Already and Not Yet – Clay Peck

As Christians we must live with a certain amount of tension.  We live between the “already” and the “not yet,” between the cross and the crown.  While we look ahead, we must also look back because we are only able to look ahead by virtue of what’s behind.  It is only by virtue of the cross that we have any hope for the future.  There can be no crown without the cross.  An undue preoccupation with end times obscures the cross.  We must ever remain “cross-eyed” Christians. 

 

When are the last days?  Technically we have been living in the “last days” since the cross.

 

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Heb. 1:1,2, NIV)

 

“He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:20)

 

“But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb. 9:26).

 

In God’s way of reckoning, the last days began at the cross.  The cross is not just a sign post on the road to utopia, some incidental thing along the way.  No, the cross is the focal point of salvation history, the apex, the climax.  As far as human history goes, everything before the cross is prologue, everything after is epilogue.

 

Scholars use a phrase called “inaugurated and consummated eschatology.” The kingdom of God was inaugurated at the First Advent; it is consummated at the Second Advent.  The kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven was the theme of most of the parables Jesus told.  He spoke of it both as a present and a future reality.  The OT prophecies concerning a kingdom found their fulfillment in Jesus – inaugurated at his first coming, consummated at his Second Coming.  God has established his kingdom through Christ.

 

John the Baptist announced the arrival of Christ by saying:

 

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matt. 3:2)

 

When Jesus began preaching, he proclaimed those same words (Matt. 4:17).  Jesus did miracles which were evidence of the kingdom.  When he healed the sick, blind and lame, and drove out demons, he demonstrated what the kingdom would be like in it’s final consummation when there was no more sin or Satan.

 

When he sent his disciples out to preach he told them:

 

“Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’” (Luke 10:9)

 

When some doubted the origin of his power Jesus said:

 

“If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” (Luke 11:20)

 

Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God.

 

“Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come by observation, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20,21)

 

“…the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21, NASB)

 

Jesus repeatedly told parables that began with the phrase “The kingdom of God is like…” He told stories of wheat and tares that grew together, of seeds that grew in different soils, of mustard seed that started small and grew large, of yeast that permeated the dough and transformed it…  Apparently it was God’s plan to plant his kingdom in human hearts and in the world through a gradual process.  On one occasion the Scripture records –

 

“He went on to tell them a parable, because…the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” (Luke 19:11)

 

 God’s kingdom was inaugurated through the ministry of Jesus and the cross event.  It was established as a kingdom of grace in the hearts of believers.  It is to grow and expand until the consummation at the Second Coming when God will fully establish his kingdom of glory.  Only those who first become a part of his kingdom of grace will be citizens of the kingdom of glory.

 

Jesus spoke of his kingdom as both a present reality and a future reality.  After establishing the Lord’s Supper on the night before the cross, Jesus told his disciples:

 

“I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:18)

 

There is a reference to the future nature of the kingdom.  Christ-followers must live with a certain amount of healthy tension as we live between the already and the not yet.

 

But we must always stay cross-eyed!  We must live in the glory of the cross, recognizing that the future is secure only because of the accomplishment of Calvary.  The cross was D-day which makes V-day possible.  The decisive-win at the cross makes the final victory day possible.

 

Someday in the future Jesus will come, there will be a resurrection, a judgment, the wrath of God will be manifest toward sin, but the remnant will be saved.  They will be translated, justified, sanctified and glorified.  They will be granted eternal life.  Death will be destroyed and sin will be brought to an end.  The devil will be destroyed.  All things will be made new.  We will be citizens of heaven.  We will sit down with Christ.  We will reign as priests.  We will be blessed with every spiritual blessing, and God will be with us.

 

Those are certain realities.  But you know what?  All of those things are ALREADY accomplished in Christ at the cross.  They can happen in the future, only because they have already legally occurred through Christ at the cross.

 

Let me show you how each of those future realities are already true as a result of the cross.

 

Resurrection

“God raised us up with Christ…” (Eph. 2:6)

 

Judgment

“Now is the time for judgment on this world…” (John 12:31)

 

Wrath

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39)

 

Remnant

“So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.  And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” (Rom. 11:5,6)

 

Translation

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” (Col. 1:13, NKJV)

 

Justified

“All who believe…are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:22,24)

 

Sanctified

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11)

 

Glorified

“And those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:30)

 

Eternal Life

“Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)

 

Death Destroyed

“But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Tim. 1:10)

 

End of Sin

“But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb. 9:26)

 

Devil Destroyed

“That by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil.” (Heb. 2:14)

 

All Things New

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

 

Citizens of Heaven

“But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:20)

 

Seated With Christ

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ.” (Eph. 2:6)

 

Reigning as Priests

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father.” (Rev. 1:5,6)

 

Blessed With Every Spiritual Blessing

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3)

 

God Will Be With Us

 “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)

 

As we live between the “already” and “not yet,” we can look forward with joyous expectation and confidence to the consummation of the kingdom, because it has already been established and inaugurated by virtue of the cross!