Gospel of the Kingdom
by Philip Mauro
TRANSLATED INTO THE KINGDOM OF THE
It has long been my conviction that the
present day weakness of God's people, their internal disorders and
divisions, and the utter failure of their collective testimony to the
world, are mainly due to the fact that they are not instructed and
established in the great truth declared in the opening verses of
Colossians, namely, that when God received those who believed "the
word of the truth of the gospel" (v. 5), He delivered them
"from the power of darkness" (a kingdom) and translated them "into
the Kingdom of His dear Son" (v. 13).
This is fundamental gospel-truth; and it
behooves all "Fundamentalists" to take due note thereof.
It is truth that gives glory to the exalted
Son of God, "the King, eternal, immortal, invisible" (1 Tim.
1:14). It is truth that assures the people themselves as to their
perfect security. It is truth that was intended to carry conviction to
all men that Jesus Christ is truly the One sent of God (John 17:21).
Therefore nothing is more urgently needed at the present hour than that
this basic truth, now so generally neglected, should have given
to it, in the ministry of Christ's servants, something like the
prominence given to it in the New Testament Scriptures.
THE KINGDOM NOT THE CHURCH THE BASIS OF
What is commonly emphasized by orthodox teachers at the present time
is that those who are saved through faith in Jesus Christ are forthwith
incorporated into the Church; which is the body of Christ, and is
also the spiritual temple now being built "for an habitation of God
through the Spirit" (Eph. 1:22, 23; and 2:22). This is truth
indeed, and truth of superlative value. But it belongs not in such close
association with the gospel as the subject we are considering. For the
Scriptures connect the Gospel directly with the Kingdom rather
than with the Church. The message that conspicuously marked the
beginning of this era which is specially characterized by the forgiveness
of sins (the era of the New Covenant) was "the Word of the
Kingdom" (Mat. 13:19), John the Baptist had prepared the way by
his "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Luke.
3:3). And Jesus was anointed King and was sent to Israel "to preach
the gospel to the poor;" and Himself said, when the people besought
Him not to depart from them: "I must preach the Kingdom of God to
other cities also; for therefore am I sent" (Luke 4:18, 43).
Furthermore the preaching of the Kingdom of
God was the chief business of the apostles and evangelists, as may be
seen by consulting the record given us of the ministry of Paul (Ac.
13:22, 23, 32-34; 17:7; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 41; Rom. 14-17; I Cor 4:20;
15:50 Col. 1:12, 13; 2 Tim. 2:8 &c. &c.). Indeed that apostle
expressly says that the gospel is preached for "the obedience of
faith" (Rom. 1:5, marg. and 16:26); and further, that
the particular object of his own ministry was "to make the
Gentiles obedient" (15:18). Those who believed the gospel were
said to have become "obedient to the faith" (Ac. 6:7),
to have "obeyed from the heart" (Rom. 6:17). And on the
other hand they who are doomed to "everlasting destruction away
from the presence of the Lord," are they who "obey not the
gospel" (2 Th. 1:7-9). The word obedience expresses a
kingdom-relation. It is the state of heart of those who confess Jesus
Christ as Lord, which none can do "but by the Holy
Ghost" (1 Cor. 12:3).
Now it is most needful for us to observe
that, whereas the Kingdom--that is, the relation of the redeemed
of the Lord to God's Anointed King--was the prominent theme of the
preaching and teaching of the Lord Himself and of His apostles, the
subject of the Church (that is, in the comprehensive and eternal
sense of that word, not in the local sense) was not developed until the
latter part of Paul's life; until in fact his active ministry was ended.
For it was during his imprisonment in Come that he wrote the Epistle to
the Ephesians, in which that great truth is unfolded. Prior to that we
have on the subject of the Church (in this all-inclusive sense) only the
brief and unexplained statement of Christ, "On this rock I will
build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against
it" (Mat. 16:18).
The main conclusion properly to be drawn
from the facts briefly set forth above is that the subject of the
Kingdom of God is of the very essence of the gospel of Christ, and is of
immediate and vital importance to all mankind, both to them that are
within and to them that are without; whereas the subject of the Church
(as God's spiritual house now being builded) is of interest only to
those who have been already translated into the Kingdom; and for them it
has not the same direct and practical bearing upon their life down here
as has the truth pertaining to the Kingdom. For the Church (in this
broad sense, for we are not speaking at all of the local churches)
belongs rather to eternity than to time (Eph. 5:27; Rev.
21:23); for it is as yet unfinished, being now in process of
formation. Whereas the Kingdom belongs to the present; for Christ is
reigning now. Hence, if this immensely practical truth were given
its rightful place in the preaching and teaching of Christ's ministers,
it would tend to unify the divided people of God.
SALVATION A CHANGE OF ALLEGIANCE
By Colossians 1:12, 13 we are given to know that a complete change
takes place in a man's allegiance, that is, in his governmental
or political relations with the invisible "principalities and
powers" (v. 16), when he believes on Jesus Christ through "the
word of the truth of the gospel, which" (says the apostle) is come
unto you, as it is in all the world" (vv. 5, 6). It is "the
Father" Himself Who makes that change of relationship; and the
change includes two acts of sovereign and almighty power: first, He delivers,
or sets free from the "power"--that is to say, from
the rule or dominion--"of darkness" (to
which all men are by nature in subjection); and second, He translates
those He has thus set free from their natural allegiance into the
Kingdom of His dear Son--that is to say, He transports them as it were
bodily across the otherwise impassable frontiers of the domain of sin
and death, and places them safely and securely in "the Kingdom of
His dear Son."
Is it possible to exaggerate when speaking
of the stupendous change that God has brought about in the kingdom
relationship, or allegiance of one who has received Jesus Christ as His
Saviour and Lord? Impossible. And on the other hand, can truth so vital,
so practical, so fundamental, be slighted without bringing
weakness, division, suffering and loss to the people of God, and ruin to
their collective testimony? Assuredly not. And it were well we should
call to mind in this connection, that loyal devotion to the person of a
sovereign, and love of the country of one's birth, are sentiments which,
when opportunity for expressing them is given, make even timid souls as
bold as lions, and impel them to deeds and sacrifices of the loftiest
heroism. But where, it will be asked, are the heroes of faith in our
day? My answer is, that the material is here even as it was in the days
of the apostles, and that what is lacking is that gospel which was
preached by them "with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven" --the
Gospel of the Kingdom.
"PRESENT TRUTH" (2 Pet. 1:12).
This, I say, is truth of immediate and practical importance;
and for the reason that, not only is it closely connected with our
personal salvation, but it has to do with the honor of our Saviour, Lord
and King, Jesus Christ, Who is "the Author of eternal salvation
unto all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5:9).
The Scripture makes it plain that the grand
object of Christ's redemption is the recovery of man from out of that state
of disobedience into which the whole race fell through Adam's
transgression ("by one man's disobedience," Rom. 5:19), and
his restoration to a state of obedience. That state of
disobedience and alienation from God is spoken of in the Scriptures as a
kingdom, or "dominion"--"the dominion of sin and
death," "the power of darkness," "the power of
Satan" --; and the state of obedience or subjection to God,
into which those who believe the gospel are brought by the door of the
new birth (John 3:5; I Pet. 1:23), is also a kingdom--the Kingdom of
The basis of man's
"reconciliation" to God (for by nature we are all His
"enemies") was laid in "the death of His Son" (Rom.
5:10); and by "the gospel of God concerning His Son," the
blessed truth of reconciliation is proclaimed to the whole world
(2 Cor. 5:18-21) ; and all men are bidden to return to obedience, or in
other words to enter the Kingdom of God. It is thus we are saved;
for salvation means to be under the protection of God's King.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH
Reference has been made above to Scriptures which declare that the
gospel is preached for "the obedience of faith"; and now it
remains only to point out that the obedience of faith is a very
different thing from legal obedience. The main difference is that
the particular kind of obedience which the gospel demands (and which it
also elicits) is free and voluntary, the spontaneous obedience of the
heart. THIS HEART OBEDIENCE IS THE VERY ESSENCE OF SAVING FAITH. In
fact, saving faith and heart obedience are one and the same thing. For
to "obey" and to "believe" are but various
renderings in English of the very same Greek word. So likewise,
"unbelief" and "disobedience" are different
renderings of the same word in the original text. Obedience "from
the heart" (Rom. 6:17) is what distinguishes faith from mere
orthodoxy that is, from the mere holding of correct opinions and the
giving of a mere intellectual assent to the statements of God's Word.
For true faith is not a creed, or a matter of opinion, however correct
and orthodox, but a thing of heart and life and deeds; manifesting
itself in "works of faith," that is, acts of spontaneous
obedience to the Word of God. Thus it is written that "by faith
Noah being warned of God . . . prepared an ark to the saving of
his house"; that "by faith . . . Abraham obeyed"; "by
faith Moses kept the passover and the sprinkling of the blood";
"by faith" the children of Israel "passed through the Red
Sea as by dry land" (Heb. 11:7, 8, 28, 29). By these instances, and
by many others, God has plainly shown that true faith is a live,
active, energetic thing; its most distinctive characteristic being
that it acts spontaneously--without coercion or the constraint of pains
and penalties for disobedience--in strict accordance with the Word of
God; rendering prompt and unquestioning obedience to His commands, even
when they run counter to human wisdom and to the desires of the natural
heart. "Of such is the Kingdom of heaven."
Brethren, it is "this gospel, of
THE KINGDOM" that is to be "preached in all the world for
a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Mat.
24:14). Can the preaching of any other gospel accomplish the purposes of
God? Impossible. Nay, we can, and we must, put it even more forcibly;
for we read of some who had been "moved from him that had called
them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, which is not
another." (Gal. 1:6, 7). For any other gospel than that which
calls men "into the grace of Christ" is not a
"gospel" at all. And the gospel that calls men into the grace
of Christ is that which calls them into the Kingdom of God's dear Son.
For testifying "the gospel of the grace of God," and
"preaching the Kingdom of God" are the same identical thing
(Acts 20:24, 25).