The Study of Scripture
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Studying, Proclaiming the Word
Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2)
The Scriptures given to man through man reveal the mind of God. And God’s thoughts and ways are invariably quite different than man’s thoughts and ways. God thinks and does things from an infinite perspective, on an entirely different plane from that of finite, fallen man.
The difference between the infinite and the finite in this respect, in Scripture, is compared to the difference between the heavens and the earth. God states,
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8, 9)
The earth, the home of finite, fallen man, rests under a curse (Genesis 3:17-19). But the heavens — the heavens beyond our solar system (and galaxy), the heavens in which God dwells — are far removed from the realm covered by the curse. And God uses a contrast between the two in order to show the wide, unbridgeable gulf which separates His thoughts and ways from man’s thoughts and ways.
(In the preceding respect, note that the future destruction of the heavens [along with the earth, followed by the creation of a new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:7-13)], must be thought of only in connection with the one solar system in which man lives — the sun with its nine revolving planets.
In Genesis 1:2, the sin of Satan evidently resulted in the sun being darkened, producing darkness throughout the solar system [Genesis 1:2-5, 14-19]. Thus, in a larger sense, Satan’s act apparently affected not only the earth but the entire solar system as well. And God’s restoration of the material creation in Genesis 1:2bff involved at least a restoration of the sun and the earth within this solar system. The remaining part of the solar system [the other planets] is not dealt with in this respect in Scripture, one way or the other.
Scripture deals with the earth, its moon, and the sun, not the other planets in the solar system [though, as previously stated, they would have been affected by the darkening and subsequent restoration of the sun in Genesis 1:2-5, 14-19].
[Note that “light” was brought into existence on day one (vv. 3-5) prior to the restoration of the sun on day four (vv. 14-19). Thus, light of this nature, illuminating the earth, can exist apart from the sun; and, the matter is apparently as scientists often view light in connection with the sun today — as enveloping the sun, not as an intrinsic part of the sun].
Satan [with his angels] presently resides in the heavens within this solar system; and these would be the heavens in relation to the earth rather than the other planets — heavens from which Satan will one day be cast [Revelation 12:4], heavens that will have to be cleansed before Christ and His co-heirs can reign from this realm [Job 15:15], heavens that will one day be destroyed with the earth [2 Peter 3:7-12], and heavens that will then be created anew with the earth [2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1].
In the light of man’s ever-advancing science pertaining to the heavens [our solar system, our galaxy, and other galaxies which lie beyond] and man thinking about the possibility of his being able to travel out into parts of this realm [far beyond where he has already gone], an interesting thought, a paradox, though tragic in the light of existing conditions in Christendom today, exists about the whole of the matter.
Unsaved man on the earth has no calling to go out into the heavens; but, nonetheless, he expresses a desire to go anyway. Saved man on the earth, on the other hand, has a calling to one day go out into the heavens — the heavens associated with this earth during the Messianic Era, and the heavens associated with the universe at large during the ages beyond. But he, unlike unsaved man, expresses no desire to go.
The latter though results largely from his lack of knowledge surrounding the subject. Even though this is the primary purpose for his salvation — to occupy a regal position in relation to this earth during the coming age and exercise regality out in the universe during the ages that follow — in the main, he knows little to nothing about it. And the reason that this is the case can be seen on every hand.
The purpose for man’s salvation [which has to do with the purpose for his creation and fall], with rare exception, is not being taught in the churches of the land today — liberal and fundamental alike. And, as a result, though unsaved man manifests an interest in that which God has no interest in [going out into, exploring, and colonizing the heavens], saved man knows little to nothing about that which God is very interested in [saved man going out into and occupying regal positions in the heavens].)
Because of the vast difference that separates the thoughts and ways of the infinite God in the heavens far beyond our solar system from those of finite, fallen man on the earth, man’s thoughts and ways have been left completely out of the equation when it comes to making God’s will and purpose known. Man’s commission in this respect is very simple.
Man has been commanded, “Preach the Word . . . .” (2 Timothy 4:2). He has been commanded to proclaim that which God has stated about the matter, not that which he thinks or might like to state about the matter. He has been commanded to proclaim that which has forever been “settled in heaven” and given to man, which has emanated from an infinite, omniscient mind. He has been commanded to proclaim that which is immeasurably “higher” than anything man could possibly come up with in an eternity of time, separated to the extent of God’s separation of the heavens from the earth (Psalm 12:6; 119:89; 138:2).
Thus, this restricts the content of preaching solely to that which God has revealed in His Word. Man is simply to proclaim that which God has given to man through man.
And what man may think about the matter — either about that which God has revealed, or about proclaiming that which God has revealed — is of no moment whatsoever. We are dealing with the Creator on the one hand and the creature on the other, with the infinite and with the finite, with the One who can’t fall and with the one who has fallen.
The Word has been given, and the instructions concerning this Word are very clear. It is this Word and this Word alone which is to be proclaimed.
Preach the Word
The word translated “preach” in 2 Timothy 4:2 is kerusso in the Greek text. Kerusso simply means “to proclaim,” whether to one person or to a multitude; and the proclamation of the Word (stating that which the Word has to say) can be done by any Christian at any time.
Kerusso does not itself carry the thought of what type of message is to be proclaimed. That, rather, is derived from the contextual usage of the word. Kerusso, for example, is the word used for the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom by John the Baptist, Jesus, the Twelve, and the Seventy (Matthew 3:1; 4:17; 10:7; Luke 10:1ff); it is the word used for the proclamation of “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24; cf. v. 25); it is the word used for Paul’s proclamation of that aspect of the gospel associated with “the mystery” that had been revealed to him (1 Corinthians 9:27; Galatians 2:2); and it is the word used relating Christ’s proclamation (or announcement) to “the spirits in prison” following His resurrection (1 Peter 3:18, 19).
In 2 Timothy 4:2 kerusso is used referring to the whole of the written Word, though in a context where things surrounding the Word of the Kingdom are being more specifically singled out and dealt with.
Man, in this respect, is responsible for proclaiming the whole of Scripture, “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), which contextually, in chapter twenty in the book of Acts, is seen in two realms:
1) The gospel of the grace of God (v. 24)
2) The kingdom of God (v. 25)
Man has been saved (dealt with concerning that which is seen in “the gospel of the grace of God”) for a purpose (to be dealt with concerning that which is seen in a message pertaining to “the kingdom of God,” referred to in other texts as “the word of the kingdom” [Matthew 13:19-21] or “the gospel of the glory of Christ” [2 Corinthians 4:4, NASB]).
And this is shown at the very outset of Scripture. A skeletal framework for the whole of Scripture is given at the beginning (Genesis 1:1-2:3 [see Chapters 3, 4 in this book]), and all subsequent Scripture must, after some fashion, rest on this skeletal framework.
This skeletal framework takes a person from a Creation, through a Ruin of that creation, through a Restoration of the ruined creation, and then through a Rest that follows the restoration. It takes one from “the gospel of the grace of God” (a ruined creation necessitating restoration [salvation, redemption], foreshadowed by God’s work on day one of the restoration) to “the kingdom of God” (to that which is foreshadowed by God’s work throughout the remaining five days, with a following day of rest, foreshadowed by God resting on the seventh day).
Note an illustration of proclaiming “all the counsel of God” from Hebrews chapter eleven, in keeping with both the skeletal framework in Genesis and the structure and manner in which God has revealed His Word to man.
In Hebrews 11:4-10 four individuals who acted “by faith” are named in the order in which they appear in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. These four alone appear in the opening part of Hebrews chapter eleven (save for the mention of Isaac and Jacob [attention is called to both in v. 9, but they are not dealt with until later in the chapter, in vv. 17-21]). And, though attention could have been called to numerous other individuals who acted “by faith” throughout this 2,000-year period (twenty generations — from Adam to Abraham that cover the first 2,000 years of human history), these four alone are singled out and dealt with in these opening verses.
Why these four alone? The answer is simple. Through these four individuals, God could not only set forth great spiritual truths surrounding “faith” but He could also present a dispensational framework of events that would not only be in keeping with that which is set forth concerning “all the counsel of God” in Acts 20:24-27 but would also be in keeping with that which is taught by viewing the whole scope of events in Genesis 1:1-2:3.
Both the good news surrounding the grace of God (cf. Genesis 1:1-5) and the continuing good news surrounding the coming glory of Christ (cf. Genesis 1:6-2:3) are shown in type by/through Abel’s experiences; and different continuing facets of “the kingdom of God” are then shown typically by Enoch’s, Noah’s, and Abraham’s experiences.
As previously noted, there are two aspects to the account of Abel’s offering seen in Genesis chapter four. And both aspects are dealt with in the book of Hebrews — the first in chapter eleven, and the second in chapter twelve.
In chapter eleven — as in subsequent teachings surrounding Enoch, Noah, and Abraham — that which is revealed concerning Abel’s offering would have to do with teachings surrounding a different facet of “the kingdom of God” than is seen in chapter twelve.
Abel brought an offering to the Lord. Abel brought lambs from his flock; and these lambs had been slain (Genesis 4:4), allowing death and shed blood to be introduced into the type. But at this point in the type, death and shed blood are not really central features in the primary interpretation of the type (though death and shed blood would be central features in the other part of the type [from chapter twelve], or they could be seen in secondary applications in chapter eleven as well).
Rather, the primary interpretation of this part of the type revolves around obedience to God’s command and concerns Cain and Abel bringing that which evidently were offerings of the first-fruits. In this respect, Abel would have been required to bring an offering from his flock, and Cain would have been required to bring an offering from the field.
(For additional information on Cain’s and Abel’s offerings and that which followed, refer to the author’s book, Had Ye Believed Moses, Chapter 10.)
And the preceding would really be primary to understanding the place which that which is stated about Abel fits into the overall type. The primary understanding of the beginning point, in this respect, in this overall type, would move beyond the point of salvation by grace and have to do with obedience or disobedience among the saved.
Then, the other aspect of Abel’s offering is that which is associated directly with death and shed blood rather than with an offering of the first-fruits. This part of the type though doesn’t have to do directly with the lambs that Abel slew and presented to the Lord, though it is introduced by the death and shed blood of these lambs. Rather, this subsequent part of the type has to do with Cain slaying Abel. This part of the type has to do with Abel himself, as it were, being the offering (cf. Genesis 4:8-10; Hebrews 12:24).
Death and shed blood are seen in both parts of the type, but only in the latter part are they (death and shed blood) associated with the primary interpretation of the whole of Genesis chapter four in the light of that which is stated in both Hebrews 11:4 and Hebrews 12:24. Only in the latter part of the type are Christ’s death and shed blood seen apart from secondary applications (that which is introduced by the death and shed blood of lambs in Hebrews 11:4, and then seen by/through the death of Abel himself in Hebrews 12:24).
Thus, the latter part of the type has to do with the same beginning point which is seen throughout Scripture — a type that foreshadows Christ’s death and has to do with teachings, in this respect, surrounding the simple gospel of the grace of God. It has to do with teachings surrounding man passing “from death to life” so that teachings in the remainder of the overall type can then be seen.
In Hebrews chapter eleven, following that which is stated about Abel, Enoch is seen being removed from the earth alive before the Flood (Genesis 5:21-24), Noah is seen being protected on the earth in an ark, passing safely through the Flood (Genesis 6-8), and a new beginning is then seen in the actions of both Noah and Abraham following the Flood (Genesis 9:1ff; 12:1ff).
That’s the complete type. And this overall type points to an overall antitype in which,
1) God's acceptability of man, as seen particularly in Hebrews chapters ten and eleven, is always “by faith.” “Without faith” it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6a). This would hold true for both the saved and the unsaved.
Man is saved “by grace . . . through faith [by believing on the Son]” (Ephesians 2:8). Death and shed blood must enter into the picture, allowing acceptability “by faith” to be possible (introduced through Abel’s offering of lambs, but seen more specifically through Abel himself being slain, which foreshadowed Christ being slain 4,000 years later).
Then, saved man is to live “by faith” (Hebrews 10:38). The matter must be exactly as set forth in Romans 1:17 (cf. Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:11) — “ . . . from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (in the antitype of that which is set forth in Hebrews chapter eleven, beginning with that which is seen through Abel acting “by faith”).
2) The redeemed one new man “in Christ” is to be removed from the earth before the coming Tribulation (seen in Enoch being removed before the Flood).
3) Israel is to go through the Tribulation (seen in Noah going through the Flood).
4) There is to be a new beginning following the Tribulation, the Messianic Era (seen in the new beginning, first through Noah and then through Abraham, who “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”).
The whole of the Word — “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” [Matthew 4:4] — is to be proclaimed by man. And this Word is to be proclaimed after the structure and manner in which it was written. The Word has a dispensational structure, and much of it is highly typical in nature (and the latter, by/through Scriptures own internal evidence and testimony, extends to the whole of biblical history [see Chapter 8 in this book]).
Thus, proclaiming the Word has to do with correct divisions, drawing from the types and antitypes, drawing from the parables, etc. In this respect, one must know the Word, for the more one knows about the Word, the better equipped he will be to properly handle and proclaim the Word.
But above all, the Word must be proclaimed after the manner in which it was given, regardless of what man in his finite wisdom may think about the matter. He is to proclaim the Word exactly as the infinite God gave it, which will require long hours of study on his part, comparing Scripture with Scripture.
He, in the words of Scripture itself, is to simply “Preach the Word . . . .” He is to speak, “not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13).
The matter could not be stated plainer, though, more often than not, the instructions go unheeded by those called to proclaim the Word.
The Gospel of the Grace of God
The message surrounding the gospel of the grace of God is given in very simple terms in Scripture. In fact, it is so simple that man often misses it. And any person who misses the one true message given by the infinite God and draws from his own finite wisdom and knowledge invariably — he can’t help but do so — ends up with a corrupted salvation message to proclaim.
The overall key thought in the salvation message is the fact that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Note death and shed blood introduced not only in revelation surrounding Abel in Genesis chapter four but also previously in God’s provision for man following the entrance of sin in chapter three as well (v. 21).
Then, the one key word in the salvation message is “believe” (Acts 16:31). John 3:16 is often referred to as “the gospel in a nutshell” by individuals seeking to draw attention to the overall salvation message stated in its simplest form in Scripture.
“God,” because of His love for fallen man — created in His image, after His likeness — for a revealed purpose (Genesis 1:26-28),
. . . gave his only begotten Son [1 Corinthians 15:3], that whosoever believes in Him [Acts 16:31] should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16b)
Everything, in its entirety, to procure man’s salvation was done by Another. It had to be done by Another, for the one being redeemed was “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), totally incapable of acting on his own behalf. Christ is the One who died, Christ is the One who performed the work to procure man’s salvation, and God is satisfied with His Son’s finished work.
When Christ cried out from the Cross in “a loud voice” near the ninth hour, “It is finished” (Luke 23:46; John 19:30), He used one word in the Greek text, Tetelestai, which could be better translated, “It has been finished.” Tetelestai is a perfect tense usage of teleo, which means “to bring to an end,” “to complete.” Christ’s work, as shown by the perfect usage of teleo, was completed during His actions up to that point in time, with the result of His work existing at that time in a finished state.
All of the work surrounding man’s redemption that Christ had come to perform had, at that point in time, been completed. This is the announcement that Christ made, in “a loud voice,” and, consequently, there was then no longer any need for Him to continue His sufferings on the Cross. Thus, immediately after He had cried out, “It has been finished,” He “gave up the spirit [lit., ‘He breathed out’ (He expired)]” (Luke 23:46).
The work of Christ at Calvary, from the point He cried out, “It has been finished,” has existed in exactly the same state in which He proclaimed it to exist at that time. It has existed as a work completed in past time, which extends into present time in a finished state, which will extend into all the ages comprising eternity ahead in this same finished state. Nothing can ever be added, and nothing can ever be taken away. That is to say, nothing can ever change relative to Christ’s finished work at Calvary.
That’s the way God’s procurement of man’s salvation had to occur, that’s the only way it can presently exist, and that’s the only way it can exist throughout the Messianic Era and the subsequent ages of eternity. Because of Christ’s finished work, salvation is extended to man “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1); and apart from Christ’s finished work, there is no salvation.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already [lit., ‘has already been condemned’ (a perfect tense)], because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
(The perfect tense used in the Greek text of John 3:18 points to the fact that the unbeliever “has already been condemned,” with the reason given — “because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” And present circumstances surrounding the unbeliever in this respect will remain unchanged, apart from a conversion wherein belief is exercised.)
It is utterly impossible — and foolish to even consider — that finite man, “dead in trespasses and sins,” could add one thing to or take one thing from the finished work of the infinite God through His Son. All man can possibly do is simply receive, by believing on the Son, that which has already been done on his behalf.
1) The Type and Antitype
The truth concerning man’s salvation as being entirely by/through divine intervention is shown in the opening five verses of Genesis, in the original type, in the very first type in Scripture. This truth is set forth at the very beginning, engraved, as it were, in stone; and it can never change.
In these verses there is a Creation, a Ruin of the creation, and the beginning of the Restoration of the ruined creation. And to effect this beginning part of the restoration, the Spirit of God moved, God spoke, and light came into existence (Genesis 1:1-5).
In relation to man in a type-antitype framework, this is the point where the Word of God divides between man’s soul and man’s spirit (Hebrews 4:12; cf. Genesis 1:4), allowing light to exist where only darkness had previously existed (2 Corinthians 4:6; Colossians 1:13).
Man’s spirit is saved. He now possesses spiritual life; and his spirit, at this point, is separated from his unsaved soul — involving action of the triune Godhead, a bringing forth from above, the Spirit breathing life into the one having no life, which results in man passing “from death to life.”
Then, the other five days in the Genesis restoration account have to do with redeemed man’s soul, which is presently in the process of being saved. And to bring about man’s complete restoration — “spirit and soul and body” (1 Thessalonians 5:23) — there has to be a continued action of the triune Godhead, a continued bringing forth from above through a continued breathing in of life (ref., Chapter 4 in this book).
But remaining within the subject matter at hand, having to do with the salvation that we presently possess and the simplicity of the salvation message, everything in the Genesis account was accomplished entirely by/through divine intervention. The earth, covered with water and shrouded in darkness, was totally incapable of ever existing in any other state apart from divine intervention. And that’s the way it is with man “dead in trespasses and sins” today, totally incapable of ever existing in any other state apart from divine intervention.
Divine intervention had to occur in relation to the ruined creation in Genesis, and divine intervention has to occur in relation to the ruined creation today. Genesis 1:1-5 forms the original, unchangeable type, and all subsequent types have to follow and be in complete accord with that which was established at the beginning (e.g., Genesis 3:21; 4:2-5, 8-10; 22:1-14; Exodus 12:1-29; 17:6; Numbers 21:5-9). And there can be no possible change of any kind in the antitype (Matthew 12:40; John 3:14), for the antitype must follow the type in exact detail. That which is true in this respect in one must be true in the other.
In order to see the salvation message (or any other biblical message) — in its pristine simplicity and completeness — one must begin where God began and view the matter exactly as God set it forth in His Word. One must begin in Genesis and successive books, with the types, and move from there to the antitype, comparing Scripture with Scripture.
The main reason confusion exists in matters surrounding salvation (or any other biblical doctrine) is man’s failure to begin where God began and study Scripture after the fashion in which it was revealed and recorded. God has given His Word to man after a fashion that is highly typical for an evident reason.
The various types surrounding man’s salvation, along with the antitype, must be studied together in order to see and understand exactly what God would have man see and understand in relation to salvation as it has been set forth in His unchangeable Word.
And putting it all together, a person will always come up with the same simple teaching. Viewing the antitype in the light of all the various types on the subject — viewing the antitype in the light of the complete Old Testament word picture — will always reveal exactly the same thing Jonah stated immediately prior to his deliverance from the place of death, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
2) The Question, The Answer
Christ has completed the work that God required, and God is satisfied with His Son’s finished work. This is the reason Paul and Silas could respond to the Philippian jailer’s question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved,” with the simple answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30, 31).
This jailer at Philippi could do nothing. It had all been done on his behalf. All of the work that God required (involving death and shed blood) had already been done by Another. It had already been finished, existing at that time as a divinely completed work. He could do no more than receive that which had already been done on his behalf. He could do no more than “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Then, to view Acts 16:30, 31 after another fashion, note that this is the only place in Scripture where the question, “What must I do to be saved,” is asked and answered in so many words. The salvation message can be found throughout Scripture, beginning in the opening verses of Genesis; but Acts 16:30, 31 is the only place in all of Scripture where the simple, direct question and the simple, direct answer regarding salvation have been placed together in so many words.
If one desires to remain within a completely biblical framework when answering the question, “What must I do to be saved,” he will have to respond with Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Remaining within a completely biblical framework — i.e., proclaiming the Word… — there is no getting around responding after this fashion, for, again, this is the only place in Scripture where the question and answer appear together in so many words.
Then one can go to all the various types, the antitype, or other places in Scripture dealing with the salvation message and find exactly the same thing. He must, for this is the way that the subject not only begins but remains throughout Scripture. There is no variance in the message from Genesis chapter one through Revelation chapter twenty-two.
(Some see Acts 2:37, 38 as two verses asking and answering the same question seen in Acts 16:30, 31, but this is not the case at all. Contextually, the issue surrounding the unsaved and eternal salvation is not even in view in Acts chapter two.
The context of Acts 2:37, 38 has to do with the beginning of the re-offer of the kingdom to Israel. The question asked in verse thirty-seven, contextually, had to do with that which the nation of Israel must do in order to rectify that which the Jewish people had done [which had climaxed in the rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah], effecting their Messiah’s return and the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.
And Peter told them exactly what they must do: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you . . . .” The entire nation would have to repent [change their minds], followed by baptism, which was the same message that had been proclaimed to Israel by John, Jesus, the Twelve, and the Seventy preceding the events culminating in Calvary.
Using these verses relative to eternal salvation is completely out of line with both the text and the context. And using these verses in this manner not only results in numerous false teachings and concepts about salvation by grace [placing both repentance and baptism in a completely wrong perspective relative to eternal salvation] but such a usage also does away with the correct understanding and interpretation of these verses.
Refer to the author’s book, Salvation by Grace through Faith, Chapter 1, pp. 2-4, where the preceding is discussed at length in connection with Joel’s prophecy.)
The Kingdom of God
Moving beyond “the gospel of the grace of God,” as previously stated, Scripture teaches that man has been saved for a purpose, which has to do with “the kingdom of God.” But what is meant when referring to “the kingdom of God” in this respect?
The expression is used in different ways in Scripture. A message surrounding “the kingdom of God” could be looked upon as quite broad in its scope, for,
The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)
God rules “over all” from “His throne in the heavens,” which, in its larger scope, includes everything in the entire universe. Thus, in this respect, the expression, “the kingdom of God,” could be understood in an all-inclusive sense.
However, references to the kingdom of God are used in this broad sense very sparingly in Scripture. The Bible is a book that deals, not with the universe at large, but with one province in the universe, this earth. And when “the kingdom of God” is mentioned in Scripture, the primary reference invariably has to do with the kingdom as it pertains to the earth.
Even Psalm 103:19 should be looked upon as pertaining first of all to this earth, though the verse in its larger scope would, of necessity, pertain to the entire universe. That would be to say, Psalm 103:19, in a primary sense, in keeping with how Scripture is structured (pertaining to this earth, not the universe), would refer to God’s rule in relation to the earth; but in a secondary sense, also in keeping with how Scripture is structured (at times dealing with the kingdom outside the scope of the earth in order that man on the earth can properly understand things relating to this one part of the kingdom), Psalm 103:19 would be looked upon as pertaining, as well, to the universe at large. In this respect, the verse could be viewed after a dual fashion.
1) The Kingdom and the Earth
Insofar as the kingdom of God in relation to the earth is concerned, Daniel states that God rules and exercises complete sovereign control within the kingdom of man, though Satan (the disqualified provincial ruler) still holds his God-appointed position and governs as a rebel prince (Daniel 4:17ff). And Psalm 103:19, in its narrower interpretive sense, referring to the earth alone, would cover the complete scope of God’s sovereign control over this one province in His kingdom.
In the New Testament though, the expression, “the kingdom of God,” is used almost exclusively in a sense referring to only a part of God’s complete government of the earth (the rule from the heavens over the earth). Almost every time that the expression appears in the New Testament it appears as synonymous with “the kingdom of the heavens” (a segment [the heavenly segment] of the complete provincial kingdom).
And the reason for this is quite easy to see and understand. This is the way in which the New Testament begins, and this is the subject matter dealt with throughout the New Testament. In this respect, the expression, “the kingdom of God,” is limited in scope to that which is covered by the subject at hand — “the kingdom of the heavens,” the rule of the heavens over the earth.
After describing events surrounding the birth of Christ in Matthew chapters one and two, the New Testament opens with the offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel (Matthew 3:1, 2; 4:17; 10:1-8). It then progresses to that point where Israel spurns the proffered kingdom (Matthew 12:14-32; 21:33-41), with the kingdom subsequently being taken from Israel (Matthew 21:42, 43). Progression is then made to the calling into existence of a separate and distinct nation to be the recipient of that which Israel had rejected (Matthew 16:18; 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9). And most of the remainder of the New Testament involves this new nation — the Church — and the proffered kingdom of the heavens.
When John the Baptist, Jesus, the Twelve, and the Seventy carried the message concerning the kingdom to Israel, that which they offered to the nation was “the kingdom of the heavens,” or, as also expressed at times, “the kingdom of God” (cf. Matthew 4:17; 21:43; Mark 1:14, 15).
“The kingdom of the heavens” is that which was taken from Israel (referred to as “the kingdom of God” when the announcement was made in Matthew 21:43) — exactly the same kingdom that was offered — and this kingdom (the kingdom of the heavens, the rule of the heavens over the earth) is what is presently being offered to the new creation “in Christ” (i.e., offered to Christians, comprising the Church).
(To summarize, “the kingdom of the heavens” and “the kingdom of God” are not necessarily synonymous expressions in Scripture, though usually used in a synonymous sense throughout the New Testament. “The kingdom of the heavens” refers specifically to the heavenly segment of the kingdom [the rule of the heavens over the earth], and “the kingdom of God” could refer to a larger scope of the kingdom, both heavenly and earthly.
However, the expression, “the kingdom of God,” is usually used in a more restricted sense in the New Testament, referring to that part of the kingdom that was offered to Israel, was taken from Israel, and is presently being offered to the Church [cf. Matthew 19:23, 24; 21:43; Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:21].
That would be to say, the expression, “the kingdom of the heavens,” identifies which segment of the kingdom is in view; and the expression, “the kingdom of God,” is usually used in a sense that is limited to this same segment of the kingdom, remaining within the scope of the subject matter at hand.)
God deals with the Church today in relation to “the kingdom of the heavens,” i.e., in relation to the heavenly segment of the kingdom. He dealt with the lineal descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob in relation to this segment of the kingdom (along with the earthly) at a time in the past, lasting 2,000 years and climaxed by a direct offer of the kingdom of the heavens at Christ’s first coming.
Today though we’re living in a separate dispensation (following that time when the kingdom of the heavens was taken from Israel [Matthew 21:43]), and God is today offering the kingdom to a separate and distinct seed of Abraham for another 2,000-year period — to Christians, comprising the Church (Galatians 3:26-29; 1 Peter 2:9, 10).
During the past 2,000-year dispensation — during that time when Israel could, as Abraham, look beyond the earthly to heavenly promises and blessings (Hebrews 11:8-16) — numerous Israelites did exactly that (cf. Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28, 29; Hebrews 11:13-16, 35-40). And these Israelites, even though the kingdom of the heavens was later taken from Israel, will, in the coming age (a new dispensation), occupy positions in the heavenly segment rather than in the earthly segment of the kingdom.
During the present 2,000-year dispensation — following a climactic offer of the kingdom to Israel and the removal of the kingdom from Israel by the King of the kingdom Himself — the kingdom is being offered to Christians, who are “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise [heavenly, not earthly]” (Galatians 3:29).
Jews during the present dispensation can still have a part in the kingdom of the heavens, but, to do so, they must become new creations “in Christ.” They must, by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, become part of the nation presently being afforded the opportunity to bring forth fruit for the kingdom. They must relinquish their national identification with the nation from which the kingdom has been taken and become identified with the new nation to which the kingdom is presently being offered, becoming part of the “remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5; cf. Ephesians 3:1-6).
(Insofar as the natural man is concerned, a saved Jew today remains identified with the Jewish race and/or nation. But insofar as the man of spirit is concerned, having to do with his position “in Christ,” a saved Jew today has relinquished all connection with the Jewish race and/or nation and has become part of a completely separate nation [cf. Acts 21:9; Romans 9:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:26-29; Philippians 3:5; ref. Chapter 6 in this book].)
During the coming age there will be lineal descendants of Abraham from both the past dispensation and the present dispensation in the kingdom of the heavens. There will be Jews from the past dispensation who looked toward and had respect for heavenly promises and blessings, and there will be Jews from the present dispensation (believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, having become new creations “in Christ,” Christians) who also looked toward and had respect for heavenly promises and blessings.
Then there will undoubtedly be some Gentiles from the past dispensation who became Jewish proselytes and looked beyond the earthly to heavenly promises and blessings (cf. Hebrews 11:31). And even less is revealed in this respect about those in the first of the three dispensations during Man’s Day — those living during the time extending from Adam to Abraham — though Hebrews chapter eleven clearly reveals that certain individuals from this dispensation will be included.
The main influx of Gentiles though will come from the present dispensation (Acts 15:14; Romans 11:25). During this present dispensation there will be innumerable Gentiles (believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, having become Christians) who also (as some Jews past and some Jewish believers present) look toward and have respect for heavenly promises and blessings.
In this respect, those having a part in the future kingdom of the heavens will actually come from three dispensations covering the full 6,000 years of human history (cf. Hebrews 11:35-40).
2) Gospel of Grace, Word of the Kingdom
The proclamation of “the gospel of the grace of God” is for a purpose, which has to do with “the kingdom of God.” Man was created to rule within this kingdom. He was created to rule the earth in the stead of Satan and his angels (Genesis 1:26-28).
However, Satan, the incumbent ruler, brought about man’s fall; and man, in his fallen state, was/is no longer qualified to take the scepter.
But God provided redemption for fallen man so that he could one day realize the purpose for his existence, so that he could one day take the scepter. Redemption in its complete scope, covering that which is foreshadowed by all six days of restoration work in Genesis chapter one, has to do with both “the gospel of the grace of God” and “the gospel of the glory of Christ”; and man’s rule over the earth in the stead of Satan and his angels has to do with one part of God’s overall kingdom.
Thus, the complete scope of man’s salvation is that which is shown only by the proclamation of both “the gospel of the grace of God” and “the gospel of the glory of Christ,” as set forth in Acts 20:24, 25.
And this is why the proclamation of these two facets of the complete gospel message together (the full panorama of the good news) can be looked upon as a proclamation of “all the counsel of God” in Acts 20:27. “All the counsel of God” moves man from the point where he is likened to and typified by the ruined creation in Genesis 1:2a through not only events which are foreshadowed by God’s work on day one of the restoration (1:2b-5) but also through events which are foreshadowed by God’s work on days two through six as well (1:6-25), anticipating the seventh day, the earth’s coming Sabbath, the Messianic Era (2:1-3). And, again, that covers the complete skeletal framework upon which the whole of Scripture rests.
Referring to a larger overall type, also resting on the original type in Genesis 1:1-2:3, the proclamation of “the gospel of the grace of God” and “the kingdom of God” together moves man from the death of the firstborn in Egypt in Exodus chapter twelve to an inheritance in another land, set forth in the ook of Joshua. This complete sequence of events moves man from the place of his salvation in Egypt, through the Red Sea, through the wilderness, and into the land set before him.
The type was set forth in perfect, minute form by Moses at the very beginning, in the opening two chapters of Genesis. Then, going beyond the original type, Moses records numerous events — also forming types — which provide various, additional details relating to the overall scope of redemption (Genesis 2:4ff). And when one arrives at Exodus chapter twelve, Moses devotes the entirety of the remainder of that which he wrote to providing the largest single overall type in Scripture covering the whole of the original type in Genesis 1:1-2:3, relying on Joshua to complete the work.
These are the things provided for the Church as “examples [lit., ‘types’],” which have been recorded for our “admonition [or, ‘instruction’]” (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).
(Though the author of the book of Joshua is unnamed, it appears evident that Joshua wrote the book. Joshua was chosen to complete the work that God had called Moses to do, which would not only involve leading the Israelites into the land but would seemingly also involve providing the historical record that would complete the type begun under Moses [cf. Exodus 3:10, 16, 17; Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 34:1-9; Joshua 1:1-9].)
And within this overall type extending from Exodus chapter twelve through the book of Joshua there are innumerable individual types.
That’s the way Scripture has been structured and recorded, that’s the way Scripture must be studied, and that’s the way Scripture must be proclaimed.