1) That's right! I also don't understand, how a revolutionary movement by worshipers of God could fail.
Answer: There are even stranger things in this. England sent General Gordon with a force of riflemen to help the Manchu government suppress the forces of the Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom. The strangest part of this affair was that Gordon was reputed to be a "Christian general" who prayed every day, and Hong Xiu-quan had learned of the true God from a Bible translated by a British missionary. So here we have a Christian country sending a Christian general leading a force of riflemen to help the feudal Ching dynasty suppress the Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom that believed in the true God and Jesus Christ.
2) I don't see how a Christian nation could refuse to support a Christian power, and help a feudal dynasty to suppress it..
Answer: The answer to this question is not hard to find. After Hong Xiu-quan established his capital in Nanjing, The British government sent an envoy to call on him and inquire into his foreign policy. Hong told him that his policy was based on the principle of equality and mutual respect, which meant that if he succeeded in overthrowing the Manchu government, he would not honor the unfair treaties which the imperial powers had forced on that government. So in order to protect their colonial interests, the British decided to side with the Ching government. Thus it becomes clear that a kingdom of this world cares only for worldly , not spiritual interests. Under the temptation of material gain, even a "Christian" general had to take orders from his imperial masters.
3) Here we see the truth of Jesus words, "No man can serve two masters; . . .Ye cannot serve God and mammon." The religion of British imperialism was guided by the amount of money it got. But was Hong Xiu-quan right in his practice of religion?
Answer: This is answered in Christ's words, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." John 18:36. Since it is the kingdom of God, it cannot be built by worldly means. Worldly power is built on military force; Christ's kingdom is built on love, as shown in His life and death. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 1 John 4:11 says, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
4) Yes! There's a basic difference between the kingdom of God and worldly ones. And the main difference is in the people.
Answer: Correct. And the reason the kingdom of God has not yet been established, is because He has not yet gathered enough people to populate it. Rom. 11:25 says, "I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, . . .that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved." Here "all Israel" refers to true Israelites. Rom. 2:28,29 says, "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." So "all Israel" refers to all who are chosen of God, including Gentiles from "every nation, tribe, tongue, and
people." Rev. 14:6,7
5) You've just said that the inhabitants of the kingdom of heaven are different from worldly kingdoms, and then you say they include every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. How do you explain that?
Answer: By "different" I mean that a change has taken place in the heart. They have been born again. Jesus says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:6. The inhabitants God prepares for His kingdom must all be born of the Spirit and suited to the conditions of that kingdom.
6) Some say that the kingdom Christ builds is the Church. The stone which strikes the feet of the image of Daniel 2 and then becomes a mountain, they say is fulfilled in the Church that has spread to the whole world. Is that correct?
Answer: No, that is not correct. It is false. According to the prophecy, the stone strikes the feet, which represents the nations of modern Europe. Now when did the Church arise? It arose in the days of Rome. So this theory does not match the time scale. Moroever, the rock smashes the image into pieces which disappear completely. Has the church destroyed the nations? No.
Another chief point of the vision is that the rock is cut out without hands and strikes the image instantly, whereas the Church has developed over centuries of time, and even to this day it has not yet entered every corner of the earth.
7) Please give us more Bible texts to show how worldly kingdoms are built on force, while God's kingdom is built on love.
Answer: Because worldly kingdoms are built by force, they must change hands repeatedly. Nietsche's philosophy is based on the survival of the fittest. Hitler fell for the idea and claimed that the German race was most superior, and was bound to rule the world. The second world war was the result of his putting this idea to practice. In the end this self-styled "super race" had to give in to a stronger power. According to Bible prophecy, this vicious cycle must stop. Power politics must give way to the power of love.
This change will not be gradual, but very sudden, and will cause a change more thorough than that caused by Noah's flood.
8) If this is true, then before it happens God should issue a world-wide warning to let all people know that it's coming.
Answer: Yes, the warning has been given from the time the message of Rev. 14:6,7 has been proclaimed. It says: "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth---to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people---saying with a loud voice, 'Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water." This is the only place where Revelation mentions the gospel, and it is called the everlasting gospel. It begins with God's creation and ends in His judgment, with Christ and Him crucified in the center. (1 Cor. 2:2)
9) It reminds us of Christ's words in Rev. 1:17: "I am the First and the Last, I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." Here He is Creator, Judge and Redeemer all in one.
Answer: Yes. All three stress Christ's absolute sovereignty. He is the Maker of all things. All men are judged by Him, and no one can be saved without the blood He shed on the cross. Revelation exalts "the Lamb that was slain" 4 times, and states 3 times that He was slain and is risen from the dead, calling attention to the fact that He overcame death by overcoming sin. Rev. 5:5 calls Him the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" who "has prevailed," and yet He is "a Lamb as though it had been slain." This imagery depicts the precious truth that Christ overcame the strong with weakness. A lamb is the weakest of creatures, and yet prevailed as a lion. This is the essence of the gospel, teaching us not to "be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Rom. 12:21.
10) 1 Pet. 5:8 says, "The devil walks about like a roaring lion," and here Christ is the "Lion of the tribe of Judah." How is that?
Answer: A lion stands for strength. "The devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." This brings out his cruelty. Jesus is "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," and also "the Lamb of God", because He is meek and lowly in heart, thereby able to overcome the cruelest foe. As the vicious adversary comes at Him in all his might, Christ holds His ground as a meekest Lamb, ready to be slain, and then rises in triumph from His tomb. Herein lies the power of His blood, by which we are redeemed.
Actually, Christ could have destroyed Satan by the flick of His finger. But He determined not to prevail by force. For He said, "All who take the sword will perish by the sword." He would prevail by wielding "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." And the word of God has the love of God as its major theme, for "Love never fails." 1 Cor. 13:8.
Rev. 21 describes the kingdom of heaven established on earth. Will you please read the first 8 verses.
11) "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' And He said to me, 'Write, for these words are true and faithful.' And He said to me, 'It is done! I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of
life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
12) Such a new earth certainly can't be created by man. Now I see why the Bible says that the stone was "cut out without hands."
Answer: That's right. Beginning with the change that occurs in man's heart, to the creating of new heavens and a new earth, all are the work of the Spirit of God. Then there is something more amazingly new: "The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them." This means that the center of the universe will be moved to this little planet, because this is where Christ shed His blood. The earth has long been the center of attention for the whole universe. 1 Cor. 4:9 says, "We have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men." The drama of the ages is soon to close. The great controversy between good and evil will end in Christ's final victory. The ecosystem of this earth, plus all living things including man, will become incorruptible. So it can be said, "there shall be no more
death. nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain." Please read Rev. 22:1-5.
13) "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever."
14) Some say that the wicked will burn and never die in unquenchable fire. In that case, there will still be pain and the curse.
Answer: That is not taught in the Bible. We have just read that there shall be no more sorrow, nor crying nor pain. "And there shall be no more curse." In the new heavens and new earth there will be no place to confine wicked.people suffering in fire. Since they are wicked people, they would naturally be cursing God as they suffer. Do you think God will be glorified? On the one hand we have saints singing praises to God, and on the other hand the wicked curse God forever and ever. Is that imaginable?
15) But doesn't the Bible speak of "eternal fire," "everlasting punishment," "unquenchable fire" and that "the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever?"
Answer: Yes. But these terms point to the eternal results of the penalty, not to the duration of the burning or suffering. Take Jude 7, where it says, "as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Here the "eternal fire" refers to the eternal result of extinction. After having consumed all that could be burned, the fire went out long ago.
Isa. 34:9,10 says, "Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; no one shall pass through it forever and ever. But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it, also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it." So here the "unquenchable fire" means fire that cannot be extinguished, not fire that will never go out. Mat. 4:1-3 says, "'For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up.' says the Lord of hosts, 'that will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name the Sun of righteousness shall arise with
healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,' says the Lord of hosts."
16) Yes! Even human beings only want to destroy the rodents that bother them, and don't want to see them suffer forever.
Answer: To cause the wicked to suffer forever does not reveal God's love nor His justice. Luke 12:47,48 says, "That servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, will be beaten with many stripes, but he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." If all are punished for trillions and years, making no difference between offenders of varying degrees, that would not be just. And even the most wicked have sinned but a few decades, it would not be fair to punish them forever. All who think so make a tyrant out of God. "Say to them: 'As I live,' says the Lord God, 'I have no pleasure in the death of
the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?" The death of wicked men and angels is the result of their own choice. Because they have cut themselves off from the Source of life, God can only let them reap the result.
Furthermore, whoever says that the wicked will suffer forever, thereby indicate that they have eternal life, and will not perish.
17) That's right! Since we know God loves the world, how can we say that He hates people and wants to see them suffer?
Answer: This is in fact the devil's misrepresentation of God. The Bible tells us that God would rather go through the intense suffering of the crucifixion to deliver us from destruction. We shall continue to find many more Bible texts to reveal the beauty of the love of God the Father and the Son for us poor mortals.
18) Since God loves the world and wants to save us, will He finally forgive all the wicked and take them all to heaven at last?
Answer: In this question you have gone to the other extreme. The Bible tells us that when Christ comes again, there will be people who welcome Him, and also people who will run away from Him. If He should take these people to heaven, they will still feel uncomfortable and want to avoid God's presence. We will develop this idea further in our next study.