In 1 Corinthians 15:45 Jesus is called “the last Adam. “ The word “last” is the Greek word from which we derive “eschatology” or the doctrine of last things. You could say that Christ is the “eschatological Adam.“ The first Adam surrendered himself to the prince of darkness who rules over this present evil age. The last Adam has come to defeat that prince of darkness and to bring forth the age to come.
My point tonight is there is an overlapping between the age in which we live and the age which is to come. Satan is still the god of this world, and Christians still wrestle with their Adamic fallen nature. On the other hand, the last days are already here and have been for some time now. Eschatology isn’t something off in the distance, we are within its borders today. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” – Hebrews 1:1-2. Hebrews 6:5 reminds us that we have “tasted the good word of God, and the power of the world to come.” On the Day of Pentecost as Peter was preaching, he reached back into the prophesy of Joel and declared that both the trials and blessings of the last days have arrived.
You might say that we are living in the period of the “already, but not yet.”
The first step toward the last step – the beginning of the ending – began with the incarnation of Christ. Then it moved forward through Calvary, after which Christ ascended to Heaven and to His throne. The Lord Jesus is not awaiting His throne, He sits upon it at this moment. But thus far His Lordship has only been inaugurated – His dominion has not been consummated. Peter told the Jews, “Christ is Lord, and He wields power as such, as seen in the miracles of this Pentecost, and in the salvation of souls.” Oh, but there is so much more to come.
The Bible tells us that Christ has come, but He is still yet to come. “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” – I John 4:3. But then there is Hebrews 10:37 – “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”
How is it that we have been raised with Christ and yet we are still waiting for the resurrection? One is spiritual and the other is physical. “You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” – Ephesians 2:1. “We know that we have passed from death unto life…” – 1 John 3:14. But, “He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you” – II Corinthians 4:14.
Christ’s kingdom has come (Luke 17:21), yet we wait for it (II Peter 1:11). “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! far, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” – Luke 7. “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” – II Peter 1. We are living in the “already, but not yet.”
Judgment has come, but judgment is still on the way. Eventually God’s verdict will be made public, and the penalty will be inflicted on those without Christ. “He that believeth on (Christ)is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” – John 3: 18. Revelation 20:11-15 – “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place far them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out ef those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it· and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake ef fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” God “hath appointed a (future) day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained;, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” – Acts 17:31. This the “already, but not yet” period.
The renovation of creation has begun (II Corinthians 5:17) but is not fully implemented (II Peter 3:13). “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look far new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. “
How many dispensations are there?
There is the theological answer, and there is the Biblical answer. The theologian often says “seven.” The Bible speaks of history as being divided into two ages: “this present evil age” and “the age to come.” The present evil age is the period when sin and evil reign on the earth. It began with Adam and everyone since has been living in that period. The age to come is the time when righteousness will reign on the earth.
The Old Testament saints longed for the day when the Messiah would reign and put an end to sin. However, rather than only one appearing, we have learned from the New Testament that Christ’s coming takes place in two stages. At His first appearing, the age to come and the kingdom of God were inaugurated with Christ being anointed as King. When the King is present, His Kingdom is also present.
In His life, death, and resurrection Christ defeated sin, death, and the Devil, introducing the glory of the age to come. But even though that future age has been introduced, this present evil age continues and will do so until the second coming of Christ. In that, the two time-periods of this present evil age and the age to come overlap each other. At Christ’s first appearing, the kingdom of God was inaugurated, conquering the power of sin, death, and the Devil. But their full end will not occur until the consummation of the kingdom of God at Christ’s second appearing.
So Christ’s kingdom has begun. Christ has received the kingdom, He has been crowned. He has completed the demands of the Father, and He has been rewarded for His humiliation by being exalted over all His creation. However, though all power in heaven and earth have been given to Him (Matthew 28:18), we are still awaiting the last of His enemies to be subdued under His feet. This will occur at the consummation and His glorious return.
Notice the verbs Paul uses in I Corinthians 15:25-27. “For (Christ) must reign (continue to reign), til he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he that put all things under his feet.” Christ is already Lord; He reigns and will do so until all his enemies are put under his feet. We are children of the kingdom now, but we must wait until the second coming until the last enemy – death – is destroyed.
The Kingdom of Christ.
At this moment, Christ’s reign is over a spiritual kingdom which is invisible to those outside of faith. He sovereignly grants repentance and faith, saving those whom the Father has given to him. But there is much more. It may be invisible to the naked eye, but He rules over all things. He even sets up kings and removes kings. But primarily He rules over a spiritual kingdom which uses spiritual warfare and spiritual weaponry. As He said to Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence” – John 18:36. Does this mean that Christ not at this time Lord? We answer – Didn’t He overcome and save your rebellious soul? Of course He is Lord.
Christ is a king; He is THE King. However, He claims that His kingdom, at least for a while longer, is not one to be looked for on the earth. We will not find its physical borders nor its castle. But it can be seen in the hearts and in the midst of the people of God (Luke 17:21 ). The rest of it is to be awaited for from heaven, when Christ will come to judge the world, redeem His people from sin and death, and recreate the heavens and the earth, wherein righteousness alone will dwell. “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
For the present time it is seen as a spiritual, but very real and very literal, kingdom. Just because we can’t see or perhaps feel things spiritual, that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. I was asked the other day to explain “high pressure” and “low pressure” as mentioned by the weatherman. Others can do it, but I can’t, and yet I know they exist. Christ’s Lordship is primarily spiritual at the moment. But we know it exists. And we are awaiting its full consummation. Then the heavens and earth will be made anew, and the people of God will be resurrected with glorified bodies, and in this state the kingdom will take on a physical manifestation.
Though we currently are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, reigning with Him, yet we remain upon the earth as ambassadors of Christ. Since all authority in heaven and earth has been given to the man Jesus Christ, we have a delegated authority to spread the influence of this glorious kingdom. How did Christ begin His declaration of the Great Commission? By declaring His own authority. Since all power in heaven and earth have been given to Him, we can and must go into all the world to preach the Gospel. Because Christ is ruling and reigning, we, as His ambassadors, are empowered to spread the influence of His kingdom. We are appointed as spiritual soldiers to go to all nations and to claim the hearts of men for the sake of our King.
Moreover, the fact that the age to come has penetrated the present age we have great motivation for holiness and righteousness. We are a part of the kingdom of God now, so even when we go to work, or care for our children, or when we take care of our homes, or we love our wives, and submit to our husbands, and even when we submit to the governments God has ordained, we are advancing the eternal kingdom, exalting its King, and investing in its economy. Everything we do in this life must be done as unto the Lord. Those things that we do now in the kingdom of this world can be of value in the kingdom of God. Since we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom, our life and conversation in this world ought to increasingly mirror the holiness and righteousness of our true homeland.
And, again, were we not once His enemies? There are two ways in which enemies will become His footstool: By submitting to Him joyfully in faith. Or by refusing to submit and being forced to confess Him as Lord with a rod of iron. As His ambassadors, we, who were once His enemies, enjoy the privilege of bringing some of His enemies to submit to Him joyfully in faith by preaching the Gospel. As we have been redeemed, even so we call others to take part in and rejoice in this same redemption. What a glorious privilege!
This fact ought to give the believer much hope. We are serving a true and righteous King. We are no longer enslaved to a cruel and harsh taskmaster – we are serving the gracious King of kings, whose yoke is easy and burden light. And since He is King, we have the joy and hope that He will abolish every last one of His enemies. If we are a part of His kingdom, His enemies are just as much our enemies. We can rejoice in the fact that sin, death, and the Devil all will be crushed underneath the foot of the Son of God. But as we are in Him, they also will be crushed under our feet as well.
Romans 16:20 – “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. “