DELIVERING UP THE KINGDOM.
I Cor. 15: 12-28
I Cor. 15:24 says, “Then comes the end when he delivers up the kingdom to God the Father, when he puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” This passage declares that at the second coming of Christ all affairs of this earth will come to an end, that Christ will put down all rule and all authority and power, that Christ must reign as a King until all enemies are put under His feet and the last enemy to be destroyed is death. At this time all kingdoms of earth will come to an end, but one of the kingdoms on earth will be delivered up to God the Father. Christ will personally present one kingdom to God for His approval.
The first thing to be determined from this passage is that of all the kingdoms which will be on earth at this time, which kingdom is to be delivered up to God the Father? This kingdom was first announced to the world by John the Baptist who looked like the prophet Elijah and preached like him. He proclaimed that the time was fulfilled, the prophecies about the Messiah were about to take place, and the whole nation was excited and aroused. From all parts of the country they flocked to hear this man of God who cried aloud in the wilderness of Judea, “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew said that John was the one Isaiah was talking about when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepared the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.” Isaiah spoke of John 700 years before John was born, as recorded in Isa. 40:3).
With profound interest the nation of Israel listened to the exciting message of John the Baptist. Even though his sermons were harsh and some of his speeches as rough as the garments he wore, they willingly bore with them and even thought He was the Messiah. He preached the “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” and great numbers of Jews came to him confessing their sins and were baptized of him in the Jordan.
A short time later Jesus made his appearance, and John identified Jesus as the predicted Messiah of the Jews. John dutifully handed his disciples to Jesus with these words, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. After this John retired an was little more heard of.
It is clear that the kingdom which John said was at hand or near was the kingdom of the Messiah or the kingdom Christ established on the earth. Jesus began to preach and said, “There be some standing here who shall not see death until the kingdom comes with power.” Thus, the kingdom would have to come within the lifetime of some of His listeners, and it did. However every sermon Jesus preached and every message He taught concerning the nature of His kingdom convinced most Jews Jesus was not the King they were looking for, and His kingdom was not t he kingdom the prophets said the Messiah was to establish. They thought He was t be more of a military leader than a kind, humble religious leader. They were expecting a Messiah who was to redeem Israel, that is, save them from their Roman enemies and from the hand of all who hated them. and rule the nations with a rod of iron. But Jesus wanted to save them from their sins. As a result they charged him with being an imposter. As the apostle John said, “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.”
Nevertheless, His chosen apostles preached the kingdom John the Baptist preached and the kingdom Jesus preached and proclaimed it to all Israel, even if they rejected their message. The burden of all the recorded preaching of the apostles was this—that the nation had misunderstood their prophets and had mistaken the nature of the kingdom which they predicted.
The apostles spent their entire life trying to overthrow this misunderstanding of the Jewish nation. The prophet Daniel predicted that in the days of the Roman empire that God would set up His kingdom on the earth, and Jesus set that kingdom up in the first century of this era. However, the only organization which Jesus established was His church. Thus the kingdom of Christ and the Church of Christ are one and the same thing. The church is called a kingdom only because it has some similarities to earthly kingdoms. It has it's own king, it's own laws and subjects. Now this kingdom Paul says is to be delivered up to God at the second coming is Christ's church, also called His kingdom, over which Jesus rules as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Before I leave this point I must tell you about one of the most astonishing developments that has occurred in the Christian religion and the kingdom which Christ has established on earth.. Most denominational churches in Christendom have sided with the Jews about Christ and His kingdom. They teach that the kingdom Daniel and the other prophets predicted to come and bless the earth has never yet come. As did the Jews,
they claim that the church is not the kingdom which the prophets assigned to the Messiah. They tell us the church cannot convert the world and will not until Christ comes back. Their belief is that at the second coming Christ will set up His kingdom on earth and reign personally on earth for a thousand years, then the world will be converted. The church, they say, is too weak and cannot convert the world. Christ must be here on the earth to save the human race. It is amazing to me that professed Christians hold the same error the Jews had on the kingdom which the apostles set themselves to overthrow. Thus most Jews today are awaiting for the Messiah to come and set up His kingdom, and many professed Christians are also waiting for the Messiah come to earth and set up His kingdom.
I now return to our text which says when Christ comes back He will deliver up His kingdom to God the Father. We agree with the apostles that the church was the kingdom the prophets talked about, and it will be the church that Christ delivers up to God at the end of the world. However most people in the denominational world believe that the kingdom has never yet come and at Christ's second coming He will set up His kingdom and rule for a thousand years. After that thousand year period, then He will deliver up that kingdom to God the Father. This error greatly belittles the church and its power and influence in the world. It is an awful charge to make against the church that it cannot convert the world, for God planned for the church to evangelize the world before time began. This is another one of the many deceptions Satan has introduced to the Christian religion. We should know about it. I hop you have a better opinion of the church than prevails in much of the religious world.
Secondly, the delivering up of the kingdom implies the end of the church in its present form. The text says, “Then comes the end when He delivers up the kingdom to God when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” The end is mentioned twice in this passage. The end of what? First, His church kingdom will end in its present form. The termination of some kind is intended. In v. 28 Paul says, “Now when all things are made subject to God, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him that God may be all in all.” Not only will the church end in its present form but all of the affairs of earth will end, for the apostle says, “Christ must reign. till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last en enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” This passage speaks of the end of Christ's earthly kingdom and the end of the world itself. Just before Jesus ascended to
heaven He said to His disciples, “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” If we have done what Jesus said to do, first to become a baptized disciple and then observe and live according to His teachings, we will be in that kingdom that Christ delivers up to the Father at the end of the world.
Thirdly, if the church is to end in its present form and be delivered, up to God, what will be the new form of the church and what will be the status of Christ?. Will Christ fall into insignificance and just disappear? By no means. It seems that He will be our Mediator for all eternity. Rev. 5:12 says, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom an strength and honor and glory.” That will be His status in heaven. The next verse says, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” Jesus spoke of the glory He had with the Father before He came to earth, and He expressed His desire that all His redeemed ones would behold this glory and be with Him in the heavenly world. We will see the glory He had when He existed in the form of God before His incarnation.
When the church-kingdom is delivered up to God and ends its present form, it will assume a new form. The apostle Peter said at that time we shall receive an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:11). The new form of the church in heaven will be the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Rev. 22:1,3 we read, “And he showed me a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb....and there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it...” Here, God and the Lamb are named with emphatic distinctness, and the pure river of the water of life(a symbol of eternal life) is seen flowing from the throne of both–from that of God and from that of the Lamb.
Finally, we learn from our text that just before the church is delivered up to God, there will be a general resurrection of the dead. In Cor. 15:22 and 23 we read, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfriuts, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.” Christ was the first human being to rise from the dead never to die again, and at His coming all the righteous will rise as He did, never to die again. People who happen to be alive at His second
coming will have a wonderful experience. They will not have to die.
I Cor. 15:51 says, “Behold I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we all shall be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.” Paul shed more light on this
great event in I Thess. 4:16, “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”
It is revealed that at His coming, there will be a voice, a shout and a sound of the trumpet. It seems to me and most all commentators that these will be audible sound, an audible and mighty sound. We recognize three particulars–the shout of Christ Himself, he voice of an angel, perhaps the chief ruler of the angels, and the sound of a trumpet which awakens the dead and collects God's righteous people. Christians, that is your hope, the coming of Christ. Jesus said “Watch for it, for no one knows the day or hour it will take place. Expect it, live for it and hope for it. In a sense, the death of any individual, is to all practical purposes the coming of Christ to that individual. It is to him the close of time, all prepration has ended, and it is the opening of an unchanging eternity.
All this is true, but our death does not take the place of His coming. We don't desire death, but we desire the coming of Christ. Death to us is not attractive but repulsive. Let us keep our hearts and our minds on our glorious hope, the coming of Christ. At the Redeemer's appearance all His redeemed will be collected together and perfectly and publicly glorified. Even so, come Lord Jesus. As the old hymn says, “Let us hope and trust, let us watch and pray and labor till the Master comes.