30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
April 23, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine a very important truth of God's word. I have no way of really knowing how many may be listening to these 30 minutes of God's word presented each Sunday morning at this time here on WAVG radio, but it is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things religiously that are pleasing to God. As we discuss the lesson of the hour entitled"Scriptural Reasons Why Christ Will Not Reign Upon the Earth" this morning, I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you and not my will. It is my hope that each one of you this morning will have the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Also the apostle John warns us that we should "....not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Of all the things that could be labeled upon a man, I certainly don't want to be labeled as a false prophet or teacher. I want you to be able to see for yourself that what I am saying concerning those things that we need to do religiously is found in the Bible. Anything that we are taught by any man should be able to be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in our Bible. If I or anyone cannot do that, then they deserve the label "false teacher." Friends, please have your Bible ready and let's study together another truth of God. Today, we will be looking at the fact that Christ will not reign upon the earth and we'll be able to understand this fact by simply looking at the word of God, the Bible.
It is our purpose today to strengthen previous efforts by pointing out certain scriptural facts and principles which make an earthly reign of Christ out of the question. It is a rather lengthy proposition, but this discourse is intended to show that the scriptures teach that "Christ will not reign for one thousand years upon the literal throne of David in the city of Jerusalem after His second coming."
First of all, He shall not rule in such an arrangement because His second coming is to mark the end of time here on this earth rather than the beginning of His earthly reign. When David, by inspiration, anticipated the exaltation of Christ to the throne a full thousand years before the events which he announced, He swept the prophetic harp to sing, "Lift up your heads O you gates, and be lifted up you everlasting doors and let the king of glory come in." The same event was described by Daniel in the 7th chapter of his book, beginning at verse 13. We read, "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed."
These prophetic utterances found reality in events described in the gospel records. John the Baptist, Christ, the twelve and the seventy announced "the kingdom is at hand." The Lord was crucified and buried; on the third day the angel came from heaven and rolled away the stone from the sepulcher and Jesus arose. By many infallible proofs He showed himself alive, and for forty days went in and out among the disciples speaking of things pertaining to the kingdom. Among other things He said in Matthew 28:18, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."Jesus did not expect to assume that authority two thousand years in the future but was at that time ready to take the scepter of dominion and rulership. The reign of which He spoke was absolute and universal. Jesus said, "All authority is given unto me." In John 18:36, Jesus made it very clear to Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world, nor would it ever be. Listen now to what Jesus said to Pilate, "Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Jesus made it very plain that the reason He was on earth was to "bear witness to the truth." Most did not believe Him then, and most do not believe Him today.
Based upon the claim that "All authority is given unto Me," Jesus uttered the great commission and told the apostles to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt 28:19-20). If Christ did not by His own resurrection have the rights and powers of the Lord's anointed, He had no right to commission His servants to preach the gospel, and the impression we have had of the importance of the New Testament system is a mistake; that is IF the above contention is true and if so, then there is nothing sacred about it. But we know by understanding that the New Testament is God's word for us today (2 Tim 3:16-17), that Christ's great commission was then and is today valid.
Very soon after the Lord ascended from the presence of the disciples and from the Mount of Olives, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. The of Pentecost dawned. The apostles were filled with the Spirit when He descended upon them and, under His influence, they delivered the great sermons on Pentecost. All of the speeches were not recorded for us but Peter's words were preserved for our enlightenment. He said, "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know--"Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death" (Acts 2:22-23). These Jews that were gathered together listening to Peter's sermon, well knew that their prophets had so predicted the coming and death of Jesus. Then the apostle Peter made this statement: "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it" (Acts 2:24). Peter then drew upon their knowledge of the writings of David and proved that David had said that the body of the Holy one should not see corruption in the tomb. That made sense to them and their obstinate minds began to yield. Why? Because they knew exactly what the scriptures stated, now they just needed the mind to be able to receive the truth without prejudice.
That brings us now to the next step in this process. David could not have been speaking of himself and they knew it because his sepulcher was well marked and located. Peter made the application for them and pointed out that he (David), "being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne" (Acts 2:30). So what is the point here? The point is that Christ was raised form the dead; they had seen him, all of which was in keeping with the prophecies of David. Why did God raise Him up? Peter quoted David and approved his statement that Christ was raised from the grave "to sit". To sit where? On David's throne. Modern day prophets say, "Yes, that's right, but he was not to sit upon David's throne until at least 2000 years had passed but we think that he is likely to occupy that place soon." Friends, notice the folly of such reasoning. First, they tell us that Christ came to establish his kingdom but the Jews turned Him down and he postponed it. Then God raised Him up from the dead to sit upon the throne of David and, although two thousand years have passed, He does not sit there. You know, God could have saved Himself some embarrassment had He left Jesus in the grave all of these centuries, or at least if he had not told why he had raised Him from the dead. I hope we can all get these important points. Friends, God raised Christ from the dead to occupy the throne of David. Christ did sit and does sit upon that throne today. He reigns supreme as king of kings and Lord of Lords and none can deny the truth of that. It is true that it is not on David's literal throne in Jerusalem, but it is on His spiritual throne in heaven, and that is Peter's explanation of the matter.
Listen to what Peter states concerning that fact in Acts 2:32-33, "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear." The conclusion is inevitable. God raised Him from the dead to sit upon the throne as king. He went in and out among them, thus proving His resurrection, ascended in the clouds as the prophets had predicted, was brought into the presence of the Ancient of Days and received the scepter of dominion and power. The first official act of the new king was to dispatch the Holy Spirit to guide and direct the Apostles, His ambassadors of the new kingdom. Under His direction, they announced terms of citizenship and exercised that measure of authority which king Jesus had granted them.
Peter continues in Acts 2:34 with this statement: "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."
Now listen to the conclusion of Peter's sermon: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Friends, there was not the slightest doubt about it. These Jews gathered here on Pentecost knew exactly what Peter was talking about, and they knew that Jesus had ascended to sit on the throne of David in heaven. They knew Jesus was not coming back to reign upon this earth and they knew also what they needed to do in order to gain eternal salvation.
I want us now to notice the connotation of the terms that were used. It says He was both "Lord and Christ." The word Lord means supreme ruler, master, or king. Jesus, you will recall, claimed to have "all authority." He was made Christ, which means the Lord's anointed. Here we have the fulfillment of Old Testament hopes and prophecies. The ancient Jews had longed and looked for their Messiah, the anointed king of Israel. Peter said, your hopes have bloomed into reality. Your dreams have come true. Jesus has ascended to the throne. If you wish to be citizens of his dominion, if you wish to serve under His banner, you must repent and be baptized by His authority in order to have remission of sins. He will not only accept you as His subjects, but He will permit His spirit to dwell within your hearts and lives as your abiding guest and comforter. What was the result? Thousands gladly received His words and were added to the church.
From the foregoing discussion it surely must appear evident that Jesus is now a king in all fact. With no rightful objection to His claims, there is only one exception to his universal rulership. In 1 Corinthians 15:27 it indicates that one exception is God Himself.
Friends, we have proved, we believe, to the open minded individual, that Christ became king. He is head of His body, the builder of His church and the king of His kingdom. And, incidentally, there is only one reign of Christ mention in the scriptures. Understand the force of it. Christ was to reign as king. He is reigning now. Therefore, there will be no reign of Christ in that sense after this present one. Now, how long was that reign scheduled to last? Let's let the apostle Paul tell us in his writing to the Corinthians. The details are found in 1 Corinthians 15:12 and following: "Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up-- if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power" (reading through verse 24). Now wait a minute Paul, you must be mistaken. Let's try it again. Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the thousand year reign on earth. No, No! My friends, Christ's coming will mark THE END. The end of what? If I should say no more about it, I predict that you couldn't misunderstand it without help. What ends at the coming of Christ? Let's read it again "....afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then comes the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father." Christ is reigning now. When He comes and the dead are raised He shall deliver the kingdom back to God. His coming marks the end of His reign and not its beginning. Now read verse 25, "For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." If His reign ends when He shall have put all enemies under His feet and if the last enemy is death, His period of rulership shall have ended and His mission shall have been fulfilled when the dead are raised.
To repeat the statement made earlier in this discussion, Christ will not reign on the literal throne of David in the city of Jerusalem for 1000 years after His second coming because at His second coming His reign is terminated that God may be all in all.
Again, Christ will not reign upon a literal throne in the city of Jerusalem since, at His coming, the earth and all things therein are to be destroyed by fire. There is one solemn assurance that Christ will not reign on the earth, for by reason of His coming it is to be consumed. Next week, I plan on bringing another lesson here on WAVE 1450. However, there is one sure way by which next week's radio lesson will not be presented and that is if this radio station were to be destroyed by fire. That is exactly what 2 Peter 3 says is to happen to the earth at the coming of Christ. There will be no more earth as we now know it on which Christ may reign.
Let's take a moment and read that passage of scripture from 2 Peter 3:10 and following: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness."
The question at hand had been raised by scoffers who had belittled the idea of the Lord's appearance since there were no immediate signs of His coming. Peter said, don't lose faith, the Lord has never yet forgotten a promise and the day of His coming will surely dawn. On that day will come the destruction of the world as we know it and everyone would give serious thought to His manner of living and conduct. Read it again, "What manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness." In verses 12-13 we read, "looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."
The expression "hastening the coming" indicates the fervor with which the righteous anticipate the day of the coming of the Lord, in that it ushers in the eternal bliss for which we sigh. Notice the words again, "hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved." In other words, it is the coming of that day that starts the great event in which all earthly things are to be destroyed. Christ cannot reign upon the earth since His very presence, at the moment of His coming, will bring about he great destruction by fire.
But the consoling element in the story is this, "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." There is no passage of scripture in our Bible that even suggests that Christ will ever set foot upon the earth again. Rather, the opposite is indicated.
Before we close our lesson this morning, let us look at this final objection. If Christ is never to set foot upon the earth again, how can such an idea be harmonized with the promise that the Lord will return for His own? Or as is expressed in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus." How can He come without arriving?
The matter may be illustrated in this manner. Suppose that a friend and his wife were to visit your family. For some reason the husband has to go home for a few days but the wife remained as your guest. In the natural course of events and with the passing of a few days, the husband calls explaining that he is on his way after her. For some reason, sufficient to the parties involved, arrangements are made for you and your family to drive out to the edge of the city, taking the wife to meet her husband. No one could sensibly argue that he had not come for her, yet no one would maintain that he had ever crossed the line of the city limits. 1 Thessalonians 4 speaks of the Lord's coming. The dead in Christ are to be raised and the righteous living will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and for very good reason too, because the very coming of the Lord will set off the chain of events which shall bring about the destruction of the earth.
Friends, it doesn't make any difference that there are so many things unexplained but it makes a world of difference whether you are prepared for His appearance. Obey His gospel and then live the Christian life. Be devout in your relationship with the church, live in Christian sobriety and faithfulness to God and man, and then you will have nothing to fear. Let us all remember the words of Revelation 22:14 "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city."
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"