The Constitution of the Kingdom: Chapter 4

 •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 11
The Word of God - as might be expected - abounds with references to this important point, so that we find the subject most prominently set forth, directly and indirectly, throughout the whole of the Scriptures.
The rule of God is part of God’s counsels and purposes with regard to this world, and holy men of God were inspired at various times to proclaim its design and purpose, and to propound its righteous and holy principles, which we have abundantly recorded in the sacred Word.
But as it is quite beyond the scope of this little work to enter fully into so large a subject in its entirety, we shall simply confine our quotations and remarks to those passages that directly refer to the constitution of the kingdom.
1. Its Constitutional Principles
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:1717For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 14:17)).
“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Cor. 4:2020For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)).
The sermon on the mount presents the fullest and most perfect exposition of the moral and spiritual principles and requirements of the Kingdom of God which has been given to us.
It begins with a direct reference to the kingdom in Matthew 5:33Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3), “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and eight times more the kingdom is thus directly mentioned in the sermon.
In this sublime discourse of our blessed Lord we have the grand foundation stones of truth, righteousness and holiness presented to us, upon which the everlasting Kingdom of God is reared.
The law given by God to the children of Israel through Moses was, to a certain extent, an embodiment of the same principles, but our Lord in His discourse not only fulfills or endorses the law, but expands and raises it to a yet higher level (higher than the Jews could bear in the days of Moses, because of the hardness of their hearts; Matt. 19:88He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (Matthew 19:8)), and He therefore says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17, 1817Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17‑18)), and in verse 19, He adds, “But whosoever shall do and teach them [the commandments], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
So also in the sermon on the mount we have the everlasting and unchangeable standards of divine truth and holiness, by which everything in the Kingdom of God is ever to be measured and tested throughout every dispensation. But there have been some differences of opinion as to their application.
If it be allowed that the teaching of this sublime sermon is not directly applicable to Christians as their rule of life and conduct, yet it must be obvious that the holy and divine principles it unfolds permeate all Christian teaching more or less; so that these principles ever remain as God’s holy standards of truth and righteousness to all believers for all time.
But the Christian is on wholly new and different ground from that on which the Jew stood. The Jews were placed under law and accepted the responsibility of keeping it as a duty to God, while Christians are introduced into the liberty of “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:22For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)), whereby the heaven-born principle of love, begotten in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, becomes the motive-spring of all their actions, leading them to delight in keeping the words, the sayings and the commandments of their Lord Jesus Christ, whom they love. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” And this principle of love (vastly stronger than a mere sense of duty) answers to all the demands of practical godliness and keeping of commandments. “Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:1010Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10)). Our Lord bases the whole keeping of His commandments on this principle of love. “If ye love Me, keep My commandments,” and, “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me” (John 14:15, 2115If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)
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2. Those Who Enter the Kingdom and Those Who Do Not
“The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever” (Dan. 7:1818But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. (Daniel 7:18)).
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:1010Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)).
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:1919Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)).
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3, 43And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3‑4)).
“And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:33, 3433And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matthew 25:33‑34)).
“Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Luke 18:29, 3029And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, 30Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. (Luke 18:29‑30)).
“Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?” (James 2:55Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:5)).
“No whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:55For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)).
“No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:6262And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)).
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matt. 23:1313But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Matthew 23:13)).
3. The Way of Entrance Into the Kingdom
There is but one way of entrance, and that is through faith in Christ, for He is the door by which all must enter.
“Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. ... I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:7, 97Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. (John 10:7)
9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)
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“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:66Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)).
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh” (Heb. 10:19, 2019Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; (Hebrews 10:19‑20)).
This has ever been, and ever will be, the only way of coming under the rule of God or into His kingdom, for Jews and Gentiles alike, for Christians now as for saints in the millennium, though not so clearly apprehended in former ages as it is in these days. And though the manner of entering in, and the circumstances connected with it, are variously set forth at different times, the door of entrance ever remains the same for all throughout every dispensation.
“It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Mark 9:4747And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: (Mark 9:47)).
“Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Luke 18:29,3029And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, 30Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. (Luke 18:29‑30)).
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:1212And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12)).
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:2222Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)).
4. The Blessings and Privileges to Be Enjoyed in the Kingdom
All the blessings and privileges now enjoyed under the present or Christian phase of the spiritual rule of God in the hearts of believers, such as forgiveness of sins, peace with God, eternal life, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, might be enumerated under this heading as the present though invisible blessings to be enjoyed. But to quote all the references to these spiritual blessings would involve a very large citation from all the Gospels and Epistles, such as would be beyond my present purpose. I have therefore in the following quotations only given the passages (with the exception of the first text, which probably relates to the present phase of the kingdom) that directly refer to the blessings to be enjoyed by the saints under the reign of Christ in the millennium, which I have designated the third or future phase of the kingdom.
“But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:2929But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. (Matthew 26:29)).
“Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me; that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:28-3028Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:28‑30)).
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:2121His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matthew 25:21)).
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:88Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)).
“He that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (Rev. 2:2626And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: (Revelation 2:26)).
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:2121To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)).
“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:1010And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)).
“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:55And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)).
In concluding these brief notes on this branch of the subject, I would again remark that the foregoing references to the Constitution of the kingdom, and the principles on which it is founded, evidently bear a distinct application to one or another, and in some cases to all, of the three Phases of the kingdom, while this application in each case may be determined by a consideration of the specific meaning of the passages themselves.