Lost “Keys” of Knowledge

“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?” —John 18:37,38

THE QUESTION, “WHAT is truth?” asked by Pilate of Jesus has been in the minds of many throughout all the ages. Today the word truth is often used rather loosely, and applied to ideas, viewpoints, and philosophies; these may in reality be far from the truth. Even in the fields of science much is accepted as truth and may not really be true; and religiously the situation is even more confusing.

Since Pilate addressed his question to a religious leader, he doubtless had religion in mind—What is religious truth? Jesus did not answer Pilate; but in the Upper Room the night before, he said in prayer to his Heavenly Father, “Thy Word is truth.” (John 17:17) The written Word of God at that time consisted of the Old Testament Scriptures. In God’s providence there has since been added the New Testament Scriptures; and now we may consider the entire Bible, or the Word of God, as the ‘truth’.

There is much in the Bible upon which all of its adherents agree, such as its historical, ethical, and devotional teachings. All rejoice in its many assurances of God’s love and care for his people. But to most Bible readers, the precious Word seems to be thought of as nothing more than a book of ancient historical records setting forth many good and wholesome precepts which, if we allow ourselves to be guided by them, will make us better men and women. It is a good book by which to live, but few realize that also contained in the blessed Bible is God’s wonderful harmonious plan for the recovery of the human race from sin and death.

Even when we say this, many will ask, “What do you mean by God’s plan? I believe it is God’s plan for all faithful believers to go to heaven when they die, and all the rest of mankind to go to …,” well—very few like to say just where. Anyway, the thought is that they are ‘lost’, and this word carries a very dreadful connotation in the minds of most people. It is true that the Bible does have much to say about a heavenly reward for the faithful followers of Jesus. Jesus said to his disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go, … I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2,3) What the Word of truth does not teach, is that all who are not disciples of Christ for whom he went to prepare a ‘place’, are eternally ‘lost’.

What has really been ‘lost’ in this connection, is the great truth that those whom Jesus is now taking from the world are to live and reign with him for the purpose of extending the opportunity of salvation to the remainder of mankind, the living and the dead. This truth is a ‘key’ of knowledge that, if properly used, will help to reveal the glorious harmony of the Bible, as well as the fullness of God’s love for the whole world of mankind—the world whom he so loved as to send his Son to be their Redeemer and blesses.

Mankind will be restored to life on the earth, so all the promises of God pertaining to this wider aspect of the divine plan are descriptive of earthly blessings. Peter uses the expression, “times of restitution of all things,” and adds, “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21) Just think, here is a great truth of the Bible found in the writings of all the prophets, yet it is completely ignored by all the ‘orthodox churches in Christendom! It is a lost ‘key’ of knowledge to the vast majority who read the Bible, so they endeavor to spiritualize its earthly promises, and because of this, become more and more confused.


The kingdom of God includes the kingdom of Christ, and is prominently taught in the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments. The prophecies of the Bible associate this kingdom with the promised Messiah, or Christ. We read, “The government shall be upon his shoulder,” and “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” (Isa. 9:6,7) Daniel wrote, “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom.”—Dan. 2:44

When Jesus came, John the Baptist announced, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:1-3) Practically all of Jesus’ teachings were associated directly or indirectly with the kingdom. His parables related to the kingdom, and to preparation of the kingdom; some of them pertaining to a counterfeit kingdom set up by the Devil to deceive the people. Jesus encouraged his disciples with the hope of reigning with him in his kingdom, saying, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”—Luke 12:32

In the last three chapters of the Bible we are furnished with a symbolic description of the establishment and work of the kingdom. The followers of Jesus are shown coming forth in the “first resurrection” to live and reign with him “a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:6) A “holy city” {Rev. 21:2) comes down from heaven, and the “tabernacle of God is with men” (vs. 3), and there is “no more death.” (vs. 4) We see “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:3), and from that throne there flows “a pure river of water of life’’ (vs. 1), and the people are invited to, “Come. … and … take the water of life freely.”—vs. 17

But this wonderful kingdom teaching has also been lost to the vast majority of professed Christians. Indeed, the modernist Christian world is inclined to make light of it. A mistranslation of Luke 17:21 makes Jesus appear to say, “The kingdom of God is within you,” but it should read, “God’s Royal Majesty is among you.” All the marvelous kingdom promises and prophecies of the Bible have been made to mean nothing more than righteous desires of the heart which it is vainly hoped may one day control the lives of the majority of mankind.

To the extent that churchmen can enter into and control politics, it is hoped that the righteous desires of the people may become implemented by civil laws that will more effectively control evil, and to this arrangement is often applied the name ‘kingdom of God’. However, the hope of the real kingdom of promise has been lost, with the result that the only hope held out for a better world is based on nothing more than the vain wish that fallen man can some way or other raise himself up through his own efforts.

But how meaningful are the Bible’s promises of the kingdom when we take God at his word! After assuring us that “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,” the Prophet Isaiah added, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:6,7) As followers of the Master, called to suffer and die with him that we might live and reign with him, we have the privilege, through faithfulness and the Lord’s assisting help in time of need, to make our “calling and election sure” (II Pet. 1:10) in order that we may reign with Christ. But the setting up of the kingdom, and its successful functioning for the blessing of all the families of the earth, does not depend upon human efforts. ‘The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this’.

If we ignore this great truth we are setting aside another important ‘key’ to a proper understanding of the Bible, for without it much of the Word of God has no vital meaning. By using this key, God’s kingdom promises come to life, and we are given a glorious and comforting hope of coming peace and joy and health and life for all the willing and obedient of mankind. In a word, the kingdom teachings of the Bible reveal that in the promised kingdom there will be both rulers and the ruled, the kings and their subjects. Jesus will be the “King of kings” (Rev. 17:14) and his faithful followers of this age will be associated with him. All mankind will be the subjects of the kingdom, and those who obey its laws will live in peace and joy forever.


Another ‘key’ of knowledge which helps to give a harmonious understanding of God’s Word is the fact that the present Gospel Age is not the time in the plan of God for the conversion of the world. True, Jesus commissioned his disciples to go into all the world to preach the Gospel, but he did not encourage them to believe that this would result in the world’s conversion. The purpose of this worldwide witness work is explained in Acts 15:14. Here James informs us that Peter, or ‘Simeon’, “hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.”

This ‘people for his name’ are the ‘sons of God’ who are to live and reign with Christ. (I John 3:2) At the beginning of the age, a few of these were selected from among the Israelites, and to these were given the “power [Margin: ‘right’, ‘privilege’) to become the sons of God.” (John 1:11,12) There were not enough of these to make up God’s foreordained number, so the message went to the Gentiles, and throughout the age its power has been drawing from among them ‘a people for his name’.

But this is only preparatory to the great objective of the divine plan. “After this,” James continues, the Lord will “build again the tabernacle [or house] of David, which is fallen down.” (vs. 16) God’s kingdom promises were first made to the natural descendants of Abraham. Later, they were narrowed down to the tribe of Judah. (Gen. 49:10) After this, they were still further restricted to the family, or house of David.—II Sam. 7:16

Jesus became the heir of this promise. It is for this reason that the Prophet Isaiah associated the government of the Prince of Peace with the “throne of David, … to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever.” (Isa. 9:7) It is at his Second Advent that Jesus reestablishes the throne of David, when he and his glorified church will be the spiritual rulers in that new world government. James refers to this as ‘building again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down’.

James explains that following this the “residue of men” will seek after the Lord, and “all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” (Acts 15:17) This will be the work of the Millennial Age. It will be then that the world will be converted—gloriously converted—for “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:9) There has been no lag and no failure in the plan of God. James concluded, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” (vs. 18) What confidence this should give us in the promises of God, and what courage to continue on in our own efforts to know and to do his will!

Today the world’s needs are great: Fear fills the hearts of the people. Those who tell them that their fears are unfounded, and offer the people the hope of immediate success and health and happiness, are sure to get a following. But a harmonious understanding of the Word of God offers no such temporal advantages—not yet. The time will come when blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, and when the lame shall “leap as an hart.” (Isa. 35:6) But that time is not now. The followers of the Master today have the same privilege as did their brethren in the Early Church, which is to proclaim unpopular truth and be looked upon as ‘out of step’ with the world and the worldly church.

The ‘way’ of the present Gospel Age is a “narrow way,” and “few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:14) Many, even when they ‘find it’, do not wish to walk therein because it is so narrow, so difficult. But rich and full are the compensating joys of the narrow way, among them being the great privilege of telling the world of the kingdom blessings soon to come, when a “highway” will be opened upon which the world of mankind may return to God, and to health and life everlasting. (Isa. 35:5,6,8,10) To the proclamation of this message, a little company of people the world over is dedicated. We rejoice to know that the kingdom Gospel is even now bringing joy to many, enabling them to pray with understanding, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”—Matt. 6:10

Dawn Bible Students Association
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