The Postponed Kingdom of Christ(?)
Advocates of Postponement theology believe that “When Christ appeared to Jewish people the next thing in the order of revelation, as it then stood, should have been the setting up of the Davidic kingdom.” — “The kingdom of heaven announced as ‘at hand’ by John the Baptist, by the King Himself, and by the twelve, and attested by mighty works [was] morally rejected. — The final official refection is later. (Matt. 27 -31-37).”
In Matthew 4:17, Jesus began His ministry with a call to repentance and a declaration that His kingdom was at hand. This is the point, it is claimed, where Jesus was offering to restore and set up His kingdom. The conditions for the restoration were repentance and the acceptance of Jesus as their King. The Jewish leaders refused to accept His offer and subsequently at Matthew 11:19, Jesus is said to have accepted their rejection. Being rejected, “the rejected King announces judgment (Matt. 11:20-24).” At this juncture Jesus is said to have turned “... from the rejecting nation and offers, not the kingdom, but rest and service to such . . . as are conscious of need (Matt 11:25-30).” It is at this point also “our Lord intimates the formation of a new family of faith ... which receives whosoever will (Matt 12:49,50).” It is further believed, it was following His rejection “the rejected King announced His approaching crucifixion, resurrection, departure, and return.” Matthew 11:19 is said to be a “pivotal point in the ministry of Jesus.”
Is the author of these statements suggesting that if the Jews had accepted Christ’s supposed offer of an immediate restoration of the Davidic kingdom that there would have been no “crucifixion, resurrection, departure and return of Christ?” and that there would have been no “formation of a new family of faith?” Such deductions make the whole promised and prommised plan of redemption a possible impossibility from the time of Adam’s sin to the hour when, on the cross with His heel bruised and the serpent’s head crushed, Jesus said triumphantly “It is finished”
Again and again Jesus verified that His death and related experiences were a fulfilment of prophecies concerning His first coming to earth. Had He not gone to the cross the inerrant, infallible, prophetic scriptures could not have been fulfilled (See Matthew 26:51-54).
Here we might ask the question; Since Jesus knew from the beginning that “He was come from God, and went to God,” and since the yet unveiled calling out of the church kingdom was no secret to Him, was He deceiving the people by offering an at-hand restored Davidic kingdom on earth at the beginning of His ministry? If He was telling them then something He knew would not, or could not, happen at that time, can we be sure now that the next thing in the order of events — the promise of the church meeting Jesus in the air will actually happen or will He, because of His disappointment in an apostate Church, come up with some other “yet-locked-up” plan for the next one or two thousand years? Might He again postpone the promised “... restitution of all things” when He comes the second time? (Acts 3:19-21)? Will He fail then to “build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down” (Acts 15:14-16) — just because so many professing believers do not believe it can or will ever happen?
It would seem without question that since the one and only way of redeeming a lost, groaning humanity and a cursed, groaning earth was designed already in the counsels of eternity — by the Triune Family of eternity, that there could not at that time have been an unredeemed literal kingdom on earth, neither could there be neither a present church kingdom nor a future kingdom of redeemed saints to reign with Christ on a redeemed earth. (Revelation 5:9,10; 20:4-6). When Christ bore our sins (the settlement for them) in His own body on the tree He also bore the curse of earth (a crown of thorns) in His own body on the tree. Romans 8:19-23 informs us that both groaning saints and a groaning creation are waiting in anticipation for the finalizing of Christ’s work of redemption. Without the “Lamb that was slain” none of this could have been, nor could yet be a fulfilled possibility or reality.
John the Baptist understood perfectly the purpose of Christ’s first coming into this world when, at the beginning of his ministry, before Jesus began His ministry, he introduced Jesus to the multitudes as the “Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29,36). Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8b) He was not the Lamb slain from the time in His ministry when a few false religious leaders rejected Him, nor from some given time during the ministry of the Apostle Paul when a few Jewish leaders rejected his ministry! Calvary was not an after thought in the mind of God, nor in the undying purpose of the Son of God. In His first coming into the world, Jesus came to die. He had this commandment from His Father (John 10:17,18). He never declared that He had a commandment to set up a literal earthly kingdom at that time. To Pilate He declared that “now is my kingdom not from hence.” Would it not have been a divine contradiction for John to have announced one purpose of Christ’s coming to earth, just before He began His ministry and then for Jesus to announce an altogether different purpose at the beginning of His ministry? “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” so He could be “put to death in the flesh” for us. Without Calvary there could have been no kingdom involving sinful redeemed humanity of any kind at any time!
The kingdom that Jesus said would be taken from the Jews and given to another people (Matthew 21:33-43) could not have been the literal earthly Davidic kingdom for the simple reason that if it had been then the kingdom given to another people would have been that same literal kingdom.
Rather than offering to set up the supposed literal Davidic kingdom on earth, as “the next thing in the order of events” Jesus refused to respond to the pressure of the misunderstanding, enthused multitudes who wanted to “take him by force and make a king” (John 6:15). In Luke 19, because the multitudes mistakenly “thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear,” Jesus set the record straight with a parable in which He made it clear that His literal kingdom on earth was not to be expected at that time, but that He would first be going away into a far country and that there He would receive for Himself a kingdom and then return again with judgment upon His rejectors and then to reign with those who were faithful to Him in his gone-away period (Luke 19:11-27).
In John 6:15 near the beginning of His ministry, and again in Luke 19 near the close of His ministry, Jesus could have easily seized the opportunity to set up His kingdom, “dash them like a potter's vessel,” and reign victoriously — if that had been the next thing in the divine order. God had never previously lost a battle for Jerusalem and the reestablishing of Israel as a national power in the world when He willed to do so even though enemy opposition at times was seemingly overwhelming. In Isaiah 46:10,11 God declares “my counsel shall stand... I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass.” God never has been, nor ever will be embarrassed over failure to fulfil His purposes and His promises “in due time” and in the proper order of events.
Because “in due time” Jesus fulfilled His Father’s commandment to die (John 10:17,18), God will in due time - in the proper order of events show Him as “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” (1Timothy 6:15, Revelation 19:15 with context)
The postponement theory is closely related to, and is in fact, an integral part of the faith-only, unconditional, false eternal security system of theology.
Because John the Baptist and Jesus both began their ministry with a call to repentance, and since Jesus listed other specific conditions in the Sermon on the Mount as prerequisites for becoming a part of His kingdom these unconditional salvation promoters claim that “the Sermon on the Mount in its primary application gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the church.” The Sermon on the Mount is labeled as “legal ground” teaching in contrast to the “Gospel of the Grace of God, the Gospel which Paul revealed.” Contrary to what Jesus and the apostles taught, postponement advocates teach that obtaining salvation, in the grace of God era, is by faith only and “is absolutely unconditional... final and irreversible.” They deny that there is any such thing as a Lordship salvation which they say “is attended by many distortions and confusions.”
Understandably Lordship salvation is not compatible with their “salvation by faith plus nothing” theology. But Lordship salvation was not at all confusing to the Philippian jailor, when in answer to his question, “what must I do to be saved” Paul and Silas gave him a Lordship salvation condition. He and all his household responded favorable and were saved. (Acts 16:30-34) It is not at all confusing to believe that when Jesus comes again “in flaming fire’ He will take “vengeance on thse who know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) or that He is the “author of eternal salvation to all those that obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9) or that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Those faith only, unconditional security, postponed kingdom advocates who teach that the condition of repentance belonged only to the offered but rejected kingdom era and that it is no longer applicable because “we are now in the gospel of the grace of God, the Gospel which Paul revealed” era, should read again Paul’s testimony to the Ephesian elders near the close of his life’s ministry. To both Jews and Gentiles he had faithfully preached REPENTANCE toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)
And how about our Lord’s message to the Churches in Revelation 2 and 3? Five of the churches were told to “Repent — or else!” They were never told to “only believe — or else”! Didn’t Jesus know that these bad-works churches He called to repentance were now in the era of the gospel of the grace of God!?
Maybe these unconditional salvation, postponed kingdomites should send a delegation to heaven to inform Jesus of the mistake He made in demanding “repentance — or else” from those bad-works churches after the dispensation of the Gospel of the grace God was ushered in!!
When the due time arrives for the Stone cut out of the mountain to destroy world empires and become a mountain that fills the whole earth, that Stone Personality will not be stopped or hindered, for even a moment, by any opposing political power or rejecting corrupt religious system. God’s order of events in the proper order of time will be fulfilled (Daniel 2:35,44).
The Sermon on the Mount preached by Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, is His formula for our heavenly citizenship during the church kingdom age, by relegating the sermon to another age these “wrongly-dividing-the-word” dispensationalists have disavowed the holy mandate of nonresistance for the church as well as many holiness-of-life requirements for our day. To invalidate the Sermon on the Mount for the church in this age is an insult and iniquity against the Preacher of the Sermon- the very Son of God. The climax of the assurance only to those who hear and do his sayings. To those who hear and do not, the ultimatum is given that they are foolishly building an house that will have a great fall some day. The great fall doubtless refers to the fall in judgement from which there will never be a rising again.
So, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Jesus).
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10,11).
Note- Most of the quotations in this article are from the footnotes of the Scofield Reference Bible. The quote on Lordship salvation is from Christian Destiny monthly release. “The Gospel of the grace of God, the Gospel which Paul preached”- as being in contrast to Christ's preaching of repentance is from a friend who argues for the postponement theory.
Aaron M. Shank