Sabbath, March 16, 2019

Lesson 11 – The Kingdom of Grace and the Kingdom of Glory

“As the message of Christ’s first advent announced the kingdom of His grace, so the message of His second advent announces the kingdom of His glory. And the second message, like the first, is based on the prophecies…. The Saviour Himself has given signs of His coming, and He says, ‘When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.’” –The Desire of Ages, p. 234.

Appearance of the kingdom

1. What startling prophecy did the Lord give one day regarding the appearance of God’s kingdom?
Mark 9:1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

“The Saviour has seen the gloom of His disciples, and has longed to lighten their grief by an assurance that their faith has not been in vain. Not all, even of the twelve, can receive the revelation He desires to give. Only the three who are to witness His anguish in Gethsemane have been chosen to be with Him on the mount. Now the burden of His prayer is that they may be given a manifestation of the glory He had with the Father before the world was, that His kingdom may be revealed to human eyes, and that His disciples may be strengthened to behold it. He pleads that they may witness a manifestation of His divinity that will comfort them in the hour of His supreme agony with the knowledge that He is of a surety the Son of God and that His shameful death is a part of the plan of redemption.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 419-421.

2. How is this promise to be understood? What happened about a week later in confirmation of the Saviour’s words? Describe the significance of this event.
Mark 9:2, 3 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.
Luke 9:29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
Matthew 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

“Jesus had told His disciples that there were some standing with Him who should not taste of death till they should see the kingdom of God come with power. At the transfiguration this promise was fulfilled. The countenance of Jesus was there changed and shone like the sun. His raiment was white and glistening. Moses was present to represent those who will be raised from the dead at the second appearing of Jesus. And Elijah, who was translated without seeing death, represented those who will be changed to immortality at Christ’s second coming and will be translated to heaven without seeing death. The disciples beheld with astonishment and fear the excellent majesty of Jesus and the cloud that overshadowed them, and heard the voice of God in terrible majesty, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son; hear Him.’” –Early Writings, p. 164.

“The disciples, awaking, behold the flood of glory that illuminates the mount. In fear and amazement they gaze upon the radiant form of their Master…. Upon the mount the future kingdom of glory was represented in miniature–Christ the King, Moses a representative of the risen saints, and Elijah of the translated ones.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 421.

Human opinions about the kingdom

3. What conviction was held by certain people who had followed and heard Jesus’ preaching? Even later, what erroneous ideas affected the believers in Thessalonica?
Luke 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.

“Paul knew that there was before the church a time of great peril. He knew that faithful, earnest work would have to be done by those left in charge of the churches; and he wrote to Timothy, ‘I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.’ 2 Timothy 4:1, 2.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 502, 503.

4. What parable did Jesus give to help them understand the issues of God’s kingdom and the necessity of preparation for and effort in its behalf?
Luke 19:12, 13 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 

“When the Master went away, He gave to every man in every age and in every generation, His work; and He says to us all, ‘Occupy till I come.’” –Pastoral Ministry, p. 104.

“God has left us in charge of His goods in His absence. Each steward has his own special work to do for the advancement of God’s kingdom. No one is excused. The Lord bids us all, ‘Occupy till I come.’ By His own wisdom He has given us direction for the use of His gifts. The talents of speech, memory, influence, property, are to accumulate for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. He will bless the right use of His gifts.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 116.

“Christ says, ‘Occupy till I come.’ Luke 19:13. It may be but a few years until our life’s history shall close, but we must occupy till then.” –(Review and Herald, April 21, 1896) Last Day Events, p. 76.

Kingdom of grace and kingdom of glory

5. Was the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed a present or a future reality? Describe the two aspects that are necessary to understand regarding how the Lord’s kingdom functions.
Hebrews 4:16
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Matthew 12:28; 19:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you…. 19:28And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“As used in the Bible, the expression ‘kingdom of God’ is employed to designate both the kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory. The kingdom of grace is brought to view by Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews. After pointing to Christ, the compassionate intercessor who is ‘touched with the feeling of our infirmities,’ the apostle says: ‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace.’ Hebrews 4:15, 16. The throne of grace represents the kingdom of grace; for the existence of a throne implies the existence of a kingdom.
In many of His parables Christ uses the expression ‘the kingdom of heaven’ to designate the work of divine grace upon the hearts of men. As used in the Bible, the expression ‘kingdom of God’ is employed to designate both the kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory.” –The Great Controversy, p. 346.

6. After John the Baptist and Jesus, who were responsible to preach the good news of God’s kingdom at hand? When did the kingdom of grace begin? When was it ratified and made secure?
Matthew 10:7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 
John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

“The kingdom of grace was instituted immediately after the fall of man…. Yet it was not actually established until the death of Christ. Even after entering upon His earthly mission, the Saviour … might have drawn back from the sacrifice of Calvary. In Gethsemane the cup of woe trembled in His hand. He might even then have wiped the blood-sweat from His brow, and have left the guilty race to perish in their iniquity…. But when the Saviour yielded up His life, and with His expiring breath cried out, ‘It is finished,’ then the fulfillment of the plan of redemption was assured. The promise of salvation made to the sinful pair in Eden was ratified. The kingdom of grace, which had before existed by the promise of God, was then established.” –The Great Controversy, p. 347.

7. When will the kingdom of glory be established? Who will have the supreme joy of being part of it?
Matthew 25:31-35 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in. 

“The announcement which had been made by the disciples in the name of the Lord was in every particular correct, and the events to which it pointed were even then taking place. ‘The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand,’ had been their message. At the expiration of ‘the time’–the sixty-nine weeks of Daniel 9, which were to extend to the Messiah, ‘the Anointed One’–Christ had received the anointing of the Spirit after His baptism by John in Jordan. And the ‘kingdom of God’ which they had declared to be at hand was established by the death of Christ. This kingdom was not, as they had been taught to believe, an earthly empire. Nor was it that future, immortal kingdom which shall be set up when ‘the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;’ that everlasting kingdom, in which ‘all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’ Daniel 7:27….

“So the throne of glory represents the kingdom of glory; and this kingdom is referred to in the Saviour’s words: ‘When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations.’ Matthew 25:31, 32. This kingdom is yet future. It is not to be set up until the second advent of Christ.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 346, 347.

For additional study

“The kingdom of grace is now being established, as day by day hearts that have been full of sin and rebellion yield to the sovereignty of His love. But the full establishment of the kingdom of His glory will not take place till the second coming of Christ to this world. ‘The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven’ is to ‘be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.’ They shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. And Christ will take to Himself His great power, and reign.” –Review and Herald, November 14, 1912.