What is Kingdom Exclusion?

Kingdom exclusion maintains that one class of Christians will be excluded from the millennial kingdom for faithlessness. Called “nonovercomers,” these believers will be excluded from the 1,000-year-rule of Christ (cf. Rev. 20) for chastisement. Some exclusionists believe that nonovercoming Christians will be temporarily cast into the lake of fire; others that they will be excluded to a place of deep regret.

Whether one reigns with Christ is determined by works. Exclusionists call this soul salvation. They believe that the soul is saved separately from the spirt, arguing that as humans are tripartite — having a spirit, soul and body (cf. 1 Thess. 5:33) — the spirit is saved by grace, and the soul is saved/redeemed by works. Not every exclusionist employs this language. Some speak of soul death, while others speak of purgation. Nonetheless, reigning with Christ is regarded as a form of salvaiton and it is determined by works.

The term, kingdom exclusion, is a technical designation, employed here to identify what is described above. It is used sometimes by those who promote exclusion, e.g. Pastor Joey Faust. To others it is known as the word of the kingdom or millennial exclusion.

The chief proponents of this doctrine are Arlen L. Chitwood (who was instructed by A. Edwin Wilson), John Herbert, J. D. Faust and Watchman Nee.

The Concern

How sanctification fits into this scheme is uncertain. Sanctification is chiefly the work of the Holy Spirit, yet kingdom exclusion transfers that work to humans, contradicting the promise that redemption will be complete at the rapture. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3, ESV). How those who are “pure” can be excluded from the millennial kingdom is unknown.

Exclusionists arrive at their position attempting to reconcile the “judgment” passages to the dotrine of free grace. While the scriptures do speak of judgment and chastisement, consigning this judgment to the 1,000-year-rule of Christ fraught with difficulties. First, exclusion is never mentioned in Rev. 20, the sole instance of the millennial kingdom. Second, no other place in scripture says Christians will be temporarily chastised at that time; it’s simply not stated. Third, allowing any aspect of redemption to be determined by works consigns believers to a life of futility, for it is impossible to please God in the flesh. That is why we are exhorted to live according to the Spirit. What is impossible for man, is emminently possible for God.

My concern is that exclusionists have misappropriated scripture. We are told that God disciplines those whom he loves and that judgment begins with the house of God; however, the nature of that judgment is confused when channeled into the wrong epoch, for the wrong purposes.

As such, kingdom exclusion constitutes a minor heresy.

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© 2009, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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