WILL ALL BELIEVERS HAVE PART IN THE THOUSAND YEARS?
ROBERT GOVETT, M. A.
Doctrines are being now taught, in relation to the Kingdom of God, which seem to call for immediate rebuke from Scripture. The doctrines refer to the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven.
Statements are now made to believers such as the following - ‘You have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. You are not to seek it; for two reasons - (1) It is earthly and Jewish. (2) We are not to seek it, for we are in the kingdom already! And the entrance to it is of pure grace. It is not a time of reward for good works, or of punishment for evil ones. (3) All believers of the Church must enter the kingdom of glory; or, You must teach, that the Bride of Christ will be a mutilated bride.’
Let us then look at what the Scriptures of the New Testament say. It will not be difficult to overthrow these doctrines from the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But here we are met by exceptions taken against some of the witnesses.
‘You must not argue from our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. It was never intended for the Church! The Church was not then thought of. Nor from the Epistle to the Hebrews. Epistles of Paul, who alone preached the Church as the Body and Bride of Christ, are able to decide this matter. The Sermon on the Mount was meant to be a guide only to a Jewish remnant, to rise after the Church of Christ has been removed from the earth.’
1. When witnesses are present in court, of great and decisive weight against one of the parties in a suit, it is no wonder if exceptions are taken. The assertion that the Sermon on the Mount was not meant for the Church of Christ has never been proved, and, I suppose, never will. It is the Lord’s instruction to His disciples after their baptism. And, I suppose, baptism belongs to believers of the Church. "The Church" is thrice named by the Lord in Matthew, and authority is given to it. 1. Peter, after his confession of faith in Christ, the Son of God, is assured that on (Christ) the Rock, the Redeemer would build His Church; and the gates of the place of departed spirits * (Hades) should one day lose their power to detain those who are in Christ. It is after the First Resurrection that the Saviour speaks of the coming Kingdom: and the decisions of apostles regarding entry thereinto, or exclusion from it, shall, by the Lord at His coming, be reaffirmed: Matt. 16: 13-20.
[* It is the departed soul that descends into Hades, not the spirit : "Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hell (Gk. 'Hades')" Acts 2: 27, A.V. There are spirits in Hades, but these creatures are angelic. That is, either angels or their offspring - the "Nephilim," borne by daughters of men to "the sons of God" (angels) Gen. 6: 4. 'Israel's spies to Canaan (Num. 13: 33) reported that the stalwart occupants of the land appeared like "the Nephilim."' - Ed.]
2. Again, our Lord, in Matthew 16: 24-27, speaks of the Kingdom, and enjoins a seeking of it at any present cost of life; while in 18: 17, 18, He extends to the small assemblies of believers about to rise, the same power which he had by anticipation given to Peter.
3. If a brother should refuse to own an offence given to one of the Assembly, Christ says, If he shall neglect to listen to the two or three witnesses who have investigated the affair, "Tell it unto the Church (or Assembly); but if he neglect to hear even the Church (Greek), let him be unto thee as a heathen man, and a publican:" 18: 15-20.
4. When at Pentecost the Holy Ghost descended to raise up the Church as Christ’s Body, the new Assembly at once observed the commands of Christ, given in the Gospels. Peter called on inquirers, desiring to know how they might escape being treated as the foes of Christ, to repent and be immersed - each individual of them. They would then be sealed by the Holy Ghost, and some of His gifts would be bestowed. By faith and immersion three thousand joined the disciples that day. They were then led on, "and continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine, and in the fellowship of the breaking of bread, and in the prayers." Moreover, at once rich disciples sold house and land, and distributed to those who were poor: Matt. 19: 27; Acts 2: 45; 4: 33- 5: 11. In the case of Ananias and Sapphira, Peter used the keys of the Kingdom to lock against the two the entrance thereinto. And Paul turned the key against the incestuous Corinthian. But on his repentance, the locked door was opened anew, and he proceeded onward on his way to the hope set before him: 1 Cor. 5. ; 2 Cor. 2: 5-11.
With regard to the Hebrews, I think I have proved in my book, ‘Christ Superior to Moses and Aaron,’ that none but Paul could have written it. At all events, it is an inspired letter, addressed to believers in Christ, as the three following texts will prove.
1. "For we believers are entering into the rest:" 4: 3.
2. "Let us draw near with true heart in fulness of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and the body bathed in clean water:" 10: 22. Here are faith, pardon, immersion. (Greek.)
3. "Now the righteous by faith shall live; but if he draw back, My soul hath no pleasure in him. But we are not (men) who draw back unto perdition [destruction]; but who believe to the saving of the soul:" 10: 38, 39.
I shall then with a good conscience quote the words both of Paul and of the Lord Jesus to believers as decisive, in relation to the way of obtaining the millennial kingdom.
Let us then inquire about the way of entrance. These brethren say: ‘We are not to seek the Kingdom,
(1) because it is Jewish.’
Does our Lord say so?
1. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness [obedience to the Sermon on the Mount], and all these things shall be added to you:" Matt. 6: 33.
2. "Rather seek ye the Kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added to you:" Luke 12: 31.
3. "Know ye not, that they who run in the stadium (race-course) run all indeed, but one (only) obtaineth the prize. Run as they do, that ye may obtain it:" 1 Cor. 9: 24.
4. "This one thing I do, forgetting indeed the things behind, but stretching after those in front, I press on to the goal, for the prize of our calling above, by God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are adults, be thus minded:" (Greek) Phil. 3: 14. "If by any means I may attain to the (select) resurrection that is from among the dead:" ver. 11.
Those who desire further evidence may look at 1 Thess. 2: 11, 12; 2 Thess. 1: 4, 5.
2. But opponents have a second reason why Christians should not seek the kingdom. ‘Seek not! We are in the kingdom already!’ Col. 1: 12, 13.
This is an odd reason to follow after the declaration, that the Kingdom of God is Jewish and earthly! Has then our Heavenly Father set His sons of "the higher heavenly calling" - in that kingdom which is Jewish and earthly? What is the meaning of the immersion commanded? It is death with Christ to earth and Moses; and resurrection with Christ to what is heavenly: Col. 2., 3. On which more will have to be said.
The true statement is, that the millennial kingdom of God has two great divisions, answering to His two people.
(1) One people of the flesh, and of the earth, (2) the other, of the Spirit, and of the heaven. * The one people is begotten according to the flesh; the other is a second time begotten of the Spirit, and born out of water.
[* That is not to say that the resurrected saints cannot or will not enter the earthly sphere of the coming kingdom: "Surely they shall not see the LAND which I sware unto their fathers . . ." (Num. 14:23) "God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they [the overcomers previously mentioned by name, who died in faith not having received the promises (v. 13)] should not be made perfect. That is through obtaining "a better resurrection" (v. 11). The scriptural prepositions "on" and "upon" the earth, referring to our Lord and His resurrected saints, confirm this.- Ed.]
1. "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons; one of the slave-woman (Hagar), and one of the free-woman (Sarah). But the one from the slave-woman was begotten according to the flesh; but the one from the free-woman, by the promise. Which things are to be allegorized, for these (women) are two Covenants: one from Mount Sinai, begetting into slavery, which is Hagar. For the (word) Hagar is Sinai, a mount in Arabia, and answereth to the present Jerusalem, for she is enslaved with her children.
"But the Jerusalem which is above, is the free-woman, who is our mother.
"Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise. But as then, he that was begotten according to the flesh, persecuted him that was (begotten) according to the Spirit, so it is now. But what saith the Scripture? ‘Cast out the slave-woman and her son; for the son of the slave-woman shall not inherit with the son of the free-woman:’" Gal. 4: 22-30. See Greek, and Revised Version.
There are then two covenants or testaments, two births, two cities - (1) Jerusalem of earth, and (2) Jerusalem of heaven - and two heritages, distinct from each other, The Christian’s is the heavenly kingdom, to which God is inviting him,* [* 1 Thess. 2: 11, 12.] and the heavenly country, of which Jerusalem above is the centre. Believers, by turning to circumcision and Moses, might forfeit their standing and hope: Gal. 5: 1.
2. At the end of this evil age, "The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather together out of His Kingdom all stumbling-blocks, and those who do iniquity; and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Here is the kingdom of "the Son of Man," which is the earth: Psalm 115: 16.; Psalm 8. But what have we next?
"Then shall the righteous shine out like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear:" Matt. 13: 41-43.
Here is the other department of the millennial kingdom - the heavenly - wherein lies the inheritance of those begotten from above.
The kingdom which Paul so earnestly sought and will attain, is the heavenly. "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom:" 2 Tim. 4: 18.
3. In the fifteenth of 1 Corinthians Paul adds, that the approved out of the earthly people and out of the heavenly shall both be in the one kingdom of God; but they will have different kinds of bodies.
This is in answer to the question - "How are the dead to be raised up? With what kind of body are they to come?"
The apostle’s answer is in general, that God has varieties of bodies in His power - power too to change one body for another.
There are different kinds of bodies on earth; the body of man differs from that of cattle, from that of fish, and of birds. There is also a marked distinction between the bodies of earth, and those of the heaven.
"There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly is one, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differeth from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead:" 1 Cor. 15: 35-42.
The apostle is showing that the saints’ present bodies are not fit for the millennial kingdom; not even the bodies of the living; how much less those of the dead, corrupting in the tomb!
"Flesh and blood (the bodies of living saints) cannot have part in the Kingdom of God; nor (can) corruption (the bodies of the dead saints) enjoy incorruption" - the kingdom of the thousand years, and eternal life after it.
These necessary changes God will surely bring in, to take effect in an instant, by Almighty power. And what, then, is his conclusion?
"So then, my beloved, become steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord:" ver. 58.
This passage, then, is opposed to two other principles of opponents - (1) We are diligently to seek the Kingdom; and (2) reward of the saints’ diligent service is certain.
But on behalf of these views a text is presented by them
"Giving thanks to the Father, who has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Who delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love:" Col. 1: 12, 13.
Now are these words intended to carry with them the assurance of entry into the millennial kingdom of glory, after passing before the judgment-seat of Christ? By no means! What follows?
1. "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamed and unreproved in His sight: IF ye continue in THE FAITH grounded and settled, and be not moved away from THE HOPE of the Gospel which ye have heard:" verses 21-23.
2. "Beware lest any spoil (strip) you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ:" 2: 18.
"Ye are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power:" ver. 10 -
having the circumcision wrought by Christ without human hands; a circumcision which removes the body of the flesh.
"Buried with Him in the immersion, in which also ye were raised with Him by faith in the operation of God, who raised Him from the dead:" ver. 12.
This immersion most of the opponents have not obeyed - though it is the foundation of the inspired argument here.
As dead with Christ to Moses, and risen with Him, care not if the men of law condemn you, as non-observant of the festivals of Israel: ver. 16.
3. "Let none cheat you of your reward by affected humility and worship of angels:" ver. 18. If you died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as if you were alive in the world, should you be subject to the ritual commands of any mere man? Ver. 20.
Their obedience to Christ’s command of immersion is the way in which the apostle shows them their freedom from Moses’ law, and much more from the merely human precepts of the errorist of their neighbourhood. As risen with Christ in His ordinance received by faith, seek the things above - and be looking for His appearing, who is our Life, and with whom you shall be manifested in glory: 3: 1-4.
But here an opponent pleads against any submission to the ordinance then observed. ‘Baptism is, indeed, the mark of dutiful obedience; but the non-fulfilment of it will carry with it no penalty, since we are not under law, but under pure grace.’
What, then, says Paul about the position of the Christian as now under grace?
"Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid:" Rom. 6: 14, 15.
He goes on to say, that if, after taking your place and privileges as a believer, you obey sin instead of righteousness, you will, in the coming day, be adjudged to be the servants of sin, and receive its wages: ver. 16. Once you were slaves of wickedness, but you professedly left that, to become servants of righteousness: verses 17, 18. You served sin fully then; serve righteousness fully and exclusively now. You did not serve sin by halves then; serve not Christ by halves now. Looking back over your past career of ungodliness, is there ought of which you can boast? The end of such things is death: verses 19-21.
"But now being made free from sin, and become servants of God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end eternal life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord:" Rom. 6: 22, 23.
In regard of Christ’s entrance-rite Scriptures teach, that the absence of baptism will exclude from the kingdom of God.
1. "And all the multitude that heard Him, and the publicans justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized by him:" Luke 7: 29, 30.
2. "Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be begotten out of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God:" John 3; 5 (Greek).
3. "We were buried with Him (Christ) by immersion into death, in order that, as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For IF we became grown together in the likeness of His death, why we shall also be of the (first) resurrection:" (Greek) Rom. 6: 4, 5.
Will there be no punishment to the disobedient?
4. "That servant which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes:" Luke 12: 47.
Present excommunication is a witness to future exclusion from the Kingdom.
5. "Do not ye judge them that are within? Them that are without God will judge. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person:" 1 Cor. 5: 12, 13 (Greek).
The next chapter says:
6. "Know ye not, that unrighteous persons shall not inherit (have part in) the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor atulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit (have part in) the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God:" 1 Cor. 6: 9-11 (Greek).
These then who were baptized and justified, having the beginning of sanctification, were no hypocrites, who had crept in unawares. Yet the apostle does not recall his word - "Nay, ye are doing wrong, and defrauding, and that your brethren:" ver. 8.
But there is one plea which forms the citadel of opponents. ‘Then you believe in a mutilated Bride - a thing abhorrent to God and to His Son!’
Not so! The Bride shall be presented , at length, in full completeness. But WHEN?
You teach, that it will be presented in perfection as soon as Christ appears, and that the Church will, with Jesus the Lord, reign over the earth during the millennium.
Will you please prove this from the New Testament?
First, observe that the Bride of the Apocalypse, with one exception *[* Rev. 22: 17] (and that named after the prophecy is finished, and the Judgment Day is past) - is NOT THE CHURCH. I shall startle some; but I affirm that Paul in his epistles never speaks of the Church as "THE BRIDE OF CHRIST!" What then is the Bride of the Apocalypse?
The city of God, abode of the saved, risen from the dead.
1. "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, ‘Come hither, I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit (and set me) on a great and high mountain, and showed me the city, the holy Jerusalem:’" Rev. 21: 9, 10.
And what says Christ in His epistles to the Seven Churches? He makes promises, not to the Church as a body; but only to the Conquerors among [within] the Churches.
2. "I will kill her (Jezebel’s) children with death (pestilence); and all the churches shall know that I am He who searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give to each of you according to your works:" Rev. 2: 22, 23.*
[* The 'establishment', who allow women to teach from the Holy Scriptures today, would do well to heed this severe warning from the Head of the Church! - Ed.]
3. "And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of My Father:" ver. 26, 27.
The style of doctrine I am opposing insists on the privileges of the Corporation, THE CHURCH, to which, if once you belong, all is well. ‘The rapture of the Church,’ ‘the glory of the Bride of Christ,’ and so on, are much on their lips.
Now this is not the style of the New Testament; but it dwells rather on individual responsibility, and the award to be rendered to each believer.
1. "For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore:" Mark 13: 34, 35.
2. "Repent, and be immersed, every one of you:" Acts 2: 38.
3. "Each shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour:" 1 Cor. 3: 8.
4. "The day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each according to his deeds:" Rom. 2: 5, 6.
These are a specimen.
In conclusion, as faith is necessary to obtain eternal life, so "WALK" (or sanctification) is necessary to entrance into the [millennial] Kingdom. On this many texts may be cited; I will content myself with four.
1. "Let us walk honestly, as in the hay; not as rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife, and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof:" Rom. 13: 13.
2. "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with all longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace:" Eph. 4: 1-3.
3. Each shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour:" 1 Cor. 3: 8.
4. "As ye have, therefore, received Christ Jesus (as) the Lord, so walk ye in Him. Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving:" Col. 2: 6, 7.
For Scripture points out a number of sins which will exclude from the kingdom. There are several texts addressed to believers, which declare that some shall not enter the kingdom. I need not quote them all.
1. Unbelief in the millennium. "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein:" Mark 10: 15; Luke 18: 17.
2. "Not every one that saint unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say unto Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity:" Matt. 7: 21-23.
3. "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour. Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: that none go beyond or defraud his brother in the matter: because that the Lord is the Avenger of all such, as we have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also put within us His Holy Spirit:" 1 Thess. 4: 3-8.
This passage just precedes the account of the descent of the Lord Jesus, to take to His presence the living and the dead of believers.
4. The unforgiving, far from entering the kingdom, shall be sorely punished.
"So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye forgive from your hearts not each his brother their trespass:" Matt. 18: 35.
5. Something in high estimation now among men will then exclude. The rich young man turned away from Christ’s call.
"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, ‘Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ And again I say unto you, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God’: Matt. 19: 23, 24.
INSINCERITY OF THE DOCTRINE.
1. The doctrine of the Lord Jesus and his apostles is, that His people are to be holy, of which His sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in them is the proof: Rom. 5: 5; 8: 2-11.*
[* See "The Personal Indwelling of the Holy Spirit" on page 11 of this website. - Ed.]
2. The doctrine of Paul is, that the coming Day of God’s judgment on the living will affect "every soul of man that doeth evil," with "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish!" Rom. 2: 8. We are therefore to abstain from sin, and to do that which is good. "For Christ our Passover is crucified for us, therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth:" 1 Cor. 5: 7, 8. "Follow peace with all, and the holiness without which none shall see the Lord."
But the plain English of this wicked system is - ‘Keep up appearances; but know, that Christ died to grant license to the Church to sin! Paul could say: "Having therefore the promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God:" 2 Cor. 7: 1. But this doctrine removes the fear of God, and practically opens the door to sin, declaring, with Satan in Eden, "Ye shall not surely die!" ‘Disobedience to Christ will entail no penalty!’
If this scheme of doctrine were laid before an honest man of the world, he would be apt to say: ‘If these be the principles of Christ, as accepted by His advanced followers, I had better remain a son of Adam the first!
Doctrine so corrupt must inevitably lead on to corruption in practice. May the Lord awaken His true hearted ones to stand aloof from evil, and pursue after holiness!