THE TERTIARY ROLE OF THE CHURCH
A. The tertiary role of the Church is to be a witness of that Kingdom—and the judgment and restoration therein—to all the nations.
This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (before the establishment of the Kingdom, cf. v.26)… 46 This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations (before “everything” is fulfilled), beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses (Gk. martus) of these things (i.e. suffering before the glory). (NIV Luke 24:44-48)
So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel (cf. “the kingdom of God” v.3)?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses (Gk. martus) in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV Acts 1:6-8)
- He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses (Gk. martus) whom God had already chosen– by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify (Gk. diamarturomai) that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. (NIV Acts 10:41-42)
B. This witness primary consists of the proclamation of the gospel/good news of the Kingdom. The essential constitution of the gospel is the Resurrection and the Kingdom.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (ESV Mark 1:14-15)
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you… 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures… 17 if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins… 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death… 32 If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (NIV 1 Corinthians 15:1-57)
1. Humanity’s ultimate problem is death/suffering/sickness and its root of wickedness and rebellion (i.e. bad news). The biblical gospel (i.e. good news) boldly declares to the sick and dying the overturning and conquering of death in the resurrection of the body. Moreover, it declares to the poor and oppressed the uprooting and destruction of wickedness in the judgment of the Day of the Lord.
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. (ESV Matthew 9:35)
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.” (NIV Luke 4:17)
2. On the other hand, the Christonaturalistic gospel essentially acquiesces and concedes to death, incorporating it into the core of its good news. Oxymoronically, death is the means of escaping death, which itself is immortalized when the material heavens and earth are destroyed.
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile… 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men… 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I die every day— I mean that, brothers– just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord… 32 If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God— I say this to your shame. (NIV 1 Corinthians 15:16-34)
3. This Christonaturalistic gospel is proclaimed throughout the earth in sermon, song and lifestyle. Though a retarded hope, it is the only thing available to the modern church.
“Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away. To a home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away. I’ll fly away, Oh Glory; I’ll fly away. When I die, Hallelujah, by and by; I’ll fly away… Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away. To a land where joy shall never end, I’ll fly away.”
4. Though the “heavenly destiny” of the modern church is the core of the modern gospel, it is surprisingly little addressed. The enemy desires to destroy all hope to humanity, even a retarded heavenly destiny.
John Calvin, the great expositor, never wrote a commentary on Revelation and never dealt with the eternal state at any length. Though he encourages meditation on Heaven in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, his theology of Heave seems strikingly weak compared to his theology of God, Christ, salvation, Scripture, and the church… A great deal has been written about eschatology—the study of the end times—but comparatively little about Heaven… Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote an in-depth two-volume set titled The Nature and Destiny of Man. Remarkably, he had nothing to say about Heaven. William Shedd’s three-volume Dogmatic Theology contains eighty-seven pages on eternal punishment, but only two on Heaven. In his nine-hundred-page theology, Great Doctrines of the Bible, Martyn Lloyd-Jones devotes less than two pages to the eternal state and the New Earth. Louis Berkof’s classic Systematic Theology devotes thirty-eight pages to creation, forty pages to baptism and communion, and fifteen pages to what theologians call “the intermediate state”… Yet it contains only two pages on Hell and one page on the eternal state. When all that’s said about the eternal Heaven is limited to page 737 of a 737-page systematic theology like Berkof’s, it raises a question: Does Scripture really have so little to say? Are there so few theological implications to this subject? The biblical answer, I believe, is an emphatic no! In The Eclipse of Heaven, theology professor A. J. Conyers writes, ‘Even to one without religious commitment and theological convictions, it should be an unsettling thought that this world is attempting to chart its way through some of the most perilous waters in history, having now decided it ignore what was for nearly two millennia its fixed point of reference—its North Star. The certainty of judgment, the longing for heaven, the dread of hell: these are not prominent considerations in our modern discourse about the important matters of life. But they once were.’”
At this point, The Christian’s Pilgrim by Jonathan Edwards is highlighted in the audio teaching, which can be downloaded with 3b’s audio teaching.
Tim Warner articles that John Harrigan references can be downloaded here (Tim Warner’s website http://www.answersinrevelation.org/):
Millennial Week Eschatology http://www.oasischristianchurch.org/air/chiliasm.pdf
Chronology of the Whole Bible http://www.oasischristianchurch.org/air/chronology.pdf
C. The good news of the Kingdom also inherently consists of bad news toward the wicked and unrepentant. Thus, the good news is consistently accompanied by a call to repentance unto the forgiveness of sins (cf. Mt. 3:2; 4:17; Mk. 1:15; Lk. 3:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 10:43; 11:18; 13:38; 14:3; 17:30; 20:21; 26:18; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 2:13; Tit. 2:11; etc.).
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”… 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (ESV Matthew 3:1-6)
Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd… 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people… 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’… 36 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NIV Acts 2:14-38)
Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment (Gk. anapsuxis) will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. (NLT Acts 3:19-20)
 Albert E. Brumley, “I’ll Fly Away” (1929), public domain.
 Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Tyndale House Publishers, 2004), 8-9.