THE BASF - ITS IMPORTANCE AND TEACHING
“That the gospel consists of “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ”.—Acts 8:12; 19:8, 10, 20; 28:30,31.”
“That the things of the kingdom of God are the facts testified concerning the kingdom of God in the writings of the prophets and apostles, and definable as in the next twelve paragraphs.
“That God will set up a kingdom in the earth, which will overthrow all others, and change them into “the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ”.—Dan 2:44; 7:13,14; Rev 11:15; Is 32:1,17; 2:2-4; 11:9,10.
In describing the Acts of the Master’s Apostles, the Spirit recounts for our learning both “the things” that Phillip preached, and the response of the People to them: “When they believed Phillip, preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12; see also Acts 28:31). Here, the matter is plainly set before us; Baptism follows a belief in certain “things,” which “things” are described as falling into two categories – the “things concerning the Kingdom of God”, and also the “things” concerning “the name of Jesus Christ.” These “things” collectively form the elementary principles of the Gospel that saves (Rom 1:16), for they together speak of the mode of Salvation – Immortal life in the Kingdom Age, and the means whereby these things might be accomplished – the Atoning work of the Father in Christ. These then, were the “things” uttered by the Apostles when the taught the Gospel, and are therefore “things” to be believed prior to Baptism.
We would do well to reflect upon that fact. If we might so say, presented in these terms, the “things concerning the kingdom of God” actually form half of the Gospel! Is that something reflected in the preferred method of preaching utilised by some, a method involving the minimal use and mention of Doctrine? In both lecture and seminar, the current trend appears to be to emphasise man’s problems, the evils of this present world, and to present the Kingdom as almost nothing other than a wise and Divine solution to those problems. Yet such is more than a useful side-effect in the Divine Scheme of things; the Deity is not so much concerned with solving the problems that man brings upon himself, as establishing an order of things where, it might be proclaimed by the innumerable company of the Redeemed, “Holy, Holy, Holy is Yahweh Tzavaoth; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Is 6:3). That is the overarching Divine Purpose; He formed the earth “to be inhabited” (Is 45:18), ultimately with a Divine Family of men (Eph 3:15) who shew forth his Image and Glory, having been redeemed to the Deity by the shed blood of the Lamb (Apoc 5:9,10), to give Him Glory and Honour, being a New Creation formed for His Pleasure (Apoc 4:11, cp Col 1:16), and the magnification of His Name (Ps 40:16).
The return of Yahweh’s Annointed to the earth for the purposes of Reigning as King then, is not merely to resolve human difficulties. It is a necessary part of subduing the World, that the haughtiness of man having been cut down, Yahweh only will be exalted in that day (Is 2:11,12). In actual fact, for many, in the day when Yahweh shall arise to shake terribly the earth, their problems shall be far from resolved, for it is written that “the day of Yahweh of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up … in that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of ragged rocks, for fear of Yahweh, and for the glory of His Majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Is 2:12, 20-22). The coming “day of the Lord” is not to be a benefiecent act of goodness towards sinful men, to make life easier and more pleasing for them. Rather, Scripture describes it as “the day of Yahweh’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion” (Is 34:8). It is a time when Jacob shall be delievered from the hand of the enemy, and when those who despise the ways of the coming king shall perish, for it is testified that he shall “be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thess 1:7).
That is not, of course, to suggest that it will not be a time of blessedness for those who survive the terrible judgments to come. Rather, it is to show that the focus of the matter is wrong; the coming Kingdom is not for man’s benefit, so much as for the accomplishement of Yahweh’s good pleasure. Human habit is to place emphasis upon man, and not Yahweh, for things to be done for man’s good, rather than Yahweh’s pleasure. But such a view is seen to be a distorted, unfocussed picture when compared with the clarity of Revelation. The Scriptures in many places speak of a day of consolation, and a time of great joy to come. The day of vengeance is also to be a day of release to the oppressed of Zion, for the King shall himself declare: “The spirit of Adonai Yahweh is upon me; because Yahweh hath annointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptible year of Yahweh, and the day of vengeance of our Elohim; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of rightesousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he might be glorified”. (Is 61:1-3). As well as being a time of judicially inflicted evil therefore (cp Is 45:7)., it will also be a time of good, and prosperity for Zion – but that Yahweh “might be glorified”.
In this passage of Isaiah, we find the matter presented in perfect balance and true focus. The coming day will involve both divinely inflicted evil, and divinely provided good – but for the ultimate aim that Yahweh be glorified. He will be magnified by judgments to the nations, (cp Ezek 38:23), and blessedness to His People. Either way, He will be magnified, and held in esteem by all that remain.
A LITERAL KINGDOM
It must be plain and obvious to all but those whose hearts and minds have been closed by sectarian thinking and humanistic philosophy, that the above passages all require that the Kingdom is a literal political entity to be established upon earth. That the kingdom shall commence with the appearance of Abraham’s Greater seed upon the earth, in whom all nations shall be blessed (Gal 3:8). That it cannot be now said that “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ,” (Rev 11:15), neither can it be, until “the Elohim of heaven” shall “set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Dan 2:44). But it is with much heaviness of heart that we look at the writings of men purporting to be Christ’s brethren that claim othewise.
A booklet recently came into our possession, produced some years ago by the Christadelphian Bible Mission, entitled Preparing for Baptism, and asserting “This is a Christadelphian booklet it gives you true Bible teaching.” How sorrowful it is that this “official” publication teaches grave error on a number of topics, including the notion the Kingdom is now in existence. The Question and answer is given:
“Is it true that the Kingdom of God means the Lord Jesus ruling in our hearts now?
ANSWER: Yes, this is true, but it is not the whole truth. We must show that Jesus Christ is our king by permitting him to rule in our hearts, but the Kingdom of God means much more besides this …”
The publication proceeds to briefly outline a kingdom centred around Jerusalem, true, but it provides a definition of the Kingdom in bold print above, that “the Kingdom of God means the Lord Jesus ruling in our hearts now”. Although it acknowledges a literal kingdom, first and foremost, it claims that the Kingdom of God is a present reality in the hearts of men. It therefore teaches a dangerous mix of truth and error.
But the CBM are not alone; the Endeavour magazine teaches like ideas:
“The believer has clearly already entered the kingdom, because he has recognised Jesus as Christ the king” (May 1994)
“His title of King of Israel will be redefined in his interchange with Pilate, which represents his dominion as a spiritual, not an earthly power” (June 1997)
“Our community has produced literature … in which there is sadly little or nothing said about one of the central features of New Testament teaching, namely the present reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“it is certainly not good enough to say that Jesus will not begin his reign until he returns to the earth when God will then begin to make his enemies his footstool …”
“True, evil and wickedness have continued … but nevertheless the gospel has made inroads into the kingdom of Satan and victories have been made for Christ. In other words, the Son has been busy bringing the world into subjection to the Father, so that, in the end he may ‘hand over the Kingdom to God the Father’ (1Cor 15:24)” (June 1999)
So then, according to these writers, “the believer has clearly already entered into the kingdom…” But how does that compare with the Holy Writ? How can such pray, “Thy Kingdom Come” (Mat 6:10) if they believe that they are already in the Kingdom? Surely, the Disciples, having been educated for a 40 day period of the things concerning the Kingdom by the Master himself (Acts 1:3) would have understood themselves to be in that kingdom, if it were true? Yet they asked, “Lord, Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (v 6), demonstrating their belief that the Kingdom was something yet to come, and would be Israel Restored. We shall consider the nature of this Kingdom in future articles, if the Father wills, but the notion of a present-kingdom in men’s hearts is not a new idea, for Bro Roberts contended against it 100 years ago, in his work Christendom Astray:
“Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come”. It is not yet come. If it were, the kingdom of men would not be in existence, for “the kingdoms of this world” are to cease when the kingdom of God comes. They are to become His; and the prophets show us that when this comes to pass the governments of this world will no longer be in the hands of unauthorized, ambitious, erring kings and rulers. When the kingdom of God comes, it will displace and overthrow every powerr in the world, and visibly establish God’s power on the earth, by the hand of Christ and his saints”
And again, in addressing whether or not Christ is now reigning as King in the believer’s hearts:
“Christ is not king of his own people. Of them he says, “I call you not servants, but friends”. They are his brethren, “joint heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17), destined to reign with him a thousand years (Rev 8:17). They are not his subjects, but aggregately his bride, “the Lamb’s wife” – signifying the closest communion and identity of relational interest.”
Christ’s brethren, therefore, are not his subjects, but those who are to share the rule with him. They are not called by him his servants, but his friends, who will be seated with him in royal authority and power in the Age of come, for they will be given to sit with him in his throne, even as he is presently sat with the Father in His throne (Rev 3:21). It is a command that believers are to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mat 6:33). But what if a man seeks after a kingdom which does not exist? A present kingdom which the Father has not established? Can he expect to enter into a future political kingdom that he does not believe in? Can he reign in that kingdom when he believes himself to be a subject, and not a king or priest (Rev 5:10)? Those who are wise will rather seek first the Kingdom spoken of, and preached by Christ and his Apostles.