Christ Has Returned – The Kingdom of Heaven is Now
Note: This Position Paper has been contributed to this web site by Rod Campbell.
Christ promised His disciples that He would return as we can read in Matthew 24. However, did Christ ever promise to return in the flesh? We first need to understand the time period from which Christ Himself spoke about His second coming.
Everything that Christ spoke about refers to the spiritual Kingdom in which His presence in the flesh was ushering in. This Kingdom is for those who choose to follow Him by faith. He was continuously drawing people towards faith in Him; not faith in the old Law; and not blind faith in something that would happen in the undetermined future.
I do believe Jesus spoke of His second coming: however, I believe He is God and He spoke as God not as man. I do not believe that we are waiting for Him to return again. I believe He has in fact already returned. Why do we assume that Christ’s revelation to John on Patmos (the Bible book of Revelation) is some time in the future? I believe that Christ spoke of the present state of His church and how He would reign over it.
I find it remarkably interesting that everything including the Old Testament Law and prophecies all lead up to the reality of Christ coming in the flesh. And then it seems that we reach this moment in time when we are left hanging waiting for Him to return. God has never had a problem revealing Himself to His creation.
The stumbling block for many of us is that we have a tendency to see with our human sight. However, as children of God we are expected to see with spiritual eyes the spiritual Kingdom, which He has placed us into. We are not to rely on our human understanding or the doctrines of man to make assumptions as to what Christ has to offer us.
We comprehend Christ, as being in the flesh, but as people who want to walk by faith we must recognize Him more importantly as God in the Spirit. If we choose to walk by faith we must see past the physicality of Christ being in the flesh and acknowledge that He is fully God. He did not speak on behalf of God. He did not come as God’s spokesman. He is God and spoke as God.
When God came in the flesh He came to fulfill the Law. He came to provide the sacrifice needed for our redemption. He also came to establish His Kingdom among us here and now. We’re no longer seeking to please Him through acts of the Law. We become righteous or right with Him and joint heirs, a royal priesthood through belief in Him.
To understand what Christ revealed about His second coming we must also understand the context to which Jesus spoke to those who were following him previous to His flesh being put to death. We have to remember that these were people who genuinely desired to follow Him but who all struggled with their faith from time to time. While they believed that He was the Son of God He still needed to prove it to them by fulfilling the prophecies pertaining to His death, burial and resurrection. God would never die; however, His flesh did need to become a sacrifice so that everything foretold would come to pass. God needed a physical shell to provide that sacrifice.
Unfortunately as humans we sometimes rely on sight to believe. However, once we believe in Him it takes continually exercising our faith to continue to walk. For many people their faith begins and ends with the physicality of Christ. They trust only what they see. But Christ continuously drew attention to faith not in what He was going to do, but faith in Him. It appears that people are so drawn to the physicality of Christ and what He did that they may in fact have more faith in the cross than in Christ.
Christ was; understandably so, a master of teaching people from the perspective of their human sight and then drawing their attention to the spiritual reality of what He was offering them. In Matthew 24:2 He spoke of the physical Temple. “Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another, every one will be thrown down.” He forecasted the destruction of Jerusalem and the physical Temple which had already been prophesied by Daniel in Daniel 9:26.
Christ revealed to His disciples the importance that His forthcoming death, burial and resurrection held by impressing on them the fact that there would no longer be a purpose for the Old Law and the physical Temple.
By revealing this to His disciples He was instilling in them the importance that with His forthcoming death, burial and resurrection that there would be no more purpose for the Old Law and the physical Temple. He had previously told His followers, “I will destroy this temple which is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, made without hands.” In John 2:19 He tells a group of Jews present, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They assumed that He was referring to the physical Temple that had taken them forty-six years to build. And to this day those who walk by sight are looking for something physical to be rebuilt just as they are waiting for Him to return physically.
Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. Christ’s flesh represents the curtains of the physical Temple that were rent. Matthew 27:51 recounts the moment in which the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. That curtain explained in Exodus 26:31-35 describes how it separates people from the Holy of Holies, the presence of God. By this course of action Christ was allowing people of faith to come into the presence of almighty God no longer separated from Him, and no longer having to fulfill the obligation of the Law because God paid this price with His flesh as the ultimate sacrifice. There was a literal physical tearing of the curtains in the Temple, which in three days allowed Him to begin the spiritual rebuilding of the Temple. This time the Temple would not be rebuilt physically but instead within those who chose to exercise their faith in Him.