1 Corinthians 14:8 says, “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” In other words, “Unless the warning is clear, people will not hear it or will not prepare for battle.” We could also say, “If biblical teaching is not clear and accurate, people will not properly prepare for the future.”
I believe that today’s theology/eschatology message of the Church, with the possible exception of the salvation message, is about as clear as mud to most of us. Why? We have chosen verses to support sermon material and excluded important “trumpet call” verses like 1 Corinthians 2:9. But as it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Sadly, we hear this verse more often at funerals than in church services or bible study. Because this is one of many promises we believe are only for the future. We have put it off until a far and distant time. Our modern church’s thinking is to put everything off until the Millennium. We think that when Jesus returns, He will say, “Ok guys, now I’m going to give you the authority and power to walk as I walked when I was physically among you on the earth. Now that I’m back, I’m going to show you how to do that.” “OK, now listen up; this is how you do it.”
Isn’t that a pretty fair assessment of modern thinking? We believe He will return and then say, “You haven’t been doing it right, so now I’m going to show you how, and not only that, I’m going to guide you through it.” May I tell you something? Jesus is not going to use a Millennial reign to set things right on earth. He is not going to come back to demonstrate the kingdom for us. He already made things right the first time he came. He already modeled the kingdom for us and how we should walk in it. He showed us how and said, “I will send my Holy Spirit with you to guide you in it.” Go and do it now, not in the future, not when I come back.
Ephesians 3:10 says: His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Now, not any other time.
The church is prone to overfocusing on the past and, consequently, is always looking for the promised power to be in the future. As a result, our expectations are off. We are looking for and expecting the curses and tribulations of the past, spoken of in the book of Revelation, to happen in our present time, and we are placing the promised blessings of this present time into the future. Our focus has been almost completely backwards.
We need to get some things straight and quit following the winding road to nowhere, which seems to be the method the modern church prefers. We need to find the straight and narrow that is not restricting us to the past but rather opens the future to the promises of God for our time. That narrow road is like an empty notebook that is waiting for us to fill it with dreams, goals, desires, and victories.
We need to allow God to do what He wants to do instead of waiting on Him to do what He has already done. We need to do what we know we should be doing and stop expecting it to just happen. We need to get out of the straightjacket that this type of thinking has placed us in and walk in the newness of life that He promised.
Jesus said a lot about the Kingdom of God, but one interesting way he described it in Luke 13:18–19 was as a mustard seed. Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” The implication is that it will continually grow until it covers the entire earth.
Conventional teaching says everything gets worse before Jesus returns. That condition was descriptive of the last days of the Old Covenant, not today. It is not scriptural for our day. Things are not going to get worse; they are eventually going to get better as His people realize who we are, take his kingdom forth, and make disciples of all nations as He commanded. (Matthew 28:19,20)
According to Habakkuk 2, His kingdom will, at some point in time, cover the earth. Also, 1 Corinthians 15:25 states, for he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. When will that happen? When the church learns who we are and that we have the authority and power to walk as He walked now, not in some future time.
Our future is so much more glorious than we have been taught. Eventually His kingdom will fully come and His will, His instructions, will be fully implemented on earth as in heaven, and we get to participate in it, both now and then.
This is what is in the church’s future. The fulfillment of the Mustard Seed parable is the church’s future, not an anti-Christ world ruler or an unscriptural seven-year tribulation period.
Eventually, at the Resurrection, Christ will return, Christians will receive our reward, and unbelievers will receive their judgment. Considering this, we need to realize that we were redeemed for a purpose, a present purpose, and a future purpose, and it is not to sit idly by and wait to be rescued from an enemy that has already been defeated since the first century. Bill Johnson’s statement, “When the church realizes who she is, we will stop wanting to be rescued and realize there is a big difference between being rescued and taken home for a wedding,” is so true.
We will realize that we have kingdom work to do before the wedding takes place, and it should be about our father’s business. Our mandate is the same as Adam and Eves in Genesis: “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion over everything. Be fruitful in His kingdom so that it fills the earth with the knowledge of His glory, mercy, and love.
When the Lord came the first time, He gave us the majority of what we are now looking for in the future. He gave it to us to use for His kingdom and our lives and ministries. We do not have to relegate it to a future millennial reign. We do not have to go through a tribulation period and face an anti-Christ world ruler first. This unscriptural thinking has not only neutralized the effectiveness of the church but has also stolen the destinies of so many people, people who truly love the Lord but were misguided by these unsound doctrines. Many choose not to go to school or prepare for life or future needs. A few have even done away with themselves, fearing an “apocalypse.”
I don’t believe that we are in an unscriptural “parenthesis of time.” We are not in an age called the “Church Age,” where nothing happens except we watch and wait. If we feel we need to name this age, I would say we are actually in the first stages of the Kingdom Age but are ignoring the things of the kingdom.
The word “watch” was for them to look for the coming of judgment that was declared by Jesus in Matthew 23. The judging of Jerusalem and the Apostate Jewish religious system, which came about 40 years later with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. It was not an admonition for us thousands of years later to watch for His resurrection return. He plainly said that no one knew when that would happen, but until then, we are supposed to be actively using the authority and giftings He gave us to water and nourish the kingdom so that it expands and grows until, as Ephesians 4:13 says, “we reach the unity of the faith and maturity of Christ.”
How do we water and nourish the Kingdom of God? By working in it and using the authority and power given by Jesus in Luke 10:19 and John 14:12, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to do His will.
Jesus was the second Adam. He did it right and showed us how to do it right this time and how to tend the garden that God gave us, which is even better than the original garden.
What is the future of the church? It is the fulfillment of the mustard seed parable.
Mark 4:32 Jesus said, But when it, the mustard seed, is sown, it grows up, becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”
We have always heard this verse used as a faith verse, and it can be that, but Jesus indicated it had a deeper meaning. He said it was about the Kingdom of God, which grows to be the biggest tree in the garden, indicating the Kingdom of God is to grow to be the biggest kingdom on earth. This was also Daniel’s interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream of a stone that becomes a mountain that covers the earth. Dan 2:44.
This does not mean that goodness will reign totally and all evil will be completely expelled before the return of Jesus. Jesus explained all about this in the parable of wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24–43). He explained about an enemy that came and sowed his bad seeds in the earth. Those bad seeds are growing along with the good seeds of the kingdom. However, when Jesus returns to separate the wheat from the tares, there will be more wheat than tares. That’s the future we are looking for. What, then, should we expect? We should expect to see good and evil continue growing on the earth until judgment day. But at the time of the Lord’s return, the kingdom will be like the mustard tree, the largest and most influential kingdom on earth. Why doesn’t it look like that giant tree that covers the earth now? Because it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time—a very long time. God does not rush things.
Jesus said the Kingdom started with that small seed in the first century but it first grew into a small shoot, then a bush, then a larger bush, then a tree large enough that birds can nest in. Then, spiritually, there is finally a massive tree that covers the earth.
Where are we presently? I think we may just be in the large bush stage right now. But we are headed for the everlasting kingdom that covers the entire earth when He will reign in the hearts and minds of people and over His kingdom on this earth forever.
In view of what this parable describes, we have certainly lowered our expectations, haven’t we? We thought we were supposed to just sit and wait and watch for Him to come remove us from this old world, not try to make it better, when we are supposed to be changing this old world. We should be turning it upside down like the first-century church did in their day. We didn’t expect to be able to do that because we didn’t realize we could. Now we realize that we can and should. Now we know we can go forth from this point and live our lives in and from glory to glory while doing our part to bring the glorious will and plan of God to fruition.
Let the mustard seed of His kingdom grow and multiply until it fills the earth. Assist and enable the Kingdom of God to grow and expand like Jesus said the mustard seed would, and multiply until it covers the whole earth. That should be our objective and expectation.
Article by Ray Cleghorn. Ray is a retired pastor with several books listed on Amazon.com and elsewhere. His books and articles topics range from theological and eschatological to contemporary issues facing Christians today. Published by permission from faithwriters.com Article Source: https://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=43785