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Precious Reprints—100 Years Ago–CONCERNING THE KINGDOM

by R H Boll

(Reprint from September, 1919 Word and Work Magazine)

Robert H. Boll (1875-1956)

Let us apply the lesson to the controversy that has been raised concerning the Kingdom. Some contend that (barring an indefinite eternal state of bliss in heaven, which they call “the eternal kingdom,” title borrowed from 2 Pet. 1:11) the Church, is the final fulfillment of all the kingdom—prophecies. Others (the Editor is not one of them, nor has he ever been) hold that the kingdom is not yet established but is wholly future. May it not be possible that here we have a case of partial apprehension of God’s truth? And, if such be the case, would it not be a gain in every way if the parties to the controversy would enlarge their hearts so as to take in all the scripture truth on the subject, without so much as attempting to do violence to any part of it?

Take the one side—it seems to me that even one passage as plain as Col. 1:13 (“Who delivered us out of the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love”) —ought to be sufficient to convince a man that those who in this day are saved through the gospel are in the kingdom. And there are other passages to the same effect. Why should a Christian, a free child of God, bound by no man’s creed, feel any necessity of explaining away, or in any wise circumventing such a statement of God’s word? Why should any believing man be under bondage to a theory, whether it be his own or that of another, that would compel him to refute such, a passage as this?

On the other hand, let a man take up the statements concerning the kingdom in the New Testament, and examine them carefully in the light of their context, and judge whether without exception the church answers to the requirements of each passage. If the kingdom here spoken of is simply the church, would it not be peculiar to say (as in Matt. 5:3)— “theirs is the kingdom of heaven?” Is the church theirs? Or does He refer to the church when He says that “many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matt. 8:11). Does the term “kingdom of heaven” mean something so radically different in this place than it means elsewhere in Matthew? And if it cannot apply to the church here, may it not be that the “kingdom of heaven” includes something more than is now seen in the church? Again, if the church was meant, would it not be strange to say, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom?” (Luke i2:32.) Would it not be an awkward promise “to give you the church?” Moreover, the expression “to give one the kingdom” could not merely mean an admission to citizenship in it, but the sovereignty over it. (1 Sam. 15:28; Dan. 4:17: 5:31. Comp. Luke 4:6, 7).

Again, how could James call Christians “heirs” of the kingdom which God has “promised to them that love him?” How could Paul and Barnabas tell the Christians that through much tribulation they “must enter into the kingdom of God”—although they were already in it? Clearly the meaning here is larger than our limited conception. And where and when, unless there is such a phase of the kingdom coming in which the glorified church will rule with Christ over the nations of the world, will the saints “judge the world”? (1 Cor. 6:2). Where or over whom could they “reign?” (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 3:21). Or how could they exercise authority over the nations, ruling them with a rod of iron? (Rev. 2:26, 27). How, if the present realization in the church exhausts the meaning of the kingdom, could the “signs in sun and moon and stars,” heralding Christ’s second coming, be an indication that “the kingdom of God is nigh?” (Luke 21:34). How could John, foretelling things yet to be (Rev. 1:19 and 4:1) represent the Lord’s world-wide reign as coming in at the sounding of the seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15) ; or upon Satan’s expulsion from heaven (comp. Eph. 6:12) say, “Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ?”

R H Boll, Words in Season, September 1919

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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8