36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:36-40)
“19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.” Acts (15:19-20)
How to Live Worthily in the Eternal Kingdom (by Ed Stevens):
Most (if not all) of the parables and discourses of Jesus are talking about what life would be like in the Kingdom when it arrived.
Since the Eternal Kingdom has arrived, and we are living in the earth life visible realm of it, all of that teaching about life in the Kingdom fully applies to us now. Preterists do not deny that Jesus’ Kingdom teaching applies during the transition period. But its applicability does not stop there. The Kingdom did not fully arrive until AD 70 when Jesus put down the rest of His enemies, especially in His defeat of Death (condemnation under sin to eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire) by the Resurrection of the Dead (1 Cor. 15:23-28) (Those departed souls who were separated from God waiting in the Hadean/Sheol realm for Christ to defeat the power of death which kept them separated from their God (Heb. 2:14-15)). So, if these teachings applied to the transitionary stage of the Kingdom, then they will apply in an even greater and fuller sense once the Kingdom fully arrived in AD 70.
Everything that Jesus and the apostles taught about how the saints were supposed to live in the Eternal Kingdom after it fully arrived applies directly to us now. All of those moral and ethical and spiritual principles that they taught to the saints during the transition phase of the Kingdom now apply to us in the eternal phase of that Kingdom.
Apostle Paul refused to bind anything on the Gentiles that was destined to pass away at AD 70. Therefore, anything he taught to the Gentiles (unless clearly predicted to cease at the Parousia) was intended for the Eternal Kingdom after the Parousia.
What Goes and What Stays?
Some Principles That Help Us Decide What Goes and What Stays:
- Anything mentioned by Jesus and the apostles as being a part of the coming Kingdom (Sermon on Mount & Parables). What will life in the Kingdom be like? Much (if not all) of Jesus’ Kingdom teaching was focused on defining what life in the Kingdom would be like, and what was required of anyone to be allowed to enter it and dwell in it when it arrived.
The beatitudes (Matthew 5) and the virtues that are characteristic of life in the Kingdom after the Kingdom arrives. The beatitudes define the character of those who are Kingdom dwellers. They stand in stark contrast to the life of the Jews under the Law. Notice the contrast between “you have heard” versus “but I say to you.”
All of the parables were about the Kingdom (“the Kingdom may be compared to”). All the apostles gave a lot of teaching about what life was supposed to be like in the Kingdom, and what the nature of the Kingdom would be. And they got this straight out of the OT prophets and Moses himself who constantly emphasized the spiritual nature of our relationship with God.
- Anything given to the Gentiles by Christ and the Apostles (and by Paul especially) has to be considered applicable AFTER AD 70, unless it is specifically said to cease at the Parousia, or “restricted” to the transition period, such as the gifts of prophecy and tongues which included speaking and writing by inspiration (1 Cor. 13:8-10).
Since Paul said that those gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29), how could those gifts cease being practiced at AD 70 if the people who had those irrevocable gifts were still alive on earth after the Perfect arrived?
The cessation of the practice of those gifts at the Parousia (when the Perfect arrived) implies that all of the folks who had those irrevocable gifts must have been taken to heaven where those gifts were no longer needed, because of the better things that they now had in heaven (“knowing fully” and “seeing Him face to face” – 1 Cor. 13:12).
Those gifts ceased being practiced by those irrevocably gifted saints simply because those saints were no longer on earth to practice them. However, the gifts were not revoked, but simply replaced by the better things of “knowing fully” and “seeing face to face.”
- Apostle Paul was the champion of Gentile liberty, so anything given by him to the Gentiles can be considered eternal, since he would not allow the Gentiles to be brought into bondage to anything that was destined to pass away at AD 70.
And anything which the apostles forbid to the Gentiles must be considered things that would not be included in the Kingdom when it arrived.
In fact, Paul says they would be under a curse (and severed from Christ) if they tried to bind upon the Gentiles anything that was destined to pass away at AD 70 (cf. Galatians and Romans).
What passed away, changed, or continued after the Transition Period?
- The Physical Types and Shadows of the Old Testament were fulfilled and converted to their spiritual realities in Christ.
- The Church passed from its building phase into the finished Temple.
- The Bride was espoused (engaged) during Transition Period, with the marriage supper at AD 70. Jesus did not abandon His bride after the rapture and AD 70 marriage in the heavenly realm. They live happily ever after raising up a godly family. We are the spiritual children of that marriage made in heaven.
- The Church (both invisible in heaven and visible on earth) is here to stay (Eph. 3:21).
The New Creation breaking into the old creation –> NC Kingdom living post AD 70:
The Purpose, the Goal:
- Rom. 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
How –> A New Creation:
- 2 Cor. 5:16-17, “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature (or creation in the NKJV); the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (NASB)
- Gal. 6:15, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”
What is our life to be about à how are we to live:
- Rom. 13:11-13, “…let us walk properly, as in the day…”
- Rom. 14:16-17, “…for the kingdom of God is not “eating and drinking,” but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
- Not like the Old Covenant rules and regulations (do and don’t).
- Gal. 5:19-23, “Now the works (fruit) of the flesh…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit…”
- Eph. 4:17-24, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
- Eph. 2:19-22, “Now, therefore, you (Gentiles) are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you are also being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
- Growing spiritual temple.
- 1 Cor. 6:9-20, “…the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God…and such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified…your bodies are members of Christ…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…”
- Each member affects the whole corporate body.
- Rom. 6:12-19, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body…do not present your member as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourself to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God…for just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness…now ‘present’ your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”
- Rom. 12:1-2, 5, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by all the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (worship). And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good an acceptable and perfect will of God…so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
- Col. 3:1-10, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above…set your mind on things above…for you died…therefore put to death your members which are on the earth…in which you yourselves once walked…put off…since you have put off the old man with his deeds…put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”
- 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1, “…you (it is plural = we) are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them…’ Therefore…do not touch what is unclean…let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
- Phil. 1:6-11, “…being filled with the fruits of righteousness…”
- Isa. 32:1, 6-8, 16-19, “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice…for the foolish person will speak foolishness, and his heart will work iniquity; to practice ungodliness, to utter error against the Lord…also the schemes of the schemer are evil; he devises wicked plans to destroy the poor with lying words…but a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand…then justice will dwell in the wilderness…the work of righteousness will be peace, and the effort of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. “My people” will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, “though hail comes down” on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation.”
- John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Worldview Which Empowers Us to Walk Worthy:
Isaiah 9:6-7, “of the increase of his government there will be no end.” This verse states that it is going to go on increasing without ever coming to an end. It is talking about an ever expanding Kingdom. Isaiah 9:6-7 says that it never stops growing; he says it continues to increase without an end.
Humanity continues in the physical universe to spread its dominion throughout the infinite universe forever, while an “ever increasing” number of Christians keep coming into heaven throughout all generations of eternity to come. No end, forever increasing.
Ezekiel 47 – talks about a little trickle of water coming out from the temple that was built in the last days, and as it goes a thousand cubits it gets deeper and wider until after four thousand cubits it becomes a river overflowing its banks filling the whole world.
Some futurists think it will only continue to grow until it reaches perfection here on earth. But Ezekiel 47 shows that it never reaches perfection here on the earth. There will always be some stagnant backwaters where the River of Living Water does not reach. Perfection is only found in heaven.
Nevertheless, things will continue to improve here on earth, as we see it described here in Ezekiel 47, and just like we have seen over the past two thousand years. Ezekiel 47 paints a picture of the growth of the Kingdom as it continues to increase throughout eternity.
That Little Trickle of Living Water becomes a mighty river which purifies the nations, and heals the nations. Revelation 21 and 22 picks up on that theme and carries it further. It talks about all the nations bringing their glory into this new Kingdom and walking by its light (walking worthy) and being healed by the leaves of the Tree of Life on the banks of the River of life.
Those two texts (Ezek. 47 and Rev. 21 – 22) talk about that continual ongoing growth of the Kingdom, and the overwhelming of every culture on the globe by its spiritual principles, its eternally long-term optimistic worldview, and its godly lifestyle. The way Christianity changed Western Civilization and America is a good example of what it will do in every culture eventually. It may take another 2,000 years, but it’s happening, it’s already begun. And it is unstoppable.
However, we need to remember that history goes in cycles – two steps forward, one step back, and then two more steps forward again. We may be in one of those periods when we are forced to take one step backward, but before we know it Christianity will leap two steps forward again. There’s no way Islam and Hinduism and Buddhism can ever stop the advance of the gospel in their culture. It’s already working like leaven in an unstoppable way. They hate it, they resist it, and they kill Christians, but they cannot stop the eternal growth of the Kingdom.
The gospel will prevail. Christ said He would build His church and the gates of Hades would not be able to overcome it, overpower it, or stop it. If Satan could not stop it, then there’s no nation on this earth that can stop it either. That Kingdom has come, and it will continue growing and spreading throughout all of eternity. Therefore, walk worthy of it:
- “Rise up O men of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of Kings!”
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 3b Matt. 16:27-28 (sub study on “Heaven and Earth”)”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 9 Rev. Chapter 21”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 10 Rev. Chapter 22”]