“After My Departure”

The apostles did not expect good things to happen to the church after they departed.  On the contrary, they frequently warned of the apostasy that would come in the absence of their direction.  The comfort was that the Lord was coming soon in His kingdom and therefore each believer should hold firm to what he’d been taught, looking for the day of the Lord (also called “the day of Christ”).  Thus Paul had warned the elders at Ephesus about what would happen after his departure.  Sure enough, by the time John wrote Revelation, the church at Ephesus was receiving a rebuke from Jesus.  Yet He told them to return to their first love, reminding all who had heard the Olivet discourse of His prophecy that the ones who did not let their hearts grow cold could endure to the end and be saved in the coming of the kingdom.

Jesus and His apostles were unified in their view that the demise of the church would coincide with the coming of the kingdom.  Paul and Peter became convinced that they would not survive to see it.  There was always the question about whether John would live to see it, given what Jesus had said to Peter about him.  Since the apostolic witness on this point is consistent and abundant, why do people act today as if the Lord or the apostles had established some sort of transfer of power that would allow the church to be administered generation after generation waiting on a kingdom whose coming was still supposed to be considered imminent almost two thousand years later?

It’s much easier to believe the New Testament on this point:  The kingdom of God came in the midst of an apostate church at the end of the apostolic age.  All church traditions handed down from that point, which would have been around the late 1st Century A.D., would therefore be questionable.  The kingdom has been in the earth since then.  If we’re seeking Jesus, we’ll find Him in the kingdom, not church. 

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