Author: Fred Pruitt
The blood-washed redeemed children of God who are in the world but not of the world are designated or symbolized in the Scriptures by different names which show up the different phases of their living and working positions in this world of sinful, deceitful, religious and irreligious people.
The prophets who prophesied long before Christ was born tell us about the Kingdom of God and also about the Church. In Daniel 2:44, we read, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
When the prophet said, “In the days of these kings,” he was referring to the four literal kings who were universal rulers in their turn or time, the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman kingdoms that literally ruled the world. He said in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom. God set it up, so it is called the Kingdom of God. It is synonymous with the Church, so the Church is called the Church of God. It could be said of God’s people, “They are the Kingdom of God, the Church,” or “They are the Church, the Kingdom of God,” because God is the giver and originator of both, which are practically the same. Although in the parables that Christ gives concerning the working of the Kingdom of God, it varies to some extent in contrast with the clearly, divinely organized Church of God, and shows that God¹s kingdom would also include those without knowledge of the divinely organized family or Church, but such souls who keep themselves free from joining the many earthly religious bodies called churches and free from the world would easily be led of His Spirit into the divinely organized family or Church, which is the Church of the living God, and is the pillar and ground of the truth. (I Tim. 3:15).
Jesus says also in this verse that this kingdom shall never be destroyed, and that statement harmonizes with what Jesus said concerning the Church in Matthew 16:18, which reads thus, “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.” He did not mean to convey the thought that He was going to build His Church upon Peter, but upon the solid truth He had uttered which God the Father had revealed to Him, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” For any one to know Christ, the Father will have to reveal Him unto that one by His Spirit, and this is the kind of material that the true Kingdom of God, or Church of God, is built of, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. (Eph. 2:20). Jesus also makes this plain in Matthew 21:42 when He says, “Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner…?” In Acts 4:11, we read, “This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.” In saying this, Peter denies that he is the stone that the Church is built upon; and declares that it is Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom the builders (Pharisees) crucified and God raised from the dead.
In the next verse, Daniel 2:45, we read, “Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold….” This image that had the brass, the iron and clay, the silver, and the gold represented four literal kingdoms: one then ruling, and three yet to rule the ancient world, but the little Stone, which represented Christ, broke them to pieces, and He set up His kingdom, which is spiritual and is now ruling, not only in the Church but also the world, and is now giving to every man according to what he finds in his heart. That is why we are exhorted to, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Prov. 4:23.
In the seventh chapter of Daniel, where he was speaking of the fourth beast, which represents the Roman Empire or Kingdom, read the 23rd verse. The time of the reign of the fourth king when the Roman kingdom was flourishing was when Christ, the little Stone, was born. He began to preach to the people, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and judgment was set; so reads the 26th verse, “…And they shall take away his dominion [his kingdom], to consume and to destroy it unto the end.” Christ, the little Stone, brought judgment against the Roman dominion and it was destroyed so far as it being any more a universal kingdom. Verse 27 says, “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints [the Church] of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Blessed be the name of Jesus! We read again in the 14th verse of this same chapter what the Son of God has done, “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. Read the 18th verse, “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” They took and began to possess the kingdom on the day they received the Holy Spirit and have and are possessing it today, and shall possess it forever.
Christ is the little Stone which is the chief corner stone of the Church. Jesus said to His disciples, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.” When Christ is in us, we are in the kingdom and the kingdom is in us. As we yield to Christ, He makes us kings and priests unto Him and we reign over sin and over all the evil spirits in the world, giving glory to our King whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
“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 [present tense. At hand now, not over in an imaginary Millennial in some future age]: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” In Matthew 6:33, Jesus exhorts the people to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. In Mark 9:1 we read that Jesus said, “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.” This prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost was poured out upon 120 souls and they were given power to witness for Christ in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8). This kingdom that came with power was also the Church, for the record is, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47). In Hebrews 12:22 it is written, “But ye are come [speaking to His believing children] unto mount Sion [a metaphor of the Church], and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn [who was God manifested in the flesh] which are written in heaven [our names are on the Lamb’s book of life], and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Glory be to God! We can see very plainly that he is speaking of the Church, the family of God, saved people. In verse 28 of the same chapter the apostle Paul calls it the kingdom. Let us read, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear….” This Church or kingdom of which we are members can not be moved; it abideth forever. The gates of hell shall not, and can not, prevail against IT-just one.
This one body of saved people is the divinely organized Church of God, and it has never been destroyed or put out of existence since Christ built it and divinely organized it by the Holy Spirit. It shall never cease to be a reality so long as this world stands, then it will shine in the glory world. When Jesus said the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church, we know His statement is true, for we have no record of its ever being extinct in the earth since that day. Even during the hundreds of years of dark Catholicism, God’s Church existed. Also, during the 350 years of sect making, or Protestantism, when it is stated that the two witnesses, the Spirit and the Word, lay dead in the streets, there was a remnant of the Church existing. There were groups of saved people drawn together by the divine love of God and functioning by divine leadership. God has always preserved a body which has never drifted from the real apostolic truths, and has not conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2), nor given way to man-made rules and systems in making an “Image to the Beast”; but have allowed, and are allowing, the Holy Spirit and the Word to govern and rule in all their functions, and so it always will be.
Any group of saved people at any place and at any time who are allowing the Holy Spirit to govern them , are not conforming to the world, are not of the world, but constitute the Church of the living God, and are also the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is also referred to in the Bible as a universal kingdom, ruling over all the world, as God sets up literal kings and puts down kings. He also rules over Satan and all his imps, for His power in a universal sense is unlimited.
In I Corinthians 15:24, we read, “Then cometh the end, when he [Jesus] shall have delivered up the kingdom [the Church] to God, even the Father….” We read of the end of the world and of this taking place in I Thessalonians 4 beginning with verse 13, and we are told that the righteous dead will be raised up, and we who remain and are alive at His coming will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. This is the Kingdom of God which stands forever, the Church which is delivered up to the Father. According to John 5:28, the wicked and unsaved will be resurrected at the same hour unto damnation, but they will be cast into the “lake of fire” which is the second death. (Rev. 20:14-15).
Knowing these things, brethren, let us be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Cor. 15:58).