Saturday, October 28, 2006

Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom

I am safely back home from my trip. It was hard work but worthwhile. Maybe I will write more about it later.

But for now I want to bring you some insights from a book I am reading, Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom by Derek Morphew, published by and available from Vineyard International Publishing (see the Contact link on that page; not available at amazon.co.uk or amazon.com). Morphew is a South African pastor and the international director of the Vineyard Bible Institute. I bought this book at the Momentum conference, where it was being promoted by the main speakers.

Here is an extract from the chapter The Implications of the Kingdom, pp.80-81 which is relevant to some recent discussions on this blog:

The last days begin with Jesus and in Pentecost. Since then we have been living in the last days.

One hears Christians quoting texts about the special conditions that apply during the last days as though they only refer to the last seven years of world history, or perhaps to our times. This is to miss the point completely. The last days begin with the coming of Jesus. Since then they have just been edging closer and closer to the ultimate 'last' day. When Jesus came it was already the end. Perhaps we can speak of the end, the end of the end, and the end of the end of the end. New Testament texts are absolutely clear on this. Hebrews 1 can say, 'in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son' (1:2). Peter can say, concerning Jesus, 'He was chosen before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake' (1 Pet. 1:20).

This has crucial implications.

  • The last days are one, unbroken continuum, from the first coming of Christ, to the Second Coming of Christ, coexisting in tension with this present world. There is no period of church history that has not been a time of the last days. The last few minutes before the Second Coming will not be some different time, only the climax of the same mysterious dimension Christians have experienced since Jesus first came. This is not to say that history cannot 'hot up' or become more dramatic. Revelation shows that it will, but there is no other dispensation waiting to arrive, other than the very end of the end.
  • To grasp this is to understand that all dispensational and cessationist theories and schemes have no substance. Cessationists want to tear the time of the apostles away from the remainder of church history and dispensationalists want to do the same with the last seven years. But there is only one, continued dispensation of the last days. The Bible knows of only two dispensations, or ages: this age and the age to come. The age to come arrived when Jesus came.
Here is another extract, from p.84, which I found helpful in view of some things which have happened to me. I hope that others might also find it helpful:
  • Understanding the kingdom also makes us patient with what fails to happen. It is always here, almost here, delayed, and future. Every promise of God, every prophetic word, every calling, every ministry we engage in, has the mysterious sense of being continually delayed by God and yet just around the corner. We live tasting, yet with our mouths watering; filled and yet hungry; satisfied and yet longing; having all, yet needing all. Get used to it! It will not go away until the very end.
As I continue to read this book I will look out for other passages which might be worth sharing here.

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