Thoughts on the Kingdom
by Bro. K.D. Ward
Many times in history God used Gentile kings, armies and individuals outside of His people to do His bidding. This is because of their sins or lack of understanding of His truth. The l800’s is such an era and maybe to the present day. Many Baptists became engrossed in such things as post-millennialism, Calvinism, etc. God needed to raise up a man to set forth the most important teaching of the Bible, the kingdom of God.
The Theocratic Kingdom was written by George N.H. Peters. Peters, a man in ill health, isolated because of his beliefs, and confined in later years to his room, wrote on old papers what is said to be the most profound study of the kingdom outside of the Bible itself. He was born in l825 in Springfield, Ohio and died in l909.
The contents at the beginning of each of the three volumes is worth the whole set. I will be making reference to some of the chapter headings in this study and will be supplying scriptures and some additional comments.
Here are some of the ideas he chose to deal with concerning the Kingdom. I will not be copying the propositions verbatim, but I will give an overview of a few of them.
Peters first states that the Kingdom of God is a subject of vital importance (Matthew 6:33).
The Kingdom was determined before and designed, or prepared from, the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34). The meanings usually given to this Kingdom indicate the most vague, indefinite notions in the minds of many. (2 Peter 3:16). The literal grammatical interpretation of the scriptures, with the figurative, must be observed in order to obtain a correct understanding of the Kingdom. (2 Peter 1:21). The doctrine of the Kingdom is based on the inspiration of the Word of God (Matthew 24:35). The Kingdom being a manifestation of the supernatural, miracles are connected with it (Luke 11:20).
The mysteries of the Kingdom were given to the apostles (Matthew 13:11). This Kingdom cannot be comprehended without acknowledging an intimate connection between the Old and New Testaments (Hebrews 8:13). The Kingdom which by promise exclusively belonged to the Jewish nation, the rightful seed of Abraham, was now to be given to an engrafted people (Romans 11:17 ; Matthew 10:5-7). This people, to whom the Kingdom is to be given, gathered out of nations, becomes the elect. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-8). The present elect, to whom the Kingdom will be given, is the continuation of the previous election chiefly in another engrafted people (Romans 11:5, 17). The Kingdom that was near at one time (at the first advent) to the Jewish nation is now removed to the close of its tribulation and the second advent (Matthew 24:29-31 ; Luke 21:31). The Kingdom could not, therefore, have been set up at that time, at the first advent (Matthew 23:39).
The apostles, after Christ’s ascension, did not preach, either to the Jews or Gentiles, that the Kingdom was established (Acts 1:6-8). The doctrine of the Kingdom, as preached by the apostles, was received by the early church and raised up no controversy with the Jews (Acts 28:30-31). The doctrine of the Kingdom was changed under the gnostic and Alexandrian influence. The doctrine of the Kingdom as held by the early church was finally almost exterminated under the teaching and power of the Papacy. This Kingdom, as covenanted, belongs to Jesus, the Son of man (Matthew 16:27). Neither Abraham nor his engrafted seed have as yet inherited the Kingdom; hence the Kingdom must be something different from the family of God, the church, God’s reign in the heart, etc. (Galatians 3:16). The object or design of this dispensation is to gather out those elect to whom, as heirs with Abraham and his seed Christ, this Kingdom is to be given (Galatians 3:16). The postponement of the Kingdom is the key to the understanding of the meaning of this dispensation (Hebrews 2:8 ; John 18:36). Christ, in view of the future Kingdom, sustains a particular relationship to the church (Colossians 1:18). The overlooking of the postponement of this Kingdom is a fundamental mistake and fruitful source of error in many systems of theology (Acts 1:6-8). If the church is the Kingdom, as the Papacy propagated, then the terms “church” and “kingdom” should be synonymous. That the church was not the Kingdom promised to David’s son was the belief of the early church. Such “kingdom-church” belief was of later origin than the first or second century (Luke 1:32, 33).
Jesus had to instruct the disciples as they neared Jerusalem (Luke 19:11) because they thought the Kingdom would immediately appear. He spoke a parable of a certain nobleman (referring to Himself) who had to go into a far country to receive a kingdom and to return. During this delay, they were told to do business until He comes. (vv. 12,13). Jesus taught in the disciples’ daily prayer that we should pray, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Luke 11:2).
Indeed the Kingdom the prophets spoke of, which Jesus offered to Israel only to be rejected by them, was postponed, and will be established after He takes out a further people for His name. It will finally be established at Christ’s second advent, at the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15). We are now to be preaching the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations (Matthew 24:14). Soon, as the signs of the apocalypse unfold, we will be able to preach the Kingdom “at hand” once again just prior to Christ’s arrival (Luke 21:30).