HELD IN THE
Town Hall, Irvine,
on Wednesday and Thursday,
19th and 20th October, 1904.
PROPOSITION. - "That a Kingdom of God which was at hand
in the days of John the Baptist is now in existence and is ruled
from the Throne of God, having laws and subjects on the earth."
Affirmed by Mr. James Anderson,
Evangelist, of Fauldhouse.
Denied by Mr. Thomas Nisbet,
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY
Retyped 1997 by
1 Kenilworth Avenue
Prepared for use on the internet by Arches church of Christ, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
D E B A T E
"That a Kingdom of God which was at hand in the days of John the Baptist
is now in existence and is ruled from the Throne of God, having
laws and subjects on the earth."
For Mr. Anderson - Mr. JAMES WARDROP, of Armadale.
For Mr. Nisbet - Mr. ANDREW THOMAS, of Glasgow.
Mr. Anderson opened the debate with a speech of fifteen minutes duration. He said,
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Nisbet, Ladies and Gentlemen:- You have heard the proposition, that the Kingdom of God, which was at hand in the days of John the Baptist, is now in existence, and is ruled from the throne of God, having laws and subjects on the earth. If you keep before you exactly and as clearly as you can where we agree and where we differ, it will help a great deal. Mr. Nisbet and I both agree that the Jews were a Kingdom of God - that is, that there is a Kingdom of God behind us, a Kingdom that once existed, but does not now exist. There we are both agreed. Again, we both believe that there is a kingdom in the future, a kingdom of glory that is not here yet. Again, we are both agreed, and as far as I know both sides will admit, that God exercises an overruling power among the nations of the earth. These are points we are agreed upon, and hence do not discuss. The point is, has Christ a kingdom now? This is the point of difference: Is there a Kingdom of God, having specific laws that people may obey, of which they may become obedient subjects, and which is governed from the throne of God? Is there such a kingdom? I say, Yes; Mr. Nisbet says, No. This is the point of difference, and, of course, it is for me to lead proof of what I affirm, and it is Mr. Nisbet's business to examine that proof. We shall begin by looking at Col. i. 13, where Paul says, speaking of Jesus, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son." That affirms all that I require to affirm. It distinctly states that there is a Kingdom of God's dear Son now, and that Paul and the Colossians were translated into it then. It had an existence in the days in which Paul wrote that epistle to the Colossians. The verse says distinctly what I believe, and distinctly contradicts what Mr. Nisbet says. Turn with me now to Hebrews xii., and there you will read at the second verse, "Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." I quote that passage because there is a throne named there, and a throne indicates a kingdom, and Jesus is there set down at the right hand of the throne of God. That he is not there simply occupying a seat of honour without power is evident. If you turn to Matt. xxviii at the 18th verse, you have Jesus saying, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and, lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world." My chief point here is that Christ has all power in heaven and on earth. That is, he is seated on the throne of God; with all the power of the throne of God delivered to Him. In the 1st Epistle of Peter, chap. iii., verse 22, speaking of Jesus, Peter says, "Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him." How a kingdom can be denied in the face of these passages is, I confess, a perfect mystery to me. If there was a kingdom into which the Colossians were translated and that kingdom was that of God's dear Son, and if you have that Son on the Throne of God, with the power of the throne handed to Him, and angels and authorities and powers subject to Him - it strikes me as absurd to deny a present kingdom. Look at Acts v. and verse 31. The Apostles make this statement, "Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." He is exalted a Prince and as a prince He grants repentance. I know that our friends on the other side say, "He is a Prince, that means the Son of a King, but then he is not the King." I admit that prince sometimes means the son of a king, but it also sometimes means king, and it will have to be settled whether it is Son of a King or Sovereign here. In Chamber's 20th Century Dictionary the first meaning of the word prince is "one of the highest rank, a sovereign," and other good dictionaries give the same meaning. Whether prince means sovereign or son of a sovereign will be settled by the context. It is quite clear the context settles it here. Christ can save and forgive. Is that the work of a King, or a King's son? If you have Christ as a Prince to save and pardon, he is by name and power the Sovereign Jesus. I am perfectly satisfied that these passages convey kingdom to any unprejudiced mind, and you cannot help thinking of the present kingdom when you read statements such as these. All that is in keeping with what you read in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You have the theme of the Kingdom of Heaven as at hand. John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus preached the Kingdom of Heaven as at hand. The twelve made their voices heard over the land of Palestine proclaiming the kingdom at hand. The seventy were sent out preaching the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and if all these great preachers were sent across that little country preaching the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and that is eighteen hundred years since, and no kingdom has yet been set up, it is worse than absurd; it is misleading. It cannot be denied that something was at hand, something lived and died immediately after that. The Jewish temple was then standing, sacrifice being offered there. The Jews were exhorted that they should obey what God had commanded in that Temple, but surely after that Jewism came to a finish and Christianity sprang into being. Something had come and gone. That something which was at hand had all the essentials of a kingdom even if you deny the name of it. If there is a kingdom into which the Colossians passed, if there are laws that men can and do obey, surely you have all the essentials of a kingdom. I may ask whether there is a territory? I say, "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof," and I am not badly off for territory. And that included you have all the essentials of a kingdom, even if you deny the name. But the name is there as well as the essentials, and you can't get clear of that fact in dealing with the kingdom. From the first Pentecost after Christ's resurrection the kingdom at hand was no longer the main theme of the twelve. They preached that Jesus was exalted at the right hand of God, that he was Lord of all, and had all power, and that man should believe in and submit to His kingly power and glory; and the kingdom at hand was no longer the theme of the apostles. Take what happened immediately after, and you have in name, in theme, and in everything else, a kingdom now here. Keep this point well before you. Remember that the present kingdom is the thing disputed; that I have proven that there is a kingdom, that the subjects are enjoined to observe all things which He commanded, and remember that he is seated upon a higher throne than ever mortal sat upon. Suppose we turn to Rev. i. 5, "And from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood." Here Jesus is called the Prince of the kings of the earth, and that does not differ from the King of kings.
Mr. Nisbet then replied in the negative for fifteen minutes. He said,
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Anderson, and friends: - I quite agree with Mr. Anderson's procedure in endeavouring to draw attention to the fact that we agree on certain things, and that we differ also. I don't quite agree with him in all he says upon the difference and upon what is agreed on, and in order to make this more clear I shall endeavour to put you in the same position as I occupy myself as to what I believe and what I don't believe. The subject that really is before us is the existence or non-existence of a kingdom such as Mr. Anderson has described. Now, we find John saying "the Kingdom of God is at hand." What do I understand by the term "kingdom" here? What do I understand was at hand? Well, to begin with, that which is at hand exists. It is not a question as to whether it exists or not, but whether it is here or not. Now, "the Kingdom of God is at hand." What was the Kingdom of God? If you go back, as Mr. Anderson has taken us, to the time of Israel, there was a Kingdom of Israel, sometimes styled the Kingdom of God. But because the King of Israel sat upon the throne of the Lord, so that Kingdom of Israel is frequently styled the Kingdom of God. But that was not the first instance of the Kingdom of God. It was the first instance of it on the earth. The Kingdom of God always existed and will exist, and does exist, but John said, "the Kingdom of God is at hand." What could be mean by that? Not that a Kingdom was coming into existence, but that the Kingdom of God, which always had been in existence, was at hand, and a manifestation of it would appear on the earth. Mr. Anderson believes that Kingdom of God which John was preaching was brought into existence then. I don't believe that; but that it always existed, not on this earth but under David, and it ceased to be among men in accordance with that statement, "I will overturn the Kingdom of Israel, and it shall be no more," etc. The Kingdom of God existed on earth in the form of a king appointed by God, but it disappeared among men, and in the days of John the Baptist there was no Kingdom of God among men; it was under the sway of the Roman. The question is, what was at hand? What was to be introduced at that time upon the earth, subsequent to the proclamation by John, "the Kingdom of God is at hand." We are agreed upon the existence of God's Kingdom over all in heaven. The question to be considered is, what did John introduce by his proclamation? What was in view in the purpose of God as to be introduced in the fulfilment of that? The time is fulfilled, and "the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the good news." We are agreed that the Kingdom of Israel once existing, no longer existing, was styled the Kingdom of God. We both believe in a Kingdom of Glory to come. It was promised to Jesus, Luke i. 32. During the time past there has been what is termed a kingdom of men in contradiction to the Kingdom of God. In Daniel we are told that He setteth up the best of men, saying that he has controlling power even over the best men. The question is, does the kingdom preached by John as at hand exist now? We deny it. It does not exist on the earth, and Mr. Anderson has not proved it. He has shown us that Christ has been exalted a Prince, but he has not shown that the kingdom is here - that it exists in any sense among men. He says such a kingdom exists with specific laws and subjects, and I say no. Now, for the proof that such a kingdom as preached by John as at hand now exists, see Colossians i. 13, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." Colossians was written by Paul the Apostles of Jesus Christ, and you will find in this verse Paul does not say that they had been translated into the Kingdom of Heaven - that the Colossians had been translated - but he says a certain "us" had been translated to the kingdom. That is a very important distinction, and an essential distinction as my remarks will show. In Colossians i. 13, he says, "God delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us." In verse 21, *And you that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled." That was all that was true of them. They were not in the kingdom, but the apostles were in the kingdom. What is a kingdom? That is the point that Mr. Anderson will have to face and dispose of before he can establish that believers, as a whole, were in the kingdom. John introduced a deduction on matters which was established afterwards. As a matter of fact Jesus says to his disciples, "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you a kingdom." Rev. i. 9, "I, John, also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." John was an apostle. John was in the kingdom; the ordinary believers were not in the kingdom. The apostles exercised their rule in accordance with what was set before them, "Whatsoever sins ye remit are remitted; whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven," etc. They were in the Kingdom of God given to them though Jesus Christ, and Mr. Anderson makes a mistake in thinking that all believers were in the kingdom in the apostolic age. For those who had ruled were there, and therefore Jesus is styled the Prince of the rulers of the earth. Mr. Anderson has to say that that condition of things existing in the apostolic age exists in the earth. I believe that God's kingdom has always existed and does exist, and that in the apostolic age that kingdom was exercised by Jesus Christ. That kingdom then existed; but it was only the little flock - those who were in the apostolate. The term signifies the apostles as a whole. They had been translated into a kingdom, and occupied a place with power. God's kingdom does not exist on earth. It was at hand in the days of John the Baptist. But God's kingdom, which rules over all, always existed and will exist. He is not manifest in the earth, neither with laws, nor people; nor is anything such as a kingdom at hand. They simply don't exist. Now, Mr. Anderson has to show that that introduced in John the Baptist's day by Christ and the apostles is continued to this day. The proposition requires him to prove that it now exists. Let Mr. Anderson prove it.
Questions put by Mr. Anderson to Mr. Nisbet:-
Q. - You admit, then, Mr. Nisbet, that the Apostles were in the kingdom?
A. - I do.
Q. - Can there be a kingdom with simply rulers without subjects ?
A. - The kingdom preached by John the Baptist had no subjects, no laws such as the Kingdom of God is to have.
Q. - Then it was a kingdom with rulers but without subjects?
A. - They were to obey them that had rule over them.
Q. - Who had to obey?
A. - Those under them.
Q. - Then were there no subjects in the kingdom, if there were rulers?
A. - They were not subjects of the kingdom, but under the influence of the apostles.
Q. - That apostles were in the kingdom who ruled them as subjects?
A. - They could bring their power to bear upon them as their superiors.
Q. - That they were rulers over them but the people were not under them?
A. - They were not rulers - instructors.
Q. - Your suggestion amounts to this, that you had a kingdom and there were rulers in it but not subjects?
A. - I have said the rulers did not rule them in the sense you have asked, but instructed them under the command of Christ, and had authority to teach and instruct.
Q. - And they were in the kingdom but the people were not subjects?
A. - The people were such as I will show in the course of the evening.
Q. - This epistle to the Colossians was written to the faithful brethren in Christ?
A. - It was.
Q. - And at this 13th verse of Colossians it says, "He hath delivered us." Was Paul alone delivered from the power of darkness, or were the people also?
A. - The epistle says Paul and Timotheus are brethren. There is an "us" too; they describe themselves as "us", as in verse 9. "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." We who pray were those who had been delivered into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Q. - I understand from that second verse of the epistle to the Colossians that it was Paul who wrote it to the saints and faithful brethren. Do you admit the epistle was written to these?
A. - Yes.
Q. - Well would not the "us" include himself and the people to whom he was speaking?
A. - Yes, if the context did not show that they are excluded in some cases.
Q. - At verse 13. They were delivered from the power of darkness, but the people to whom Paul wrote this epistle were not included?
A. - No, I don't think so; you have cut out the half - "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness."
Q. - Then did the "us" mean that Paul alone was delivered from the power of darkness and the people to whom he was writing had no such blessing?
A. - Paul was speaking for all and the whole Apostolate, although he mentioned but himself and Timotheus
Q. - You are quite satisfied that the Colossian saints were not delivered from the power of darkness, or at least this verse does not say so?
A. - I say they were not delivered from the power of darkness, and also translated into the kingdom.
Q. - If any person were translated into the Kingdom of God's dear Son, God had a kingdom then?
A. - Granted.
Q. - How did Paul get into the Kingdom of Christ if Christ had no kingdom?
A. - I never said that. You are not paying attention. John had a kingdom which was preached as at hand, and was established in the earth under the influence of the apostles. It no longer exists in the earth, but God's kingdom does exist..
Q. - You admit that Christ at that time had a kingdom?
A. - I gladly admit that.
Q. - And that Paul was in it?
A. - Paul and the apostles.
Q. - And these were all rulers?
A. - Not rulers in your sense, but administrators. There was a kingdom of rulers and administrators, but no ordinary subjects. They had those under them, but this is not a kingdom of earthly men. "My kingdom is not of this world.".
Q. - The rulers were in the kingdom and the people over whom they ruled were not?
A. - What do you mean.
Q. - You say the apostolate were in the kingdom and the Colossians were not?
A. - I said that the apostles were the administrators of the kingdom, and in that sense were kings, but not with territorial lands under their feet.
Q. - But you admitted they were in the kingdom?
A. - Yes, gladly, but not all believers.
Q. - There were rulers in that kingdom, but no subjects?
A. - Call them what you will, but accept ruler in the sense you find it.
Q. - You say this was a kingdom that had no subjects?
A. - It had administrators in the persons of the apostles, and subjects in the persons of the believers who were under the rule of the apostles.
Q. - And the rulers were in the kingdom, but the people were out of it?
A. - That does not follow.
Q. - It follows from your position?
A. - It follows that they were in.
Questions put by Mr. Nisbet to Mr. Anderson:-
Q. - Do you believe that which John preached as at hand had no existence, or do you believe it had?
A. - If it had existence then it was not at hand, it was here. I believe it was not here.
Q. - The question is, had it any existence before it came here? Does "at hand" mean "here"?
A. - I mean it was at hand nineteen hundred years ago, and if it is not here yet it was not at hand then.
Q. - In what sense was it at hand, when it was not at hand before John opened his mouth?
A. - In this way, that when anything comes at all, there is a time when it must be at hand, before it comes into existence. The kingdom was just near then, and therefore at hand; in that sense the kingdom was at hand then..
Q. - I thought you said the Kingdom of God always existed?
A. - That which John preached was at hand..
Q. - I am asking if the Kingdom of God always existed?
A. - I said we all admitted that God exercised an overruling power over the nations of the earth. That always existed.
Q. - I want to know if the Kingdom of God which in Daniel is spoken of as ruling over all - his beast of the kingdom of men - if that Kingdom of God really existed at the time of John the Baptist?
A. - There always was God's overruling power among the nations of men.
Q. - Is the Providential Power the same as the Kingdom of God?
A. - That all depends on what you mean. If you mean his overruling power among the nations of the earth, - Yes; and if not, - No.
Q. - Is that recognised as Scripture?
A. - Sometimes.
Q. - How is it that the Kingdom of God came into existence after John's preaching, if it was already in existence?
A. - I pointed out that there were four aspects of the kingdom. One, with overruling power always existing.
Q. - We are past that, but the question is, what came into existence? You said it came into existence after the preaching of John the Baptist?
A. - Yes.
Q. - You say the Kingdom of God always existed; is it the same kingdom, or the same in a new shape among men?
A. - Put it any way you like. An overruling Providence.
Q. - I am not asking about an overruling Providence. John says, "Behold the Kingdom of God is at hand." You have said that came into existence then - that which was said to be the Kingdom of God at hand, came then. I want you to say whether it was a different kingdom from that which always existed in the past.
A. - Yes.
Q. - Had the King laws, aristocracy, territory and people?
A. - Yes, there were all these.
Q. - I want you to name one of the territories of the Kingdom of God?
A. - The earth is. Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel," showing that he had territory in all the nations of the earth.
Q. - I am asking about territory?
A. - If they went into all nations, that proved He had territory in all nations, and all nations were His territory.
Q. - Did the apostles and kings possess territory at that time?
A. - They were only kings under Him, for He was the Prince of the kings of the earth.
Q. - Were they the kings of the material earth upon which He stood?
A. - They were subordinate kings, and He was the King of the kings.
Q. - Did these kings possess a single yard of earth?
A. - Yes, under God; but Christ was their King.
Q. - Could they take rent for it?
A. - Yes.
Q. - Can you give me a case?
A. - They did not ask rent from God, but from their subjects.
Q. - Give me a case where they called upon their tenants for the rent of the earth that they occupied, and which belonged to the apostles?
A. - I don't know that they ever did that kind of thing. They came to subject the spirits of men to the Great Ruler upon this earth.
Q. - In other words, they were more concerned about the spiritual welfare of the people than to get money for rent?
A. - That is so.
Q. - In other words, you will agree they had not a square yard of earth under present conditions then existing?
A. - I never said anything about the apostles having earth.
Q. - Your contention was that after the preaching of John a kingdom was to be established and it possessed a territory, and that the rulers were those under Christ?
A. - I said that Christ possessed a territory, and not the apostles.
Q. - And yet they were in the kingdom. Were all the apostles in the kingdom?
A. - Yes, the apostles were in the kingdom.
Q. - What does "in the kingdom" mean?
A. - Under the reign of Christ.
Q. - Having no power and authority?
A. - Christ had power and authority to make disciples of all nations.
Q. - Was Christ the Prince, and who were these kings?
A. - These kings were those that ruled over the nations of the earth.
Q. - In accordance with Christ's laws?
A. - No.
Q. - Then they were opposed to Christ?
A. - Yes, a great many of them.
Mr. Anderson then spoke for ten minutes. He said,
I established that Christ had all power on earth. Mr. Nisbet did not touch that or deny it, and wanted to say that the earth was not His because the apostles were not drawing rent from it. What right has he to judge people in the light of His having no territory? The fact that he has an obedient people proves that He is ruling them now, and if he does not strike men dead he is only deferring the punishment of men who are on His territory. But these are not subject to His laws, and those not subject to His laws are rebels on His territory, and will be punished by Him. Mr. Nisbet wants to confuse one phase of the kingdom with another. He says there always has been a Kingdom of God. In the sense of an overruling Providence that is so, but he admitted the Jews were in a kingdom, though not in that sense. He admits there was a time when the Kingdom of Israel began. That being so there must be another kingdom besides the one that always existed. Mr. Nisbet says it began with David.
Mr. Nisbet. - I made no such statement. I said David sat upon the throne of the Lord; it began at Mount Sinai.
Mr. Anderson. - Then that proves that it did not require an earthly king to make a kingdom. Samuel says God was their king before they asked an earthly king; that kingdom then so far resembles the kingdom now. This kingdom was ruled from the throne of God until they asked another king. All its laws were given through Moses, and it had subjects here on earth. In the very same way Christ sits upon the throne of God, and the power of that throne is handed to Him, and He reigns. He asked the people to be subject to Him, and all in heaven and earth are subject to Him. I want to call attention to that verse in Colossians which says "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness." Was he not referring there to the Colossians? Were they not in it? "And hath translated us into the kingdom." And yet the Colossians were not in the kingdom? Paul says to them, "In Him we have redemption through His blood." Was that confined to the apostles?
Mr. Nisbet. - Yes, that was given to them.
Mr. Anderson. - The poor saints were out of it; these were special blessings conferred upon the apostles. I shall not waste time in talking about a thing of that kind. I have said, and he has admitted, that the Jews were a kingdom different from that of God's overruling providence. I have pointed out that the Jewish kingdom came to an end. Mr. Nisbet says it began before it had a king. Then when did it come to an end? - there was something at an end that was here before. Christianity was not here then; it came immediately after that. Mr. Nisbet says that there is nothing here that can be called a kingdom. I say that is worse than nonsense.
Mr. Nisbet. - I distinctly said that it came into existence, was a Kingdom of God, and the apostles were in it.
Mr. Anderson. - I am here to prove that the kingdom that was at hand came immediately after. Mr. Nisbet admits that it came, and the apostles got into it, and I think he is out of it for the evening. That something which was at hand then came immediately after that. I have pointed out that Christ issues laws, has subjects, and asks the nations to be subject to them, and have showed that he ruled over territory. Notwithstanding that, with all the essentials of a kingdom, Mr. Nisbet denies that any kingdom in any real sense came into existence. Suppose I spend the next two minutes reading a portion of the 13th chapter of Matthew, 24th verse:- "Another parable put He forth unto them saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the household came and said unto him, 'Sir, did'st not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares?' He said unto them, 'An enemy hath done this.' The servants said unto him, 'Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?' But he said, 'Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn; but gather the wheat into my barn.'" Then turn to verse 36, "Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house; and His disciples came unto Him, saying, 'Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.' He answered and said unto them, 'He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that soweth them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.'"
Mr. Nisbet spoke for ten minutes as follows:-
It will be necessary that I should explain my position a little more fully, as, when my opponent does not understand me, it is not to be expected that the audience will. What I want to explain is this: "What is a kingdom? What are the essentials of a kingdom?" I may say that in Rev. xvi. 16, I think it is (Correction - Chap. xvii. 18), where there is a woman referred to "who reigneth over the kings of the earth," in the Revised Version you will find in the margin "who hath a kingdom over the kings of the earth." And another statement is that some of the kings agreed to give their kingdom to the beast. They did not give their territory. They gave the rule, or sway, or kingship. We are told that "a woman reigneth over the kings of the earth." Literally, "hath a kingdom over the kings of the earth." That was the position of the Pope of Rome, who had a kingdom over the kings of the earth, and yet he had not a bit of their territory. They retained the territory which was in the earth. He was their king, but he had no territory such as they possessed. He had some territory, but he had not the territory of these kings of the earth, and yet they had given to him their "kingdom." That shows the word "kingdom" was not used in Mr. Anderson's sense, such as when we speak of Great Britain and Ireland as being a kingdom. Such a kingdom means the "dom" of the king or the place where he exercises his rule, but in the New Testament it is used in the sense that we use the term "reign" - such as "in the reign of Cyrus," rendered the same way as "basileia" is rendered kingdom in the New Testament - which simply means kingship, or reign, or rule, and so you can have it "in the reign of Cyrus," the same word which was kingdom. Now God's reign over the earth has never been intermittent, but his reign upon the earth has been intermittent - has come and gone. It came again in the apostolic age and went away with the apostles, who have not been succeeded by any Kingdom of God upon the earth. But God's rule is over all, as we are told in Daniel, "God ruleth in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth," because He manipulates the actions of the kings of the earth so as to bring about His great or eternal purpose. Jesus said, "If I by the finger of God cast out demons, then, no doubt, the Kingdom of God is come upon you." There was the power of God in operation; there was the Kingdom of God. The power of God was in their midst acting through the apostles who were in the kingdom. Christ possessed the kingdom and exercised the powers of the kingdom. In Hebrews vi. 4-6 it says, it is impossible for those who have tasted the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to be renewed unto repentance. Judas found no place of repentance. Judas went to his own place. While Jesus was on earth he did not need to go to heaven to have a kingdom. In Rev. xvii. 18 and in the preceding verse we find that it was agreed to give a kingdom (basileia = rule). They gave nothing else. The kingdom that came about after John was seen in the power of God, and embraced as many as God was pleased to call to rule. "The kingdom was at hand." What does "at hand" mean? It is used in two senses. "When they came nigh to Jerusalem." That is the very same expression. Another sense is that of time, "Behold the hour is at hand." That was the time when Jesus was to be betrayed. That is the same expression. Here it is a matter of time. The Kingdom of God was at hand both as to time and place. "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand." There it was, a kingdom; it was there immediately; God was there, and Christ was there and the apostles were there. What has Mr. Anderson said by reply? He said Mr. Nisbet in his simple way tries to confuse two things. He can't prove that statement. It is his own confusion, the confusion is not mine. There is only one Kingdom of God, but it had various manifestations on earth, first in Moses and then in Saul, David and the Prophets, and went away; and a kingdom again came into existence in the earth and it also went away.
Mr. Anderson put the following questions to Mr. Nisbet:-
Q. - You say a kingdom means rule and power, and John was in it?
A. - Yes, John was in it, and exercised his power
Q. - You proved that from Rev. i. 9.?
A. - Partly.
Q. - You say the others were out and John was in it, and John says they were companions?
A. - Yes, because he was writing to the messengers of the churches - the "angels" of the churches associated in power with him.
Q. - You think that John was not writing to these churches? In Rev. i. 4, "John to the seven churches, and not to the messengers in this case. And he says, "I am your companion in tribulation in the kingdom." Do you deny that means the churches?
A. - Deny what?
Q. - That the churches were companions?
A. - I deny that it excludes the "angels" when you speak of the church.
Q. - But still it was to the churches he was writing, and to the churches when he said, "I am your companion in the kingdom?"
A. - It was for the churches through the "angels."
Q. - I shall leave that to be examined by those who care to examine it. You say "the kingdom at hand" meant the power to work miracles, expel demons, and that is what is meant by the kingdom?
A. - I gave you more than that; I said they raised the dead, healed the sick, cured the lepers, and preached the Kingdom of God to the poor.
Q. - Did you not say that was the kingdom of power which they exercised in casting out demons and such like?
A. - I said when they possessed a kingdom they had that power.
Q. - Did you say they had the power to work miracles, cast out demons, and such like?
A. - I don't confine it to that, but include these.
Q. - If that really was the kingdom, why did John preach the kingdom was at hand?
A. - John died, and there were no miracles then; since then the Kingdom of God was preached.
Q. - John was not the only preacher; John did not die before Jesus worked the miracles. Did not Jesus work the miracles and say - "Go and tell John what you see and hear," and preached the kingdom at hand then?
A. - They preached the kingdom at hand from the beginning of the preaching of John. It was at hand when John preached, and ultimately when the apostles received power from on high that Christ promised them, it was an accomplished fact.
Q. - Now, you admit that power was there, and still the kingdom was at hand?
A. - I don't admit such nonsense.
Q. - The Kingdom of heaven is like the parable. The enemy came and sowed tares. The field is the world; he that sowed the good seed, the Son of Man; the enemy was the devil; the good seed, the children of the Kingdom; the tares, the children of the wicked one; both grew together till the harvest. That is a mixed population, some serving God and some otherwise, and the kingdom is like that; is yours like that?
A. - That is something of it, but not the full extent of it.
Q. - Do you believe in a kingdom where both shall grow together?
A. - I don't; that parable is an application of a single aspect of the kingdom, and does not describe the kingdom as a whole. No parable has a general application, but is always particularly confined to one aspect.
Q. - Does that parable refer to the present aspect of things?
A. - Do you mean what we are speaking of, or the apostolic time?
Q. - I mean just now, that you and I are speaking of, that both grew together; does it refer to this dispensation.?
A. - I did not say a dispensation; it refers to the past, not to the present.
Q. - What period does it apply to?
A. - To the time when there is a kingdom. There is no kingdom now. You have got to prove that.
Q. - The kingdom was at hand; you admit the preaching of Jesus was a kingdom at hand?
A. - No; that was not the preaching of Jesus.
Q. - You deny that was the main theme of Christ's preaching?
A. - Yes; I deny it was the main theme of Christ's preaching, that it was that the Kingdom of God was at hand.
Q. - He preached the kingdom at hand?
A. - I am not saying that I deny it.
Q. - Look at Matthew iv. 17 - "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." That is Jesus, not John?
A. - I am just done saying that, but he did not confine Himself to that; it was not His main teaching.
Q. - Then, do you believe in this 13th chapter of Matthew, where He preached the kingdom as at hand, and He said, "the kingdom is like this?" Do you believe it was a kingdom at hand like that?
A. - He does not preach a kingdom at hand here; He tells them a parable about a kingdom.
Mr. Nisbet put questions to Mr. Anderson, as follows:-
Q. - The kingdom which was at hand, and came into existence in the days of Jesus Christ and the apostles, does it still exist on the earth?
A. - It still exists on the earth, as it existed when it came into existence after John's preaching.
Q. - Was it a kingdom on the earth then?
A. - The kingdom preached at hand was a kingdom when it came.
Q. - Is it a kingdom still?
A. - A kingdom still.
Q. - Is the Kingdom of God now in existence on earth?
A. - There is a Kingdom of God now in existence on earth.
Q. - A kingdom! Is there two kingdoms?
A. - You say there were two aspects; the Jews were one aspect.
Q. - I want to know if that kingdom which came into existence after the preaching of John is still on the earth?
A. - Yes.
Q. - And are there kings on the earth and territory?
A. - The proposition is before you, and it says it is ruled from the throne of God, and has its subjects on the earth.
Q. - You say that the Kingdom of God came into existence on earth and had kings. My question is - Had the Kingdom of God any kings belonging to it on earth?
A. - Not on the earth.
Q. - Will it ever have kings on the earth?
A. - No; the one at hand then never will.
Q. - Is it going out of existence sometime?
A. - Yes.
Q. - Was the kingdom at hand an everlasting one?
A. - There is an everlasting kingdom coming.
Q. - Is Jesus sitting on the throne of a different kingdom from the one that John preached?
A. - He is on the one that John said was just at hand.
Q. - Will the king go out of existence along with it?
A. - No.
Q. - The king will lose his kingdom?
A. - He will deliver up his kingdom to his Father.
Q. - No; you say it is to go out of existence. How can it do that when it is to be handed over?
A. - I could not tell you how it is going to happen.
Q. - You say that the kingdom introduced after the preaching of John is to go out of existence?
A. - Yes.
Q. - Would the king go out of existence?
A. - I said not as a person.
Q. - How could he hand over a kingdom to somebody else if it had gone out of existence?
A. - You have admitted that the kingdom has different aspects.
Q. - Answer me; don't question me. Do you believe that Jesus Christ will hand over a kingdom which does not exist?
A. - No; He will not hand over anything that is out of existence.
Q. - Is it to go out of existence?
A. - The kingdom which was at hand then will cease to be in that aspect when Christ comes again.
Q. - Will he hand it over?
A. - He will hand it over after a while.
Q. - Will He hand it over before it goes out of existence or after?
A. - Give me time to explain.
Q. - I want a "Yes" or "No."
A. - I know you want a "Yes" or "No," but you won't get it.
Mr. Wardrop, chairman for Mr. Anderson, intervening, said Mr. Nisbet was not tied up to "Yes" or "No," and what was fair for the one side was fair for the other, and if Mr. Anderson refused to answer "Yes" or "No," Mr. Nisbet could go on with another question.
Mr. Andrew Thomas, chairman for Mr. Nisbet, said Mr. Anderson should answer "Yes" or "No" when it could be done.
Mr. Nisbet continued his questions:-
Q. - What is the kingdom in the sense that John preached it as at hand? What did it mean and amount to?
A. - It means this: that the time was just at hand when the Jewish laws would cease to have authority, and that dispensation would end, and Christ would sit on the throne of God, with all the power in heaven and earth, and command all the nations to submit to Him as followers. And that time had come, and is here, and that is what it meant..
Q. - You affirm that this kingdom preached by John as at hand now exists; does it exist in part or in entirety?
A. - The kingdom at hand then now exists in its entirety.
Q. - Have the nations of the earth the opportunity of conforming to the commands of Jesus, that you refer to?
A. - A great many have, and others have not.
Q. - Then, it has not been realised yet?
A. - I don't see the force of that.
Q. - You said that was one of the things?
A. - There you are! Do you give a man time to answer?
Mr. Anderson put the following questions:-
Q. - In the parable of the tares they both grew together; the children of the wicked one and that of the kingdom. Do you admit that there could be a kingdom with wicked ones and obedient ones?
A. - There is no statement there that they existed.
Q. - And the kingdom existed and was composed of wicked and obedient ones?
A. - Where does it say that in the Bible?
Q. - The kingdom is like this?
A. - And what is your authority?
Q. - I read the parable to the end, but I am not bound to read it twice. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed?
A. - That is not the parable of the tares.
Q. - I shall read it then. Matthew xiii. 38, "The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one," etc. Here it states what the kingdom is like, what then is your reason for denying it?
A. - But you asked a question and I should be allowed to answer it.
Q. - There is a parable and the kingdom is like it.?
A. - Not the one John preached.
Q. - But you admitted it?
A. - I admitted a kingdom like this, not the parable which speaks of a Kingdom of Heaven which is the vineyard God planted under Saul and David and others, until finally destroyed at the coming of Christ, A.D. 70..
Q. - You think this parable refers to the days of David and does not refer to anything future?
A. - I said it refers to the past and the time future, A.D. 70, 35 years after Jesus was speaking..
Q. - Do you expect the kingdom coming will be like that?
A. - I said that a Kingdom of God existed under Saul and David. God planted a vineyard there and tried to bring some good from out of it, and sowed good seed. The result was bad, and in this parable Jesus says that during the time it existed the enemy sowed tares. There were children of the kingdom and owed their origin to the throne of the kingdom..
Mr. Nisbet put the following questions:-
Q. - You have said that a Kingdom of God existed in the time of the Kingdom of Israel.?
A. - There was a kingdom in the time of Israel.
Q. - And ruled by the kings of Israel?
A. - Ruled by the kings of Israel.
Q. - And was there not a Kingdom of the Lord in the days of David?
A. - Yes, but it was a kingdom before there was a David, an earthly king.
Q. - You agreed with me that it began under Moses. I stated that God gave them a king, and that the Kingdom of Israel was still a Kingdom of God in the hands of David?
A. - I believe that there was a Kingdom of God in the time of Israel.
Q. - We are agreed that a Kingdom of God existed under David, and that Kingdom of God disappeared from among men?
A. - Yes.
Q. - That rule ceased, and that was taking away the Kingdom of God?
A. - When the rule altogether ceased the kingdom ceased.
Q. - That it had altogether ceased?
A. - From the day of Pentecost, after Christ's resurrection, because then all men were commanded to obey Christ and not Moses.
Q. - So it existed in Israel at the Pentecost?
A. - Up till the teaching of Jesus, we had another kingdom preached by John at hand.
Q. - That is two side by side?
A. - The one was at hand; they were not side by side.
Q. - You believe and have stated that the kingdom which came into existence after John the Baptist's preaching was existing at that time?
A. - I know best myself what I mean.
Q. - Did the kingdom at hand that John preached come into existence after his preaching?
A. - Yes, certainly.
Q. - And existed before Jesus lived on earth?
A. - No.
Q. - It did not exist until Pentecost?
A. - It did not exist until Jesus Christ died.
Q. - So there was no kingdom during all the time that Jesus was preaching, healing the sick, etc., there was no such kingdom as at hand then existing?
A. - No, the kingdom at hand did not exist then.
Q. - How was He casting out demons when the Kingdom of God was upon them?
A. - He was exercising His power of God while he was preaching, showing the He could bring to pass all He said.
Mr. Anderson then spoke as follows:-
It is a fact that there is a universal Kingdom of God, and the Scriptures refer to it. It is a fact that the Jewish kingdom and dispensation are called a Kingdom of God. It is another fact that there is a kingdom into which the apostles got, and that was just at hand in the days of John the Baptist. But Mr. Nisbet's main point has been to jumble them all up together, and say they are all the same kingdom. And when dealing with these different aspects he wanted to put it like this - There is a kingdom now that will cease to be then. I suppose he will hand it up to the Father after it has ceased to be.
Mr. Nisbet. - I rise to a point of order. When Mr. Anderson is saying that I make a confusion between handing over and a thing ceasing, I had nothing to do with that, but was asking a question upon his view.
Mr. Anderson. - Mr. Nisbet was dealing with different aspects of the kingdom; and it was Jesus who taught that the kingdom had different aspects. Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." He did not mean that the Jewish nation as a Jewish nation would be taken from them and handed over to somebody else, and that God has two kingdoms at one time upon the earth. There was the Jewish dispensation that was called the Kingdom of God while it existed. Then when Christ comes again there will be a change: the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour. In each dispensation, severally, there is a kingdom and each is called the Kingdom of God. When I he would hand up the kingdom to the Father I had to have the absurdity pressed upon me - Did he hand over a thing that was previously out of existence, and because I did not give a "Yes" or "No" I was out of order, and Mr. Nisbet called that contradictory. I am as anxious to find the truth as any man, but I want the thing to go as straightforward as I can. You can read Colossians i. 13, and try to find if these things are confined to the apostles and them only. I have pointed out that Christ sits on the throne with all power there handed over to him, and Mr. Nisbet has not denied that. I have shown that principalities and powers are subject to Christ. Now that cannot be denied. I have shown that the word he has spoken will judge you in the last day, that shows power and reign. That only was at hand in the days of Jesus and John the Baptist and the Twelve as they preached through Palestine. I said there was something at hand coming. The parable of the wheat and tares suits this dispensation. We have the children of God now on earth, and the children of the wicked with them, and the parable says it is like that, but both have to go together to the harvest. Then will the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. That is, there is a kingdom when the wheat and tares grow together. It is a kingdom after the separation has taken place; it is a kingdom in both aspects, but not the same aspect. Call it two kingdoms or aspects, it is a matter of no comment to me. But it does not suit the kingdom of Mr. Nisbet, and he hands it back to the days of the Jews. If that is not an absurdity, it is as near it as anything I know. Jesus Christ and the apostles said the kingdom was at hand, and put down its principles, and in that sense the kingdom did come to them, and the principles were put down and promulgated. That parable will suit now, and it will suit the future. I have given proof and put down reasons for everything I have said concerning the kingdom. Mr. Nisbet has put the apostles as in the kingdom, John in the kingdom, and companions in the kingdom. He has a kingdom of rulers without subjects. There was a kingdom in the days of the apostles, and it went out of existence with the apostles. Did ever anybody read the New Testament and think that this was based on a solid footing? The words of the apostles are binding today. If not, there is no heaven. If the apostles have gone out of power there is no heaven for anybody, no gospel on the face of the earth, and yet Christianity was sent to all the world and to every creature. Jesus Christ, by all power of heaven and earth, is sending it to all creatures. That kingdom, which was at hand then, is here now, and believers are being translated into it now as then, and it is a higher and greater kingdom than ever was in the days of Solomon or David.
Mr. Nisbet then concluded the debate as follows:-
We have arrived at the end of the first night's debate. Let me endeavour to recapitulate my position, so that my position in relation to Mr. Anderson's may be made more apparent. We have agreed that the Kingdom of God has always existed, does now exist and always will exist. I differed with Mr. Anderson that a Kingdom of God, once having existed, can go out of existence. Mr. Anderson feels a little sore at my questions on that particular point. He had evidently in view that passage in 1st Corinthians, xv. 48. There is not much going out of existence there. He must reign until he has put all enemies under His feet. What does He do when He accomplishes that? He hands over the kingdom to God, even the Father, that God may be all in all. There is no distinction then between the rulers and the ruled, that distinction having obtained up till that time. We are agreed the kingdom was in existence with Christ at its head on earth, and the nations the subjects, the saints the rulers; and he quotes this passage to show the passing out of existence of the previous kingdom. That is nonsense, because the kingdom never passes out of existence; it only ceased to operate in certain spheres, according to His will. There has only been one kingdom. I asked Mr. Anderson what was meant by a manifestation, but I did not get it.
Mr. Anderson. - To manifest a thing is to make it plain.
Mr. Nisbet. - The kingdom was to be made manifest from the commencement of the day of Pentecost. That kingdom which was seen existed then, and that kingdom, he says, is to cease to exist; but he did not say whether it was to be destroyed, or what was to be done with it. But he confounded another passage with the end of the dispensation. The Kingdom of God was not out of existence; it simply ceased to be manifest among men that God wields that power by which it is manifest and seen. Mr. Anderson did not give us a particle of proof to show that the Kingdom of God came into existence in the days of Pentecost. I have brought forward proof from the mouth of Jesus in support of my contention that the Kingdom of God existed here when Jesus was on earth, and that He gave proof of it in His statements by pointing to the works He had done. That was demonstrative proof that a Kingdom of God existed, that the powers of that coming age when it shall exist on the earth were manifest in the healing of the sick, raising the dead, etc. The authority quoted by Mr. Anderson gives a commandment from Jesus - "to be made known amongst all nations" for the establishment of - a kingdom? No; for the obedience of the faith. And that was all; there was never a promise of that that Jesus mentioned of an entrance at once into the Kingdom of God, but the ordinary believers of the gospel were promised entrance into the coming Kingdom of God, when it did come. But they were not in the kingdom then. The apostles were in it. John wrote to the officials in the kingdom - to the messengers of the churches. At the beginning we are told that he would make things known concerning things which were to come to pass. These things were written about and made known to the church through the officials of the church. But Mr. Anderson has not proved that the ordinary believers were in the kingdom. He has only shown that they were in the church; but I know his people distinguish between the kingdom and the church. He has told us tonight that the Kingdom of God came into existence on Pentecost, and he has not given us the least vestige of proof. I agree that the church existed, that there were prophets, apostles, and pastors and teachers until the perfect day came. But to say that was the Kingdom of God, composed of ordinary believers and those who had the rule over them, is to say something for which you have no proof. Passing to Colossians i. 3, "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you." Verse 7. - Notice the "ye," "As ye also learned," etc. Verse 8. - "Who also declared unto us." There is an "us" which does not include the "you." The "us" we are told something about and the "you." And he says (verse 9) - " We also did not cease to pray for you." "Who delivered us." Mr. Anderson can't get "you" there. It is not "who delivered you," but "us," from the power of darkness and translated "us" into the Kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption. It was not the redemption of the ordinary believers; it was for their redemption.
Second Night's Discussion.
The debate was continued on the following evening before an attentive audience.
Mr. Anderson (speaking for ten minutes) said:-
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Nisbet, ladies and gentlemen, I have the privilege to again open the debate this evening. First, let me refer to the theory of the kingdom as propounded by Mr. Nisbet last night. He says that there is just one kingdom, and that that kingdom always was, and has always been the same. I don't say he has been uniform in this statement. He has repeatedly veered from it, but I think I am right in thinking that that is, in the main, his theory. If that is Mr. Nisbet's belief, he will have some difficulty in explaining away some passages in the Old and New Testaments. For instance in the second chapter of Daniel you have the dream of Nebuchadnezzer, of the four metals which are said to represent four kingdoms, and in verse 44 we read, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." Now, if the kingdom always was, as Mr. Nisbet maintains, there must have been a kingdom long before that time. How then could it be set up afterwards? Last night I pointed out that the Kingdom of Heaven was preached as at hand by John the Baptist, but if the kingdom was always the same, there was no need for such preaching. But notwithstanding all this, Mr. Nisbet admitted that according to Colossians i. 13, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son," that there was a kingdom and that the apostles were in it. He also admitted that that kingdom was not in existence in the days of John the Baptist, and although he forgot to prove it, he contended that it died with the apostles. A kingdom implies a few things. It implies a king, laws, and subjects. If there was a kingdom then there was a king, and if Jesus is referred to as sitting on the throne of God, surely he is a king with angels and authorities and powers subject to Him. The power to grant salvation and the remission of sins is also in His hand. That kingdom had its beginning in the days of the apostles, and is not ended yet. From the first Pentecost after Christ's resurrection the main theme of the twelve apostles was to preach the exalted Christ. Suppose we read from Acts ii. 29, "Men and brethren," said Peter, "let me speak freely unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to Him that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne: He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus has God raised up whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which you now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens, but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ." Is that nothing? If after Christ was raised up and exalted to God's right hand to sit there until his foes might be made his footstool, surely Jesus occupied a more exalted position after Pentecost than before it. And yet Mr. Nisbet maintains that there is no proof that he did. These passages about Christ receiving power received no attention from him last night. Let us again examine Colossians i. 13, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son." Mr. Nisbet last night said the "us" only referred to Paul and Timotheus, and that the Colossians did not share in the deliverance. The next passage says, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." According to Mr. Nisbet the Colossians did not share in this either. Mr. Nisbet tried to prove his point, but at a terrible cost to the Colossians. Referring to the parable of the wheat and the tares, Mr. Anderson said the wheat and the tares, allegorically speaking, grew together at the present day, but the time would come when the separation would take place.
Speaking for ten minutes, Mr. Nisbet said:-
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, as Mr. Anderson's remarks this evening refer only to what took place last night, I will deal with them first. He says that Mr. Nisbet's theory is one kingdom only. He is right, one kingdom only. Not two kingdoms. One Kingdom of God, always existing, never ending.
"My kingdom hath none end at all,
It doth through ages all remain."
That is what I believe, and Mr. Anderson is right in saying that that is my theory. Then he says that Mr. Nisbet will have some difficulty in explaining away some passages in the Old and New Testaments. He says, if Mr. Nisbet says it always was the same, how could it be? But Mr. Nisbet never said that: he said the very opposite. During the course of ages God manifested himself in many diverse ways, and when Christ was on earth there was a variation. The Jews felt this when the Kingdom of God was taken away from them. There was a change in the aspect of the kingdom in the apostolic age, just as there was in the age which preceded it, but during these ages God never left his throne in Heaven or ceased to sit in judgment upon the sons of men. So that if there was any difficulty it was one of Mr. Anderson's own creation. Mr. Anderson said that Mr. Nisbet admitted a kingdom in Colossians, and that the apostles were in it; but I never said that the kingdom died with the apostles. I never used such an expression. I said that the kingdom which ceased from among men existed under David. It appeared among men again, it ceased from among men with the apostles, and does not now exist in the earth. If Mr. Anderson had the courage of his convictions he would try to prove that a Kingdom of God (implying a king, laws, and subjects) as preached at hand by John the Baptist, with Jesus on the throne, now exists on earth; and that it commenced with the apostolic age. He said that from the first Pentecost the kingdom was no longer at hand, but he failed to prove it. In Acts ii. 36, Jesus was made Lord and Christ, but the was that before he suffered on Calvary, for, prior to that Thomas addressed him as "my Lord and my God." If Thomas was right, Mr. Anderson is wrong, for if God made Jesus Lord and Christ before Pentecost, when the kingdom did not exist that Mr. Anderson claims now to exist, surely that means something.
Ten minutes questions by Mr. Anderson:-
Q. - You admit, Mr. Nisbet, that Christ is on the throne of God?
A. - He is sitting on the right hand of the throne.
Q. - With all the power of heaven?
A. - With all what power?
Q. - You deny all power then?
A. - I don't, but I want to know what power you include.
Q. - You will please not interrupt me by putting questions. If you would stop quibbling we would get on much faster. Do you deny that Christ has all the power of heaven?
A. - All what power.
Q. - Over men and angels?
A. - No, but I maintain that -
Q. - Suppose you just hold your tongue while I put my questions. You said last night that David was king?
A. - David was king of Israel.
Q. - And Jesus now sits on the throne of God?
A. - I said distinctly that he was sitting at the right hand of the throne of God.
Q. - And possesses all power in heaven and on earth?
A. - You decline to let me answer that question my own way.
Q. - Is the Lord king of all the earth?
A. - As prince of the apostle age -.
Q. - Does he rule as a king?
A. - As a king or priest unto God His Father.
Q. - Then he no longer rules?
A. - He ruled as prince of the kings of the earth. You have my meaning in Revelation i. 4: John to the Seven Churches.
Q. - The Christ is only a prince?
A. - He is a good deal more than a prince. He is a prince giving redemption. He acts in the capacity of a captain under a sovereign.
Q. - Then he holds power, but does not rule anyone?
A. - He just rules in the same way as a captain rules.
Q. - Then he is a king and yet not a king?
A. - No. I say that he is -.
Q. - If he was a king then why is he not a king now?
A. - He is a king without a kingdom. He has got a kingdom, but it is not here yet.
Q. - In Acts v. 31, you find, "Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." Can he exercise the divine rule now?
A. - What do you mean by the divine rule.
Q. - You hold that God is highest?
A. - There is none higher.
Q. - And although Jesus is seated on the throne of God - ?
A. - I deny that. You are repeatedly putting words into my mouth. I admit Jesus had all power in heaven and on earth, but he is not on the throne of God.
Q. - If he has all power in heaven and on earth, what power has he not?
A. - I will explain that in my speech. You will not allow me to answer questions in my own way.
Q. - If Christ is seated on the right hand of His Father, why has he not power to exercise the highest rule?
A. - He has the right to exercise it when God's time comes.
Ten minutes questions by Mr. Nisbet:-
Q. - In Colossians i. 13, you say that I referred to Paul and Timotheus as sharing forgiveness, but not the Colossians. Do you believe I excluded the Colossians?
A. - I put the question to you if verse 14 applied to the apostles also, and you said yes, but you said the Colossians did not receive the forgiveness of sins.
Q. - Did I say that the Colossians had not received the forgiveness of sins?
A. - You said that that verse referred to the apostles and the apostles only.
Q. - Did I say that the Colossians were not included?
A. - I understood from what you said that the Colossians were not included.
Q. - Did I say they were not included?
A. - I understood you to say that.
Mr. Nisbet appealed to his chairman to get Mr. Anderson to answer the question more directly, and the chairman said that Mr. Anderson had interpreted his words as they struck him at the time. Mr. Nisbet - It simply means that Mr. Anderson is not prepared to answer my question.
Q. - Are the Colossians distinguished here from the apostles?
A. - Sometimes.
Q. - Do you admit that the eighth verse includes them?
A. - It does not exclude them.
Q. - In the ninth verse does the "you" mean the Colossians?
A. - Yes.
Q. - And the tenth verse still includes them?
A. - Yes.
Q. - The twelfth verse says, "Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Does that include the Colossians?
A. - It is us giving thanks.
Q. - Does the "us giving thanks" mean the Colossians?
A. - Yes.
Q. - Then take the thirteenth verse, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son." Whom does the "us" mean there?
A. - You must take the context.
Q. - Well, you have alleged that in the twelfth verse the "us giving thanks" are the Colossians. Does it mean that the "us" have been delivered from the power of darkness, and have been translated into the kingdom of His dear Son?
A. - That is not denied.
Q. - Then these verses only refer to the Colossians?
A. - They don't necessarily refer to them only.
Q. - Do you think that Christ has authority to grant the remission of sins?
A. - That is not denied.
Q. - Now take 1st Corinthians, xv. 23, "every man in his own order, Christ the firstfruits, afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father." Do you admit that between his coming and the "then," when the kingdom shall be delivered up, that there is a period of 1,000 years?
A. - I admit no such thing.
Speaking for ten minutes, Mr. Anderson said:-
Mr. Nisbet has given Christ a certain amount of authority, but he did not say how much he had left out, although he admitted that he had all authority in Heaven and earth, and was sitting at the right hand of the throne of God. According to Mr. Nisbet His power is not yet complete. I am at a loss to know what more power He can have, and why he is not as great now as He will be. According to Mr. Nisbet Christ has to reign 1,000 years on earth after he comes, and then deliver up the kingdom to the Father. He is coming in flaming fire to take vengeance on the wicked and punish them with everlasting destruction. He at the same time glorifies the saints. How can there is 1,000 years of a flesh and blood state after that? When he comes the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. How can there be 1,000 years on this earth after that? Mr. Nisbet applied the parable of the wheat and the tares to the end of the Jewish kingdom, but it applies to the present day, when the wheat and the tares grow together. When Christ comes he will separate the wicked from the righteous. Mr. Nisbet's contention that the wheat and the tares refer to the end of the Jewish kingdom is absurd. In the parable He that sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. In the Jewish kingdom it was the word of Moses that gave a standing or otherwise. Did the righteous shine forth as the sun on and after the destruction of Jerusalem? If Mr. Nisbet is right, how could they shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of there Father when he says there was no kingdom after that for them to shine in? It will fit now and the future, it will fit nothing else. In Matthew xiii. 47, we read, "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to the shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world, the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from the just, and shall cast them into the furnace; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." At the present time the righteous and the wicked live together, but in the next dispensation they will be separated. Take the thirty-first verse of the same chapter. "Another parable put he forth unto them saying, The Kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." The kingdom here spoken of began slowly, but the next kingdom will come like a flash of lightning; it will come as the flood came upon Noah, and as the destruction came upon Sodom. Suppose now we take the third-third verse of the same chapter. "Another parable spake he unto them: The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." Christianity began a little thing. It is now a mighty influence on earth, and when the Lord comes again he comes to administer justice. Christ in the meantime, I hold, sits on His father's throne, and if He sits there He sits by permission, and has all authority in Heaven and on earth.
Speaking for ten minutes, Mr. Nisbet said:-
My purpose tonight has been to set before you the simple truth as it is in Christ, and I now wish to direct your attention to different ages which, in my opinion, marked different manifestations of the kingdom. There was the Mosaic age, which was followed by the Apostolic age. When Jesus was asked for a sign as to when the end of the world would be, he was asked for a sign as to when the Jewish age was to end, for the word here rendered "world" means "age" (aion), and has no reference to the material earth. This age began under Moses with "a kingdom of priests and an holy nation." It was continued under judges, until the people asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, who was followed by David, who, we are told, sat upon the throne of the Kingdom of the Lord. The Kingdom of God was thus existent in the kingdom of Israel. God was their king. Thus David ruled for God, as did those who succeeded him upon the throne. While the people were obedient to God all went well with them, but when they departed from the right paths God withdrew his power, and their enemies overcame them. The kingdoms of Israel and Judah - for the kingdom was divided under Jeroboam and Rehoboam - continued with varying fortunes for many years. The kingdom of Israel ceased under Zedekiah, while the kingdom of Judah continued to exist, but latterly the Jews passed into a state of vassalage to Rome, and finally the commonwealth of Judah ceased at "the end of the world" - about A.D. 70 - when the temple was destroyed with the city, and multitudes of the Jews perished at the hands of the Romans. Thus "the Kingdom of God had been taken away from them" to be "given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." That kingdom was given to Jesus as king, and to the apostles as administrators of the power, and exercised by them according to the will of God. Thus Jesus could say, "If I by the finger of God cast out demons, then no doubt the Kingdom of God is come upon you." Thus also it could be said, in reference to the twelve, Matthew xi. 11, "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he." If Mr. Anderson says the kingdom never passed through any changes and did not exist before John the Baptist was put to death, he will have some difficulty in explaining these passages.
Ten minutes questions by Mr. Anderson:-
Q. - When do you suppose the laws of Moses ceased to be binding upon God's people?
A. - When the temple ceased to exist.
Q. - Are such laws binding now?
A. - No.
Q. - Suppose you had lived after Christ died and rose again, would the laws of Moses have been binding on you?
A. - No; the laws of Moses were never binding upon Gentiles.
Q. - Were the laws of Moses ever binding on the people of Christ?
A. - As long as the Jewish dispensation existed they were binding on the Jews.
Q. - You don't think that it was after Christ's death that the law of Moses ceased to be binding?
A. - No, I don't think the law of Moses ended then. It was absolutely necessary that there should be some kind of national law prior to the destruction of the Temple. Up to that period the law of Moses did God's work.
Q. - You don't admit that from the time of the Lord's resurrection the law of Moses was no longer binding?
A. - I answered that question already. As long as the Jewish dispensation existed they were binding upon the Jews.
Q. - Granted that we are serving Christ, did John the Baptist, living, as you say, in the Jewish dispensation, have any of the benefits of the Christian dispensation?
A. - I am afraid that question is too involved.
Q. - I was also afraid of that. We have blessings and privileges that John the Baptist had no opportunity of enjoying?
A. - I don't know that we have. I know that the apostles had.
Q. - Do you deny it?
A. - I simply don't admit it.
Q. - John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ?
A. - Yes.
Q. - And as such of course lived before the coming of Christ?
A. - Yes.
Q. - Then we have blessings and privileges that John the Baptist had no opportunity of enjoying?
A. - I am not prepared to admit that.
Q. - Would the law of Moses have been binding had you lived after Christ's death?
A. - I don't know anything about that beyond that it was not binding upon believers.
Q. - You admit different aspects of the kingdom?
A. - I do.
Q. - And you said that this aspect of the kingdom came into existence when?
A. - I am not aware that I stated any particular time.
Q. - I am asking a question Do you admit that this aspect of the kingdom came into existence when Christ was given all authority in Heaven and on earth, with power to grant the forgiveness of sins?
A. - The forgiveness of sins does not come into the question at all. It is apart from the subject of the kingdom altogether.
Q. - Did this aspect come into existence with John the Baptist?
A. - I said there were aspects of the kingdom, but I never said this was an aspect of the kingdom.
Ten minutes questions by Mr. Nisbet:-
Q. - Do you believe that to the end of the Jewish dispensation there existed different phases of the Kingdom of God?
A. - I accept that roughly.
Q. - Do you admit that one began when the other ended?
A. - Yes.
Q. - Do you think these were ages?
A. - In a general way they were.
Q. - Then do you believe that the flood was an age of the Kingdom of God?
A. - I don't think it is so stated.
Q. - Do you agree with me that the periods I have mentioned were ages of the Kingdom of God?
A. - I never called them ages.
Q. - You don't admit them to be?
A. - I never said they were.
Q. - Did I ever say that the Mosaic age did not include a manifestation of the Kingdom of God?
A. - Last night I understood you to say certain people were in the kingdom.
Q. - Do you understand me now to believe that during the Mosaic age there was a manifestation of the Kingdom of God?
A. - I understood you to say that the aspect presenting itself of the Kingdom of God among men was manifested otherwise than on earth.
Mr. Nisbet - Supposing you now turn your attention to Ephesians ii. 5, you will there read the following, "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved:) and hath raised us up together in heavenly places in Jesus Christ. That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus. For by grace ye are saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."
Q. - Does "ye" include the apostles?
A. - It includes those regarding whom it is written.
Q. - Then it is not the apostles that are saved by grace?
A. - No.
Q. - And yet when I quote from Colossians i. 13, you admit what is there written does not exclude the apostles?
A. - You misunderstand me. I did not say the apostles were not saved.
Q. - As far as the passage is concerned, you did. Take the twelfth verse of the previous chapter of Ephesians, "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ." Are you prepared to say that that does not exclusively apply to the apostles?
A. - I have no desire to do so..
Five minutes questions by Mr. Anderson.
Q. - Do you admit that David sat on the throne of God?
A. - You mean that God gave up reigning.
Q. - Do you admit that He sat as king?
A. - In so far as the earthly throne was concerned, yes.
Q. - Jesus is now on the right hand of the throne of God?
A. - Yes.
Q. - If sitting there previously made David a king, I don't see why Jesus should not be a king too?
A. - The time is not yet.
Q. - Then Christ has lost all authority and power?
A. - I never said he had lost all authority and power. His power is not manifested as in the apostolic age.
Q. - What reason was there why Christ was not made king when he took David's place at the right hand of the throne of God?
A. - I cannot give any reason unless that His kingdom has not yet come.
Q. - Do you believe that only God gives forgiveness of sins?
A. - Christ had the power vested in Him, but in the meantime He only acts as intercessor.
Q. - Seeing Christ is a prince, and sits on the throne of God, how is he not a king?
A. - Did I say He is not a king? He was born a king, but he does not yet sit on His father David's throne. I have said so repeatedly, and you would be saving a good deal of time if you would remember it. He is a king in the matter of power, but he has not come into His kingdom yet. He is as one who has "gone into a far country to receive a kingdom and to return." He will take possession when he returns.
Five minutes questions by Mr. Nisbet:-
Q. - Is the throne of David in Heaven?
A. - No.
Q. - Is Christ sitting upon the throne of his father David?
A. - He was placed there by God. Christ is sitting on the throne of God.
Q. - Is the throne of David in heaven?
A. - The throne of David is not now anywhere.
Q. - Then how is Christ sitting upon it?
A. - Simply in the way I explained.
Q. - That is anywhere. Is the throne of David in Heaven?
A. - The throne that David sat upon is not in Heaven.
Q. - You mean the material throne?
A. - I understood that that was what you meant by your question.
Q. - Do you believe that Jesus is sitting upon the throne of His father David?
A. - Yes, He is sitting upon His Father's throne.
My friend's whole contention is that Christ went right up to heaven, and His kingdom thereupon came into existence. He tries to find support to his case by stating that before Christ's time David sat on the throne for God. But there was no such kingdom at that time.
Q. - Do you believe that in the Kingdom of Heaven Christ is now seated upon the throne of David?
A. - Yes.
Q. - And do you believe that there will be any end to the kingdom?
A. - This kingdom will come to an end, but there is a kingdom coming that will have no end.
Speaking for fifteen minutes, Mr. Anderson said:-
Mr. Nisbet thinks that I will have great difficulty with John the Baptist. I confess that I have no difficulty. John the Baptist preached in the Jewish dispensation, consequently the least in the kingdom that was at hand was greater than John. To say that the least in heaven was greater than John the Baptist would be to hold something altogether absurd. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ, and surely anyone who lived in the second dispensation, when the Kingdom of God which John preached as at hand had come, enjoyed a blessing greater and grander than John could enjoy. David ruled over God's people in the last dispensation; Christ sits on His Father's throne and rules His people in this dispensation. The laws of Moses were binding on God's people in the days of John the Baptist, but there came a time when they were no longer binding. Notwithstanding all that took place at the time of Christ's resurrection and ascension, Mr. Nisbet will not allow that a kingdom was then set up. He was going to tell us when the kingdom that the apostles were in came to an end, but he did not do it, and it is too late now to introduce any fresh matter into the debate. He has said nothing to shake the grand truths of the Gospel which John the Baptist preached as at hand, and he has gone nothing to shake the fact that Christ is at the right hand of God, having all power in Heaven and on earth. He never tried to controvert those passages, but left them very severely alone. He says that Christ has all power, but no authority to exercise it. Although Christ has power to save now and power to judge at the last day, I maintain that he is reigning now, and the Scriptures are in my favour, for Jesus said after his resurrection, "All power is given me in heaven and on earth." I have no difficulty with the future kingdom. I accept the kingdom with the future glory, and I believe that in the future dispensation the righteous shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and the tares will be cast into the fire. In dealing with the Colossians, Mr. Nisbet made a most miserable failure. At that point he allowed that the apostles entered the kingdom, but neither before nor since has anyone been admitted, although God has laws and subjects on earth, and Jesus sits on the throne of heaven. This report will possibly be printed, and the supporters of Mr. Nisbet will see that if Christ had a kingdom then he must have a kingdom now, with all power in heaven and on earth. There has been no change in government from that time to this, and if he had a kingdom then he has a kingdom now.
Mr. Anderson was about to make a statement about the material kingdom as ruled over by David, when Mr. Nisbet rose and contended that Mr. Anderson should not be allowed to go into that aspect of the question. He (Mr. Nisbet) had made no reference to the material kingdom.
Mr. Anderson - I am making a statement.
Mr. Nisbet - I object to it, and ask your Chairman for his ruling.
The Chairman having decided that Mr. Anderson at this stage could not introduce any fresh matter into the debate,
Mr. Anderson (proceeding) said that the Kingdom of God, being ruled from the throne of God, does not hinder it from being a kingdom. I am quite satisfied that there are aspects of this in the New Testament. In John xviii. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world" I am convinced that there is a kingdom in existence now far higher, far greater than existed in the days of John the Baptist, and when it came into being there were many prepared to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their King and Ruler. To enter this kingdom you must be born again, and I hold that that is a greater and fuller blessing than John the Baptist ever enjoyed. Many of Christ's grand and noble subjects were prepared to die for Him, and many were prepared to give up their all for Him. In the kingdom which I claim is now in existence there is nothing defective, it has nothing awanting, and Mr. Nisbet has not shaken by one iota my contention that Jesus reigns. I have proved that Jesus has all power in heaven and on earth, with laws and subjects, and it lies with Mr. Nisbet to say what prevents that from being a kingdom.
Speaking for fifteen minutes, Mr. Nisbet said:-
Mr. Anderson has said this report is likely to go to print. Well, this is generally a matter of agreement between disputants, and although I have no objection to the report, I wish to say that we have given no authority for it. I think it only fair, however, that I should be allowed to revise my portion before the report goes to the public.
Mr. Anderson - If you were not consulted, the fault is not mine. I wrote my committee sometime ago about consulting the other side regarding the reporting of the debate. As far as I am concerned, Mr. Nisbet will be allowed to revise his own speeches.
Mr. Nisbet - My committee was informed about the possibility of the debate being reported, but the other side gave orders for reporters before waiting to get our answer.
Mr. Neice (from the body of the hall) - I deny that statement.
Mr. Nisbet - I am not objecting to the report, and I am quite prepared to waive any rights I may have, but now that Mr. Anderson has promised that I will be allowed to revise my portion of debate, no more need be said.
To resume the debate: Mr. Anderson had said that Jesus once remarked, "My kingdom is not of this world." Christ had a kingdom, Mr. Anderson assures us, but it was not until the day of Pentecost that it came into existence. It was during his ministry that Christ used these words, so if He had a kingdom then he did not require to wait until the day of Pentecost to reveal it. According to Mr. Anderson, it would appear that Christ had a kingdom somewhere up His sleeve, which He did not produce until the day of Pentecost. Mr. Anderson accused me of confusing the issue, but he has made that issue worse confounded when he quotes Jesus to say, "My kingdom is not of this world." The kingdom came into existence gradually, not on the day of Pentecost. Mr. Anderson made a great deal about Christ possessing all authority and power, but he produced no feasible argument to show that at any time, even in His exalted position, he had exercised these powers. Jesus stood to the people in the relation of their Saviour, and until the time came for him to take possession of his kingdom he would occupy a subordinate position. Mr. Anderson had accused me of not supporting my arguments by passages from the Scriptures. I hardly think that is necessary when, as Mr. Anderson admits, the kingdom, which I hold has not come yet, gradually grew from very small beginnings. The kingdom will not come until Christ returns, and then he will take over the rule from His enemies, and when "the kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord He will reign for ever and ever," and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Then shall He occupy a position higher than His father David ever occupied. My contention is that God's kingdom always existed, but that from time to time various changes have taken place - it has appeared and disappeared; but it comes to stay. The Kingdom of God is an everlasting kingdom, and when the kingdom of man ceases to exist the Kingdom of God will take its place. Then shall the righteous shine forth and the wicked be rooted out. These are matters which demand very serious enquiry, and although I don't expect we will all ever see eye to eye on all points of the Scriptures, yet I think we should be at one on this glorious truth of the Old and New Testaments. If in this discussion I have shown any undue heat towards my opponent, I hope he will overlook it.
The Chairman having intimated that the discussion was now closed,
Mr. Nisbet moved a vote of thanks to the Chairmen, and Mr. Anderson seconded.
This document was produced using an evaluation version of HTML Transit 2