Jerry C. Brewer
If the kingdom is in existence—and it is—the millennial theory of a future reign of Christ on earth is false. For that reason, the millennialist must explain away Biblical passages dealing with Christ’s present reign on His throne. To do so they attempt a rationale that goes something like this:
Christ intended to establish His kingdom at His first advent but could not do so because He was rejected by the Jews. Therefore He established the church in place of the kingdom and will establish His kingdom when He returns at His second advent.
That, in a nutshell, is the millennial teaching regarding the church and what they call the “church age.” Denying Biblical teaching that the church and the kingdom refer to the same entity, the millennialist says the second coming of Christ will mark the inauguration of the kingdom, the conversion of the Jews and a literal thousand year reign of Christ on a throne in the City of Jerusalem.
The basic error of millennialism in this is applying the words church and kingdom to different institutions. They are the same thing, and were so used by Jesus.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. 16:18-19).
Jesus indicated that the keys of the kingdom fit the church because the church and the kingdom are the same thing. Millenialists who say the church was substituted for the kingdom because unbelieving Jews foiled God’s purpose are saying that mortals prevailed against the Almighty. But Jesus said “the gates of hell” or the forces of Satan and power of death could not prevent His building it. Yet millennialists say the Jews thwarted God’s plan! If the kingdom was postponed and the church substituted in its place, then John and Jesus were liars when they both preached that it was “at hand.”
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt. 3:1). Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14-15).
Their proclamation that the kingdom was “at hand” didn’t refer to its establishment in a millennium at the end of time. “At hand” meant that it was near—that it was coming imminent and it would be soon established. Paul employed the same terminology when he told Timothy that the end of his earthly life was near. “For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand,” (2 Tim. 4:6). If Jesus and John were mistaken in their declarations and God’s word doesn’t mean what it says in Matthew 16 and Mark 1, how can we trust any of the Bible?
On another occasion Jesus told some of His hearers that the kingdom would come within their lifetime. “Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1). If the millennial theory of the kingdom’s postponement is true, we have people living today who are about 2,000 years old! Jesus said the kingdom would come with power and it would come while His hearers were still living and it did come in exactly that fashion on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2).
The present existence of the kingdom is further seen in the inspired writings of Luke, Paul and John. Luke said “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” (Acts 2:47). Paul told the Colossians that they had been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s Son, (Col. 1:13). Those who were added to the church on Pentecost were added to the kingdom and if one is in the kingdom one is in the church. The Hebrews were told that they received a kingdom, (Heb. 12:28), and the apostle John said he was in the kingdom of God (Rev. 1:9). If the kingdom has been postponed and has no present existence, how could have the Colossians been translated into it, the Hebrews received it, and the beloved John been in it?
The idea that the kingdom was postponed because the unbelieving Jews rejected Christ is the result of the twisted meanderings of a false theology. Jesus said “my kingdom is not of this world,” (John 18:36) but millennialists say that’s exactly the kind of kingdom Christ intended to establish. Their doctrine entangles them in their own web of deceit. The Jews were looking for the kind of kingdom for which the millennialists now look. The Jews expected the Messiah to throw off the yoke of Roman dominion and re-establish the throne of David in Jerusalem, and at one time they tried to forcefully make him their earthly king, (John. 6:15). Millennialists have jumped in bed with infidel Jews in their insistence that the kingdom is earthly. They reason that the Jews expected an earthly kingdom and that Christ came to establish the earthly kingdom which they expected but they rejected Him because He came to do what they expected in the first place. Therefore He postponed the kingdom until his second coming, at which time He will establish that which the Jews expected at His first coming but which He did not establish because they rejected Him for attempting to establish the kingdom they wanted in the first place! That is the nonsense of the millennialist’s kingdom postponement theory.
Teaching that the kingdom will be established at Christ’s second coming, millennialism denies the current kingship of Christ, (Acts 2:36) and has Christ’s coronation on abdication day. When Christ returns He won’t receive a kingdom. He will deliver up the kingdom to the Father.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:24-26).
The kingdom of God now exists. It is a spiritual kingdom over which Christ currently reigns on the throne of David, and will reign until the end of time. Its existence is coextensive with the church and the two are synonymous. The theory that the kingdom was postponed is a false doctrine and denies the authority of Christ in the present age.