“The Kingdom of God is within you” (Part 10)


There are two noticeable aspects of Murray’s book “The Kingdom of God is within you” that bear the marks of subtle deception.

The first is that Murray never fully quotes or even once mentions Luke 17:21-22 and, therefore, never provides a solid biblical exegesis of the passage.

He only quotes a part of it on his book’s cover, not to mention the fact that he deliberately omits the fact that Jesus was addressing the Pharisees when He uttered these words. The significance of this will be explained later.

The Second is that he uses Mark 9:1 to verify his claim that the Kingdom of God has already come on earth. Bear in mind that the Kingdom-Now concept of the Emerging Church is a thoroughly mystical one enmeshed in imagination, visualization, and fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

It requires a childish imagination (and not a childlike faith) to envisage a Kingdom that is already on earth where . . .

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9).

Moreover, you also need a mystical childish imagination (and not a childlike faith) to envisage that Jesus’ Second Advent had already occurred and that He is presently in Jerusalem seated on the throne of his father David (Luke1:32).

Instead of properly exegeting these passages mentioned above to acquire a correct understanding of the Millennial Kingdom of peace on earth, Murray childishly refers to Mark 9:1 to prove that the Kingdom allegedly has already come to the earth.

And he said unto them (the people He had called unto Him with his disciples – Mark 8:34), Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. (Mark 9:1).

Any little child will tell you that verses 1 and 2 naturally follow each other in sequence. It is said that children begin to do rote counting in sequence between ages two and four.  In fact, verses 2, 3 and 4 are the fulfilment of Jesus’ prediction in verse 1, and not as Murray believed with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.

And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. (Mark 9:2-4).

Mark, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, obviously clearly saw the connection between Jesus’ prediction and his transfiguration, which was a very striking preview of his future coming to earth in glory. (Zechariah 14:4).

The outpouring of the Spirit could not have been what Jesus had in mind when He spoke those words in Mark 9:1. How do we know? Well, Jesus, just before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, said to his disciples “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power,” when they asked Him, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”  (Acts 1:6-7).

Had Murray been correct in saying that the Kingdom of God came to earth with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, his claim to have known when the Kingdom came to earth, whilst Jesus said that no-one knows, makes Jesus a liar. 

So far, we have seen how passionately mystics proclaim that God is in all people and in all things (Panentheism). Christian mystics have a far more subtle way of asserting Panentheism. They refer you to the Bible and specifically Jesus’ words, “The Kingdom of God is within you,” and declare, “See, Jesus Himself confirmed that God’s Kingdom is also in non-Christians.”

To set the scene, it is necessary to make it very clear from the beginning that the words, “The Kingdom of God is within you,” appear only a single time in the New Testament, and that Jesus addressed a gathering of unsaved Pharisees when He said it.

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21).

How could one of the greatest men of God have been misled to think that Jesus would make such a grave mistake to associate his Kingdom with unbelievers who rejected Him with virulent hatred and animosity? He could not possibly have said that the Kingdom of God was within them. Why did Murray overlook this truth?

Or perhaps Murray knew that Jesus did not speak to them in terms of the Kingdom being “in” them but in their midst? We shall be able to glean from Murray’s address that he used Luke 17:20-21, without quoting it in full, to prove that “the Kingdom is within you” now and momentarily and not an eschatological future event.

Could it be his mystical proclivity to mix good and evil because the good always outweighs the evil, or perhaps he knowingly used it as an example to affirm a type of “terra firma” mystical panentheism?

Allow me to explain. As a Calvinist he believed that only the elect are predestined unto eternal life before the foundation of the world, but, as a mystic, that all people, including the reprobate (eternally damned majority) have been given a part in the Kingdom-Now of God on earth, which is pure mysticism.

Hence Murray’s ill-begotten idea that even unredeemed Pharisees had the Kingdom of God within them. How do we know this to have been his view? Well, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and hand over the podium to him so that he can present his view in his own words.

Note: the first three Addresses contained in this volume were delivered at the Mowbray Convention, Cape of Good Hope, and have since been revised and corrected by the author. 1897.

Murray used four expressions to convey his views on the Kingdom of God.

  1. What is the Kingdom of God?
  2. What is it to enter the Kingdom?
  3. What is it to receive the Kingdom?
  4. What is it to receive the Kingdom as a little child?

What is the Kingdom of God and How Does One Enter It?

We’ve already seen that Murray refers to Mark 9:1 to substantiate his view that the Kingdom of God has already come and already here and now.

Murray often used words and phrases that are completely alien to Scripture. The expression “full salvation” is one of them.

Indeed, Jesus can save those who believe in Him for their salvation to the very uttermost (Hebrew 7:25).

However, the author of Hebrews refers to the Pretribulation Rapture when all the believers are going to receive their new glorious heavenly bodies at the twinkling of an eye, because flesh and blood cannot enter heaven.

Yet, Murray concluded that believers could enter God’s Kingdom now because it has already come to earth at Pentecost.

God’s Kingdom will only come down from heaven when Christ returns to earth at his Second Coming as we find it described in Revelation 1:7. Anyone who interprets “and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him,” as referring to the Day of Pentecost, is bamboozled and deluded.

Murray did not believe in a Pretribulation Rapture and neither did he in a literal millennium of peace on earth with Christ seated on the throne of his father David in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32; Psalm 2).

Here now, in Murrays own words, is his view that the Kingdom of God can be received now into your heart, even by those who are already saved but are living dreary, God-dishonouring and low-level Christian lives.

The words from which I wish to speak to-night you will find in Mark 10:15:

“Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” Listen again: “Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

We need at the opening of our Convention to look forward to all that we are going to speak and to hear during the coming days, and to try and take our right place before God.

I think this word of the Lord Jesus will guide us exactly where we ought to be. It will tell us what God asks of us if we are even now to enter His Kingdom and live in it: that each of us receive it into our hearts as a little child.

These are the two things we need to know, to enter into the enjoyment of a full salvation. With these two things all our Convention teaching will be occupied: the wonderful blessing God has for us, the wonderful way in which we are to become possessors of it.[1]

Repentant sinners who have been saved by grace alone through faith alone have already been delivered from darkness and translated into the Kingdom of his dear Son. (Colossians 1:12-14).

It happened the moment they were saved. It is a spiritual translation what only God could achieve.

The final consummation of this divine spiritual achievement will only take place at Christ Jesus’ Second coming when He sets up his literal millennial Kingdom on earth.

Henceforth, there is no need for saints “to become possessors of it” right now, or “to enter into the enjoyment of a full salvation.” As indicated earlier, the “full salvation” will only take place at the Pretribulation Rapture.

Murray’s kind of talk breeds mysticism and ultimately wholly unholy deception.

It invites saints who may have thought that their spiritual walk with God was not on the same level as Murray’s, and consequently had of yet not entered the Kingdom of God, to look inward to self, try to be like a little child, and “try and take our right place before God” in order “to enter into the enjoyment of a full salvation.”

In a word, it all comes down to the efforts (works) saints need to perform to achieve a full salvation, here and now, without having to believe that Christ alone can achieve full salvation at the Pretribulation Rapture.

Murray admits that with man this is impossible but that with God all things are possible. Nevertheless, some things are impossible with God.

It is impossible for Him to sin, for instance.

It is also impossible for Him to grant “a full salvation” in this life prior to the Rapture, and it is impossible for Him to grant entrance into the literal millennial age of Christ’s peace on earth for those who do not believe his immutable promises. (2 Corinthians 1:20).

If you do not believe God’s promises in Christ regarding future eschatological events, you cannot claim to be like a little child who has received all the truths pertaining to his Kingdom. Redeemed children trust Him to do everything He promised to the letter. Notwithstanding, Murray writes,

The Kingdom of Heaven has come to earth and can be set up within us in such power, that the presence and the will and the power of God shall be our life and joy. It is more than the mind can grasp; let us believe it. Our wonder-working God will make it true.

The other thing is this. Let us believe that all that is needed to be in full possession of these blessings is what the Holy Spirit, who is already in us, will work.

He will make us as little children before God. He will enable us as such to receive the Kingdom from the Father, He will lead us and bring us in, so that we enter into the Kingdom and the heavenly life it gives.[2]

I can assure you that the Holy Spirit will never do in you what Jesus Christ commands us to do ourselves. Listen again to Jesus’ words in Matthew 18, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3). Note the emphatic I say unto, “YOU,’” and not “I say unto the Holy Spirit.”

In the final analysis, it is impossible to deny that Andrew Murray was a Kingdom-Now theologian and, therefore, a grand forerunner of today’s Emergent Church. Here, in his own words, we learn what he believed about the Kingdom of God.

What is the Kingdom of God? . . . During the Old Testament times it had been spoken of, and promised, and hoped for, but it had not come. During the life of Christ on earth there were mighty tokens of its coming and its nearness, but it had not yet come in power.

What it would be Christ foretold when He once said, “the Kingdom of God is within you;” and another time, “There be some standing here who shall not see death, till they see the Kingdom of God come in power.” On the day of Pentecost that word was fulfilled.

The Holy Spirit brought down out of heaven the Kingdom of God into the hearts of the disciples, and they went forth and preached the Gospel of the Kingdom not as at hand or coming, but as come.

The following quote from the lips of a few Emergent Church gurus are in sync with what Andrew Murray says above.

There is a strong and indissoluble link between the teaching of Jesus and the good news he embodied and proclaimed.

His message both announced and inaugurated the reign of God on earth. The long-promised kingdom, spoken of by the Hebrew prophets, was established in provisional form with the coming of Jesus and the outpouring of his Spirit.

It is this kingdom hope that inspires emerging church leaders as they seek to realize that promise within their communities, striving for them to become servants and signs of that kingdom as they live God’s future, which is both already here and remains to come.

In concrete terms, emerging church leaders look to Jesus as the one who initiated the work of the kingdom in Israel, and their hope is to point to the kingdom through their communal practices in postmodern culture today.

It is strange how the church for so long missed the kingdom emphasis in the witness of the authors of the Gospels.

The gospel, as proclaimed by Jesus Christ and as understood by the early church, was always more than simply a message of personal salvation and, even more narrowly, the way to get to heaven when one dies.

Beginning about midway in the twentieth century, theologians such as George Eldon Ladd began to examine the nature of the gospel of the kingdom.

The Reformed and Anabaptist traditions have consistently maintained a clear kingdom perspective.

Beginning in the late 1970s, this new understanding found its way to other churches as well, influencing not only the traditional denominations but also the Vineyard.

Quite dramatically, emerging churches stress the kingdom of God much more than their new paradigm/purpose-driven/seeker parents ever did.[3]

In addition, it must be said that Murray’s and the two emergent church gentlemen, Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger’s view that the Kingdom of God came down from heaven to the earth on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out, is completely wrong.

Jesus clarified God’s purpose with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:6-8).

It is so obvious what Jesus meant by his words, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power,” that even a little child can understand it.

Nevertheless, there are those who haughtily consider themselves to know better than God the Father who has set the timing of things to come (like his Kingdom on earth) by his own authority because they haughtily have probably not become as little children in order to inherit Christ’s Kingdom on earth.

The disciples’ question, “wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” probably suggests that they too linked the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (verse 5) with the arrival of God’s Kingdom on earth.

Jesus immediately corrected them by saying that God the Father’s power to set times and seasons, such as the coming of his Kingdom, is uniquely his own, but that they will receive power to spread the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the world.

Peter’s magnanimous words in Second Peter is a resounding witness that God is presently postponing the Second Coming of his Son and synchronously the coming of his Kingdom on earth, because it is his will that no one should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9).

The very fact that God is longsuffering to us-ward and wants no one to perish but come to repentance proves without any doubt that the Kingdom of God did not descend from heaven to the earth on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out.

Surely, Andrew Murray should have known this. How could he have missed such a simple and childlike truth?

What then should we make of Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:28? Jesus’ promise to some the disciples that they would not die before they had seen Christ come in his Kingdom in majesty and  glory occurred six days later when He took Peter, James and john up a high mount when He was transfigured and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

[1] Andrew Murray: Within or “The Kingdom of God is within you”

[2] Ibid.

[3] Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures, By Eddie Gibbs, Ryan K. Bolger, pp 47-48

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Tom Lessing (Discerning the World)

Tom Lessing is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

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