Monday, November 12, 2007

how to read the NT [future]

Jesus’ first recorded words in the NT are that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” [Mt 4.17]. Shortly after this, Jesus is found teaching that we should pray for the kingdom to come [Mt 6.10]. So, is the kingdom here or is it coming? Jesus and all the other NT writers would say “yes.” It is both here and coming. This “already/not yet” tension is a unique, but vital lens with which to read the NT.

Those under the old covenant thought that the Messiah’s arrival would immediately right all wrongs, usher in shalom, and bring justice to the world’s chaos. How surprising though that He is doing this in a two-fold way: inaugurating the kingdom at His first coming and consummating the kingdom at His second coming.

This is not simply seen in the use of the word “kingdom” in the NT, but in various other ways. One example is how Paul encouraged and challenged his friends in Rome. He told them that they were dead to sin [Ro 6.2] and then turned right around and told them to consider themselves as dead to sin [Ro 6.11]. Moreover, Paul sometimes says that we have been saved and on other occasions he says that we will be saved. This language can partially be rooted in this “already/not yet” tension.

So, in Christ we currently experience some of the blessings of the future kingdom. With these blessings, we should also be looking for that day in which He will return to gather His saints, judge the nations, and restore all things for His sake.

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