|Volume 24 Number 5 May 2022
Life is Just a Stopping Place
Life is but a stopping place. It might be called a resting place as we are traveling from here to sweet eternity. We all have a destination for our journey, but different paths along the way. We’re all meant to learn some things, but we were never meant to remain here. Our destination is far greater than we could ever know.
For some, the journey is short, while for others, the journey is long and slow. When the journey ends, perhaps we will claim a great reward. We may find an everlasting peace together with the Lord Jesus and God the Father [and God the Holy Spirit].
When we go home for the holidays, to a commencement ceremony, a wedding celebration or perhaps just a vacation, there is a price, a cost, a fare for that journey. It is the same for the journey of life. We research the ins and outs of getting to our anticipated destination.
Our Creator gave us a guidebook to insure our safe arrival at the chosen destination. Within that book He placed plans and expectations for us. Our God is the Author of the book, and His son Jesus Christ is our Travel Guide.
In order that we may reach that sweet eternity, we must heed every instruction that God gave us. We must go where He says go and avoid all from which He asks us to refrain. When Jesus instructed us to put ourselves in a position of second place importance, He wants us to look first to the welfare of our fellow travelers.
Once we have found Jesus to be One Whom we can follow all the way in every event, all He then asks of us is that we share His message with each person with whom we interact as they and we walk life’s journey.
Even though the journey is not without its share of trials and tribulations, it is a journey well worth the taking. Press on beyond the problems life presents to you. Your guide and Comforter is there to help in every situation. Above all see how many friends you meet along the way. Invite them to join you as you travel the road of life.
Believe me, those who travel this road with you will appreciate your efforts on their behalf. When you see someone else decide to walk in lockstep with you and your Lord, there will be a warmth and a joy in your bosom that defies all description. There will also be a sense of confidence that you will stand and hear “well done good and faithful servant” upon your arrival at the throne of Judgment.
The Kingdom and the Church
Brian R. Kenyon
God’s “kingdom” is an often-misunderstood concept. “Church of Christ” always means kingdom of God,” but “kingdom of God” does not always mean “church of Christ” (Matthew 5:18-20). Context must always determine meaning. Also, the terms “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” are interchangeable terms (Matthew 19:23-24). Truly understanding the nature of God’s kingdom will both strengthen the Christian and help evangelize the lost. This is why God’s kingdom was a staple subject of preaching in the Book of Acts (1:3; 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31).
Meaning of “Kingdom”
“Kingdom” is from a Greek word (basileia) that means “kingship, royal power, royal rule” (Daniel 4:31, 36). Secondarily, it refers to “the territory ruled over by a king.” Therefore, it first means “reign and not realm” (Revelation 11:15). Consider the parables in this light (Matthew 13:11, 24-32). Consider the priority object to be sought in this light (Matthew 6:33). Consider also some difficult “kingdom” passages in this light (Matthew 5:19; 8:11-12; 11:12; Luke 17:20-21). Since the rule of God does not operate in a void, “kingdom” does imply people living under that rule, and hence, the derivative meaning of realm.
“Kingdom” and the Old Testament
Since kingdom primarily means “royal rule,” it is evident that God has always had a kingdom, although there have been different manifestations of it (Exodus 15:18). At least some aspect of God’s “kingdom” was a present reality in the faith of the Old Testament. The psalmist declared, “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19 NKJV). Also, “They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, And talk of Your power, To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, And the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations” (Psalm 145:11-13). That God intended to be the King over His people is clear when Samuel reminded his generation, “And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king” (1 Samuel 12:12; 8:7). Even the people of Israel were referred to as the Lord’s kingdom (2 Chronicles 13:8).
Although there was a sense in which God has always had a “kingdom” (because He has always reigned), there was also in the Old Testament the expectation of a future manifestation of God’s royal rule. This would be a future manifestation of God’s sovereignty when He would exercise kingship in a fuller way (Isaiah 24:23; 33:22; Zephaniah 3:15; Zechariah 14:16-17). This future manifestation was symbolically revealed by the prophets (Joel 2:28, “afterward” [Acts 2:16]; Amos 9:11, “that day” [Acts 15:16]; Isaiah 2:2, “the last days;” Daniel 2:44, “days of these kings”). Such prophecies made clear that this final manifestation of God’s kingdom would be established in the last age of human history when the Messiah would reign (“last days,” Hebrews 1:1-2).
“Kingdom” and the Church of Christ
The church of Christ is the final manifestation of God’s kingdom this side of eternity. John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord by, among other things, preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus also preached, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). “At hand” in most contexts refers to something very near. Jesus affirmed in two verses the nearness of this final manifestation of God’s kingdom. First, in Matthew 16:28, right after promising to build His church, Jesus declared, “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Some of those who heard Jesus, including Peter (Matthew 16:19), would be alive when this “kingdom” would come. Then, in Mark 9:1, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” Mark also affirmed that some of those who heard Jesus would be alive when this final manifestation of the “kingdom” would come, but he also added a detail that the “kingdom” would come with “power.”
Two passages particularly shed light on this power. According to Luke, Jesus said before ascending, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus also told the apostles before ascending, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Remembering that the kingdom was to come with power, and that the power was to come from the Holy Spirit, a study of Acts 2:1-47 reveals that this final manifestation of God’s “kingdom” was established with the establishment of the church (Matthew 16:18-19).
“Kingdom” Is Present Reality
From Acts 2 to the end of the New Testament, God’s kingdom, the church of Christ, is spoken of as a historic fact. Paul told the Colossians that God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). “Delivered” and “conveyed” [“translated” KJV] deal with past action. Thus, the “kingdom” was a present reality when Colossians was written (A.D. 60-61). Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to “walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). “Calls” indicates the Thessalonians were in the “kingdom” when the instruction was given (A.D. 51). Thus, the kingdom had to be in existence at that time! The writer of Hebrews declared, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28). In order to receive something, it must be in existence! Hebrews was written around A.D. 68 or 69. Thus, the “kingdom” was in existence. Finally, from Patmos, John declared, “I [am]… your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9). Just as sure as John was on the island of Patmos, he was in the “kingdom.” These verses show the “kingdom” was already in existence then, which means it is certainly here today!
There will be a future manifestation of God’s kingdom, synonymous with Heaven, where all the faithful souls of all ages will dwell eternally with God, commencing on Judgment Day (Matthew 7:21-23; 25:34; 1 Corinthians 15:50-57; 2 Timothy 4:1, 18; 2 Peter 1:11). The only way to be a part of God’s kingdom is to submit to His reign through the Gospel of Christ! The same way a person becomes a member of the church, he or she becomes part of God’s kingdom (Acts 2:38, 40-41, 47). All Christians are part of the culmination of God’s plan for His kingdom on this side of eternity. Are we faithful members of His church? Are we faithful subjects of His kingdom?