The Coming Kingdom 070Colossians 4:11 • Dr. Andy Woods • May 22, 2019 • The Coming Kingdom
The Coming Kingdom
5-22-19 Colossians 4:11 Lesson 70
As you all know we’re continuing our study on the Kingdom; we’ve been teaching the concept of a postponed theocratic kingdom and basically the part of the study that we’re going through here, and this study goes tonight and we’ve got one more lesson next week and then we have a summer hiatus, right? And we pick back up again I think the first Wednesday in September, does that sound right? And I anticipate this study going one more quarter once we reconvene. I already said that a couple of quarters ago [laughs]. But that’s my anticipation. What does the proverbs say, not in the Bible but just a good way of living, it says, “Blessed are the flexible, they shall never be broken.” Amen to that!
So we’ve been looking at passages from Paul which say, allegedly say the kingdom is now in contradiction to the postponed kingdom model we’ve been teaching. So we have completed all of the passages related to Paul except for one there at the very bottom, Colossians 4:11. Why don’t you turn over there real quick and we’ll see what we can do with that one tonight and if we get through that one we’ll move into the alleged problem passages in the general letters and Revelation.
Colossians 4:11, Colossians is easy to find, it’s right in the Bible, just get past the big books, the Gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and then just memorize this: Go Eat Pop Corn, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians Colossians. You say I don’t like popcorn; okay, memorize this: God’s Electric Power Company, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. The books of the Bible, actually, once you learn a few tricks like that it’s sort of easy to find.
But here’s what Paul says at the end of a book, Colossians 4:11, and by the way, you’ll notice that these kingdom now theologians have a way to kind of sniff out a rat, is they build their doctrine from concluding remarks at the end of a book. They do that in Galatians 6:16 concerning the Israel of God. [Galatians 6:16, “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” And you know something isn’t right there because the end of a book is just kind of a signing off; it was not designed to introduce some massive doctrinal point.
But what does it say here, “Colossians 4:11, “and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.” So you’ll notice there that Paul calls his companions “fellow workers for the kingdom of God. “ And you look at that by itself and you can kind of see what kingdom now theologians do with that. They think that means we’re building the kingdom, we’re kingdom builders, we’re bringing in the kingdom, etc.
So how would we handle this passage in light of a postponed kingdom idea that we believe is future? One of the things that’s very interesting about this passage is there’s no verb in the passage. It’s just the Greek preposition “for” which is an English translation from eis, is the way it sort of reads in the Greek language. So if there’s no verb how do we know if this is past, present or future? Well, it has to be supplied by the translators. It has to be supplied by the readers. So how do you suggest if there’s no verb here and we don’t know whether “kingdom of God” is past, present or future, how do we determine what is in play here? There’s no verb.
Well, what I would suggest is we look at how Paul, the apostle, who wrote Colossians 4:11, uses the word “kingdom” everywhere else. So let’s look at the places where Paul uses the word “kingdom” definitively to figure out what he’s saying here at the conclusion of a letter where he’s using the word “kingdom” in definitively because there’s no verb. Do you follow the method that I’m doing here? And I think we’ve done this already looking at tracing the kingdom through Paul’s letters so I won’t spend a lot of time here.
But as you know, Paul wrote thirteen letters and there’s an easy way to put those in order. If you just memorize the numbering device, one, two, three, four, two, one. You guys want to do that with me? 1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 1. So if you know that you can sort of put Paul’s letters in order because your Protestant Bible doesn’t put them in order for you. It organizes them by theme. So we have the big books Paul wrote first, Romans and the Corinthian letters, the little ones later, etc.
So how do you know what the order is of Paul’s letters? Well, one, two, three, four, two one helps you with that. The first missionary journey one letter, that’s the “one,” Galatians, that’s the first letter he wrote, A.D. 49. The second missionary journey, I’m on two now, how many letters? Two, 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. And you say these missionary journeys, where do we read about those. Those are in the Book of Acts. The third missionary journey… what number am I on now? Three, so he wrote how many letters? Three, those are 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians and Romans.
The fourth missionary journey, I call it a missionary journey because I think he did go to Rome as a prisoner but he played his legal hand pretty well because he kept demanding a trial before who? Caesar, he knew if he kept doing that he could get, as a Roman citizen, his message all the way to Rome. So I call it a… most people don’t call it a missionary journey because he was in chains but I think he was in chains but was actually controlling the circumstances. He’s a pretty smart guy, Paul was. We’re on four, so how many books did he write on the fourth journey? Four, and those are the prison letters, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians.
So we’ve done one, two, three, four, now we’re back to two, so he’s out of prison, there’s a time of about five years, the Book of Acts doesn’t record this, where he’s not in prison any more, and now he starts writing the pastoral letters. And they are 1 Timothy and Titus. Then he’s put back in prison a second time in Rome and now we’re down to one, and he writes how many letters? One, called 2 Timothy. Isn’t that easy, one, two, three, four, two, one. One, first missionary journey, Galatians 2. Second missionary journey 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Three, third missionary journey, the two Corinthians books and Romans. Four, fourth missionary journey, four prison letters, he’s out of prison, we’re back to two, 1 Timothy and Titus. And then he’s thrown back in prison and now he’s back to one and that’s his final letter called 2 Timothy. Does that help at all, these kind of things? It just kind of helps organize the Bible because if no one explains the order of the Bible to you you’ll never get it in your whole life because our own Protestant organization doesn’t organize things chronologically. It organizes things thematically.
And by the way, when you go through the prophets, how many prophets do we have? I think there’s seventeen, is that right, writing prophets. Why is Isaiah the first one in our Old Testament? Because it’s the biggest and he’s the most famous. But he was not the first… chronologically the first prophet. Anybody know who the first prophet was? A guy named Obadiah. So just like the New Testament puts Romans first even though that’s number six, the prophets mess you up too because they put Isaiah and the major prophets first even though it’s Obadiah that’s the first one. But we’re not talking about prophets tonight so I don’t have to give you the formula for the prophets do I? Because if I did I’d have to go back and study because I don’t remember right off the top of my head. But one, two, three, four, two one, I mean, that stuck with me the rest of my life. As a matter of fact, I was given the microphone on an Israel tour and these people, they give you the microphone and they expect you know what you’re talking about, and so it’s always like “Lord, fill Your servant’s mouth with wisdom, I’m about to speak.” And so with no preparation we were on our way to Greece and I said hey, does anybody want to know how to organize the letters Paul wrote? And they all went yeah! And so we spent forty-five minutes, which I just gave you in about five seconds, one, two, three, four, two, one, and they thought that was the greatest thing they’d ever heard in their lives.
So some of you are teachers or are going to be teaching and you might called into duty with no prep and there you go. Just put together Paul’s letters in chronological order, most people have never heard that.
All right, what are we talking about tonight? The kingdom. So how does Paul use the word “kingdom” elsewhere? Well, in Galatians, and I’m starting with Galatians because that was the first letter he wrote, right? Galatians 5:21, “envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Now when you look at that is the “kingdom” past, present or future? It sure looks like it’s future to me because it talks about people not getting into it one day. This is the same word basileia which is the Greek word for kingdom.
Now I’m looking at the two Thessalonian books because those are number two, the two letters he wrote on missionary journey number two and what does he say there? “So that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” [1 Thessalonians 2:12]
Now is our glorification past, present or future? Future, and so see how the kingdom is connected to that? So that means the kingdom is what? Future!
2 Thessalonians 1:5 says, “This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, which indeed you are now suffering.” So you’re suffering now and you’re going to be made worthy in the kingdom. Is “kingdom” there past, present or future? Future!
Now we move to the third missionary journey, where we get the Corinthians letters and Romans and Paul says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,  nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” [1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ] Is “the kingdom” there past, present or future? Future because it’s talking about people that aren’t going to get into it or inherit it.
And then over in 1 Corinthians 15:24 he says, “then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, [when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.”] So is the kingdom there past, present or future? Future because it’s connected with the end. See that? 1 Corinthians 15:50 says, “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” Is the “kingdom” there past, present or future? Future because it talks about people needing their bodies changed to get into it. Has your body been changed? Maybe for the bad for some of us, not necessarily for the good. So if your body hasn’t been transformed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, you couldn’t be in the kingdom now, could you? So “kingdom” there is clearly future.
And now we get into the fourth missionary journey where he writes the prison letters and one of those is Ephesians and he says, “For this you know with certainty that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” [Ephesians 5:5] Is “kingdom” there past, present or future? It looks like it’s future to me because it talks about people in the future not getting into it.
And then we had to skip a few letters because he doesn’t mention the kingdom necessarily in every letter, but what was the last letter Paul wrote? 2 Timothy. Where was he when he wrote it? Roman imprisonment. Was it his first imprisonment there or second? It was his second. And here he says, “I solemnly charge you” as he’s writing to Timothy, “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom.” [2 Timothy 4:1] So he mentions the basileia in verse 1 of chapter 4. And then in verse 8 he says, “In the future” look at that, “there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the LORD, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not to me only but to all who have loved His appearing.” [I Timothy 4:8]
So is His appearing and crown in the future? Yes they are. So therefore the kingdom that he’s talking about must be in the future. So what did we just do? We just took a survey of Paul’s thirteen letters as a way of understanding Colossians 4:11, which mentions the kingdom. And why do we have to do that? Because there’s no verb in verse 11; it has to be supplied. So whatever decision you come up with has to be in harmony with how Paul uses the kingdom every other place. Do you follow the method anyway? And since the kingdom is future in all of the verses we looked at how do you think it’s being used there in Colossians 4:11? It’s got to be future as well. If it’s not future then you’ve got some weird occurrence of the kingdom at the conclusion of the letter that’s out of variance with everything that Paul has taught elsewhere. And this is how you can recognize if your interpretation of something is off, it contradicts the rest of the revealed truth. Whatever interpretation you have has to be in harmony with everything God has said. Right? Because God can’t lie!
So how would I interpret Colossians 4:11? I would not interpret that as those folks are bringing in the kingdom or they’re currently in the kingdom. What it’s talking about is their co-laborers for a kingdom still future because when you win someone to Christ you’ve just won a citizen of the what? The coming kingdom, even though the kingdom is future. So in that sense we’re still laboring for the kingdom although the kingdom is not currently a reality. Do you see that? And I’m doing that because there’s no verb here in verse 11, and I’m interpreting “kingdom” by how it’s used everywhere else in Paul’s writings.
Do G.N.H. Peters, I don’t know if I’ve ever given you any background to this G.N.H. Peters. Have I done that at all? He wrote a three volume set called The Theocratic Kingdom that’s considered a classic. He wrote it, I think, in the late 1800’s, mid to late 1800’s; it’s single spaced, double sided and it reads like this: Proposition number one, sub point one, sub point two, sub point three, each volume is very thick and he does this for three volumes. Now who was this guy? This was a guy that no one even knew who he was until long after he had passed away. He was Lutheran, he was an itinerant Lutheran preacher and he wrote a book, a three volume set, called The Theocratic Kingdom. If you can find these at half price bookstores, or whatever, I would buy it if you get a chance. He wrote a three volume set on premillennialism and why the kingdom is future.
The only problem is his denomination didn’t believe that so what did his denomination do to him? They kicked him out of the denomination. And the guy was so poor as an itinerant preacher he could hardly afford the paper that he wrote on. And he did all this, if you read the preface to the book by Wilbur Smith, Wilbur Smith says it’s a miracle that this guy was able to do this, number one, in a “kingdom now” denomination, and how did he do it with no money? How did he do it with just writing on scraps of paper? How did he do it before the age of the internet? How did he do it before the age of computers. And yet some way, somehow, he compiled and it’s kind of a mystery exactly how he did it, he compiled all of these church fathers, all of these resources going back 2,000 years demonstrating that the kingdom is a future reality. And his reward for it was he was kicked out of his denomination, he died in poverty, he died in anonymity and obscurity and no one even really got it in terms of what he had accomplished until they found his work long after he was dead and it was published.
So I don’t know, that’s kind of an interesting story, isn’t it. So G.N.H. Peters wrote the greatest treatment that has ever been written in the history of the church on what we’re studying, the futurity (that’s a word) of the coming kingdom. And so sometimes I’ll quote from these people and not explain to you exactly who they are and we kind of get cheated because we don’t really realize that we’re holding in our hands all of these tremendous gems. A lot of people want their reward now, they want to get famous now, and I think Peters is going to get his reward in the kingdom. He got no reward here on the earth, he died in poverty and was mistreated by his own Christian denomination. And yet there it stands, G.N.H. Peters, the greatest treatment on the futureness of the kingdom that’s ever been complied. Did you guys know that about him?
But he writes this, and he comments on all these verses that we’re commenting on. He says, “There is only one kingdom …” amen! “and believers become ‘heirs’ of it ….” And by the way, if you read the whole three volume set I’ll take you out to dinner [laughter] because I haven’t even read the whole thing, it’s an exhausting read and it’s single spaced and you have to have a lot of discipline to get through it. So if you pull it off, Richard may just do that, he’s already read Chafer’s volume several times over. Richard is back there chomping at the bit and he’s going to take me up on it. My wife and I will take you out for dinner, we’ll take your wife out for dinner too and we’ll buy you dessert. Where’s my wife, is she in here? Yeah, do you agree with that? Thumbs up… all right. It might even be worth more than one dinner, don’t you think. Do you agree with that? Thumbs up! It might even be worth more than one dinner, don’t you think? Like maybe a trip to Disney World? I say that because he’s going to Disney World and I’ll try to contain my jealousy while he’s gone.
But anyway, Peter says, “There is only one kingdom … and believers become ‘heirs of it …. The apostles represent themselves and co-laborers as working for it still future.” And notice the verses he quotes, Colossians 4:11. In other words, just because you’re working for the kingdom it’s not necessarily a statement that the kingdom is here.
And I forgot this quote here from Alva J. McClain. McClain basically took Peter’s work much later, in 1959, and just sort of made it more “user friendly.” And so my book is drinking heavily out of the well built by Peters and then McClain. All I tried to do in my book is just sort of take their conclusions and update them against the latest round of scholarly attacks against the idea that the kingdom is future. But I’m drinking out of a well that’s already been built by two men, first Peter’s and then McLain. If you get a chance to buy McLain’s book, The Greatness of the Kingdom, 1959, you should get that book also.
McClain comments on Colossians 4:11, “The Greek preposition here is eis, and therefore the passage may be read in harmony with the idea of a future Kingdom, toward which as a glorious goal all the labors of the church are directed.” [Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom” As inductive Study of the Kingdom of God as Set Forth in the Scriptures. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959), 436.]
So McClain and Peters are both saying yes, we’re laboring for the kingdom but that doesn’t mean we are laboring in the kingdom. Laboring FOR the kingdom winning souls for the coming kingdom does not mean we’re bringing in the kingdom. And yet you’ll find Colossians 4:11 misquoted by many kingdom now theologians. And we put it in the future because there’s no verb there so we have to supply the verb and every other reference that Paul has to the basileia is future so let’s put it in the future. And beyond that I’m not going to build a whole theology around someone signing off at the end of a letter.
Let’s go over to Hebrews 12:28. Now look at this folks; in my book we’re leaving chapter 19 (can you believe it) and we’re moving into chapter 20. And I just bring that to your attention to let you know that we are actually making progress in this class because I know sometimes it doesn’t feel like it because we get bogged down on some things.
But let’s go over to Hebrews 12:28 and notice what it says there. Now we’re moving into chapter 20 of my book, where we’re looking at alleged kingdom now passage from the general letters, there’s a handful, and the book of Revelation. So we’ve looked at alleged kingdom now passages from the ministry of Christ, the Book of Acts, passages from Paul’s ministry, and we have shown that no passage anywhere teaches that we’re currently in the kingdom. So now we’re talking about passages from the general letters.
Now why do we call these the general letters? And by the way, what are we talking about when we talk about the “general letters”? Paul wrote thirteen letters and as you keep moving right in your New Testament you’re going to run into eight letters. What are those letters? You’ve got Hebrews, James, 1, 2, 3 John, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, I’m not sure if I left any out but there should be eight of them there. So it’d be Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Jude. Those are what you call the general letters. So there’s eight of them.
And why do we call these the general letters? Now this will get confusing because some of your study Bibles will say the Catholic letters and we say oh no, Catholic, that’s bad! No, it’s not Catholic in the sense that you’re used to using the word. Catholic just means general, so general letters, or Catholic letters are just synonyms to describe the same group. And we call them general letters because they’re different than Paul’s letters. Paul’s letters were all written by who? Paul! The general letters are written by a whole lot of different authors. Hebrews we don’t know exactly who wrote Hebrews; James is the half-brother of Christ, you know who Peter is, you know who Jude is, the other half-brother of Christ, you know who John is. So it’s not just eight letters written by a guy, like we have with Paul’s letters, with thirteen it’s a whole kind of potpourri of authors.
An interesting thing about Paul’s letters is they’re usually targeted to a specific person, like Philemon, or a church, or a group of churches in the same area, like the churches at Galatia, the church at Rome, the church at Ephesus. These letters are kind of different because they’re written to kind for broad based audiences. So 1, 2 and 3 John, who’s that written to? It’s probably written to everybody in the Asia Minor area. 1 Peter and 2 Peter, as I’ll be showing you, maybe tonight, were written to some churches in a very broad area, north central Turkey, etc. James was probably written to the Jews in the Diaspora, and we could go on and on. I’m just trying to explain to you why these are called the general letters written by not just one author but different authors and also written to broader based audiences. So they’re a little bit different than Paul’s letters in that sense. So anyway, that’s where we’re moving into, alleged kingdom now passages in the general letters, and then we’ll throw in the Book of Revelation.
So what does it mean when it says receiving a kingdom, Hebrews 12:28. [Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;”]
What does it mean when it calls us a kingdom of priests? 1 Peter 2:9. [1 Peter 2:9, ‘But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”]
What does it mean when it calls us “a kingdom of priests,” Revelation 1:6, [Revelation 1:6, “and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father– to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” ]
What does it mean when it tells us that we are fellow partakers in the kingdom, Revelation 5, Revelation 1:9? [Revelation 5:10, ““You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Revelation 1:9, “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus..”]
What does it mean when it says Jesus has the key of David. Revelation 3:7? [Revelation 3:7, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:”
And what does it mean when it says Jesus has already overcome, Revelation 5:6? [Revelation 5:6, “And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.”]
We’re obviously not going to get through all of that tonight or even next week but that’s the direction we’re moving. Alleged kingdom now passages in these general letters and the Book of Revelation. Let’s start with Hebrews 12:28. “Therefore, since we receive” the Greek verb there is paralambano, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” So here it says we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken. By the way, aren’t you glad about that? Because things in this life can get “shaken,” right, right down to your physical health and it’s so great that our destiny is into something that “cannot be shaken.” It reminds me of 1 Peter 1:4 which says we have an inheritance in heaven which does not fade away. [1 Peter 1:4, “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,”] Everything in this life can fade away, wealth can fade away, health can fade away, relationships can fade away, etc. but we have “an inheritance in heaven” which will never fade away. So that gives us hope in the present age.
But it says, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom” and the verb there is paralambano, and the problem is that’s a present tense verb; it doesn’t say we will receive a kingdom, we’re going to receive a kingdom. It gives you the impression that presently we are receiving a kingdom. So this becomes sort of a favorite verse, if you will, of kingdom now theologians. Aha, there it is they say, we’re in the kingdom now.
Now first of all notice what they’re quoting from? How many chapters are in Hebrews? Thirteen. By the way, if you ladies out there want your husbands to brew the coffee in the morning and you want biblical authority for that, just remind them that it’s the Book of Hebrews , now She-brews. If I didn’t throw these things I you guys would fall asleep on me completely. And two months from now that’ll probably be the only thing you remember from this whole study. I know how it works.
“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken,” so people say we must be in the kingdom now. And the reason I asked you how many chapters are here is because it’s very clear that this is the end of the book. There’s only one chapter to go. So you’ll notice what kingdom now theologians do is they grab some verse right at the end and try to make a doctrine out of it. I just bring that to your attention because that’s your first clue that that’s what somewhat suspicious what they’re doing.
So how would we handle this? Do you remember the Dejure Defacto distinction that we made last time related to Colossians 1:13. Colossians 1:13 says we have “transferred” present tense, into “the kingdom of His beloved Son.” [Colossians 1:13, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,”] We basically said there that that’s talking about something that’s happened legally but not what? Actually or factually, and we went through a long discussion as to why that’s a proper interpretation of that verse. And I suggest we do the exact same thing here. When it says we receive, present tense of kingdom, it’s not a statement of fact or enjoyment, it’s a statement of legality, what legally has happened to us the moment we trust Christ.
It’s like saying our citizenship is in heaven. Are we in heaven now factually? I sure hope not or I although factually I’m not there yet. That’s exactly what you do with Hebrews 12:28. So this is a de jure non de facto statement. [Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;”]
And here is Alva J. McLain making that very point in his book, The Greatness of the Kingdom. He says, “It’s not unusual for Scripture on behalf of all believers to assert ownership regarding certain blessings even before they are possessed in Christian experience. See that? It’s very common for the Bible to tell us what we own without asserting that we’re presently experiencing what we own. And he makes this statement, compare 1 Corinthians 3:21-22 where all things are said to belong to the believer. [1 Corinthians 3:21-22, “then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you,  whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you,”]
So according to 1 Corinthians 3:21-22 you as a Christian currently possess all things. Yet, among these things are some that are yet to come. Like what? Heaven, for example, the glorified body for example, the ownership is legally certain though the experience of possession may be future. That’s how you handle 1 Corinthians 3:21-22 and I think that’s how you handle Hebrews 12:28.
- R. Craven, another writer that’s very good on the doctrine of the kingdom, back in 1874 said, “The reception of the Basileia” what’s the Greek word for kingdom? “basileia,” so you don’t need to be scared of these words. “The reception of the Basileia herein spoken of manifestly may be de jure,” de jure means what? Legal. “Believers on earth receive a sure title to their future possession.” [E. R. Craven. So I think that’s what Hebrews 12:28 is doing and that way I can keep this word “kingdom” which means the future millennial reign of Christ consistent all the way through. So Hebrews 12:28 is really not a problem.
And then we come to the big Kahuna, this is 1 Peter 2:9. Why don’t you whip over there real fast. 1 Peter 2:9, this is our second verse in the general letters that people to use to argue that we’re in the kingdom. So notice what 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Does anybody know where, what part of the Bible, Old Testament, Peter is quoting from? Exodus 19:5-6. [Exodus 19:5-6, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;  and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”]
Do you know where they were when Exodus 19:5-6 was given to them by God, the Jews, Israel? They were at the foot of Mount Sinai. They had been in Egyptian bondage, in Goshen, 400 years. You know the story of the Book of Exodus, the ten plagues and how they were brought out of Egyptian bondage, how they passed through the Red Sea, sea closed up on the Egyptians and then there’s about a two month period where they’re complaining against God in the wilderness. So you have a redeemed non-sanctified people. Did you hear what I just said? “A redeemed non-sanctified people.”
Are you saying it’s possible to be redeemed and to live in a non-sanctified way? Just read the Book of Exodus; there’s no doubt in my mind these people were saved because it says at the end of Exodus 14, “They believed God and God’s servant Moses.” That’s the same Hebrew construction used to describe Abraham’s saving faith. And everybody believes Abraham was saved in Genesis 15:6, “They believed in God and God’s servant Moses. [Genesis 15:6, “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”]
At the end of Exodus 14, the very end of the chapter you’ll see the same thing. [Exodus 14:31, “When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.”] So clearly they were redeemed, no doubt about it. In fact, these folks are in the hall of faith, right? They passed through the Red Sea. There’s no doubt they’re saved. They sure don’t act very saved though; I mean, every chance they get they rebel against leadership, rebel against God. So God is dealing with these people for two months and you’ll see the figure two months in Exodus 19:1. [Exodus 19:1, “In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.”]
He finally brings them to Mount Sinai, which the traditional view of Sinai is on the tip there of the Sinai Peninsula. And there’s a big debate on where Mount Sinai is, some people think it’s over in Arabia, and that’s a very interesting debate which is not something I want to get into. But wherever you think Sinai was that’s where God brought him to… how’s that!
And if I went to the other… my wife believes in the other view and my only problem with it is if I believe what she thinks I’ll have to change all my maps, all my circles will have to be changed, and I just can’t handle the discomfort of that. [Laughter] So I really don’t have a solid view of where Mount Sinai was. It wouldn’t surprise me if it ended up being in Arabia.
But anyway, according to the traditional view they’re brought to Sinai and God puts them under the Law, the Mosaic Law, right? Now when you see this chronology you start to understand very clearly what the purpose of the Law is. Was the purpose of the Law to redeem Israel? It couldn’t be because they already were redeemed. The Law was never given to redeem a nation but it was given to a redeemed nation. See that? In other words, they’re God’s redeemed people; how are they supposed to interact with God and how are they supposed to interact with each other, and how are they supposed to interact with the world?
That’s the whole purpose of the Law. It was never given to save them so anybody that puts people under the Law to get justified or saved is not understanding the basic chronology here. And you see, you get into Lordship salvation circles and they’ll never talk about this two month discrepancy that I’m talking about, because they think your submission to Christ is something that’s necessary to get saved on the front end. It’s not at all when you look at this chronology; they were clearly justified but they weren’t living in a very saintly way.
And so God put them under the Law to teach them how to inter-act with God, commandments 1-4 are about that, of the Ten Commandments, to teach them how to interact with each other, commandments 5-10 are about that subject. And to teach them how they are to relate to the unsaved world around them, and that’s why God, when He gives them the Mosaic Law calls them a “kingdom of priests.” That’s their new identity. How we act to the unsaved world around them? You act like a kingdom of priests because that’s what you are to ancient Israel.
So God says this, Exodus 19:5-6, and this is what the Apostle Peter largely is drawing from in 1 Peter 2:9. God says to this redeemed nation that’s living unsanctified at the foot of Mount Sinai, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;  and you shall be to Me a” what? “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” So the Law tells them how to relate to God, how to relate to each other, and how to relate to the unsaved world. Their new identity as a kingdom of priests and they need to know this because they’ve been redeemed but they’re not behaving like it.
So the Law was never given to redeem a nation, it was given to A redeemed nation. And it’s the same way in your walk with the Lord. First the Lord brings you to saving faith and then it’s great to be born again but the problem is your old nature keeps tugging at you and you keep going backwards, back to sin. Has that ever happened to anybody? You can put your hand up if that’s happened to you, [laughter]the rest of you are in sin right now, you’re liars.
So the sin nature is pulling back and wants you to go back into the world so now you have to learn the walk of sanctification, right? Learning the walk of sanctification did not get you justified; what got you justified? Faith alone in Christ alone. So why are you learning the walk of sanctification? Because the walk of sanctification is not given to redeem you but it’s given to you because you’re redeemed. How are you supposed to live as God’s child in a pagan world, in a body with a sin nature that always wants to go back to sin? So that’s why God gave us sanctification, the middle tense of our salvation. So in essence that’s what Israel is sort of receiving here as a nation.
The problem is what you have there in Exodus 19:5-6 is what Peter is largely quoting from in 1 Peter 2:9. So the “kingdom now” theologians have a field day with this. After all, if Israel is a kingdom of priests in the Old Testament, and these same verses are applied directly to the church in the New Testament, then the church is also a kingdom of priests. Therefore the church is a present manifestation of the kingdom of God on the earth. So because Israel is called “the kingdom of priests” in Exodus 19, and because the apostle Peter quotes a large chunk of this passage to the church in 1 Peter 2:9, will-ah, the church is the kingdom. See what they’re doing.
And in the book, chapter 20, I gave you some quotes of some kingdom now theologians that do this. One is named Anthony Hokamah, and you’ll see him using 1 Peter 2:9 to build kingdom now theology or replacement theology which is the idea that the church is now the new Israel. And therefore what’s God going to do with the current Israel? God’s finished with the current Israel because the church has replaced Israel. Replacement theology, sometimes called kingdom now theology, sometimes called supersessionism. Why is it called supersessionism? Because the church has superseded Israel.
Roman Catholicism believes this also, that the church is the present manifestation of the kingdom on the earth. The Pope is the vicar of Christ; vicar means in the place of. The Pope functions in the place of Christ. Kingdom now amillennial replacement theology the church is the new Israel and that’s why the Roman Catholic Church really doesn’t have a lot to say about future Israel because future Israel has been cut off. Because they are now the new Israel. See that? And this is not just picking on Roman Catholicism, this is what Augustine taught all the way back to the fourth century A.D. And when the Protestant Reformation happened with Lutheran and Calvin, do you know what Luther and Calvin dragged with them into their new Reformed churches? This same doctrine. That’s why the Reformed churches today still teach and believe this even though they have adjusted some things theologically in the area of soteriology, they’re still kingdom now theologists. They’re basically, I would call them Protestant in some areas, Roman Catholic in other areas. That’s what you get in the Reformed movement today.
And the Reformed movement, I’ll tell you, kingdom now theology they love 1 Peter 2:9. Here is a quote from Paul Octameyer, who says, “The twofold description of the new community,” and this is from his 1 Peter commentary so he’s quoting 1 Peter 2:5 and 1 Peter 2:9-10, verses we just read where 1 Peter 2:9 is referencing Exodus 19:5-6. “The twofold description of the new community shows by its language that the church has now taken over the role of Israel.” See that? That’s replacement theology. We, at Sugar Land Bible Church, do not believe that we have taken over Israel’s place. We have become partakers in some of Israel covenants, like the New Covenant, but being a partaker is not the same thing as being a takeher-overer. Is that a word, takeher-overer?
You say what is our relationship to the New Covenant? Just say we’re partakers of it, that’s why we celebrate communion. But we are not takeher-overers of the whole thing. If we were takeher-overers of the whole thing we would be teaching what replacement theology teachers. See that? So Octameyer is a replacement theologian and look at how he’s using 1 Peter 2:9-10 there.
So how do we respond to that? Well, the first response, which is the only one I’ll be able to get through tonight, the first response is similarity is not the same thing as equality. Because two things are similar does not mean they’re equal. If someone thinks something similar means its equal that’s a logical fallacy. For example, I have two cars in my garage. Why do I have two cars in my garage? Because I’m an American and that’s what we’re supposed to do, and I’m telling you, the cars look a lot alike and they both have four doors, they both have a steering wheel, a steering column, four wheels, they both have a trunk, they both have an engine. But would it be right to say because those two cars look alike they’re the same? That’s a logical fallacy because similarity does not mean equality. A bush and a tree look an awful lot alike, don’t they? I mean they’re both connected to the ground, they both need water, they both have green shrubbery or leaves. But obviously a bush is not a tree and a tree is not a bush. Why is that? Because yeah, you’ve got some similarities but the differences outweigh the similarities.
And essentially that’s what I’m seeing here with 1 Peter 2:9. When Peter quotes Exodus 19 in 1 Peter 2:9 he’s just drawing some similarities. The church is similar to Israel in a lot of ways, both are called to be holy in daily life. Both were called by God to reach the world, Israel has that calling, the church has that calling. And that’s the only reason Peter is quoting this; he’s not saying that the church is similar to Israel in some respects, that the church is now Israel. You see that? Because when you look at the church and Israel, and I’m doing a series on it in the Cornerstone, there are twenty-four differences between Israel and the church, at least, there could be more but the series is going on too long as it is so I’ve got to limit it to twenty-four. But the reality of the situation is Israel and the church, I mean those are radically different programs with God, but they’re similar in some respects. All Peter is doing here is pointing out these similarities. Some points of similarities between God’s kingdom program through Israel and the church doesn’t necessarily mean that Israel is the church. And you see, when a scholar, like [can’t understand name] in a first year commentary makes this statement he’s committing the most basic of logical fallacies that a first year logic student could see.
If God wanted to say that the church is the new Israel do you know what God would call the church? Israel! Does God ever call the church Israel? Never, not a single time. In fact, the word “Israel” is used seventy-three times in the New Testament and guess what it means every single time? Israel! It’s a technical term meaning a term that always means the same thing everywhere it’s used. It refers to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
So unless you are a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob you have no business calling yourself Israel. In fact, in the Book of Acts there’s a transitionary period when the church has been born (in which chapter? Acts 2) Israel is persecuting the church, Israel in unbelief is persecuting the new church, Israel is not going to be a evicted from her land until what date? A.D. 70 by the Romans. So Acts is recording that time period when the church is in existence and Israel hasn’t been thrown out of her land yet. And you go right through the Book of Acts and it says over here the church, over here Israel. In fact, it says Israel twenty times and the church, I think about twenty times as well. So while the two entities are still existing side by side they’re given different names and never is Israel called the church or the church called Israel.
And you see, the problem is replacement theologians don’t have the circumstance where the word Israel is ever applied to the church. So what do they have to rely on to make their point? Logical fallacies. The only thing they’re left with is similarities. Are you following me? That’s why they’re using arguments like this. And this one is such a big Kahuna I can’t get into it right now but you’re going to have to come back next week to get validation for this. I’m going to try to show you that 1 Peter was never written to the whole church. People are groaning already. 1 Peter was never written to the church as a whole. Who was it written to? It was written to believing Jews within the church.
In fact, there are six New Testament books that are like that; they’re written specifically to believing Jews within the church. Does anybody know what those books are? James, written to the twelve tribes. Which gospel do you think was written specifically to the Jews? Matthew. Luke’s genealogy goes back to Adam, tracing Christ to Adam. Matthew’s genealogy traces Christ back to Abraham; it’s all Jewish. Who was the apostle to the Jews? Peter, and he wrote 1 Peter and 2 Peter. And by the way, Jude reads a lot like 2 Peter so we’ll throw Jude into the mix. And which one am I forgetting here, it’s an easy one, it’s the one we mentioned for coffee instructions. Hebrews, doesn’t that sound kind of Jewish to you?
So there’s six books in the New Testament that were never written to the church as a whole. Now am I saying you can’t apply them to your life? Of course you can apply them, but when you develop a meaning that the church is the New Israel from a book that was never even written to the church as a whole you’re on very shaky ground. So I’ll demonstrate that from 1 Peter next week, that 1 Peter was never written to the church as a whole. It was written to the believing Jewish remnant within the church. So that’s where we’re going. It’s 8:02, we’ll stop here.