The King and the Kingdom
April 11th, 1973 @ 7:30 PM
THE KING AND THE KINGDOM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Jeremiah 23:5, 6
4-11-73 7:30 p.m.
Now, as you know, we are studying the Bible, not analytically, we are not breaking it down in its parts, but we are studying it synthetically; we are looking at it as a synthesis, we are putting it together. It is a great overview of the whole purpose of God as revealed in this Holy Word. So tonight, and because of the lack of time to finish it, almost certainly next Wednesday night also, we are going to discuss The King and the Kingdom. And it will be an overview of the entire Word of God; first, the King and then the kingdom.
It is the purpose of God to set up a kingdom in this earth. When God made the man, He placed him here in order that he might have dominion over all the works of God’s hands. And that precipitated the tragic intrusion of Satan, for Satan was "the cherub that covereth" [Ezekiel 28:14], and all of God’s creation was under his surveillance, and he was responsible to God for it. But when Satan fell, God took away from him what he felt was rightfully his, and it was the purpose of God to give to the man that He made the dominion over God’s handiwork. And that is why, outside the gate, you have that subtle and vicious and venomous beast who hates the man and encompasses his downfall. But the purpose of God did not waiver or change in His avowal and dedication to build, in this world, a kingdom. Consequently, when we look at the Bible, from its beginning to its ending – all through the Word of God, there is outlined and revealed that purpose of the Lord to build here in this earth, a kingdom. And God never deviates from that; it is all through the Bible.
You cannot have a kingdom without a king. Who then is to be the king? In the Old Testament there is a prophetic portrait of the Messiah King all the way through, and in the New Testament you have a historic portrait of that Messiah King. He is none other than Jesus the Son of God, our Lord and Savior. So, through the unfolding of the Old Testament you have the presentation of that King. In Genesis 3:15, He is to be born of "the Seed of the woman." In Genesis 9:26, He is to come of the line of Shem. In Genesis 12:1-3, He is to be of the seed of Abraham. In Genesis 17:19, He is to be of the seed of Isaac. In Genesis 28:14-15, He is to be of the seed of Jacob. In Genesis :10, He is to belong to the tribe of Judah. And in 2 Samuel 7, verse 12 and verse 16, He is to be a son of David. And that promise made to David – that there should be a son of David who would sit upon the throne forever – was unconditionally reiterated in Psalm 89, verses 3 and 4, and verses 25 to 37. In Jeremiah 33, verses 17 to 26, that unconditional promise was reaffirmed. I point that out to us – I wish we had time to read these passages, but we would be here for years if we didn’t hasten. I point that out to you, for I have heard it said that the promise that Nathan brought to David was just a prophet’s promise. That is not true; the promise that David was made by God through the prophet Nathan is reiterated in the Word of God. As in Psalm 89, it is unconditionally promised; as in Jeremiah 33, it is unconditionally affirmed. Then it is said again in Jeremiah 23, verses 5 and 6; and it is reiterated again in Isaiah 11, verses 1, 2, and 10, that there is to be a king who will sit upon the throne of David forever and ever. The whole purpose of God, unchanging, is that there is to be a kingdom in this world; and the King is to be this Man who is of the seed of Abraham, of the seed of Jacob, of the seed of Judah, a son of David.
Now as the Bible proceeds, it will speak further about that King. In Isaiah 7:14 and in Isaiah 9:6-7, He is to be of divine parentage, He is to be of God, a Son of God. And that came to pass and is reiterated in Luke 1:31-33, and verse 35. Micah 5:2 points out His birthplace: He is to be born in Bethlehem. In Daniel 9:26 it says that He is "to be cut off, but not for Himself," that is: He is, in His death, to be a vicarious offering of God for others. And that death is described in Psalm 22 and in Isaiah 53, among other places. Then He is to be raised from the dead; Psalm 16:10, quoted again in Acts 2:25-28. Then the King, after the resurrection from the dead, is to go away. In Luke 19: 12 and verse 15, the King goes away until the times of the Gentiles run their course. But He is coming back, and in Acts 15:13-18, it quotes Amos 9:11 and 12, where the prophecy is made that the kingdom is to be established, and the King is to return and reign over it forever. Now that is the King that God has prepared for the kingdom that He is to set up in the earth.
Now, we are going to look at that kingdom. And I want to warn you before we begin its study that your pastor is a literalist and if you don’t have that in your mind, why, you will be unaccustomed to some of the things that I will expound and present here in this teaching lesson. Now by a "kingdom" I mean an actual kingdom; and by an "earth" I mean this earth. And we are going to look at it – visible, actual, real – an honest to goodness king; I mean, a king you can see. I mean, a king you can shake hands with. I mean, a king you can talk to. I mean, a king you can go see. I mean, a king whose face you can look upon, you can get acquainted with, you can talk to Him – a king, an actual king and an actual kingdom, a real honest to goodness kingdom. Now we are going to look at the kingdom that it is the purpose of God to establish in the earth.
There are some expositors who define terms like this: now we are going to define the kingdom of God as some expositors look at it, and the kingdom of heaven as some expositors look at it. All right, the kingdom of God: they believe that that is the reign of God over all the universe. It includes time and eternity, it includes heaven and earth. It is spiritual – such as Luke 17:20, where the Lord says, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." It is not something that you see with your naked eye. Or Romans 14:17, "It is not meat or drink, but it is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." It is an invisible kingdom, the kingdom of God. And it is entered into by the new birth, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" [John 3:3]. Now, the kingdom of heaven is the work and the influence of Christ in Christendom. It is a New Testament term, "the kingdom of heaven," and it is found only in Matthew – where it is used thirty-two times. And the kingdom of heaven is limited as to time and to sphere; the time of the kingdom of heaven is from the first coming of Christ to the second coming of Christ; and the sphere is Christendom. It is a mixture of good and bad; it is a mixture of wheat and tares and it culminates in the glorious millennium, the fruition of the kingdom of Christ.
Now as I mentioned a while ago, the kingdom – the dominion that was given to man – was lost in the fall, and Satan is referred to in the Bible as "the prince of this world." In Matthew chapter 4: 8-10, he offered to Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. Now some people will say, "He didn’t have a right to offer that." If that was not in Satan’s power to offer, then the temptation is idiocy, it is no temptation at all. How could Jesus be tempted with Satan offering Him something that Satan didn’t have? Satan has it. The glory of this world, and the glory of the kingdoms of this world belong to Satan; they are his. In John 14:30, he is called "the prince of this world"; and in 2 Corinthians 4:4, he is called "the god of this world." But the real and rightful king is our representative; He is our Messiah Christ. And in 1 John 3:8, Christ is said to have come to destroy the works of the devil, and in Daniel 2:44, the prophecy is made that He will set up a kingdom that shall stand forever.
All right, now we begin with that kingdom: the kingdom was announced as "at hand" by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-2. And it was announced as "at hand" by Jesus in Matthew 4:17; and it was announced as "at hand" by the twelve apostles in Matthew 10:7; and it was announced as "at hand" in Luke 10:9, by the seventy. Now when it is announced that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand," that means the whole reign of this earth and of this universe is to be under the hands of the Lord Christ, and His kingdom is to be established. That was the announced kingdom that was presented in the words of John and of Jesus. Now, was that an outward and visible kingdom? And if the Jews had accepted it, would it have been an actual visible kingdom in this world, and Jesus would have been king over it? The answer from my heart is an unequivocal, un-categorical affirmation, "Yes!" The kingdom that John announced "at hand" and the kingdom that Jesus announced as "at hand" was an earthly, visible kingdom, And if the Jews had accepted it, Jesus would have established it and the kingdom of heaven would have been here with the King.
Now, the Old Testament Scriptures teach that earthly and visible kingdom over which the Son of Man is to rule, and the verses in the Old Testament that describe that kingdom and king are almost legions. For example, it is described meticulously in Isaiah chapter 2:1-4. It is described in Isaiah 11:1-10, and in Isaiah 9:6-7. It is described in Jeremiah chapter 23:6-8. It is described in Daniel 2:44-45, and in Daniel 7:13 and 14; and in Zechariah chapter 14:9. According to Isaiah 40, chapter 40:3 and 11, John the Baptist announced it; the chapter in Isaiah is "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord!" So in Matthew 3:3, when John the Baptist appeared and announced the kingdom of heaven at hand. Matthew quotes this passage in Isaiah 40:3-11, as the John the Baptist is the fulfillment of that prophecy: he is the voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord. The kingdom of heaven is at hand!"
Now, I want to show you, I want to show you a confusion that came to John the Baptist and a cause of some of the most unusual exegetical expositions that I could imagine. The kingdom that John the Baptist announced and the kingdom that Jesus announced was a visible, earthly kingdom with a king that you could see, that you could talk to. Like if England is a kingdom, it has space and definition; and the queen, you can go look at her, or the king before her – you could see him. It is an actual thing.
Now, it is the same thing about the kingdom of heaven in this earth: it is an actual thing with an actual king. And this was the confusion of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:1-15. In Matthew 11, "There came to John the Baptist the wonderful – the report of the wonderful works of the blessed Jesus." And John the Baptist is in prison, and in that prison he lost his head, they cut off his head. And John the Baptist sent to Jesus, from that prison, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask Him, "Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?" And when people read that and expound that, they say that John the Baptist in prison began to doubt whether Jesus was the Christ or not. So he asked, "Art Thou the coming One, or do we look for somebody else?" [Matthew 11:3]. He is doubting, they say, whether Jesus is the Christ or not. Now the reason they give for the doubting of John the Baptist – and let me go back so you can see what I’m driving at. The kingdom of heaven has a twofold aspect to it, and the King has a twofold ministry about Him that the disciples did not understand, and John did not understand. And that is why we are going to look at the confusion that it caused, and at the confusion that we find in expounding this passage. So they say that John the Baptist is asking Jesus, "whether You are the Christ or not; because we do not know whether You are really the One. I am doubting You," they say. And they say John is doubting because he is in prison, and the doubting came to him because he is in a hard way.
Now you just look at that: after Jesus has answered the disciples and after they had departed – why, He says to these people that are in the presence of His words and company, and they heard what John said – Jesus says concerning John: "What went ye out in the wilderness to see, a reed shaken by the wind? Having announced the Christ, and the coming kingdom, is he doubting now as though he were a reed shaken by the wind? Or, "What went ye out to see, a man clothed in soft raiment? He is in prison now, and you say he is dissolved on the inside of him because he is in prison. You think he is soft like that?
But what went ye out for to see, a prophet?
Yea, I tell you, more than a prophet.
For this is he of whom it is written,
And then He quotes that passage in Isaiah and in Malachi, where God is going to send His messenger to prepare the way for the King. And then the Lords says:
Verily I say unto you, among those born of woman, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist. And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied unto John. And if you receive it, this is the Elijah, who was to come.
Now, does that sound to you as though John is the kind of a man who, because he is in prison, he begins to doubt? Does that sound to you as though he is the kind of a man that bends with every wind of doctrine? Does that sound to you like a soft man, what Jesus says about him? No! John the Baptist was a man made out of iron! John the Baptist was a man that could not be swayed by king, or by people, or by queen, or by anybody.
Well, what is this thing then, when John the Baptist sends to Jesus and asks Him, "Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?" Well, I would get a good insight into an answer to that question by the fact that he sent to Christ. And that is what Matthew says, "Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him," Now, Christ would be the last one in the world that he’d ask if he doubted whether He was the Christ or not. How in the world would you ask with any assurance from a man in whom you had no confidence, in whom you didn’t believe, in whom you were doubting? It is because John the Baptist did believe He was the Christ, and that he did believe that He was the One, that God sent him to announce to the world. And that He did come to establish this kingdom. It was on account of John’s persuasion and belief that he sent to Christ. Well, what is this thing that happened to John the Baptist? The thing that happened to John the Baptist is the thing that has confused all of the prophets of the Old Testament, and it is the musterion, it is the secret that God kept in His heart, and He did not reveal it until He revealed it unto His apostles.
Now you look at it; John the Baptist preached two things about the coming Messiah. One: he preached the coming Messiah as "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." Now, isn’t that right? In the first chapter of John, verses 29 and 36, twice does John introduce the Lord Jesus as "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." That is, when John the Baptist presented Christ to the world he presented Him: one, as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. And the Lord hath laid on Him, the iniquity of us all. He – God – shall see the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied
He presented Christ as the Lamb of God.
Now, John also did another thing: in Matthew 3, verses 10 and 12, quoting Malachi 3:1-3, and Malachi 4:1 and 2, John the Baptist presented the Lord Jesus as the One who is coming to establish His kingdom in the earth:
And the ax is going to be laid at the foot of the tree, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, He is going to cut down and cast into the fire. And His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He is going to gather the wheat into the garner, but He is going to burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Now John the Baptist presented the Christ in those two pictures and in those two ways: one, he presented the Christ as "the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world," the Suffering Servant who is going to die on the cross that we might be saved. And he also presented the Lord Messiah as the great Judge, who is going to purge this universe of its sin, who is going to cleanse it of its unrighteousness, who is going to establish His kingdom in judgment and in justice, and reign over this earth forever and ever.
Now in the prison, John the Baptist – hearing the works of Christ – couldn’t understand: is that to be the work of the same Man? Is He to be the Lamb of God and at the same time the great Judge who sweeps and purges the earth of all of its unrighteousness? Is that to be the same Man, or are they two different men? Are there two Christs? John wants to know: is there one Christ who is coming to wash our sins away as the Lamb of God, the Suffering Servant of the Lord, and then is there another Christ who is coming to establish the kingdom in judgment and justice, and to reign over this earth forever? John the Baptist didn’t know, and the prophets didn’t know. In the same breath that the prophets of the Old Testament would speak of about Christ as being the King of the whole earth, in the next breath they would speak of His being a Suffering Servant; and they couldn’t put the two together and John couldn’t put the two together. And that is why he asked, "Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?" [Matthew 11:3]. He could see in Christ the humble, Suffering Servant, but is there to be the habo, "the Coming One" as Malachi calls Him?
Well, our answer, we know now, it is been revealed to us: it is the same Christ who is coming twice. The first time He is coming, He is coming to die for our sins:
He is coming meek and humble and lowly.
He is coming a cross to bear.
He is coming a crown of thorns to wear.
He is coming the meek Lamb of God,
[Author and work unknown]
Suffering for the sins of the world – but there is to be another coming. The second time He comes, the winnowing fan will be in His hand, as John the Baptist announced, the ax will be laid at the root of the tree, as John the Baptist announced [Matthew 3:10-12]. But John did not understand it, and that is why he is asking here in the eleventh chapter of Matthew; John is not doubting, John is not wavering, John is not a reed shaken by the wind, John is not somebody clothed in soft raiment as though the hardship of prison life would dissolve the iron and the steel in his soul; John just didn’t understand the nature of that kingdom. So today, with our Bibles we see it plain – clearly, and plainly: the first time He comes is as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. And He is coming the next time, He is coming to be Lord and King of the universe.
Now we are going to talk about that just for a moment. Is Jesus a king? He is a Suffering Servant, He is the Lamb of God, He died on the cross, He suffered for our sins, but is Jesus also a King? All right, look at it. In John 1:, "the King of Israel," he is described for Nathanael, and Jesus did not disclaim it. "Thou art the King of Israel," Nathanael says, and the Lord accepts that. All right, look again, in Zechariah 9:9, He is described as coming into Jerusalem on an ass, and riding on the foal of an ass; and He is described as "the King", He is a King coming:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee, just, having salvation, lowly, riding upon an ass, and upon the colt the foal of an ass.
Now John 12, verses 12 to 16 says that that is the fulfillment of that: He is a king. Christ offered Himself as the King of the Jews, and had they accepted Him, you would have had the kingdom established visibly then, and Christ the King. And the whole earth would He have purged of its unrighteousness. In John 18: 33 and 37, He is a king. And in John 19:19-22, the superscription over Jesus’ head when He died describes Him as a king; Jesus died a king. But He is a king rejected, He is a king crucified, He is a king buried; but the setting up of the kingdom was postponed; it is not here, it is not visible, it has not come to pass. The kingdom, when the King was rejected, the kingdom was postponed. And instead in Acts  – instead Jesus says:
It is not for you to know the times or the seasons,
which the Father has put in His own power
regarding the restoration of the kingdom to Israel; but,
And this is this intermission, this great interlude in which we now live:
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and all Judea, and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
The kingdom was postponed, and the King went away, but He is a king; Jesus is a king. And I hate to take time to review, because these things are all put together and they are going to print these things so you can have them and look at them. He is not king of the church. Now do you remember our discussing that? There is no such nomenclature as "the king of the church." He is the head of the church, and the church is His body; but there is no such thing as "the king of the church." The King is exiled, the King is gone, the King is in heaven; He is in Paradise. And between the time of His exile and the time of His return is this great intermission, this great interlude, this musterion that God kept in His heart that He did not reveal to His prophets; they never saw it; but He revealed it to His apostles [Ephesians 3:5]. So, the King went away, the King is exiled, and the kingdom is postponed.
So, the kingdom took on its mystery form, its musterion form. The visible kingdom, the outward, glorious – and one of these commentators said it right, "It is a tragedy that we have substituted ‘millennium’ for ‘kingdom.’" And I concur in that: if we would just do away with "millennium," just do away with it. There is no such thing as that in the Bible, "millennium," it is not in the Bible. But "kingdom" is in the Bible; we are talking about a kingdom, a kingdom. Now, the "millennium" is a man made word, put together: you know, and we will look at that later on, but what we ought to use is the word "kingdom." The King went away, and He is up there in glory; and the kingdom was postponed, the actual, visible, glorious kingdom of our Lord was postponed. And the kingdom took on its mystery form. It is referred to as such in Matthew 13:11. In Matthew 13:11, the Lord will say:
They said, Why do You speak in parables?
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them it is not given.
The kingdom took on its mystery form, after the King and His kingdom was rejected.
Now, the kingdom itself is no mystery: the prophets foretold it and described it, and described its King. And on and on in the Bible, you have the kingdom in all of its glory foretold by the prophets. But the mystery is that the earthly aspects of the kingdom – which is called "the kingdom of heaven" – the earthly aspects of the kingdom, while the King is away; all of that is a mystery that God kept in His heart until He revealed it through Christ to the apostles. And what the kingdom is like between the two comings of Christ is the kingdom in its mystery form. Now this mystery, the kingdom in its mystery form, is found revealed and described in Matthew; and its characteristics are described in the twelve kingdom parables.
Now, next Wednesday night, we are going to look at the kingdom in its mystery form and then we are going to look at the kingdom in its ultimate consummation. But what we are to remember in our lesson tonight is that it is the purpose of God to set up a kingdom in this earth. That has been the purpose of God from the beginning. The King of that kingdom is the Lord Christ; and through the ages and the ages, God has been preparing for the appearing of that Lord Christ. Had the Jews accepted the Lord Jesus when He offered Himself as their King – and He did that officially on what we call Palm Sunday; we are going to celebrate that by the calendar this coming Sunday. When the Lord rode into Jerusalem, and they shouted, "Hosanna in the highest, blessed is the Son of David, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord," had they accepted the Lord Christ at that time, the kingdom would have come; the kingdom announced by John the Baptist and the kingdom announced by Jesus. "The kingdom of heaven is at hand," and there it was. But instead, the King was rejected. He was slain, He was buried, He rose from the dead, and He is in exile; but what about the kingdom? Is there to be no kingdom?
In Acts 1:6, the disciples asked the Lord, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore unto Israel the kingdom?" Is there to be no kingdom? Are we never to have a king? Is all of this just spiritual? And there’s not going to be any new earth or new heaven? Or, there is to be no renovation, and there is to be no actual bodies, and there is to be no actual resurrection from the dead? And there is to be no actual king, and there is to be no actual throne? The answer to that, I say from my understanding of the Bible, the answer to that is this: it is God’s purpose to set up a kingdom in the earth, it is God’s purpose that Jesus will be King over all of God’s creation.
It is God’s purpose that we, that we shall reign with Him; we are going to be kings and priests with the Lord. We are going to govern God’s whole creation. It is going to be renovated; and all of these spheres, and these universes, and these systems, and these milky ways, and these sidereal universes, and stars, and heavens, all of it are going to be governed; and Jesus is going to be King over all of it, and we are going to be fellow-heirs with Him, joint-heirs with Christ. We are going to inherit this whole universe, and it is going to be an actual kingdom, and we are going to be actual people, and we are going to reign over an actual kingdom; that is God’s purpose from the beginning.
And in the purposes of God, the Lord came – and there are no "ifs" in history as you know – if the Jews had accepted Him, the kingdom would have come. How Christ would have died for our sins from the beginning of the earth; that is why I say there are no "ifs" in history. He came to do both: He came to die for our sins, and He came to be King over the whole creation, all mankind. "Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God" [Philippians 2:10-11]. And that is why John the Baptist was confused, "How is it that the Lord Christ comes and He is a suffering servant, the Lamb of God, and how is it that He is also the King that purges the earth of its unrighteousness?" John couldn’t understand, but we do. And between those two comings, between those two comings, the kingdom of heaven assumed its musterion form. I hate to use the word "mysterious" because to us, that means "enigmatic." It assumed its musterion form, mystery form, and that is the kingdom now; that is as Matthew is going to present it to us.
And then, some day, some glorious day at the end of this age, Christ will come personally to establish His kingdom. And that is the word that we use, "the millennial reign of Christ, the millennial kingdom of our Lord." But it is better for us to stay with that word "kingdom," because that is the word God uses, and that is the word that the Lord reveals to us, as being our actual and eternal place and assignment, in the kingdom of our blessed King Jesus.
Well, we will pick it up next Wednesday night, and we are going to look at the kingdom in its mystery form, and then we are going to look at the kingdom in its final manifestation and in its final consummation. Now, we have another assignment here tonight: is there something that you would like to ask in this moment, anybody? Would you like to stand up and say, "Pastor, you are so literal, until I just can’t conceive of such a thing?" All right:
[Member of congregation asks]
If I understood you correctly, you referred to this idea that Christ coexists as head of the church and King of king, and the kingdom is the consummation of the church age?
[Dr. Criswell Answers]
But He is not King of the church. The kingdom is something else; the church is different from the kingdom.
[Member of congregation asks]
He sits at the right hand of the Father?
[Dr. Criswell] Yes.
[Member of the congregation asks]
As Ruler in the hearts of those who believe?
[Dr. Criswell] Yes.
[Member of the congregation asks]
And that is now the kingdom in its insipid [inaudible]
[Dr. Criswell] Yeah, I would say the kingdom – what?
[more inaudible comments from congregation]
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I think the throne now is in heaven, and Jesus is there. Some day that throne will be down here, it will be in the New Jerusalem; that is going to be the capital city. And Christ is the head of the church now, but He is the King of the kingdom in exile, up there, not here. But some day, He will be King here; the throne will be here. And we will see Him here. It is going to be an actual throne in an actual city in an actual earth with actual heavens, renovated heavens; and we are going to be in actual bodies, actual bodies – glorified bodies. And we are going to reign over all God’s creation with Christ.
[Inaudible question from congregation]
I think undoubtedly. Let me show you: when you use the word millennium, "Thy millennium come," why, you stumble at it, you stumble at it. That is why I say it is better to use the nomenclature of the Bible. The Bible does not use the word "millennium." It is not a Bible word. The Bible uses the word "kingdom." And when you pray, "Thy kingdom come," you are praying for that consummation, that manifestation; you’re praying for the millennium. But it sounds strange for us to use that nomenclature. The reason it sounds strange is, it is not in the Bible. If we will stay with the Bible, it will fit better, "Thy kingdom come; the millennium come. Lord Jesus, come; come down, O God! Come down."
[Inaudible question from congregation]
These – these amillennialists spiritualize everything; they spiritualize everything, "There’s not going to be any kingdom, there’s not going to be any kingdom." To them, there is going to be some kind of a limbo into which we pass when we die, and then their description of that limbo is just whatever their imagination might lead themselves to be persuaded of. But what we are talking about here, what I have presented here out of the Bible, is something that God says. And if God doesn’t do it, then the Lord has misled us. I don’t think there is any doubt in the world, if I had time to read the passages you would see that, for the passages are very, very definite; they are very plain. And to spiritualize them away is just to take the Bible, and it means nothing. That is why they wouldn’t believe in the resurrection from the dead, that is why they wouldn’t believe in the resurrection of these bodies; yet the very foundational cornerstone of the Christian faith is this: the resurrection from the dead.
All religions, practically, believe in the immortality of the soul. The Greeks, my goodness! They sing and write odes and plays about, you know, life on the other side of the River Styx, and you know, those immortals that live over there. And the same way with the Egyptians, they do all those things for the life beyond; practically all people of all time believe in immortality. There is nothing new about believing in immortality. But the thing that characterized the Christian religion is its unique and separate doctrine of the resurrection of the body; that we shall live again.
And as you have heard me say, that is why you have those catacombs in Rome: they didn’t want to burn the body, the Christian did not – the heathen all burned the body – they didn’t want to do it, so they lovingly laid their dead away. And because it was against the law in pagan Rome, why they dug those subterranean passages in salt limestone rock and lovingly laid their dead away, because they believed in the resurrection of that body, that body. And that is taught us in the Bible, the resurrection of the body; I mean these atoms and these molecules, God marks them and God knows where they are. And they may be blown to the ends of the earth, and they may be swallowed up by a fish, and they may be digested by the juices of an oak tree shooting down its great roots, but God knows where those molecules are, and God knows where those atoms are, and God is going to raise that body; the Book says so. We are going to be like Him.
[Inaudible question from congregation]
That is what I said: there is no explanation. There are no "ifs" in history. Had the Jews accepted the Lord Jesus, had the Jews accepted the Lord Jesus, and had the kingdom been established, God would have had to do something else. But from the foundation of the world, God knew exactly how it was going to be. So, it happened just as God knew it would happen: the Jews rejected Him, He was crucified, He died for our sins, and He is an exiled King, and He is coming back to establish His kingdom. And that if, if He had been accepted, God would have had to rewrite His Bible, God would have had to do something else in His predestinarian, sovereign, elective purpose.
[Inaudible question from congregation]
That is right, that is right. Now, we are just about at 8:20. All right, now talk real loud:
[Question from congregation]
How do you distinguish between this term "an actual body on an actual earth"; how do you distinguish between that and reincarnation?
Well, reincarnation, as you know, is a man’s spirit, has nothing to do with his body; reincarnation is a man’s spirit who comes back to life, to earth, in another form. Like the Hindu – if you’ve been bad, you come back in the form of a monkey; if you’ve been worse, you come back in the form of a spider; but if you have been terribly bad you come back in the form of a woman; that is what they say there. That is reincarnation. That shows their view of womanhood over there in that pagan religion. But reincarnation is the coming back of your spirit in another form, in another kind of a body. But resurrection is your spirit which goes to God in death, placed back in this body, this glorified body. Like the Lord Jesus – the Lord Jesus’ spirit – He dismissed His spirit; He said, "Lord, into Thy hands I commit My spirit" [Luke 23:46]. So the spirit left, you have it translated in the Bible in the King James Version, "And He gave up the ghost"; the word "ghost" is the old English word for "spirit," "And He gave up His spirit," His spirit was separated from His body. But the third day His spirit was reunited with a glorified body, and He was raised from the dead. And that is what is going to happen to us, according to the revelation of the Christian faith: our spirit is going to be joined to our glorified body, just like the glorified body of our Lord was rejoined with the spirit of Christ, the deity of Christ.
Well, I hate to close, but we must. These things are so interesting, and next Wednesday night we’ll pick up, and we’ll start again as long as these few, brief moments will allow. Now, dear people, we have a young man to ordain to the gospel ministry tonight, so we are going to have a prayer.