Understanding the Lord's Kingdom
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Jesus came from Heaven to earth for a specific reason. He came to carry
forth the Father's purposes to save fallen man (Ephesians 2:4-7). Paul
said that God would "have all men to be saved, and to come unto a
knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:4). God purposed to save lost
men in the church or kingdom built by Christ (Matthew 16:18-19). The church
of Christ is God's plan of salvation. But the kingdom or church is viewed
without understanding by many. Please make the following comparisons:
- Jesus came into the world to establish His church; but we must understand
that His kingdom is not of the world (John 18:36).
- Jesus worked the
first of His mighty works in His personal ministry at a social affair
(wedding John 2); but He made it very clear that His kingdom was not
a social organization (Romans 14:17).
- Jesus had power to forgive sins
while he was on earth and did so in different ways with different people
(thief on the cross); but after his death, burial, and resurrection,
the world-wide commission recorded in all four accounts of the Gospel
teaches that in His kingdom He saves only those who hear, believe, repent,
confess His name, and are baptized into Christ (Matthew 9:6; Matthew
28; Mark l6; Luke 24; John 20).
- Jesus taught men to pay their taxes
while he was on earth; but made it abundantly known that His kingdom
was not political (Matthew 22:21; Acts 1:6-8).
Let all who would be saved understand His kingdom and come unto Him who
is ready, able, willing to save. He will add to His kingdom or church those
who gladly receive his word and are baptized (Acts 2:41, 47). At the same
time your name will be added to the book of life when you understand and
enter His kingdom (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 21:27).
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Restoring the Original
Darrell E. Beard
You are familiar with the idea of restoring a classic automobile or historic
building to its original condition. When something is restored to its original
state, it implies that it is valuable to someone and worth the effort.
Bible students know that there was the original church of Christ. We read
about its establishment, growth and work in the New Testament. There is
a full description of its original organization, work, worship, terms of
entrance and other characteristics given by God.
In time, however, changes began to be made in doctrine, church organization
and practice. Inspiration warned of this departure from the original. Refer
to these passages: Acts 20:24-30; II Thessalonians 2:1-4; I Timothy 4:1-4;
II Timothy 4:3-4.
Although this was a gradual process, the church which evolved out of these
changes could not be identified as the original church of Christ. By the
15th and 16th centuries, many were pleading for a reform. The Reformation
Movement accomplished some good, but did not meet the real need and led
to the establishment of different, divided churches.
How different is denominationalism from Christ's original purpose to unite
people in the church (John 17:20-21; Ephesians 2:15-18; 4:3-4)!
The only answer is in restoring the original church in all its divinely-appointed
qualities and characteristics. It is not merely worth restoring. It must
be, to please God! The church, as it existed in its original state, was
what God intended it to be for that and for all time.
There can be no more important or noble work than restoring the Lord's
church to its original state as revealed in the Bible.
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The Church --The Kingdom of God
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All school-age children have some measure of understanding as to what
a kingdom is. We understand that worldly kingdoms have subjects, territories,
and laws, as well as rewards and punishments. History is full of kings
and kingdoms. The Babylonian kingdom, the Syrian kingdom, the Medo-Persian,
Egyptian, and the Macedonian are but a few that have become the subjects
of historians, both ancient and modern. The casual student of the Bible
has no trouble with the concept of a kingdom, as the Bible refers to such
over and over again. In the Old Testament there are pages full of discussions
of both kings and kingdoms to challenge the interest of the Bible student.
Actually, the Jews of Jesus' day had for a long time been looking forward
to a coming kingdom. They had been thinking about it, and it was the object
of their study for many years. They had been anticipating it, so they were
quite ready when John and Jesus came and preached the kingdom. Their concept
of the kingdom, though, was quite different from that of the Lord's. They
were looking for a materialistic kingdom. They were looking for a kingdom
of military power and strength to free them from the burden of Roman rule.
Therefore, when Jesus and John came to the people preaching about the coming
kingdom, they were ready for such, but their concept of the kingdom and
that of the Lord's was quite different, indeed!
Jesus explained that His
church was the kingdom which He intended to establish. From our reading
of the Word of God, we find that it, too, has a ruler, with subjects, laws,
rewards, and punishments. In Matthew chapter 16 Jesus is speaking to His
disciples. He has just crossed over to the coasts of Caesarea Philippi,
and He asked His disciples, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man,
am?" (verse 13). The disciples gave Him various answers, which is
but an indication of how some of the public had failed to understand Jesus
and His divine mission. Then, he responded with, "Whom say ye that
I am?" In other words, what do you say? Peter said, "Thou art
the Christ, the Son of the living God."
It is impossible to over-emphasize
the importance of that great truth. Jesus had been rejected at Jerusalem,
then later at Nazareth, and still later at Gadara. Yet, the disciples,
even though still in their infancy as far as understanding the mission
of Jesus, understood this point--that Jesus was God's Son, the Messiah
predicted from the pages of the prophets. Upon hearing this good confession
in Matthew 16, Jesus blesses Peter, saying, "Blessed art thou." Then,
He says to Peter, "Upon this rock I will build my church." Notice,
Jesus refers them to the church.
Then, in the very next verse (verse 19)
Jesus continues His discussion about the church by using the term "kingdom." He
uses the word "church" and the word "kingdom" interchangeably.
This important passage teaches us this great truth, for, while many religious
teachers today attempt to distinguish between the two, Jesus clearly used
the words "church" and "kingdom" interchangeably, thereby
showing that the two terms refer to one and the same thing.
this passage teaches that the time of the church's (kingdom's) establishment
cannot be too far away! Jesus used the term "kingdom" and "church" to
mean the same thing, and of course, if Jesus used them in that fashion,
so ought we to do.
These are very important considerations for the Christian.
Any religious group which does not consider itself to be the kingdom of
God, the church for which Jesus died, simply cannot claim to be the church
of Christ. Human organizations can never equal or replace God's divine
kingdom, the church.
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