In this present age, the earth will NOT be “full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” That will happen in the age to come.
We spoke about it like this:
Someday “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea”. (Hab 2:4) Someday “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.” (Phil 2:10)
WOW!! Who can argue with that! (Well I can! These are Millennial texts, that will be fulfilled in the age to come!)
This type of passion and optimism is familiar with all who name the Name of Jesus. Actually it is nothing new but has been around for centuries. It was the belief of the early mission movements in the USA and Great Britain. It was the teaching of Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney. It is known as Postmillennialism, a view that the church will impact all spheres of society and like leaven “transform” the whole loaf. The church will enter into a “Golden Age” and which will usher back King Jesus.
However, as I have studied this subject intensively for the past 3-4 years, I see that this is not what Jesus promised nor prophesied. Some may think me pessimistic or cynical yet I believe it is the realistic answer to the subject.
The kingdom of heaven – a mixture in this present age.
The kingdom of heaven, in its present state, will be a mixture UNTIL the Son of Man returns and rules and reigns from Jerusalem. The kingdom of heaven, in this present age, will be a mixture of wheat and chaff, wheat and tares, good fish and bad fish, good and bad wedding guests, wise and foolish virgins, lazy and faithful servants, sheep and goats. (Mtt. 3,13,22,25)
Can Christ have said it any clearer?
“So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,” (Mtt 13:40-41)
Jesus is not saying here that He will gather out of the world those who commit lawlessness… but out of His Kingdom! While “men were sleeping” Satan sowed tares among the wheat. Tares are not weeds but an imitation crop of wheat, that’s why Christ said: “Allow both to grow together until the harvest” – which is the end of this age. The image of tares is so important – it is an subtle imitation sown by the devil into the kingdom! Mankind does not have the discernment to judge the inner workings of the human heart.
Many people may be inside the net, and yet not IN Christ!
In a word this subtle, unassuming mixture is called: “Christendom”. Or as author J.C. Ryle calls it: the “visible Church.”
There is hardly any point in Christianity on which greater mistakes exist than the nature of the visible Church…
Good and bad are now all mingled together in the visible Church of Christ. Believers and unbelievers – converted and unconverted – holy and unholy – all are to be found now among those who call themselves Christians. They sit side by side in our churches. They kneel side by side in prayer. They listen side by side to our sermons. They sit side by side at the Lord’s Table and receive the same bread and wine from our hands.
But it will not always be so. Christ will come the second time with His winnowing fork in His hand. He will purge His Church, even as He purified the temple…The kingdom of this world will never become the kingdom of Christ, and the Millennium will never begin until the King Himself returns.” (J.C. Ryle)
Until the King returns, we will have a kingdom where there are “professors of Christ” growing side by side with “possessors of Christ”. The separation belongs to the Judge of all the earth!
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet [the Last Trumpet], and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has [now] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev 11:15; see also Dan 2:44,7:14)
Let the church rise up and attain Her full potential in the earth! That is the cry of this hour, yet it must be subjected and submitted to the WHOLE truth of God’s Word, lest we find ourselves offended “in the last days”. Our expectations must be the same as our Lord’s expectations, right down to the minutest detail. Of this I am more than certain…
Many parables have been taught by “the professing, visible Church” that give the exact opposite meaning to what Jesus taught. Tares are merely weeds… Leaven is not “corruption” but a force of good penetrating the whole world… Birds of the air “nesting in the branches” symbolize growth…
Please be careful that you use consistency in interpreting these parables, that will keep us from confusion:
“When Jesus used any symbols more than once, He always meant the same thing. If He spoke of the sower, He always meant the same person, He meant the Son of Man. If He speaks of the field more than once, He always means the same thing, which is the world. In the first place, He is not speaking of the Church, He is speaking about the world. If He speaks about the birds of the air, and in the parable of the sower, He says the birds of the air were the evil one; then, when He says that the birds of the air find a place in the great tree, He means the same thing. The same words mean the same thing every time.” (T Austin-Sparks)
You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (James 5:8)
Yours for the coming King!