Hebrews 12:28 note 1
281 The gospel that the New Testament has preached to us is the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 3:1-2; 4:17, 23; 10:7; 24:14). We were regenerated into the kingdom (John 3:5) and were transferred into the kingdom (Col. 1:13). Now we are in the kingdom (Rev. 1:9), which today is the proper church life (Rom. 14:17). However, what we are in now and what is in the church today is the kingdom in its reality, whereas what will come with Christ's return in the future will be the kingdom in its manifestation.
The kingdom in its reality, or the reality of the kingdom, is an exercise and a discipline to us (Matt. 5:3, 10, 20; 7:21) in the church today whereas the kingdom in its manifestation, or the manifestation of the kingdom, will be a reward and an enjoyment to us (Matt. 16:27; 25:21, 23) in the millennial kingdom in the coming age. If we take the Spirit's exercise and God's discipline in the reality of the kingdom today, we will receive the Lord's reward and enter into the enjoyment of the coming Sabbath rest (4:9) in the manifestation of the kingdom in the coming age; otherwise, we will miss the coming kingdom, we will not be rewarded with the manifestation of the kingdom at the Lord's coming back, we will have no right to enter into the glory of the kingdom to participate in Christ's reign in the millennial kingdom, and we will lose our birthright and therefore will be unable to inherit the earth in the coming age, to be the royal priests serving God and Christ in His manifested glory, and to be Christ's co-kings ruling all the nations with His divine authority (Rev. 20:4, 6). To miss the coming kingdom and to forfeit our birthright does not mean that we will perish. It means that we will lose the reward but not our salvation. (See note 351 in ch. 10.) We will suffer loss but still will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:14-15). This is the basic concept on which all five warnings in this book are given and with which they are all pervaded. All the negative points of these warnings are related to the suffering of the loss of the reward in the coming kingdom, whereas all the positive points are related to the reward and enjoyment of the kingdom. All seven epistles in Rev. 2 and 3 conclude with this same concept—the reward of the kingdom or the loss of it. Only in light of this concept can we rightly understand and properly apply the word in Matt. 5:20; 7:21-23; 16:24-27; 19:23-30; 24:46-51; 25:11-13, 21, 23, 26-30; Luke 12:42-48; 19:17, 19, 22-27; Rom. 14:10, 12; 1 Cor. 3:8, 13-15; 4:5; 9:24-27; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:7-8; Heb. 2:3; 4:1, 9, 11; 6:4-8; 10:26-31, 35-39; 12:16-17, 28-29; and Rev. 2:7, 10-11, 17, 26-27; 3:4-5, 11-12, 20; 22:12. If we do not have this concept, the interpretation of these verses falls into either the extreme objectiveness of the Calvinist school or the extreme subjectiveness of the Arminian school. Neither of these schools recognizes the reward of the kingdom; even more, they do not see the suffering of the loss of the kingdom reward. Hence, both consider all the negative points in these verses as referring to perdition. The Calvinist school, believing in eternal salvation (i.e., that once a person is saved, he will never perish), regards all these negative points as applying to the perdition of false believers; while the Arminian school, believing that a saved person will perish if he falls, regards these points as applying to the perdition of believers who have fallen. But the complete revelation of the Bible shows that these negative points refer to the suffering of the loss of the kingdom reward. God's salvation is eternal; once we obtain it, we will never lose it (John 10:28-29). But we may suffer the loss of the kingdom reward, even though we still will be saved (1 Cor. 3:8, 14-15). The warnings in Hebrews do not refer to the loss of eternal salvation but to the loss of the kingdom reward. The Hebrew believers had received the kingdom, but they risked losing the reward in the manifestation of the kingdom if they shrank back from the grace of God, from God's new covenant way. This was the writer's main concern in warning the staggering Hebrew believers.