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STUDY 3: THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

THE establishment of God’s Kingdom throughout the earth is one of the main purposes of our

Lord’s Return, as we saw from Study 1. In this Study we will give more details connected with it.

Our subject is one of the most prominent in the Scriptures, in fact, the expressions, “Kingdom of

God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” occurs nearly 150 times in the New Testament alone. Its

prominence proves its importance in God’s Plan – so important that every part of His Plan is

associated with it to one degree or another. The word kingdom is usually understood to mean a

territory, state or people under the reign of a king or queen. But in the Bible it additionally means

a royal ruler or the authority by which he reigns (1 Corinthians 15: 24) (Luke 22: 29)

(John 18: 36).

 

Kingdom – Ruler or Rulers

 

Following are some passages showing that the word kingdom also means a ruler or rulers in the

Bible:

 

(1.) In Exodus 19: 5, 6, God promised that He would make natural Israel a kingdom of priests

(priestly kings) if they would prove faithful to Him by keeping His covenant; however, they as a

nation proved unfaithful to Him, so the privilege of becoming these priestly kings was given

instead to Spiritual Israel.

 

(2.) Another example is 1 Peter 2: 9, where the kingdom class is spoken of as royal rulers.

 

(3.) The meaning is quite clear in Revelation 1: 6 (“hath made us kings”) and Revelation 5: 10

(“hast made us unto our God kings”).

 

(4.) Romans 14: 17 assures us that the main privileges of the prospective kings for the Millennium

would not consist in their liberty as to food and drink, but instead as to righteousness, peace and

joy in the Holy Spirit; that they would readily forego the former set of privileges in the interests of the latter.

 

(5.) In 1 Corinthians 15: 50, the Apostle assures us that not as human, but as Divine beings the

Church inherits the privilege of becoming kings in the next Age.

 

A careful study of the expressions, “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Kingdom of God” will convince

us that they mean the rulers whom God will have as His Vicegerents, exercising His authority

among men in the next Age. In other words, Jesus and His faithful Little Flock are meant by these

two expressions (Matthew 5: 3, 10) (Mark 10: 14).

 

These two expressions refer to Jesus and the Church in the Bible from a twofold standpoint: (1)

during their earthly lifetime undergoing suffering and opposition from the devil, the world and the

flesh. The term, The Church Militant, describes them from this standpoint; and (2) in their

Heavenly existence, during their glorious reign over the earth. The term, The Church Triumphant,

describes them from this standpoint. The members of the Church in their condition during their

earthly lifetime is often called the embryonic, or suffering Kingdom; and in its Heavenly condition

during the Millennium it is called the born, or glorified Kingdom.

 

The Embryo Kingdom

 

When Jesus commissioned the Apostles to preach, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”

(Matthew 10: 7), He evidently did not mean that they were to announce that He and the Church

were about to reign over the earth; for nearly 20 centuries have passed since that charge was

given, and the Kingdom is not yet fully established in the earth in the sense of their reigning over

the earth. Instead, His thought was that the disciples should preach that the embryo Kingdom, the

Church, was about to undergo preparation to become rulers in the next Age.

 

He instructed them that a change of dispensation had come, that instead of preaching Moses and

the prophets any longer, they were to preach that the Kingdom of God, the embryonic Church,

was at hand. It was begun by Jesus in His ministry; it was continued by the Apostles at Pentecost;

it went out to the Gentiles at the home of Cornelius; it advanced throughout the Jewish Harvest;

and it continued throughout the Gospel Age, inviting those who desired to enter this embryo

kingdom an opportunity to do so.

 

Suffering Before Exaltation

 

When Jesus said that from the time of John the Baptist the Kingdom of God suffers violence, and

that the violent forcibly seize it (Matthew 11: 12), He would not have us understand Him as

referring to the Kingdom class while reigning in the earth, for then none would be able to resist

them, much less cause them to suffer. He is referring, instead, to the embryo Kingdom, the

Faithful in their earthly lifetime, as suffering for their loyalty to God amid trials and tribulations,

in order to prepare them to reign with Jesus as the glorified Kingdom in the next Age. The entire

history of the Gospel Age testifies to the truthfulness of His statement (Acts 14: 22)

(2 Timothy 3: 12).

 

St. Paul is very explicit on this point in 2 Timothy 2: 10-12: “I endure all things for the elect’s

sakes. . . . It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we

suffer, we shall also reign with him.”

 

The promise of the Divine nature and joint-heirship with Christ is expressly stated in

Revelation 2: 10 as being conditional on one’s faithfulness unto death as a member of the Body of

Christ. It reads: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer . . . be thou faithful unto death,

and I will give thee a crown of life.”

 

How important it is for all of God’s consecrated people to recognize this principle, that the

suffering of untoward experiences is necessary in order to be properly trained for future

exaltation! Early in this Age many forgot this, which led to the loss of the primitive truths and

practices of the Church and which developed the great Antichrist which claimed that the earthly

life is the time for the Church to reign over the earth. This fundamental error then opened the

floodgates for a thousand false doctrines and wrong practices to enter the Church. The true hope

of the Kingdom to come into power at our Lord’s Return always kept the Church pure in faith and

practice, whereas the loss of that hope and the adoption of the false hope of converting the world

and reigning over the race before our Lord’s Return occasioned the loss of that purity of faith and

practice, and the introduction of almost every evil word and work that became current during the

Dark Ages.

 

The Reigning Kingdom

 

Although the Church in the flesh would not reign during her earthly career, the Scriptures

explicitly teach that she will someday reign in the earth. If the Kingdom had been set up in royal

power at Pentecost, it would no longer be appropriate to pray, “Thy Kingdom come”

(Matthew 6: 10).

 

This passage, “Thy Kingdom come,” refers instead to Christ and the Church entering into their

reign at His Second Advent. Luke uses the expression, “the Kingdom of God,” in the same sense

(Luke 21: 31), for Jesus there tells us that when we see the signs of the times connected with His

Second Advent taking place, we should recognize that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand – that

He and His Church will soon enter into their office as Kings in the earth.

 

When the Lord assured the Apostles (Luke 22: 29, 30) that they would share with Him in His

Heavenly privileges – eating and drinking at His table in the Kingdom – and would occupy

thrones, ruling over Israel, He was referring to the Millennial Kingdom (Matthew 19: 28); for

instead of ruling over Israel in this life, they were greatly persecuted by Jews and Gentiles, even

unto death. (See also 2 Timothy 4: 1.)

 

Numerous other Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments could be cited. The expression,

“Kingdom of God,” is sometimes used to refer to Fleshly Israel, because she was typical of the

Church, the real Kingdom of God (Matthew 8: 12). This expression is also used of nominal

Spiritual Israel as God’s nominal Kingdom (Matthew 13: 31-33).

 

The Kingdom’s Creation

 

The Scriptures mention the seven creative acts whereby God brings to completion the creation of

a new order of beings, and that on the Divine plane. This New Creation consists of Jesus and His

Body members. Those seven steps are:

 

(1.) The begettal of the spirit in its individual members (John 1: 12, 13). This begettal made them

embryo New Creatures (2 Corinthians 5: 17).

 

(2.) The quickening of these embryos (Ephesians 2: 1).

 

(3.) Growth in grace and knowledge in their embryo condition (2 Peter 3: 18).

 

(4.) Strengthening of these embryos in every good word and work (Ephesians 3: 16).

 

(5.) Balancing the various parts of a Christlike character with one another (2 Thessalonians 2: 17).

 

(6.) Perfecting their characters, which truly conforms them unto Christ’s image (Romans 8: 29).

 

(7.) Spirit birth, experienced by participating in the First Resurrection, by which they obtain the

Divine nature, through obtaining immortality (John 3: 5-8).

 

The means that God used to produce this New Creation are: (1) His spirit (1 Peter 1: 22); (2) His

Word (John 17: 17); and (3) His providences (Romans 8: 28). But each member of the Kingdom

class would have his part in the creative process as well, by: (1) consecrating himself to God by

becoming dead to self and the world and alive to God (Romans 12: 1), that he might receive the

begettal; and (2) continuing to remain dead to self and the world and alive to God (Romans 12: 2).

 

The Scriptures picture this process by using the figure of the generation of a human being. God is

set forth as the Father who would beget the New Creation as His children (James 1: 18). The

Sarah Covenant is set forth as their mother (Romans 9: 7-9); and finally, they are set forth as born

from this Mother in the First Resurrection (Colossians 1: 18).

 

The Kingdom’s Invisibility

 

Because the Kingdom class become spirit beings prove that they will be invisible while reigning

over the earth. Angels are spirits (Hebrews 1: 7), and as such are invisible. No human being has

ever seen God’s body (John 1: 18). Nor can any man see Christ’s present body, which is a Divine

body (1 Timothy 6: 16).

 

When Jesus spoke with Nicodemus, he compared spirit beings to the wind, saying that those who

would be born of the Spirit would be invisible just like the wind. The wind comes and goes and

we know of its presence, not by our sight, but by other senses, and by its visible effects. So, He

said, are all those born of the Spirit (John 3: 8).

 

But someone may ask, How can there be such things as invisible rulers? We answer: There is now

an invisible kingdom ruling over this world – Satan and his angels (Matthew 12: 24-28). We

know, not only from the Bible, but also from the works of the World-Empire that Satan and his

angels are now the kingdom over this present evil world (Colossians 1: 13). Its invisibility

illustrates what the Kingdom of God will be like when it rules over the earth.

 

Jesus and the Little Flock will have the Great Multitude as their assistants in the spiritual,

invisible phase of the Kingdom (Revelation 7: 9-17) (Revelation 19: 1-9). This class consists of

those who were called to be members of Christ’s Bride, but who came short of the prize of the

high calling. They are included in Abraham’s seed among “the stars of heaven” for multitude

(Genesis 15: 5) (Genesis 22: 17).

 

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