SALVATION IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
By JOSEPH SLADEN.
The word Salvation is used in different senses in
Holy Scripture: it is well to note some of the distinctions. (1) It refers to the past time: “God who saved us, and called
us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own
purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1: 9). (2) It refers to the present time: “The Lord
is able to save to the uttermost them
that draw near to God through him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession
for them” (Heb. 7: 25). (3) It refers to the future time: “Christ shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait
for Him, unto salvation” (Heb. 9: 28).
Salvation then refers to the [free] gift of Eternal Life [Rom. 6: 23], and also to the coming Kingdom of Glory. Both Eternal Life, and the coming Kingdom are
called salvation. Eternal Life in the
past (2 Tim. 1: 8), and the coming Kingdom [of
heaven] in the future (2 Tim. 4: 18; [Matt. 5: 20]). “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me
unto His heavenly Kingdom.”
The Revised Version is used in all the quotations.]
The Lord’s teaching about the entrance into the Kingdom of God
will help to clear our views with regard to the futurity of the Kingdom of God.
“Not everyone that saith unto Me Lord, Lord
shall enter (future) into the Kingdom
of Heaven; but he that doeth
the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matt.
7: 21). In all parabolic utterances of our Lord the Kingdom of Heaven
relates to the present time of the Kingdom in mystery: Matthew
13: 11, and all the parables concerning it. Also Luke 13: 18.
It was on this occasion that a question
was asked by one of the crowd, Lord, are there few that be saved? The answer is very searching:- “Strive to enter in by the narrow door.” Into what
were the hearers to strive to enter?
The context tells us that it was to enter into the coming Kingdom of God.
(The proof of this will be given later
on.) The narrow door seems to speak not of Eternal Life as the [free] gift of God,
but of the attempt, after receiving eternal life by faith, to enter the Kingdom of God.
At this time Jesus was going up to Jerusalem for the last time. The glad tidings of the Kingdom of God had
already been preached by His twelve Apostles whom He had sent forth to preach
the Kingdom of God (Luke 10: 2), first to
Israel and afterwards to the Gentiles, when “He
appointed seventy other disciples, and sent them before His face into every
city and place where He Himself was about to come, to say to the people, The
Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (Luke
10: 9). The Kingdom of God had by
this time been fully proclaimed, so that when the Lord entered into Jerusalem “the whole multitude of the disciples acclaimed Him saying,
Blessed be the King that cometh in the Name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and
glory in the highest” (Luke 19: 38).
It was about a month before this incident that the
question was asked - Are the saved few? Must
not we at least enter into the Kingdom
of God, who are thine own people, Israel? The Lord’s reply is, No, but strive to enter
in through the narrow door. How much
more difficult was our Lord’s way than theirs, which was to enter by natural
generation as the sons of Abraham. Their
hopes of the Kingdom were vain. On account
of their refusal of John’s message of repentance, and His own message (Luke 13: 5) the Master would rise up, and shut the
door. They vainly knock at the door
outside asking for admission. The answer
comes, I know you not whom ye are. Their
pleas for recognition are - (1) They had eaten in His presence. (2) He had taught in their streets. This was against them - for they would not
accept His teachings, who was the Master and King of the Kingdom of God.
The King’s answer was, Depart from Me,
all ye workers of iniquity (unrighteousness). What profound disappointment, what vexation
will be theirs, what weeping and gnashing of teeth, when they shall see
Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob, and all
the prophets* in the Kingdom of God,
and they themselves cast forth without!
[* The words, ‘All the prophets’ must include Moses, one, if not the
greatest, from amongst the prophets of God.]
How will this affect the regenerate of this
dispensation? Those who are ‘seeking to enter the
Kingdom’ according to the Lord’s command (Matt.
6: 33), are striving to enter in by the narrow door (Luke 13: 24); for since John the Baptist’s day “the gospel [good news] of the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth
violently into it” (Luke 16:16). The gospel
of the grace of God invites men to accept eternal life on the ground of
grace without works, as the [free] gift of God. These
are the regenerate who are called to seek the Kingdom of God.
The time of seeking is limited to the
Lord’s return to take the Kingdom, when He will shut to the door. Then all who have not entered will stand
without, and will entreat the Lord to open the door; but the Lord does not
recognize them as worthy of the Kingdom of God (2
Thess. 1: 5), although they had every opportunity of learning His mind, which was to shut out from the Kingdom all
workers of unrighteousness.
The Apostle Paul writing to the Church at Corinth gives the same
are doing wrong, and defrauding and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous
not inherit the Kingdom
of God?” (1 Cor. 6: 8).
What vexation and sorrow will be theirs who refuse
the Lord’s command to strive to enter into the Kingdom of the Christ and God by
the narrow door, when they realize that they are debarred from entrance into
that Kingdom of glory through their
unbelief in the necessity of striving with all their heart to do so!
It may arise from a conviction that all who have
eternal life as a free gift of grace will certainly be counted worthy of
entrance into the Kingdom of God, i.e.,
into the temporary Kingdom of a thousand years as joint-heirs with Christ.
It should be noticed that a wrong punctuation in Romans 8: 17
seems to lead to this mistake. It
should be rendered – ‘And if children, then heirs;
heirs of God, but joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him,
that we may be also glorified with Him.’ It is clear from this Scripture that the heirs
of God have an unconditional
promise of eternal life, and an heritage in the City of God ; but the joint
heirs with Christ have a conditional promise of glory in the
coming Kingdom, if the conditions are fulfilled.