We believe we have shown to the satisfaction of reasonable people that the Bible is God’s word. If you number yourself among those reasonable people, dear reader, you now have a decision to make: Will you be like the men of Athens who told Paul,
“We will hear you again on this matter” (Acts 17:32),
but did nothing, or will you be like the Bereans, who
“searched the scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11)
until they’d checked for themselves whether Paul’s words were true or not?
You are now at a crossroads. Will you leave your Bible on the shelf to gather dust or will you take it down to find God’s message for mankind? We sincerely recommend that you won’t be like the men of Athens, but dare to be a Berean and examine God’s word for yourself. It’s all very well to agree that the Bible is God’s word; it’s what you now do with that conviction that matters. In chapter one we quoted the words of the apostle Paul,
“He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
Hopefully you are now over the hurdle of believing that “He is”, and has revealed Himself to mankind through the Bible.
Notice however that God only rewards those who “diligently seek Him.” Since we have shown that God has revealed Himself through His word the Bible it is now up to you to seek God diligently by reading the Bible. You need to have a plan for reading His word.
Genesis (the beginning) is a good place to start. The first eleven chapters are mainly about creation and Noah’s flood. But don’t stop there. The next fifteen chapters of Genesis are about Abraham, mentioned already in chapter two of this book. He is the “father of the faithful,” to both Jews and Gentiles. God promised that his descendant Christ would share the land of promise with him (Gen. 13: 15 and Gal. 3:16). If you wish to be a part of God’s plan for this earth then you need to start reading His word on a regular basis.
God’s plan for the earth
Just as there is design and purpose in creation God has a plan for the most intelligent of his creatures—men and women—but they have to put in some effort, to reap the benefits of His plan for this earth and its people. In Numbers 14 God wrote by Moses His servant:
“As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” (Num. 14:21)
Using modern terminology, this is God’s mission statement, and shows clearly that earth, not heaven, is the reward of the righteous. This is further confirmed by the prayer, which some Christians recite so often, yet give no thought to its meaning. The Lord’s Prayer states, after its initial praise to God, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” It is both a statement of fact and a prophecy.
Once we realize that earth, not heaven, is the reward of the righteous, much rubbish can be swept away. The idea of immortal souls spending an eternity in heaven or hell is unscriptural and dishonouring to God. It comes from paganism and gradually found its way into church doctrine in the first, second and third centuries AD. The terms “immortal soul” and “immortality of the soul” are never found in the Bible. The Bible teaches from Genesis to Revelation that God’s kingdom will be set up on earth for the benefit of mankind. The absolute necessities for a kingdom are:
- A king.
- A capital.
- A common language.
All seven requirements are taught in God’s word.
1. The king will be Jesus Christ:
“He shall be great and shall be called the son of the highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David (Jerusalem)” (Luke 1:32).
Pilate had a sign put on Jesus’ cross, which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews.” Jesus has not been king yet, because his kingdom is still in the future.
2. The co-rulers will be Jesus’ disciples and his saints (the faithful baptized):
“And Jesus said unto them (his disciples), ‘Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel’” (Matt. 19:27–28).
And for his baptized followers:
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1 Cor. 15:22–23).
3. The laws will be righteous laws:
“Give the king thy judgements O God and thy righteousness unto the King’s son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness and thy poor with judgment” (Psa. 72:1–2).
4. The land governed by Christ will be the whole earth.
This is very clear from Numbers 14, already mentioned:
“ All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” (Num. 14:21)
5. The land will have a capital.
Dozens of verses substantiate this claim, but Psalm 48 will suffice:
“Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion (Jerusalem) on the sides of the north, the city of the great king.” (Psa. 48:2)
6. The subjects of the kingdom will be from all nations:
“And it shall come to pass that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the king the Lord of hosts and to keep the feast of tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16)
This verse not only shows that people of all nations will be subjects of this kingdom, but they will have to follow its laws as well. It also prophesies Christ’s return, his kingship and his capital.
7. There will be a common language in the kingdom:
“For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent” (Zeph. 3:9).
We have noted previously that seven is God’s number of spiritual perfection, but sometimes it is hidden from view. The seven elements of Christ’s kingdom identified above comprise another example but more importantly they prove:
“The earth hath He given to the children of men” (Psa. 115:16),
“The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell therein for ever” (Psa. 37:29).
Since it is God’s mission to fill the earth with His glory (Num. 14:21), then it is His primary goal that as many as possible should be saved in order to participate in the wonderful new order. 2 Peter 3:9 reads:
“The Lord is…longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
The reign of Christ over his kingdom will last 1000 years (Rev. 20:4). This time period has become known as the Millennium, as this quote from the historian Gibbon shows:
“The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of the creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition, which was attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed to six thousand years.
By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labour and contention, which was now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the
last and general resurrection…The assurance of such a Millennium was carefully inculcated by a succession of fathers from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, who conversed with the immediate disciples of the apostles, down to Lactantius, who was preceptor to the son of Constantine. Though it might not be universally received, it appears to have been the reigning sentiment of the orthodox believers; and it seems so well adapted to the desires and apprehensions of mankind that it must have contributed, in a very considerable degree, to the progress of the Christian faith. But, when the edifice of the church was almost completed, the temporary support was laid aside. The doctrine of Christ’s reign upon earth was at first treated as a profound allegory, was considered by degrees as a doubtful and useless opinion, and was at length rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism.” ref 7
The doctrine of the Millennium was ‘laid aside’ because of the inroads of the unscriptural doctrine of immortal souls, whose rewards were either heaven or hell; nevertheless, the ‘gospel of the kingdom’ which Jesus preached was the belief of the early Christians.
To the writings of Gibbon may be added the words of Sir Isaac Newton:
“The world is inexorably moving toward a cataclysmic end, not of water but of fire, when the works of men will be burned up with fervent heat, with the wicked probably punished thereby. This is to be followed by a renewal, a Millennium, an eternal Sabbath following the Judgement Day. The final return of the Jews’ captivity at the day of judgement will lead to a righteous and flourishing kingdom on earth, to be inhabited by mortals and ruled over by Jesus Christ and those to whom he has given eternal salvation.”
The Millennium to be the kingdom of Israel restored
Every prophet of the Old Testament spoke of this wonderful kingdom to come. Jesus’ disciples showed that it was firmly implanted in their minds
when they asked him,
“Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”
“It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7)
Even though the disciples were premature in their timing, their basic understanding was correct. The kingdom will be a time of healing, a time of peace and righteousness. Even the animals will be at peace with one another (Isa. 11:7).
The gospel briefly is the “good news concerning the kingdom of God” (Luke 8:1), but participation in the good time to come is conditional. People can either accept the good news and do something about it, or reject it. The choice, dear reader, is up to you. Having heard the gospel a believer must then take the next step.
Many people, having heard this good news, perhaps even believing it, do not follow through to the next step of baptism. (Baby sprinkling is not baptism, because hearing and belief must come first.) Baptism becomes a stumbling block for many, as pride prevents them from following God’s command. Such an attitude is unfortunate, because there is a deep significance in baptism, connecting it to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, which makes it essential to salvation.
As we have seen already, the Bible is a book of many symbols. The earth represents people, (Mark 4:3–20) but in the earth are many precious stones. (Rev. 21:19–20). For a gem to shine in all its glory it has to be taken out of the earth, inspected in the light of the sun, which corresponds to the light of God’s word, and washed in water, symbolic of baptism. Even then, what might appear to be a high quality gem may, upon close inspection, have imperfections. Similarly the trials of life can reveal imperfections in the character of baptized people, who then may fall away from the truth of God’s word and return to the earth whence they came.
Tumbling gems in water or polishing improves the quality of the stones by removing rough edges. Using the same comparison, faithful brethren and sisters of Christ improve their character by associating one with the other, immersed in the water of life, which is God’s word. Not all gems are of equal quality, and not all of Christ’s brethren and sisters are given the same number of talents. What talents we have however, must be put to the best possible use. This involves effort on our part, obedience to the commands God has given us in His word, and a close observance of the signs of the times, which indicate Christ’s near return. Failure to be on our guard will ultimately result in our being rejected, as in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14–28).
There is a final process with natural gems – close inspection and faceting. The counterpart of this for the brethren and sisters of Christ is the judgment seat. Only those whose character is suitable will be selected to shine forth in immortal glory.
What choice will you make? The fact that you have read this far means you may have the qualities of character God can use in His kingdom. We have mentioned numerous times so far that we are living in “the last days of the gentile times”. What this means is that the sad state of affairs in this present “kingdom of men”, or “gentile times”, will be replaced by God’s kingdom, whether you desire to be a part of it or not, for Jesus prophesied:
“Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the gentiles, until the times of the gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).
As both Gibbon and Newton correctly interpreted from Bible prophecy, gentile times of 6000 years will be followed by a “Sabbath of rest” of 1000 years of peace, that is, the Millennium.
Will you put in the effort and search out the light of God’s truth for yourself, or will you be like the vast majority of mankind who prefer darkness? Should you need assistance we will gladly send a Bible Correspondence Course and Bible reading plan. Simply contact the librarian via the form on the Contact page. Perhaps it is possible for you to attend a Christadelphian Bible presentation or seminar?
The decision is now up to you. In the words of Moses to Israel:
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good and death and evil…Therefore choose life that both thee and thy seed shall live” (Deut. 30:15, 19)