The Church The Lord's Kingdom
Raymond E. Harris
Through the years premillennialist have differed on many points. However, they all agree on one major theme. They all deny that the establishment of the church fulfilled the kingdom prophecies of the Old Testament. This denial of the fulfillment of the kingdom prophecies has in turn spawned the myriad of complex false doctrines held by all varieties of premillennialists.
At this time we will consider some Old Testament kingdom prophecies and point out their fulfillment in the establishment of the church of Christ.
The prophet Daniel, writing some 580 B.C., foretold the establishment of God's Kingdom. As Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, he revealed that Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom would be followed by three great, but lesser, kingdoms. History has proven Daniel's word to be true. Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, Babylon, was followed by the Medo-Persian, the Macedonian and the Roman Empires. Daniel revealed that in the days of the fourth (Roman) empire, God would set up a kingdom. Let's look at the verse: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and 'the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Dan. 2:44).
Notice Daniel specified the time the prophecy would be fulfilled: ". . . In the days of these kings." God's Kingdom would come in the days of the Roman Kings. That should be plain and specific enough for anyone! The man of God said, God "shall" set up His kingdom in the days of the fourth great world empire, which We now know to have been the Roman Empire.
Now to the fulfillment. In Luke 3:1-3, we learn that John the Baptist came forth preaching ". . . in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Ceasar." And so we have John preaching in the days of the Roman Empire, when Daniel said that God would set up His kingdom. Let's consider now what John was preaching. Notice Matthew 3:1-2: "In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (emp. mine, R.E.H.). Then, a short time later, Jesus said, "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" /Mark 9:1). Hence, we find both John and Jesus, living in the days of the Roman Empire- declaring that the Kingdom of God was "at hand" and that that generation would see ". . . the Kingdom of God come with power."
Thus the premillennialists find themselves in the very unenviable position of disputing and denying the fulfillment of prophecies made by Daniel, John the Baptist, and Jesus Christ.
Now let's see what really happened. In Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus demonstrates that the kingdom and the church are one and the same. Look at the passage, "And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church ("assembly" or "called out body of people," R.E.H.); and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys /authority, R.E.H.) of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." It should be obvious that Jesus uses the terms "church" and "kingdom" interchangeably. The kingdom is the church and the church is the kingdom.
You will remember that in Mark 9:1, Jesus said the kingdom would come in that generation with power. Then in Luke 24:49, He commanded the apostles, ". . . And, behold I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." In Acts 2:1-4, that promise was fulfilled as the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and received inspiration and power. Continuing on in Acts 2:14, we find Peter standing up with the other apostles; he began to preach the Gospel of Christ for the first time. In Acts 2:38 Peter told those gathered on that occasion what to do to receive the remission of sins. And verse 41, explains that "they that gladly received His word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." And verse 47 concluded the chapter by informing us that, the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
So, the kingdom was to come with power /Mark 9:1). The power came on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4/. The church came into existance on Pentecost (Acts 2:47. Hence, the church is the kingdom and the kingdom is the church!
Later, in Acts 8:12, Phillip went out, ". . . preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God"; and the people did the same things others did on Pentecost to get into the church (they were baptized/.
In Colossians 1:13-14, Paul noted that God, ". . . hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear son; in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins." Yet we remember that in Acts 2:38 people were baptized for the remission /forgiveness) of sins and so were added to the church (Acts 2:47). Hence, when one is baptized for forgiveness of his sins, he is added to the church and translated into the kingdom.
Further, you will .remember that in Daniel 2:44 the prophet said that God's Kingdom ". . . shall stand forever." In Hebrews 12:28, Paul testified, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." So, Paul states that God's Kingdom which ". . . shall stand forever" or "which cannot be moved" had been received in his day.
And finally, in Revelation 1:9, the apostle John advised his readers that he was their brother and ". . . companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ . . . ."
Hence a culmination of the foregoing passages indicate that:
1. If we can have any confidence in the integrity of Daniel as an inspired prophet of God, the Kingdom was established in the days of the Roman Empire.
2. If we can have any confidence in the integrity of Jesus as the Son of God, the Kingdom was established in His generation.
3. If we can have any confidence in the integrity of Paul and John as inspired apostles, they were in the Kingdom of God.
4. If we can have any confidence in the New Testament as the inspired word of God, the Kingdom of God is the church of God, the house of God (1 Tim. 3:14-15).
Additional prophecies of the Old Testament with their fulfillment in the New Testament could be pursued if space allowed. For your private study we suggest the following. They all have .to do with God fulfilling His eternal purpose in placing Jesus on the throne in the New Kingdom, which is also further designated as the church and the family or house of God.
What basic mistake do all premillennialists make regarding God's Kingdom?
Guardian of Truth XXVI: 1, pp. 5-7