In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:8-9)
I can remember well a half century ago when Judy and I were impacted with the power of the Gospel message and eagerly submitted our souls into the hands of the Father who loves us and to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, His son.
We had no clue as to where our unconditional commitment would eventually take us, but we knew we would only find peace and joy in His perfect will. Our sweet surrender to His grace and mercy led us into situations and places that we could have only imagined in our wildest dreams. We signed on to what continues to be the adventure of our lives.
Before I knew it, I was out of the Navy and enrolled at Asbury Theological Seminary where I was introduced to the basic tenants of Christian faith and doctrine. I appreciate my formal education experience there and the privilege to study under some of the finest professors in the world. I was also greatly blessed to be part of the famous 1970 revival that started at a chapel service at the college campus just across the street.
The coming together of sound doctrine along with strong existential evidence of the Lord’s presence in the affairs of men was obvious and led me towards a solid conviction that the Kingdom of God is a present and active entity, not merely a secret reality to be revealed at the end times.
I certainly had a lot of reading assignments in my seminary years, some of it was dry and boring, but much of it was alive and motivating. One of the more intriguing authors was George Eldon Ladd, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary who formally introduced me to what is commonly called Kingdom Theology, or in more scholarly terms, “Inaugurated Eschatology.”
It’s the concept that the Kingdom of Christ is already at work in the earth, but not yet fully manifested until the end of the age.
This idea of the “not yet, but already” helped me to integrate some of the philosophical dichotomies with which I was dealing while trying to interpret a single scripture from other scripture. Ladd concluded that the Kingdom was both God’s authority to rule, and also the realm of that authority.
It was so clear to me. As the Lord’s Prayer puts it (Matthew 6:10), Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on EARTH as it is in Heaven. The Kingdom is found where God’s will is being done, and at the same time, it is a coming climax to human history whereby everything is seen by all on earth as having already been placed under the absolute authority of Jesus Christ.
In the last few years a lot of attention has been given to extraordinary signs, wonders, and world events that point to the possibility that we could actually be living in the “last days.” Maybe we are; who can know for sure? There is always the temptation to get caught up in the hysteria of eschatological speculation.
While I’m not sure that I would eagerly embrace the tribulation that is associated with the end times, I certainly look forward to the Day of the Lord and the reconciliation of all things to God. I can shout “Maranatha” (Come, Lord) with the best of them, and sincerely endeavor to live a holy and godly life that will speed his coming (2 Peter 3:11-12).
I am suspicious, however, that because so many are expecting His imminent arrival, this may not yet be the time. He did say he would return at an hour we do not expect Him (Matthew 24:44). He just said, “Be ready.”
Within that admonition there is a lot of mystery, and mysteries tend to be theologically messy for those of us who like clear and simple doctrinal clarity. We’d all like to have that day marked boldly on our personal calendars so that we don’t miss it somehow. And if that were even possible, what would we be doing differently now?
Whatever that is, we might want to get on it while we have the opportunity. For me, it’s about seeing Jesus Christ on a daily basis, His awesome power, love, and authority. I see Him already high and lifted up and everything under His beautiful feet, because God said it is already so in the realm of the heavenlies.
My response is to live that reality as a witness to His lordship and to complete the ministry that He set before me… to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) and to be a faithful messenger and minister of reconciliation of men to God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).
I don’t want to be distracted by wild speculations or misled by false political interpretations and misapplications of scripture to this present evil generation. I also don’t want to chase every revival or movement of God’s power to be more enthusiastic about my love for the Lord.
At the end of it all, I just want to be found busy doing the good works assigned to me and faithfully fulfilling the responsibilities with which I was entrusted when the Master unexpectedly returns. The rest of it will take care of itself.
Perhaps another Asbury Revival will come and go. Maybe it would motivate another generation of young men and women to give themselves totally to God’s purposes here on earth. That would be wonderful.
However, it will not be a revival that brings the King of Glory physically back into this world; it will be His obedient servants who continue to do His will here on earth. The end, when the last trumpet announces His return, will happen when His Gospel is preached in the entire world as a testimony to all nations. (Matthew 24:14).
[LeRoy Curtis is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Asbury Theological Seminary. He served four years as a U.S. Naval Officer after which he became a pastor, Bible professor, educator, author, and missionary living in E. Africa for eight years where he and his wife developed a curriculum of biblical studies for untrained pastors in rural Kenya. His passion for training young church leaders takes him to various parts of the U.S., Latin America, and Africa. He and Judy are currently residing in Carrollton, Georgia.]