HISTORY and TIMES of THE KINGDOM
The following is a second stab at a vision statement, written by the Sandford stalwarts which, it was hoped, the remaining Kingdom faithful would embrace. It was sent to Kingdom Christian Ministries pastors and affiliates in October of 1998. As of this writing, five Kingdom centers have indicated support for the draft vision statement posted below. (1. McDonough, Georgia, 2. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 3. North Scituate, Rhode Island, 4. Dublin, New Hampshire, and 5. Hobart, New York.) The center at Shiloh, Durham, Me. and the center in Virginia have not agreed with the "visionaries" and have already formed independent corporations, with the intent to distance themselves from the radical Sandford "Restoration" faction. The remaining eight centers currently remain "on the fence".
Our Perspective & Direction
Restoration is valid, on-going, and relevant.
Restoration's prime focus in on Christ and is based on the Bible.
While practices change, scriptural principles remain.
The whole Bible is inspired and applicable to Christians.
Christ's Kingdom includes more elements than the church-
It prepares a future way of life!
KINGDOM VISION & MISSION STATEMENT.
Our vision for the future of this organization is and must be tied to the prayer of Jesus "Thy kingdom come". This prayer is a declaration of faith that must be backed by action.' While we know that many aspects of the kingdom cannot fully come until the King returns in the fullness of His glory, there is much that can be done before that time. Daniel's words show us that the saints "receive and possess the kingdom" amid a time of contention and devilish activity.' (Dan. 7:18) Jesus described His departure and reappearance by saying "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return." Although Jesus receives the kingdom from his Father, there is kingdom preparation here on earth as well. The saints through the ages have been working with Him ahead of His return so there will be a kingdom for Him to receive. It is the work of the Holy Spirit and the saints to bring this about.' The challenge is to do our part to spiritually prepare, possess, and extend the kingdom of God on earth for its rightful heir and King, Jesus Christ.
In order to be about the King's business we must engage in preaching the good news of salvation by faith Christ alone" and strengthen and promote Christian faith in any way the Spirit leads. We must pray for the fulfillment of Scripture, teach the Bible and apply it to our lives. In essence our mission boils down to living the Bible, winning this world for Christ and extending His kingdom here on earth.
Some of the implications and consequences of this mission are as follows:
Salvation and Christian Fundamentals -- The fundamentals of the Christian faith are foremost. Salvation by faith in Christ's death and atonement on the cross is the cornerstone. He is the only source of salvation and is the center and King of our lives. Following Him fully is the essence of His kingdom. and we joyfully yield to Him. His salvation and power produces a reality with God and a fullness of His Spirit that pervades every area of life.
The Bible--"From first to last"-- The Bible is the basis for all matters of faith, doctrine and practice. It reveals important scriptural principles such as the inherent power in baptism, the reality of the body and blood of Christ in communion, the distinct and simple act of receiving the Holy Spirit by faith, divine healing, Sabbath keeping, and living by faith. Such principles comprise the original and future way of scripture living we anticipate will characterize the citizens of the coming kingdom." We view the whole Bible as God's eternal truth. The Old Testament as well as the New shows us God's ways, His character. and what pleases Him.
It is equally inspiring and "written for our admonition".''(2 Tim. 3:16) Therefore its principles and truths are relevant today. Wherever the New Testament supersedes or fulfills the Old Testament, that is the final word. We hold an open approach to the Bible that welcomes the Holy Spirit to apply any passage to us as He chooses. Our Statement of Faith gives further specifics on our doctrinal fundamentals and church practices.
The restoration -- Our founder, Mr. Frank W. Sandford, was called to fulfill a prophetic role as the restorer in the last days. Jesus called this restorer "Elijah". While there is a wide variety of interpretations about the meaning and effect of the work he and his fellow workers carried on, we leaders hold that it was a valid work of God and that the basic principles of scriptural living which God led them into is worth carrying on into the millennium.
The result of restoration is an on-going dynamic reality throughout the Christian world. While it began through faith and prophecy with distinct and special acts, it is now working like leaven in many places. As it was expressed, "Prominent among these [distinct and special acts] were the restoration of The Baptism--The Church-The Lord's Supper--The Kingdom-The Holy Land-[The Sabbath--the Feasts]-and always and everywhere from first to last-the restoration of The Word of God." These promote scriptural living which will continue to spread and fill the whole earth.
We recognize that past leaders and members were not free from human frailties. failures and improper speculations. Mistakes have been made and wherever people have been hurt we are genuinely sorry. Where scriptural truths were applied out of balance we desire to apply them in balance. Despite these realities, we believe that this organization has a genuine call from God. We are not seeking to do things the same way they have been done in the past, but to be led by the Holy Spirit to carry on the same work of faith for complete restoration. While details of practice may change, the core principles do not. (For example, while we are committed to the principle of Sabbath keeping, the details of how it is observed change.)
Members of this movement can examine the things restored in the light of scripture and their own personal experience to determine their validity. Have I found God's presence and blessing in following them? Do they lead me toward God and His reality? Do they magnify and exalt Christ? Do they make the Bible more real and understandable? These questions can help us determine if this is where we are called to identify. People may identify as members without a personal revelation or settled conviction about our founder's God given role or the meaning of restoration.
Kingdom framework-- The scriptural concept of the kingdom takes in more than that of a Christian church made up of born again believers. While we wholeheartedly endorse and incorporate all the elements and practices of the church, God's kingdom includes the coming together of all His promises and designs. Under Christ's dominion, New Testament Christianity merges into a structure of kingdom living which integrates the born-again heart into the kingdom framework which was established in ancient times and will be carried through into the millennial reign of Christ. That is why, for example, we keep the Sabbath and the Feasts under the gospel and in newness of Spirit, rather than oldness of letter." (See Appendix A)
Other Christians-- We stand ready to cooperate, as the Holy Spirit leads, with other Christians who view Scripture differently than we do. While the Bible definitely calls for separation from worldly practices and doctrine that is clearly false, we heartily support those who are promoting the gospel of Christ and are sincerely seeking to follow Jesus fully.
There is much to do for the King. His love constrains us to be lights in a dark world. May God help us to be about His business as we seek first His kingdom by promoting the whole Bible.
Level III--Background Thinking
Our vision for the fellowship of believers called by God," The Kingdom", includes an understanding of the difference between Christ's kingdom and Christ's church. Some say that "The Kingdom" is a church. The church is a New Testament concept which we whole heartedly endorse. It began with the advent of Christ. His incarnation, crucifixion, and subsequent resurrection. It took form in the book of Acts' and is defined in the epistles. The church is made up of born again believers in Jesus and is managed by the good Holy Spirit. It is the body of Christ and includes the bride of Christ. As church members we are baptized into Christ, partake of the body and blood of Christ, preach the gospel of Christ to the nations, and earnestly await the reappearing of Christ. As the church we recognize divinely appointed leaders, lay hands on and pray for the sick, meet for divine services on the Lord's day, and wage war against the devil and his servants. As whole hearted believers in Jesus, we expect to stand by Him in this life and live with Him in eternity. Yes, we are a church, but we are also a kingdom.
The kingdom of God incorporates, endorses. and practices all of the above church elements. "The Kingdom" includes the church but it takes in more territory. When God led to the spiritual renewal of Christ's Kingdom in 1902, if was not a brand new entity. It was the kingdom of "His Father David" an specified by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:32 of which "there shall be no end."" When Jesus was asked in Acts. "dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?", He replied in essence. not yet. Jesus did restore heart religion. He also restored the true nature and purpose of the law as given in the Sermon on the Mount. And in taking away sin on the cross He made the way for the whole creation to be restored to a proper relationship with the Creator. On that basis He set up the church, but He didn't restore the kingdom.
The kingdom has been in God's mind and plan "before the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34) And although it was only briefly realized in the Garden of Eden, it has always been God's highest and holiest design for His creation. After man fell the rest of scripture is a testimony to God's faithfulness as He seeks to redeem man and bring the creation back to this ideal state. Isaiah 9:7 proclaims that the zeal of Jehovah will accomplish this over arching plan. This steady progression of redemption and restoration is recorded eternally in the inspired word of God.
The kingdom of God as it existed in the garden of Eden is the original of what God had in mind for His kingdom. Here man had unbroken communion with his God and enjoyed a sublime relationship. Adam without sin had a glorious relationship with his wife Eve. Mutual respect. unity, and understanding at all levels marked this union. Without the effect of man's sin he was also in harmony with the natural world around him. This is the way it was, and that is the way is shall be again when the fullness of the kingdom is realized."
Since the time of the fall in Genesis and onward to Malachi, the scarlet thread tracing the lineage of the son of God and foreshadowing his life and work is revealed. Jesus is, and always will be, the only object of our worship and affections. And He is the well from which we draw the strength and the power to accomplish his will in our lives. And the same prophets that spoke of Christ also record the story of a people for God's own possession. From their humble beginnings this people was destined to multiply until their descendants became a host as innumerable as the stars of the heavens and the grains of sand by the sea.
In their childhood God lovingly presents His children with the necessary laws, observances. and principles which when obeyed would lead to life. God' s heart for His people and their welfare is beautifully expressed in Deuteronomy where He gave them the ten commandments and then expressed "Oh that there were such a heart in them that they would fear me and keep all the commandments always that it might be well with them, and with their children forever". (Deut. 5:29) And so from the commandments etched by the finger of God in stone, to the annual feasts, to Sabbath keeping, and extending even to building a parapet around a roof top, and covering holes during construction work God had a divine plan for Israel. This framework which was so carefully laid out for their good also included a capital city, a land, a royal dynasty, and a chosen people. And this same divine structure will fully emerge in the millennium when Jesus returns to the same land and people to set up his worldwide kingdom and reign on the throne of David forever. "
Unfortunately this Deuteronomy plan for the kingdom contained a large obstacle. Paul eloquently describes this in Romans 7. Even though the "law is holy and commandment holy and righteous and good, "there was another law". For I delight in the laws of God after the inward man: but I see a different law in my members..." Paul found that "evil is present", and that the law of sin which is in my members" was also shared by the rest of humanity.
We see this law at work in the time of Israel's greatest earthly glory experienced under David and Solomon. Israel received the law under Moses, came into the land under Joshua, endured under the Judges, and reached the height of her earthly success in the reigns of David and Solomon. An anointed king, Levites in their stations, ministering priests, feasts observed, Sabbaths hallowed. enemies subdued, and prosperity and blessing on every hand. Then the king fell and the people's heart drifted away from the true God. The institution was sound, but the heart of man under the law of sin was deficient. The earthly kingdom eroded from within.
But the plan of redemption continued. The Holy Spirit through the prophets exposed this inner need for a new heart, then pointed to the Messiah to meet this need. Isaiah describes the people as drawing "nigh with their mouth" but "having "removed their heart far from me" as they "turned every one to his own way"." Then he prophesied how the Messiah would be "wounded for our transgressions to bear "the iniquity of us all."" Jeremiah adds "the heart is deceitful above all things" and "exceedingly corrupt." He too speaks of a day when God declares "I will put my law into their inward parts and in their heart will I write it." Then "I will forgive their iniquity" and I will be their God." While Isaiah spoke of a wayward heart, and Jeremiah described corrupt heart, Ezekiel identifies a hard heart. He then presents the gospel as replacing the "stony heart" with a "heart of flesh" or a "new heart".' Then His causative Spirit is given, they dwell in the land, and--"l will be their God."
What the law could never do (remake the heart of man) the Messiah, the Lamb of God did. So Jesus came fulfilling the law and remaking our hearts so that the kingdom of God on earth could be filled with new creatures in love with God and His ways. On October 2, 1902, when "The Kingdom" was renewed, New Testament heart Christianity began to merge into a structure of kingdom living. This integration of the born again heart into the kingdom framework established in ancient times and carried through into the millennial reign of Christ is accomplished not in oldness of letter, but in newness of Spirit.
That is why, for example, that the ancient feasts of Israel can now be kept under the gospel with such blessing. The feast of Passover was instituted by Moses to remember the way God led His people out of Egypt and spared their life with the Paschal Lamb. It was taken away from the ten tribes, but is still kept in oldness of letter by the Jews today. However, in the renewed kingdom, where the feast is observed in newness of Spirit we remember Jesus, the Lamb of God, who delivered us from the world, the flesh and the devil. And by faith we honor His shed blood to bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Likewise a restored feast of Pentecost which is rooted in the concept of first fruits, is now firmly focused on the Person and presence of the Holy Spirit filling and empowering believers. He descended in a fresh way at Pentecost, and we are believing for the latter rain when he will be poured out on all flesh. And in a similar manner the Feast of Tabernacles, linked with the harvest, is a time of believing for the evangelization of world by appropriating the efficacy of the first two feasts. Passover and Pentecost pointing to Tabernacles leads us in the Spirit, to "the blood and the oil for the harvest".
Much of our discussion of the kingdom and the church has to do with perspective. Generally if a new Christian is immersed in a steady diet of the New Testament then the Old Testament is thought of as enriching and enhancing their understanding of Christ and the church which is wonderful. But when the Bible is read as a whole, God's larger plan of redemption and restoration begins to emerge and one sees how the church fits into this grand kingdom scheme.
Our vision is to love King Jesus and let Him have full sway in every area of our lives. It is to live in the fullness of His kingdom so that when He returns He will find us part of a kingdom that is so in love with Jesus, and so in tune with His Spirit and His movings in these last days, that it will be right in gear with His coming millennial kingdom. It is to work with the Holy Spirit, standing by the Lord of the whole earth, until every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.