Chapter 46: THE
CHURCH CONTENDS THAT GOD'S KINGDOM
WAS ESTABLISHED ON PENTECOST, 33 A. D.
by M. H. Tucker
Along with redemption in
Christ, the kingdom is the foremost theme in the Bible. These two are so
interrelated that to misunderstand them is to misunderstand much of the Bible.
Many fanciful theories on the
kingdom of God have been worked out by men which only obscure the real nature of
the kingdom. One of the more prominent theories affirms that the kingdom has not
been established, but will be set up when Christ returns. At that time, they
say, Christ will rule on a literal throne in Jerusalem for one thousand years.
Furthermore, this view states that the kingdom and the church are not the same
institution; that the church was something added as an afterthought because the
kingdom was reflected when Christ tried to establish it during his first advent.
This theory is commonly known as premillennialism.
THE KINGDOM AND THE CHURCH
The kingdom and the church are
the same institution. The two words express different aspects of that
institution just as the words "body" (Ephesians 1:22-23) and "house" (1 Timothy
3:15) express different aspects of the church. The following considerations show
that the kingdom and the church are the same.
(1) Jesus used the words
interchangeably. In Matthew 16:18 he said, "I will build my church." In the same
breath he said, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom" (Matt. 16:19).
If the two are not the same, Christ built one thing, but gave Peter the keys to
another thing. If the kingdom has not been established, Peter and the other
apostles have never used the keys, and one may wonder why they were given to
(2) The Lord's supper was to be
in the kingdom. When Christ instituted the Lord's supper he said, "I appoint
unto you a kingdom as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and
drink at my table in my kingdom" (Luke 22:29-30). However, the Lord's supper was
observed in the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:17-30), and in the church in
Troas (Acts 20:7). Since the Lord's supper which was to be in the kingdom was
observed in the church, the kingdom and the church must be the same.
(3) The seed produces subjects
of the kingdom and members of the church. In the parable of the sower, Jesus
called the word of God the "word of the kingdom" (Matt. 13:19). In Luke 8:11 the
word of God is called the "seed". When the seed or the word of the kingdom was
received into honest hearts it produced subjects of the kingdom. However, when
the same seed was received by the Corinthians it produced members of the church.
"Many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized" (Acts 18:8). Later,
when Paul wrote to these Christians he called them the "church of God which is
at Corinth" (1 Cor. 1:2). God decreed that seed is to bring forth after its kind
(Genesis 1:11). Since the word of God, the seed, produces subjects of the
kingdom and members of the church, and since seed will produce the same product,
it follows that to be a member of the church is to be a subject of the kingdom.
(4) After Pentecost of 33 A.D.,
both the kingdom and the church are spoken of as a present reality. Acts 2 is
the pivotal point of Bible history. Recorded in this chapter are the events of
the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ. Prior to this chapter
the kingdom and the church are spoken of as future. Earlier Christ said, "I will
build my church" (Matt. 16:18). In the last verse of Acts 2 we learn that "the
Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (verse 47).
In like manner, the kingdom was
not a reality before Acts 2; it existed only in promise and prophecy. John
preached, "the kingdom is at hand" (Matt. 3:1-2). Jesus preached, "The time is
fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15). Furthermore, he said,
"There be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till
they have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mark 9:1). After Acts 2 the
kingdom is said to be in existence. Members of the church at Colossae were in
the kingdom. Paul said, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and
hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Col 1:13). John said that
he was in the kingdom (Revelation 1:9).
The above evidence clearly
demonstrates that the church and the kingdom are the same. If one has been in
existence since 33 A.D., the other has been in existence since then.
CHRIST IS NOW REIGNING
As previously stated,
premillennialism teaches that the kingdom was offered to the Jews at his first
advent but it was rejected. Therefore, the offer was withdrawn and the kingdom
is held in abeyance until his second advent. At that time he will begin reigning
on a literal throne in Jerusalem. That the above is false and that Christ is now
reigning as King of Kings may be seen from the following considerations.
(1) Christ cannot reign on
earth. An Old Testament prophecy states that no seed (descendant) of Coniah (Jeconiah)
"shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah"
(Jeremiah 22:30). The genealogy of Christ in Matthew, chapter 1 lists Christ as
a descendant of Jeconiah (Matt. 1:12). Since Christ is the seed of Coniah and
since no seed of his can reign on David's throne on earth, it follows that
Christ cannot reign on David's throne on earth. This does not forbid Christ from
reigning on David's throne; it only forbids him from reigning on David's throne
In Luke 1:32-33 we learn that
"the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. . ." Christ
now reigns from heaven.
(2) Christ began reigning after
his ascension. On Pentecost in 33 A.D. Peter affirms that the prophecy of David
concerning one who would sit on his throne was fulfilled in Christ's
resurrection. "Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an
oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would
raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spoke of the
resurrection of Christ. . ." (Acts 20:30-31).
(3) Christ will cease to reign
when the end comes. Contrary to premillennialism, which affirms that Christ will
begin to reign when he returns, the Bible teaches that he will cease to reign
when he returns. "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 power. For he must reign, till he hath put all things under his
feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Cor. 15:24-26).
The kingdom of God is almost
2,000 years old. As king, Christ rules its subjects. The church of Christ is
2,000 years old; as head, Christ directs its members. Thanks be to God the
kingdom shall stand forever (Daniel 2:44) and "the gates of Hades" will not
prevail against the church (Matt. 16:18).
Describe the doctrine of
Discuss the idea that Acts 2 is
the pivotal point of the Bible.
In addition to the word,
"church", what other terms describe the kingdom?
Give the date, geographical
location and the Bible chapter which tells of the beginning of the church.
Name two things that will take
place when "the end comes."