GOD'S KINGDOM IS AT HAND
Copyright © 2018 Robert B. Thompson. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Some of the text has been taken from a previous document, titled "God's Grand Plan."
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:15—KJV)
Whatever happened to the Gospel of the Kingdom?
Jesus said that in order to see and enter the Kingdom of God we must be born again. It may be true that many of God's people do not understand what it means to be born again.
A human being is composed of many parts—a brain, a will, a nervous system, various senses such as sight and hearing, and so forth. An individual has not been born again until each of these abilities has been surrendered to the Lord Jesus and then "born again" of His person.
Just as a human baby must first be conceived and then endure a season before it is formed as a baby, so must a member of the Kingdom of God endure a season in which each of its various parts must be recreated, so to speak, before it can rightfully be termed a "new creation." All of the new personality must be of God.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (II Corinthians 5:17,18)
If we claim to be born again, then our first personality must have passed away. All that we are as a personality must now be part of the Lord Jesus. All that we are must be of God.
This new state must be created by by God Himself. Our part is to present ourselves to Christ at all times in our thinking, speaking, and doing. We must continually keep ourselves in a state of prayer. We learn to do this by taking one small step at a time. Christ will help!
The old saying that we have been saved in order to save others will eventually prove to be true. God has created His Church to be a royal priesthood so that by means of the Presence of Christ in the saints, all people of the nations who are willing will be reconciled to God.
We now can see and enter the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is Jesus Christ Himself, created in us. Our part is to obey Christ in every aspect of our being and doing.
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (II Corinthians 5:19)
What is preached today is that if we will confess that Jesus is Lord we will go to Heaven when we die. Our misbehavior is covered by "grace."
That is not the "Good News" of a kingdom that is at hand, nor does the termed scriptural Gospel of the Kingdom refer to the place in the spirit world "Heaven."
It is no wonder that church attendance is declining! It may be true that for most people this corrupt version of the Gospel of the Kingdom is not relevant to their current needs in our money, sex-driven culture.
The entire period of time from the fall of Adam and Eve to the coming down to earth of the new Jerusalem has been for the purpose of teaching mankind stern obedience to the Father. God has begun this program by selecting from mankind a Church and teaching the church people to obey God carefully according to God's standard.
As we may observe, God's goal often is neglected in favor of "believing in the Lord Jesus Christ."
These people, the Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, will be brought down from the spiritual Zion to the new earth, as we read in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation.
Each member of the Church, the Body of Christ, must be perfected in obedience. As soon as God is satisfied that each member of the Church has been perfected in obedience, that is, has ceased from their own works and are resting in the will of God in order to complete their personal destiny, they will be used of God to teach the remainder of mankind to obey God and also to worship the one true God.
"I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations." (Isaiah 66:19)
I would say this is quite a different concept from the current teaching that after Christians die they will rest forever in Paradise.
I might add that all members of God's Royal Priesthood, His Church, shall govern and teach the members of the saved people of the nations. However from among the members of the Church, some of these elect will be chosen to be part of Christ and to sit in God's Throne with the Lord Jesus. "Many are called, but a few are chosen." These chosen saints are more interested in Jesus Himself than they are in any other aspect of the Kingdom of God.
The next appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth indeed will be an epochal event.
"The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small—and for destroying those who destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:18)
After Christ returns in His Glory there will be a thousand (lit. or fig.) years in which Christ, and the Firstfruits of the Church, govern the world.
It is my opinion that the purpose for the thousand-year period is to bring the members of the Royal Priesthood to the maturity required to govern the creation. Also the nations on the earth will be becoming accustomed to a government consisting of Christ and His saints. This would be in preparation for the final eternal government exercised by the new Jerusalem.
At the end of the thousand-year period, God will release Satan from the Bottomless Pit. The fact that at this time a multitude of earth's people will follow Satan, reveals that even a righteous government cannot make the peoples of the earth obey and worship God. Each person must be accosted individually.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison.
And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. (Revelation 20:7-9)
I wonder if this camp of rebels, so easily seduced by Satan, remembered what they had read in the Bible. They were doing that which their Bible taught was leading to their destruction.
So it is today that we read about Noah's flood and the fire that destroyed Sodom and other cities of the Plain. But Americans, although Bibles are in plentiful supply, tend to forget in the midst of their material abundance that our God is a God of wrathful destruction of the disobedient as well as a God of incomprehensible love, in that He watched His Son go to Calvary for the redemption of mankind.
As I watch the news on the television it appears that the East coast of America is being deluged with rain. "As it was in the days of Noah."
It may be true that the testimony of the "two witnesses" is being prepared. in our day. It could be true that the "two witnesses" are a symbolic representation of Christ and His victorious saints.
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, (Matthew 24:37,38--KJV)
We must stop right here and consider what has been stated.
How many people are we considering? "The number of whom is as the sand of the sea, the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth."
These people obviously were an enormous multitude. Apparently they had not agreed with the restrictions placed upon them by Christ and His saints.
Fire came down from God out of Heaven and devoured them. Apparently no residue remained of this mountain of corpses, and they are not mentioned again that I know of.
We may be tempted to think of this as a necessary evil, and go on about our business. But these were fathers, mothers, and their children, each one having a name. I wonder if their names were written down somewhere by one of the survivors. Perhaps not, but that is a shame, isn't it?
All these spirits may have gone to a penal camp in the spirit world in the Land of Darkness. It appears to me improbable that even though they were disobedient to God, they all were cast into the Lake of Fire. But it is not impossible.
On the seventh day of the creation, God did not work. Rather He developed in His mind the plan that would bring about obedience on the part of all mankind, except for those who refuse to obey Christ. The rightful place of residence for the rebellious is the Lake of Fire. If they were permitted to remain among the saved people of the nations they soon would reproduce what we see in the world today.
At the present time, God is watching over His Word, to perform it.
For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:10)
We enter God's rest when we are completely and joyously obedient to every detail of God's will for us.
Today God's people are being taught that God has given us His "grace" so that we do not have to obey Him rigorously. We can disobey His will for us; and if we appeal to grace we are forgiven. In fact, I was taught in Bible school that God's requirements are so strict that no one can obey them.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (I John 5:3)
God's commandments are not grievous:
An individual who trusts in grace to save them and continues to disobey Christ is not revealing love toward God.
A person raised in the current Evangelical doctrine of "grace" is not being prepared to teach the people of the nations obedience to the Father, because they themselves have not been taught obedience to the Father.
The conversion of the nations to obedience to the one true God, and the worship of Him, comes about as the members of the Body of Christ serve as channels through which the living Water can flow.
"Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." (John 7:38)
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. (Ezekiel 47:7)
The above are trees of life. Having been through the waters of judgment the Water of Life pours out from them to the nations from the Throne of God that is in them. This is the fulfillment of the Levitical feast of Tabernacles.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Revelation 22:1)
Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." (John 14:23)
The work of evangelism must continue throughout the world. But it may be true that the emphasis of the present hour should be upon that of learning stern obedience to Christ and God. We can develop this characteristic by looking to the Lord Jesus for every thought we think; every word we speak; and every action that we take. This is how we enter the rest of God.
God has completed in His mind all of His works through to the coming down of the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, through the sky to be established upon a high mountain of the new earth. From there the members of the Wife will nourish, teach, and judge those people of the nations who bring their treasures to the new Jerusalem.
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)
In the passage above we can see clearly the distinction between the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Christian Church, and the people from the nations who have been saved to citizenship on the new earth. This is what being "saved" means. It is to live forever under the Presence of Christ and His Church.
This is the Kingdom of God, and we must be found worthy to be part of it.
All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:5)
A reference was made previously to a part of the Body of Christ that is especially close to the Lord Jesus ("many are called but few are chosen").
Many people are called out from the ranks of mankind to be Christians, but from among these only a few have sought the Lord Jesus with total fervency.
My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.
Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? (Song of Solomon 6:9,10)
The opportunity is available in our day to become an integral part of Christ. It is up to us to choose to be "the only one of her mother." But such must decide to be entirely subject to the Lord. They shall sit for eternity with the Lord Jesus in the Throne of God.
We see this pattern in the design of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Those who choose to be part of our Lord to this special extent must press through the "Veil" by giving over their desires to Christ—all desires in order that Christ may fulfill their desires according to His will for us.
Christ is choosing such followers today. We are being required to confess to Him all of our personal idols so that we will be free to worship Him alone.
Thus the entire Church, which is portrayed by the Tabernacle, is divided into the Most Holy Place and the Holy Place.
Those who have not been chosen to this extent will be kings and priests over the multitude of "saved" people from the nations. Both offices of the Church, those represented by the Most Holy Place, and the larger group representing the less fervent disciples, are undergoing training today so they may be able to obey and serve the one true God.
There are the hundred fold, the sixty fold, and the thirty fold. Those who sit closest to Christ on the Divine Throne, whose Life is revealed in them, are the hundred fold Christians. The balance of the Royal Priesthood, the Church, the Body of Christ, are the sixtyfold Christians.
Thirty fold believers represent the members of mankind who have not been called to be members of the Royal Priesthood, that is, have not been called to be members of the Body of the Messiah They are "saved" to live in glory forever as members of the Kingdom of God, although they are not set apart as members of the Priesthood.
And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. (Isaiah 65:21)
This is the way I understand to be what the Book of Revelation is revealing to us. If I am incorrect, I am ready to be corrected.
The "bottom line" of all my teaching is that each person who claims to belong to the Lord Jesus, cease worshiping the idols of the present world.
Sexual desire, the desire for more money than one needs, entertainment, have a strong hold on Americans. We have to look to the Lord Jesus to free us from all aspects of life that are not of our personal pursuit of Messiah.
It is impossible to press into Christ while we are occupied with sexual desire, money, or entertainment. We cannot free ourselves from these lusts of our body and mind. But the Lord Jesus can save us from that which is not the will of God for us, and He indeed shall do this for every individual who seeks Him with an undivided heart.
If we truly are seeking each day to do the will of the Lord Jesus, our path is leading us to participation in the rest of God (Hebrews 4:1).
But if we are leaving our salvation to that of attending church, and are not making each day a fuller grasp on the Lord Jesus Christ, we will not participate in the Heavenly wonders that are kept in store for the fervent disciples.
Going to Heaven when we die is not the goal of the true servant of the Lord Jesus. Rather our goal is conformation to the image of our Brother.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-13; KJV)
The text of this essay sets forth the various phases of our journey from Calvary to the "rest of God," referred to in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Perhaps the reason most of God's people neither understand nor seek to enter God's Kingdom is that they do not understand what it means to be "born again."
It is time now for Christians to look to the Lord Jesus as to the steps they must take to be born again and thus understand and enter the Kingdom of God, eternally dwelling in the rest of God.
[Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God; to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (II Thessalonians 1:5--ASV)