Gospel of the Kingdom
by Philip Mauro
THE KINGDOM OF GOD: HAS IT
INCREASINGLY conviction presses upon me that "the word of THE
KINGDOM" is God's special message for these--the last days of our
era--even as it was His special message for the first days thereof. We
recall that when, at the beginning of our era, the Sower went forth to
sow, what He sowed in His field was "the word of THE
KINGDOM"; and moreover, we have His promise for it that "the
end shall come" when "this gospel of THE KINGDOM"
shall have been preached "for a witness to all nations." Then
will "the harvest" from His sowing be gathered (Mat. 24:14;
Therefore my conviction is that,
in preaching "the good news of God concerning His Son, Jesus Christ
our Lord, who was made of the seed of David" (Rom. 1:1-3),
prominence should be given to the revealed truth of Scripture concerning
"the Kingdom of His dear Son" (Col. 1:13). In so doing
we would be following the example of the apostles, notably that of Peter
on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:33-36). For that truth is what gave the
gospel its note of authority and its unique "power" at the
beginning (Rom. 1:16). It was the exaltation of Jesus, and His
enthronement on high as "both Lord and Christ," that
was preached by the apostles "with the Holy Ghost sent down from
heaven" (Acts 2:36; 1 Pet. 1:12).
Likewise in the gospel as preached
by Paul, emphasis was placed upon the fact that Jesus Christ was
"of the seed of David" (the royal line) and that in Him are
fulfilled all the prophecies and promises concerning the glorious reign
of Messiah and "the sure mercies of David" (Rom. 1:3; Acts
13:34; 2 Tim. 2:8). Paul preached the Kingdom of God and of Christ as
a then present reality, into which every believer of the gospel
was instantly translated; having been first delivered by the mighty
power of God out of the kingdom of sin and darkness (Col. 1:12, 13).
Never was there from the lips or
pen of that apostle a hint or suggestion to the effect that the reign of
Jesus Christ, which God had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy
Scriptures, had been postponed to another era. Indeed, one cannot
attentively study the elements of the gospel as preached and taught by
"the apostle of the Gentiles" (except under the blinding
influence of some doctrine of men) without perceiving that, apart from the
word of the Kingdom there is no gospel and no salvation
for perishing men. And let it not be forgotten in this connection, that
it is through this same apostle, and with reference to this self same
heresy of one gospel for Jews and a different gospel for Gentiles, that
the curse of God is decreed upon those--be they apostles of Christ or
angels from heaven--who preach any other gospel. For there is but
one gospel" for all the world, and for all the ages of time; and
whether it were Paul or one of the twelve, they all preached the same
gospel of the Kingdom (I Cor. 15:11; Acts 20:24, 25).
If then (as often is mournfully
admitted today) the gospel is lacking in power, it would be
appropriate to ask, "Is there not a cause?" (I Sam.
17:29). Certainly there is a cause; and the apostle of the Gentiles
points us to it when he says: "For the Kingdom of God is not in
word, but in power" (I Cor. 4:20).
AS IT WAS IN THE
It is beyond dispute that Christ
Himself and His immediate disciples preached a Kingdom. And not
only so, but the word, "Kingdom," conveyed to those who
heard the preaching, the very essence of the "good news which
our Lord in person announced publicly, and which He exhorted and
commanded His hearers to "believe" (Mk. 1:14, 15). And
most important is it to observe that He coupled with His announcement
the plain statement that "the time" for the long expected
Kingdom of God, was then "fulfilled."
Furthermore, our Lord's earliest
teaching (given while John was yet baptizing in Jordan) had for its
theme the Kingdom of God, and the one and only way of entering
into it--by the new birth of water and the Spirit (John 3:3-16). This
best known passage in the Bible links the Kingdom of God directly with
the death of Christ upon the cross, whereby God's great love for the
perishing world was to be revealed, and the ground of the salvation of
men was eternally established. The passage shows clearly moreover, what
the term, "Kingdom of God," meant in the days of John the
Baptist (vv. 23, 24). How then can any one, viewing the subject of the
Kingdom in the light of this great passage, suppose for a moment
(except he be under the spell of a strong delusion) that our Lord and
His forerunner were at that very time offering to the Jews, and by the
preaching of the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of earthly pomp and
grandeur, such as their false teachers--those "blind leaders of the
blind"--had taught them to expect?
Our Lord's subject after His
resurrection was precisely the same. For He remained on earth forty
days, appearing frequently to His disciples, and "speaking of
the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
A little later, when the word was
carried into Samaria by Philip (fulfilling Christ's command, recorded in
Acts 1:8), what he preached was "the things concerning the
Kingdom of God" (Acts 8:12). And still later, when Paul carried
into Europe the message that "turned the world upside down"
(Acts 17:6, 7), he came to Corinth, and spake in the synagogue, "disputing
and persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of God" (Acts
19:8). For of course, there was strong opposition from the Jews to
Paul's proclamation of a spiritual Kingdom, embracing all believers, and
ruled by a "King invisible" (I Tim. 1:17), seeing they had
received as unquestioned truth the false rabbinical teaching of an earthly
kingdom exclusively Jewish. But how astounding, that the same
ruinous doctrine has now, in these last days, found wide acceptance
among orthodox Christian teachers!
It will not be necessary to follow
in detail the record of Paul's journeyings with the gospel. It is enough
to point out that to the very end of his days he continued "preaching
the Kingdom of God" (Acts 28:31).
HOW THE WORD OF
THE KINGDOM WAS SET ASIDE
I have already pointed out, but it
is needful to keep the fact in mind, that in the latter part of the
nineteenth century an extraordinary change took place in the teaching of
certain groups of orthodox Christians. It was a radical change. Indeed,
"revolutionary" is not too strong a term to apply to it; for
the literature of the Christian centuries will be searched in vain for a
trace of the new doctrine, which then suddenly sprang up, and soon
spread far and wide. That new doctrine was a system of
"dispensational" teaching, characterized chiefly by a
wholesale and indiscriminate futurism. Every promise and prophecy
was relegated to the future that could by any possibility be dealt with
in that way; and thus the era of grace and the gospel of grace were
stripped of what properly belonged to them--specially the blessed and
glorious truth of the Kingdom--the gospel of God was robbed of its
power, and grievous damage was done to the people of God, and indeed to
What is central in this novel
system of "dispensationalism" is the doctrine, theretofore
unheard of, that Christ and His forerunner, when they announced that the
Kingdom of God was at hand, were thereby "offering" to the
Jews the earthly kingdom of their grossly carnal expectations; that
(astonishing to relate) the Jews refused what they most eagerly
looked for, when it was thus proffered to them; and that thereupon God
withdrew the offer and "postponed" the Kingdom to another
The Scriptures, however, contain not
a word about this offer of an earthly, Jewish kingdom, or about the
refusal thereof by that generation of Jews, or about its postponement to
another dispensation. Nevertheless it is claimed on behalf of this novel
doctrine that it is newly discovered truth, which has been
brought to light by a recently invented process of "rightly
dividing the word of truth."
Thus the matter stands at the
present time; and while there have been of late some encouraging
indications of a healthy reaction against this mischievous postponement
heresy, there is yet need of earnest, prayerful effort, on the part of
all who have been enlightened as to its real character and consequences,
to the end that the sadly neglected and truly vital truth of the
Kingdom of God may be restored to its rightful and central position
in "the gospel of God concerning His Son."
And whatever the reader's
convictions as to the doctrine that the Kingdom which Christ announced
as at hand has been postponed, the truth involved is so vital, and the
postponement doctrine is so startlingly novel, that it is the
duty of all who belong to Christ to examine, and to re-examine, the
whole subject with the utmost care; and to give an attentive hearing to
anyone who asks their consideration of evidence from the word of God.
That is what I am now asking. And as a reason why a fair hearing
should be given me, I solemnly declare my deep conviction that so
closely is the Kingdom of God identified with the Salvation of
God, that if this be not the era of the former, then it is not the
era of the latter. Proof of this I present in this chapter.
For example, in Isaiah 49:5-9 is a
glorious prophecy concerning Christ, God's "Servant," His
"Holy One," Who was to raise up the tribes of Jacob and
restore the preserved of Israel; and Who was also to be for "a
light to the Gentiles, that He might be "My salvation unto
the end of the earth." Now as to the time when this should be, read
in verse 8 the familiar words: "Thus saith the Lord, In an
acceptable time have I heard thee, and in. a day of salvation have I
If therefore "to raise up the
tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel" means the
restitution of the earthly nation to its place of eminence in the world,
as the dispensationalists hold and teach, then certainly the fulfilment
of this prophecy must be yet in the future. But the apostle Paul refutes
that idea completely when, writing to a Gentile church, he says and with
the strong emphasis of repetition: "Behold, NOW is the accepted
time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2).
Manifestly, if now is the accepted time, and now is the day
of salvation, it is impossible that there should be any other
"accepted time," or any other "day of salvation";
and doubly impossible that what God promises in this particular prophecy
to be for "Israel" and for "the tribes of Jacob"
could be accomplished in a different and later "dispensation."
It is appropriate here to point
out that one of the glaring errors of "dispensational
teaching" is the failure to recognize what the New Testament
plainly reveals, namely that names which God temporarily gave to the
shadowy and typical things of the Old Covenant, belong properly and
eternally to the corresponding realities of the New Covenant. Thus we
are given the proper meaning of "Jew" (Rom. 2:28, 29;)
"Israel" (Rom. 9:6; Gal. 6:16) ; "Jerusalem"
(Gal. 4:26); "Seed of Abraham" (Gal. 3:29); "Sion"
(I Pet. 2:6; Heb. 12:22; Rom. 9:33). Likewise it is made known that
according to the new covenant meaning, "the tribes of Jacob"
are those who are Jews inwardly, that is to say, the entire household of
faith (James 1:1; Acts 26:7).
And then that the gospel of the
kingdom and the gospel of salvation are one and the same thing;--seeing
that the responsibility of a king is to save his people, this is
clearly indicated by the word of the Lord to Israel through Hosea:
"O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in Me is thy help. I
will be thy King; where is any other that may save thee?" (Hos.
13:9). So here is a distinct promise to Israel that the Lord would come as
King to save; and this is but one of many passages which associate
salvation with the Kingdom of God. Then in verse 14 the nature of the
salvation that is promised here through Christ the King of Israel is
unmistakably indicated by the familiar words: "I will ransom
them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O
death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction."
The meaning and the significance
of this are plain enough to the unsophisticated; but let it be noted
additionally that, in the passage where this is quoted in the N.T., the
great resurrection chapter (I Cor. 15:54, 55) Paul declares in the
immediate context the vital truth that "flesh and blood CANNOT
inherit the Kingdom of God" (v. 50). This is proof positive
and conclusive, first, that the Kingdom of God is the inheritance
of those who are saved by the gospel (vv. 1-4); and second, that
the Kingdom of God is not the restoration of the earthly Jewish
nationality and Kingdom.
And not only so, but I challenge
anyone to deny, that when the 139 texts of the N.T. that mention the
Kingdom of God (or of heaven) are taken in their natural sense, which is
the sense in which they have been understood by every Bible teacher and
Bible reader for nineteen centuries, they are all found to be in perfect
harmony with the prophecy we are now considering, and which is quoted
and applied by Paul. Whereas, on the other hand, it is utterly
impossible (as I propose now to show) by any torturing and twisting of
the language employed, to make a number of the plainest of those 139
texts do anything but conflict palpably with the teachings of modern
How then, it will be asked, does
the "Scofield Bible" maintain its doctrine concerning God's
Kingdom? How does it deal with those 139 references thereto in the N.T.?
This brings us to one of the most astonishing features of the strange
affair we are now examining.
In the introductory pages of the
"Scofield Bible" the promise is given that by "A new
system of topical references all the greater truths of the divine
revelation are traced through the entire Bible from the first mention to
the last"; and also that its "summaries" are analytic of
"the whole teaching of Scripture."
We are now about to inquire how
this fair promise has been carried out with respect to one of the very
greatest of "the greater truths of the divine
revelation"--that concerning the Kingdom of God. And briefly the
distressing fact in this regard is that (as pointed out by Mr. Thomas
Bolton of Australia, in a leaflet on The Kingdom of God) whereas
the Kingdom is mentioned in seventeen of the Books of the N.T.,
the "Scofield Bible" cites only five of those Books;
and whereas the Kingdom is mentioned 139 times by name, only 21 of the
verses are cited in the "Scofield Bible," the other 118 being
It would be quite in order,
doubtless, to ask if this is dealing fairly and keeping faith with the
thousands who have purchased this new "Bible." But without
pressing that inquiry, I hasten to direct the reader's attention to a
few of the 118 references to the Kingdom that are found in God's Bible,
but which are passed over in silence by the "Scofield Bible,"
despite the promise that it would be "traced through the entire
Bible, from the first mention to the last." And I leave it to the
intelligent reader to say whether under the circumstances of the case,
those particular texts could have been ignored by editor and co-editors
for any other reason than that they manifestly cannot be made to agree
with, or do anything but flatly to contradict, the new postponement
To begin with let us refer to
Matt. 18:3; 19:14; Mark 10:14, 15; Luke 18:16, 17. Here is teaching
concerning the Kingdom from the lips of Christ Himself, teaching which
is so important that it is given in three of the Gospels. And this is
the substance of it:
"Verily I say unto you,
Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not
enter into the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mat. 18:3).
Suffer little children, and forbid
them not, to come unto Me; for of such is the Kingdom of heaven"
(id. 19:14). "But when Jesus saw it He was much displeased, and
said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid
them not; for of such is the Kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14).
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever
shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, shall in no wise
enter therein" (Luke 18:17).
These passages plainly declare the
vital truth that, in order to be saved, one must "be
converted," and become as a little child; that is to say, he must
become a new creature in Christ Jesus. And the parallel expressions in
the context "enter into life" (Mat. 18:8, 9) show that to
enter into the Kingdom of God, and into life, are the same thing.
Moreover, when, in the same chapter of Mark, Christ said "It is
easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich
man to enter into the Kingdom of God" (v. 25), it is
recorded that "They were astonished out of measure, saying among
themselves, WHO THEN CAN BE SAVED" (v. 26). And the next verse
shows they were right in their understanding that to enter into the
Kingdom meant to be saved; for it is written: "And Jesus
looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God;
for with God all things are possible" (v. 27).
Beyond question then, in the light
of these Scriptures, the Kingdom of God, referred to scores of times in
our Lord's preaching and teaching, and which indeed is far the most
prominent subject thereof, is not the earthly Kingdom of Jewish hopes,
but that heavenly realm that is entered only upon individual
repentance and faith, and only by the door of the new birth.
By a comparison of the above
texts, and of many other passages that are common to the three synoptic
Gospels, it will be clearly seen that the phrases, "Kingdom of
heaven" and "Kingdom of God" are used interchangeably.
Furthermore it should be noted in
connection with these particular texts that they flatly contradict the
teaching of the Scofield Bible to the effect that the offer of the
Kingdom had been "morally rejected" by the Jews at the time of
the events recorded in Matt. XI (note on Mat. 11:20); and that at that
point began "the new message of Jesus--not the Kingdom, but
rest and service." But the truth in this connection is that the
subject of the Kingdom occupied the same place of prominence in our
Lord's public teaching down to the day of His death; and that after
His resurrection He remained forty days on earth, being seen of His
disciples, "and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom
of God" (Act 1:3).
Matthew 23:13 is a specially
illuminating scripture, one that is decisive as to whether the Kingdom
of God had been withdrawn and postponed or not. It is fatal to editor
Scofield's theory, and it is ignored in his treatment of the subject.
The occasion was our Lord's last
public discourse; and it is worthy of note that, as His first public
discourse, the Sermon on the Mount began with seven beatitudes
pronounced upon His disciples, so the last began with seven woes
pronounced upon the scribes and Pharisees. Let us compare the first of
"Blessed are the poor in
spirit; for their's is the Kingdom of heaven"
"But woe unto you, scribes
and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the Kingdom of heaven against
men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are
entering to go in"
There is much and valuable truth
to be learned from the last quoted text, but I am now citing it because
of the transparently clear testimony it bears to the fact that the
Kingdom of heaven, of which Christ had spoken in His Sermon on the
Mount, and which had been the main subject of His teaching, had not
been postponed, as the Scofield Bible unequivocally states. For here
our Lord addresses the scribes and Pharisees, pronouncing a woe upon
them because they were at that very time shutting up the Kingdom of
heaven against men; they were not entering in themselves, and they
suffered not them that were entering to go in. Beyond all question
therefore, the Kingdom was then present, for some were actually
But why were the Jewish
leaders refusing to go in themselves? and how were they hindering
others from entering? By their doctrine. For the corner stone of
their creed was the very same doctrine that has lately been dug up out
of the pit of false Judaism and has been made the cornerstone of modern
dispensationalism. They were not going in themselves, and they were
preventing others from entering, because they held and taught that the
Kingdom of heaven, the reign of Messiah which the prophets of Israel had
foretold, was a Jewish and an earthly affair, not a spiritual and
a heavenly kingdom.
Seeing then the disastrous effect
of that doctrine upon the learned rabbis, the leaders of the most
orthodox sect of the Jews, have we not the gravest reason to be fearful
of the consequences, now that the same doctrine is held and zealously
propagated by learned leaders of the most orthodox party in Christendom
in our time? For it was not the Sadducees--the materialists and
modernists of those days--who taught the deadly error, but the
Pharisees, the "fundamentalists" of that period.
And how does it work now? If to be
saved is to be in the Kingdom of God, as we have just shown by
our Lord's own teaching, and as Paul also plainly taught (Col. 1:13),
and if there be now no Kingdom of God for men to enter, how shall they
be saved? Is there anything in "modernism" that is worse than
this? And can the "Fundamentalists" of our time expect to
prevail in their conflict with the "Modernists," so long as
they harbor, and are even zealous for, a brand of modernism that
certainly is more modern, and in some respects more pernicious, than
that they are corn-batting? Hearken, my Fundamentalist brethren; you
must do some thorough house-cleaning on your own premises before you can
undertake, with any prospect of success, to put the large Christian
household in order.
Attention has already been called
to the statement of Christ, recorded in Luke 16:16. "The law and
the prophets were until John; since that time the Kingdom of God is
preached, and every man presseth into it."
Those who have no theory to
defend, but who sincerely desire to know by the Word of the Lord just
when the change in God's dealings took place (or, to use the modern
phraseology, when the change of dispensation occurred) could ask
nothing more to the point or more satisfactory than this. For here we
have Christ's own word for it that the new era began with the preaching
and baptism of John; and further that what properly characterizes that
new era is the preaching of the Kingdom of God. This text shows also
that the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom had not ceased at the
time those words were spoken. For the Lord's statement was that
"since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every
man presseth into it."
So here is another text that is
sufficient in itself to prove that the Kingdom had not at that time been
postponed. Is it not a significant fact then that this particularly
illuminating Scripture also was ignored by editor Scofield in the
process of tracing the subject of the Kingdom of God "through the
entire Bible, from the first mention to the last?"
Passing on to the next chapter of
Luke we come to another text which surely has a strong claim upon the
attention of those who are seeking the teaching of the Word of God upon
the subject of His Kingdom. Our Lord was then on His way to Jerusalem to
die there. "And when He was demanded of the Pharisees when the
Kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The Kingdom of
God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo here! or
Lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke
This is illuminating indeed.
First, our Lord was answering what was in the hearts of those (the
Pharisees) who put the question to Him; their doctrine being that the
Kingdom of God would come (when it did come) with the
accompaniment of outward displays of Divine power, whereby the enemies
of the Jews would be miraculously overwhelmed, and they themselves be
swept triumphantly into, and securely established in, the coveted place
of world supremacy. So he corrected their error by saying that the
Kingdom of God came not with ocular evidence, which is the
literal meaning of the word rendered "observation" in other
words it was not the sort of kingdom they were expecting. And the
verb He used was in the present tense, "cometh"; which
makes it plain that He was speaking of the manner in which the Kingdom
of God was coming at that time. This is what we are specially
seeking to determine just now. And He proceeded to emphasize these facts
by adding that there would be nothing of a startling or sensational
character, such as would cause the spectators to say "Look here!
Look yonder!" "For"--and now, being about to say
something He wished specially to impress upon them, He uses an
impressive word--"behold, the kingdom of God is within
you." Some prefer the marginal reading, "among you";
but the sense is the same. The Kingdom was in existence at that time.
It "is." But it was a spiritual Kingdom, such as
could not be discerned by the natural eye. This agrees with what Paul
afterwards said about it; that its sphere of being was "in the
Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17).
The Kingdom of God is mentioned
three times in the Gospel of John; and the statements of Christ there
recorded concerning it are of supreme importance; yet they are all
ignored in the Scofield Bible. Why?
The third chapter of John is the
best known chapter, and the sixteenth verse thereof is the best known
verse, in the Bible. But is it not commonly overlooked in reading it,
that the subject of the chapter is the Kingdom of God? The whole land
had been aroused by the preaching of John the Baptist, and all were in a
state of keenest expectation because of his proclamation that the
Kingdom of God was at hand. Therefore, whatever teaching was given by
the Lord at that period (before the commencement of His own
preaching, which did not begin until after John had been cast into
prison, Mark 1:14) has special value for the purpose of our present
inquiry, since it tells us what the phrase, "Kingdom of
God," meant in the preaching of John.1 How significant,
therefore, that the Holy Spirit has made note of the fact that, at
the time of our Lord's conversation with Nicodemus, John was baptizing; and
that He adds, "For John was not yet cast into prison" (vv. 23,
And it is of the utmost
significance that the very first words of our Lord to that "teacher
of Israel" strike directly at the cardinal error of rabbinism--the
doctrine that the Kingdom of God is of earthly and Jewish character. For
He said, and with all the tremendous emphasis of His double Amen, "Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the
Kingdom of God" (v. 3); and "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" (v. 5).
Here is truly
"fundamental" truth concerning the Kingdom of God, truth that
was delivered along with the very first preaching of that Kingdom.
Natural descent from Abraham does not insure entrance into the
Kingdom of God, as erroneously taught by the rabbis then and by the
dispensationalists now. To enter into that Kingdom a man must be born
of the Spirit. And the next words of Christ emphasize this fundamental
truth: "that which is born of the flesh"--whether of Abraham
or any other man--"is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit
is spirit" (v. 6). John also in his teaching gave prominence to
this truth; for he warned the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to his
baptism, saying: "Think not to say within yourselves, We have
Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these
stones to raise up children unto Abraham" (Mat. 3:9). For the
natural descendants of Abraham came from the dust of the ground, as did
all the children of Adam; but none can enter the Kingdom of God without
"the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost"
Further our Lord's word to
Nicodemus declared plainly that God had sent His Son into the world (not
to set up, or even to offer, a Jewish Kingdom, but) to save "THE
WORLD" (v. 17). He revealed to him that, "As Moses lifted up
the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be
lifted up; that whosoever"--whether Jew or
Gentile--"believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal
life" (v. 15) ; and that He had come--not in fulfilment of some
supposed promise to give national glory to the Jews, but--because "God
so loved THE WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER
believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (v.
These verses clearly reveal, and
all Scripture is in perfect agreement (of course), that the Kingdom of
God is (and was then, and ever will be) that spiritual realm in
which the authority of God's "King eternal" (I Tim. 1:17)
Jesus Christ risen from the dead, is acknowledged, and His law
"obeyed from the heart" (Rom. 6:17) by a people who
have believed on His name, have been washed in His blood, and have been
regenerated by the Holy Ghost.
These are the first two references
to the Kingdom in John's Gospel. The third mention thereof is also of
the utmost significance; and it likewise furnishes a complete refutation
of what was taught by the rabbis then and by the dispensationalists now.
It is found in Christ's testimony on His own behalf before Pilate. The
words are plain enough; but in order to get their full force, and to
perceive their direct bearing upon the question we are examining, it is
needful to have in mind that the crime of which the Lord was accused
before Pilate, the local representative of Caesar, was sedition, and
specifically that He was proposing to set up another kingdom, in
opposition to that of Caesar; "Saying that He Himself is Christ
a King" (Luke 23:1; John 19:12, 15). As to this accusation, our
Lord when asked by Pilate the direct question, "art thou the King
of the Jews?" replied, "Thou sayest it" (Mark 15:2),
which is an emphatic "Yes." But, as John's record shows, He
testified nevertheless that He had not been guilty of sedition against
Caesar, because the Kingdom He had proclaimed was one that did not
conflict with Caesar's. In fact it did not even belong to this world.
These are His words: "Jesus answered, My Kingdom is
not of this world, if My Kingdom were of this world, then would my
servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is
my Kingdom not from hence." (John 18: 36).
Think what the teaching of the
Scofield Bible does by implication to this simple, plain and
all-important word of Christ, which it passes by in silence! For, by
that teaching, this testimony of our Lord, given in open court when on
trial for His life, was not true. According to that teaching the
Kingdom He had been proclaiming both in person and also by the lips of
His disciples throughout the length and breadth of the land, was of
this world; and its establishment would necessarily have involved the
overthrow of Caesar's dominion, and the subjugation of the whole world
to the Jewish nation. How then can we account for it that this text is
ignored in the notes of the Scofield Bible? And let it be remembered in
this connection that when the Pharisees had previously attempted to
entrap the Lord into some utterance which they could use against Him as
savoring of sedition again Caesar, He perceived their hypocrisy and
expressly commanded them to "Render unto Caesar the things which
are Caesar's, and unto God, the things that are God's" (Mat.
22:17-21). For the Kingdom of God is not in anywise antagonistic to the
kingdoms and rulers of this world. On the contrary, the law of Christ
commands loyalty to them, because "the powers that be are ordained
of God" (Rom. 13 :1) ; and it requires of all the citizens of
His Kingdom that they submit themselves "to every ordinance of man
for the Lord's sake" (I Pet. 2:13).
The last verses of Acts give a
parting view of the apostle Paul. They tell us that he dwelt two whole
years in his own hired house (in Rome), where he "received all that
came in unto him, preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching
those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:30, 31).
Evidently Paul had not heard that the preaching of the Kingdom of God
did not belong to this "dispensation." For in those days there
was no "Scofield Bible" to enlighten him. On the other hand,
we are not informed as to how this passage can be reconciled with modern
dispensationalism, for the Scofield Bible ignores it.
Romans 14:17, which I have already
quoted, merits special attention; for it is the text that gives God's
own definition of His Kingdom; and for that reason it is the very last
verse we should expect to find omitted from any summary that purports to
give the teaching of the Scriptures on the subject of that Kingdom. This
is the passage:
"For the Kingdom of God is not
meat and drink" (more literally, not eating and drinking) "but
righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."
The Kingdom is here defined both
negatively and positively. We are told first what it is not, and
then what it is; and hence the text is the more enlightening for
our present purpose. For a contrast is here presented between the
Kingdom of God and the historical Kingdom of David, which the rabbinists
supposed (as the dispensationalists do flow) were one and the same.
Concerning the kingdom of David it is recorded that they who came to
make him king "were with David three days, eating and
drinking", and that those who lived in the territory of the
other Tribes, even unto Issachar, and Zebulon and Naphthali, brought
bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen; also meat,
meal, cakes of figs, and bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen
and sheep abundantly; for there was joy in Israel" (I Chr.
12:39, 40). Also it is written that David in those days "dealt to
every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread,
and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine." (Id. 16:3).
But the Kingdom of God is not
like that. Everyone in that Kingdom has (1) the righteousness of
God, has (2) peace with God, and has (3) joy in the Holy
Ghost. And it is worthy of note that Paul is here summarizing the
blessings of the Gospel, as he had already stated then in chapter 5. For
there is declared the fundamental doctrine that (1) being justified
(made righteous) by faith, we have (2) peace with God through our
Lord Jesus" . . . and not only so, but (3) "we also joy in
God" (Rom 5:1, 11). The blessings of the Kingdom of God are not the
fruits of the land of Canaan, but the fruits of the Holy Spirit; and the
"joy" that was in Israel because of the good things to eat and
drink, is replaced by "joy in the Holy Ghost." This is
"the Gospel of the Kingdom," as preached and taught by Paul.
It is a cause for profound
astonishment that, in what purports to be a complete setting forth of
the teaching of Scripture as to the Kingdom of God, this particular text
(Rom. 14:17) should have been ignored; since it has the unique
distinction of giving the Holy Spirit's own definition of that Kingdom.
I come now to what I regard as the
strongest of all the testimonies concerning the Kingdom of God that we
have by the pen of the apostle Paul. It is found in the first chapter of
Colossians; and it is ignored in the Scofield Bible. Paul is there
speaking of "the word of the truth of the gospel" (v.
5) and of the fruit it brought forth in them and others; mention
being made of their "faith in Christ Jesus," of
"the hope" laid up for them in heaven, and of their "love
to all the saints. Here are faith, hope, and love; these three. And
he goes on to exhort them as to "Giving thanks to the Father, Who
hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in
light; Who 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" (vv. 12-14).
Here is proof positive that, not
only did the Kingdom of God's dear Son exist in Paul's day, and had not
been postponed, but that it is something that is vital to our salvation.
Clearly, if there be no Kingdom of God there is no gospel, and no
salvation. The passage agrees in all essential points with the teaching
that Christ gave to Nicodemus. For it reveals redemption for all
"the world" as the purpose for which God sent forth His Son,
and the bringing into existence of the Kingdom of Christ, in which those
who enter by faith in Him are born of God and know Him as
"Father" (the Spirit being mentioned in verse 8).
This passage in Colossians also
throws light upon the words quoted in an earlier chapter from Mark's
Gospel: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of
God"; . . . "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of
God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark
1:1, 15). This tells us that "the gospel" is that of
"Jesus Christ the Son of God"; and Paul in Colossians declares
the word of the truth of the gospel to be that God the Father hath
translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.
We might pursue this branch of our
inquiry much further, and with profit. But enough has been said to
indicate what the reader might expect to find in the way of valuable
instruction concerning the Kingdom by examination of the more than a
hundred other references in the N.T. to that subject which, like
those briefly examined above, are ignored in the Scofield Bible.
1. For it is to be noted that the
dispensationalists, in their effort to make the Epistles (and also the
later part of the Gospels) agree with their theory have resorted to the
strange expedient of saying that the phrase "Kingdom of God"
meant the Kingdom of Jewish hopes at first, but after it was
"rejected," and "withdrawn," the term was used with
a different meaning. Of course, no proof in support of this is cited;
for there is none.