God’s Kingdom—The Only Hope
ALL sorts of troubles plague humankind. But there is a solution. What is needed is a righteous world government that will administer earth’s affairs in a loving, considerate way for the benefit of all. Would you not expect that solution to be the theme of Jesus’ teaching?
It was. “The Kingdom was the dominant theme of his teaching,” notes the religious journal Christianity and Crisis, and it adds: “No other subject was so much on his mind or so central to his message. It is mentioned over a hundred times in the Gospel narratives.” Yes, Jesus said: “I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:43) He taught his followers to pray for God’s kingdom to come.—Matt. 6:9, 10.
What is God’s kingdom? How will it come to solve world troubles?
A VITAL BIBLE TRUTH
Most people know that a king is a ruler, and that a king’s kingdom includes the domain or realm over which he rules. So it should not be difficult to comprehend that God’s kingdom will be a rule or government over the whole earth, administered by his own Son, Jesus Christ. This kingdom of God will replace all governments on earth.
For 100 years this Bible truth about the Kingdom has been emphasized in The Watchtower. In fact, since 1939 the magazine’s official name has been “The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom.” The December 1881 issue said: “The setting up of this kingdom will, of course, involve the overthrow of all the kingdoms of earth, as they are all—even the best of them—founded on injustice and unequal rights and the oppression of many and favor of the few—as we read: ‘It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever.’”—Dan. 2:44.
However, to most persons, including professed Christians, this Bible truth is unknown. Check it out. As you have occasion, ask people: ‘What is God’s kingdom, and how will it come?’ You may be surprised that there is so much confusion on the subject, and so little understanding. Why is this?
RELIGIOUS LEADERS TO BLAME
It is because religious leaders themselves are confused about the Kingdom. An editorial in The Church Quarterly Review admits:
“We have been in danger for some time of being swamped by the rising tide of theories and counter-theories as to what the really essential idea of the Kingdom is.”
Due largely to the religious confusion, churches have said little on the subject. Francis P. Miller, a prominent Presbyterian, lamented:
“The silence of most Christians about the Kingdom of God is one of the greatest tragedies of our time.” So he wrote in conclusion: “As a layman I plead with our theologians and with our clergy: Tell us about the Kingdom of God; explain to us what it is and how it is to be related to the world of our time . . . The need is urgent. Our theologians and clergy must speak in words laymen can understand about the Kingdom of God that is at hand.”—Christianity and Crisis, June 13, 1960.
But have they? The ignorance and confusion of most persons regarding God’s kingdom reveals that they have not. Think for a moment about the ideas that you may have heard people express about the Kingdom. Do they reflect the following viewpoints the churches have taught?
For a long time it was taught that the Roman Catholic Church was, in effect, the kingdom of God on earth. But during the early part of this century, The Catholic Encyclopedia (1910) said under “Kingdom of God”:
“The ‘kingdom’ means not so much a goal to be attained or a place . . . it is rather a tone of mind (Luke, xviii,:20-21), it stands for an influence which must permeate men’s minds if they would be one with Him and attain to His ideals.”
Does that view sound familiar? It has been very popular and has been expressed by many church leaders. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention of 1925 put it this way:
“The Kingdom of God is the reign of God in the heart and life of the individual in every human relationship, and in every form and institution of organized society. . . . The Kingdom of God will be complete when every thought and will of man shall be brought into captivity to the will of Christ.”
However, there is another popular view. The churches also have identified the kingdom of God with human political efforts at solving world troubles. Catholic priest Martin K. Hopkins, in discussing the prayer Jesus taught, writes: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This explains how God’s kingdom is to come eventually. It demands looking beyond the present day and working for the restoration of all human institutions in Christ.”
What about these various ideas? Does the Kingdom in any way depend on human efforts to Christianize institutions and peoples? Is the Kingdom a “reign of God in the heart and life of the individual”?
The above views regarding the kingdom of God, which are held by many people, are incorrect. They are not in accord with the Bible. And in recent times this has been admitted by church leaders themselves. The Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, edited by James Hastings, states:
“There is hardly any trace in the Epistles of the mediæval idea that the Church on earth was the Kingdom of God. And the idea of some modern theological writers, that this world as we know it will develop under Christian influence until it becomes the Kingdom, is quite alien to their thought.”
Although church leaders commonly used to refer to the Kingdom as being a ‘tone of mind,’ or ‘rule in one’s heart,’ this view is now generally rejected, as The Church Quarterly Review notes:
“Some of us can remember the days when this question involved no difficulty at all. The Kingdom was simply the rule of God in the individual heart and life . . . Today that simplicity has become no more than the note of an outmoded journalism or of platform politics.”
In contrast with the church’s incorrect views, however, the Kingdom message proclaimed through the columns of The Watchtower has proved to be in harmony with the Bible. Yes, the Scriptures clearly show that God’s kingdom is a reign by God exercised through his Son, Jesus Christ. This rule was foretold in the Bible in these words: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder . . . Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” (Isa. 9:6, 7, Authorized Version) God’s heavenly Kingdom government is at hand. Soon, it will overthrow and replace all human governments.—Dan. 2:44.
THE CHRISTIAN POSITION
So, what is the proper Christian position toward this system, which God’s kingdom is to replace? The Bible explains that the present world is under the rule of Satan. (Matt. 4:9; John 12:31; 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4) Long ago, drawing attention to this truth, the December 1882 issue of the Watch Tower magazine explained:
“If we see clearly that present governments are those of the ‘prince of this world’ and must all be shattered and give place to the Kingdom of God for which we pray, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ then we shall have no further desire to be mixed up with them in any way.”
In contrast with Christendom’s churches The Watchtower has for the past 100 years shown its readers the proper Christian position, as stated by Jesus: “You are no part of the world.” It has repeatedly emphasized Jesus’ teaching: “My kingdom is no part of this world.” (John 15:19; 18:36) So, rather than getting mixed up in this world’s political affairs, true Christians have been wholehearted supporters of God’s Kingdom government.—John 6:15.
WHAT GOD’S KINGDOM WILL BRING
What would you expect from a government by God? First of all, you would surely expect its ruler to be just, kind and sympathetic. And Jesus Christ has proved himself to be such a person. (Matt. 11:28-30) Under God’s direction, Christ has selected persons with the same qualities to rule in heaven with him. (Luke 22:28-30; Rev. 5:9, 10; 20:6) One of these men wrote to another who shared this same hope: “If we go on enduring, we shall also rule together as kings.”—2 Tim. 2:12.
Certainly we would expect the reign of these kings to be one of righteousness and peace, bringing happiness and health to all mankind—its subjects on earth. Christ demonstrated his God-given power to cure all forms of sickness when he was on earth; he even raised the dead! Under Kingdom rule he will again exercise these miraculous powers to the blessing and benefit of every person on earth! In time, the entire earth will be transformed into a beautiful paradise.—Luke 23:43; Rev. 21:4.
Surely God’s kingdom is the only hope for realizing the blessings for which we all so earnestly long!
[Blurb on page 19]
God’s heavenly Kingdom government is at hand. Soon it will overthrow and replace all human governments [End Blurb]
[Box/Picture on page 17]
“My kingdom is no part of this world.”—Jesus, John 18:36.
“And the government shall be upon his shoulder . . . Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”—Isa. 9:6, 7, “Authorized Version.”
“God’s kingdom is to come by . . . working for the restoration of all human institutions in Christ.”—A Catholic Priest
“The Kingdom of God is the reign of God in the heart and life of the individual.”—Southern Baptist Conv.