December 18, 2017

The Kingdom of God – No. 1

By Gordon J. Pennock

Much has been written about the kingdom of God. Many theories and notions have been advanced. While some of them have been questionable, others have been fantastic. It is not our purpose here to formally attempt a refutation of any of them, nor to engage in any speculation ourselves, We shall rather endeavor to set forth some truths from the word of God upon the matter.


The area of God's kingdom


In a broad sense, the Kingdom of God embraces the whole world. David declared this when he said, "Jehovah hath established his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all" (Ps. 103: 19). The Apostle Paul put it this way: "The God that made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts 17:24).


But, of course, the whole world is not in submission to God. In it there are both submissive and rebellious citizens. This concept of the "Kingdom of heaven" certainly seems to have been in the mind of Jesus when he taught the parable of the pounds in Luke 19:11-27. There, "a certain nobleman" delivered stewardships to some of his servants, before he took his journey into a far country. These men proved to be obedient and faithful subjects. But he also had certain "citizens" who "hated him, and sent an ambassage after him, saying We will not that this man reign over us" (Lk. 19:14). So, when the nobleman' returned, he first rewarded his faithful servants, and then of the others said:"These mine enemies, that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me" (Lk.19:27).


The kingdom of God is the church


The term, "kingdom of God" as used in the New Testament is, with a few possible exceptions, limited to those who are living in submission to God's will-to those who have surrendered themselves to Christ through obedience to the gospel. It is limited to those who are members of the church. In Matthew 16:18, 19, Jesus used the terms "church" and "kingdom of heaven" interchangeably. And they are thus used throughout the New
Testament. The word "church" is from the Greek word "ekklesia," which literally means "called out." In other words, those in the "church" or "kingdom of heaven" are those who have responded to the calling of God, through Christ. It is those who have ceased their rebellion, having renounced the seditious leadership of Satan, - they have renewed their allegiance to Jehovah to whom they rightfully owe it.


The Kingdom of God and The Kingdom of Heaven


These terms are understood by some as having reference to two different kingdoms. Such an idea is the result of superficial study. That these two terms as used in the Scriptures, indicate the same kingdom is adequately shown when we note how they are used interchangeably by the Holy Spirit in recording the parables of Jesus. Let us note the following: "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed" (Matt. 13:31). Mark records the same parable beginning with these words: "How shall we liken the kingdom of God? or in what parable shall we set it forth? It is like a grain of mustard seed (Mk. 4:30, 31).


Daniel, the prophet, looking forward to the establishing of God's kingdom, said: "In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom" (Dan. 2:44).


Thus it plainly appears that the term "kingdom of heaven" is used with reference to the "seat" of authority, while the term "kingdom of God" denotes the person of authority. Any distinction made between them is unwarranted.


The Kingdom of God is also the Kingdom of Christ


We furthermore note that Christ is a king, and that he has a kingdom. And, his kingdom is identical with God's kingdom. Jesus, the Son of God, reigns as a vicegerent under God, the Father. The authority vested in Jesus is delegated authority. The Father conferred his authority upon him after his resurrection from the dead. This truth was stated by Jesus when he commissioned the apostles. He 'said: "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and earth" (Matt. 28:18). It was stated by Paul when he wrote: "He (God) put all things in subjection under his (Christ's) feet" (1 Cor. 15:27).


This truth was confirmed by the Holy Spirit elsewhere in the New Testament, In the letter to the Hebrews we read: "When he (Christ) had made purification of sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:3). The Father then said to him, "Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet (Heb. 1:13). After the ascension of Jesus into heaven, he spake these words, through the Holy Spirit: "I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne" (Rev. 3:21).


The joint-rulership of God and Christ. in the kingdom was recognized by Paul. when he said: "This know
of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator, hath any inheritance
in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Eph. 5:5).


How long will Christ reign?


The duration of Christ's rule has been limited by the Father. This truth is set forth in the following reading: "Then cometh the end when he (Christ) shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and authority and power. For he (Christ) must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be abolished is death. . . .And when all things have been subjected unto him (Christ), then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor. 15:20-28).


How long must Christ reign? Till he has put down all of his enemies. What is the last enemy to be destroyed? "The last enemy that shall be abolished is death." Death will be "swallowed up in victory," when the dead are "raised incorruptible," and when the living are changed - "when this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality." See I Cor. 15:52-55. This will be accomplished
when Jesus returns for the redeemed that they might "ever be with the Lord." Read I Thessalonians 4:1318. When these things will take place, no man knows, nor is he able to know them. God has locked them up in the secrecy of his mind. (More to follow.)


Truth Magazine I:2, pp. 12-13
November 1956

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