THE CHURCH AND THE KINGDOM
Jesus said about some, “in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9). One example of this is The Church and the Kingdom. Many teach that God sent Jesus to earth to set up His kingdom. However, they say, the Jews rejected Him, thwarted His plan, and that the church was set up as an emergency measure, that the Lord will return to set the kingdom up later. They assert that Jesus will one day soon rapture (take up) His people, and that they will be there while a seven (+/-) year battle wages on earth, called Armageddon. Further, they claim that Jesus will bring His people back to earth after this war, and that He will set up His kingdom, and reign on David’s throne in Jerusalem for one thousand peaceful years. At the end of this reign, Jesus, they say, will take the saved to heaven.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? First, read Ephesians 3:10, 11. Please observe that something was to be made “known.” “The manifold wisdom of God” was the thing to be made known. That revelation to be made known was a “purpose.” It was an “eternal” purpose. The thing to be made known would be through the “church…in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Herein we learn that the church was in the mind of God PRIOR to the “beginning”, when “God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). It is evident that the church was not an emergency measure set up because the Jews disallowed God to set up His kingdom, the kingdom of His dear Son.
Second, around age thirty (Luke 3:23), “Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17). He sent his apostles (Matthew 10:1-5) to “preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Verse 7). John the Baptist, immerser, had already preached, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” They did not point thousands of years into the future, but to something that would shortly come. If this did not shortly occur, they were false prophets, including Jesus. Time will tell. Shortly after these prophetic promises, Jesus said He would build His church, and give them the keys to the kingdom, that which He would build, and not to a different thing. (Matthew 16:13-19). Following Jesus’ revelation of His death, burial and resurrection (Verses 20, 21), His rebuke of Peter (Verses 22, 23), He told His disciples what it meant to follow Him (Verses 24-26), and made them aware of His second coming. Jesus then said, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till ye see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Verse 28; Mark 9:1, “with power”). These verses tell us clearly that the church and the kingdom are the same. Acts 2:1-4, the establishment of the church, is the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise. Cf. Acts 2:41, 47.
Thus, one can see the eternal purpose of God coming to fruition. Peter and the eleven make known the manifold wisdom of God (Acts 2:14-40) as they establish the church, the kingdom, to which people are added. (Verses 41, 47). That is why the inspired apostle Paul wrote, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Colossians 1:13). John shows that he was IN the kingdom, saying, “I John, who also am your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom….” One cannot be in something that does not exist! Further, observe that he uses the words ”church” (Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, etc.), “churches” (1:4, 20), and “kingdom” (1:9), showing that he is speaking of the same thing.
Third, Jeremiah 22:30 says of Coniah, also called Jechonias (Matthew 1:11, 12), Jechoniah (1 Chronicles 3:17), and Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:6), “Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” He had children, but they were as none, seeing that they were not successful. It has been truthfully said, “What proves too much proves nothing.” If no man of Coniah’s seed would prosper on David’s throne in Judah, and if Christ came through Coniah’s seed, which He did (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38), Jesus could not prosper! ABSURD! But true. Obviously, Jesus was not to sit on David’s literal throne in Jerusalem in Judaea. However, He is now “Lord of lords, and King of kings.” (Revelation 17:14; Matthew 27:37; Romans 8:34).
Fourth, the scriptures speak of Jesus coming a “second time” (Hebrews 9:28), but not of a third time. That would be necessary if the premillennial idea were true.
Fifth, 1 Corinthians 15:24 says, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and all power.” When Jesus returns, comes the second time, it will be to deliver up the kingdom to God, NOT to set it up. He will put down all rule, authority, and power, NOT establish such.
Sixth, please notice that the same thing that puts one in the church, also puts one in Christ and His kingdom. The church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 1:18, 22, 23). 1 Corinthians 12:13, says “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,….” John 3:3-5 reads, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Galatians 3:27 proclaims, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Thus, the believer (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6) who repents (Acts 17:30, 31) and confesses “that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37), in obedience to the command to be baptized (Acts 10:48) for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16) by burial in water (Matthew 3:13-17; Acts 8:38, 39) will be raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3, 4; 2 Corinthians 5:17), in Christ, in the church, the kingdom.
Seventh, notice the preaching and teaching of Jesus in Acts 8. The church (Verses 1, 3), Christ (Verses 5, 12, 35, 37), the word (Verses 4, 14, 25), and the kingdom (Verse 12) are linked. Paul told the “saints and faithful brethren in Christ….at Colossee” (Colossians 1:1) that Jesus “is the head of the body, the church” (Verses 8, 9; 4:15, 16), reminding them that they were “fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God.” (4:11). This conclusively shows that the church and the kingdom are the same, and that the church, the kingdom existed at the time the book of Colossians was written today. It is not something in the future. The eternal kingdom in heaven is yet to come, but not the kingdom of Daniel 2 and Matthew 16:13-19.
Eighth, Jesus is spoken of as “the King of kings.” (1 Timothy 6:15). Even Pilate wrote an inscription, and put it over the cross, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (Matthew 27:37). There can be no king without a kingdom. Even the religious world which disavows the kingdom, sings at Christmas time, “born is the king of Israel.” This seems rather strange; odd to say the least. The word of God proclaims that Jesus is now ruling over His kingdom. Dear reader, some in Acts 27:10, 11 believed the wrong person to their hurt. A num-ber in Acts 28:6 who had believed the wrong thing changed their minds. Search the scriptures to see what is right, and follow the Lord. (John 5:39; Acts 17:10-12). The writer’s father used to tell him not to follow him if it was determined that he was wrong. He encouraged all to follow God, telling them that man may be wrong, but that God will always be right. The late and beloved black evangelist, Marshal Keeble used to tell people that the Bible sheds a lot of light on commentaries.
Jesus promised to build His church, His kingdom, and, as you have seen, He did. He was ready, willing, and able to do so. By the way, it was established exactly as Daniel prophesied. (Daniel 2; Luke 3:1ff; Acts 2; Revelation 1:9). It has been in existence nearly two thousand years. You can be a member of it by doing what the author of eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:8, 9), the King says. Jesus said He would build His church (Matthew 16:13- 19), He did (Acts 2), and it wears His name. (Romans 16:16; Colossians 1:13).