1 Corinthians 15:23-24
But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.…
I. WHAT THAT KINGDOM IS WHICH CHRIST IS TO SURRENDER.
1. There is the kingdom of nature, presided over not by the God of grace, but by the God of providence. In it there is system, order, reason, laws, everything that makes up a kingdom. But this is not the kingdom spoken of here, because it is not peculiarly Christ's, and there is no necessity it should pass away. There are many reasons for believing that all its glory and richness only separated from man's sinfulness shall be preserved.
2. Now, there is over and above this the high, celestial, glorious kingdom in which the Lord reigns amongst His people and His angels in unveiled majesty. But this is not the kingdom whereof the apostle is speaking; for what reason is there that it should end? It is a kingdom in which God has gathered together the very choicest of all creatures. No; unless all Scripture be untrue, this kingdom of recompense and of glory is meant to be indestructible.
3. There is, however, a kingdom which is neither the kingdom of nature nor the kingdom of glory, but something between the two: but nevertheless, it belongs to earth in one respect, and to heaven in another. Its great object is to rescue sinners, and to build them up in holiness; and therefore the subjects of this kingdom are those that have been once rebellious, but, through the grace of God, have been brought into a state of loyalty and allegiance to the Lord. One of the grandest sketches we have of this kingdom is in Psalm 110, where we see the Lord's willing people being established, and His enemies crushed, and Christ reigning till He hath put all enemies under His feet. All men being originally God's enemies, are predestined to be subdued — subdued by grace, or subdued by power. It is simply a question for ourselves in what department we shall find our. selves placed — enemies who have been reduced into friends, or enemies who are destined to be "broken." Now this kingdom being provisional, is destined to pass away. Why should the scaffolding remain when the building is completed? When God's mighty work is finished, should there be ministers, ordinances, means of grace?
II. THE PARTICULAR TIME AT WHICH THIS IS TO BE DONE.
1. At the moment that Christianity was launched, calamities began to thicken upon the house of Israel. Jewish tribulation is running its course, but that will come to an "end." "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
2. There is another dispensation that has set in concurrently with that of Gentile mercies. In "the times of the Gentiles" we are now living. But this dispensation must come to its "end."
3. Another dispensation seems to have started concurrently with the dispensation of Christianity; that of Antichrist. Paul tells us in Thessalonians and 1 Timothy that in the last days perilous times shall come; and that this antichrist shall go on until the Lord shall "consume him with the Spirit of His mouth, and destroy him with the brightness of His coming." So that will have an "end."
4. There is another grand expectation, viz., that of the returning Redeemer. And now take up these scattered threads and bring them, as they require, to a definite point connected with the second advent of our Master. Now is it not something to stand upon the mountain-top, and to look down upon all these railway trains making their way to one point? To one plunging on with the title of "Jewish doctrines," and another with the title "Gentile privileges," and another with the title "Antichrist" stamped upon them? Is it not something in the far distance to see the faintest glimmer of an unearthly light, and to see by the direction of all these various forces that they are hurrying one and all precisely to the same point, and eventually meeting at the world's great centre, the returning Saviour? When all these destinies come to receive their concurring fulfilment, then the prophecy before us stands accomplished. And when that end comes there shall come a crush of kingdoms, for everything that is earthy shall fall into destruction, and "The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ"; and the Master shall be all in all. There shall also be the crush of a kingdom. The kingdom of grace is wanted no longer; it has done its necessary, its devoted work, long enough; for it has educated the Lord's people for their privileges. And then the mighty President shall take it in His hands, and lay it down before the throne of His Eternal Father. Christ's official existence, not His natural and intrinsic glory, will terminate, and then, without distinctions of official character, "God shall be all in all."
Parallel VersesKJV: But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.