Kingdom Exclusion - Some Thoughts By Dr. Greg Dixon
Dear Bro. Don Boys, you have asked me to give you my thoughts on the doctrine of Kingdom Exclusion. Other than one other preacher I can't remember anyone asking me my position on this subject, but I have read a number of e-mails purporting to give my position in an unkind, unchristian, and unbiblical manner. I appreciate the Christian spirit in which you have approached me on this issue. It would be impossible to give this subject the amount of space needed to adequately explain my position without writing a book on the subject which I do not have the time to do at this stage of my life. I will however write a brief statement that will probably elicit more questions than answers. However if someone is truly interested in studying the subject in a broader sense they certainly are free to contact me. However I will not argue or fight with anyone over the subject but I will be happy to discuss particular scriptures from sincere inquirers. I will say, however, it seems to me that KE is the Biblical balance between the extremes of Arminianism on the one hand and Calvinism on the other.
I was nearly 70 years old before I ever heard the term Kingdom Exclusion. I was quite contented in my doctrinal cocoon so to speak; although I knew that there were some Scripture passages that I was not satisfied with what I had been taught and had in turn taught others in certain areas. Primarily they would include the parables of Jesus in Matthew Chapter 13, certain passages in Hebrews such as Chapter 2, 6, 10, 12; the "over comer" passages in Rev. Chapter 2 & 3, just to mention a few. None of these problems involved the cardinal doctrines of our faith.
My journey in this area really started with a search for material on the parables that would be consistent with my eschatological position of pre-mil, a literal 1,000 year reign, etc. In spite of this I still couldn't find what I believed to be the key to understanding the parables even after I read J.R. Graves little book on the subject and several others. However Graves book on John's Baptism began to put things in perspective for me. I believe when someone "hungers and thirsts after righteousness" that they will be "filled."
Approximately six or seven years ago I attended a fellowship meeting in a Baptist church in Hockley, Texas. A young preacher, named Joey Faust, from Venus, Texas spoke on the subject of KE and said that he had written a book on the subject. Afterwards, thinking that someone needed to head him off before he got too far out on a limb, I asked him if I could critique the manuscript before he sent it to the publishers and he agreed and mailed it to me. I read it, made exhaustive notes, and was shocked when I could not refute his arguments and was impressed with his scholarship and meticulous research, although I have not come to a final decision about all of his conclusions. His book is titled, "The Rod - Will God Spare it?"
I was also shocked to find out that not only did men who lived shortly after the first century believe in KE but that great numbers of the most imminent fundamentalists, mostly Baptists, in the past, as well as through the centuries and up into the twentieth century believed in KE as well. These men, though not all inclusive, were Polycarp, Barnabas, Tertullian, Govett, Pember, Panton, I.M. Haldeman, R.E. Neighbor, Mauro, Lang, Craig, Peters, Watchman Nee, Oswald T. Smith, Robert Ketcham, Tozer, George Dollar and many others too numerous to mention. I had gone through Bible College and preached for fifty years and had never heard some of these men's names even mentioned before.
I have wondered why as Paul wrote that "there is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rm. 3:18) among many believers of our generation. And then when men like the late Evangelist Vance Havner says that he believes 90% of the people in the Southern Baptist churches in which he ministered are not saved, and a Baptist Evangelist just said to me today that he questions whether 50% of those he preaches to in fundamental Baptist churches are truly saved, then what is there about our message that has missed the mark?
After a great deal of thought, prayer and study, I believe it is the Scofield/ Larkin position on the Judgment Seat of Christ that is the problem. I was taught the Scofield/Larkin position at Baptist Bible College in 1950 by some of the greatest men of God who ever walked on this earth, but they were still men. John Ross, my Life of Christ professor, said on many occasions that the Judgment Seat was the Bema seat, in other words a glorified awards ceremony like the Olympics where the believer would either lose or receive five categories of crowns, etc. This is what my pastor that I grew up under taught until the day of his death. These men taught that the "loss" at the Judgment of believers will be merely a "loss of rewards," etc.
After going back over the entire New Testament, especially the teachings of the Lord Jesus and the Epistles, I am convinced that the Judgment Seat of Christ will be a Judgment that will involve the loss and gain of rewards, but more than that for many. If believers do not want to be judged for their sins at that Judgment, then God has made provision through His precious blood based on I John Chapter one and two for forgiveness and continual cleansing to maintain fellowship (sanctification). It is an ongoing, daily responsibility of the believer through the Word of God and the Spirit of God to maintain this continual cleansing. The Apostle Peter says, "Being born again" by the "renewing of your mind," etc. And even the consequences of sins that have been forgiven will no doubt involve the loss of rewards.
This is not Justification. Justification is by faith in the shed blood of Christ alone separate from any work. It is once and for all and gains the believer, positionally, forgiveness of sins and eternal life now, and in the future, a home in the New Jerusalem. But the Kingdom is a joint heirship with Christ to those who suffer in obedience (Rom 8:17). Even the Lord Jesus, as the Son of Man "learned obedience" (Heb. 5:8) and by that receives the Kingdom from His Father. Paul the Apostle makes it very clear in I Cor. 6, Ga. 5 and Eph. 5 that there are 21 specific sins that will disqualify a believer from the Kingdom of God, but not the New Jerusalem in Eternity. But the disqualification would only come if the individual does not appropriate his redemption right of forgiveness and cleansing through the blood of Christ.
We as pastors, evangelists and missionaries better start putting the teeth back into the word judgment when we preach and that it is a "fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God." (Heb. 10:31) Also as Paul said, "knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men," speaking of the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10,11). What if we told a criminal that when he goes to court that only his works will be judged but that he won't be judged personally. They would put someone who had thoughts like that in the "funny farm."
God has provided His precious blood, not only for justification but for sanctification. If the believer doesn't appropriate the provision that He is supplying through His present High Priestly work (I John 2:1,2), then "there remains no more sacrifice for sins." (Heb. 10:26) If God can chastise physically here, he certainly can at the Judgment for those whose sins "go before to judgment" (I Tim. 5:24). Those who want to argue over where they go and what kind of judgment it will be should not be concerned over that; they should be concerned over maintaining their fellowship with the Lord Jesus, and fellow believers, then they won't have to worry about the severity of judgment at the Judgment Seat of Christ any more than an obedient child would have to worry about punishment from his parents.
One of the greatest tests of sound doctrine outside of the scriptures is what the teaching does in the area of holiness in one's personal life, and then as to how it produces holiness in the churches as a whole. I can say that the doctrine of KE has a profound record in that area, not only in what it has done in my own life but what I have seen in the lives of others that have embraced these precepts. But in the final end the goal for all believers should be to follow our Lord in such a manner that he receives all of the glory and that we will have rewards to cast at His feet as we say with that great throng that has been redeemed by His blood, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." (Rev. 4:10, 11).
These are some thoughts, though not exhaustive, after around seven years of intensive research on this subject which has involved restudying the New Testament and reading approximately 15 books on the subject. Now if I am to be considered a heretic because of what I believe God has led me to understand from His word, then so be it. As our Lord has admonished, I will not fear what man can do to me. As Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. said when he quoted the poem, The Bridge Builder, at the Indianapolis Baptist Temple in 1956, "Young men are following me and I want to make sure that I am a faithful bridge builder for them."