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The Imminence of the Kingdom

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
August 23, 2023 9:00 am

The Imminence of the Kingdom

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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August 23, 2023 9:00 am

You’ve probably noticed that Christian books and ministries offer endless speculation about the end times and the Kingdom of God. Pastor J.D. Greear explains that the Kingdom of God is already here, but also, not yet.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. The flood gates from the earth burst open and by the time the first drop of rain hit the people's faces it was entirely too late. The flood swept them away. He says that's how the kingdom of God is going to be. It's unexpected. You don't listen. Jesus said you don't get to know the day or the hour. Not even the angels know the day or the hour. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Bitovitch. You know, it seems like hundreds of Christian books and ministries offer endless speculation about the end times and the coming of the kingdom of God. These books and this end times messaging seems to sell really well, especially in the turbulent times like we're facing right now. But today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. explains that the kingdom of God is actually already here. But it's also, wait for it, not yet here. Confused yet?

I don't blame you. So let's join Pastor J.D. with answers in today's teaching called The Eminence of the Kingdom.

Let's dive in. Luke, chapter 17, verse 20. Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus answered them. Do not worry about that because one day I will raise up my servant Tim LaHaye and he will write those left behind books and he will explain everything to you.

And even if you don't want to read the books, I'll raise up my other servant, Kirk Cameron, who will act them out and move you forward. Verse 21. The kingdom of God, however, is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, look, here it is, or there, for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. Some of the translations of the Bible that some of you may hold right there may say the kingdom of God is within you. Technically, the Greek words there could be translated within you.

That is true. But Jesus would never have said that to the Pharisees. His favorite term for them was sons of the devil. So for him to turn around and say the kingdom of God is within you is not something he would say to the Pharisees. So another way you could translate those words, which is, in my opinion, the correct translation, is the kingdom of God is among you or in the midst of you. Now, what's he talking about?

What's he talking about? Well, who is in the midst of them? What is in the midst of them?

He is in the midst of them. So when he says the kingdom of God is within you, he is saying the kingdom of God is me. He was the essence of the kingdom. You see, they were looking for the kingdom as something kind of out there, something coming in the clouds, a big political smackdown, cosmic smackdown, where, you know, the Messiah would ride in on a white horse with a lightsaber, slaying all the bad guys, and moon turned into blood. And Jesus doesn't deny that there are going to be some spectacular elements of the Messiah's ultimate coming.

But he says, Guys, you sort of missed the point. The point is, I am the kingdom. I am the essence of the kingdom. And to know me is to enter into the kingdom. The most important part of the kingdom of God is knowing Jesus. And when you know Jesus, the kingdom enters into your life. Now, there are certain dimensions of the kingdom, which are still awaiting fulfillment in the future. But in him, in knowing him, you get the beginning of it. You see, the kingdom works on what theologians call the already not yet principle, the already not yet principle. That's not just something for seminary students to know, that it's very important for you to know, because there is a dimension of the kingdom that is already, and then there is another dimension that is not yet.

And people who know Jesus live right in that period of having an already sense with the kingdom and then a not yet sense. Over the last few weeks, I've explained to you that the kingdom of God, Jesus' favorite analogy for that was a party. A party. When Jesus' kingdom is restored, it is going to be the party of all parties. He chose the image of a party because we love parties. I mean, we love parties because we're created in the image of God and God loves parties. And he's saying in the kingdom of God, every one of your heart's deepest desires, they're going to be fulfilled, right? So the kingdom of God is like a party.

Not yet are we in that ultimate party. However, when you know Jesus, that party, that festival, that feast begins in your life right now. When Jesus, what Jesus did through his miracles was he gave us pictures and signs of what his kingdom reign would look like one day, but those same miracles also had an implication for us right at the moment.

Give you an example, Luke chapter 8. Luke chapter 8 talks about Jesus being out on the Sea of Galilee with his disciples. He's asleep in the front of the boat and a terrible storm comes up. The storm is so bad that all the disciples think they're going to drown. Now, that's pretty significant when you consider the fact that they're professional fishermen. They've been around storms all their lives.

So they think they're going to drown. This was a bad storm. So they wake Jesus up in the midst of this crisis and they say, don't you care that we're going to perish? Jesus stands up and in just the most matter-of-fact way, he doesn't say a word to the disciples, stands up and it says that he rebukes the wind and the waves. And it says immediately they ceased. Not like by the way that the storm slowly died down, but this had to be something pretty amazing because the wind ceased and then the waters went completely flat and plastered all in one kind of moment.

That's what he does. Now, what is the meaning of that? What is the meaning of that miracle? Well, there's one meaning and that is that one day in Jesus' kingdom, nature will no longer be a terror to us.

We won't have to worry about tornadoes and hurricanes and floods and tsunamis and that kind of thing. That's one of the meanings. But the other meaning is that for those people who know Jesus right now, he calms the storm in our soul that comes from thinking life is out of control and there's a God who doesn't care about us. So there's an already sense of that miracle and there is a not yet sense in that miracle and that is where believers live. Knowing Jesus is to enter the kingdom of God and you begin the already not yet relationship.

Does that make sense? Some of you I remember, Johnny Eric Santada, 1976, she was a teenager. She broke her neck, broke her spinal cord, permanent injury in her spinal cord, but through a diving accident. She talks in her autobiography, which I would highly encourage you to read. She talks in there about how God used that accident to awaken her to God and bring her back to himself. Well, in her autobiography, she talks about the fact she was raised in a pretty traditional church where they did a lot of kneeling in their church and she always just went through the motions in it, never really paid any attention. She said, but after that wreck and after God awakened me to himself, she said, I went to church and the minister asked everyone to kneel. She said, for the first time in my life, I actually wanted to kneel. I wanted to be on my knees in front of Jesus to show him my appreciation.

She said, and then it hit me. Never in my life would I be able to kneel before Jesus. She said, and I was overwhelmed with this sense of regret that before when I had knelt, I had not meant it.

And now that I wanted to kneel, my knees would no longer do it. And then quote, she writes, I remember the kingdom resurrection just before the party gets going in heaven, the wedding feast of the lamb. The first thing I plan to do on my resurrected legs is to drop on grateful glorified knees, to kneel quietly before the feet of Jesus.

And then I'm going to be on my feet dancing. Can you imagine the hope, she writes, that this gives someone with a permanent spinal cord injury. Can you imagine the hope this even gives to one who is manic depressive?

No other religion promises new bodies, a new material universe. Only in the gospel of Christ do people hurting like me find such enormous hope to live. Her legs are still crippled. They are not yet healed, but her soul is already leaping and dancing. Her soul is in the kingdom.

In one day her body will catch up. Do you get this? Already not yet. Verse 22. Then Jesus says to his disciples, the days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the son of man, and you will not see it.

And they will say to you, look there, look here, do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the son of man be in his day. Now Jesus has begun to refer to that coming of his kingdom when he does come with with all the things that people think about when they think about the end of the world. The time when he punishes the bad guys and heals the earth, right? And he seems to understand, get this, that there's going to be a lot of claims that this is happening over the next 2000 years or however long it is before he actually does this.

A lot of people claim this. Religious leaders do this all the time. The new Messiah is here. His name is Mohammed. The new Messiah is here. His name is Joseph Smith. His name is David Koresh.

His words, categorically, listen, don't believe them. My second coming will not be a secret movement that you should wonder whether or not you have to join. Now, by the way, religious people are not the only ones who get caught up in this kind of hysteria.

You got secular versions of this. Every so often a new politician comes along with a new political movement saying this is it. This is the answer to all the world's problems. This is going to restore peace. Scientists come along and say this kind of technology is now going to bring peace on earth.

Educators will say it is this educational philosophy that is going to restore peace on earth. And Jesus says, categorically, don't believe them. The real coming of the kingdom, the real king, there's a couple of adjectives. Actually, I'm going to give you four before the day is over that will describe his coming. Number one, sudden. Sudden, no advance warning. It's like lightning, he says. You don't see lightning coming. I remember in science class, in high school, learning that lightning doesn't even come from the top of the sky to the bottom. It actually starts, you remember this, from either side and meets in the middle. And you're like, you don't have time to see it.

It just happens all at once. You don't, lightning happens so fast it's all of a sudden and you can't see it coming. Number two, unmistakable is the second word you would use to describe Jesus coming. Unmistakable, like lightning. Somebody shows up in my house and says, I've got a sign of the kingdom of God. It's here.

It's a three-headed donkey that I grew in my backyard. Now, in order for me to verify that, if they live in Cary, I got to drive down to Cary, go into their house and look at it, right? He says, that's not where the kingdom of God is going to be. It's going to be like lightning.

If lightning strikes in Cary, then I could see it from here. He says, the kingdom of God is unmistakable, big, public. Everybody will see it and know it.

The point, it's not a secret movement you might miss out on. Now, I want you to notice something really quick about this here, because if you're paying attention, then you might notice that Jesus almost seems to contradict himself. To the Pharisees, he was like, you thought the kingdom of God was going to be big and spectacular, but you missed it because it was me, right? And then now he turns and says, when the kingdom of God comes one day, it is going to be big and spectacular.

Nobody's going to miss it. So why is he saying both things? Here's the point. Listen, Jesus is the only movement you ever need to join. That's what he's telling me. I'm the only movement you ever need to join. I'm the only boundary.

Can I tell you why that is important? Every cult says you got to join us or you're going to miss out. Oh, oh, you know Jesus?

That's great. You know Jesus? Yeah, well, you've also got to be a part of this. You get this other leader, you got to be a part of this other denomination, this secondary movement.

No, Jesus is the only movement. The only question is whether or not you're inside him or outside him. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. For more information about this ministry, visit And while you're there, I want to remind you about an amazing free resource that we have available for you. It's Pastor JD's Ask Me Anything podcast. Have you ever had tough questions about the Bible, theology, money, relationships, or parenthood, and you aren't sure where to turn for solid biblical wisdom? On Ask Me Anything, Pastor JD provides quick and practical answers to your most challenging questions. The goal is to share biblical truth and practical advice that can help you grow in your faith and navigate life's difficulties. If you're a fan of Summit Life's teaching, you won't want to miss this free podcast. You can access Ask Me Anything with JD Greer by visiting slash podcasts or by searching in your favorite podcast platform. So why wait?

Subscribe to Ask Me Anything today. You say, well, you know, well, then why do you tell people to join a church? The local church is just a community of Jesus followers. A local church, we're not some secondary denomination that's gathered around something new. A good church is just a group of people that are gathered around Jesus.

You're not gathered around me. We're not gathered around particular denomination. We're just a local church that's gathered around Jesus. That's what a good church is.

Now you say, well, why are you making such a big deal out of this? Because Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses' number one source of converts is still people in churches like this one. And this is the line they always use. They always say, oh, great, you know, Jesus. Well, there's another leader that you got to be a part of if you really want to be a part of the kingdom of God.

And that's just wrong. Jesus continues, verse 25, but first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Now this was the part, this was the mystery that everybody tripped over in Jesus' day, because before he could bring the kingdom, he had to die. In order to bring the peace of God on earth, he had to first bring us to peace with God. And the way that he would do that would be by suffering and dying. He would take upon himself the wrath of God for our sins so that by doing so, he could remove the penalty of our sins and then change our hearts, create in our hearts a desire to be at peace with God.

If he had not done that, then even if he had put peace on earth, we would not have been able to serve, we would not have been at peace, and we would have turned heaven, the kingdom of God, into hell. Nobody got this in Jesus' day, because nobody realized how wicked their hearts were and then why the problems in the world began in our hearts. And before God could calm the storms of destruction out there, he had to calm the one in here. All right, verse 26. He begins again to refer to the, again to his coming kingdom. Verse 26, just like it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage until the day when Noah entered the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all. Third adjective that describes the second coming of the kingdom is the word unexpected.

Unexpected. God had warned the people of Noah's day that he was going to send a flood, but he didn't tell them when. He just told them it was coming.

They kind of forgot about it. In fact, if you go back and read the story of the flood, Genesis 7 tells you that at one point before the first drop of rain had ever fallen, God tells Noah, it's time. I want you to go into the ark. You've warned people long enough.

Nobody's listened. And God himself shut the door and they were in there, Genesis 7, 10, for seven days. Seven days with a bunch of animals. You can imagine the odors.

You can imagine the doubts as they're in there for seven days. And then it says the rain began. It didn't begin gradually. You look at the way it's written. It says that all of a sudden it came.

The floodgates from the earth burst open and the skies burst open and by the time the first drop of rain hit the people's faces, it was entirely too late and the flood swept them away. He says that's how the kingdom of God is going to be. You don't get any advance warning.

It's unexpected. You don't listen. Jesus said you don't get to know the day or the hour.

Not even the angels know the day or the hour. And no matter how clearly he says that, he says this, some fool thinks he can figure it out. He finds some new way to read the Hebrew that if you squint your eyes just right, you know, and cross your eyes, you can see something in the Hebrew language that none of us have ever seen. When I was in high school, right, there was a book that came out, 88 Reasons Why Jesus is Coming Back in 1988. Does anybody remember that book? Just raise your hand, all of our campuses, if you remember that book.

Anybody? I went to a Christian school and the Christian school that I went to seemed particularly prone to things like this and so it actually kind of took root a little bit and people were reading it and passing around because I'll be honest with you, it was kind of convincing. The guy really had laid out some impressive reasons why Jesus was coming back in 1988 and he had it limited down to three days. Three days. And I remember him saying in the book, it said, Jesus told us we couldn't know the day or the hour. So I've got it down to three days.

We don't know which of those days is right, but we know it's one of those three. So on the third day when Jesus still hadn't come back, in fact, our soccer coach, I remember, sits us all down right before dusk because we were finishing up practice. He said, well, Jesus is supposed to come back today, you know, that's what everybody thinks. So we're just gonna sit here and wait for him the last 15 minutes. We're just gonna sit here and wait until the sun goes down. And then he looks at me and he says, JD, if that actually happens, will you make sure everything gets cleaned up and put back in the thing? And I said, yes, I will. And we sat there for 15 minutes in silence and then he said, well, I'll see you guys tomorrow. All right, the guy comes out the next year with a book called 89 Reasons Why Jesus is Coming Out in 1989. He's like, I made a miscalculation.

I forgot I forgot to carry the one, you know, or something like that. And he blew it. He's gonna come out and be like, oh, I forgot, you know, the logarithm, I didn't mix in here and it was something in Hebrew I didn't get. Jesus is telling you, no, no, it's all, that's all false.

That's all wrong. He says, you can't know the day or the hour. It's like the flood. He told you it's coming, but he didn't tell you exactly when it was going to be. The coming is sudden, it's unexpected. Verse 28, likewise, just like it was in the days of Lot, they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all. Verse 30, so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

The same thing here. What strikes you is how normal life seems to be when the judgment comes and sweeps people away. It doesn't say, by the way, that the people of Noah's day or Sodom's day didn't say they didn't believe in God, just that the imminence of his coming was out of their mind. On one level, on one level, it sounded so strange to them that they scoffed.

They're like, what? Noah, seriously? The floodgates of the earth are going to boast open and the sky is going to drop while we're all going to drown, you're building an ark to float around on for 40 days?

Yeah, whatever. Like, a lot, like seriously, fire and sulfur from the sky? Yeah, we've seen it rain.

We've never seen it rain fire and sulfur. Isn't that the same thing today? The judgment of God seems so out of the specter of normal reality that people can't comprehend there's a real heaven and a real hell.

And then when somebody closes their eyes in death, they either awaken to eternal bliss in the presence of God or eternal punishment in hell. It just seems so far out of the specter of normal life that people scoff at it. The other dimension the other dimension here is that is that they just got busy with what they thought was more pressing things in life. Eating and drinking and marriage and anything wrong with those things?

No, there are all good things. It's just that they kept people really from paying the attention, giving any weight to what God had said. I told you this a few weeks ago, but more people, listen, more people miss the kingdom of God through neglecting it than through rejecting it. One of my favorite authors, 17th century philosopher named Blaise Pascal, wrote a book called the Poinsettie, and in there he talks about just really learning to see life in the right perspective. He said it doesn't make any sense that people, whether or not they believe in God, they just never pay any attention to the fact that the one thing we know is true about life is that we're going to die. He said imagine you were in a room and in that room every few minutes this monster, this savage beast comes in, grabs one person seemingly randomly, mauls them to death in front of your eyes and then drags their corpse out. And then in another few minutes he comes in and grabs another one and does the same thing and you're watching this and it is apparent that he is going to systematically do that to everybody in the room.

And so you just don't pay any attention to it, you go on distracting yourself with how much you're enjoying being in the room. He's like that monster is your death. It's like we know that everybody's going to die, why would we not pay attention to the one thing we knew was true of life? And he gives another metaphor, he said it's like you're in a, in his day, a horse-drawn carriage and you're barreling toward the edge of a cliff. You know the edge of the cliff is coming but you just don't want to think about it so you distract yourself with the trees and the bushes and the scenery and how pretty it is outside so that you don't have to think about that cliff that is coming.

That cliff is your death. Whether or not you believe in God is a secondary kind of question on this one, why would you not give this the weightiest importance? I asked you this a few weeks ago, if what the Bible says about heaven is true and what the Bible says about hell is true, do you understand that these things matter more than everything?

And yeah things like marriage they even come secondary to this, this is the most important question you will ever, ever answer. Verse 31, on that day let the one who is in the house top with his goods in the house not come down to take him back and likewise let the one who was in the field not turn back. Jesus told his disciples to do the opposite of what the people of Noah's day and Sodom and Gomorrah did. He said live every, every second of your lives focused on the coming kingdom. Live every second of your lives with the eminence of eternity in my coming pressing in on your heart because it could break through at any moment. It might come in your death or it might come through my coming but either one will take you away from this life and into the presence of eternity forever. So that's number four word he used to describe, the fourth word he used to describe his kingdom, imminent.

Eminent. You should be ready at any moment to meet God. And then he's also saying here your life should be light and mobile and focused on eternity and not super attached to things here and now. Your life really ought to be light and mobile as the eminence of eternity presses in on it so you're not really super attached to things here now. Whatever situation you're in it's temporary and thankfully Jesus is always close by and our attitude should reflect that nearness. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor J.D.

Greer. Pastor J.D., we've been in this teaching series in the book of Luke for a few weeks now and we have a new devotional book to go along with it. What should we expect from this new featured resource? One of the things I love about devotionals that go along with whatever we're studying in the Gospel of Luke is it takes you deeper into not just the meaning of the text but its application in your life. So these 20 devotionals that we have provided here that go along with our study of the Gospel of Luke, each of them has a short devotional that just comes right out of Jesus's teaching there in Luke. It's going to ask you some questions to show you what it looks like to apply it to your situation directly with a gift of $35 to our ministry. We'll send you a copy of this. It's our way of just saying thank you. I think it'll be a real asset to your spiritual life and it also allows us to have the privilege of partnering with you as we take these messages farther and farther into communities where they're not hearing them. It's a gift to us. It allows you to become a partner with us and it's something we'd be very grateful for and as a way of saying thank you, we give you resources like these that I think will be a blessing to you.

Thanks, J.D. We'd love to get you a copy of this set of 20 devotionals. As you work through the content, we pray it'll encourage you to align your life around the power of the Gospel and share it with others.

Get a hold of Kingdom Come! 20 devotions from Luke when you donate today to support this ministry. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can give online at I'm Molly Bidevich. Be sure to tune in tomorrow when Pastor J.D.

reminds us that more people will miss the Kingdom of God because they neglect it rather than reject it. That's Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-27 15:58:50 / 2023-08-27 16:10:00 / 11

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