” and “the restoration of all things” Peter alluded to in Acts 3:19 and 21 is a clear reference to God’s promises in the prophets to restore the Promised Land and the Kingdom to His people in the last days:

Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days (Hosea 3:5).

This promise to restore the people of Israel to their inheritance in the Promised Land “in the last days” is a key element of the promised coming Kingdom of God. Both the people of Israel and the land will be permanently restored under Christ our Coming King. The Christmas promise echoed throughout our churches each year lifts our hope to that day when Messiah Jesus will govern earth’s nations—Jew and Gentile alike—establishing universal peace, justice, and righteousness for all eternity (Isa. 9:7).

This is the heart of the gospel—not only that we who believe enter the Kingdom now but also that one day soon the Kingdom of heaven will sweep over this planet like a tsunami. Beginning with Christ’s return and the establishment of the millennial Kingdom, the Scripture will be fulfilled: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).

This is the answer to the Church’s prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As a doctrinal statement of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, “Christ our Coming King” means that Jesus Christ is returning to earth to reign as King. Both the Old and New Testaments foretell of the coming of the Messiah to establish God’s Kingdom on earth as the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises given to the patriarchs, the prophets, and the Church.

The Millennial Kingdom

Revelation 20:1–7 speaks of Jesus’ earthly reign as lasting 1,000 years. Revelation is intended to be a clear “revelation” (lit., “un-veiling”) of three specific things: (1) Jesus Christ, (2) events to come, and (3) when these events are to take place (Rev. 1:1).

And while it’s true that only Revelation specifies 1,000 years, the prophecy offers many such new details to previous prophetic revelations from the Old Testament:

  • Satan is to be “bound,” rendered incapable of affecting human affairs during that 1,000 years (20:1–3).
  • Jesus’ resurrected followers, including those martyred for not receiving the mark of the Beast, reign with Jesus, exercising authority and judgment during this 1,000-year period (20:4–5).
  • Jesus’ resurrected followers will also serve in a priestly function during this 1,000-year period (20:6).
  • At the end of the Christ’s millennial reign, Satan will be released and wage mankind’s final, failed world war, targeting Jerusalem as the Messiah’s headquarters (20:7–9), after which he will be forever banished to eternal torment in hell (20:10).

We have no interpretive grounds for taking only some of these events as symbolic and others as literal. It’s all or nothing. If these events are interpreted as symbolic, then we would have to conclude that there will be no literal messianic reign of the Kingdom of God on earth at all, no literal binding of Satan, no literal resurrection of the saints to reign with Christ as kings and priests, and no final defeat of Satan ending in his eternal demise in hell.

On the other hand, if we take Revelation 1:1 at face value and interpret this entire prophecy as an “unveiling of Jesus Christ” and an “unveiling” of “what must soon take place,” then both the events described and the time frame the events are placed in must be interpreted literally.

Ultimately, God’s great plan of redemption culminates in the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth, from which Christ our Coming King will reign eternally with His saints over the entire universe from the “new Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2), established upon Mt. Zion in “a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). Christ’s throne and our eternal, heavenly home, once Christ returns, will be located on earth.

Completing the Great Commission

Between the Resurrection and ascension, Jesus focused His final teaching to His disciples about His coming Kingdom:

After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

This then became the message of the Early Church (Acts 8:12). The importance of this concept is so central to the gospel that the Book of Acts closes with this commentary on the ongoing ministry of the apostle Paul as a prisoner in Rome: “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:31).

This reality—Jesus Christ coming in great glory and power to establish the Kingdom of God on earth—is our principle motivation for completing the Great Commission in our lifetime. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14).

This is “the gospel of the kingdom” we are to bring to the streets and to the nations: Jesus, God’s anointed Messiah, crucified and risen from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins, is coming back again to restore the inheritance to His people Israel, to establish the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32), reigning with the resurrected redeemed over all mankind from that time forth and forevermore!

Christ our Coming King and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth are unstoppable. All mankind will find itself either inside that Kingdom or else cast out forever as enemies of God who refused the mercy offered through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. That day will come; the Kingdom of God on earth will be a reality, and all people need to repent now and become loyal servants of Jesus before it is too late.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

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