My kingdom is not of this world - It is purely spiritual and Divine. If it had been of a secular nature, then my servants would have contended - they would have opposed force with force, as the kingdoms of this world do in their wars; but as my kingdom as not of this world, therefore no resistance has been made. Eusebius relates, Hist. Eccles. lib. iii. c. 20, that "The relatives of our Lord were brought before Domitian, and interrogated whether they were of the family of David; and what sort the kingdom of Christ was, and where it would appear? They answered, that this kingdom was neither of this world, nor of an earthly nature; that it was altogether heavenly and angelical; and that it would not take place till the end of the world."
My kingdom - The charge on which Jesus was arraigned was that of laying claim to the office of a king. He here substantially admits that he did claim to be a king, but not in the sense in which the Jews understood it. They charged him with attempting to set up an earthly kingdom, and of exciting sedition against Caesar. In reply to this, Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this world - that is, it is not of the same nature as earthly kingdoms. It was not originated for the same purpose, or conducted on the same plan. He immediately adds a circumstance in which they differ. The kingdoms of the world are defended by arms; they maintain armies and engage in wars. If the kingdom of Jesus had been of this kind, he would have excited the multitudes that followed him to prepare for battle. He would have armed the hosts that attended him to Jerusalem. He would not have been alone and unarmed in the garden of Gethsemane. But though he was a king, yet his dominion was over the heart, subduing evil passions and corrupt desires, and bringing the soul to the love of peace and unity.
Not from hence - That is, not from this world.
He wrote thus of the universities: “I am much afraid that the universities will prove to be the great gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.” SR 344.1
This appeal was rapidly circulated throughout Germany, and exerted a powerful influence upon the people. The whole nation was roused to rally around the standard of reform. Luther's opponents, burning with a desire for revenge, urged the pope to take decisive measures against him. It was decreed that his doctrines should be condemned immediately. Sixty days were granted the Reformer and his adherents, after which, if they did not recant, they were all to be excommunicated. SR 344.2
When the papal bull reached Luther, he said: “I despise and attack it, as impious, false.... It is Christ Himself who is condemned therein.... I rejoice in having to bear such ills for the best of causes. Already I feel greater liberty in my heart; for at last I know that the pope is antichrist, and that his throne is that of Satan himself.” SR 344.3Read in context »
Man to Become a New Creature—Men are to become the subjects of Christ's kingdom. Through the divine power imputed to them they are to return to their allegiance. By laws and resources God has ordained a heavenly communication with man's spiritual life that in its action is as mysterious as the science and operation of the wind (John 3:7, 8). Christ declared, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). While it imprints its influence upon earthly governments, it cannot take the slightest imprint from them without marring the divine similitude. 1MCP 14.3Read in context »
The regulation adopted by the early colonists, of permitting only members of the church to vote or to hold office in the civil government, led to most pernicious results. This measure had been accepted as a means of preserving the purity of the state, but it resulted in the corruption of the church. A profession of religion being the condition of suffrage and officeholding, many, actuated solely by motives of worldly policy, united with the church without a change of heart. Thus the churches came to consist, to a considerable extent, of unconverted persons; and even in the ministry were those who not only held errors of doctrine, but who were ignorant of the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. Thus again was demonstrated the evil results, so often witnessed in the history of the church from the days of Constantine to the present, of attempting to build up the church by the aid of the state, of appealing to the secular power in support of the gospel of Him who declared: “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36. The union of the church with the state, be the degree never so slight, while it may appear to bring the world nearer to the church, does in reality but bring the church nearer to the world. GC 297.1
The great principle so nobly advocated by Robinson and Roger Williams, that truth is progressive, that Christians should stand ready to accept all the light which may shine from God's holy word, was lost sight of by their descendants. The Protestant churches of America,—and those of Europe as well,—so highly favored in receiving the blessings of the Reformation, failed to press forward in the path of reform. Though a few faithful men arose, from time to time, to proclaim new truth and expose long-cherished error, the majority, like the Jews in Christ's day or the papists in the time of Luther, were content to believe as their fathers had believed and to live as they had lived. Therefore religion again degenerated into formalism; and errors and superstitions which would have been cast aside had the church continued to walk in the light of God's word, were retained and cherished. Thus the spirit inspired by the Reformation gradually died out, until there was almost as great need of reform in the Protestant churches as in the Roman Church in the time of Luther. There was the same worldliness and spiritual stupor, a similar reverence for the opinions of men, and substitution of human theories for the teachings of God's word. GC 297.2
The wide circulation of the Bible in the early part of the nineteenth century, and the great light thus shed upon the world, was not followed by a corresponding advance in knowledge of revealed truth, or in experimental religion. Satan could not, as in former ages, keep God's word from the people; it had been placed within the reach of all; but in order still to accomplish his object, he led many to value it but lightly. Men neglected to search the Scriptures, and thus they continued to accept false interpretations, and to cherish doctrines which had no foundation in the Bible. GC 298.1Read in context »
Rome became more and more exasperated by the attacks of Luther, and it was declared by some of his fanatical opponents, even by doctors in Catholic universities, that he who should kill the rebellious monk would be without sin. One day a stranger, with a pistol hidden under his cloak, approached the Reformer and inquired why he went thus alone. “I am in God's hands,” answered Luther. “He is my strength and my shield. What can man do unto me?”—Ibid., b. 6, ch. 2. Upon hearing these words, the stranger turned pale and fled away as from the presence of the angels of heaven. GC 140.1
Rome was bent upon the destruction of Luther; but God was his defense. His doctrines were heard everywhere—“in cottages and convents, ... in the castles of the nobles, in the universities, and in the palaces of kings;” and noble men were rising on every hand to sustain his efforts.—Ibid., b. 6, ch. 2. GC 140.2
It was about this time that Luther, reading the works of Huss, found that the great truth of justification by faith, which he himself was seeking to uphold and teach, had been held by the Bohemian Reformer. “We have all,” said Luther, “Paul, Augustine, and myself, been Hussites without knowing it!” “God will surely visit it upon the world,” he continued, “that the truth was preached to it a century ago, and burned!”—Wylie, b. 6, ch. 1 GC 140.3Read in context »