Note:  J. Preston Eby, in order to continue to devote his full energy to writing, no longer works in the office and does not receive email. He does, however, respond to any urgent correspondence via snailmail.

Donations

HOME       WEBSITE LINKS

To be added to the mailing list to receive the current issue of Kingdom Bible Studies each month:

 PLEASE CLICK HERE

 KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES

"Teaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God..."

 

The Kingdom of God

Book Two

By J. Preston Eby


Table of Contents

 

Chapter   Title

14.       How the Kingdom Comes   

15.       How the Kingdom Comes (cont.)

16.       How the Kingdom Comes (cont.)

17.       How the Kingdom Comes (cont.)

18.       How the Kingdom Comes (cont.)

19.       How the Kingdom Comes (cont.)

20.       Entering the Kingdom

21.       Possessing the Kingdom    

22.       Inheriting the Kingdom

23.       Inheriting the Kingdom (cont.)

24.       Except you Become as a Little Child

25.       Except you Become as a Little Child (cont.

26.       Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand

27.       Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand (cont.)

 


Chapter 14

HOW THE KINGDOM COMES

The history of every son of God will eventually be the story of a progression from the natural through the spiritual to the celestial; passing from the realm of darkness and death through the realm of quickening, change and transformation, to the fullness of stature and glory in the image and likeness of God; from the world of sinners through the realm of the Church to the power and glory of the Kingdom of God; from the brazen altar of sacrifice for sin in the outer court to the golden altar and table of prayer, praise and communion in the dim light of the candlestick in the holy place into the Holiest of all, where shines undimmed the more excellent glory of the undiminished majesty of God.  

This brings us to an important question — Is the Church this Kingdom of God, or, is the Church part of this Kingdom?  The Lord Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  Like believers, the Kingdom of God is IN this world, but is not OF this world.  It is not established by the world’s methods.  It is not moved forward by the politics of this world.  It is not represented by the Constitution of the United States of America or of that of any other nation on earth.  God’s Kingdom does not contain a Republican or Democratic platform.  It is established and maintained on a different basis from that of our world.

Again I ask the question — Is the Church this Kingdom, or, is the Church part of this Kingdom?  Many proclaim that this present age is the “Church age” and that the coming age is the “Kingdom age,” thus separating the Church from the Kingdom on the basis of time.   The difference, however, is not one of time but of relationship and administration.  For you see, the Church is a present reality and the Kingdom is likewise a present reality.  If you say that the Church is not the Kingdom, I think you are accurate; but if you say that the Church is not part of the Kingdom, then you are wrong.  May I illustrate.  Texas is part of the United States, but Texas is not the United States.  It just is not all of the United States either quantitatively or qualitatively.   It pertains to the United States, and the federal government has an authority over the state of Texas, but Texas is not the United States.  It has a different name, a limited area, and its own state government and its own state laws.  It functions within the framework of the United States, but it does not function as the United States.  Just as the laws and powers of the federal government supersede those of the state government, so does the dominion and rulership of the Kingdom — with its King-Priesthood after the order of Melkizedek — transcend the powers and ministry of the Church with its apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  The Kingdom order is: “Thou...hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on (over) the earth” (Rev. 5:10).  “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).  The Church order is: “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (I Cor. 12:28).

Now the Church is the very heart of God’s program as He moves us toward His glorious Kingdom.  Are you moving with Him?  It is my conviction that God’s great men of the past moved with Him.  When John Knox said, “Give me Scotland or I die,” he was praying, I think, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  When the Puritans came to this country to establish a place where they could worship God and propagate the gospel of Christ, they were saying, in fact, if not in word, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  And there are times when you and I arise to that high level and say from our hearts on behalf of all creation, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven!”

The Kingdom, however, is never to be identified as the Church.   Nowhere in the New Testament is such an identification made.  The Kingdom is always prior to the Church.  God is King.  As King He has a Kingdom.  John the Baptist first announced the Kingdom among men.   The Kingdom came into manifestation through Jesus Christ and He afterward created the Church.  His disciples were first heralds of the Kingdom before there was a Church.  They were sent to proclaim what they had seen and heard from Jesus of the rule of God.  When Jesus sent the 12 and the 70 on their missions, He sent them as ambassadors of the Kingdom.   They were an extension of His own ministry, and thus He gave them the “power of the Kingdom.”  Everywhere they proclaimed the arrival of the Kingdom and demonstrated the authority and rule of God with mighty signs, wonders, and miracles.  Kingdom and Church are related terms, but they are not synonymous terms.  The term “kingdom” is found about 160 times in the New Testament.  The term “church” is found about 115 times in the New Testament.  The Kingdom is the dynamic rule or reign of God and the sphere in which His rule is expressed.  The Church is a body of people — the congregation of believers.  The Greek word for  church is ECCLESIA meaning “the called out” or “an assembly.”  

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”  Often this verse has been used to stimulate “church attendance.”  “Put the Church first,” it is said.  The subject, however, is not the Church, but the Kingdom.  Instead of thinking of people when contemplating the Kingdom of God — the rule or reign of God — dominion and royal power are the proper reference.  All the Lord’s people, His called out ones, constitute the Church and when any of these assemble in any place, even two or three in a home or on the street, you have a Church.  But that assembly is not the Kingdom.  Let me illustrate again.  Every country has a government.  The government is the “rule,” “authority,” and “dominion” of the nation.  From that government proceed the laws and powers that regulate and control the society.  The nation is composed of “people” — men, women and children.  But the people are not the government.  If a hundred thousand people in a city are gathered in a stadium for a ball game or concert you have a congregation of citizens, but you do not have the government.  The government is something above and beyond the “gathering.”  

The government is thus a higher dimension than a mere congregation  of people.  In like manner, the Kingdom is the rule of God; the Church is a congregation of believers.  The saints may “see” the Kingdom, “enter” the Kingdom, “receive” the Kingdom, or “inherit” the Kingdom, but being members of the Church does not make them the Kingdom.   You do not “receive” or “inherit” the Church!  The many sayings about seeing and entering into the Kingdom are not equivalent to entering the Church.  You may enter a Church by walking into the midst of the believers, but one does not enter the Kingdom in that way.  Every citizen of the United States has entered the nation, but only a few of them have entered the government.  The Kingdom as the sphere of God’s rule is invisible, not a tangible phenomenon in this world, whereas the Church is a visible body of redeemed men and women.  There is never the slightest hint in scripture that the visible Church IS the Kingdom of God.  All the analogies are different.  The members of the Church may come under the rulership of the Kingdom, but they are not the Kingdom.

The Church of the living God must remember that it is not the whole thing; that the Kingdom of God is greater than the Church; that men must press into the Kingdom of God, through much tribulation we must enter the Kingdom, and through qualifying we may be accounted worthy of the Kingdom, but there is no need to press, suffer tribulation, or pay a high price to enter the Church.  The Church is, after all, only an ecclesia, a people gathered out of sin and the world unto God through faith in Jesus as Saviour.  Just as the true Church births the manchild, so is our experience in the Church a prerequisite for entrance into the Kingdom.  Is not this the very reason why the Holy Spirit testified to each of the seven Churches in the book of Revelation, “To him (in the Church) that overcometh will I give power over the nations...to him that overcometh shall I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I am set down with my Father in His throne.”  It is the processing of the Lord in the Church realm that qualifies one for a place in the Kingdom and the Kingdom is greater than the Church.  The Kingdom can be the outcome only of a Church which has followed on to know the Lord, purged and purified, changed and transformed, growing up unto a Perfect Man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ.  The Churches on earth comprise forgiven sinners.  The Kingdom of God comprises new creatures.  The Church consists of all unto whom the righteousness of Christ has been imputed by faith.  But not every one that saith “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the Kingdom, but he that doeth the will of his Father in heaven.

Great and powerful as the Church is, Jesus made very little of it, compared to the Kingdom.  He said, “I will build my Church” (Mat. 16:18) and He mentioned it two times more in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew; that is all Jesus ever said about the Church during His earthly ministry.  He gave no “church” teachings; He answered no “church” questions; He told no “church” parables; He made no “church” promises; all He said and taught and demonstrated had to do with the reality of the Kingdom.  In all the Gospel according to John the word Church is not once used.  In all the Gospel according to Luke the word Church is not once used.  In all the Gospel according to Mark the word Church is not once used.  During the forty days between His resurrection and ascension the Lord never once spoke to His disciples of the Church, but on nearly every occasion when He appeared to them He opened the scriptures to them and spoke to them of the Kingdom of God.  The Church idea, great and glorious as it is, is narrow and small compared to that of the Kingdom.  We are a Church within the Kingdom, but the Kingdom is greater than the Church.

It is the Kingdom, and not the Church, that breaks in pieces and consumes all the kingdoms of the world and of the increase of which there shall be no end.  The fervent prayers upon the lips of holy and seeking men has ever been, not, “Thy church come,” but “Thy kingdom come.”  Let your heart consider what I now say.  Every man, woman and child who throughout this blessed dispensation of grace has trusted Jesus Christ as Saviour and been washed in His precious blood has been numbered in God’s great Book as members in His Church.  We are now, one and all, in the Church of Jesus Christ.  We do not need to pray to enter, seek to enter, press on to enter, overcome to enter, or meet any further qualification to enter.  We are the Church, and only by faith in Jesus Christ and His salvation.  “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41,47).  

But those faithful and persevering ones who follow on to purge themselves of the corruption of the flesh; who fully partake of the divine nature, putting on the mind of Christ; who give all diligence to add to their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience God-likeness, and to God-likeness brotherly kindness,  and to brotherly kindness the love that is agape; to those who do these things the blessed promise is held forth of an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (II Pet. 1:4-11).  

The sun is setting rapidly upon this tired old age in which we have lived so long.  The Church during this age has dwelt in the realm of limitation, of mixture, equipped only with the firstfruits of the Spirit.  As Paul by the wisdom granted unto him truly stated, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.   But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (I Cor. 13:9-10).  The Church of the dispensation men call the dispensation of grace pertains to the “in part” realm.  The Kingdom, on the other hand, is the realm of fullness, an abiding, triumphant dimension of life.   “Revivals” are a characteristic of the Church realm.  Fullness and permanence are characteristics of the Kingdom realm.  God’s purpose in His sons is to move us from revival to unmovable stability — from the Church to the Kingdom.

In praying for and seeking revival we develop a revivalistic mentality which contradicts the purposes of God for this Day.  When one examines revivals historically, he finds that when you live in the revival mentality you are like a person who gets “high” on a drug — you soon need another “fix”.  Revivals throughout history are recurrent activity — activity that returns from time to time.  Revivals are those kinds of divine intervention which bring about awakening, followed by spiritual declension and apostasy.  It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.  Awake, asleep.  Awake, asleep.   Alive, dead.  Alive, dead.  Delivered, bound.   Delivered, bound.  Refreshed, sluggish.  Refreshed, sluggish.  Filled, empty.   Filled, empty.  Revivals are oscillating in nature, swinging back and forth between two extremes.  Furthermore, revivals are occasional and variable.  They occur now and then.  In and out, up and down, here and there, now and then, back and forth, awake and asleep — do you feel yourself getting motion sickness?

In the 1800’s there was a revival called “The Great Awakening.”  As someone has pointed out, unfortunately it was followed by “The Great Asleepening.”  We don’t need another Great Awakening so that we can have another Great Asleepening so that we can have another Great Awakening.  What the world needs in this hour is not another revival.  No revival has brought the ultimate triumph of God’s Kingdom in the earth.  No revival has brought the universal defeat of sin, sorrow, sickness, limitation and death.  No revival has brought an end to war, strife, hatred, corruption, fear, tyranny, pain, hunger, or any of the other problems  and curses that blight mankind.  And no revival has ever brought perfection and the fullness of God to the Church!  Ah, our prayer should be, “Lord, don’t send another revival!”  Our prayer should be as our Lord taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come!”  I am not a revivalist.  I am a Kingdomite!   I am a son of the Kingdom, an announcer of the Kingdom, a proclaimer of the Kingdom, an ambassador of the Kingdom of God.  A Kingdomite is just the opposite of a revivalist.  Instead of advocating and praying for a move of God that returns from time to time, the Kingdom Ambassador views the presence and rule of God as perpetual, constant, progressive — never vacillating and never retrogressing.  

Our God is abiding and progressing from glory to glory, from realm to realm, from age to age — not sleeping and awaking.  The Kingdom sons are builders who build a place for God to inhabit permanently — not a resort for Him to visit occasionally.  I want to be a builder!  Jesus said, “We will come and make our abode with him.”  What God desires in this hour is a place to stay, a temple to dwell in, a throne to sit upon, a nature to be formed in, a Kingdom to rule from forevermore.   The focus in the New Testament is upon Christ and His Kingdom — not revivals.  You don’t read about revivals in any of the writings of the apostles.  The word revival does not appear in any dictionary of Kingdom terminology.  So far as the New Testament economy is concerned, revival is an unscriptural and extra-biblical concept.   You won’t find the idea anywhere!  Jesus didn’t promise revivals.  The apostles never taught or exhorted or gave any instructions about revivals.  Amazing, isn’t it, how much of the language of Babylon we still speak over here on Kingdom territory!

HOW IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD ESTABLISHED

GOVERNMENT means to rule (govern) thoughts or the mind.  The suffix “ment” and the word “mental” are both derived from the Latin root ment.  Both human and divine government are forms of mind-control; human government is by various forms of control by the carnal mind, whereas the rule of God is by the direct control of the mind of Christ.  The carnal mind molds and shapes the carnal man through fleshly passions, impulses, propensities and expediencies.  The carnal mind also influences and controls the carnal man through outward agencies such as television, teachers, books, magazines, movies, advertising, laws, fashions, parents, peer pressures, etc.  The mind of Christ molds and shapes the life of the sons of God by the inward law of life, by the living word of God,  by the promptings and dealings of the Holy Spirit, as well as through the outward agencies of godly examples, instruction, counsel, manifestations of the Spirit, preaching, teaching, and the overwhelming presence and power of God.

I have written all these things that our hearts might be prepared for the truths that concern the establishment of the Kingdom of God.  How is the Kingdom of God established?  Let me first say how it cannot be established.  When our Lord spoke of the Kingdom of God He 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.”  Jesus had just told the disciples where the Kingdom is and how the Kingdom does not come.  Before you can ever see the Kingdom you have to know how it’s not coming — because the first thing we try to do is build it by the natural.  I tend to be “conservative” in my political thinking where the politics of this world are concerned.  But I must tell you there is something terribly wrong with what is known today as the “Christian Right.”  They are possessed of the notion that they can establish the Kingdom by political involvement, without the Holy Ghost.  If somehow we can gain enough votes by the people — people of any religion, spiritual or carnal, saved or unsaved, moral or immoral, lovers of God or haters of God, Jew or Gentile, if we can get enough votes to kick this or that president out of power, to elect this or that congress, to send to Washington people of a particular political philosophy or party affiliation, to enact this or that piece of “godly” legislation, then somehow the Kingdom of God will come in America.

Furthermore, many hold the absurd idea that the Kingdom of God is America and that righteousness can be legislated through our branches of government.  I tell you today that you cannot establish or demonstrate or walk out the life of the King or the Kingdom as long as you don’t know how it’s not coming.  Jesus says that the Kingdom is not coming by observation — it is not a visible, tangible, external operation.  The reign of the King is a peaceful reign.  Yes, He comes to make war, but the warfare He makes is an internal battle, not an external conflict of  bombs and bullets.  The reign of the King is a reign of righteousness, but that righteousness is not established by external rules, regulations, laws, or any police action or military enforcement.  Some have actually thought that the way to establish righteousness in the heart of a seventeen year old girl who is scared and frightened because she is carrying a baby that she doesn’t know how she is going to pay for or care for — some have honestly thought that the way to establish righteousness is to stick a placard in her face as she enters the abortion clinic and scream at her that she’s a M-U-R-D-E-R-E-R!  The King will never do anything that violates His character and His nature of LOVE.  He came not to condemn the world, but to save it, and as the blessed Saviour He doesn’t go about screaming at people who are lost and frightened and hopeless.  “Neither do I condemn thee,” He whispered tenderly to the adulterous woman who under the law deserved to be stoned.  The abortion problem will never be solved by demonstrations, intimidation, condemnation, arresting doctors or bombing clinics.  Such activities are diametrically opposed to the Kingdom of God.  They are religious carnality at its highest intensity.  The spirit of wisdom and understanding from God must deliver us from our confusion about how the Kingdom of God comes.  It cannot be established by force.  It cannot be established by law.  It will never be established by political action.  It is impossible for it to be established by the will, efforts, or programs of men or of governments.

NOT BY FORCE

How far can force go in this world?  Is force the final word, the end of all argument, the arbiter of every dispute?  Men have tried to answer this on a thousand battlefields.  The answer is that force can go a long way.  It is a mighty power.  Jesus was crucified by force.  Roman soldiers must have cynically laughed as they pressed His hands to the cross and drove the nails through His flesh.  He was helpless before this overpowering might.  Yet Christ had power to destroy those men’s lives if He had the will.  When He stood there with the cross in full view, He said to His persecutors that it was in His power to call twelve legions of angels.  If that heavenly host which hovered about that Son could have once made itself manifest, O how they would have swept that doomed city, that accursed conclave of false priests, and those wretched, blind and filthy-minded heathen soldiers!  How the breath of these heavenly angels could have swept the life out of them and swept them down into hell and the grave.  But that is not God’s way.  That is not the mission of the Son or the sons.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”

Brutality has been the hallmark of mankind’s turbulent and violent history.  Man has no answer to the dilemma.  But God has the answer!  It was brutal force that nailed the firstborn Son of God to the tree — but the third day He arose triumphant from the grave!  The account says that the soldiers who guarded the tomb “were like dead men” — they were like dead men before the might, the sheer might of this rising Life.  Those soldiers and the irresistible force of Rome they represented perished with the hour, but this Man lives on, His might unfolding in ever-increasing splendor with the passing of centuries.  He stands deathless — and invincible.  The greatest might in the world is not brute force — it is LIFE!  As a groveling worm is transformed to become a butterfly, so our Lord was transformed from corruptible to incorruptible, from natural man to manifested Son of God.  He arose in the celestial  light of the glory of God, the Shekinah.  He is not a reflected light, but the manifestation of the light which He Himself is.  

His light is the light of life.  It is the same glory that lighted the world in the beginning when the almighty Father said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, and in Him was life, and His life was the light of men.  Nothing can stand before the power of this light of life (which is love) and all things that are touched by its life-giving rays are completely transformed thereby.  Resurrection life is the mightiest power in the universe.  But it is not force — it is the quickening, transforming, creative power of life.  That is the power of the Kingdom of God.  God does not rule by the sword, by intimidation, by coercion, by armies, by slaughter and destruction.  Oh, no!  The world knows nothing of this power of life, for it abides in death and rules by death.  That is the only way it knows.  Men dead in trespasses and sins are blind to the power of life, so they turn to force to overcome evil.  Anything gained by force must be held by force.  You cannot fight the devil with his fire without getting yourself burned.  They that use the sword shall perish by the sword, saith the Lord.  We cannot by some alchemy get the gold of brotherhood out of the base metals of hate and brutality.   The only possible way to get rid of the enemy is to turn him into a friend — the only possible way to turn him into a friend is through the transforming power of the light of life.

The Kingdom of God is within, for life is within.  That is a principle so simple and yet so powerful that any child should be able to understand it.  It is the birth from above that gives us entrance to it.  But while this Kingdom is established within, it makes itself felt and visible without.  Finding its subjects in us, it makes its laws be obeyed in all our doings.  It takes possession of every department of activity, of every region of everyday life.  These external things, are they our doings?  Our relationships with others, the way we do our work, how we spend our leisure, the things we seek after in life, are they not all outward expressions of our inner being?  Then if the Kingdom of God be in us, it will find expression there.  As it is impossible for any great earthly dominion to be solitary, uninfluential, but is effective, is imitated, and must mold others; so it is impossible for this Kingdom of God to be side by side with worldly influences and not change, alter, reverse, transform, or some way operate on them.  As little is this possible as it is possible to carry a light through a dark room and scatter no darkness, but confine the light to the flame.  “Ye are the light of the world.”  This is the manner of the Kingdom’s increase, and it will grow until there is no room for any opposing dominion on earth.  The stone becomes a great mountain that fills the whole earth.  All powers and dominions shall serve and obey Him.  The Son of God has brought this light of life into our lives, and the sons of God shall bring it to all creation, praise the name of the Lord!

When our Lord Jesus was ready to begin His great sonship ministry on earth, He was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Mk. 1:12; Mat. 4:1).  What a strange statement!  The Holy Spirit drives the Son of God into the wilderness to be tempted by satan, the arch enemy of all righteousness, a murderer from the beginning, the father of lies!  Ah, but it was necessary for the Son to be PROVEN, made STRONG, to OVERCOME in these realms before proceeding on into His glorious ministry and the agony and death of the cross.  Remember — Jesus was not only the Son of God, He was the Son of man.  And being both He was capable not only of hearing from God, but hearing those things that be of man.  So when we speak of that ancient serpent which is the devil and satan, we are not talking about a beautiful and glorious fallen angel, but that mind which savors the things of man — the carnal mind.  The carnal mind is the ground where the serpent crawls.  The flesh nature is the dust that he feeds upon (Gen. 3:14).  The apostle James put it this way, “Everyone is tempted when he is beguiled and allured by his own desire; the desires conceives and breeds sin, while sin matures and gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15, Moffat).  

The battle lay not with some mythical personage outside of the Christ.  The conflict was within.  The voice was an inner voice.  The suggestion was in His mind, its power in His emotions and will.  God speaks to us in our mind and spirit.  Satan also speaks in our mind and emotions.  There is no monster without.  There are three things in this vast world which are not of the Father, and only three — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; briefly, appetite, avarice, and ambition.   These are the power of satan.  I do not think you will be able to avoid the conclusion that all the inventions, creations and contrivances of man are in existence to cater to these three things.  It was with these three things that Eve was tempted in the garden.  She saw the tree was good for food (the lust of the eyes), a tree to be desired (the lust of the flesh), a tree to make one wise (the pride of life), and the temptation was not from without but from within.  How remarkably the three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness parallel these three!  Every temptation of the devil comes to us through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.  There are no others.  Not for Adam and Eve, not for Jesus, and not for us.

Let us consider for a moment the third temptation of Jesus.   There is great wisdom, understanding and power in the truth I now set before you.  By it we comprehend the ways of the Kingdom of God.  For the third temptation, the devil took Jesus up on an exceeding high mountain — to the very heights of the dominion of men — and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.  He saw what gave them their power and clearly perceived what made them great.  He saw the fame and fortune that could be His by seizing the reins of the government of the world.  And satan said to Him, “All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”  When the Tempter came thus to Jesus he came as an angel of light, offering suggestions on how His messianic mission might be more quickly and effectively implemented and realized.  He offered the kingdoms of the earth to Jesus if He would bow to the shrewd worldly wisdom the adversary outlined in His mind by which He could have used His sonship power to conquer the might of the Roman empire.  I do not doubt for one moment that what tempted Jesus was a MASTER PLAN outlined by the carnal mind that seemed to promise success in the rapid and effectual establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Jesus is here confronted with the question: Shall I win the world through self-effort, by worldly methods, by military might, by force of power, and conquer it in order to bring it salvation?  Does the end justify the means?  Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon all faced a similar question.  For they too did not merely have an eye to conquest.  In the back of their minds, though naturally on a much lower plane than the divine and exalted level of Jesus, was the desire for welfare and peace.  They would ruthlessly overrun the people for their good!  They would force them to be blessed, improved, prospered and happy!  Any means were justified by the end.  But the vision of Jesus is as clear as sunlight.  He realized that the plan was no inspiration from His Father in heaven, and was therefore earthly, sensual, and devilish.  To adopt it would be to “fall down and worship” the god of this world.

It is impossible to possess the world, or to conquer it by carnal means, even for God, without loss of purity, without using guile and hateful force, without trampling men’s lives, killing, destroying, plundering, and locking up masses of men in prisons, which is equivalent to worshipping the very devil whom we intend to drive out.  Matters not whether Hitler does it or whether Jesus Christ does the same thing riding out of the heavens on a white horse and with His armies from heaven ruthlessly and brutally smiting the kingdoms of the world!  It is the same.   There is not one iota of difference.  And yet I tell you that this is exactly how millions of Christians conceive of the arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth!  “Boy, we’re gonna put that devil down, we’re gonna blow the wicked sinners off the face of earth, we’ll enforce the laws of God and set up the Kingdom of God in the earth.”  That is precisely the mentality of multitudes of Fundamentalists, Pentecostals and Charismatics.  You cannot deny it.  And if they were given the opportunity to do so, they would fall down and worship the very devil they seek to destroy!  The serpent would have the last laugh.

Accordingly the clear and lofty answer wells out from the holy soul of every son of God as it sprang up from the soul of that firstborn among many brethren: “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve!”  In other words, God’s business can only be done in God’s way and by God’s power!  Here we can marvel at the loftiness of the Pattern Son.  In an instant He passes through the sum total of the experiences that we encounter in innumerable succession in our journey into the fullness of God and to the throne of universal dominion: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve!”  That is the first law of sonship.  May God make this wonderfully real to the heart of every elect son of God.

So Jesus saw through the intoxicating visions and glittering prospects which the devil conjured up before Him.  He renounced worldly power — even the power that He might have used in a “spiritual way” for His purpose, the establishing of the Kingdom of God.  Multitudes of Christians today have been deceived by this very temptation, as they seek political power within the institutions of this world, to further the cause of the Kingdom of God.  They infiltrate the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and get all involved in political activism, political action, parades, demonstrations, marches, voter registrations, clamoring for social and/or military action by our government in the name of justice and right, falling down and worshipping the god of THIS WORLD in their weak and futile efforts by such carnal means to establish the Kingdom of God in the land!  What a misguided stupidity it is.  Jesus understood the true nature of all things and He knew that the very substance of His message would be altered and falsified if the child were put under the compulsion of law or government to go back home to the Father.  For then the prodigal would become a slave and the Father a tyrant.  

As we consider the call of God in sonship for this significant hour, let us look unto Jesus who is our Pattern and Forerunner.  When He was tempted to merge the power of the Spirit with the methods of the world in order to bring the Kingdom of God to pass in the earth, He rose up from the place where the kingdoms of the world shimmered before Him, where crowns flashed and banners rustled, and hosts of enthusiastic people were ready to acclaim Him, and quietly walked the way of poverty and  suffering to the cross.  He walked the road where the great and the rich of this world will despise Him, but where He is the brother of sinners, the companion of the forsaken and lonely, the sharer of the lot of all who know not where to lay their head, the comrade of the insulted and injured, to whom He reaches out with the power of divine love.  He chose to walk the way of the cross and of obedience to the ways of His Father, He who could have possessed the whole world in one bold stroke.  And that is why the story closes with the angels ministering unto Him.  

Did He stake His life on the wrong card, this Jesus of Nazareth?   Did He make a bad exchange when in the hour of temptation He preferred the ministration of angels and the presence of the Father to the riches and honor of this world?  If He had accepted the kingdoms of this world and their “glory”  He would be forgotten today.  He would have become a great king in history, buried in the history books of our schools.   He would have become a venerated museum piece — if He had signed the pact with the devil.  But because He learned obedience to the voice of the Father He has become our Elder Brother and our King, and therefore we too know that this sonship is our destiny; with the crown and the throne and priesthood after the order of Melchizedek

If there is one lesson every son of God needs to learn it is this: One must not, yea, cannot, utilize the strength or wisdom of the flesh or the ways of the world to promote and build the Kingdom of God!  This is the third temptation, the final test for every son of God.  It is confidence in the flesh that motivates men to busily and craftily work for God rather than seeking the Lord until He works.  If we don’t reign in the Kingdom of God for another million years, we must wait in faith and patience for God to work.  It is Self doing what only the Spirit can do; it is the Soul taking the lead, in the hope that the Spirit will second its efforts, instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to lead and to do all, and then waiting on Him.  Oh, brethren, how we need to watch this!  I would rather spend my whole life doing nothing while waiting upon God, than to do everything in the strength of the flesh, becoming a devil worshipper.  All that is not of the Spirit is merely the carnality of man — soulish.  It has no place or reward in the Kingdom of God.

In a certain Christian college there is a speech club called Ambassador Club.  During each meeting of this club there is a question and answer forum during which the “Topic Master” can ask various questions of the members relating to current events, weather, human interest and other topics of his choosing, including subjects relating to the Bible.  One day the question was: In the Kingdom of God what will you do first after you receive your resurrection body and have all power? The answers were many and varied, some good and some questionable.  “The first thing I will do,” clamored one freshman vigorously, “is to wipe out all the churches, destroy all of their buildings, pile all of the steeples into one big pile and burn them in sight of all the pagan people that are still alive.  That will show them who is boss.”  Obviously this student didn’t know much about what he was saying, because if he wiped out all of the churches he would be killing a great many people, for, after all, churches are people and not buildings.  

Still another student had his mind made up as to how things should be run, and replied: “I will go into the ghettos and force all those lazy poor people on welfare and food stamps to go to work and earn their food, or else they can starve.”  Compassionate Son of God!  Merciful Saviour!    What an example of false priesthood!   At least Jesus created bread and fish and wine for the poor and famished to eat!  Another outstanding example of things to come in the “millennium” was voiced by a junior, who stated: “Since we will be ruling with a rod of iron, I will force all people to keep the Sabbath, and then all the rest of God’s laws, and if they don’t do as I say I will punish them and force them to obey me.”  Here, of course, was an answer born of  a smattering of knowledge and an overdose of ego.  Obviously not all the comments were as harsh as these, and a number were quite good and well thought out, but these comments do illustrate the attitude that many Christians have regarding the way they would rule and reign in the Kingdom of God.  Just what is the attitude we should have of ruling the nations and all things?  And what is the first thing you would do, precious friend of mine, should you wake up one fine morning a manifested son of God, a King-Priest in the Kingdom of the Father with all power and authority in heaven and in earth!

True peace and blessing will not come to this war-torn world by military might and power.  True and lasting peace and blessing will come only by the overwhelming, transforming power of God’s love through His sons of love in the Kingdom of love.  The Kingdom of God, the Kingdom into which God has called His elect, is not of this world.  It does not have the same rules or values.  It is not governed by the same principles.  Jesus Christ is its champion, but He won the victory over all that threatens peace in a way not of this world.  He did not overcome His enemies with superior firepower and sophisticated weaponry.  Instead, Jesus looked into the faces of those who hated Him and overcame them by the love of God.  He overcame evil with good.  God has conscripted His elect into the advance army of peace.  He is making us emissaries even now of that perfect Kingdom.  He is cleansing us from the emotions of hatred, malice, condemnation, greed, lust, selfishness, ego, pride, bitterness, and rage — all the things that lead to oppression, strife and war.  We are now in training and testing as the sons of the Kingdom.

The question is just this: How is this Kingdom to be administered?  Let me say again how it cannot be administered.  It cannot be administered by force.  Men have tried that method.  They have used fire and sword to make God’s Kingdom come.  Peter had that spirit when he pointed to the two swords the disciples possessed.  Mohammed followed this plan when he gave men the alternative either of Islam or death.  In the early part of the fourth century, the monarch of the Roman Empire died, leaving the question of succession in dispute.  The Roman general Constantine led his forces against his rival for the throne.  Near a little river in northern Italy, at a place called the Milvian Bridge, the two armies encamped over against each other waiting for the coming day and the order to battle.  Constantine, who had come into some minor contact with Christianity, that night made a vow.  If he won the battle, he would become a Christian.  It is said that he saw a vision in the night of a flaming cross in the sky with the Latin inscription, in hoc signo vinces (“by this sign conquer”).  Constantine made a bargain with some power to join the church organization if he won his battle.  Succeeding events indicate that the bargain was made with the prince of this world, the god of this age, the spirit which blinds the minds of men that they should believe the lie.  Constantine was “converted.”  He was not born again.  

Imagine the whispering that went around Rome.  The Emperor had become a Christian!  Out of the catacombs they came.  Instead of being persecuted, they found themselves popular.  Like a youngster among heavy drinkers, the church’s head was turned by the wine of the world.  The priests of the pagan temples had been paid  from the purse of the Empire, but now Caesar was a Christian and the priests of God were paid by the State.  Eventually the role was reversed — the persecuted became the persecutor and the awesome power of the sword was used to compel all the priests and worshippers of Mars and Venus to come to the Kingdom of God and be baptized.  They were plunged beneath water, but their hearts were unchanged.  Their pagan customs and rituals were accommodated into the church and “christianized.”  The church was married to the world, and flooded with unconverted religious sinners.  The wanton harlot now staggered across the world scene, with whom all the kings of the earth have committed fornication to this day.

The Crusaders, spurred on by the eloquence of Peter the Hermit, committed the same blunder.  The old Saxon and Gothic kings, who when they accepted Christianity themselves compelled their people to be baptized as well, followed the same mistaken method.  But these people did not advance the Kingdom of God one whit.  You do not make a man a member of this Kingdom by baptizing him, enrolling him among the adherents of a Church, or by calling him a Christian.   A man may be saved by simple faith in Jesus, but one does not enter the Kingdom in that way.  Men must have their hearts changed, their natures transformed, their allegiance turned.  They must be willing to render glad obedience to their Father King before they become members of this Kingdom.  If force was the method of His Kingdom then Charlemagne and the Roman Catholic Church during the Dark Ages were on the right track when they compelled men to accept Christianity and burned heretics for the salvation of their souls.

Force may increase the numbers of a sect, it cannot add one to the membership of the Kingdom.  The sword may compel a man to change his name; it can never compel him to change his heart.  Oh, no; it is not by the sword that God’s Kingdom will come, not by a literal sword out of the mouth of the Christ nor in the hands of the saints.   To all ecclesiastical persecutors Christ says, “Put the sword up into his sheath.”  Not by the sword is the Kingdom to come, but by the cross.  This is the weapon we have to use in our warfare.  Not the cross and the sword, as Constantine conceived it; but we are to conquer by the power of Love.  For the cross means love — love at its best, love in the glory of sacrifice.  The cross is the power of God.  It is by the cross that men’s hearts are broken, and their affection and allegiance won.  

The Captain of our salvation is not General Joshua crossing the Jordan, but Jesus the Lamb of God upon the throne.  Therefore He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, not on the war-like horse, but on the peaceful ass.  And therefore He will yet cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and break the battle-bow; He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.  And such is the spirit too of all the sons of God!  For, though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh; and therefore the weapons of our warfare are mighty before God to the pulling down of strongholds.   The only sword that the sons of the Kingdom are permitted to wield is the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD.

There are different kinds of government but of one thing we may be very certain — the Kingdom of God is no dictatorship.  It is no tyranny.  A preacher once said that Jesus will one day come back to earth and force the people to be obedient and happy.   Indeed!  That, undoubtedly, is how he would reign if ever he got the chance!  He won’t.  That is not how God reigns.  God reigns as a Father, not as a despot.  “Our Father...Thy Kingdom come!”  The nature of God is entirely gracious in all His dealings with the sons of men.  That is the way of our wondrous God and Saviour.  It is not by force, but through love.  And in the end He will win.  Love never fails.  It shall be demonstrated before all principalities and powers that love will  conquer every foe.  In the days of His flesh the Lord Jesus could have easily consummated His Kingdom — He had the power to subdue every enemy, to vanquish every foe.  Had He so willed He could have by a single word or look disintegrated the bodies of all who opposed Him so completely that not a vestige thereof would ever have been found by man!  Then everything on earth would have been at His command.  But would that have been HIS Kingdom?  NO!  Only in outward appearance — not in reality.

God is love; and love does not impose its will upon us, or enforce it against ours.  Love woos and wins by a principle far higher than brute force.  Should Jesus return to earth to enforce the laws of His Kingdom with carnal weapons all that could be accomplished would be the erection of larger and more secure prisons overflowing with ever-increasing masses of rebellious humanity.  Force does not transform — it merely breeds contempt.  Love transforms.  Love changes the nature.  Love wins the allegiance of the heart.  Love forms an indissoluble bond.  Love makes one.   Love captivates the will.  Love, though omnipotent, is very gentle.  God reigns by infinite wisdom, power and love and the greatest of these is love.  Love conquers all!   And King Jesus came to earth to reveal that love and the Father’s Kingdom.

The SPIRIT OF MIGHT which shall rest upon all of God’s sons is not the same kind of might known by the people of this world; it is not the might of force, of marching armies, of clanging swords, of tanks and bursting bombs, for these exist only in the realm of carnal might.  The might of God is spiritual might.  If our eyes have been opened by the Spirit of God we will see that the nature of all our work in the Kingdom of God is spiritual.  The power of the Kingdom is spiritual power, its citizens are a spiritual people, its ministry is a spiritual ministry, its authority is a spiritual authority, its dominion is a spiritual dominion, its laws are spiritual laws, its weapons are spiritual weapons, its priesthood is a spiritual priesthood, its sovereignty is a spiritual sovereignty.  Many of God’s precious people are no further advanced in their understanding than were the fleshly-minded Jews of Jesus’ day.  The work of the Kingdom is the work of rescuing men out of the power of darkness and driving out the satanic spirit that they may be gained for God.   It is the work of imparting unto men the very life and Spirit of the Lord that men may be gained even more and more by God until He truly becomes “all in all”.  Thus shall the whole creation be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God!

Praise God for the exalted road that leads to Zion, no ravenous beast shall trod the path that the vultures eye has not seen.  These are glorious days indeed for the army of God, a great people, there has not even been the like thereof unto the years of many generations.  There is a mighty stirring in the spirit as the army of the Lord musters for battle.  Truly the white horse is riding triumphantly through our land, conquering every enemy within, and announcing to us that He reigns in a voice of thunder from His throne.  May He reign and speak through us even as He reigns and speaks within us in this great Day of the Lord!  The weapon of the army of God is the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, the sharp two-edged sword of the living Word of God — a sword to smite the nations, not with the carnal force of merciless slaughter, but with the life-changing properties of TRUTH AND LIFE.  The battle fought by the Christ of God is a spiritual warfare, combat between light and darkness, between spirit and flesh, between truth and error, between righteousness and evil, between life and death, between the customs and ways of this world and the principles of the Kingdom of God.

We are looking forward with great anticipation to God’s Kingdom dealings with ALL NATIONS.  Humanity is thirsting for these living waters from heaven!  Let us not sell creation short.  Arise, saints of God, and come away with the enChristed to the holy mount of God, the Kingdom of the Anointed, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Holiest of all, the throne of God in the sons of Zion.  Can we not see how simple a matter it shall be for the sons of God to minister deliverance and life to a weary and suffering world?  For these shall be OVERCOMERS in the fullness of Christ’s victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Sin, sickness, or death shall have no more claim on them.  They will be EVEN AS their Lord and Master when He walked upon earth and ministered among men.   And more!  We can easily understand, therefore, how the glorious gospel of Christ shall be proclaimed in power and great glory throughout the whole earth.  There will not be a country, city, village or hamlet on earth that will be closed to this gospel of the Kingdom.  Glory to God!

The day is nigh at hand when there will be no more “thick darkness,” no more “gross darkness” resting upon the minds and hearts of earth’s teeming billions.  And at the close of that day, instead of growing darker, the world will have reached the high noon of its “light of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,” and its sun shall never set.   The Sun of Righteousness is the arising of the glory of the Lord shining in His full strength and majesty, dispelling the darkness, bringing in the day of victory, life and blessing.  This Day has already dawned upon us and shone in our hearts, but creation awaits its Day.  There has been a dawn for us and, blessed be God! there shall be a dawn for all creation.  The peoples of our planet will not remain in the icy clutches of an ever-deepening darkness until all hope is gone, until there is nothing but total darkness and death.  No, light will appear — more light than the world has ever seen — at the manifestation of the sons of Light.  The illuminating rays of glory will fill the earth, your earth, my earth, their earth, until all the shadows and darkness of night have been chased away.  

All the carnal thinking of man, all the delusions of this gross material realm, all the doctrines of devils, all the superstitions, myths, folklore and fairy tales of religion, all the human creeds and dogmas, all human precepts by which men are taught to fear God rather than to love Him; all political intrigues, all humanistic education and institutions, all the myriad citadels of sin and vice and crime, are to be swept away, replaced by the glorious KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD AND HIS TRANSFORMING GRACE.  The Sun of Righteousness shall arise and arise until there is no more night anywhere in God’s vast universe.  No man anywhere will be able to escape the glory of God in the face of God’s Christ.  WE ARE THE DAWN OF IT, the firstfruits, praise His name!  “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the GLORY OF THE LORD   is risen upon THEE.  For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but...HIS GLORY SHALL BE SEEN UPON THEE.  And the GENTILES (NATIONS) SHALL COME TO THY LIGHT, and kings to the brightness of THY RISING” (Isa. 60:1-3).  “And the NATIONS   of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it...for they shall bring the glory and honor of the NATIONS into it” (Rev. 21:24,26).  

The manifestation of the sons of God shall utterly eclipse anything we have ever read in the Bible or in Church history!  The River of Life has been flowing in the city of God, for truly “there is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of our God.”  The river has sprung up within those elect saints who as a firstfruit have experienced the powers of the Kingdom of Heaven in the realms of the Spirit.  But soon it shall empty into the mighty oceans of humanity, bringing life and blessing to a dry and parched wilderness where no water is.  “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isa. 43:19).  Therefore, let us even now begin to rejoice in the NEW DAY, as the first rays of hope arise on the eastern horizon; let us arise to plant our feet on the Anointed Mount and to drink in the intoxicating freshness of the morn!  Hallelu-yah!

 


Chapter 15

HOW THE KINGDOM COMES

(continued)

I write today to the elect of God scattered abroad that our hearts might be prepared for the truths that concern the establishment of the Kingdom of God.   How is the Kingdom of God established?  Let me first say how it cannot be established.  When our Lord spoke of the Kingdom of God He 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.”  Jesus had just told the disciples where the Kingdom is and how the Kingdom does not come.  Before you can ever see the Kingdom you have to know how it’s not coming — because the first thing we try to do is build it by the natural.  The spirit of wisdom and understanding from God must deliver us from our confusion about how the Kingdom of God comes.  It cannot be established by force.  It cannot be established by law.  It will never be established by political action.  It is impossible for it to be established by the will, efforts, or programs of men or of governments.   

As we consider these thoughts, may God almighty grant that His Spirit may instruct us in the way of truth and understanding.  When John the Revelator beheld the Lord coming upon a white horse, followed by the armies from heaven, he saw a sharp sword going out of His mouth “that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev. 19:15).  In the midst of all the confusion and darkness of this hour the Spirit of God is calling out a people for His name.  He is training them in the school of obedience and refining them in the furnace of affliction.  He is stripping them of self-interest, draining them of self-will, plucking from their hearts all the deceptive ways of Babylon, causing them to abhor the vain efforts of the flesh.  These are putting on the whole armor of God, these are dwelling in heavenly places, seated with Christ; these are the army from heaven that follows the Word of God into battle.  From within, out of the innermost being, is arising a strong and mighty Word, the absolute truth about God and all things, beyond the superstitions, myths, folklore and fairy tales of religion, and by which every enemy shall be silenced.   “He cast out the spirits WITH HIS WORD” (Mat. 8:16).  This sin-weary world shall yet be governed by a glorious company of sons of God, every one in the image of Christ, every one a brother of Jesus Christ, every one infused with His life and invested with His authority, every one a son given “power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (Lk. 10:19).  The whole earth, as Eden was, shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it!

These sons shall be able to raise their voices in mighty declarations of authority.  The authority is rooted in their own experience.  By the understanding of the Almighty they shall have conquered the dragon of sin and limitation and death in their own lives.  Then shall be fulfilled on the grandest scale ever the word spoken by the Lord, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall recover” (Mk. 16:17-18).   Some people have thought this meant to be able to handle poisonous snakes without being bitten.  Others have supposed it meant that IF you accidentally took up a serpent, as Paul did on the island of Melita, there would be no harm.  But beyond all this, let me point out to you one of the meanings of the term “take up” in this passage.  Not only does the Greek word AIRO mean  to “take up”, it also means to “take away.”  It may just as well be translated, “They shall TAKE AWAY serpents,” not take up and handle them.  The ENTIRE SERPENT KINGDOM SHALL BE REMOVED, TAKEN AWAY by these mighty believers; yea, they shall slay the dragon that is in the sea!  And it begins now, on the personal level, in our own consciousness.

The Word of God comes riding upon a white horse, and the army of the sons of God follow Him, all riding upon white horses.  What a scene!  The horse is an animal that men ride.  It’s like a car — it’s a vehicle.  The horse in scripture is a symbol for THE BRINGING OF GOD’S PRESENCE AND POWER IN WARFARE.  It signifies STRENGTH AND SWIFTNESS IN BATTLE (Isa. 2:7; 30:16; Jer. 12:5; 51:27; Eze. 38:4; Hos. 14:3; Joel 2:4; Heb. 1:8).  “...I have taken away your horses (Strength)” (Amos 4:10).   On the negative side, whenever the word horse is used in relationship with fleshly humanity it signifies human strength.  Isaiah 31:1-3 informs us: “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots (that is human strength and human ability), because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong...they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!”  Again, “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are fleshly (strength), and not spirit.”  “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.  But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses (human strength and ability) and confound the riders on the horses (those who trust in human strength and ability)” (Hag. 2:22; Zech. 10:5).  

On the positive side, wherever the word horse is used with righteousness, or divinity, or the Lord, or things heavenly, it means heavenly, divine or spiritual strength.  “And I saw heaven opened, and behold  a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war...and the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses” (Rev. 19:11,14).  That is, they followed Him in heavenly, divine, spiritual strength.  In Habakkuk 3:14-15 the prophet, reminiscing about Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, extols the triumph of Yahweh, exclaiming, “You pierced with his own arrows the head of the enemy’s hordes...You have trodden the sea with Your horses, beside the heap of great and surging waters.”  The meaning is clear — You have trodden the sea IN YOUR DIVINE STRENGTH!  Egypt had abundance of horses, swift and strong, but God had horses out of the spirit world.  They represented   the STRENGTH AND MIGHT OF GOD IN BATTLE.   They signify the almighty POWER OF THE SPIRIT.   With what simple words does the Holy Spirit teach us that the strength of the Spirit always exceeds and excels over the strength of the flesh!  Thus, horses are symbols given to us that denote the nature and work of the anointing that rests upon the sons of God.  Horses are figures of overcoming, invincible strength and power, signifying that wherever these horses go, WHATEVER IS IN THEIR WAY IS OVERCOME BY THEM!

When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven riding on a white horse He does not come alone.  Even before the flood, Enoch prophesied of this appearing of the promised One, and said, “Behold the Lord cometh WITH TEN THOUSANDS OF HIS SAINTS (or, holy myriads of Himself) to execute judgment upon all” (Jude 14,15).  John saw, and writes, “The armies, the ones in the heaven, were following Him” (Rev. 19:14).  Christ Jesus is the Head and the Leader as He goes before; His holy ones follow in His train, for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God, and these are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.  They are represented as armies.  They come forth as a body of fighters.  He has many under His command.  The armies of the heavenlies are His, and He does battle with them, by them, through them, and as them, even “the called, and chosen and faithful.”  There is no infantry.  There really is no cavalry, for all of the horses are white, and every one who follows Him is of exalted rank.   It is an army of princes, a host of mighty dignitaries, kings and priests unto God.   Moreover, they have no weapons, except the sharp two-edged sword that proceeds out of HIS MOUTH, which is the Living Word of God.  They are dressed in white, for they are all righteous, cleansed by the crimson tide in which His cloak was dipped.  He comes as Warrior, Judge and King, and they share with Him in the same character.  They are warrior judges and kings with Him.  They are clothed in fine linen, pure and white, which is the righteousness of the saints.  They wear no armor.   They are immortal and incorruptible and cannot be hurt nor stopped.

TYPES OF GOVERNMENT

In the world there are a variety of types of government.   There is the Republican form of government.   A Republic is a state in which the rule is conferred by the people to a certain portion of the people, elected  by the people to represent them.  Our country, the United States of America, is a Republic.  The sovereignty resides in our presidential, congressional and judicial representatives which we elect to represent us.  Then there is Democracy.  It is another form of government, which in its purest sense holds that the state should be held in the control of ALL the people.  In a pure Democracy every issue would be decided by plebiscite (direct ballot vote).  The United States and most other Western nations are called democracies because their representatives are freely elected by the people and many issues are also decided by plebiscite.  Not all Republican governments are democratic.

Totalitarian government is where one political party suppresses all opposition.  Some examples of totalitarianism are Nazism, Fascism and Communism.  In the days of the famed Robin Hood (A. D. 900-1300) we find the Feudal form of government.  Feudalism was a system of government by lords who owned all the land.  The people worked for the lord who owned the land and their lives were completely dominated by the lord over them.  These lords, in turn, were themselves ruled by a more powerful lord or king of the country.  Plutocracy is another power which rules this world — the rule of the rich.  In Plutocracy the wealthy class of people control the government and generally maintain their status by domination of the poor and by keeping them repressed.  

And, of course, there is Monarchy.  An absolute Monarchy is where the king has total authority.  Many of the governments in Old Testament times were Monarchies.   England originally was an absolute Monarchy whereas now it is a Constitutional Monarchy where the king or queen has limited authority by law, with the prime minister and parliament running the government.   None of these forms of government is God’s form of government.  God’s form of government is Theocracy — the rule of God.  Theocracy is the government of the Kingdom of God and holds sway over all who have been given an abundant entrance into the Kingdom.  It is the rule of a loving Father-King in wisdom, knowledge, and goodness.

If one were asked to define history in a single sentence, he would be wise to say, “History is an unbroken record of the failure of human government.”  Almost any form of government would be perfect, if the governors possessed perfection.  The tragedy of human failure is resident in the fact that no government can be more perfect than the administrators thereof, who are generally no more perfect than the people they rule, indeed, in many cases less perfect.  Never at any time has there been a nation composed entirely of righteous people, not God’s ancient people, Israel, and not even the New Testament Church.  Even during the Exodus, when the children of Israel had witnessed mighty miracles by the hand of God, and they saw His visible presence in the pillar of cloud and fire every day, and heard His voice from the mount of the Lord, the great mass of the people were either actively or passively unrighteous.  When Moses was on mount Sinai, receiving the law of Yahweh, part of the nation of Israel was actively wicked, demanding that Aaron make them an idol god, the golden calf; most of even God’s own nation passively followed them into lurid licentiousness, wildly dancing in naked frenzy around their idol, and only Moses and the tribe of Levi remained faithful to Yahweh.

NOT BY DEMOCRACY

“I believe in the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people,” I hear many people say.  You do?  No you do not.   Not one person who reads these lines who is an intelligent, honest, God-fearing person believes in it.  It is the most deceiving creed going.  You say that you believe in the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people.  You say that democracy is the most perfect form of government inspired by God and given to the founders of our nation.  Let us contrast life under democracy with the atmosphere of the Kingdom of Heaven.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22).  My attention was especially drawn to this passage recently and so I began studying each of those words.   I looked at the first word But.  And, odd as it may seem, that is a tremendous word here.  I know that Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of wisdom.  Often he would write one thing, only to drive home his point with a punch line that began with a conjunction of but, or therefore, or so then, in his own way of saying, “on the one hand there is this, but on the other hand...”  So as we look at this passage we may ask, “If the fruits of the Spirit are these, then what is Paul saying on the other hand?”

Well, what is found  “on the other hand” is listed  in the previous verse.  Galatians 5:19-21, is what Paul called “the works of the flesh.”  This is what he writes: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”  It is interesting to note that every one of the behaviors that  Paul listed under the works of the flesh ARE LEGAL IN AMERICA TODAY!  Go back and read the list again.  These are all legal in America today — every single one.  In fact, they are the most prominent characteristics of our society here at the end of the century!  They fill our streets, our homes, our schools, our businesses, the television, movies, magazines, books, and even the Churches.  

You see, when America was founded, it was based upon something that is quite a contradiction to the principles of the Kingdom of God.  It was based on freedom.  Now, don’t get me wrong, freedom is a very good thing.  But it is, in and of itself, a contrast to righteousness.  The laws of our land were established so that we could have the freedom to be able to do whatever we desire to do, go as far as we desire to go, be what we want to be, as long as it is not encroaching on another person’s safety or well-being.  Under freedom you have the liberty to do right, to do good, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.  But under freedom you also have liberty to do wrong, to sin — lust, fornicate, hate, practice witchcraft, be an atheist, get drunk, curse, watch pornography, lie, cheat, misrepresent, worship devils, etc.  The people in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, have come to understand this.  It is an undeniable fact that crime of all kinds rises along with freedom.  There is freedom for the fruit of the Spirit, but there is equally freedom for the works of the flesh.  That is how “freedom” is!

Nobody, really, can tell us Americans, what freedom is.  Is not this the land of the free?  Nowhere in the world is there more freedom than we enjoy in this country, born out of a desire to be free.  For freedom we live and for freedom we die; not only for ourselves, but for others as well.  From countries where freedom simply does not exist, people, desiring to be free, have come to America, and even today it is clear that there is no end to the five hundred year escape to freedom.  Some come for freedom to manifest the fruit of the Spirit; most come to fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  And something has happened along this road of freedom; not overnight, but slowly.  Our desire for all the freedom and all the liberty in the world, has now — whether we admit it or not — brought us to the point where it is killing us!  We have gradually turned from freedom to do good, prosper, and worship God, to freedom to do evil, with the result that we have become slaves of our own desires.  We have allowed ourselves unlimited freedom in the pursuit of pleasure, the complete satisfaction of all our fleshly senses: the lust of our eyes, our feelings, our hearing, our tasting and our smelling.  In the pursuit of pleasure we spend all our free time.  We cannot get enough of our movies, television, magazines, parties, smoking, drinking, carousing, drugs, rock, and sex.  Nobody can be allowed to spoil our pleasure!  All of America’s notorious ills have their root in the desire for freedom.  The freedom we have  in the United States is a wonderful system as long as we realize that this system is not a divine or godly system — nor is it even in the proximity of the Kingdom of God!

The kind of freedom we have in America is a spurious, deceptive, lying freedom.  Men are slaves to those things they are free to do.  Therefore, their freedom is bondage.  The only true freedom in the universe is the freedom of the Kingdom  of God.  Jesus said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed!”  In Christ we are made “free from the law,”  because we are also “free from sin.”  “For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Cor. 3:17).  The hope of all creation is the liberty that is to be brought to all men at the manifestation of the sons of God.  It is not the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor that heralds freedom for earth’s teeming, oppressed masses.  No, my brother, my sister!  Rather, it is the body of Christ coming to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.    It is my hope in this writing to awaken the pure minds of God’s people to true understanding of freedom and liberty in the Kingdom of God.  “For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.  For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope.  Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious LIBERTY of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19-21).  There is freedom indeed!  Freedom from corruption, freedom from sin, freedom from fear, freedom from lack, freedom from pain and sorrow, freedom from limitation, freedom from sickness and disease, freedom from ignorance and error, freedom from death, hell and the grave.  All that and much more is entailed in the “liberty of the sons of God” in the Utopia of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

Let me ask you a straight question.  Are the majority of the people in your city saints or sinners?   I would not say that all men in El Paso are sinners, I would not say that all men in El Paso are liars, I would not say that all men in El Paso are on some level immoral, but I do not doubt for one moment that it would be safe to say that a good working majority are!  And it would not surprise me one bit if the same is true in your city, county or state.  Very well, do you want that majority to rule you?  Instead of that you try to get a man who is not with the majority and is better than the majority.  You want him to rule you, and not the majority.

You have been told that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” is a divine form of government, given by the mind of the Lord to our founding Fathers.  Where do you find that in the Bible?  Nowhere.  The issue is one of authority: is it from God, or from man?   If God is the sovereign authority over all things, then His Word alone can govern all things.  If the ultimate authority is man, then all things must serve man and bow down to man.   The doctrine of “human rights” and “democracy” is the humanistic replacement for the rule of God by the Spirit.   Man is regarded as sovereign — and that is humanism, pure and simple.  All forms of government are needed in God’s great demonstration of human incompetence.  Little as we may like some of them, let us recognize God’s wisdom even in their faults, and be thankful for the lessons that they teach.  We speak of our present age of democracies as though they were something completely new.  That is not so.   Both Greece and Rome knew democratic and republican sway.  Every form of government that political philosophers can conceive has been tried in the past — and found wanting.  The evils of a democracy are perhaps fewer and easier to bear than the tyranny and suppression possible under other forms of government.  Yet that man would be blinded indeed to conditions as they are, who said that democracy had given the earth a perfect government in our day and time.  Americans have been fed the notion that democracy is the greatest, most superior form of government developed by man.  The testimony of God is against that.  The more one is ruled by God, the nobler he becomes, but the more one is ruled by man, the more base he becomes.  Today, man’s condition is a complete rejection of God’s rule.  

In his comments on Jesus’ healing of the demoniac boy when He had come down from the mount of Transfiguration, George Hawtin has strikingly written, “It will not be necessary for me here to endeavor to convince anyone that the world is now struggling helplessly between the fires of tribulation and the waters of judgment.  Listen to the news any day at any hour and what do we hear?  More violence.  More killings.   More break-ins.  More robberies.  More conspiracies.   More defrauding.  More wars.  More terrorism.   More armaments.  More uprisings.  More rebellions.   More air crashes.  More earthquakes.  More tornadoes.  More volcanoes, more floods, and more mud slides.  More drug abuse.   And an ever-increasing number of children born either crippled in body or retarded in mind, and, worst of all, no good news anywhere.   The poor, sad, distraught, demon possessed world, groaning and travailing in pain, is waiting for the sons of God to reach the glory and honor of adoption, waiting for the transfigured family of sons to say, ‘Bring him to me.’

“Far away in the depths of my spirit I hear the voice of the prophet Isaiah, saying, ‘And He will destroy in this mountain (the mountain of the kingdom of God) the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.  He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God shall wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it’  (Isa. 25:7-8).   Oh what a song of joy there is going to be when the sons of God say, ‘Bring him unto me’!  And the poor, drunken, staggering, demon possessed world will as the demoniac of Gadara be devoutly following Jesus, clothed and in his right mind”   — end quote.

Let us now carry the thought of the contrast between democracy and the Kingdom of God a little further.  Government of the people, by the people, and for the people is the most selfish thing in existence.  Suppose I were to stand up and say, “I believe in the government of J. Preston Eby, by J. Preston Eby, and for J. Preston Eby,” would I be selfish or unselfish?  I would be a selfish brute.  How many millions of selfish people are there in the United States?   If that is a selfishness as applied to one man, then it is 265,000,000 times a bigger piece of selfishness applied to 265,000,000 people.  The government of a man by himself and for himself is the most brutal, selfish thing that you can find.  That is why in all our society we have so much “take” and so little “give”.  It contradicts the nature of God.  It stands in opposition to the principles of the Kingdom of God in the sermon on the Mount.  It is the antithesis of redemptive love.  God rules men out of His great heart of  sacrificial love.  In democracy men are always out to see how much they can get.  Just ask any woman who has a man of that kind for a husband.  “I believe,” he says to his wife, ‘in the government of myself, by myself, and for myself.  Now look out for yourself!”  That is the kind of man he is.  There is not a spark of nobility in that kind of man or in that kind of government.  That is a false principle.  You have been told that it is a grand principle.  It is no such thing.

If you are going to have the rule of all the people you might just as well govern a family by the children, or govern a factory by the employees and apprentices.  Government does not come from below, unless it comes from hell, and that government is Confusion — Babylon.  It is true — you may have good government under democracy if you have all good people.  You may have saintly government under democracy if you have all saintly people.  If the people were all ruled by God, for God, and the Voice was the Voice of an awakened and renewed spirit within, then God would rule.  But it is not so.   If you have mostly careless people, you will have careless government.  If you have a majority of immoral people, you will have immoral government.  If you have bad people, you will have bad government.  If the people are corrupt, you have corrupt government.  With carnal people you get carnal government and with sinning people — that is the kind of government you will have!  All democracies in the end are government of sinners, by sinners, and for sinners.

Certainly that explains in simple to understand language the present corruption in both our nation and our government.  The thing that needs changing in this dark world is the sinful heart of man.   Out of this dread fountain there stems all that is wrong in human relations.  God has filled this earth with every good and perfect thing that man can need.  It is all good, just as He pronounced it in that long ago beginning.   He has provided it in such abundance that there is more than plenty for all.  It is the selfishness and lust of the hearts of the few which result in hunger, privation and want on the part of the many.  There is beauty and grace in the entire creation, but the perverted heart of man twists these gifts of God into objects of lust and indulgence, violating the very purpose of creation.  The builders of the New World Order each are erecting their gossamer structures upon a rotten foundation.  Share the wealth, and in a few years the few will have it all back again.  Revise political trends and give power to the oppressed (as it was supposed to be under communism!) and they quickly become the oppressors!  Pass laws enforcing goodness, ethics, and morality, and after a short time enforcement becomes lax and as the new generation arises they will throw off the yoke that they hate.  

THEOCRATIC GOVERNMENT

I tell you today that I do not believe in democracy — I believe in Theocracy.  And I have no hesitation in telling you that old Abe Lincoln’s prediction will ultimately come to naught when he said, “The government of the people, by the people, and for the people SHALL NOT PERISH FROM THE EARTH...”  Oh yes, it will!  The word of God is sure:  “The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Dan. 2:44).  The Kingdom of God is a Theocracy.  Do you understand what a Theocracy is?  Democracy is the rule of the people.  Theocracy is the rule of God.  It is DIVINE GOVERNMENT.  The word theocracy comes from two Greek words: THEOS, meaning God or divinity, and KRATEO, meaning to have power, to rule, to be chief or master of.  It is not the rule of political bosses of any kind or degree.  It is not the rule by votes.  That would be the people’s kingdom, not the Kingdom of God.  Democracy cannot be the Kingdom of God or even a simile of the Kingdom of God, because those in the Kingdom of God are born of God, led by God and controlled by God.    

Theocratic principles are at entire and positive enmity with democratic principles.  In the Kingdom of God the people must not rule, or the Kingdom will go to the devil.  There is no voting in the Kingdom of God.  It is not a rule by military might.  It is not a dictatorship.  It is not parliamentarian or congressional rule.  It is not an earthly monarchy.  It is not the rule of the proletariat.  IT IS THE RULE OF GOD.  IT IS THE AUTHORITY AND ACTION OF THE HEART AND WILL AND PURPOSE OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER WHO SO LOVED THE WORLD.  We who stand for Theocracy believe that the gospel that the Church has given to it is the gospel of the Kingdom of God.  That which the Christ came to establish was the Kingdom of God.  Christ who came as Saviour, is now reigning on high as King.

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ” (Rev. 12:10).  The Kingdom of God is the authority of His Christ.  The God who sits upon the throne is Christ.  The Theocracy has become a Christocracy.  Christ Himself is reigning.  I may have a Christocracy today right here within my soul.  I may acknowledge the Lordship of the Christ within that He may reign in my life, in my heart, in my will, in my mind, in my nature, and then as He reigns through me, a member of the Christ-body, I become part of that Christocracy.  This is such a beautiful form of government: God reigning through His chosen.  His love, power, righteousness, peace and judgments all flow through the priesthood that He has called and ordained.  In the beginning when God created the first man and woman and instituted marriage, He established this form of government.  It is for the home, it is for the church,  and it is for the world, when the time is ripe for it.  In Eden God shared His FATHERHOOD WITH MAN.  When God called Abram He shared His FATHERHOOD WITH HIM and made him the father of many nations calling him Abraham (Gen. 17:5).

What makes this order so different from a democracy is that the heads are not voted in, therefore they cannot be manipulated by the voters.  The difference between theocracy and dictatorship is that no man has authority in himself, it is not a carnal authority and he cannot be a boss and demand servitude.  But I would have you know that “the Head of every man is Christ... and the Head of Christ is God” (I Cor. 11:3).  That is the precise order of headship in the Kingdom of God.  In order for one to have and exercise the authority that belongs to the Kingdom, he must live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit.  He must be submissive and obedient to his one and only Head, Jesus Christ.  It is a spiritual authority, not a natural or carnal or organizational one.  If one fails to walk in the Spirit and be submitted to Christ his Life, no matter how many men or pastors or apostles he may be submitted to, he can shout long and loud but the authority of the God will not be there.  

The business of the sons of God is to establish the Theocracy — the rule of God in the midst of men.  Only with the mind of the Spirit can we discern the rule of God.  Paul speaks of it in Philippians 3:20 where he says, “For our conversation is in heaven.”  The Greek word here translated “conversation” is POLITEUMA — politics!  Plainly he says, “Our politics are in heaven.”  Our politics are not out of the Democratic party, or the Republican party, or anybody else’s political party — our politics are right out of the realm of the Spirit  and Power of God.   Our politics are the RULE OF GOD BY THE SPIRIT.  In all of our life and relationships we have no other politics, no other agenda, no other authority, no other source of blessing to humanity.

Since the Church is a part of the Kingdom of God it was intended to function in the Theocratic Order.  You see this so powerfully in the beginning, in the book of Acts.  Notice how things were done by the Holy Ghost, by Theocratic principles.  “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul  for the work whereunto I have called them.  And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them...they...being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed” (Acts 13:2-4).  “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias.  And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.  And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand upon him, that he might receive his sight.  Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.  And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house;  and putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.  And when he had received meat, he was strengthened.  And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:10-20).   

All ministry in the house of God is of divine appointment, on whatever level it may be.  Only the Holy Ghost can do these things.  There is no such thing in the Kingdom of God as appointment to ministry by human authority or hierarchy.   Neither is there such a thing as a self-constituted ministry of a man’s own choosing.  None but God can make or appoint a ministry of any sort or description.  Even in Old Testament times Yahweh called Moses and appointed Aaron and his sons to the priesthood; and if a stranger presumed to meddle with the functions of those so appointed, he was put to death.  Such was the solemn result — the awful consequence of moving out of the order of God’s theocratic order.  “Every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God...and no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron”   “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are diversities of administrations, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (I Cor. 12:4-6).  “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased Him”   “But God hath set some in the church...”  “And He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and some teachers...”

This “church voting” is all nonsense.  I should just as soon ask a flock of sheep to vote where the shepherd should lead them.  I should just as soon expect an army to vote as to what general should lead them.  What army would ever be able to fight successfully, if all its officers, captains, majors, colonels, brigadier-generals, and commander-in-chief depended upon the votes of the soldiers!  I should like to know what kind of an army that would be.  If I were on the other side, I should like to meet that army, because I would put it to rout the first thing.  I should have no fear of an army where the soldiers elected their own officers and voted whether to go into the battle or not.  If they are not pleased today, they put them down tomorrow.  If the battle is going badly, they stop and take a vote whether to fight on.  They would change about thirty times a month.  I would know what could be done with them if I were on the other side.  The devil does not give a snap for the man-made and man-run church systems of this world where your ministers have to preach to please the people, or else have the people butt them out of the pasture.  Nice kind of thing that, is it not?  Nice mess you have gotten yourselves into, treating ministers as if they were cooks.  If they do not happen to season the doctrinal soup from the pulpit to your satisfaction, you say, “Go!”   And they have to go.  Nonsense!

In that harlot system which calls itself the church, they have been applying democratic principles to what is supposed to be a theocratic institution.  Every honest man must admit that the Church cannot be the Church of God if it is the Church of the People.   That would be the people’s Church, not God’s.  And that is exactly what it is.  It cannot be the Church of God, because those in the Church of God are born of God, called by God, led by God, positioned by God, nurtured by God, and controlled by God.  In the Church of God the people must not rule, or the Church will surely go to the devil.  Therefore, it has come to pass that in these church systems which have given up the rule to the people and to the devil, you have a most extraordinary condition of things.  You have Theological Seminaries which take young men from the universities and schools and make ministers of them by machinery, like so many sausages from a sausage mill.  The consequence is that the denomination owns him from that time on.  He goes from step to step, taking everything they say, swallowing it all, thinking as they think, acting as they act, and then at last he becomes their minister.

How is he called?  In many denominations it is about the same.  They generally go upon the same basis that the people have the right to call the minister.  Do you not know how the people call the minister?  In the first place they have to think of the minister’s salary.  If they go about it the best way, the committee will say, “We will get a first-class talker, a charismatic man with eloquence and charm.  He will attract crowds of people, fill this church, and boom the town.  We cannot afford to have any but a polished man.”  The consequence is that they go to the wealthiest business tycoon in the church  and say, “How much will you help us, Mr. Flesh-pot, to get a good minister?”   He takes enough time to get the cigar out of his mouth and silently damn them, and then he begins to think.  “After all, I cannot afford to let these fellows get just anyone, because I put $50,000 into that church last year, and this town must have a man who can talk.  Well, I will think about it.”  So he tells them he will think about it.

At last he sends off to some place where there is a promising young rising star, a fellow who is a go-getter and is talking away.  He is pretty bright.  Mr. Flesh-pot, who is chairman of the committee, and pays all expenses, brings the young fellow to town to hear him preach some trial sermons and see whether he is the man or not.  The question then becomes a question of salary.  The whole question of the call being from God is decided by the salary paid.  That settles the whole thing.  You do not expect it to be a call of God, if there is not more salary paid than you are now receiving.  Mr. Flesh-pot, who has not a spark of spirituality or godliness in him, rules the whole thing.  The committee must do as he says.  As a result a man is chosen who praises society, who charms and entertains, who lives in the world, who walks after the flesh, who minds earthly things, who will not damage any of the interests of Mr. Flesh-pot or any of the other “pots” in the church, who will be very gentle with sin and every carnal thing.  A meeting is called and this man is put before them, and the people vote upon it.  But the “primaries” have already been held and Mr. Flesh-pot’s nominee must be voted for.   What is the consequence?  Dumb dogs in the pulpit!  I would rather break stones in the street than to be a minister of that kind.   And I would rather eat pork and beans three times a day than to be dependent upon any people for a “salary” as one of Babylon’s hirelings, or be voted in by the people to anything.

Now I fully realize that the conditions are not quite that extreme in many Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations where the people love to think that they are true to the Word of God and are led by the Spirit.  But I have been there — and I know, and you know, that self-pleasing, pride, fleshly zeal, political manipulations, financial interests, clout of those who have money and control the purse-strings of the church, and a great number of carnal considerations are always involved where the people call the preachers and control the ministry.  The ministers of Babylon are hirelings, one and all,  and the people usurpers of the Holy Ghost.  I have found that the rule of the people in church affairs is a curse unutterable; that the minister loses his ability to walk in the Spirit, loses his sense of being a messenger of God, loses His capacity to function in the government of God, and becomes the mere mouthpiece of some wretched committee or faction representing some miserable party that has attained supremacy in the church.  They hire him as they would hire a cook, and kick him out when the cooking does not suit them.

Democracy will always produce, sooner or later, “man’s man” and “man’s plan” rather than “God’s man” and “God's plan.”  This is true in all societies and on all levels where Democracy rather than Theocracy is practiced.  Democracy in the church or Democracy in the United States government did not start in the Throne Room, will never have “rights” in the Throne Room.   It has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God whatsoever.  You see, I am undertaking the most unfashionable kind of thing.  I am undertaking to teach a democratic people to embrace Theocracy; to exchange the rule of themselves, by themselves, and for themselves with the rule of themselves by God and for God.  That is the route of sonship pure and simple.  All who receive the call to sonship sooner or later become thoroughly undeceived by the carnal church system and flee from it as a plague, for it has the horns of a lamb, appearing harmless and good, but it has the voice of a dragon (Rev. 13:1).

It is the mind of Christ that will order and govern the world in the Kingdom of God.  Every son of God will be imbued with the mind of Christ and from those holy omniscient minds the life and light and love and authority  and glory of the Lord will flow forth with a power that will encompass the earth with transforming grace and fill it to overflowing with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.  With great earnestness I pray that God will open your understanding, for it is of perfect truth that I tell you that no man can ever hope to reign in the Kingdom of Christ until his will has become one with the will of the Father.  Were it possible for one man to reign in the Kingdom while still possessing his own will in opposition to the will of the Father, it would mean the destruction of the Kingdom with confusion, strife and rebellion.  

Sons of God, God’s Christ, are the instrument to bring the divine order of God into the lives of all men, for the Head of every man is Christ.   The will of God on earth is in truth the Kingdom of God.  God’s Christ shall also bring the divine order of God into society, into all activities and institutions, until the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.  The story I read recently of the farmer who had a visit from the Christian holds much truth for us.  It seems that the farmer had a visit from a young man who constantly remarked of the beauty of the farm in this manner.  “God has just blessed you so much.”  Over and over again the young man could not resist praising God over the great beauty of this farm.  “God has given you so much in this farm,” he would say.  Being somewhat of a salty Christian, the old farmer finally spoke up concerning the zealous praise of the young Christian.  He said, “Well son, it is true that God has blessed this farm.  But, you should have seen it when God had it all to Himself!”

Ah, God could sovereignly and independently right every wrong and restore the whole creation to purity and soundness and beauty and incorruptibility in an instant with one sweep of His great hand, if that were His plan.  But God has a better plan!  He is processing a people to bring His peace, His righteousness, the beauty of His nature, His glory and His will to all men and all creatures, beginning on earth, and extending to the extremities of the unbounded heavens.  God has not chosen to bring forth the magnificence of Himself in creation independently and single handedly — the sons of God are the “farmers” He is raising up to establish the harmony of His purpose and the majesty of His Kingdom throughout all His domains.  The first area of land that He has given us to work over, and bring forth a crop unto righteousness, is ourselves.  Today God has chosen to bring His Kingdom to pass in all the earth through us.  Plant wisely, water faithfully, cultivate carefully, my brother, my sister, that there shall be an abundant harvest of salvation and righteousness unto the ends of the earth.

Jesus Christ preached the good news of the Kingdom of God.  He is Himself the King of this Kingdom and the sons of God are His joint-rulers.  He is the firstborn of many brethren who are kings as He is King and priests as He is Priest after the order of Melchizedek.  As George Hawtin has so eloquently written, “These are they who during their life on earth went unto Him without the camp of the world’s denominations and systems, bearing His reproach,  that they might be received and taught as sons of their heavenly Father.  Long ago amid the shadows of earth they heard and obeyed God’s call, ‘Come out of her, my people, and be separate; and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’   In their obedience God became their Father.   As a Father He instructed them, broke them free from the blinding traditions and doctrines of men.  He rebuked them as any loving father rebukes his children.  He chastised them as a father chastises his son, for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  For if we receive not chastening, whereof all are partakers, then are we bastards and not sons.  As a Father He fed them, and He fed them on His Living Word of Life, they became partakers of the divine mind, the divine nature, the divine will.  The mind that was in Christ Jesus dwelt in them and as it increased they were thoroughly transformed by the renewing of their minds.  These are the kings, the priests,  and the judges of His glorious and eternal Kingdom”   — end quote.

God’s Theocratic government will yet break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms, within and without.  And He doesn’t need your vote!  You don’t need to “believe” it to make it come to pass.  It is not going to happen just because enough people “want” it to!   No, it is happening and shall continue to happen in spite of all of us — the Kingdom is coming whether the world expects it or not!  The world wasn’t expecting Jesus two millennia ago.  The world wasn’t expecting the power of God that came at Pentecost.  The world wasn’t “believing” for the apostles to appear on the scene in the power and demonstration of the Kingdom of Heaven.  The world didn’t “want” the Church to arise in the midst of the earth and overthrow all the gods and temples and priesthoods of the pagans.  And the world isn’t planning on the manifestation of the sons of God.  As I listen to the ridiculous blather of politicians; weigh and compare the absolutely mind-boggling problems of this world against their sugar-coated promises, how THANKFUL I am that the security, prosperity, safety and protection of my family and our destiny do not depend on the feeble machinations of power-hungry men.  Yes, THANK GOD for God’s Christ, for His unfailing promises, for His answers to prayer, for His healing, delivering, miracle working power, for the wisdom of His ways, the righteousness, peace and joy of His Spirit, the understanding of His mind, the undergirding of His strength, the majesty of His glory, the authority of His Word, the inner stability of His substance, the love, purity, faith and might of His nature, the quickening, transforming power of His life — THIS IS THE POWER AND GLORY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

I believe in the rule of J.  Preston Eby by God  and for God.  Nothing else has any potential beyond this dismal realm of sin, death and the grave.  If it had not been that God ruled me I would have gone to the devil long ago.  I know just a little of my own heart, though it is abundantly true that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, and the wise man wisely asked, “Who can know it?”  Yet I know just a little of my own heart and I have seen enough in the little I know to realize that I would have shipwrecked on some benighted shoals of sin, shame, delusion or death were it not for the rule of God in my life by the Spirit.  This is precisely why the Kingdom of God has to be within.

The gospel of the Kingdom of God is the gospel Jesus brought the world.  In every parable, in every simile in which He put His gospel before His disciples and the multitudes, He spoke of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven.  The Kingdom of God is the whole aim and purpose of God’s great gift to humanity.   I proclaim to you today, as a minister of God, as an ambassador of His Kingdom, that God’s highest purpose in the earth is the establishment of the Kingdom — the Kingdom of God in every heart, the Kingdom of God in the home, the Kingdom of God in the workplace, the Kingdom of God between employers and employees, the Kingdom of God in the civic affairs of the city, the Kingdom of God in the government of the state, the Kingdom of God to rule in every nation and every land from sea to sea and from pole to pole.  God has sent salvation to save us from the kingdom of men and of devils.  The rule of men can never lift the world  out of the abyss of hate and war and poverty and sickness and sin and sorrow and death.

The Kingdom of God has been despised and hated by every government, by the politician, and by all carnal and corrupt men and women.  They all approve of a Kingdom that some day will come, but they want nothing to do with a rule of God that comes right now into their world and upsets and destroys the sovereignty of man.  They always strive to separate God from government, God from business, God from education, and God from social services.  They say you must not have religion in your politics, in your media, or in your business.  You must let the devil rule the government.  You must let the devil rule business.  You must let the devil rule your pleasures.  You must let the devil rule your schools.  You must let the devil rule the press.  

The day is coming when the devil will not rule any more in any of these places.  The day is coming when there will be no more voting in America, no more elections, no more corrupt politics, no more national networks with their stars and superstar newscasters covering major conventions, no more convention halls decorated in bright colors, or delegates  wearing loud-colored casual or sports attire, many with outlandish oversized hats.  No more whoop-and-holler demonstrations, or thousands with balloons, like little children at play.   No more political signs and placards, no more of the usual politics being played secretly from smoke-filled hotel suites away from convention halls — the jockeying for selfish advantage, political gain and coveting of power.  No more polished speeches and lying orations promising everybody everything and delivering nothing.

The day is coming when the saints shall judge the earth; when the overcoming sons of God shall be given power over the nations to rule them with the iron rod of righteous dominion and transforming power; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers.  Let all men know that it is the Almighty God who is the designer and architect of all the nations of the world.   The time periods and localities in which nations flourish have all been pre-arranged  by the will of Him who “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11).  The truth of this cannot be made any plainer than it is by Moses in Deuteronomy 32:8: “When the Most High divided the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.”  Paul refers to this verse in Acts 17:26-27: “And hath made of one blood ALL NATIONS of men for to dwell  on all the face of the earth, AND HATH DETERMINED THE TIMES BEFORE APPOINTED, and the BOUNDS OF THEIR HABITATION; that they should seek the Lord.”  

How plain it is that it was GOD who, from the beginning, set the bounds of habitation or the national boundaries of ALL NATIONS.  These boundaries were established in relation to Israel and with a view to their being able to seek after the Lord.  It is remarkable that the land of Palestine was originally reserved by the wisdom and goodness of the Lord for the possession of His special people and the display of the most stupendous signs and wonders.  The theater was small, but wonderfully suited for the convenient observation of the whole human race — at the junction of the two continents of Asia and Africa, and almost in sight of Europe.  From this spot as from a common center the reports of God’s wonderful works, of His mighty power and awesome glory, of the glad tidings of salvation through the obedience, suffering, and resurrection of His precious Son, of the wonder-filled outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as the faithful disciples of Jesus were set ablaze by the life and power of their glorified Lord, might be rapidly and easily wafted to every part of the globe.  

Yes, God set the bounds of habitation for all nations and planted Israel at the crossroads, to the end that ALL NATIONS should seek after the Lord.  Out of Israel came the Christ; out of the Christ has come the Church, His bride (Eph. 5:21-33); out of Church shall come forth the manchild, the manifested sons of God, destined to bring blessed and glorious and ultimate deliverance to the whole creation that it might be fulfilled which God promised to father Abraham: “And in thy seed shall ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). ALL NATIONS shall be blessed!  Some still don’t believe it.  Some tell me that only the Church is to be blessed, or only some people in the nations are to be blessed, or that the Kingdom has nothing to do with nations — only some invisible entity in the spirit realm.  What a prospect!   From the very beginning God not only designed the nations of men that dwell upon the earth; He also planned and purposed to bless them — each and every one of them in their totality!  This speaks not of the blessing of Israel, nor the blessing of the Church,  nor of the blessing of the saints of God within the nations, nor the blessing of spiritual people in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; it is THE NATIONS THEMSELVES that must come under the gracious hand of God in blessing and quickening until every part and form and fashion thereof has been raised up into the Kingdom of God.   Hallelu-yah!  What a Saviour!

David, the sweet singer of Israel, intoned this hope in the spirit of prophecy:  “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us; that Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among ALL NATIONS.  Let the people praise Thee, O God; let ALL the people praise Thee!  O let THE NATIONS be glad and sing for joy: for Thou shalt JUDGE THE PEOPLE righteously, and GOVERN THE NATIONS upon earth...yea, ALL KINGS shall bow down before Him: ALL NATIONS SHALL SERVE HIM” (Ps. 67:1-4; 72:11).  It is obvious that all nations do not today serve the Lord, neither do all kings (rulers) fall down before Him.  Communist China does not serve the Lord, neither do its rulers acknowledge Him.   Iran does not serve the Lord.  Iraq does not serve the Lord.  Great numbers of nations do not today serve the Lord, and few of their rulers fall down before Him.  But the day is surely coming when all nations shall be joined to the Lord and fulfill their obligations to Him as their Maker and Saviour.  If that day never comes, then I will have to tear my Bible to pieces and the Word of God will have to be relegated to the scrap heap of ancestral errors.  But the promise is sure: “Arise, O God, judge the earth: for Thou shalt INHERIT ALL NATIONS.  ALL NATIONS whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and shall glorify Thy name.   For Thou art great, and doest wondrous things” (Ps. 82:8; 86:9-10).  

Many precious “fragments” reveal God’s ultimate purpose for mankind, when “ALL the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and ALL KINDREDS OF THE NATIONS shall worship before Thee, for the kingdom is the Lord’s and HE is the governor among the nations” (Ps. 22:27-28).  Almighty Father!  “Thy Kingdom Come!”

 


Chapter 16

HOW THE KINGDOM COMES

(continued)

When our Lord spoke of the Kingdom of God He 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.”  Jesus had just told His disciples where the Kingdom is and how the Kingdom does not come.  Before you can ever see the Kingdom you have to know how it’s not coming — because the first thing we try to do is build it by the natural.  The spirit of wisdom and understanding from God must deliver us from our confusion about how the Kingdom of God comes.  It cannot be established by force.  It cannot be established by law.  It will never be established by any kind of political action.  It is impossible for it to be established by the will, efforts, or programs of men or of governments.

NOT BY LAW

In the United States today we have the Fundamentalist and Charismatic Christian movements whose burden it is to restructure government and society in the name of the Lord, not by spiritual regeneration, but by constitutional legislation.   These are sincere Christians concerned for the social problems confronting the modern world who are being beguiled and deceived into accepting the premise that by partaking in the Babylonish systems of this confused world, they will be able to effect significant changes and bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.  To those on the “religious right” that seems to be envisioned as a political government that will outlaw abortion, re-institute public prayer in schools and legislate Christian morality on the whole of society.  It is their conviction that God’s Word gives them a mandate to infiltrate and exercise godly control over all the political, social, educational and judicial institutions of the nation.  They are convinced that the Bible gives us a divinely revealed pattern for social and political action.  

But does the law of Moses give us a body of social, economic and political regulations which, when applied, will rescue our nation or any nation from its woes?  If a serious problem exists in our society, can we scan the precepts of Moses for a solution?  When we discover the Old Testament law to resolve a moral and social difficulty, is it an expression of the Kingdom Jesus taught to lift out the regulation as found in Moses and write it in the law books of our state?  Some are claiming that this is God’s method of establishing the principles and power of the Kingdom of God in our world today.  

The Church goes out and protests abortion, they demand that the law be changed.  The people of God go out and protest homosexual activities, same sex marriages, and a score of other moral issues, demanding that laws be passed based on the laws of God.  They have the Old Testament mentality that thinks the way to make America a godly nation is to legislate morality.  Let’s force everyone to submit to our standards of right and wrong because we have this authority from God.  That’s what the Pope thinks, too.  And it’s what the Moslem Fundamentalists and the Orthodox Jews think.  It’s what the Serbs think.  That’s what Hitler thought.  They all think they have authority from God to legislate their particular standard of righteousness and enforce it as the law of the land.  With every law there is a punishment for breaking that law.  Thus, those who would, in the name of Christ, legislate morality also are responsible for the punishments meted out to those who break the law.  They thus become “bearers of the sword” and it brings Christians right back under the Old Covenant — an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!   And they can no longer say with the merciful Jesus, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:17).  

All Christians who are out protesting abortion and pressing for legislation to ban it and other evils are condemners of the world.  The spirit of sonship is not in them.  The priesthood of mercy has not been raised up in their hearts.   The spiritual dynamic of the Kingdom of God has never been quickened in their consciousness.  They would never be able to say to the woman taken in adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”  Instead, they would be carrying placards and petitioning the government for stronger laws against adultery.  If they themselves did not hold stones in their hands to stone her, they would at least rejoice in the government’s restrictions and be consenting to the stoning, as Saul of Tarsus consented to the stoning of Stephen.  They would say, “Praise God, justice was done and a strong signal has been sent out to all our young people and would-be law breakers, that adultery is sin and punishable by death!  This will put holy fear in their hearts and preserve the moral values of our nation.”  I do not hesitate to say that such an attitude is diametrically opposed to the spirit of sonship.  It has nothing whatever to do with the Kingdom of God.  It stands, in fact, in opposition to the Kingdom of God.   It is a monstrous heresy and a religious delusion.  It is spiritual treason.  

People want to get all the pornography off the news stands.  Am I in favor of pornography?  Certainly not!  Am I in favor of legislating it out of the land?  If I am I become a minister of the law of the Old Covenant, not a minister of deliverance to creation.  I tell you today, I will preach to somebody, I will proclaim the love and power of God to him, I will demonstrate the mercy and goodness of the Lord toward him, I will do everything within my power to touch that heart and change that life with the grace of Jesus Christ to experience the holiness of God, but I will not compel him by condemnation and law and punishment — that is not the way of the Kingdom of God.  I am not a minister of the law, I am a priest of the Most High God.  God is raising up His Kingdom from within men, not from without men.  The sons of God are Ambassadors of that Kingdom that establishes righteousness in the earth by transformation, not by compulsion.  Man’s government is the instrument of the sword, not the sons of God.  We are bound in the spirit to represent only the interests and principles of the Kingdom of God, never the interests or policies of the kingdoms of this world.

Preachers travel up and down the land with their fingers pointed at sinners, picking out a new sin, the sin of the week, to preach against.  Their whole message is that the media is ungodly, the government is corrupt, the New World Order is a conspiracy, the educational system is immoral, the abortionists, homosexuals, and others must be stopped, and they breathe out threatenings, hell-fire and damnation against the world from their perch high upon a crag on mount Sinai.   That’s not God’s way at all!  Our heavenly Father calls us to assume a posture that causes the light of God to shine upon the just and upon the unjust.  The way of the Kingdom is not human government.  The way of the Kingdom is not trying to get everyone to agree on a law that forbids unrighteousness and godlessness.  That is the way of man’s government, they can only deal with evil by restraint.   But that is not God’s Kingdom economy.   To reign in the Kingdom the heart of the Father in heaven must be raised up within us.  Sin cannot be gotten rid of externally.  The whole concept of the Kingdom as taught by the preachers today is absurd. 

This may surprise some of my readers, but sons of God are not called to point their fingers at the evils of society.  JESUS NEVER DID!  God did not call us to crusade and announce, “Abortion is evil, you should not do it.  There ought to be a law!”  No, I do not condone indiscriminate abortion.  No, I am not for drugs and immorality and crime.  But God did not call me to condemn the world — to condemn either these social evils or those who practice them.  The people of God must offer a solution to sin instead of preaching against it.  And our solution is not more laws.  History proves that laws solve nothing.  Does our “war on drugs” remove drugs from the streets and school yards of our nation?  Absolutely not!   Did “Prohibition” eradicate alcohol and drunkenness from America?  No way!  God does not need the church to tell society that adultery, hatred, lying, cheating, stealing and killing are wrong.  Too much of the message of religion is lambasting sin and telling sinners how evil they are and that they are headed for hell and damnation.  I can guarantee you that in their deepest heart they already know that!   God needs a people who can offer the solution — the love of God and the power of God to deliver, redeem and transform is the answer.   This is the power and glory of the Kingdom of God!

You can get rid of all pornography, you can close down all the abortion clinics, you can close up all the brothels, all the adult book stores, all the nude strip-joints, and all the hell-holes of sin, pass a million laws against sin, send out the army in the streets to enforce them, and sin will still erupt in your very midst because it is the heart that is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.  Outward sins are merely an effect of the inward sin of heart and nature — they are not a cause.  Man does not sin because he sees sin, he sins because it’s a nature to do it.  The fact is, I couldn’t have been anything at one time except a sinner because as long as I remained in the consciousness of Adam I would forever be in a consciousness of sinning.  But once you begin to come into the consciousness of the Christ the whole concept of sinning becomes foreign to you.  You become centered in a God-Christ consciousness which becomes the spirit motivating your actions, the law of life within.  Christ within becomes the animating principle and power of your being unto righteousness.  And this, precious friend of mine, IS THE POWER AND THE GLORY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

Let me say it again — the laws of Moses have absolutely nothing to do with the Kingdom of God! With what divine genius does the Holy Spirit on the pages of God’s Word proclaim the eternal truth:  “The law and the prophets were until John, but since that time the kingdom of God is preached and every man presseth into it” (Lk. 16:16; Mat. 11:13).  According to Jesus the Kingdom involved such altogether new forces and such unparalleled blessings and realities, that all the works and provisions of former moves of God on earth paled by comparison.  They were the words of God, but not the reign of God.  They were the works of God, but not the rule of God.  They brought men into contact with God, but not under the dominion of God.   

Times without number I have heard good people rejoicing in some “godly” piece of legislation that is before congress, or in their involvement in the anti-abortion movement, or that Christians have gained positions on the local school board, or that the ten commandments are posted in a court room or school building.  But consider this, oh tradition bound man!  “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  May the Spirit of God make it powerfully real to all who read these lines that the Kingdom of God is not a kingdom of law — it is the Kingdom of Grace and Truth.

Righteousness cannot be legislated.  You cannot turn America or any other nation back to God with laws or any kind of governmental authority.  You can put prayer back in the schools, but they will be carnal prayers that will rise no higher than the ceiling.  You can outlaw this and that sin, but it will not change the hearts of men one iota.  What the world needs today is not laws or police action to establish righteousness — men must experience regeneration, transformation, a new birth from above.  This is only effected by SPIRITUAL POWER.  The Kingdom of God can only be established in the earth by the spiritual power that changes men and makes them new creatures in Christ Jesus.  “Except a man (any man) be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” is what Jesus taught.  Once a man is born again, truly born again by the Spirit of God, you need no laws to enforce righteousness upon him.  Once a nation turns to the Lord it will change the government — but changing the government cannot turn men to the Lord!  The so-called “Christian Right” in America today has the cart before the horse.  They have the whole thing backwards.  Their mission will fail.  They cannot and will not bring America back to God through the ballot box.  I tell you as a prophet of God that political action and organization by the religious people in the United States or anywhere else will not return the nation to its Christian roots and heritage.  They are barking up the wrong tree.  Only the mighty saving, delivering, transforming power of God can accomplish the work. 

Let me illustrate.  Suppose that there are two meetings going on at opposite ends of the city.  Both are led by preachers.  One is engaged in spiritual ministry.  The power of God is moving and men are coming to Christ, broken, weeping, contrite, repenting, calling upon the name of the Lord, their chains of sin and darkness broken, washed away by the power of God, becoming new creatures in Christ Jesus.  Saints are being strengthened, the ways of the Lord are being established in hearts, the plan and purpose of God are being quickened in the consciousness of those seeking the Lord. The other preacher is heading a political movement to enlist “Christian political activists” in the project of holding demonstrations, lobbying government to put prayer back in the schools, initiate programs to get kids off of drugs, outlaw pornography, nude dancing, adult book stores, etc.  Now, which of these two preachers is acting as an Ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven; which of these preachers is doing the work of the Kingdom of God; which of these two is causing the Kingdom of God to come upon men; which of these two is introducing men to the Realm of Heaven; which is reigning in some measure with Christ from His throne of heavenly power?

There should be no doubt in any spiritual mind.  The soul-saving preacher is certainly moving in a dimension of the Kingdom of God even in this present “in part” realm, whereas the politically active preacher is trying by the energy of the flesh, by the principles of the kingdoms of this world, and by the methodology of the law of Moses, to reform the carnal government of man.  With the above truth gaining access and blooming in our hearts, let us prepare our hearts to now step beyond our present age to the more excellent glory of the new order which is now at hand in the Feast of Tabernacles, the third day, the Holiest of all, the manifestation of the sons of God.  Let us discard the silly doctrines, methods and programs of men and evil traditions inherited from the kingdom of Babylon that we may receive of God and become His sons and daughters.  The glory of this hope hastens my step.  It quickens my heart.  It speeds my writing.  It urges me to partake completely of Him, to crown Him my Lord and Head forever.

It is my deep conviction that the time appointed of the Father for the manifestation of the sons of God is nigh at hand.  Sons of God shout it loud and clear!  Let the earth know her redemption draweth nigh!  The King of Love is coming!  Hallelu-yah!  The Deliverer is coming out of Zion, the whole Christ-body is being prepared, and the time is at hand.   While the religious systems “play church” and the Christians “dabble in politics” trying to save the nation and the world, the royal heralds are going forth blowing their trumpets, proclaiming the message of the Kingdom in the power of the Spirit, preparing the stage for the appearing of the KING in a vast company of the sons of God — the King in the midst of the kings!  What a glorious and mighty and exultant victory lies before us!

Now don’t misunderstand me.  I certainly am not opposed to good and godly laws in our land, nor to Christians exerting their influence for righteousness in society or government.  That is all well and good and to be commended, and I praise God for it.  JUST DON’T CALL IT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.  It is not the Kingdom of God.  It has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is not good laws or religiously oriented politics in this or any other land.  The Kingdom of God is “righteousness, and peace, and joy IN THE HOLY GHOST.”  What is the difference?  I will tell you!   When Christians exert pressure on carnal institutions and impose their will and standards on unregenerated men, you have just another function of human government.  It may be better human government.  But it is still just human government.  But, when those carnal institutions are changed because all the people in them have been transformed by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost — then YOU HAVE THE KINGDOM OF GOD!  You have now not a legislated righteousness imposed from without, but “righteousness...in the Holy Ghost.”  Ah, the former was imposed by the law of the statute books — the Old Covenant; the latter is the result of the laws written in the hearts of men by the Spirit of the living God — the New Covenant!  The Kingdom of God offers the solution to both sin and death.  The world needs the solution to its evils and sorrows, not another band aid.  God is preparing a people to step forth upon the world scene in the all nature, wisdom, power and glory of God’s Christ.  THIS IS THE POWER AND GLORY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

This is why I have consistently refused to become involved in movements, or organizations, in campaigns, crusades, and whatever work is dedicated to “anti” something.  If I become a militant moralist to fight the degeneracy in our midst, if I work myself to death screaming against the communists, if I labor day and night warning God’s people and the nation against politicians, the Illuminati, the world bankers, the Tri-lateral Commission, the United Nations, the New World Order, and all the other conspiracy theories — will it deliver even one soul from the power of darkness and translate him into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son?  Will it lead to transformation and to the glorification of as much as one life rescued from the power of hell, and raised up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus?  The answer is abundantly clear.  God’s purpose for His chosen ones is to become a part of THE STONE THAT IS CHRIST, which is cut out of the mountain without hands.  It is a Kingdom not of this world, out of the heights and depths of God.   BECOME WHAT CHRIST IS — that is the goal which He has set before us.  In becoming what He is, we become a part of that MIGHTY STONE which shall smite the kingdoms of man and become A GREAT MOUNTAIN to fill the whole earth.  Nothing less than that can satisfy the call of God upon our lives.  There is nothing else we can do to correct the world’s ills.   It will not be healed through religious efforts or through political schemes.  The only remaining hope for the world is for the Lord’s elect to become ONE WITH HIM WHO IS THE MIGHTY STONE which shall destroy all these kingdoms and become a great mountain that fills the whole earth.  And when we have sought the Lord and have given ourselves unreservedly to Him, He will speak to us as He did to Isaiah: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.  For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.  And the Gentiles (nations) shall come to thy light, and kings (rulers, governments) to the brightness of thy rising” (Isa. 60:1-3).

THE NEW MAN OF THE KINGDOM

Our world today needs the new men that Christ makes.  New men are the key to everything else that must be renewed.    Therefore the making of new men is the first priority of the Kingdom of God.  Only by the making of new men can the Kingdom of Heaven come to earth.  Our world desires better schools, a better press, better government, a better business world, a better economy, better living conditions, better social institutions, better communities.  These desires are laudable, but they cannot be achieved with unchanged men.  The earth and all things in it are defiled and are being devoured because man has transgressed God’s laws, ordinances, and covenants.  But we also know that no man can keep God’s laws unless Christ dwells in him.  The great truth is that the man in Christ does not keep the letter of the law, which is merely the outward husk of type and shadow, but he keeps the spirit of the law which is the inward law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  This results in the living expression of the nature and character of God in all things, not a keeping of external rules and regulations which give only the appearance of godliness.  Thus the righteousness of the law, and not its external forms, are fulfilled in them who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.  The answer to creation’s deteriorating state is not to preach the keeping of the law; the answer lies in the living out of Christ, and in Him alone.   When Christ comes to dwell in individuals, they will then keep Father’s Kingdom laws of life within, and the whole creation will be preserved, touched, affected, and transformed.  And unless He lives  within individuals, it is a useless waste of time to urge them to keep God’s laws.

At every point we are driven to the need for new men — a NEW CREATION.  Through two world wars men dreamed and talked of the coming of a better world when the nations would lay down their arms and begin to build that better world.  A half of a century has gone by since the last World War and it is not only the same old world, it is a much worse world.  We cannot build a new world out of men with old dispositions, old attitudes, old hearts and old natures.  The new world for which all creation groans and travails can only be fulfilled by new men with renewed minds, new hearts, and a new spirit.

The outward law of God is given to reveal to us the nature of God Himself.  I will use one illustration from the Ten Commandments to make the point.  When God says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” He is not simply trying to prevent us from enjoying the lusts of our flesh.  He is telling us something about Himself — how He is.  The only eternal, unchangeable, immutable, invariable, unalterable, firm, fixed, sound, solid, balanced, dependable, reliable, steady, steadfast, ethical, moral and totally trustworthy thing in the whole universe is — GOD!  “Thou shalt not commit adultery” — it means that GOD HIMSELF is committed, reliable, true, dependable, faithful and trustworthy.  He keeps His commitments.  He keeps His covenant.  He honors His word.   He is faithful in all His involvements.   He will not cheat on you, lie to you, deceive you, betray you, forsake you or fail you.  He loves you and will take care of you, cherish you, nurture you, protect you, and cleave to you.  He does not “chase skirts,”  He will not abandon you for greener grass on the other side of the fence.  He is not adulterous, with a roving eye and a lying, cheating heart.  He is love, He is good, He is faithful, He is persevering, and His nature is constant, abiding and unchanging.  THAT IS HOW HE IS!  When you understand the nature of one who is not adulterous in thought, desire or action, you understand something about the character of God.  And that is how He wants us, His sons, to be!  His law reveals His nature.  Study deeply the laws of God under the Old Covenant and you will learn the heart of God.  And when His law is written in our heart, His nature — how He is — is inscribed upon the tablets (genetic code) of our Inner Son.

This great faithfulness and unchanging nature of God is revealed with divine clarity in the words of the Lord through the prophet Hosea to backsliding Israel.  Israel was the wife of Yahweh, and she had played the harlot, shamefully abandoning her Husband, and had wantonly lain with all the gods of the heathen as her lovers.  Yahweh had entreated her again and again to return to Him and be a faithful wife, but she paid Him no heed and persisted in her abominations.  A lesser being would have put her away.  A lesser person would have been hurt, wounded, devastated, and said, “To hell with her.”  But not Yahweh!   He pursued her into the dens of her shame, saying, “And now I will discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand” (Hos. 2:10).  He spoke of chastisements, of judgments — loving corrections — He would bring upon her, but hastily added, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness (testing, purging, purification, brokenness), and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor (trouble) for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.  And it shall be at that day, saith Yahweh, that thou shalt call me Ishi (my husband!)...and I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I shall betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.  And I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know (be intimate with) YAHWEH” (Hos. 2:14-20).  What a God!  When His law says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” He is revealing His nature, His heart, to us that we know Him as He is, and be like Him.

What is called “nature” in man is called “instinct” in animals.  For years debate has been underway amongst the modern-day scholars over whether instinct is real or not, or whether what appears as instinct in animals is really taught or acquired characteristics.  For a long time no conclusion was ever really made.  Then, not too many years ago, a scholar by the name of Dr. Maurice, decided that he wanted to conclude, once and for all, the lasting debate of instinct.  He went to Johannesburg, South Africa, to study the strange behavior of the Weaverbird.   It is the most amazing bird!  It builds an elaborate nest out of reeds from the lake where it lives.  It then lines the nest with silky grass.  The odd thing about this nest is that it is completely enclosed, with the exception of a hole in the bottom.  This hole is how the bird enters and exits the nest.  How the bird keeps its eggs from rolling out of the hole, is a mystery.  Why the bird does this, no one knows.  Ornithologists have long wondered.

Dr. Maurice thought that he could test the reality of instinct by taking two eggs from a weaverbird’s nest in South Africa, bring them to America, and then hatch those eggs and raise the birds isolated from the others of their kind, never being exposed to this strange behavior.  And that was what he did.  He hatched those eggs, raised the birds, hatched the eggs from those birds and raised them, and did this until he had raised five generations of weaverbirds here in the United States of America.  He then took the last generation of weaverbirds and returned them to their natural habitat in South Africa.   And guess what?  Those birds did an amazing thing.  They went straight and built elaborate nests from the reeds by the lake, lined them with the silky grass, and tore a hole in the bottom.  He proved that it was in their “nature” to do it!  It’s how they are.  They are pre-programmed, acting out of their state of being.  In just the same way the natural man functions out of the law of sin and death that dwells in his members.  We think people choose to sin.  We have had the mistaken notion that homosexuals are homosexual because they chose that lifestyle.  Or we think that prostitutes are prostitutes because of choosing that lifestyle.  But when we were born into this realm of sin and death we inherited a nature from Adam.  Now I know that some deny that the carnal man is Adam, but it was by one man that sin was passed to all men, and the root of sin is found only in the Adam nature.  The carnal man is ignorant and out of the way.  He is a slave to sin and in bondage to death.  He doesn’t understand.  He doesn’t know why he acts as he does.  He can’t help himself!  The only way out of that kingdom is by death and being born again into a new life in a new world.  “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”  But when men and women are born again the law of God’s very own nature is transmitted by the Holy Spirit into the genetic code of the Inner Life of every son and daughter of God!  “As we have borne the image of the earthly, let us also bear the image of the heavenly.”

There would never be a broken home, a heartbroken wife or husband, or deserted and destitute children if the nature of God was written in all men’s hearts.  There would be no bigotry, no hatred, no crime, no war, no evil or trouble anywhere on earth if the nature of God was written on all men’s hearts giving them a heart in the likeness of His own and a mind as the mind of Christ.  From the redeemed and transformed heart the law (nature) of God flows forth as a river of life.  We still have those among us who thunder the letter of the law from Sinai’s mount — but all such will change their tune if ever they stand with the Lamb of God at Calvary’s hill, for there they find God removing His law from the external tables of stone to write them upon the fleshy tablets of the hearts of new born men, who no longer keep the law because they cringe in fear, but because the spirit of that law has become their nature, the law of life within them.

Can you imagine the United States Government passing one massive law that says, “WE FORBID ANYMORE CRIME OF ANY KIND.” — and it worked!  Impossible.  Laws are on the outside; you read them; you think about them; and if you have any morality at all, you even try to obey them, at least when the patrol car is driving in your lane of traffic, or when anyone is looking who might report, expose, or punish you if you do not.  Edicts of men are issued, but they cannot be imparted.  You talk them, but few walk them.  So laws cannot change the inner man; nor can the best of men follow the totality of any laws laid down in his behalf.  That is why there is such torment and slavery under the law, for we have become aware now of what God defines as sin, yet we struggle with it nonetheless.  But when the law is written in the heart no longer do men try to love God contrary to nature, but now, possessing the nature of God, love, joy, peace and righteousness flow like a river from the heart.  This is the power and glory of the Kingdom of God!

Herein lies the important significance of the great truth Jesus proclaimed when He explained where the Kingdom is and how it does not come.  “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation (outward show): neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  There are still those among us who imagine that Jesus is coming back to earth with literal armies  to ENFORCE LAW AND ORDER.  But should the Lord come to establish His Kingdom by force it could only result in a world full of immense prisons and unprecedented numbers of executions.  It would demand a tyranny surpassing that of either Hitler or Stalin.  

It is my deep conviction that social issues, economic issues, moral issues and political issues can be dealt with adequately only at the level of individual conversion.  When the firstborn Son of God came into the world to reveal the salvation and Kingdom of God, He did not engage directly in any social welfare work, or attack directly the social structure of the existing society.  Instead He gave Himself to the task of converting, remaking, transforming, and training of twelve apparently unimportant men.  These men, filled with the Holy Spirit of wisdom, holiness, and power went forth converting, remaking, and transforming the lives of countless multitudes of men and women in every nation under heaven.  They turned the world upside down and transformed the very moral and spiritual fabric of society from gross darkness to light and  truth and holiness.   And they did it by the power of the Spirit and the Word —  plus nothing!

As the sons of God destined to bring deliverance to the whole creation, dare we follow in the footsteps of  HIS holy wisdom?  The heart of any social, economic or political problem lies in the heart of individual men and women.   New social structures and systems, new laws, new judicial systems, new political systems, new economic systems, can never solve the problem so long as the heart of man remains selfish and corrupt.  Only when men pass over by conversion from self-centeredness to God-centeredness can the Kingdom of God become  a living reality on earth.  All of our external problems — race, nationalism, war, crime, poverty, oppression, sickness, death — all of these are but the external symptoms of an internal, deep-seated disease — the sin of self-centeredness.  The only strategy that will be victorious in the warfare against social and other problems is an offensive directed not against a nation, or a governmental system, but against the human heart!  The point of attack is the state of being of man himself.  The objective of attack is the conversion and transformation  of man with the law of God written in his heart.  What incredible wisdom Jesus revealed that day when He declared the fundamental principle of the Kingdom — “Behold, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS W-I-T-H-I-N YOU!”

On far-away Patmos John the Revelator penned the record of his vision: “And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals” (Rev. 5:1).  John saw the book that is written within.  He saw that new covenant that God would make with the house of Israel.  That’s what he saw.  He perceived in spirit that which is being written within.  He beheld the realm of the spirit.  He saw where you find the performance of the new covenant — not in your own strength, not in your fleshly ability, not in your natural way, but by the Living Word within.  He discovered that we would become living epistles, not of the letter, not of outward conformity to external laws, but of the spirit, the inward Law of Life.  The reason the “word” of God has bound and killed more people spiritually than it has helped is because it has been legislated outwardly.

Men make godliness a law rather than a life.  “God said!” they thunder from their pulpits high upon the craggy pinnacle of Sinai, and then lay an outward rule and observance upon the people — “Don’t wear make-up, don’t wear shorts,  don’t wear jewelry, don’t cut your hair, don’t go to movies, don’t dance, don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t remarry if divorced, be in church every time the doors open, submit, pay tithes...” and on and on the list goes...don’t, don’t, don’t, and do, do, do!  And if you fail to keep their laws, rules, regulations, and requirements you will burst hell wide open, they threaten.  They kill people with the letter of the Word, missing entirely the spirit, the compassion of God, the love of God, the heart of God, and the ability of God to grow men up into the stature of Christ and establish His will in each and every life.  People have been forced to go to the world to find some mercy, some encouragement, some understanding, some answers and solutions, some help because they couldn’t find it in the church, the preachers had no grace, no mercy, and no wisdom from the Lord.  Christian ministers of the grace of God LEGISLATING THE LAW!  What an enigma!  What a travesty!   “But the Bible says!” you contend.   You hypocrites!  You don’t even know what the Bible says!  You know the letter that kills!  You have never perused the pages of the blessed book which GOD IS, the revelation of God in Christ Jesus — the spirit that gives life!  The New Testament is not that black, leather-bound book we call the Bible.   The New Testament, the true Bible, the Living Epistle of Christ is the law of His life written upon the fleshy tables of the heart.

Ray Prinzing shared the following story which clearly illustrates the truth I now write.  “A certain woman who had been raised under the bondage of the law of ‘thou shalt and thou shalt not’ of a certain group, rebelled against it all and went her own way, and eventually became a slave to drink.  In due time her past ‘church acquaintances’ came to her with more of their ‘thou shalt not’ to see if they could turn her away from her alcoholism.  She already knew the futility of trying to quit in herself, and said to them, ‘When God writes on my heart, Thou shalt not drink, then I will not drink.’   Not long thereafter, GRACE sovereignly came to her, HE WROTE IT UPON HER HEART, and she was immediately delivered  from alcohol.  Christendom would impose their standard from without, HE WRITES IT WITHIN, AND IMPARTS THE ABILITY TO LIVE IT OUT!  That is GRACE!”

Mankind does not need a new social order, a new political system, or a new set of laws.  All mankind needs is CHRIST.  Furthermore, the whole world needs a revelation of Christ of unprecedented proportions and unparalleled intensity, power and glory.  Creation needs the manifestation of the sons of God.  Creation groans with unutterable longing for the full manifestation of God in His sons.  Sonship is the hope of the world and all creation!  It is my deepest conviction that it is through the ministry of the sons of God that all nations will clearly and powerfully hear the Voice from the throne of God proclaiming with divine, heavenly authority, “Behold, I make all things new!”

The Kingdom of God brings a mighty change within humanity — the destruction of the Adamic creation and the establishment of the Christ within.  This reality was accomplished by Jesus on the cross and through His burial and resurrection, but is made experiential in each of us through the present inworking of God.  In one of his inspired writings along this line Paul Mueller says, “Only God can remove this ‘man’ from us.  This is His battle, not ours!  By the Spirit, we know the Lord is now focusing on this ‘man’ who is the cause of the manifestation of all evil and darkness.  When once we are free of this carnal nature, there will be nothing within us that can respond to the devil’s evil thoughts.  Then the seed that we are shall be pure seed, identical to the Christ Seed, which shall be planted among men to establish the new creation of Christ in the earth.  So shall the kingdom of God be manifest with power in all the earth, and then in the universe, that God may be all in all.  And when this carnal, sinful nature is eventually removed from all mankind, Satan will have no place anywhere on this earth to plant his evil ideas and see them fulfilled.   He will be a defeated foe!  Then the cause of all the world’s problems will no longer exist, and mankind will live the Christ Life with peace, joy and victory.

“The new order of the fullness of the kingdom of God  will be free of the carnal nature, which is the man of sin, the real anti-christ.  And God is now beginning this new creation order with you and me.  He will no longer tolerate the evil that has been promoted in the world by the Adamic man.  The Lord is not only revealing the manifestations of this evil ‘man,’ He also is going right to the heart of the matter.  The Lord will take him out of us root, stock and branches, and eventually out of all others, so that he will never again trouble the world.  The true interest and purpose of the Holy Spirit of God for His elect in this hour is not the results and effects of all the evil in the world, but rather with the cause of all evil.  The Spirit of God is now dealing with the cause of all unrighteousness.  And all who are in harmony with His Spirit are also in full agreement with the work of the Spirit of God for this great day.

Babylon, Assyria, Palestina, Moab, Tyrus and others are only representative nations listed in the prophetic word destined to be judged.  So also are Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, the Pope, Saddam Hussein and others but mere representatives of the carnal nature in man that seeks its own, carnal will.  We know that all the evil designs of the oppressive dictators of the world also will be destroyed.  Evil, carnal-minded world rulers may think they will gain sufficient power to take over the world, but they are wrong.  Their plans will come to naught when God destroys the carnal nature in mankind.  Because we are the firstfruits of the kingdom of God, which kingdom shall break in pieces and control all other kingdoms, He must begin that work with us.  What a wonderful hope!  The purpose of God during the early years of Israel’s history was to destroy the evil men and nations because of their sins and iniquities.  But that did not eliminate the cause of all unrighteousness.  As soon as one nation and its evil plans were destroyed, another more evil nation and people rose up to trouble Israel and the world.  His judgments then were only superficial and outward, as nations and peoples were destroyed by war and other disasters.  But His judgments today are inward, spiritual and absolute, for God is now dealing with His elect by His Spirit to remove from us the carnal, Adamic nature.  In the past, God dealt with men and nations by punishing sin outwardly.  Today God is dealing with His elect by cleansing us from within.   

“Now, God is getting to the heart of the matter.  The judgments of this present time will not be outward, literal judgments such as war and other calamities, as most think.  The judgments of the Lord upon mankind will be moral and spiritual.   What good can it possibly do to focus on the results of evil when God is dealing with the root cause of all iniquity?  Must we kill the popes to eliminate all iniquity?  Nonsense!  Or should we wipe out all the suspected anti-christs?  More nonsense!  We must witness an all-out attack against the root cause of all iniquity, which is the carnal nature in all of us.  And the Spirit of God is beginning now to deal with this carnal nature by removing him first from His elect.   We are approaching the time of the harvest of the firstfruits.  God is dwelling within us as a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29) to purge us of the carnal nature.  This is the ‘day’ when all enemies shall be made His footstool.  When He has cleansed us of the carnal nature, He will then send His consuming, fiery presence to cleanse others, each man in his own time and order.  This is our Father’s purpose in redemption and restoration now coming to fulfillment.   And He is beginning this work with us.   

“Evil rulers and despots rise up to become strong in military might and power.  They think they have the power to take over the world, but they are mistaken.  God has a plan already in effect by which He shall destroy the power of the carnal, Adamic nature that drives them, put them under His feet, and make them all subject to the dominion of His kingdom.  And Father’s great plan and purpose is now beginning to take effect as He reveals the seat of all iniquity within us, and commences to destroy this evil, Adamic man.  The evil rulers and despots, the new agers and other political, governmental rulers may think they will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, but they are wrong.  God’s plan is already in effect, and it does not include their carnal ambitions.  He is beginning the new age of the dominion of His kingdom of peace and righteousness, and He is beginning it with you and me.  It is within you and within me that His kingdom must begin.  Therefore, He must remove this carnal nature from those of us who are the firstfruits, or the infrastructure, of this most glorious and righteous kingdom of God.

“Rejoice, saints of God, you have been chosen to begin the new world order of the kingdom of God!  And that new kingdom order must begin with us.  God must deliver us of the carnal nature, for we are the firstfruits of His kingdom, and that is what He is doing now.  If you want to know what God is doing now in the earth, look to the realm of the Spirit, and not to the events of darkness in the world.  Our calling is to flow with the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit and live in the Spirit!  And the Spirit of the Lord is now dealing with the great cause and source of all iniquity, not merely with the many manifestations of evil.

“The kingdom of God is the expression, revelation and manifestation of all that Christ is.  There is the body of Christ and there also is the Christ who is the Spirit.  We are the body of Christ because we are anointed with the Spirit that Christ is.  Christ is the Spirit, and He also is the Word!  He is that Spirit force by whose power the earth, the heavens, and everything of it was created.  It was all created by Him and for Him, and without Him nothing was made.  Christ created all things by the Word that He is.  He also sustains all things, keeping the entire universe in balance by His Spirit-power.  He also shall reconcile all things unto Himself, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Col. 1:16-20).  This is the same Christ who anoints His many-membered remnant to make us one body in Him.  He fills us with Himself, with the glory that He is, that He might fulfill His purpose to manifest the fullness of the kingdom of God in the earth.

“Furthermore, every aspect of the kingdom of God is a revelation and manifestation of Christ.  Christ, who is Spirit, is the creative, sustaining and restoring power of the entire universe.  When we seek Him, we are communing with Him who upholds all things by the Word of His power.  Christ is the Word of revelation truth that transforms us.  From the beginning of the creation, through its violent upheavals and all during the six days of man’s unrighteous dominion, to the ultimate and final consummation when all things everywhere are reconciled to God, it will be Christ all the way.   By His power, the creation will progress from the chaos of man’s dominion to Christ the Alpha, then to Christ the Omega, the Christ of all fullness!  From the beginning of Father’s purpose in creation to the end, when all things are restored and returned to the Father, it is Christ and His Spirit-power accomplishing it all for the glory of the Father”   — end quote.

 


Chapter 17

HOW THE KINGDOM COMES

(continued)

In our last Study I wrote of the great truth that the Kingdom of God does not come by law or legislation — it comes by regeneration and transformation into the image and likeness of God.  Some of us have surely noted in scripture that God does indeed use law to govern the unregenerate and ungodly.  Paul states this as plainly as it can be stated in I Timothy 1:8-10.  “Now we recognize and know that the Law is good, if any one uses it lawfully — for the purpose for which it was designed; knowing and understanding this: that the Law is not enacted for the righteous — but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinful, for the irreverent and profane, for those who strike and beat and even murder fathers and strike and beat and even murder mothers; for manslayers, for impure and immoral persons, those who abuse themselves with men, kidnapers, liars, perjurers and whatever else is opposed to wholesome teaching” (Amplified Bible).

Let it be thoroughly known and understood that the law God has ordained to govern those outside of Christ is not God’s law, but man’s law.   Every nation, every state and province, every city, town and community is regulated by the law of man.  Under the Old Covenant the law of God was given to only one nation out of all the nations of the world, the nation of Israel.  God’s law was never given to any Gentile nation or people anywhere on earth.   And that law was given to Israel only under the Old Covenant.  The law given to Israel completely and forever passed away when the New Covenant was ratified by the blood of Jesus.  It is no longer in effect for Israel nor has it been passed on to either the New Testament Church or the Kingdom brought by Jesus.  “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Lk. 16:16).  

To these words of Jesus the apostle Paul adds his testimony: “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.  But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  And the law is not of faith: but, the man that doeth them shall live in them.   Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Rom. 7:4,6; 6:14; Gal. 3:10-12,24,25).

THE LAW RESTRAINS EVIL

A man who keeps his bulldog tied to a fence has no right to brag that the dog has never bitten the mailman.  How could the dog bite the mailman?  If the owner wants to brag about his dog, let him set the dog free; then everyone (including the mailman) will know the dog’s true nature.  There you have the difference between the law and the Kingdom of God.  The law merely restrains evil men (like the chain on the dog) from the ability to do their evil — the Kingdom of God transforms the nature so that men become righteous.  Human government is an instrument of restraint, not a fountain of love and grace.  It prohibits, forbids, restricts, regulates, sets limits, restrains, and, if it is not strictly limited itself, oppresses.  The instruments of governments are sheriffs, police, marshals, bailiffs, detectives, guards,  and soldiers.  They use pistols, shotguns, nightsticks, tear gas, handcuffs, cells with bars, machine guns, cannon, bombs, and other assorted immobilizing and death-dealing weapons.  Government is the enforcer of man’s laws, it is not an instrument of the Kingdom of God.  In itself, this is no reproach against government.  Men are given to wrongdoing, and it has been the considered judgment of the wise down through the ages that there must be a public force to maintain law and order by restraining and punishing those who do wrong.  And God Himself has ordained it so!

A brother once wrote: “While I was pastor in a certain city, a man who had been a Christian for twenty years approached me after one of our services.  ‘I enjoyed your message,’ he said with a smile, ‘but I really need more hellfire-and-damnation sermons to keep me in line.’  The man had been a believer for years, and yet he had not matured enough to take responsibility for himself.   He wanted to be told what to do and when to do it.  Is God pleased by such an attitude?  Would the father of a twenty-year-old man be pleased to hear his son say, ‘Dad, I need to be kept in line’?

“As a teenager, I participated in a ministry to the inmates of the Louisiana State Penitentiary.  During my visits to the prison, I became friends with an inmate who claimed to be a Christian.  But each time the man was paroled he would immediately commit a crime and return to prison.  One day I asked him why he couldn’t stay on the outside.   His answer astonished me.  He said, ‘I can’t handle life on the outside, man.   It scares me, all those decisions.  No, back here they tell me when to get up, when to eat, and when to go to bed.’  He had to have the restraint of law and order over his life”   — end quote.

Learn this, O man, and you will understand a great truth.  There are people in this world  that must be ruled by law, and God has ordained it so.  When God instituted His first law He said, “If you do not live by it, you shall die.”  You have to understand that the law of God began in that long ago beginning in the garden of Eden, for that is where the first rule was laid down and the first penalty for breaking that rule was experienced.  God has still ordained that the world be ruled by law.  The vast majority of men, at this time, must be ruled by law.  The Lord has established in the world two orders of government, one order is for the lawless, the other is for the righteous.  The order for the lawless is law, and the order for the righteous is the spirit.  “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners” (I Tim. 1:9).  “There is therefore now no condemnation — no adjudging guilty of wrong — for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.  For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death...for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:1-2,14, KJV & Amplified).  

Evil can be dealt with only in one of two ways — it must be restrained, or it must be remedied.  Human government is ordained by God for the restraint of evil.  “Let every person be subject to the governing (civil) authorities.   For there is no authority except from God; and those that exist do so by God’s appointment.  Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged — in divine order.  And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves — receiving the penalty due them.  For civil authorities are not a terror to people of good conduct, but to those of bad behavior.  For he is God’s servant for your good.  But if you do wrong you should dread him and be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.  He is God’s servant to execute His wrath (His punishment) on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:1-4, Amplified).   Words cannot be plainer.  Thank God for our judicial and law enforcement officers who restrain the wickedness and violence and injustice of the criminal elements in our society!   That is precisely what God has appointed human government to do.  

There are a great many people who must be governed by a strong hand without their consent.  When it comes to the restraint and punishment of evil the governed lose their right to be governed with their consent.  They remind me of a very clever cartoon of a little boy who disputed that point with his mother.  He had been studying in school about the right of the governed under our Constitution to consent to all government above them, and it had gotten into his mind.  He had stolen apples, and his mother had warned him, but it had no effect.  So she was spanking him.  The little man turned around and said, “Mama, I object.  Our glorious Declaration of Independence says that all just government must rest upon the consent of the governed, and I do not consent!”  There are a great many children who will not consent, and they have to be governed whether they consent or not.  There are a great many people who will never, short of God’s salvation, consent to do right.   You have to govern them with a strong hand.   We all need God to rule us one way or the other.

Government speaks of ORDER.  Without government there would be only chaos.  Do you know the difference between a mob and an army?  The difference is discipline.  Order is the difference.  An army is orderly.  An army moves in governmental order, under submission to chains of command.  An army is controlled by an inward state of being.  A mob is not controlled by anything.  A mob gets out of hand, burning buildings, looting, lynching.  There is no order, no inward law of responsibility.  There is only one way to bring a mob under control — by the law, by force.  They must be subdued by tear gas and bullets and carried away in paddy wagons.  They must be restrained.  If there is a remedy it must come later, through different means.  

It is for this very reason that wicked  men are shut up in hell, reserved under chains of darkness, awaiting a day of deliverance and release.  God restrains wicked men until according to His purpose He can save them.  With the release of the mystery of iniquity into the Adamic race, the wickedness of man soon became great in the earth, and by Noah’s day we find that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).  God allowed man’s sin and violence to go a certain course for a certain length of time, knowing full well just how far He could allow man to express these evil inclinations, and just where to draw the line.  At the appropriate moment the spirits of these wicked men were put in prison, as society today puts a criminal in prison; the flood swept them away into hell and hell restrained the Antediluvians from committing more wrath upon the earth.

But God only restrains until He can save!  That is precisely why Jesus, after His death and resurrection, went to PREACH to these spirits in prison, the spirits of the men who had been disobedient in the days of Noah.  To them He carried the word of reconciliation, showing not only that Christ had died for their sins, but that He was risen for their justification.  If perchance our minds are numbed with the wonder of such a thought, let us consider the record of this great event from Weymouth’s translation.  “Christ also once for all died for sins, the innocent One for the guilty many, in order to bring us to God.  He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit, BY WHICH HE ALSO WENT AND P-R-E-A-C-H-E-D TO THE SPIRITS THAT WERE IN PRISON, who in former times had been disobedient, when God’s long-suffering patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons — eight in number — were brought safely through the water” (I Pet. 3:18-20).

Despite the crafty and deceptive efforts of some to twist and explain away the plain meaning of this passage, it reveals that Jesus, after His death and resurrection, went and preached, not to men in the flesh, but to SPIRITS in prison; not to angels, not to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or any of the other Old Testament saints, but to those men who had been DISOBEDIENT to the preaching of Noah in the days preceding the flood!  And what did He preach to these long-departed spirits?  Well, I Peter 4:6 certainly answers this question!  The passage is only a few verses further on from the one under consideration, and as Peter continues speaking of the same subject we are informed, “For this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit...”  The message is clear — though these were dead so far as their flesh bodies were concerned, and lived on only in the spirit, but not in the flesh, THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED UNTO THEM that they might be judged, or dealt with, the same as men who were alive in the flesh.  Please notice, precious friend of mine, it was not doom or gloom or judgment or eternal damnation that was preached to these, but THE GOSPEL, the GOOD NEWS WHICH IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION, was PREACHED even to these spirits in prison, the disobedient ones!

It is written in the plainest of plain language.  But there are some people who will not understand plain speech.   They do not believe that Christ went down into hell to preach the gospel to dis-embodied spirits of wicked and rebellious men; they think He went somewhere down in the heart of the earth to rescue Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the Old Testament righteous people out of a place called Paradise and take them up to heaven.  He may have done that, but there is not one shred of evidence for it anywhere in the pages of God’s wonderful Book.  The Bible nowhere says that.  He went down into the lowest hell, and He was there on business!  Wherever He went He did business for God.  He went there to begin His new age deliverance ministry among a group of spirits that had been imprisoned there for two thousand three hundred and fifty years.  He went and preached to the disobedient in the days of Noah, who were so bad that God could not wait for them to die, and another generation to arise, but in order to re-establish some order on the earth He had to sweep them all off the earth into hell.  The fact that they remained there so long indicates the depth of their wickedness.  They were ignorant and rebellious and would not learn of God.  They were hateful and violent and perverted and murderers, boastful and vile in the extreme, and would not obey any law of God or man. And, blessed be God! it was the Gospel that was preached to them, informing them of the death and resurrection of God’s Son, who was given as a propitiation for them, and that God had faith in the blood of His Son to deliver them from the bondage of sin and death and hell into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  There is no other reason to preach the Gospel (Good News) to anyone, anywhere!  He led captive a host of captives, He brought under His dominion a vast company of men who had been captives of the devil, and carried them through the gates of hell to a glorious ascension into the realms of God’s Spirit (Eph. 4:8-10).  Hallelu-yah!

The law is done away in Christ.  For the man in Christ the only law is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus which makes us free from the law of sin and death.  I said earlier that there are only two ways in the universe, in the wisdom of the Almighty, to deal with evil — it must be either restrained or it must be remedied.  In Christ is found the eternal remedy.  In Christ men are forgiven, cleansed, changed, transformed, and made whole by the power of His Life.   But for every man outside of Christ the law remains.  I say for those who do wrong, if they do not embrace God’s government of grace, then the next thing to do is give them the law.  This club is not administered by the sons of God, for the sons of God are not God’s policemen, neither God’s bailiffs nor His prison guards.  Sons are not called to that ministry.  I would have a real problem being a sheriff or a policeman.  Jesus never administered the law, He never enforced any of its demands, nor inflicted any of its penalties.  His whole administration was one of mercy, forgiveness, love and restoration.  The sons of God are on the side of the remedy, not the side of restraint or punishment.  I have no condemnation of those who serve in law enforcement.  It is ordained by God!  But sons have a different calling, a higher calling.  Sons are always on the mercy and deliverance side, for that is the order of the Priesthood of Melchizedek which is the order of the Son of God.  God has committed unto us the word of reconciliation and the ministry of reconciliation.  But to human government God has committed the ministry of restraint.  The law administration must in God’s due time pass away before the all-conquering Light of Life.  There will never be enough law enforcement officers to stem the present overflowing tide of evil in the world!   This darkness can only be dispelled by the blazing light of God’s Christ.  And His light is now arising in His elect at this junction of ages to dispel the darkness.   We may expect tremendous things from His bountiful hand during this new Day!

THE PRIESTHOOD OF LIFE

As we follow on to know the Lord in this new and living way, it is with confidence that the Spirit of the Most High will direct our steps and open our understanding.  We are at the point in history, at the breaking of the dawn of a new age, when only God can lead us step by step into the NEW ORDER He has prepared for us.  No man but Jesus has trodden this way before.  Only HE can teach us the path of sonship, and direct our steps on the highway to Zion, for there are no other manifested sons to lead the way.  I do not say that the words of Jesus which are contained in the four Gospels are the only words that God has ever inspired; for I believe that God inspired all the holy prophets from the beginning of the world before Christ came.  I believe that He inspired apostles and prophets and teachers after He came.  I believe that God still inspires men and women who walk with Him in intimacy of fellowship and vital union today.  I believe that inspiration is as continuous and perpetual as God; God’s inspiration will never cease.   “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32:8).  If I believed anything else, I should realize that I were talking in direct conflict with my own experience.

I desire to speak with perfect frankness, for I do not wish to be misunderstood.  I do not believe that God’s elect today is bound either by the example of Jesus Christ in the flesh, or of the first twelve apostles, or of the New Testament Church.  While Christ certainly left us an example, that we should follow in His steps where the great principles of sonship are concerned, if you attempt to bind me to the exact modes of Jesus Christ and to follow in His example in all things, I will not do it.  Jesus the Christ was born in a stable and laid in a manger, was He not?  Am I to go away and have my next baby — my wife will never have any more babies, but if she had any more babies — am I to go away and hunt for a stable in which our baby is to be born?  Am I myself disqualified from manifested sonship because I was born in a bedroom in a brick house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania?  Because my Lord Jesus Christ in the days of His flesh had no place to lay His head, am I to sleep in the open air on the mountain tops and out in the deserts, just because I want to follow the example of Jesus?

Because God by His boundless grace through many years enabled me to travel and speak in homes, halls, conference rooms and  church buildings, am I going to say, “The firstborn Son spoke only on the mountain sides, and by the lakes; if the people are to hear me, they have to all come to the mountain.”  That is not it at all.  We are to follow Christ in the same Faith, in the same Hope, in the same Love, in the same Nature, in the same Wisdom, in the same Patience, in the same Obedience, in the same Vision, in the same Relationship with the Father, in the same Power, in the same spirit of Forbearance and Mercy and Compassion for humanity, and with the same Courage in fighting sin and sorrow and death.

If you tell me that I am to follow the example of the apostles, I say No, I will not do any such thing.  The apostle Paul, for instance, went away and shaved his head at Cenchrea  for a vow.  How undesirable it would be for me to go away and shave off the little hair that is left on my head just because I want to follow the example of Paul!  The apostle Paul did a number of things I would not care to do.  He rather boasted that he did not have a wife.  There is no doubt that he was a widower, because he would not have been a member of the Rabbinical Council, and would never have been an official witness at the death of Stephen, consenting to that death, unless he had been a Rabbi of rank.  A member of that Council must needs be a married man.  I agree with some of the Bible scholars, that the apostle Paul was probably a widower at the time he wrote the epistle in which he writes about the virtues of not having a wife.  But I am a married man and have no leading of God and no desire to be otherwise.  Am I to follow Paul, or the Spirit?

I am not going to follow in the footsteps of Peter, because I think we may learn a few things, and keep away from doing some things that Peter did.   I hold, and I teach, and I will teach, that the example of even Christ Himself is not to be wholly followed.  It is not as many as are led by what Jesus did two thousand years ago, who are the sons of God; but “as many as are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God.”  We are not to have enforced poverty because Jesus made Himself poor.  We are not to gather around us twelve disciples because He had twelve disciples.  We are not to work at getting ourselves assassinated because He was hung on a cross by a mob.  If we are LED BY THE SPIRIT to offer ourselves in a martyr’s death, gladly will we do so; but we shall not seek it as a means of following in Jesus’ footsteps.  We are not to expect to have a ministry that lasts only three and one half years, nor to ascend into heaven before our disciples just because He did.  We may never spit in the dirt and make clay to anoint a blind man’s eyes.  We may never go to a Convention and with whips chase out those who sell books and tapes (although I have been tempted!), as Jesus did those who sold doves and pigeons in the temple in Jerusalem.   May I wax bold to add that there is not even any need to try to duplicate precisely the way the Churches were structured in the early days, or the way their ministries functioned.  The order of sonship and the priesthood of Melchizedek are not concerned with orders of eldership, whether we meet in a home or in a conventional church building, how the chairs are arranged,  nor even with orders of the so-called “five-fold ministry.”  It is not a priesthood after the flesh.  It is an outflow of  life after the Spirit.  It does not concern itself with outward form; it breathes forth as an essence.  Jesus wasn’t a Son because He had twelve disciples, or preached off the bow of a boat.  He was a Son because He manifested and ministered the LIFE OF THE FATHER.

In the religious systems the order, the method, the technique, the organization, the creed, the liturgy is all-important.  And in the so-called “New Testament Churches” it is no different — they just have a little different system, one from two thousand years ago, they are trying to reproduce.  But in the Melchizedekian Order THE ONE WAY IS THE LIFE OF THE LORD.  We must live and move and have our being  in the life of the Spirit.  Forget the outward forms!  This is why there are no patterns, no methods, no precedents of any kind established in the New Testament for the ministry of manifested sonship.  Jesus never did the same thing in exactly the same way twice.  When He healed blind Bartimaeus He merely spoke the word, “Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole,” and he received his sight.  But when He healed the two blind men in the house He touched their eyes in addition to speaking a word.  And when He healed the man born blind from birth He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and commanded him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.

So what is the best way, the right way, the sonship way to heal a blind man?  No one can tell you — not even Jesus!  What is the best way to preach the Gospel?  No one can tell you, although the seminaries think they can!  What is the best way to hold a meeting?  Again no one can tell you.  Jesus never had a song leader or worship director, never by singing, clapping, or worshipping “created an environment” for the Father to manifest Himself in their midst.  Yet, if you were to ask me what the right way is, I would have to say that I do not know.  I really do not know what is the right way to do anything.  I do not know the right way to meet humanity’s needs, or solve the saint’s problems, or bring people into the present truth.  In the Bible you cannot find THE RIGHT WAY to minister or to do the work of the Kingdom.   This is because the Kingdom of God comes by the dispensation of the Spirit.  It does not come by outward observation — by forms, methods, or techniques.  What ever you do in the Kingdom, what ever way you use, wherever you go, it must be by the Spirit.  The Spirit is never traditional, predictable, or static — He is always original, always fresh, new, and transcendental.  He may never repeat what He did yesterday, or the way He did it.  In these last years, wherever I have gone, I have never paid any attention to the way.   Regardless of the way people meet, or don’t meet, or minister, or serve the Lord, or walk with God, it does not mean anything.   The real question is: Are they led by the Spirit?  Is there the flow of His Life?  Is there the manifestation and quickening of Himself?  What is GOD doing?  And HOW is HE doing it?  I look to see what God IS DOING, rather than trying to introduce some “order” for God to move in.

One of the most intriguing descriptions of the unique character of the High Priesthood of Jesus is found in Hebrews 7:17 wherein it is stated, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”  The order of Melchizedek is an order of “King-Priests.”  “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God...first being by interpretation King of Righteousness, and after that...King of Peace” (Heb. 7:1-2).  There were the Levitical priests of Israel and they were of the Aaronic order.  But when the Kingdom of God came through Jesus, the priesthood of Aaron was terminated and replaced with the MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD.  Jesus is a King-Priest after the “order” of Melchizedek.  Aaron was made a priest after the law of a carnal commandment, but Jesus is made priest after the power of an endless (indissoluble) life (Heb. 7:16).   The order of Melchizedek is the ORDER OF LIFE.

May the Lord have mercy upon all who cherish the hope of sonship that we may be delivered from anything other than the life of this priesthood.  Christ Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, which is after the power of an indissoluble life.  He is the High Priest of this order, and there can be no High Priest apart from a priesthood.  The writer to the Hebrews tells us that the order of Melchizedek is the order of the Son of God.  Just as the firstborn Son is the High Priest of the Melchizedekian Priesthood, so are the other sons of God the body of this glorious Priesthood of Life.   They are kings who reign by life and priests who minister life.  Of these it is written, “Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).  It is this dual order of King-Priest that identifies these overcoming ones as pertaining to the order of Melchizedek.  We must learn this one lesson, that the Melchizedek Priesthood is known only by the OUTFLOW OF HIS LIFE.  Then we will enter into the Holiest of all to abide there in His presence until we come out from His presence with the heavenly and eternal bread and wine to minister to creation’s needs.  The order of Melchizedek is not in any way related to so-called New Testament Church order.  It is more than that, it is something of life, the order of life, the order brought forth by life, something living, vibrant, imperishable, incorruptible, immortal, celestial, divine, sovereign, transcendental.  We are conscious that God is bringing something new and glorious into being.   The church order has never produced one manifested son of God.  God is bringing something into this earth that is far, far beyond anything we know.  He is birthing a manchild, a priesthood, a kingship, a  government, a brand new order.  It will make right everything that has been wrong.  It will make everything as God planned it to be.  It will bring righteous judgment, it will bring mercy, and wisdom, and deliverance, and power and glory to creation beyond our fondest hopes and dreams or wildest imaginations.  IT WILL SET CREATION FREE.  The great contrast in the book of Hebrews is between the law and the order of Melchizedek.  The Kingdom of God can never come by law, for law brings bondage, the consciousness of sin, and death.  The Kingdom of God is the REIGN OF LIFE which brings deliverance, liberty, righteousness, peace and joy.  

LAW VS. LIFE

A dear sister in Christ, Michelle Sperber, has graciously given me permission to share one of her beautiful parables which speaks so eloquently of this Kingdom order and ministry of Life.  She writes: “There was once a Kingdom down by the sea by the name of Peace.  It wasn’t a big Kingdom, but it was a happy one; and all the people rested in the Knowledge of Good.  The King whose name was Teachable Spirit was married to Queen Tender Heart, and they had two beautiful girls, Harmony and Grace, and two boys, Trusting and Loyal.

“Every day Harmony and Grace  would sing songs to the little ducks that would gather by the pool on the right side of the castle while Trusting and Loyal taught dancing lessons to the chickadees.  Now when the chickadees heard the lovely songs, they were filled with so much joy that they would flap their wings so hard that they would exhaust themselves.  New Vigor, Trusting’s faithful companion, would transform them when they fell to the ground, and they would be enabled to learn the dance which they yearned to do since Trusting and Loyal began teaching.  The dance was called ‘Together.’  The dance received such wide acclaim that all the animals of the Kingdom desired to learn it, so before long, every animal, big and small, came to Trusting and Loyal to be taught ‘Together.’  Even the fishes of the sea were compelled to leave their habitation to learn the new dance and everyone was empowered to overcome all natural limitations.

“But in the neighboring Kingdom, the mother of Teachable Spirit, whose name was Bondage Law, ruled.  There was no singing or dancing in her Kingdom — only arguments and quarrels, sadness and misery.  Her Kingdom was called Tyranny.  No one who heard of it would dare pass through, for armed guards with iron teeth, that could bite a man in ten pieces, prevented any from entering.  Now, Bondage Law was very unhappy with her daughter-in-law, Tender Heart, and her grandchildren, Harmony and Grace, were a real disappointment to her.  She plotted day and night how to change her family and most fervently, how she could kill Tender Heart.

“One day after consulting with Fear and Torment, Bondage Law visited her innocent family.  She planned on overcoming Tender Heart having Fear and Torment as able task masters.  When Bondage Law arrived at the castle, her son Teachable Spirit was out riding his horse, Easy Going.  Fear and Torment took Easy Going by such surprise that he reared up and threw his rider to the ground.  Teachable Spirit’s neck was snapped and he died instantly.   When Tender Heart, who was looking over the balcony, saw all that had happened to her husband, grief overcame her; and in that moment her heart left her.  It was taken away by Sorrow and was brought into the darkest room of the dungeon.  A black veil was draped over the now stone heart which once was a vibrating, living one, while an invisible flashing sword prevented anyone from coming near it.

“A proclamation went out over the land that King Teachable Spirit was dead and that Queen Tender Heart’s name had been changed to No Heart.   No Heart, with the insistence of her mother-in-law, Bondage Law, who was at her side continuously, changed the name of the Kingdom to War.  For you see, now that Tender Heart had lost her heart and name, Bondage Law ruled both Kingdoms of Tyranny and War.

“Now on the day of the King’s death, a dove whose name was Hope was sent from the realm of the most high with the message that the Kingdom of Peace could be restored if the black veil was lifted.  There was only one possibility that this could happen, for only the entrance of a king could cause the sword to cease flashing.  The invisible sword would cut asunder anyone who was not a king.  So the dove flew into the Kingdom of War, that had every man now against each other, looking for one who could marry the Queen.  There was no one to be found, even though those were the days that kings were such not because of what family they came from, but because of their nature.  He who overcame his natural tendencies became a king.

“Hope saw that there was none on earth who fit the qualification but she remembered one in heaven whose name was Goodwill.  Upon thinking of him and then calling his name, he immediately appeared.   Dressed in the armor of charity, loving kindness, and meekness, he was ready to follow Hope into the neighboring land of Faith.  It was in the land of Faith that an army could be prepared to do battle against the inhabitants of Tyranny.  The plans were quickly made with General Integrity and Major Honor.  All the overcomers were gathered together, mustered with Brave and Courage, the 100th Battalion’s squad leaders.

“They all marched under the Banner of Love, and because they had such power not a weapon was lifted against them — all enemies fled at their sight.   The Hands of Glory came from the invisible realm to assist Goodwill as he boldly entered the dungeon.  Goodwill rejoiced at seeing the Hands of Glory, for it was written in the Book of Books that only the Hands of Glory could remove the veil.  In the twinkling of an eye, the black veil was lifted.  The stone heart that had stopped its beating became a vibrating, pulsating giver of life again, immediately returning to its home in Tender Heart.   A shout of victory came forth in one voice from all the inhabitants of the Kingdom.  All were made whole again by this one act.

“Goodwill had compassion even on Bondage Law and because the Hands of Glory were with him, he had the power to change her name.  ‘Bondage, you shall no longer be Bondage Law, but you shall be called Law of Life,’ he announced with Forgiveness, his best friend.  ‘All those who need to be set free from the law of sin and death will be sent to you, Law of Life, and your Kingdom will be called Righteousness.’

“And it came to pass that one year later, King Goodwill and Love Fulfilled bore a son.  It was Law of Life who inspired his name, Joy, and gave him a Kingdom.  It was in the Kingdom of Joy that all three Kingdoms of Righteousness, Peace and Joy became one.  An invitation was sent into all the world beckoning everyone to come to the Kingdom of Happily Ever After, and King Joy issued this one command: ‘All passports must be obtained in the Land of Faith and upon arrival to the Kingdom, this proclamation shall be heard:

‘GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST
AND ON EARTH, PEACE AND GOODWILL TOWARD MEN!
WELCOME TO ETERNAL LIFE!’”
— end quote.

Let it be thoroughly known and understood by every man and woman who names the name of Christ that the only purpose of the law is to give the knowledge of sin.  “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:19-20).  The law imparts the knowledge of sin by contrasting the weakness of the flesh, what we are and do by human nature, with the pure and holy and righteous nature of God.  The law is weak through the flesh, Paul said.  Man is chained and locked in to the law of sin and death.  Mankind doesn’t have to learn how to sin, that’s all he knows how to do.  Mankind doesn’t have to learn how to die, that’s all he can do — you’re born and you sin, you sin and you die.  No one taught you how to steal, no one taught you how to fly off the handle and say ungodly things, no one taught you how to lie, no one instructed you how to be filled with lust and passion, no one gave you lessons on how to be greedy and self-centered, no one told you at two years of age how to claim your turf and kick and scream if anyone stepped on it.  You’re born with it.  It’s part of the make-up of the natural man.  

The law has never, ever, saved any man anywhere from being a sinner.  If by nature you are righteous, you need no law.  Law is irrelevant to the righteous man.  New creatures do not need old laws.  On the other hand, if you by nature are unrighteous, the law can in no way help you.  All it can do is proclaim your guilt and punish you.  It has no power to make you obey.  

Christians are always interested in what is going on in the world.   They are always trying to legislate a righteousness of God upon those who don’t even know God.  But I have news for you.  Legislation — that is, law — does nothing more than make sin exceedingly sinful (Rom. 7:13).  God is not the one who is laying law on the world in this hour.  God never did lay the law on the world.  He only gave the law to His people Israel, and He gave it to them to teach them what sin is.  The law never did and never could take away sin.  The Lord brought the law to its result, its fulfillment, its completion, its conclusion and its end in Jesus Christ.  “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4).  We must understand that when Jesus came as the firstborn among many brethren He concluded the law, He met the law’s every righteous requirement by the power of divine life, and Himself became the righteousness of God, available to us now by the spirit of sonship.  New creation men are partakers of the nature of Christ, they are no longer natural men under law.  If you are under the law you are not a son.  If you are the son of God, you are not under law.

The problem the church world has today is that they are out trying to change the behavior of unregenerated men by laying the law upon them!  Most Christians glory in death.  They find death and condemnation glorious.  For, you see, the law, even the ten commandments that people would like to see posted in every classroom, court of law, and government building, is, according to Paul, “the ministration of death and condemnation, written and engraven in stones” (II Cor. 3:6-9).  But God has no law for the world in this hour.  Oh, yes, there is still the restraining law of human government, but GOD by the ministration of His  Spirit has no law for mankind.   “For if that which is done away (the law) was glorious, much more that which remaineth (the Spirit) is glorious” (II Cor. 3:11).  God is working with His people, His elect, His chosen, His seed that He has destined before the foundation of the world  to become His sons.  He has delegated all responsibility for law and order to the kingdoms of this world.  The only law in His Kingdom is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus!  That is the power and glory of the Kingdom of God.

The church world today is following some really strange paths, trying to lay upon the world the law that God gave Israel under the Old Covenant, which law was never, ever, given to the world, and which was even less ever given to the Church, and which is now abolished.  It is a gross stupidity, it is blatant idiocy, it is an incredible absurdity to try and establish the Kingdom of God by law!  You see, rather than telling those who are getting abortions that we are working to get the law changed, we need to be preaching peace by Jesus Christ so that men will come to know the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.  Our business is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and bring transforming power into men’s lives.  As sons of God it is not our business to legislate how much a man can drink, where he can drink it, how much a man can smoke, whether he can carry a gun, or to set penalties and punishments for any number of sins.  These issues are somebody’s business,  they are just  not OURS!  Christians love to jump on these “legislative” and “political” bandwagons — but you won’t find Jesus on any of them!  Jesus did not come to lay the law on the world, God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  Salvation — that is the business of the Kingdom of God.  May all who cherish the beautiful hope of sonship say today with the firstborn Son, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”   God does not send His sons into the world to tell the world what they can and cannot do, and what the penalties will be if they do or do not do it — He is bringing SAVIOURS up on mount Zion, and it is by salvation that the mount of Esau will be judged and the Kingdom shall be the Lord’s (Obadiah 21).  That is God’s strange work.

Yet, there are brethren who insist that the Kingdom of God will be an age governed by the law of God.  By this they mean  laws given by Moses.   At the very least they mean the Ten Commandments.  Let us examine this theory.  We shall suppose, for the sake of argument, that I have a friend in Central America who owns a large banana plantation.  His name is Carlos.   Carlos has raised bananas all of his life and has become independently wealthy with his enterprise.  Now, let us further suppose that, because of our close friendship, Carlos decides that he would like to come and live near us here in El Paso, Texas.  He purposes  to sell his banana plantation in Guatemala and move to El Paso, where he intends to purchase a large tract of land — to put in a banana plantation!  I warn my friend, “You cannot raise bananas in West Texas.  We are in the middle of a desert and during the winter the night temperatures dip into the 20’s.  The bananas will die either from thirst or from freezing.  There is no way you can have a banana plantation in West Texas!

My friend, however, is unconvinced and implacable.  He has never been in a desert, nor has he ever in his life seen freezing temperatures.  His entire life has been spent in Guatemala and his whole world has been bananas.  He believes he can devise a way to make his project work.  So he moves to El Paso lock, stock, and barrel.  Soon he has purchased a large ranch nearby and the time comes for him to plant his banana trees.  The trees do grow for a while, but the leaves are yellow and the plants stunted.  Then, one fair October night, the final catastrophe strikes — the first fall freeze arrives in all its fury.  The poor man walks out and views the devastation.  His whole crop is a failure.  All his toil has been for nothing.  This year he will have NO BANANAS!  Carlos, however, is an incurable optimist.  After all, this is but one try, and perhaps next year will be different.  But next year is not different; again he loses his crop and doesn’t get even one banana.  Now, let us suppose that Carlos plants a banana crop every year for fifteen hundred years and each year the result is the same — no bananas!  Would he then, I ask, be justified in trying just one more time?  The answer is obvious.

Thirty-five centuries ago at mount Sinai, amidst flaming fire and quaking earth, God gave Israel the Law.  Under the leadership of faithful servants of God, the nation of Israel at times seemed fairly enthusiastic in their effort to keep the Law and enjoy the blessings that it provided.  Doubtless, in every generation there were individuals who endeavored earnestly  to maintain their covenant relationship with God upon the basis of keeping the Law.  But they all failed.  To keep the Law was beyond the ability of any member of the fallen race!  God knew this; but He wanted the Israelites to try to keep the Law, for He wished to demonstrate the need for a mighty change within their heart and nature.  The Old Covenant failed, not because the law was faulty, but because of the weakness of the flesh.  Israel lived as a nation under that Law for fifteen hundred years.   And in those fifteen hundred long centuries not one single Israelite was ever able to perfectly keep that Law.  Not one!  Not one in fifteen hundred years!  NO BANANAS!  And now, O fools, and slow of heart to believe, you come to inform me that God will establish His Kingdom by PLACING THE WHOLE WORLD UNDER LAW!  Hear it!  Oh, my friends, hear it!  “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God...for by the law is the knowledge of sin...for ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD” (Rom. 3:19-20,23).  Have Paul and I said enough to STOP EVERY MOUTH?  The Law bore absolutely no fruit in fifteen hundred years.  Would God now be justified in trying it one more time in the Kingdom?

Dearly beloved brethren, only the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has the power to make mankind free from the law of sin and death.  Only as men are raised from the dead by the power of the everlasting Father who raised up Christ from the dead, can any man fulfill the righteousness of the law by walking in newness of life.  Let us not be so stupid as to believe that the manifested sons of God will be dispensers and enforcers of law.  The terrible truth is that the law is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that mysterious tree in the very precincts of Eden that brings naught but the knowledge of sin and death to all who reach forth their hand to partake of it.  But, thank God! there is another tree, the Tree of Life.  

The wonderful Tree of Life in Eden was, as is said of Christ, “in the world” but “not of the world.”  The life-giving fruit of this Tree was accessible to man but had absolutely nothing to do with the realm of earthiness, for it was heaven’s own divine life brought into man’s world and made available to him.  In the Tree of Life God invited man to find Him as the source and center of life, that in union with Him God would be at once both the indwelling power of life and the environment in which man would live, and move, and have his being.  By eating of the Tree of Life man would be full of light, abounding in heavenly wisdom and knowledge, fearful in power and dominion, ethereal as a spirit (Jn. 3:8) and shining in the image of God.  As George Hawtin once pointed out, the fruit of this wonderful Tree would make men radiant with the resplendent glory of God as was Jesus, the last Adam, at the transfiguration, whose face shone as the sun and His raiment was as the light.  The mighty power of this Tree would raise man up beyond any possibility of sin, corruption and death into the incorruptible and divine life demonstrated by Jesus when He arose from the dead in a body of glorification.  In this Tree of Life the effulgent perfumes of the heavenly realm would be fragrance and life to man’s nostrils.  He would taste spiritualities and touch celestial things.  The wisdom and power of God would be wide open to him and he would walk in the atmosphere and glory of celestial realms.  The gates of that realm would never be shut by day or night.  The heavens would be opened over his head and he would walk in the power and majesty of God Almighty.

This was the glory of the Tree of Life in Eden!  Trees in scripture are often used to represent men, and the Tree of Life represents a wonderful person — one with ENDLESS LIFE, DIVINE LIFE, CELESTIAL LIFE.  It is written of Melchizedek that he had neither beginning of days nor end of life, but abides a priest continually (Heb. 7:3).  It states that “he liveth” (Heb. 7:8).  And again it says that the order of Melchizedek is “after the power of an endless life” (Heb. 7:16).   Furthermore, it is revealed that the order of Melchizedek IS THE ORDER OF THE SON OF GOD.  Other scriptures confirm these mentioned, but I point these out to emphasize the fact that life is one of the chief signs of the order of Melchizedek.  Therefore, it is my deep conviction that the Tree of Life in the garden of Eden represented the MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD, and upon the disobedience of Adam and Eve they were banished from the Garden and Cherubim with a flaming sword which turned in every direction were stationed at Eden’s gate to guard the way to the Tree of Life.  In their unclean and corrupted condition they could not partake of that great Priesthood which both ensured eternal life and ministered eternal life.   And thus it has been through long millenniums, the Melchizedek Priesthood has been guarded and kept secret and untouched until another Priest after the order of Melchizedek, even Jesus the Saviour, should arise and clear the way for partaking of that glorious life.  Of course, there are some qualifications and requirements, even now, for partaking fully of that blessed realm.  The Spirit saith, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the TREE OF LIFE, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7).  Not everyone eats of it, only those who are prepared to eat of it.  The promise is not of eternal life shouting and dancing up and down the streets of Glory-land, but of attaining to the power and glory of THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.

Hebrews 7:11-15 tells us that we cannot be perfected by the Levitical priesthood.  In the order of Aaron there was a continual succession of priests, one dying and another taking his place.  One by one they grew old and died: the eye, often filmed with tears, was closed; the heart stood still; the hands crossed meekly on the breast.  Aaron died on Hor, and all his successors in mystic procession followed him.  The office remained, but the occupants passed.  That characterized the whole system; it bore the mark of change and weakness and death.  It could not effect anything that was really abiding and permanent, much less anything that was eternal.   And it was all because of sin.  Every High Priest of the order of Aaron had to offer sacrifice first for his own sins, and then for the people’s.  The  whole inner life of the worshipper was what the system was, subject to sin and failure and decay.   

Therefore another Order of priesthood must arise.  Jesus is the High Priest of this new Order.  The glorious statement is made that another priest arises after the similitude of Melchizedek who is made “after the power of an endless life.”   This brings us to what is implied by the word “endless.”  This is the Greek word AKATALUTOS which means INDISSOLUBLE.  It was in the power of an indissoluble life that Jesus was constituted a priest after the Order of Melchizedek.  As the writer to the Hebrews has pointed out, on earth Jesus was not a priest.  He would have needed to be of the tribe of Levi in order to be a priest during the days of His flesh on earth, because that priesthood at that time was still in force.  Nor could He at that time have been a priest after the order of Melchizedek!  On earth His life was dissoluble, or He could not have died for us.  Now His life has become “indissoluble”; and now He cannot die.  The mystery of the Melchizedekian Priesthood is the mystery of ETERNAL LIFE.  

Christ Jesus Himself is the Eternal One, who abideth Priest forever.  His priesthood is unchangeable, for His priesthood is an everlasting one, ever living, ever active.  What a contrast to all the Levitical priests, on whose graves this epitaph may ever be inscribed: “Not suffered to continue by reason of death.”   How different is our High Priest, after the Order of Melchizedek!  Death tried to master Him; but He could not be holden of it.  “He continueth ever.”  “He ever liveth.”  “He is a priest forever.”  WHEREFORE HE IS ABLE TO SAVE COMPLETELY THEM THAT DRAW NEAR UNTO GOD BY HIM.  Save us completely!  What a thought!   Full salvation — spirit, soul, and body!   Nothing left untouched, untransformed.  It is by virtue of His QUALITY OF LIFE that He is able to start the work of redemption and also bring it to its completeness.  Because He is of an endless — indissoluble, incorruptible — life, He can bring all that He ministers unto into this same endless and incorruptible life.

Praise God, the Melchizedek Priesthood BRINGS PERFECTION.  Jesus lives in the Spirit as High Priest in the power of an endless life.  And Christ dwells within us in the power of an endless life.  Each work He does within us He is able to do in the power of an endless life.  Nothing can stand before that transforming life.  What hope this evokes within us!  He breathes His own life into us.  He works within us AS A LIFE, as our own life, so that it is our very nature to radiate the glory and power of God.  His life as our life within us is the power that must triumph over all the powers of sin and death.

What a glorious path is marked out for us!  THE SONS OF GOD ARE A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD.  THEIR PRIESTHOOD IS AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEK.  The High Priest of this Order has run on before and entered the veil into the Holiest of all.  And we are running also and are entering that veil.  Something marvelous, amazing and stupendous is about to happen, beloved, as we press on into God.  God shall surely and truly usher us into the fullness of the     Order of Melchizedek.  Through His flesh we too shall enter fully the unseen and eternal realm of God and learn of its mystery.  Having entered this realm, we shall deliver creation from the bondage of corruption.  Therefore I say that the great Melchizedekian Priesthood Ministry will be functioning to the full when the priests of this Order have fully put on immortality and incorruption (I Cor. 15:53).  This will be the great manifestation of the sons of God that all creation “groaneth and travaileth in pain” for (Rom. 8:18-25).

The Lord is in the process of bringing His overcoming remnant into THE POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE.  It is greater than the forgiveness of sins, greater than the new birth, greater than Pentecostal power.  It is greater than power to speak in tongues, prophesy, heal the sick, cast out devils, and do signs and wonders.  It is greater than witnessing power, apostolic power, and even greater than power to raise the dead.   Soon, very soon, those powers will no longer be needed because the manifested sons of God shall arise in the power of the Melchizedekian Priesthood which is the power of an incorruptible life, to deliver creation from the bondage of corruption.  A world is coming where there is no limited measure of the Spirit, no “in part” works and manifestations of power in the gift realm.  There will be no need to heal the sick, cast out devils, multiply bread and fish, or raise the dead — it is an eternal realm where everlasting life will flow fully and freely to all creation.   Death is not the grave or the coffin — DEATH IS THIS WHOLE REALM IN WHICH WE HAVE EXISTED EVER SINCE THE TRANSGRESSION IN EDEN.   Mankind groans to be delivered, not merely from sin and sickness and trouble and the grave, but out of death, out of the DEATH REALM altogether.

We can only speculate what it will be like to be in the full power and glory of incorruptible life.  God is moving to bring His holy remnant into the fullness where Christ Jesus now dwells.  No Christian alive has ever come to this.  There will be a full and complete severing from the earth realm, from the carnal mind, from fleshly passions, from lack and immaturity, from the death realm with all its claims.  God wants a free, heavenly, celestial people right here on earth, a body of sons totally detached from all that is earthly, limited, and temporal.  It is possible to move into a resurrection realm that places us beyond time, beyond the thinking and power of the world, beyond human nature, beyond the bondage of health, security, and death itself.  Is that not the greatest power God can give to mankind — to make him an eternal, spiritual being in the very glory of God?  And God’s order to accomplish this is very simple — Jesus Christ; then His body, the manifested sons of God; and finally all creation.  Jesus ministers this power to us; we minister it to creation.  THIS IS THE POWER AND GLORY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

 


Chapter 18

HOW THE KINGDOM COMES

(continued)

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 15:11).

The “seventh trump” is the last trump — the conclusion of God’s great Kingdom process.  The day shall surely come when the kingdoms of this world, the rulerships of this world, the government of the United States of America, the governments of Europe, the governments of Mexico and Central and South America, the governments of Asia, the governments of Africa — the kingdoms of this world, the kingdoms of all the nations in your World Atlas — ARE BECOME THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD, AND OF HIS CHRIST.  They are all His now by ownership, as creations of His hand and under His sovereignty, but they are not His in a “Kingdom” relationship.  There is a time in God’s great Kingdom program when that truth is proclaimed out of the heavens: “The kingdoms of this world ARE BECOME the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ.”  That means that whatever is true of any man who has “entered the Kingdom” will be true of all the nations of this world, including both their inhabitants and their governments.  

Who is the Lord?  Jesus is our Lord, for truly “God hath made this same Jesus...both LORD AND CHRIST” (Acts 2:36).  Not only do the Kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord, they also become the kingdoms of “His Christ”.  There are two items listed here as being involved in the rulership of the whole world.  The whole world is to become converted to the dominion of  OUR LORD and to the dominion of HIS CHRIST — His anointed ones, His body.  Christ means “the anointed.”  “But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you...” (I Jn. 2:27).  “HE (Jesus) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.”  Those who have received the anointing of the Spirit that rested upon our glorious Head and Lord, those who grow up unto maturity in Christ Jesus as the sons of God, form the corporate body of  “His Christ”.  Let it be thoroughly known and understood that our Christ is the Lord Jesus, whereas His Christ is His anointed body which in union with Him walks in His spirit, hears His voice, puts on His mind, is transformed into His image, stands in His nature, power and glory, and does His will upon the earth.  They are the sons of God.  All nations, all the kingdoms of “this world,” shall be brought under the Kingdom dominion of the Lord Jesus and His Christ.  That is the immutable word of our infallible God!

Do you suppose that one fair morning some sons of God will show up in Washington, D.C., walk into the White House, the Capitol, and the Pentagon, requesting a meeting with the President, the members of Congress and the Joint Chiefs of Staff?  When all are assembled the sons announce, “Gentlemen, the Lord has sent us here and we are now taking over the entire country of the United States of America in the name of Jesus Christ.  We hereby dismiss the President and his cabinet, the Congress, all the department secretaries, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all other officials of the Federal Government.  You can all go home — we are in charge as of 12 o’clock noon today.”  Do you think that would fly in Washington?  No — God has an altogether different plan.  Our Lord Jesus Christ and His anointed body, His Christ, shall gain the government of the world by KINGDOM POWER — by the saving, delivering, transforming power of the Holy Ghost.  We love America.   We love China.  We love Russia.  We love all the nations of America, Asia, Africa and Europe and the far-flung islands of the sea.  America will be a better nation when our Lord and His Christ rule it with a rod of iron.  All the nations of the earth will be more blessed, prosperous, peaceful and righteous when the Kingdom of God rules in their midst.  In fact, they will be totally blessed, peaceful and righteous!    And that is on the agenda, my friend — that is God’s Kingdom Program in the earth!

NOT BY POLITICS

In our recent Studies on the subject of HOW THE KINGDOM COMES we have seen clearly that the Kingdom of God does not come by force, it does not come by democracy, nor does it come by law or by any other method of human government.  In this Study we shall consider the great truth that the Kingdom does not come by any kind of politics.  Jesus never once discussed with His disciples their relationship to the government of Israel or to that of Rome, or what kind of political system they should aim to set up as the Kingdom of God.  Jesus did not institute any social reform, nor did He even suggest any political, judicial or legislative reforms.  He sanctioned no dream of a renovated government, apart from personal spiritual regeneration.  He did not denounce the Roman despotism.  He did not interfere with existing customs and institutions.   He did not directly attack governmental wrongs which certainly were rampant.  He did not start a great crusade against the evils of those times.  He let them alone.  He did not intervene in the affairs of statecraft, because the customs, the habits of men, the laws and institutions of society are but the expression of the human heart.  Put that right, and you make all things new.  Get the Kingdom of God within men, and you will soon have it without.   Righteous ways, righteous acts and righteous institutions will spring forth out of the hearts and lives of  transformed men.  That is the power and the glory of the Kingdom of God!

More than a century ago James Lewis penned these penetrating words: “The establishment of the Kingdom of God upon earth is slow work.  It requires not that men should be busy with the affairs of other people, but that they should come first to themselves, and mourn over the meanness of their own nature and the vanity of their own life; not that they should crusade against the evils of society, but weep bitter tears over their own sins; not that they should fussily seek to put the world right, but get put right themselves.  Whether the Kingdom of God does nor does not affect these external matters, we shall presently see.  But directly it does not deal with them.  It deals with the individual.  ‘The kingdom of God cometh not with observation’; it is hidden, internal, spiritual.   It is the establishment of righteousness in the human soul.  It is the subjugation of the powers of man to the mind of Christ.  

“Men talk of this kingdom as mystical, unreal.  Let them try it for a month!  Jesus Christ aspires to a sway such as no Caesar, Emperor, or Dictator, has ever been able to command.  A rule of marching armies and clanging swords can do much.  That grand Roman power was mighty.  It could tax men and make them pay.  It could stretch its scepter over distant provinces, and awe men into submission.  It could say to one man, ‘Go,’ and he went, to another ‘Come,’ and he came.  It could command the bodies, the time, the thoughts of men.  It could send men to death, and even in his mortal pangs the poor gladiator must cry, ‘O Caesar, dying, I salute thee!’  One thing it could not do, even though it bound captives to its chariot wheels.  There is a part of man’s nature which coercion cannot reach; a path which the ‘lion’s whelps have not trod.’  To that region man can retire, and say to all invading powers, ‘Thus far shall you come and no further.’  That is the region in which the Kingdom of Christ prevails.  He will possess the heart of man.  He will control the passions, and govern the will, and purify the motives, and mold the life of man.  The whole nature shall be subdued to the quality of its Lord, and all the current of man’s being shall turn to Him.  The drunkard and drug addict shall deny his insatiable craving, the thief shall steal no more, the liar shall speak the truth, the immoral and perverted shall draw away from his lust, the slothful, lazy and opportunist shall devote himself to his work, and men shall be changed, captivated, charmed by HIS WORD.  They shall prefer HIM to their chief joy!

“You will have noticed that His promises of help reach the deep, eternal cravings of the human heart.  He has come, not to satisfy a craze, or gratify a whim, or minister to a passing fancy, but that men might have life.  The power of the kingdom of God is the love of God in Jesus Christ.  Our King comes to dwell with us, to be in us.  His throne is the heart of man.  It is not in word, in formularies, ordinances, creeds, laws, or governmental coercion.  It is in power.  It is the virtue of God in Christ Jesus which enters human weakness at the touch of faith.   It is ‘Christ in you.’  Fling open, then, the gates of your soul.  The Lord, strong and mighty — strong to deliver, mighty to save — waits to enter.  Let the King of Glory in!”   — end quote.

If you entertain the crude notion that reigning with Christ means sitting behind a desk over in Jerusalem with telephone at hand and television cameras running, you know nothing as you ought to know of that blessed Kingdom of God  which is “not of this world” and which “comes not with outward show,” but is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  And I do not hesitate to tell you that when Christ comes in mighty power to bring the triumph of His Kingdom into new and vaster dimensions on this earth through the ministry of that body of sons so painstakingly and meticulously formed under His hand of dealing throughout this present age, vast multitudes of Christians will MISS HIS COMING because it will not conform to the manner, purpose or result that they imagine it should be.  Like the Jews two thousand years ago, these Christians will continue on with their religious games, singing, clapping, preaching, organizing, crusading, and waiting for a second coming and a kingdom that will meet their demands and fulfill their misguided expectations.  Ah, we blame the Jews for their blindness and unbelief, and of making the Word of God of none effect through their tradition, but are there not vast multitudes of the Lord’s people in our own day who are doing this very thing?  The Jewish nation was not ignorant of the teaching of scripture concerning His coming and Kingdom — in fact, they were good “fundamentalists”, anxiously expecting His arrival — but they had drifted so far from the Holy Spirit of God, that when the day arrived they did not know it because it took the Holy Spirit to reveal it.  And as the Jews of old failed to recognize the coming of the Lord and His Kingdom in their day, even so a sleeping church today fails to recognize the signs and events  that herald a new and glorious and fuller manifestation of that same blessed Person!

Arthur Eedle from England shared the following in an issue of his paper THE PROPHETIC TELEGRAPH.  “If the testimony of many hymns and choruses is to be believed, then Jesus is due to receive a warm welcome on His return.  In American terminology, He will be given a ‘ticker-tape parade.’  In Britain He will be received as on a day of Royal Coronation, with flag-waving and cheering, as He descends from the clouds with thousands of angels in His train.  But will ‘The Crowning Day’ really be like that?   Does the Lord intend to come in such a manner to receive the admiration of His people?  A moments reflection should be sufficient to dismiss such ideas as totally out of keeping with the Divine Character.  The image is born of human typology, how we as humans behave towards Royalty and VIP’s.  Well, not everybody, but most of us!

“In this brief writing we shall take a look at a few very important facts, in order to present an alternative picture of what the beginning of the Kingdom of God is like.  It may take some by surprise.  When Adam was first created, God was enthroned in his spirit.  He received all his leading and direction from God.  He looked to God as his creator and his provider, his director and his inspirer.   There was no thought  of taking things into his own hands.  At the time of the ‘fall,’ Adam in effect took the throne from his spirit and placed it in his soul.  But God would not sit on this throne.  He would only take His seat in man’s SPIRIT, not in his SOUL.  Hence He departed from Adam.  The Divine Life left him, and he became a creature subject to death.  Whilst God lived within him, he would live forever, because God is immortal.  But without the presence of God in his spirit, he became subject to death.

“The soul is the seat of self-consciousness, where SELF sits on the throne.  That is why God will not share the throne.  The spirit is the seat of God-consciousness, and only here will He sit.  After king David’s lapse from right living, he cried out to God, saying, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a RIGHT SPIRIT within me’ (Ps. 51:10).   He never asked for his soul to be cleaned, mended, or renewed, because he knew that his sins had flowed from SELF-ENTHRONEMENT in his soul.  Here is the crux of the matter.  There will be no street ceremonies, no flag waving, no heralds running here and there, saying, ‘It’s here! Come and see!’  Why?  Because the Kingdom is INSIDE man, not for external observation (Lk. 17:20-21).  God is looking for a re-instatement of His position in man’s spirit.  He says to us in effect, ‘You cannot live without me.  If you try to run your own life, and satisfy your own desires, it will all end in death.  The only way in which you can enjoy life with me is to give me back the reins of government.  My government is not oppressive, but gently and firmly persuasive, because I made you, and I alone know what is best for you.’

“All of us are born with Adam’s legacy to self-rule.  The throne has remained in the human soul ever since Adam sinned, and God does not live there.  But each and every person who is enlightened to this fact, and who desires with a whole heart to be under God’s government, can enter a new relationship with God.  A right spirit is granted, and God begins to dwell there once again.  This is not the end of the process, however, and it is important to see why.  The majority in the evangelical world speak about two parties, the Christians and the Non-Christians.  But this is an artificial distinction.  To accept Christ into one’s life is just a beginning, and there is a distinct possibility of God being subsequently dethroned.  We have seen young people ‘accept Christ’ and be baptized, only to reinstate their own kingdom firmly in their souls within a short time.  God is not mocked.  Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.  He who sows to the flesh, will of the flesh reap corruption.  He who sows to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting (Gal. 6:7-8).  Paul said to the Galations, ‘Are you so foolish? having begun in the spirit, are you now made perfect in the flesh?’ (Gal. 3:3).

“God is looking for an initial commitment to Him, a ‘conversion’ experience.  But He wants far more than that!  He wants there to be a steadily growing Kingdom of God within.  At our conversion we see the need for salvation and a state of ‘NEW MANAGEMENT’.  But our hearts are very deceptive..  We have no idea just how much we still hold the reins.  The Lord gradually engineers our circumstances to show us who is in control.  Therefore there should be a gradual replacement, whereby self-will is exchanged for God-reliance.  Jesus said that of Himself He was able to do nothing.  His total reliance was on His Father and the Divine Direction He received.  But don’t misunderstand.  Jesus chose to go that way.  He allowed His Father complete control of His life, not as a puppet, but as one who was utterly convinced of the Right Way.

“God’s sons are those who have, through many trials and testings, allowed God to take His rightful place in their spirits.  They began with but a small reliance on God, but grew to allow Him something approaching total control.  These are the ones whom God will ask to rule the coming world with Him, and under Him.  Antichrist is said to rule in the temple of God, showing that he is God.  What does this mean?   It means that there are Christians who are all for God’s ways, but struggle to retain their own rulership of their lives.   Satan sits enthroned in man’s flesh, in the soul of man that is not subject to God, but subject to human desire.  All those who thus retain self-dominion are collectively the antichrist.  Satan’s kingdom is equally inside man as God’s Kingdom.  These facts need careful pondering by us all”   — end quote.

YOU CANNOT BUILD THE KINGDOM!

The Kingdom is coming.  “Thy kingdom come.”  Only if we truly believe the Kingdom is coming can we pray that prayer.  But primarily and fundamentally the Kingdom IS.  “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.”  The Kingdom that is, is coming.  Men speak of “building” the Kingdom of God, but in the truest sense the Kingdom it not built — it is.  The Kingdom grows and increases from age to age and from realm to realm, but only because it is.  The essential thing to be burned into our consciousness is that the Kingdom of God IS!  “The kingdom of God IS righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  “The Lord reigneth!”  His reign is a present reality and shall increase from age to age until all things are subdued unto Him.   

Nowhere in the scriptures are we instructed that we are to “build” the Kingdom.  We are told that we can “see” the Kingdom, “enter” the Kingdom, “receive” the Kingdom, “inherit” the Kingdom, and “proclaim” the Kingdom, but never build it.  What is the difference?  It is basic and profound.  For if we are to build the Kingdom, then it is something that we bring into life, something that we produce.  It is a structure that requires our effort  to raise up.  It is an institution that demands our ingenuity and work to establish.  But the Kingdom IS.   It is already in existence; it is a present reality, for it was prepared for us before the foundation of the world (Mat. 25:34).  Men who go out and try to build the Kingdom always fail for they are trying to do something that cannot be done.  Ah, yes, there is an increase of the Kingdom!   But it is not the increase of effort, but of life.  You can build a house, but you cannot build a tree or a fruit.   Things that are built are constructed by an external power; they contain no life.  But things that grow are produced by an inherent internal life and you cannot build them.  The increase and manifestation of the Kingdom is not one of man’s doing, but something of life.  That is why the Kingdom of God is within you.  It is the life of the Spirit bringing forth the image and glory of God in the lives and doings of men.  Jesus speaks of those who are “disciples” of the Kingdom, “stewards” of the Kingdom, “scribes” of the Kingdom, “teachers” of the Kingdom and “heralds” of the Kingdom.  But there are no “builders” of the Kingdom!

Many who have seen something of the promises and glory of the Kingdom of God have found it difficult to keep their efforts in the Spirit and cooperate with God to bless men and nations with the benefits and powers of the Kingdom.  The result of their misunderstanding of how the Kingdom functions has time and again manifested itself in carnal and fruitless efforts to “establish” or “build” a visible outward Kingdom.  While individuals and small groups of saints in the early days of the Church made claims concerning the “establishment” of the Kingdom in their day, this idea did not take on any great proportion until the time of the Emperor Constantine.   Prior to that Christians were openly persecuted by the Roman emperors and were accorded no recognition by the kingdoms of this world.   The gospel was despised and rejected by an unbelieving and pagan world.  This means that those who espoused the name of Christ suffered with Him because of their allegiance to His cause.

As one has written: “So far as the great body of professed Christians was concerned, this entire picture of persecution and ostracism on the part of worldly kingdoms was suddenly changed by Constantine, who himself professed conversion to Christianity.  In the year 313 A.D., this emperor put his signature to a decree reading, in part, ‘Henceforth in perfect and absolute freedom, each and every person who chooses to belong to the practice of the Christian religion, shall be at liberty to do so without let or hindrance in any shape or form.’  How the Christians must have read the lines with astonishment when they realized the implication of this change of attitude on the part of earthly governments!  Just emerging from ten years of the bitterest persecution by Diocletian, they were now free to meet and sing and pray and read their scriptures in the open sunlight, anytime, anywhere.  

“And this was but the first of other favors that were shortly to come to them.  The historian records that ‘Constantine ordered the state funds to be used to rebuild their churches, ruined in the previous persecution; he donated land by the acre, built new churches wherever needed in the east or the west — magnificent, costly structures.  Christian ministers were exempted from taxation and became officials representing the government.  Even laymen were shown marked favor in political appointments.  Gift was piled upon gift, and privilege upon privilege.  Decrees were issued exhorting the public to abandon their ‘ancient superstitions’ and accept the ‘truth’.  Complete and expensive copies of the scriptures were furnished to Christians by the state, replacing those destroyed by former persecutors.  Could or should they decline these marvelous favors bestowed upon them?  Should they decline to avail themselves of the wonderful opportunity thus afforded to proclaim the gospel of the Son of God to the large audiences now forthcoming because of governmental favor toward the church?  Should they refuse to rejoice because now multitudes suddenly saw the light?’  

“The church had endured persecution — bitter, death-dealing persecution.  Now the reverse was true and they were enjoying the favors of the state.  Could they endure prosperity?  What was to be their attitude toward this new development in the Christian experience?   How were they to view the future?  The great and sudden relief experienced by the lifting of the hand of persecution evidently had the effect that Satan desired it should, because the historical record shows that the great body of professed Christians at the time concluded that the days of waiting for the Kingdom had ended!  One historical writer, in telling about this, says, ‘When they were relieved of their persecution, and came into honor after having been so long reckoned the filth of the world, the cry was straitway raised up that the Kingdom of God had come.   The Millennium had begun.  The emperor was the visible favorite of God, the predestined overthrower of the powers of evil (by the sword, of course!).’

“Following the last session of the Council of Nicea in the year 325, Constantine made a splendid banquet, about which the historian Eusebius, a bishop and one of the guests, has left us the following account: ‘The proceedings were sublime beyond description.  The soldiers of the emperor’s bodyguard were drawn up before the door of the palace with bared swords.   The men of God, over three hundred bishops, some of them bearing in their bodies the marks of the last persecution, passed by them proudly into the interior of the palace.  Some sat at the same table with the emperor.  One might easily believe he beheld an image of the very Kingdom of God.’

“Following this, and amidst violent, stormy internal disputes, the nominal church multiplied, for the state was still friendly and the sons of Constantine improved on their father, for they not only favored the church system, but persecuted paganism!   The professed followers of the Master quickly caught the spirit, and with even more ardent zeal than was manifested by the strong arm of the state.  They, like so many others who are not willing to await God’s time or God’s way for the exercise of Kingdom powers, themselves took the law into their own hands.  Professed Christian mobs tore down pagan temples, shattered their idols, burnt their libraries, and slaughtered their priests.  There was no restraining them, so fierce was their faith and zeal for the alleged Kingdom of God.

“But the carnal mind was still ‘the god of this world.’   While the professed church as a whole entered into these revelries in connection with the establishment of a counterfeit kingdom of the Lord, there still remained a few true followers of the Master who did not share in this viewpoint and therefore did not enter into these unchristian activities.   Concerning these the historian says, ‘Some indeed during this century, were disgusted with the pride and arrogance of the clergy and aimed at spiritual simplicity and opposed the general trend; but the only fruit of their labor was that they were branded with infamy.’  Evidently this little flock of the body of Christ were branded as being anti-kingdom, even as it still is true of some today.  When the devil offered the kingdoms of the world to our Lord, He declined the gift, choosing the way of the cross and the life of the Spirit, while carrying out the Father’s plans which must precede the day when all the kingdoms of this world should become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.  But what the Son of man refused, the nominal church, centuries later, accepted, and installed a Roman bishop at the head, who, in the name of God, received the headship of the kingdoms of this world.  The great religious harlot was fully born, riding upon the beast.  From thenceforth it was woe unto those who dared to be anti-kingdom.

“These abortive Kingdom efforts, however, were not limited to the large body of professed Christians who finally became amalgamated into the Roman Catholic church-state system.  When the Protestant movement got under way, Satan still was active both with the small and large groups of Protestantism and almost without exception these have fallen prey to this master-stroke of delusion.  The Protestants, in separating from Rome, never completely passed out of the harmful shadow of the unauthorized kingdom.  Many of the Protestant systems united with the state.  Even today, most professed Christians confuse the present church system with the Kingdom, and when their hopes prosper or their activity is apparently blessed, and applauded by people in high places, they forthwith believe that the Kingdom of God must be here”    — end quote (author unknown).

Many other groups have made their own efforts at “building the Kingdom.”  Look for example at the Munzerites of the sixteenth century, who undertook to establish at Munster a theocracy or political kingdom of the saints; or the Fifth Monarchy men of the seventeenth century, who believed it was their duty to establish the Kingdom of God by force, and actually went through a form of electing at London Jesus Christ as Universal Monarch; or John Alexander Dowie who in the dawn of this century founded both the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church and the city of Zion, Illinois as a theocracy headed by himself as “Elijah the Restorer.”  Dowie ruled the theocratic community strictly and organized the Theocratic party, a political party to compete with the Republican and Democratic parties for control of the nation.  This party ran in the elections in both Chicago and Zion City as the representatives of the Kingdom of God on earth.  At the time of his sudden stroke and paralyses he was in the process of establishing theocratic cities in various parts of the world and proposed to purchase the entire city of Jerusalem from the Turks and turn it into a theocratic Christian city, the seat of the theocratic kingdom, in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ.  

Dr. Dowie was but another in a long list of “kingdom builders” who imagined that they could “build” the Kingdom of God on earth.   They missed altogether the profound and wonderful truth proclaimed by Jesus when He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof” (Mat. 13:31-32).  The Kingdom is not like a house, or an institution, or a  government to be “built”; it is like a seed that is planted and by the spontaneous process of germination and growth becomes through the power of an indwelling life the expression and reign of God in the earth.  It is not the work of man by force, law, or politics, but the sovereign work of God by the   power of the Holy Spirit in and through yielded men.

For what purpose is God bringing us into sonship?  Many will point to the scriptures and say we are being perfected and brought into the fullness of God so that we can rule and reign with Christ when He establishes His Kingdom on earth.  I will not say that I disagree with this teaching except to point out that Christ has already established His Kingdom in the earth.  The “man” who planted the “grain of mustard seed” which is the Kingdom in its inception was none other than our Lord Jesus Christ.  But we need to be very clear as to what we have in mind when we speak of ruling and reigning with Jesus.  The idea that the Kingdom will one day be established in the earth, after the pattern of the kingdoms of men, and that God’s elect will assume outward positions of political and governmental power within its hierarchy is the same carnal-minded error that the people of Israel made when Jesus made His appearance among them.  As a result they completely missed Him.  How then shall we reign with Christ?  

The first principle that must be very clear to us is that the power of the Kingdom of God is not political power — it is spiritual power.  “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, T-H-E-N  THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS COME UNTO YOU” (Mat. 12:28).  The Kingdom of God is that domain where God’s saving, transforming power defeats all opposition, breaks down every wall, changes all that is contrary to God’s nature, mind and will, and brings men into willing submission to His authority.  Where the nature of God and the mind of Christ have mightily conquered, the state of things is called the Kingdom of God.  Where hearts are changed, where sin and error and darkness have been defeated, where truth and righteousness advance, where the will and ways of God are raised up as reality and life in a people, where the mind of Christ rules out of union with God — there the Kingdom of God has come and is advancing.  In the Kingdom it is no longer God ruling over you by sovereignty, but the life, mind, heart, nature, power, wisdom, knowledge, and will of God entering into you, becoming your very own reality.   How plain it is to see that this is NOT what happened in the days of Emperor Constantine!  The Kingdom of God is the power to transform.  Its citizens are a holy people.  Its kings and priests are all righteous, wise, and mighty through God.  

What I have said before bears repeating — there is no greater truth than the truth that our Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom, our King is a spiritual King, its citizens are a spiritual people, its ministry is a spiritual ministry, its authority is a spiritual authority, its dominion is a spiritual dominion, its laws are spiritual laws, its weapons are spiritual weapons, its priesthood is a spiritual priesthood, its sovereignty is a spiritual sovereignty, its power is spiritual power, and its rulers rule only by the Spirit, praise His wonderful name!  You do not “build” this Kingdom, nor do you exercise any kind of “political” power to further its cause.  IT MUST BE DEMONSTRATED IN THE AUTHORITY AND MINISTERED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST.  That, my friend, is the power and  glory of the Kingdom of God!

GOD RAISES UP MEN

In any kingdom there is order.  It is very important for us to know that every kingdom has order.   It has a king who is the ruler and it has the government which administers all the will of the king unto its subjects.  When we have been born of the Spirit into the Kingdom Realm of God, we have been born into a divine, celestial order.  Someone asks, “Well, how about organization?  Are we born into organization?  Doesn’t the Kingdom have some type of organization?”  No.  We are born only into an organism, a living body, whereby we receive our identity, our life, our destiny from our heavenly Father.  The Kingdom of God is a living thing.  The organism is CHRIST, the image of God.  To be born into the God family is to be born into the divine, heavenly order — the body of Christ.   Jesus Christ is the Head of this body, the firstborn Son, the first manifested Son, joined now by that glorious company of sons who come  into His image and likeness and are members of His body.  The whole company of sons, Head and body, is THE CHRIST.  “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: SO ALSO IS CHRIST” (I Cor. 12:12).  The order of sonship is the order of the many-membered Son of God.  And the order of the Son of God IS THE GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

The Kingdom of God, the Government of God, is not a method, system or organization.  Any thing that is “organized” is not the Kingdom of God.  There is one Christian movement that calls itself “Jehovah’s Organization.”   It is not.  God doesn’t have any organizations.  The body of Christ is not an organization, it is an organism.  Organizations are systems — organisms are living things.  God does not raise up or use organizations — He calls, ordains, prepares, equips, and uses MEN.  God always begins His purposes with a MAN, and consummates His purposes in a PEOPLE.  Under the Old Covenant the man was Moses, and the people was Israel.  Under the New Covenant the man is Jesus Christ, and the people is the sons of God.

Many other men have also been involved in God’s purposes throughout the ages.  When the time had come for God to have a nation as His witness in the earth, He called forth Abraham out of his homeland to go into a strange land.  There he was to bear a son, and that son would bear sons and someday God’s nation would be born because God had His man — Abraham.  When Israel, pressed beyond measure by Egyptian bondage, cried aloud for deliverance, God didn’t form a committee to devise a plan.  He raised up a man.  Pharaoh, the cruel and ruthless lord of Egypt, was mastered by Moses.  At the very hour when all that Pharaoh represented was tyranny and slavery, God was creating a mighty deliverer who would captain the forces of the Lord and lead them toward the Promised Land.  

Israel cried hopelessly in the wilderness, wandered aimlessly, lost faith in divine intervention, and muttered agonizingly, “We die!  There is no Promised Land!”  God then strengthened the heart of His man, Joshua, to march across the Jordan which separated the desolate wilderness from the promised land of plenty.   At another time Ahab and Jezebel were out-maneuvered by the prophet Elijah, the thundering Voice of God.  Crises have always produced the grandest of prophets.  David and his mighty men brought deliverance to Israel from all their enemies that had been thorns in their sides from the days of Joshua.  Rome met its master in Paul.  He transformed its society for the magnificent glory of Jesus Christ the Lord.   From the turbulence of the Middle Ages came Martin Luther.  At a moment when religious life ebbed lowest, when spiritual light had all but flickered and gone out, God brought forth John Wesley to spark into being the revival that was to impact mightily Great Britain and the world.  

So it has always been in the annals of divine history — time would fail me to tell of Gideon, who routed the enemy; of Samuel and the prophets who as God’s instruments subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in battle, and put to flight the armies of  the aliens.  God has never judged a nation, met a crisis, delivered a people, manifested His power, accomplished His purpose, or ushered in a new age by organization.  He has always matched the hour and need with MEN.  When God moved to end that first wicked age of human experience He did not organize the Ante-diluvian Flood Control Association to accomplish His purpose.  It was by faith that one man — Noah — “being warned of God of things not yet seen, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world” (Heb. 11:7).

No age in world history matches in crisis and potential tragedy the age in which we live.  On any moral chart, on any graph of spiritual decline, on any meter of danger and peril, this age is the age horrendous.  The age is catastrophic with dark predictions of terrorism, of nuclear war, atomic blasts, thermonuclear annihilation, deadly fall-out, or destruction of the earth by the sheer weight of over-population and pollution.  Will God leave this age Voiceless?  Will heaven fail to produce a Deliverer?  He has never done so.   He has always had His man.  As Basil Miller once wrote, “When God has selected His man, He has ground that man and polished him through the cauldron of human need and suffering.  And when the divine process was completed, the schooling finished, His lapidary stones for hewing character burnished His man to a bright hue.  God freed His man from obsolescent dogma and creed, and armed him with multifold weapons of spiritual warfare.  Then He lifted him forth to captain the forces of right, a thundering voice of prophetic power.  In the darkest hours of human night there has always been a lighted torch in the hand of God’s man.”

So it is today.  God has a Voice.  God is preparing to blow a trumpet and rally the armies of the Lord.  But this time it is not a solitary man.  It is a many-membered man.  It is a vast company of the sons of God.  The manifestation of the sons of God is the hope of this dying age.  Jesus was the seed planted at the dawn of this age as a preview of the Kingdom when Christ with His entire body of sons will appear in power and glory; and His many brethren are the harvest of that original seed to bring forth in the earth the completeness of God’s Christ and the triumph of His Kingdom in all realms.  The certain hope of a new age of progression into the unfoldment of God’s Kingdom lies directly before us.  The whole creation, that has groaned in travail and pain throughout the dark night of every dispensation from Adam, is soon to hear the joyous shout of the birth of God’s new man-child for this hour.  This man shall arise in the midst of the nations and will publish to all the world the glad news, “thy God reigneth!”   And the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall fill all the earth as the waters cover the sea.

I do not hesitate to tell you that I have never been able to work under committees, organizations, systems, creeds, rules and regulations.   Creeds are not broad enough, dogmas are too binding; organization, systems and rules are stifling and restrictive man-made instruments of carnality and death.  Those called to the Kingdom in this hour are given an assignment, a commission from the God of heaven Himself.   They are His ambassadors, representing His government.  Their orders do not come from headquarters in some distant city, nor from committees, counsels, boards, or bishops.  To heed the voice of men and change one iota of the assignment would be to betray the Kingdom of God.  It would be an act of treason against the Kingdom of Heaven.   Those called to sonship have come into contact with the Source of divine energy and power, of wisdom and knowledge, and there is no alternative but to obey the heavenly vision.  Our charge is to pursue the course set before us by the spirit of wisdom and revelation, taking our place within the ranks of that vast company of saints out of all the ages in their mission of bringing the Kingdom of God to pass in all the earth.  

The men who have been the molders of the world for God have all been men full of faith and the Holy Ghost.  It requires no faith nor any Holy Ghost to carry on the ordinary program of the average church, for running a church these days is not unlike running a business or corporation.   It is all method, system, charisma, public relations, professional skills and program.  But faith and revelation cause men to venture into the unknown and develop  a reliance upon the unseen powers of God.  When there are no roadsigns of men’s traditions marking the limits of achievement, when there are no precedents, when there is nothing to go by, as far as sight is concerned, and one steps forward with nothing but the word of the Lord birthed within, depending upon God’s tremendous power, this externalizes the vision and demonstrates before all men the power and glory of the Kingdom of God.

All the great movements of God in the earth have been accomplished through men God has sovereignly raised up with a vision, a message, and an anointing of authority and power.  He has never used an existing organization.  The proof that the anointing is upon the man and not the movement, is that in every case as soon as the man passes from the scene the movement raised up by that man dies too.  It does not in every case disappear from the earth, but generally it stagnates, becomes more organized, and in most cases declines either spiritually or numerically, and eventually disintegrates or becomes something altogether different from what it was formed  to be.  The leaders who follow just “do not have what it takes” — they are not the man God raised up and anointed with His Spirit!

The religious systems are always exerting themselves to devise new methods, new plans, new programs, new organizations to advance the work of the church and secure enlargement and security for God’s work.  This method sinks the man in plan and organization — he becomes a cog in the mechanical wheel.  God’s plan has nothing to do with organizational structures — God’s emphasis is on men.  Men are God’s method!  “There was a man sent from God...”  The church world is looking for better programs; God is looking for better men.  

You never heard of a prophet, priest, or king being voted for!   Prophets are very uncomfortable fellows.   They have a strange way that makes them, even when very young, extremely obnoxious to slow and unprogressive persons who love to be quiet and at ease, maintaining the status quo.  Prophets care for nothing but for God and His word, His ways, and His will.  That is how the Kingdom of God works.  God rules in and through men who are totally yielded unto His Voice and His Spirit.  If God has given us a revelation of His thought, and it is perfectly clear and spiritually sound, then what we have to do is not vote about it or even talk about it, but to do it, for it is His will.   Men who sit around tables “voting” about what course they should follow, obviously have not heard from God!  That is not the way nor the wisdom nor the power of the Kingdom.   The will of God once revealed is not open to discussion.  Jesus took no vote about His Kingdom activities.  He formed no committees to study anything, nor any organization to carry it out.  He was led by the Spirit of God and He ordained men who would be led by the Spirit, for “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

“There was a man sent from God whose name was John.”  The dispensation that heralded and prepared the way for the Christ of God  was bound up in that man John.  “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”  “The Word was made” — not made a book, not made a doctrine, not a program, not a method, not a committee, not an organization — but “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).  God came in the form of a man, “a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you” (Acts 2:22).  Jesus called twelve men as His apostles and gave them — not a plan, not a blueprint, not a system, not an organization — He gave them POWER.   “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me...” (Acts 1:8).   This vital, urgent truth is one that this age of organization and machinery knows nothing about.  What the world needs today is not more machinery, not new organizations or more novel methods, but the PERFECT MAN.  “Till we all come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”  The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, the Holy Ghost flows through men; and I hesitate not to tell you that the Holy Ghost will flow most fully and perfectly through God’s PERFECT MAN, God’s NEW MAN, God’s complete CHRIST, God’s Government of Kings and Priests after the order of Melchizedek, the manifested sons of God.  The Holy Spirit does not come on machinery, but on men.  He does not anoint plans, but men.  He  does not reveal His will and His heart to boards and committees, but to men who walk intimately with God, men who qualify for the fullness of God.  This is the power and glory of the Kingdom of God!

It is a great mystery, but it is a grand fact of truth nevertheless that Christ first reigns IN us that He may consequently reign THROUGH  us.  “Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, INHERIT THE KINGDOM prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mat. 25:34).  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD” (I Cor. 6:9-10).  “Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD...” (I Cor. 15:50).

The word “kingdom” indicates the richness of the heritage of the saints.  It is no petty estate, no banana republic, no happy corner in obscurity.  I heard a good man say that he should be content with a cabin in the corner of Gloryland or a spot just inside the gate.  I shall not be!  The Lord says we shall inherit a KINGDOM.  We cannot be satisfied to inherit less, because less than that would not suit our character.  “He hath made us kings and priests unto God” (Rev. 5:10) and we must reign forever and ever, or be as wretched as deposed monarchs.  A king without a kingdom is an unhappy and unfulfilled man.   If I were a poor servant, a servant’s quarters would be a boon, for it would correspond with my condition and degree; but if I am made a son of God, an heir of God, a joint-heir with Jesus; if I am made a priest and a king, I must have a kingdom, or I shall not have attained to a position equal to my nature.   He who makes us kings gives us a Kingdom to fit the nature which He has bestowed upon us.  

Beloved, I beseech you to strive more and more after that which the Spirit of God will give you — a KINGLY HEART;  do not be among those who are satisfied with the miserable nature of ordinary humanity or the childish hopes of the babes in Christ who throng to the churches which are merely nurseries for the birthing, care and educating of babes and which then stifle and threaten to suffocate the life out of these little ones with their own static creeds, lifeless traditions, and infantile programs.  They eagerly look for mansions and harps and golden streets and wings and white nightgowns in that glory world above, unable to comprehend that such glittering diadems are only nursery toys to God’s true kings; true riches are ETERNAL SPIRITUAL REALITIES; the true treasury wealth looks down upon the stars.  Do not sell yourself short, ye sons of the Most High!  Get a kingly heart — ask the King of kings to give it to you, and beseech of Him a royal spirit.  Act royally on earth towards your Lord, and for His sake towards all men.  Go about the world not as mean men in spirit and action, nor yet  in false humility as paupers and beggars, but as kings and priests of a race superior to the dirt-scrappers who are on their knees, crawling in the mud after fleeting earthly riches and transitory worldly fame.  What incredible loss shall be suffered by those who imagine that financial prosperity in this life is the sign of great faith, blessing and spirituality!

What the church world in general cannot comprehend is that the Christ does not rule alone but through a many-membered body.  Man in God’s image, man in Christ at the right hand of God, is God’s government in the Kingdom of God.  I have met men who professed that they have no desire, no ambition whatever to rule and reign with Christ.   It is enough, say they, to know that we are saved by grace and shall make heaven at last.  In fact, I have been greatly criticized and abused by some for my hope of inheriting the Kingdom of God and sitting with Christ upon the throne of universal dominion.  In the eyes of these accusers I am vain, conceited, self-righteous, presumptuous, heretical and power-mad, suffering delusions of grandeur because I cherish the beautiful hope of sonship and rulership in the Kingdom of God.  But I do not hesitate to tell you that Christ Himself has graciously bidden us to overcome and share with Him in His authority over the nations and all things.  He would both be King IN US and exercise His regal power THROUGH US.  “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).  Such reward to His faithful followers is merely the tangible expression of the approval of God, and we may no more deny Him the pleasure of expressing that approval than we may renounce it once  it is conferred.  Someone has truly said, HE WHO DESPISES A THRONE DESPISES HIM WHO CONFERS THE THRONE.  It was one of our Lord’s rebukes to the Pharisees — “The glory that cometh only from God YE SEEK NOT” (Jn. 4:44).

As one has written, “God is exceedingly rich.  He is like a successful business man who has an enormous amount of capital.  God has a business in this universe, and His vast wealth is His capital.  We do not realize how many billions, countless billions, He has.  All of this capital is simply HIMSELF, and with it He intends to ‘manufacture’ HIMSELF in mass production.  God HIMSELF is the Business Man, the Capital, and the Product.  His intention is to dispense Himself to many people in mass production.  Therefore, God requires such a divine arrangement, a divine management, a divine dispensation in order to bring Himself into humanity.”  Praise His name!   As His kings and priests upon His throne the elect sons of God are the governmental arrangement by which and through which God dispenses Himself into His creation.  For that reason the whole creation continues to groan and travail for the manifestation of the sons of God.  What an opportunity to change things!  What an occasion to bless and heal and lift and transform the world!  It would be a crime against humanity, my beloved brethren,  to carelessly neglect and thus despise, as Esau despised his birthright, the position of responsibility and opportunity to bless and restore creation proffered to us by the illustrious King of kings and Lord of lords!  It would be a mean and despicable crime against humanity as well as God Himself to settle for a cabin  in the corner of Gloryland!

When you understand that God is dealing and working out His plan through ages, you have understood God’s purpose aright.  Is this age and the next the only ages that remain for this purpose to be fulfilled?  By no means!  God’s purpose through His body is “that in the ages to come He might show (put on display) the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).  The message of this wonderful passage is just this: At this present time, in this age, God is showing (putting on display) the exceeding riches of His grace toward us through Jesus Christ.  Jesus is God’s revelation of His grace and kindness to the Church gathered out of the nations.  That is God’s purpose in this age.  But in the ages to come WE ARE THE DISPLAY, THE REVELATION OF GOD’S GRACE AND KINDNESS UNTO CREATION.  That which He has revealed to us in Jesus, and wrought in us through Jesus, will be displayed through us in ages yet to come that all creation by us may then experience His exceeding grace and kindness as we are now experiencing it in Jesus.  Hallelu-yah!  What a Saviour!   

There are three very definite stages that transpire in God's great plan of the ages.  In this age the Church is being gathered out of the nations.  In the next age all the living nations shall come, and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain (kingdom) of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law (authority) shall go forth of Zion (the sons of God), and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (the bride of Christ).   And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:2-3).  All this shall take place when “the mountain (kingdom, government) of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains (strong kingdoms), and it shall be exalted above the hills (smaller kingdoms); and people shall flow unto it” (Micah 4:1).  In the age and ages beyond that all creation shall be dealt with and brought into harmony and relationship with God until all  things everywhere have been subdued unto Him and God becomes in glorious reality ALL IN ALL.  This in a nutshell is God’s wonderful plan of the ages.

“Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen (nations) for THINE INHERITANCE, and the uttermost parts of the earth for THY POSSESSION,” says the Messianic Psalm.  Christ conquered, and He is conquering, and He is to conquer.  I claim this earth for God, for He made it.  I claim this earth for God, for the earth is the Lord’s.  The sea is His, and He made it.  His hands formed the dry land.  His power pushed up every mountain, and His fingers scooped out every valley.  By His wisdom all things were established.  I claim everything that comes out of the bowels of the earth for God, for “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” and “all the gold and the silver is His.”  I claim every man in El Paso, and in Miami, and in New York, and in Los Angeles, and in Hong Kong, and in Beijing, and in Moscow, and in Baghdad and in the whole wide world, and every man in their graves for God, for “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” and “it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves” and “He hath made all things for His pleasure.”  I am not willing to wickedly cede even one thing or one person to the devil, as do some, for the Christ came to reconcile all things and He is the Saviour of all men.

I proclaim to you, as the minister of God, that the body of Christ is here in this world for the establishment of the Kingdom of God.  Our destiny is something more than being a little group of saved people waiting to die and go to heaven.  The body of Christ IS the Kingdom of God  in this world and its King-Priests must reign until all things are under His feet.  Because all the earth is His, God is raising up a Kingly Priesthood to reign in mighty spirit power over the earth, not to be little human dictators, or an external, political kingdom of laws and systems headquartered in Jerusalem or London or some where else, but with an outflow of life and light and love, touching God with one hand, and humanity with the other, bringing the two together, that God may indwell all men by His Spirit and live and rule in them in power and glory.  The kingly nature in us is not to dominate over other men’s lives, but to deal with and break the power of self-hood and rebellion and sin and the devil that men may be reconciled to God.  Kings have power and authority, priests reconcile in compassion, mercy and love.  But once the reconciliation has taken place, and Christ is enthroned in men’s spirit, we deliver them up to God, even the Father, that GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL.  That is the principle of the Kingdom.  We rule only to subdue men to God — THEN GOD RULES IN THEM.  That is the power and glory of the Kingdom of God!

 

 


Chapter 19

HOW THE KINGDOM COMES

(continued)

God rules with a great, infinite and eternal love.  He gives all His ability to His sons in love.  Love is the foundation of His Kingdom throughout the universe.   Love is the very essence and atmosphere of the Kingdom of Heaven.  His laws, proceeding from His heart, win the love of all His subjects.  The scars on His brow, in His hands, on His feet, and on His back are the insignia of love and show that when He occupies the throne, love sits on the throne and presides.   He came to found an empire of which Rome, with her pride and tyranny, could never be the symbol.  He came to win an allegiance that no legions in shining armor could ever compel.  That empire is the empire of love and that allegiance the response that men can make to that which they know to be love and which, because it is love, commands their bodies by winning their hearts.  So down this costly way of unreserved love Jesus came, His birth-chamber a stable, His cradle a manger, and His lot in life cast among the poor.  He trod the pathway of misunderstanding, rejection and malignment, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  “Wherefore,” the apostle says, “God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him the name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

THE KINGDOM OF LOVE

The King of Love girds His people with gladness.  He sows the whole earth with gladness and joy.  The news which is sent from His courts lifts the heads of all men.  At the mention of His name our hearts leap for joy, and the coming of His presence among us fills us with exceeding wonder.  The air is filled with music.  He makes the morning break over the everlasting hills with rejoicing, and causes the evening to glow with the fire of His glory.  He is the King of Love within our hearts!

Our poor, lisping, faltering tongues cannot proclaim the Gospel as we would like; but we have God’s word that is true for the present time, and for all the times of all the ages: “God IS LOVE!”  IS — unchangeably!  IS — eternally!  God is love in heaven, in earth, in hell!  Wherever He is He can be no less than He is.  “If I make my bed in hell, Thou art there,” proclaims the Psalmist.  God IS LOVE — everywhere!  And the great practical consequence is for you and me to respond to that God and to that love, to become filled with that love, one with that love, the embodiment and manifestation of that love to all men in all realms.  That is the supreme purpose of sonship.  “Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (I Jn. 4:7).  And those who are born of God are the sons of God — THE SONS OF LOVE!

The best and most wonderful word in the universe is Love.   For God is Love.  And the best and most wonderful word in the inner chamber of our heart must be — Love.  For the God who meets us there is Love.  What is Love?  The deep desire to give itself for the beloved.  “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).   “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (I Jn. 3:1).  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16).  Love finds its joy in imparting all that it has, to make the loved one happy and fulfilled.  And the heavenly Father, who offers to meet us in the inner chamber — let there be no doubt about this in our minds — has no other object than to flood our hearts, and the hearts of all men, with His love.

But the spirit of love is not in you till it is the spirit of your life, till you live freely, willingly, universally according to it.  It knows no difference of time, place, or person; but whether it gives or forgives, bears or forbears, it is equally doing its own delightful work.   The spirit of love does not want to be rewarded or honored; its only desire is to become the blessing and happiness of everything that needs it. The wrath of an enemy, the treachery of a friend, only gives the spirit of love an opportunity to be more triumphant.  The rebellion of Adam but opened up avenues for mankind to experience and know the incredible depths of the love of God!    God IS LOVE.  And His SONS are of His own nature.  The Sons of Love — what a blessed thought!  And what a call — what purpose and responsibility!  Little wonder, then, that the whole vast creation, sold under slavery and bondage to sin, sorrow, pain and death, groans in travail for the manifestation of the SONS OF LOVE!

Those who put on the mind of Christ see all men with the eyes of love which are the eyes of God.  How we see men and think and act towards them is a measure of the Kingdom in our lives.  Perhaps you have heard the story of a stranger who settled in a town and asked his neighbor, “What are the people around here like?”  The neighbor, a Quaker, replied quietly with a question, “What were the people like where thee came from?”  The newcomer answered, “I have come from Anytown.  The people there were very mean, dishonest, and unfriendly.”   The Quaker answered, “I’m afraid thee will find them all here.”  A third person who had overheard the conversation, joined in by remarking, “This surprises me, because I have come from the same town and I found the people there to be very kind, honest, and friendly.”  And the old Quaker, turning to him, said, “Thee will find them all here, too.”

Kingdom love flows from us like the powerful waters of Niagara.   It is a giving of ourselves without reservation or limitation.  Kingdom love does not allow us to withhold part of ourselves — it requires us to give away ourselves completely.  Kingdom love does not stop to consider the worthiness of the one about to receive it.  “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the SONS OF YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on  the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mat. 5:44-46).  Kingdom love is a “living sacrifice” that remains always upon the altar.  This love is the expression of our total energies toward another without reservation, qualification, or hesitation.  It is going the second mile — and the third, fourth, fifth, one hundredth and one thousandth if necessary.

Larry Hodges, in one of his SHOFAR LETTERS, has wisely asked, “Shall there be a people who will rule and reign with Christ who are not under the absolute dominion of Love?  Shall there be a people who shall open and no man shut, and shut and no man open, who are not in perfect accord with Love?  Shall there be a people claiming to be Love’s true representatives who have not this Love in all its perfections?  Shall the rod of iron be given into the hand of any other than Love’s own children, the children of the resurrection?  What people shall do and speak only what they see and hear their Father doing and speaking but that people that is under the absolute dominion of Love’s rule?  We may speak well and write much on ‘Sonship,’ ‘Kingdom,’ and whatever else we may wish to call this kingdom, but unless we love Love, carefully guarding its beginning flame, we are become as tinkling brass or a sounding cymbal.”

The omnipotent power of God is not best demonstrated in violence, throwing thunderbolts and spreading devastation, but in self-sacrificing love and goodness.  It is love (not tyranny) that never faileth, and with God (love) all things are possible.  God is almighty, omnipotent.  That is fundamental.  But it is vital that all God’s elect realize that His power is not something separate from His wisdom and His love.  Jesus has made it abundantly clear that the power of God is not that of force, violence, or compulsion, but the power of love which “never faileth.”  “I, if I be lifted up (on the cross) from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”   Love is all-powerful and irresistible — divine power is simply love in action.  The failure to distinguish between the omnipotence of force and violence and the omnipotence of love leads to the false ideas about God and His Kingdom that are so prevalent in the church systems today.  It is the infallible answer to those who impudently ask, “If God is omnipotent, why does He not stop war, sin, suffering, and all forms of evil?”  The omnipotence of love is something far grander and more noble than the omnipotence of force could ever be, though it is slower in operation.  But the end of love’s omnipotence is sure and abiding.  Love never faileth!  God so loved the world, and when love’s power has been played out through the progression of the ages, love will win, will conquer all.  Then all men will love God, not fear Him.  What a plan!  What incomprehensible wisdom!

Almost a hundred years ago Joseph Fort Newton, preaching in London, said, “Not until we see God as the Father of all souls — not simply ‘like a Father,’ as a Psalmist said, as if it were only a symbol, an analogy, an allegory, but the actual Father of men, as revealed in the life of Jesus — do we behold the highest truth.  There is made known what love really is in its utmost sweetness of sacrifice and redemption.  Love is social; it cannot live alone.  Heaven was never a Hermitage.  In that long-ago beginning God did not say, ‘Let me make,’ but ‘Let us make.’  Humanity could not worship and adore an Infinite Egoist.  Such is the deep and beautiful truth of which the Godhead is the symbol — the truth of the eternal society.  Older than our religion, older than the human home and the human family, it is a vision of God through the home as a family in Himself — Elohim.  Love is creation.  It cannot be inactive.  It must devise order, goodness, beauty, joy.  God does not love the world because He made it; He made it because He is love.  Here lies the secret of the strange and haunting beauty of the world, and the eternal motive behind  it.  Love is also providence.  It cannot be content with the joy of creation, but must follow and watch over what it has made with absorbing solicitude and care.  Men of old seemed to think that God made the world, set it going, and sat on the edge of it watching it.  But love is never idle, much less aloof, and it must stoop to share the lot of those whom it serves.

“Alas! many in our day, to whom it is not difficult to believe in God, the Creator, find it hard to believe in His loving care.  Storms desolate the earth.  Pestilence and famine fill myriad graves.  Youth is blighted in its bud.  Forever the cup of death is pressed to the lips of love.  War, pillage, cruelty, and brutality might make human life a hell.  There are heartless tyrannies that endure.  How can one talk of the loving care of God in face of these facts?  Why did not God make a thornless world and fill it with noble men, true women, and a race just, gentle, and generous?  Because He could not do it.  Character cannot be created; it must be achieved.  It is not a gift, but an attainment — something wrought out amid trials and tears, as Polasek has shown us in his figure of a man finding himself and freeing himself by laboriously chipping away the stone in which he is imprisoned.  

“Suppose a man were to have a family created for him in an instant — a wife, a boy, a girl sitting about a table in a lovely home which he never saw before.  Would it be his family?  Would these children be the offspring of the love and sacrifice and pain of his wife and himself?  No.  He might learn to know and love them deeply, but they would not be his family because not created by his love, not nourished from his heart, and not sanctified by his thought, consideration and purpose.  His wife, not having experienced the babe in the womb or the pain of childbirth, would be unable to value the children of the family as highly as she might.  Omnipotence does not mean arbitrariness.  What love cannot do God cannot do.  

“There are methods love cannot use, acts it cannot perform, weapons it cannot employ.  Divine love looks like weakness until we know what it really is, how it works, and the path it follows.  The love of God is more than a mere indulgent good nature, more than an indiscriminate, mushy sentiment.  It is wise, and therefore takes the long look; relentless, and therefore seemingly austere; ruling, not arbitrarily, not impatiently, but with inflexible purpose and educative discipline — permitting the prodigal to wander if he will, knowing, as he does not know, that riotous living leads to husks, and these to the coming to himself, and that to the painful and penitent return to Father’s house and to the discovery of a love that would not let him be happy in exile!  Oh, the wisdom of love!

“Of love is born the hope of immortality, and the love of God is its only sure basis and token of promise.  What sunshine there is in that truth!  The more deeply we love wife and child and friend, the more longingly we wish for immortality.   Only men who know not love, who are lonely, disappointed, broken-hearted, devastated, bitter and hopeless desire the solitude and silence of death over life.  Only miserable men cherish no hope of immortality!  Again I say, of love is born the hope of immortality.  The more deeply we love the more surely we may know that there is One who loves our loved ones and ourselves more than we do.  Men and women, lay to heart the awful and wonderful truth that God loves each of us as if there were no other in the world, and all of us as though we were one child at His knee.  And it is not only His obedient children that He so loves, but the vilest sinner and the most rebellious  blasphemer.  ‘God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom. 5:8).  Yea, He loves me, even me, distinctly, separately, passionately, unconditionally, eternally — how can it be!  And He loves you, each of you, with a love peculiar, particular, unutterably precious — loves you unto the uttermost, and cannot be happy without your love in return!  Let us not ask ourselves whether we love God or not.  Let us trust His love of us, trust it in our sorrows, our needs, our failures, our weakness, our sins, knowing that love never faileth — for God is love.

“What is this Reality which men call Christ?  Perhaps we can best make it clear by asking our hearts one question: What is it that we worship?  Is it mere Power?   No!  Power may awe us, crush us, command us, but never yet has it won the worship of the heart.  Is it Knowledge?   No!  An infinite Intellect may invite admiration, but we do not worship Wisdom.  Is it Vastness?  Not so!  Consider for a moment — and you will see how a cold, bare infinitude, so far from winning the love of man, strikes him dumb with terror.  What, then, do we worship?  Reverently let us say that, though God speak with the tongues of lightning, though He have all power so that He could remove mountains or hurl suns into space, yea, though He have all knowledge and understand all mysteries, and have not Love, we cannot worship Him.  Only love can win love, and if God be not Infinite Love we cannot love Him, albeit we may cower before Him, trembling and afraid.  

“Think it all through, up one side and down the other, and you will find that our ideal, our dream, our hope, that to which we pray, is no other than the Spirit that lived in Jesus, shone in His face, wrought in His works, spoke in His words, and hung upon a cross.  The Spirit of Jesus in its strength, its gentleness, its august and wonderful humility, its incredible patience, its fathomless pity, its relentless love, its all-forgiving mercy, its victorious valor, its purity, its gladness — that is what is meant by God.  Beyond that love it is not possible for any man to imagine anything more divine.  The Spirit of Jesus is the ultimate Divine Reality so far as we can know it.  Where the Spirit of Love is, there God is.  Because that Love lived  in Jesus in its fullness, richness, its unclouded beauty, He is the supreme revelation of what God is”    — end quote.  And, may I add to these beautiful words this thought — all the sons of God, who are the sons of Love, are the extension, completion and fullness of that supreme revelation of God unto creation.  Hallelu-yah!

I once read the moving account of a woman seen constantly on the streets of Strasbourg in the fourteenth century, carrying a pail of water in one hand and a torch in the other.  When asked what she was about, she would reply that with the pail of water she was going to put out the flames of hell and with the torch she would burn up heaven, “so that in the future men could love the dear Lord God for Himself alone and not out of fear of hell or out of craving for reward.”  A man comes closest to the Kingdom of God when he truly perceives the depth of truth proclaimed by that little lady so long ago!  

Is it not true that vast multitudes of Christians today serve the Lord either out of fear of hell or hope of heaven.  It is the absolute truth.  Anyone who dares to proclaim the beautiful truth of the restoration of all men to God and pins people right down to the word of God is immediately accused by the unthinking masses of teaching heresy, and is accused of teaching doctrines which give the sinner nothing to flee from, no reason for accepting salvation.  Such thoughtlessness!  These poor simple folks are merely admitting in this that they themselves have never yet had a revelation of the abounding love of God.  Nor do they know and worship God FOR HIMSELF, apart from all other considerations of either torment or bliss. Should the preachers one day call a news conference and announce to the world, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have just discovered that there is no hell,” I do not doubt for one moment that a great number of so-called believers would immediately tell God to “go to hell” and commence to live like the devil in the pleasures of sin.  Those who use hell as the incentive to bring men to God are but admitting their shame in upholding a false gospel which would attempt to scare men into the Kingdom of God.  It never has worked.   It never will.  Oh, it does indeed scare men into the “church,” but it does not bring men to truly know God.  Christ leads and draws through love.  Sometimes love disciplines and breaks, but it does not play games by “scaring” people into God!   Fear is not the instrument of God to bring men unto Himself.

Is there a hell?  Yes.  But hell is not what salvation is about.  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).  It is not written that “the wages of sin is hell.”  If the wages of sin is eternal torment in hell, then we must re-write the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  We must make the Bible say that, if that is what God meant.  We must go back to the very beginning and make the Bible say, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely SUFFER ETERNAL TORMENT IN HELL” (Gen. 2:16-17).   We must correct the word of God so that it says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall be eternally tormented in hell” (Eze. 18:4).  John 3:16 must be made to correctly read, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not be eternally tormented in hell, but spend eternity in heaven.”  If the wages of sin is the torments of the damned in hell, then Romans 5:12 must be made to say, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and torment in hell by sin; and so the torments of hell passed upon all men, for that all have sinned...”  You will have to tear the Bible all to pieces and re-write literally hundreds and thousands of passages if you say that the wages of sin is eternal torment in hell!

“The wages of sin is death.”  It is not written that the wages shall be death, but the passage we have before us, penned by divine inspiration, states plainly that “the wages of sin IS death.”  “She that liveth in pleasure,” the scriptures again says, “is dead while she liveth.”   “Dead in trespasses and in sins” is the way the apostle Paul expressed it.  Death takes in this whole dreadful realm of sin, weakness, fear, sorrow, pain, heartache, rebellion, strife, war, sickness, torment, sadness, and trouble in which men walk without the peace and joy and transforming power of God in their lives.  It is a sad and most horrible fact that there are millions and thousands of millions of people going about this earth who are the walking dead.   Dead to God!  Dead to virtue!  Dead to truth!   Dead to reality!   Dead to righteousness!  Dead to peace!  Dead to joy!  Dead to promise!  Dead to hope!  DEAD!  

Death is the wages of sin.  But the gift of God is the life of the ages.  Every man is on one side or the other; either he is now reaping his wages, or renouncing sin to receive God’s gift.  The gift is not heaven.  The gift of God is not streets of gold, gates of pearl, or walls of jasper.  The gift of God is not a cabin in the corner, or a mansion over the hill top.   You will have to re-write your Bible again if you say that heaven is the reward  of the righteous.  Is there a heaven?   Yes.  But heaven is not the issue in salvation.  The issue is life.  It was this very truth that Jesus was making clear to us when He said, “He that hath the Son hath life, but he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”  The issue in Eden was a matter of life and death; the issue in salvation and redemption is likewise a matter of life and death.  Heaven and hell are not the issue.  

Instead of preaching a false gospel to sinners, instead of holding up before them fancied horrors which they may escape, or a celestial Disney World which they may obtain, the true gospel tells them of LIFE MORE ABUNDANT, of the unsearchable riches of Christ, of the glory of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  Who wants to remain a faltering mortal, when one may be quickened and made alive in God to become the very same manner of being as the One who created the worlds?  Oh, that all men might learn God’s one and only everlasting Gospel, the Gospel of Life and Light and Love — and then preach it!  And BE it!  Love alone can draw all men to Calvary’s crimson fountain.  Only a Calvary love can transform a world gone mad, and revive a sleeping church obsessed with her deliriums into a thing of beauty and praise and usefulness.  And anyone who is lifting up to a lost and dying world anything or any one other than Jesus and His wonderful Love is simply living a wasted life and fulfilling a spurious ministry.  The Love of God must be lifted up IN US.  The sons of God are the sons of Love, for GOD IS LOVE!

What consolation and understanding is inspired by the blessed knowledge that in spite of all the bluster and might exhibited by the kingdom of darkness, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!  God is the King, and His power He rules over all.  But, dear one, if you will examine the basis of that Kingship, the Kingship of the Lord from the beginning of the world, you will find that it rests on God’s Creatorship.  He is Lord of the world and men and rules and overrules in all their doings because He is their Creator with divine plan and purpose for their destiny.  But God wants to be King in and by Jesus Christ — that is to say, He wants to be King   by virtue not of His power, but of His love.   He wants men to reverence and obey Him not because they are afraid of Him, not because they are out-witted and out-maneuvered by Him, not because they cannot help themselves, and even because He promises them a Glory World above, but because they love Him.  It is reconciliation, fellowship, union, participation, oneness with man that the heart of God is after.

Let us meditate deeply upon these words: “Our Father...Thy Kingdom come.”  Whose Kingdom is it?   Ah, it is “our Father’s” Kingdom.  Not the Kingdom of the Lord God of the Old Testament, not the Kingdom of Yahweh, but the Kingdom of our Father.  Of our Father it is written, “God is love.”  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...”  In other words, God so loved the world that HE BECAME A FATHER!  “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed up us, that we should be called the sons of God.”  “Who hath delivered us from the rule of darkness, and hath transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love.”  Oh, what words are these!  The Father’s Kingdom is a Kingdom of Love!  It is the Kingdom of a Paternal Love!  It is a Kingdom of Beloved Sons!  It is a Ruling Celestial Family!  Yahweh’s Kingdom was a Kingdom of power.  Yahweh was a God of war.  But God wants to be King not because He is Creator, not because He is Sovereign and can ruthlessly control everybody and every thing.  He wants to be King because He is FATHER.  He desires men to be obedient to Him, not because He has omnipotent power and can do anything He wants and have His way with men, but under the sweet constraint of love.  God has been King by His position as Creator since the world began; God was King in Israel by the omnipotence of His hand; but now He will become King by the position of Father.  It is for this Kingdom that sons are instructed to pray — for the event in which all men everywhere shall realize what God’s Fatherhood means, for the circumstances in which men’s hearts shall be so touched by God’s love to them in Jesus Christ, that out of the response of their own hearts they shall return from the far country to Father’s house and out of a pure and genuine affection will render Him a willing and glad obedience.

The message which beams from the cross of Christ like the blazing rays of the noon-day sun is one of SACRIFICIAL LOVE — REDEEMING LOVE.  The truth of love in Jesus Christ was that He loved without retaliation for evil, a love that suffered long, even to the agonies of the cross, and then was kind enough to pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  And I declare to you that regardless of what other sins those wicked men may come into judgment for, they will never stand in the judgment condemned for killing the Son of God, for HE AND HIS FATHER FORGAVE THEM!  This truth of the love of God in Jesus Christ must also be true in us, the younger sons of God.  Jesus did not love people because He loved Himself, as it was under the law.  It was the Father’s unconditional and all-surpassing love flowing through Him, surging as a mighty river our to humanity, overflowing redemptively, so that He could say, “Let your love for others not be based on love for yourself, but on what is true in Me: If the Father could love Judas through Me, and love Peter through Me, and the people that crucified Me, then let the Father’s love so find expression through you.”  

In years past we have sung a chorus that goes like this: “His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundaries known unto man; for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”  This is a lovely chorus and I love to sing it and I say it is true.  In Jesus Christ, there is NO LIMIT to His love, NO MEASURE TO HIS GRACE, and NO BOUNDARIES to His power, for He is  omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and His mercy endureth throughout all generations and ages.  If I say that there is one sin, one condition, one creature, one place, one age or group of ages unto which His love and His grace shall not reach then I LIE and know not the truth.  Jesus loved His friends, He loved His enemies, the man who betrayed Him, the man who denied Him, the mob that cried, “Crucify Him!” and the men who nailed Him to the cross.  There just was no limit to His love!  You could never find a place where you could say, “So far would He love, but no farther.”  Is that love true in us?  Or do we say, “Well, I will only stand so much, I will only forgive so long, I will only trust so far, and that is the end of it.”  It is God’s purpose that His love should find no limit in us, His grace no measure in us, and His power no boundary in us.  This is the first mark of sonship.

God is preparing a people who, when they stand up and say, “God is love,” are not talking about God’s love in heaven, or God’s love in Jesus; no, they will be expressing the love of God in their own person.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.”  Everyone likes a verse like that.  But how many would like a verse like this: “God still loves the world so much that He would like to give His sons, right now.”  We do not like that.   We like to be sons if God will keep us, if He will bless us, if He will take us to His bosom and not let us go.    But what does God do with His sons?  Why, He GIVES THEM!  He thrusts them out into all the sorrows, tragedies, troubles, sicknesses, pains, strife, hatred, rebellion and death of this world.  Jesus said, “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”  What did Jesus also say?  “This is my flesh, my B-O-D-Y, which I GIVE for the life of the world.”   If we are His body, then will He not give us for the life of the world?  “Oh,” someone says, “I do not like the kind of religion where I do not get something, sacrifice is asking too much.”  Well, my brother, my sister, that is how it starts, by receiving, but it must not end there.  We must come to the place where God can give us, where we can lie down and become a channel, a river — the River of Life poured out into humanity!

This truth might well be illustrated by the children’s story of the sun and the wind.  In the little make-believe story, the sun and the wind discussed which of them was the strongest.  The wind said that he could prove that he was the strongest by blowing the coat off of a man who walked on the road below.  So the sun slipped behind a cloud and Mr. Wind started blowing until the man thought a tornado had come up.  But the harder the wind blew, the tighter hold the man took on his coat.  Finally the wind saw that he could not blow the man’s coat off, so he gave up in defeat.  Then it was the sun’s turn to try.  The sun came out from behind the clouds and smiled kindly on the old man.  Presently the warm loving rays of the sun caused the man to pull off his coat.   The sun had proved that the power of love and kindness is stronger than fury and force!

Love never fails.  Sons don’t say, “I’ve had enough!”  Perhaps you’ve said it too.  Maybe you’re a parent and you’ve told your kids that you’ve “had enough.”   Perhaps you’re a teacher, and today was one of those days when you sent a student out of the classroom because you’d “had enough.”  Or perhaps your spouse has betrayed you once too often; you’ve “had enough” and this can’t go on.  Or perhaps one of your workers showed up late once too often, and you had to let him go.  Or perhaps your neighbor had another wild party late into the night, playing his loud music, disturbing your sleep, so you called the police or “gave him a piece of your mind.”  You’d “had enough” and couldn’t take it anymore.  Love, however, divine love, can never say, “I’ve had enough!”  If God had had enough, the United States of America wouldn’t be here today, and neither would you or I.  

“No man hath seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us” (I Jn. 4:12).  Where is God?  The question is as old as humanity.  And people’s answers range all the way from “God is everywhere and in everything” to “God is nowhere and in nothing.”  In fact, the question can be shortened and made even more significant: Is God?  The beloved apostle John gives us an “object lesson” to demonstrate the reality and the presence and power of God, saying, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.”  John is saying, “Do you want to know where God is?  Do you want to see God?  Do you want the whole wide world to see God so that they can know that He exists?  Then, with divine love, love each other and all men and the whole world will see and discover God in it.”  If we love with that wonderful, God-initiated, self-giving, unconditional love, people will say, “So that’s where God is!  So that’s how we know that God is!”  It’s an object lesson that makes God impossible to miss!  Creation will respond as the Roman soldier at the foot of the cross responded to the love of Jesus, “Truly these are the sons of God!”

Divine love does not only love the lovely, divine love does not only love the brethren, but every man.  Divine love suffers long not only with our loved ones, our wife or sweetheart, our parents and our children, but also with our offensive neighbors, our difficult associates, the stupid, hateful, slothful, disobedient, wayward, rebellious, unlovely, and our persecutors.  Love suffers long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy; is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.  Love is not conceited, arrogant, or inflated with pride; it is not rude, and does not act unbecomingly.   Love does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or complaining or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it — pays no attention to a suffered wrong.  It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.   Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it sweetly endures everything.  Love never fails — never fades out, becomes obsolete, never is destroyed by anything, and never comes to an end.  THIS IS THE POWER AND THE GLORY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

DO VIOLENCE TO NO MAN

“And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?  And he said unto them, Do violence to no man...” (Lk. 3:14).  Love will affect every attitude and action toward men on both the personal and corporate level.  I have no hesitation in telling you that I have been a “conscientious objector” to war all my life because from a small child I could never believe that the spirit of warfare with its hatred, killing, and violence is compatible with the love of God or the spirit of sonship.

Oh, yes, we have our excuses and a thousand reasons are given to go forth and kill and maim and destroy by warfare.  “The government requires me to do it,” we say.  That’s reminiscent of that other time-honored cop-out, “The devil made me do it!”  “I must defend my country and our liberties,” we explain, “we have an obligation to our families, our communities, and our nation to defend ourselves.”  So we wield the sword, fire machine guns, and bomb villages and cities into oblivion, blasting thousands, yea, millions of innocent men, women and children out of this world, and call on God to bless!  What strange beings we Christians are who profess to follow in the footsteps of Him who said, “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Lk. 9:56).  I tell you today that no son of God is sent into this world to destroy men’s lives, but every son of God is sent into the world of save them.  No son of God, no brother of Jesus, is sent into this world to destroy even one life, but to become a saviour for all men.

War is not a matter of one soldier against one soldier.  It is now a war of guns and bombs and germs and chemicals and land-mines against soldiers and mothers and children and babes.  Any way to intimidate the foe!  Scare and blast loved ones out of the fox holes into hell or heaven — that is the way to win.  We little realize the awful depths into which the spirit of warfare carries us.  As one wrote of a certain war: “I had to aim carefully at the straw roof and only succeeded at the third shot.  The wretches who were inside, seeing their roof burning, jumped out and ran off like mad...surrounded by a circle of fire about five thousand people came to a sticky end.   It was like hell, the smoke rose to incredible heights, and the flames reddened the setting sun.”  

War is still ruling our world and it is not spiritual; it is carnal, political, and devilish.  As ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven we pledge allegiance to a higher Kingdom than any of the kingdoms of this world.  We cannot fight carnal warfare because we are ambassadors for Christ.  An ambassador is a representative of another country or person and he is not subject to the political laws of the country where he abides.  The King whom we represent has commissioned us to “love our enemies,” to “bless and curse not,”  and “see that none render evil for evil to any man.”  We are to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering.”  “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.”  How directly opposed are these to the rules of war!  Under the Old Covenant Yahweh required that His people Israel should go to war and fight and kill, but that covenant has been done away and we are under the New Covenant whereby the law (nature) of God is written upon our hearts, and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through God.

Well has Philip Mauro written, “War is an instrument of the god of this world.  War stems from greed and political intrigue.  Preparing the soldier for war is a godless procedure.  Hate is drilled into him.  He is taught every trick there is to kill.  This must be so for war is a dirty business.  War differs from ordinary murders only in that it is on an enormous scale.  Every invention and contrivance that men can devise, every deception and stratagem to which they can resort, every cruelty and atrocity which they can perpetuate, are elements of warfare.  Hence  it is not merely a questionable proceeding — not merely a thing which it is perhaps better to avoid — war is the thing of all things that is farthest removed from the spirit and work of Christ.  It is the work of the devil to destroy.  War is the great all-inclusive, sum total of everything that is devilish.   When General Sherman tersely said, ‘War is hell,’ he uttered a truth.  Heaven is peace.  Hell is war.  Let us look  the ugly fact squarely in the face, that the man who enlists (or is drafted) commits himself in advance to the perpetration of every unnamable atrocity that war is held to justify.   He repudiates his individual responsibility to God and man, and pledges himself blindly, by an oath and under penalty of death, to obey the commands of his officers, whatever they may be and to whatever work they may send him.  If we then are to go forth and kill our fellowmen, whose lives shall we take?  Shall we slay the unsaved, to whom we owe the gospel of Christ?  If not those, then are we to slay our fellow saints to whom we owe our love and service?  War and the gospel are as far apart as the east is from the west, as far as hell is from heaven...”    — end quote.

If fighting and killing on carnal battlefields is right for the sons of God, then the Priesthood after the Order of Melchizedek, the priesthood of grace, mercy, love and salvation is wrong; if the gospel of love, even for our enemies, is right, then war is wrong.  Jesus showed us clearly that the life of sonship is completely independent of every earthly tradition, custom, and requirement.  The life of sonship belongs to the realm of the Kingdom of Heaven which we are to seek first of all.  Jesus came to preach the Kingdom.  That was His gospel.  That was His one and only purpose.  There lay His one and only allegiance.  All the things that were spoken in the sermon on the mount pertain to the Kingdom which we are entering.   Just as the law of Moses given at Sinai was the Constitution of the government and nation of Israel, so the sermon on the mount is the Constitution of the Kingdom of God.  All the blessed truths set forth in the sermon on the mount are to be fulfilled in us “that ye may be the sons of your Father which is in heaven” (Mat. 5:45).  These are the principles that govern the lives of God’s sons and all who live and walk in the Kingdom, just as surely as the law of Moses governed the dispensation of the law.  The Kingdom is the realm of sonship.  It is the realm of the will of God.  It is the realm of the nature of God.  It is the realm of the mind of Christ.

The principles of the Kingdom of God are set forth with divine clarity in the sermon on the mount, where the spirit of sonship is revealed.  While living here on earth, our Lord was extremely kind.  He picked up little children and blessed them.  He healed all who were suffering with pain.  While relatives were weeping over dead loved ones, he raised four of them to life again.  The Saviour of ALL men said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you;  go, and sin no more.”  His KINDNESS made an evangelist out of that immoral woman at Jacob’s well.   Because Jesus really loved the weak, helpless creatures whom He had created, He wept over them, prayed for them and taught them continually.  Can you imagine for one moment that Jesus, even if commanded by the government of Israel, would have taken up the sword and slain thousands of Romans to liberate His people from the cruel, pagan yoke of Rome?  Think of it!  Even when Peter cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, in defense of the Son of God, Jesus stooped and picked up the severed ear and healed it back on the man.   He then turned to Peter and reproachfully said,  “Put up thy sword into the sheath: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”  If you can believe for one moment that Jesus, drafted or not, would have gone out to slay men in defense of His country, then you may also justify the sons of God in this hour fighting and killing in defense of their homeland.  The issue is really just that simple.  “What would Jesus do?”

Except for those religious Pharisees, Jesus never spoke one cross word to the unconverted masses, Israelite, Roman, or otherwise.  He was very tender and kind in all His dealings with men.  His approach to them was very gentle, delicate, and considerate.   Surely, then, we are safer in His hands than anywhere else!  The things He has in store for every one of us are far greater than we could plan for ourselves.  He will do us only good, and never evil.  Does God expect His other sons to be different than His Firstborn?   Jesus has taught us, “But love your enemies, and do good...and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be THE SONS OF THE HIGHEST; for HE IS KIND UNTO THE UNTHANKFUL AND TO THE EVIL, BE YE THEREFORE MERCIFUL, AS YOUR FATHER also is merciful.”  In this instance Jesus plainly says that if we desire to be the SONS OF THE HIGHEST, we must be merciful as He is merciful.  THE HIGHEST IS MERCIFUL TO ALL.  

The question follows: Why should the Highest be merciful to the evil and the unthankful?  The answer is clear — that the evil one and the unthankful one may come to know the mercy and goodness of God!  They would never know that mercy in any other way.  If Jesus teaches us we are to be kind to those who mis-use us, reproach us, attack us, curse us, and make themselves our enemies, then what kind of a God and Father would He be, whose words Jesus taught us, who would HATE HIS ENEMIES and cast them into merciless eternal hell to burn forever?  If such a thing were to be, then God would require us to be better than Himself!  Jesus teaches us that we are to be merciful and kind, to bless and do good to all who are enemies.  Do we then have a Father whose nature is entirely opposite to ours?  Impossible!  The sons of God are sent, as was the Son, to reveal the nature of our Father to all.

If we see a God that loves only those that love Him, or who defends Himself, and attacks His enemies, banishing them to eternal damnation, torturing endlessly those that curse Him, meting out eternal vengeance upon those that hate Him, and shutting up all mercy from those who persecute Him, then we have a God who establishes His Kingdom in the same spirit, and along the same lines, and by the same methods as the kingdoms of this world.  But we are commanded to love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to those that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, and persecute us — THAT WE MAY BE THE SONS OF OUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN: for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust...BE YE THEREFORE PERFECT AS YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT (Mat. 5:38-48).

Sons of God are instructed to love their enemies and not to resist evil (Mat. 5:39).  In so doing they proclaim the nature and principles of the Kingdom of God which is the nature of unconditional redemptive love.  We are not to fight with our enemies, either personal or national — even if they attack us.  God is not preparing His sons to be warriors carrying carnal weapons to establish His Kingdom on earth.  The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God, for they are spiritual weapons of faith and power and love.   There is abundant historical evidence that the early Christians considered themselves citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, ambassadors of the spirit of Jesus, and as such refused to be conscripted into the military service of the Roman government.  They objected to war as carnal, political, and immoral.  

God is raising up in the earth a Kingdom of Priests — as SAVIOURS shall they come up on mount Zion!  It is impossible to love all men while hating some men.  And in the “war machine” of the nations it is impossible to go into battle with the “right frame of mind” unless your superiors have instilled in you a sense of outrage, anger, hostility, and hatred toward the enemy.  It is not possible to be in preparation to deliver creation from the bondage of corruption while going out in the world’s war machine to savagely blow men to bits for whom Christ died.  The irony of war is that there are in most cases soldiers who are Christians on both sides.  These men, saved, perhaps baptized in the Holy Spirit, members of the body of Christ, who are to love and care for one another, and esteem one another, as Christ does us; and who supposedly are endued with a divine and heavenly love for all men, march out on the battlefield of carnal warfare at the command of their worldly governments and unregenerated politicians — and BLOW ONE ANOTHER’S BRAINS OUT!  Brother shoots brother, and brother bombs brother — each sometimes in the name of Christ!  Ponder the fact.  In international wars over the past 2,000 years, professing Christians have killed professing Christians by the millions!  I do not hesitate to tell you that it is one of the most ridiculous contradictions in the world.

In that blessed day when the mountain of the house of the Lord is established  in the tops of the mountains it shall come to pass that “many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:1-4).  The spirit of that blessed day must first be perfected in those who are destined to rule with the Lamb from mount Zion; the swords and spears in our own hearts must be turned into acts of mercy and blessing to all men of all nations now.

When men come to mount Zion they turn their weapons of destruction into instruments of blessing for their neighbors.  The characteristic of the holy mountain is the Lamb — sacrificial, redeeming love.  The only sword carried by the Lamb is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Sons who stand with the Lamb on mount Zion have surrendered their right to be the aggressor, the destroyer with the sword.  These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.  These have the mind of the Lamb, the spirit of the Lamb, the nature of the Lamb.  They are rendered defenseless before their enemies, armed only with the power of redemptive love.  They can no longer fight any man or any nation with words or attitudes or actions of murderous rage, let alone with weapons that maim, kill and destroy.   They come under the rule of the spirit of the defenseless Lamb who is the Saviour of the world.  The sons of God belong to a spiritual Constitution.  Their foes are spiritual, for they wrestle not against flesh and blood.   Their armor is the armor of God and their sword is the sword of the Spirit.

I am reminded of the story of a missionary who was trying to explain Christian living to the chief of a primitive and warlike tribe.  The chief was very old, and he listened patiently.  “I do not understand,” the old man said at last.  “You tell me that I must not take my neighbor’s wife or his ivory or his oxen.”  “That’s right,” said the missionary.  “And I must not dance the war dance and then ambush my enemy on the trail and kill him.”  “Absolutely right,” replied the missionary.  “But I cannot do any of these things anymore,” the old chief said regretfully.  “I am too old.   To be old and to be Christian — they are the same thing!”  We may be amused at the old chief’s logic, but the solution is plain.  He did not do those things because he could not — we do not do them because we will not!

It is time to evaluate our Kingdom walk.  The ascended Christ stands at the doorway and bids us set our eyes toward the world above and listen for His voice.  We came from that higher world, we are sent as ambassadors of that higher world; let us seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.  Let us think, listen and watch for those things of the higher world.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  Do not fill your minds with the things of this dark and dying age.   Conspiracies, government actions, politics, foreign policy, taxation, terrorism, all are topics of great interest and fleshly appeal, but they are all related to the world of darkness and not that of the higher world of the Kingdom.  They are all earthly things that Barabbas would involve himself and others in.

I first learned this beautiful truth from a good and holy man, my natural father.  It was his earnest conviction that Jesus taught that a child of God and citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven is required by the Holy Spirit to walk out the principles of the Kingdom  in the totality of life.  He believed in what he termed “non-resistance” and saw the basis for this principle in the sermon of the mount and in the words of Paul: “Recompense to no man evil for evil.  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath...therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:17-21).

Under the law we have a right to harm someone who has harmed us.   It is fair and just to retaliate when someone attacks us.  The walking out of these Old Covenant principles range from sibling pinches to international war.  If someone takes advantage of me, I have the right to take advantage of them.  If someone files a lawsuit against me, I have the right to file a counter suit.  If someone swindles me in an agreement, I have the right to swindle him back.  In every case it is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  If a nation launches missiles against us, we have a right to send missles back.  “You have heard that all of this has been said,” Jesus declared, “BUT I SAY UNTO YOU!”  Ah, now we are on Kingdom territory!  And what is the higher law of the Kingdom that Jesus brought?  “Resist not evil...don’t retaliate...don’t sue anyone...if they take your car let them have your truck also...if they force you into a bad situation, fulfill what they require and more!”

My father lived by these principles.  On more than one occasion he was attacked by men who had sworn to kill him because of the gospel.  They came at him with bricks and two-by-fours and brute physical strength, and my father was a small man.   He fearlessly stood his ground and spoke only the words, “I love you!”  Their arms stopped in mid air and they dropped their weapons.  On one occasion the scene was less dramatic, but the Holy Ghost was on my mother.  As she spoke in tongues and turned the car around, my father was able to jump in and make his escape.  He would never resist evil, never retaliate, never manifest any fear, antagonism, anger or animosity.  And he was never injured!  God was powerfully with him at all times.

In the 1940’s my father joined himself to one of the Pentecostal denominations.  When he was being examined for ordination to the ministry in this denomination he told the brethren, “There is something I must let you know.  I am a conscientious objector.  I do not believe a Christian has any right in the spirit of Jesus to resist any evil or go to war to fight against any enemy of our country.”  He explained in detail his views on this matter.  The brethren said to him, “But, brother Eby, what if a thief or rapist entered your house at night with the intent to rob you,  or to molest your wife and children, or even to kill you — what would you — what would you do?”  He answered, “I would call on God and God would congeal him  in the doorway and he would be unable to do us any harm.  The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, they are mighty through God.”  “But,” the brethren pressed, “what if everyone believed as you do?  What if no one would join the armed forces to defend our country?  What if our enemies attacked us — what would we do?”   My father responded, “My dear brethren, if everyone in this country believed as I do, there would be so much of the power of God in this nation that our enemies would not be able to attack us!”  “Well, brother Eby,” the brethren said, “we don’t agree, but we do admire your faith.”  They ordained him.  My father was a small man, only five feet, one and a half inches tall, but he was a man of courage, fearlessness, conviction, and a man of faith and power with God.  He lived, breathed, and walked out what he perceived as true in God.    And it worked!  God was with him. He was an example of the power of the grace and love of God to overcome all evil with good.  That, precious friend of mine, is the power and glory of the Kingdom of God!

Lorain and I have two sons and one daughter.  We are blessed that all of them are walking with the Lord and with us in this Kingdom word.  I tell you today that we are willing to see any or all of them offered up for our Lord Jesus Christ.    We are willing to see them suffer privation, ill health, persecution, pain, or even death for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom, should the Father lead them in such paths.  Lorain and I have made great sacrifices (though we did not consider them as such!) through the years in order to fulfill the call of God in our lives.  And we are now willing with joy to have our children suffer that and even greater things in the walk of this Kingdom.  We would not hinder one of them from following the Lord to any of the far-flung mission fields of the world — even to give their lives there for the gospel.  We would be willing to see them die for Jesus — but we are NOT willing to see them die on any battlefield of any nation of this world.  We are not willing to see them carrying guns or driving tanks or flying bombers to take the lives of men for whom Christ died.  We are not willing to see them blowing to bits men to whom we have been called to bring the Kingdom of Life and Light and Love.  I am willing to see my sons and my daughter pay whatever price necessary to deliver creation from the bondage of sin, sorrow and death — but I am not willing to see them, at the whims of carnal politicians, blow men away into hell and judgment.   The sons of God must be preeminently the SONS OF LOVE.  You cannot love and maim and kill at the same time.  The very thought is an absurdity, a horrible blasphemy.  “For God so loved the world...”  And so will all who are called to sonship!  That is the power and the glory of the Kingdom of God!

 


Chapter 20

ENTERING THE KINGDOM

In an earlier article of this series I wrote concerning the difference between seeing and entering the Kingdom of God.  Permit me to rehearse those thoughts for a moment before proceeding further into the supernal glories that lie before us upon our entrance into the full inheritance that belongs to each and every son of God in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Kingdom of God means different things to different people, according to their understanding.  This is only natural, because of the many figures under which the idea was presented by Jesus, and also because people are at different stages in their progress along the way to the Kingdom, which means that they have attained different degrees of growth as children of God in the family of God.  What a familiar topic the new birth is!  How many thousands of sermons have been preached about it!  But how many have perceived the true purpose of the new birth?  Jesus said that one must be born again in order to “see” or “enter” the Kingdom of God.  The reality He presented was the Kingdom!  The purpose of the new birth is not to get us into the church or to some far-off heaven somewhere.  The purpose of the new birth is to enable us to enter the Kingdom.  I fear very few who fill the pews of the churches today have this conception of the new birth that thereby God has infused into us His very own divine life so that we may be able to partake of His Kingdom.

Here we find Jesus laying down the preliminary requirement for an understanding of the Kingdom, as well as entrance into the Kingdom.  When men come into the world, they are born outside of the Kingdom of God, and they cannot see into it.  They may go round and round it, and examine it from the outside, and pass an opinion on it.  But they are no judges.  They are not seeing what they are speaking about.  For that which is born of spirit is spirit, and that which is born of flesh is flesh; and flesh cannot see into the realm of spirit.  Fleshly men can only give an uninformed and unenlightened criticism about something spiritual that they can neither see nor understand.  Therefore the critical value of a natural man’s opinion on spiritual matters is nothing.  His opinion is simply ludicrous he is talking about a thing that he has never had experience with.  If I am to partake and participate in the Kingdom of God, then I need to possess a life other than the life I have by nature.  I must be born again into a higher realm.  I must receive the life of God, the life of the Kingdom, for not unless I possess His life can I begin to enter into and explore and experience the realities and powers of His Kingdom.

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3).  Everyone with spiritual understanding knows that the words “see” and “know” are identical in their spiritual meaning.  When I tell a friend something he did not see before, and I am trying to get him to see it, all at once there passes over his face the illumination that indicates understanding.  He says, “Preston, I see it.”  What does he mean?  He does not mean that he sees anything with the eye of flesh.  He means that he “understands” or “knows” it.  How many times a day do you say, “I see!”  So Jesus is telling us that apart from the new birth a man cannot understand, comprehend, or know the Kingdom of God.  It is better to know the Kingdom of God by the spirit than to see with physical eyes any “age” or “external government” that might be calledthe Kingdom of God.  Here is the mighty power of the New Creation: it sees what others cannot see!  It sees, amid the thousand things natural men see and are guided by, something infinitely greater and more real it SEES GOD.  No wonder it leads a man to think and act differently from other men.  On everything it looks at, the bright light of eternity is shining.  The depths it perceives are infinite.  The heights it beholds are immeasurable.  The truth it understands is without flaw or error and is eternal.

Seek to walk in the light of HIS countenance.  Seeing the INVISIBLE will make it easy to forsake this world and do the will of God!  The heavens are shut up from the natural man.  He cannot see eternal things.  He hears only the lower sounds of earth.  But you see beyond all this into the very heart of God, into the depths of His great plans and purposes, and the “whys” and “wherefores” of all things since the creation of the world and unto the consummation of all ages.  You see the Kingdom of God!  Far away in the depths of my spirit the perfumed breezes of the Kingdom of Heaven sweep over my being until my very soul weeps for joy and laughs for gladness.  I write to you today of a realm of reality that is wonderfully real, solid, awesome.  Jesus Christ intends for us to actually enter into the Kingdom of God here and now, and to begin exploring it in its height and depth and length and breadth.  “Get thee out of thy country...unto a land that I will show thee,” the Lord commanded Abraham.  Just as on any earthly adventure, we must be willing to be surprised.  And we will be, for “eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard,” what God has prepared for us.

To “enter into” the Kingdom is, as we should readily understand, more than to “see” it.  Moses stood on the heights of mount Nebo and saw the Promised Land, but he never got into it.  God kept him on the other side of Jordan, although he was the leader of God’s people, because of his disobedience.  In this realm of entering the Kingdom we discover the Kingdom realm as a gift.  “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:32).  God is a giving God.  Because He is love, He would have to be a giving God.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16).  “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” (Mat. 7:11).  “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).  To His footstep followers today the Lord says, “Fear not, little flock, who already has the gift of eternal life; fear not, little flock, who already has bountiful gifts from the hand of the Father; fear not, little flock, who already has possession of the gift of the Spirit of God.  It is now the Father’s good pleasure to give you more yet than you have.  It is the Father’s good pleasure to GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM!”

The Kingdom of God is not being offered here to the world.  It is not being promised to the natural man.  It is not being proffered to the religious people in the church systems.  Here it is being promised to the “little flock” who are already earnest and steadfast followers after all that God has.  “My sheep know my voice,” Jesus said, “and a stranger they will not follow.”  You are a sheep of His pasture if you are following hard after God, if you are following on to know the Lord; and it is to you that He gives the Kingdom.  The picture here is of the shepherd leading his flock out of the sheepfold down the dusty road until he suddenly comes to a gate.  The shepherd goes up to the gate, unlatches it, swings it open, and leads the entire flock into a lush green pasture.  The sheep enter and begin to graze and enjoy the fresh green field which has not been trampled down by the heavy feet of other flocks.  Jesus says, “It is my good pleasure to lead you down all the dusty roads of spiritual experience until I bring you to the secluded, reserved, select, appointed green field of God’s Kingdom.”

At this point the Kingdom of God is a gift.  The offer of the Kingdom is not predicated upon any self-effort or any good work or religious exercise.  You cannot buy it.  Nothing you have can be traded for it.  All the education, position, fame or fortune you can amass will not gain you admission.  The offer is made, the call goes out, but God will not force the flock into that Kingdom.  If this Kingdom is entered it must be entered by a heart desire that will make us seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.  The earnest, effectual desire of our hearts as followers of God’s Christ will bring us into this Kingdom that God is giving to His flock.  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray as John taught his disciples to pray, the very first petition that He taught them was, “Thy kingdom come!”  They were to ask the Father with a sincere desire and a deep and intense yearning in their heart to let the Kingdom be made available to His flock for entrance.  This characterizes the people who receive it.  Let not the careless and unconcerned think that they shall have any part in the Kingdom of God and of Christ.  Those to whom the Kingdom has no value will miss it just as did the Pharisees and scribes in Jesus’ day.  They rejected the Kingdom when it was offered, and it can still be rejected today.

Jesus plainly taught His disciples and the scribes and Pharisees that He had brought the Kingdom of God to them.  He spoke to them of its beauty and glory, of its principles and powers, of its ways and potentials.  But the Jews continued to reject it.  Therefore, Jesus told them that because they counted themselves unworthy of the Kingdom of God, God was going to take it from them, that is, they would not be permitted to enter into it, and God would give it to a nation, even a people, “worthy of it.”  He would give it to a company called His “little flock,” the body of Jesus Christ.  Jesus spoke many parables about the acceptance or rejection of the Kingdom of Heaven.  One such parable was about the man who went out into a field and began to plow.  Half way down the furrow it became very hard.  He gave up the task and returned home.  Jesus said, “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62).  If you are of the little flock you have put your hand to the plow.  You have already begun to plow a furrow for God straight towards the Kingdom.  Have you grown weary and looked back to decide that the carnal house of religion and religious systems is easier and more secure than the field of the Kingdom of God?  Has the pressing of your way into the Kingdom seemed so hard you have compromised with the imperfection of the church realm and rejected the Gift of God?

In my years of ministry I have had occasion to reflect upon this saying of our Lord.  Some people come to the hard work of pressing into the Kingdom only under painful duress.  Once the price of entrance becomes clear to them, they drop the plow and turn back to the beggarly elements of religion, joining themselves again to the programs and activities of a church system in a lesser realm.  They are not yet ready for the Kingdom.  They refuse to enter into the Kingdom.  In contrast are those who find themselves unable to leave the Kingdom walk.  They are drawn irresistibly to the transforming and creative process going on within them, and thoroughly understand that there is nothing in the church systems of man for them anymore.  Nothing could entice them not blessings, nor programs, nor fellowship, nor activities, nor personalities, nor needs, nor preachers to turn from their quest of the Kingdom.  THEY HAVE REACHED THE POINT OF NO RETURN.  No looking back!  The hook is in their jaw.  They can do nothing else, so help them God.

If we are the elect of God in this hour, there is a call within us, and deep calleth unto deep.  I tell you, my beloved, there is something within me, an inner compulsion, and I know that I have set my face as a flint and cannot turn to the right hand or the left from my journey into God’s fullness.  I can’t go back to the world the world has nothing to offer me; it is all vanity and vexation of spirit.  I can’t go back to religion religion holds nothing for me anymore; it is an abomination.  I can’t even go back to Pentecost, back to the Holy Place for the veil has been rent and I have tasted of the powers of the world to come.  There is no turning back because my heart has turned to the Lord.  As the apostle says, “When it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away...and we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord” (II Cor. 3:16-18).  For some in this hour the veil has been rent and we have found an entrance to behold the transcendent glories of that land that lies before us.  By the blood of Jesus we have been granted the opportunity to enter into the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes, when the pressures and processings come, when the dealings  of God are deep and heavy upon us, when the going is especially painful or difficult and saints complain of its demanding nature, I ask, “Could you stop this inward work if you wanted to?  Could you find an exit and escape the demands of His purposes in your life?”  The answer comes back, “No I have no choice but to fellow on to know the Lord.”  For these precious souls the glory and honor of the Kingdom of God is close at hand, and there is no longer any question of dropping the plow and turning back.

One more and more comes to know what it means to walk in the Kingdom as he follows on into deeper and deeper measures of God’s dealings and further separations unto His purposes.  As we become ONE WITH GOD the world does not understand what has happened; but they know that a separation has taken place between us and them that is more than bodily separation.  Although we are living and moving among them, and they see us at our earthly tasks and daily living, they realize that we have mounted up beyond them and their understanding.  In this connection a brother in Christ some time ago sent us these meaningful words: “Yes, this is an holy calling and it involves much separation, often from our friends, religious realms, and everything and everybody that would hinder the upward climb into the hill of the Lord, that we might stand in His holy place.  The flesh will cringe at the aloneness of the walk.  The mind will question as to why it must be so.  But the spirit within will continue to draw us onward without the camp, bearing His reproach, while we are loosed from so many hindrances and infirmities.  IT IS A DAY OF REVELATION and little did we know what things were hindering our spiritual progress until suddenly we found that God was stripping something from us, and though we wept at the time, and would have retained it if we could, nevertheless being yielded to the will of God, we relinquished our grasp, and found to our amazement that we received a new measure of freedom.  And how many things we hold so dear, but they are actually a weight upon us, rather than a help.”

Many times it is most grievous and perplexing to those who do not know the Lord, as well as to those Christians bound in the religious systems, who cannot understand the workings and separating processes of the Spirit of God, to have one who is near and dear to them in the flesh, separated from them in the Spirit.  Though the body with its personality is still in the home, office, or business, it is as though the loved one were not there.  In such cases, how often do they who are watching the lives of those who are entering hard into the Kingdom realm of God, entreat them that they will return; that they will again be unto them as they once were.  When an apprehended one has entered into this experience, he has counted all things but loss, and suffered the loss of all things, that he might WIN CHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM.  Truly, HIS DRAWING leaves us no choice but to FOLLOW ON that we might KNOW HIM in all His glorious and eternal reality!  “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Mat. 10:37-38)

As we follow on to enter into the righteousness, power and glory of the Kingdom of God, earth and friends and religious things fade away in the exceeding brightness of our vision of God’s great purpose in us.  Our eyes are fixed with a steadfast gaze upon Him who has gone before us, opening up the way into the fuller glory that lies BEYOND THE VEIL.  Those apprehended  to be conformed to the image of the Son of God and to share the glory and authority of His Kingdom, have been caught away in the Spirit and set in the ranks of the chariots of  the Lord, even among the company of the overcomers who shall come forth in the name of the Lord to rule and reign and conquer and bless until all things have been subjected unto God.  The purpose of the Church is to form the body of Christ; the purpose of the Kingdom is to restore all things, in heaven and in earth, to God.

I mentioned earlier that the purpose of the new birth is to give us the life of God which is the life of the Kingdom of Heaven.  As this life is perfected and raised up in us, the Kingdom of God is established within us by life and as life.  There are very special dealings of God within each of us in relation to the development of that life.  Our elder brother, Jesus, put it this way: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (Jn. 15:1-2).  Every branch that beareth fruit Hepurges it!  The purpose of purging, or pruning, is to effect a concentration of the life.  When all the branches of the vine are permitted to grow unrestricted there is a resulting debilitating or weakening of the life. It is like diluting a chemical the more water you add, the weaker it becomes.  The nourishment and vitality of the vine are sapped by all the multitudinous branches, shoots and tendrils, and utilized to keep them alive and bearing abundance of foliage rather than being channeled into producing fruit.  Thus, with the excess branches and shoots cut away, the life becomes more concentrated and stronger in those remaining, and the clusters of grapes become more rich and full.  In like manner it is necessary that our natural tendencies, actions and desires, with all carnal religious activities and exercises, must be cut away, that the virtues and powers of our Lord be wrought and manifested  in us.  When Jesus speaks of “bearing fruit” He is not talking about “winning souls”;  rather, He is speaking of the formation within our lives of the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.  All these are the underlying nature of the sons of God who reign in the Kingdom of Heaven!

It has been my experience that God not only prunes away the sins of the flesh and the emotions and tendencies of the soul, but a great deal of religiousness religious activities and those involved in them as well.  There was a time years ago when we made the circuit, speaking for the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship and various organizations and movements within the Pentecostal and Charismatic realms. Our desire was pure to share the present truth of sonship and the Kingdom of God to inspire and bless and challenge any and all possible to the deeper life of the Christ within.  Here and there we found an elect few who had ears to hear, but for the most part it became evident that we were “spinning our wheels.”  Then, one day it dawned on me!  Our word was not producing fruit in those places.  Oh, they were delighted to have brother Eby come by and share his testimony, even minister a revelatory word, and prophesy over some people, with the laying on of hands, momentarily satiating the intense craving in a few hearts for a richer diet of spiritual fare.  But after I left, nothing changed!  There was no fruit.  There was no heightened vision, no going on in God, no raising up of the Kingdom of Heaven within.  These merely took the word we ministered, diluted it with their own shallow church program, and used it to further their own kingdom on a lower plane.  Ah, they enjoyed drawing life from us so long as it didn’t require them to bear Kingdom fruit!  As long as our ministry could be used to increase their branches and put on many beautiful leaves the manifestation of life without fruit we were welcome in their midst.  But what they were doing was “sapping” the life out of us to enhance and embellish and strengthen their own babylonish system!  Suddenly  the voice of the Spirit thundered authoritatively in my ear, “Enough!”  And the celestial husbandman did a pruning work.  He pruned from my life a RELIGIOUS REALM that will draw life but will not bear fruit of that life.  God does, indeed, prune people from us!  “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He TAKETH AWAY: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”  The doom of the unfruitful is: They are TAKEN AWAY.  There are multitudes today who loudly profess to be in Christ who yet do not bear fruit of the Christ life.  Though they are branches of Christ, and His life in them produces abundance of foliage, God will cut off their life-supply that they may be seen to be dry ones.

Those called to this high calling, who shall rule and reign with Christ in His Kingdom in this great Day of the Lord, are being separated from all that binds them to a lower order, that they may enter into the fullness of His life.  Many people find it a lot easier to be one with the babylonish religious systems, where the crowds are, than to become separated to go out beyond, leading the way for others to follow.  How I rejoice that God is now calling a people sons of the Kingdom separated ones to a realm beyond the norm or religious activity, beyond the programs and promotions, beyond the sensationalism and hand-clapping, beyond the revivals and conventions and seminars, into the new and seemingly strange paths of  HIS LEADING.  The prunings are not easy, friends and loved ones and brethren do not readily understand, especially the preachers and organizations set upon holding you within their pews and coffers.  I do not doubt for one moment that many of these programs are being used of God on some level, in spite of the worldly methods and fleshly techniques, to touch many lives with salvation, healings, and blessings.  We are thankful to our heavenly Father  for His blessing on every plane where He chooses to work, but when the call comes to leave behind the outer court of salvation and the holy place of the baptism in the Spirit in order to ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD, those called to  be kings and priests unto God come aside to prepare for the glory soon to be revealed, to make ready for the next great move of God in the earth!

The message is clear there are things that others can do, but which you cannot do, when you begin to enter into the Kingdom.  Religion today has become big business.  It is one of the biggest and most lucrative businesses in the whole world.  More than one preacher, supposing that gain is godliness, has become a millionaire over the past few decades, not because he was anointed by God, but because he was a TERRIFIC PROMOTER.  Through clever speech and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive they have beguiled innocent people, pretending that they were the great power of God.  By craftiness they obtain the names of tens of thousands of the Lord’s precious people to whom they monthly send their high-pressure pleas for financial help to further grandiose programs which are not the plan of God at all, but merely the product of an imaginative, scheming, grasping and greedy mind.  Untold millions of dollars have been extracted from innocent, humble saints to build huge cathedrals, church buildings, office complexes, radio and television networks, outreaches, and missionary programs that are more of a curse than a blessing.  Some time ago David Wilkerson was asked, “What do you think about American religious broadcasting, especially Christian television?”  His reply: “They should shut it down.  Turn off all the cameras.  Release all these men from all the pressures we have put them under.  They should be stripped from their heroic robes, all of their glamour, and be taken outside from all the lights.  Then they should go back to the ‘mountain’ and be broken before God.  Let God bring them back, as He chooses, in a purified form. It’s all become flesh, absolute flesh...”  And though some will be offended by my words, I do believe that those who truly hunger and thirst to enter the Kingdom will hear, believe, and obey when I say that those who feed upon those polluted tables are no better than the preachers that spread the tables!  If you want to hear the voice of the King of kings in this hour, turn off the so-called Christian television, and fall upon your knees in holy brokenness before God until you receive a word directly out of the heavens.

We have passed through a time of great darkness.  But thank God, the first rays of light of a new day are painting the eastern sky!  Thank God, a few of His chosen ones have arisen to behold the glories of the dawn and to drink in the intoxicating freshness of the morn.  But the popular churches are still lost in dreams.  They have not awakened.  They know not of the dawn.  And the Word describes them and their shepherds in very uncomplimentary terms.  The heads of the churches are called “the drunkards of Ephraim” (Isa. 28:1-4).  Then in Isaiah 29:9-11 we are told, “they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.  For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your heads...hath He covered.  And all vision hath become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed.”  And when these drunken shepherds spread tables for their flocks, instead of those tables being loaded with good wholesome spiritual food, the prophet says, “ALL tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is NO PLACE CLEAN” (Isa. 28:8).

But we who are of the Day, who are not lovers of the drunkenness of religious teachings and promotions, nor sleepers of the night, have a higher heritage.  “We are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others” (I Thes. 5:5-6).  We who have received the love of the truth are heirs to a higher calling.  We have privileges, and we have duties to perform.  We must be about our Father’s business.  It is time to forsake the shame and error, and time to look up, time to arise and shine.  The day is at hand.  The night is far spent.  We must go forth and lead the way for all who will follow.  “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” (Isa. 52:1).  Because the church today has not received of God’s enlightenment, we find Christians in the pathetic state of darkness.  Because Christians today, whether baptized in God’s Spirit, or not, have stopped far short of God’s fullness, and are still spiritual babes, they, with few exceptions, do not discern the things that pertain to the Kingdom of God.  Their human minds comprehend the natural side of things, but  deep spiritual realities are veiled from their view.  They have not arisen above the mists of night.  But the Day which we have now entered calls for all who will to awake, and to go forth, beholding the more glorious scene of an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God.

Do you know that one reason God’s children do not hunger and thirst after righteousness and follow on to apprehend the Kingdom of God, is because they have not taken the steps that went before?  With the things of God, there is a progression just as there is in any school; and if we do not take the first steps, we shall not take the last steps.  Every lesson we skip or neglect, we shall have to go back and learn before we shall be able to go on; for every advance step is a foundation for the next advance step.  The reason that many of God’s children have never advanced into higher realms in the Spirit is because they have not taken the steps as they came to them.  They have not perfectly endured or appropriated that which God called them to pass through, in order that they might reach this place of perfection and glory and power in Him.  Some of God’s people try to leap into the full strength and dominion of the Kingdom in one grand leap; but if they have this experience granted them, it is only when they have taken the first steps of enlightenment, understanding,  cleansing, pruning, judgment,  obedience, and overcoming.  Ah, the way of entering the Kingdom is by steps!

There is a passage in Daniel 7:18 that says, “But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”  Here it says that we shall take the Kingdom, and sometimes we think this means that we are to take the Kingdom by exercising the authority; but before we can do that, the Kingdom must first be given to us, we must be able to enter into it, strong enough to possess it, and worthy to inherit it.  If we try to take it before the authority is given to us, we are usurpers, not inheritors, and are guilty of spiritual treason.  If I tell you that I intend to give you my car, but you come and take it before I give it to you, you are a thief.  If you worked for a large business concern and the president of the company mentioned that he had intentions of making you vice-president; if you took over the vice-presidency before he actually gave it to you, you would be a usurper and probably would be fired!  Although God has promised us the Kingdom, and is leading us into it step by step, we still do not have all the authority, power, or glory of the Kingdom.  Sometimes we try to exercise authority that we don’t have and it doesn’t work.  Some may be offended at me for saying this, but if you are honest, you will have to admit that it is so.  When we really have the authority, when it has been given to us, and we have laid hold upon it, it will work, not just sometimes, but all the time.  Either we have it or we don’t, and if we have it it will never fail.  May God in His great mercy forgive us if we are trying to usurp something we haven’t yet possessed.  I don’t want to be a usurper I want to be an inheritor!  My deepest desire is to be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God.

OBSTACLES TO ENTERING THE KINGDOM

A new movement can always benefit from having a few rich and famous converts.  So it must have been exciting when the rich young ruler approached Jesus to talk about his possible involvement in the Kingdom.  No doubt Judas already had his pledge envelopes out, and I can just hear Simon Peter exclaiming, “Wow, this guy is future board-member material!”  At the beginning of His ministry Jesus had said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal” (Mat. 6:19-20).  On another occasion He said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”  The record states that the disciples were astonished at His words.  But Jesus answered again, and said unto them, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:23-25).

Don’t misunderstand Jesus was not opposed to money.  His mind of omniscient wisdom understood the eternal truth that a person could hold on to wealth all the days of his life, but the only true and eternal treasures, which are in the Kingdom of Heaven, could only be obtained by doing the will of the Father in heaven.  The will of the Father is Kingdom business, and it yields Kingdom dividends in the realm of the spirit.  So be careful, Jesus warned.  Don’t get involved in the wrong treasure hunt.  He knew that people get obsessed with earthly things.  After a while little else matters to them, or, as Jesus put it, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  It is true that Jesus says merely that it is hard for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom hard, but not impossible!  Wealth tends to make a man self-sufficient and independent of God and arrogant and presumptuous towards others in that he learns that money will purchase him any special privilege he wants.  He becomes trapped in a mesh of values where everything has a cash-value attached to it.  “No man can serve two masters,” Jesus said, “you cannot serve God and mammon (money).”

It is so very difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom because the Kingdom of Heaven is THE REALM OF THE SPIRIT.  The Kingdom operates within the economy of spirit, not the methods and systems of the flesh.  To enter into the Kingdom a person must allow God to perfect the spiritual dimensions of his personality.  The perfecting of the spiritual life requires the utmost attention and the expenditure  of much time and energy.  The heart and the determination must be turned from the things and circumstances of earth and placed in heaven.  Material wealth, with its attending demands and responsibilities, also requires the utmost attention and expenditure of prime time and energy.  Therefore, either the spiritual life of the Kingdom must prevail and the pursuit  of material gain must yield, or else the pursuit of material things must prevail and the development of the spiritual life of the Kingdom must suffer.  NO man can serve both of these masters at the same time.  The wealthy person often finds most of his pleasures and  resources in the material realm.  To enter the Kingdom of Heaven is, for the rich, very, very difficult.  To make the seeking of the Kingdom the prime consideration of each day is virtually impossible.  That is why the Lord counseled the rich young ruler to sell his many possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and to “take up your cross and follow me.”

Just recently I came across this article.  Hear what it says. “In 1928, a group of the world’s most successful financiers met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.  The following were present: the president of the largest utility company; the greatest wheat speculator; the president of the New York Stock Exchange;  a member of the President’s Cabinet; the greatest ‘bear’ on Wall Street; the president of the Bank of International Settlements; and the head of the world’s greatest monopoly.  Collectively, these tycoons controlled more wealth than there was in the United States Treasury.  And for years, newspapers and magazines had been printing their stories, and urging the youth of the nation to follow their examples.  TWENTY-FIVE YEARS LATER, THIS IS WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO THESE MEN: The president of the largest independent steel company, Charles Schwab, lived on borrowed money the last five years of his life and died broke.  The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten, died abroad, insolvent.  The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, served a term in Sing Sing Prison.  The member of the President’s Cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from prison, so he could die at home.  The greatest ‘bear’ on Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, committed suicide.  The President of the Bank of International Settlements, Leon Fraser, committed suicide.  The head of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar Drueger, committed suicide.  All of these men had learned how to make money, but not one of them had learned how to live.”  And, may I add, not one of them had laid up even one copper cent of treasure in the heavenlies!

Our Lord’s only concern for the rich young ruler was that this ruler seek for those things that were truly valuable, the priceless treasures of the mind of Christ, the eternal wealth of the will of the Father, and the imperishable riches of the nature and power of God.  Still this disciple-candidate was unable to act on what he heard.  The Bible says he was sorrowful.  Think about that!  The dictionary defines sorrowful as, “full of sorrow, disappointment, regret, grief.”  Why was the young man sorrowful?  Ah, the record states, “For he had great possessions.”  By the spirit of wisdom and understanding from God we can see how undiscerning and unwise he was!

Yet, among the Lord’s people I have heard it said that if we really focus our energies on the Kingdom, we will become rich.  Or another way of saying it is that prosperity is a sign of God’s blessing.  The more affluent a brother or sister in Christ is, the more they must be seeking the Kingdom or applying the principles of the Kingdom.  The reasoning goes like this: God has promised that He will bless His children if they are faithful to Him and have faith.  Since kings live in extravagant palaces, sons of God have the right to live luxuriously to demonstrate that they are indeed the “King’s Kids” members of God’s Royal Court.  Children of a king should dress and eat in royal fashion.  They should have the best jobs, live in the finest homes, drive  the most expensive cars, and enjoy all the amenities of life.  Just follow Jesus, we are told, and we will be successful in almost everything.  Just walk in the Spirit and we will rise to the top of the ladder.  Have faith in God and we will win more beauty contests, hit more home runs, make more sales, and receive more awards!

My beloved brethren, does this not contradict the words of our Elder Brother and Forerunner that a rich man can hardly enter into the Kingdom of God?  Have these reprobates in the modern “prosperity message” never read the inspired admonition of our beloved brother Paul, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: FROM SUCH WITHDRAW THYSELF.  But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art called...” (I Tim. 6:3-12).

Oh, would to God that all who name the name of Christ would learn what it means when Jesus says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  As we move from “things” to seek the reality of Christ’s Kingdom we discover that our goal in life is not to make money or accumulate things.  If that is our goal, then we need to set our priorities straight.  You see, in the world within, that world which you are, that world where Christ dwells, that inner world where the Kingdom of God is found, there is no money and there are no things.  There is no need for money and there is no need for things.  The only need for money and things is in the world on the outside.  But if we go out and try to seek that which is on the outside, then we have left the Kingdom.  If we love the world, the love of the Kingdom is not in us.  The Kingdom of God is within you.  The world of the Kingdom is that inner world of the spirit.  There are two dimensions of “you” the outer you and the inner you.  Paul refers to these as the “outward man” and the “inward man”.  “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16).  The outward man is the visible, tangible and fleshly life of you.  The inward man is the invisible man of spirit.  The former is of earth, natural, carnal, and mortal; the latter is of heaven, divine, spiritual and immortal.  The former is the first Adam, the latter is the last Adam Christ.

Within that inward man is the power of all things.  The law of the Kingdom is that he who makes the Kingdom of God and the righteousness of God his first and chief concern will have all earthly necessities supplied in the overflow.  Care for God’s essentials, and God Himself will care for your incidentals.  First seek the bread of heaven, the water of life, the robe of righteousness, and the peace, joy and power of the Kingdom, and the Lord of the Kingdom will see to it that you shall not lack earthly bread, water, raiment, or any good thing.

All our choices in the outer world should serve to extend, express and demonstrate the reality of what we are in the inner world.  When we choose a job or any activity, we don’t choose on the basis of its value in the outer world, we choose that which will serve as an expression of the inner man.  That’s where peace is.  That’s where joy is.  That’s where righteousness is.  That’s where the power of God resides. That’s where the only fulfillment is.  Because that is where the Kingdom is, that’s where life is, that’s where reality is, that’s where the true riches are, that’s where heaven is!  So many people work on their jobs just to make money, to pay bills and put food on the table.  They don’t really like the job, and are miserable.  That is what the outer world calls “making a living”.  But making a living is more than making money, for all the men in that outer world are dying, and what they are actually doing is MAKING A DEATH!  Their emphasis is on laying up store for old age, making out the will, and seeing that the funeral is paid for. That is not life!  The Lord of the Kingdom has taught us the truth of the Kingdom in this sublime word of wisdom: “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15).  To make a living means, first and foremost, to LIVE!  It’s making what you are live!  It denotes quality of life, and the only life of quality is the inward man Christ.  You will know true joy, peace and power when your inward man lives through your outward man, your inner world is expressed and revealed through your outer world.  Matters not what you do outwardly, where you live, what your vocation is, what your responsibilities are when your inward life is dominant all outer things are affected, transformed, swallowed up.  As sons of God we are not victims of either money, things, or circumstances.  These are not able to take away our peace.  They are unable to rob us of our joy.  They cannot take our life.  The Christ within is our reality, our stability, our substance, our all.  And that is what we are seeking.  We are seeking incorruptible and immortal realities and powers.  We are seeking the Kingdom of God.  And that is why a rich man can hardly enter into the Kingdom!

While I have written of the perilous danger to those who pursue the wealth of this world, there is an abomination more dreadful than this right within the ministry of that which professes to be the Church. There is no shortage of men and women seeking gold and glory in the name of the Lord.  The land is overflowing with them, those seeking their own gain and each staking his own claim.  Within the past decade or so, two of the most famous international television pulpiteers have been exposed and their vast financial holdings have been publicized.  They had millions of dollars invested in their personal homes and property while they begged and pled for money from the widows and the poor.  They lived sumptuously while multitudes of those who supported their grandiose programs were living as paupers.  And things have not changed one whit.  Where are those who are true ministers of God and blessers of creation rather than those who gather money?  Where are those who are building God’s Kingdom rather than their own?  Where are those who truly feed the sheep?  Where are those who are not lifted up with pride?  Where are those who are not puffed up with their own importance?  Where are those who do not exalt themselves?  Where is the preacher who doesn’t seek to ingratiate himself to the one with the expensive clothes and the luxury automobile?

Where is the weeping before the altar?  Where are those who refrain from using the world’s methods to conduct God’s business?  Where are those who do not charge for the gospel, even if it is only a price on their tapes or books?  Where are those who do not have a ministry for sale?  Where are those who have not taken unto themselves the gold and the glory?  Where are those who are not displaying flesh in their man-made schemes and promotions?  Where are those of a broken and contrite spirit?  Where are those with the meekness and purity of the Lamb?  Where are those who have not brought the spirit of the world into their midst?  Where are those who do not put their picture on every page of their magazine and their name on everything they do?  Where is the beauty and glory of the message of the Kingdom of God without the Hollywood extravaganza and showmanship?  Where is the worship in the beauty of holiness, in spirit and in truth, rather than musical entertainment?  Where are those who approach God with reverence and godly fear and do not treat the sacred things as though they were part of a carnival?  Where are those who have laid hold of God?  Where are the humble?  Where are the pure in heart?  Where are those who are being conformed to the image of the Son?  Where are those who are putting on the mind of Christ?  Where are the prayer warriors and the intercessors?  Where are those who love and treat the poor, the elderly, the senile, the maimed, the feeble minded, the illiterate, the sick, the homeless,  the diseased, the widow and the orphan, and those in prison as their own flesh, yea, as the Lamb of God Himself? Where are those who proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom without the slightest motive of financial reward?  WHERE ARE GOD’S TRUE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE HOUR?  Of this you can be certain these will not be found within the halls of the harlot religious systems, nor will you see them on the Christian television networks.  You will find them only among God’s faithful remnant that has heard the Spirit’s call to come out of that great city Babylon and, forsaking all, have gone unto Him, without the Camp, bearing His reproach, separated unto Him alone.

No one can deny that religion today is BIG BUSINESS.  Some of the best known “born again” Hollywood personalities, should you inquire about engaging them to give their testimony at a meeting, will send their business manager over with a contract guaranteeing them several thousands of dollars for their forty-five minute appearance; and if there is no contract, there is no “ministry”.  This is not ministry it is BIG BUSINESS.  And the Judge standeth at the door.  The local Christian Bookstore has become quite a showcase for what is called “Christian bric-a-brac”.  They are crammed full of every imaginable trinket, plaque, statue, poster, and artifact that they can sell with a religious flavor.  Christian music albums now cost $8.00 to $12.00 apiece.  The country is swarming with those who call themselves Christian speakers, musicians, bands and singers who CHARGE an admission fee to their seminars and concerts.  Verily, I say unto you, the ticket prices are an abomination and a stench in the nostrils of a holy God and a spike in the hand of our dear Saviour who freely and sacrificially gave His all for us and to us.  There is no Biblical or scriptural foundation or precedent whatsoever for SELLING THE WORD OF GOD be it a Bible, a music album, a sermon, book, tape, trinket, concert, seminar or any other thing.  It was just such abominations that led the firstborn Son of God to enter the temple in Jerusalem and, weaving a whip of cords, violently drive the money changers and those who bought and sold sacrifices from His Father’s house.  Methinks it is TEMPLE-CLEANSING TIME AGAIN!

The only person who can enter the Kingdom realm of God is the one who elects to come on God’s terms and in God’s way.  The word of God reveals hindrances  to entrance into the Kingdom.  Another obstacle to entering into the Kingdom is the noxious weed of fleshly religion.  When Jesus spoke to the self-righteous Pharisees and the blind, mis-guided chief priests and elders of the Jews, He delivered to them this stinging rebuke.  “Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.  For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Mat. 21:31-32; 23:13).

The damning sin of the Pharisees was that they made godliness a law rather than a life.  “Moses said!” they thundered from their station high upon the craggy pinnacle of Sinai, and proceeded to lay upon the people the heavy burden of 613 commandments that must be meticulously kept according to the elaborate and extrapolated interpretations of the rabbis.  I must point out that self-righteous religion is as old as the garden of Eden.  In the mists of that heaven blest paradise, when the first woman and man stretched forth their inquisitive hands and furtively took of the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, the eyes of them both were mysteriously opened to discover their own nakedness.  To be naked means to have ones flesh exposed.  Only the knowledge of good and evil could have caused them to realize that their flesh was exposed, and that knowledge never came to them as long as they walked in life.  It was, in fact, a forbidden knowledge.  There were only two trees the tree of life and the tree of law theknowledge of good and evil.  God’s purpose for man is that he live in life, not after law.  The law came by Moses, but grace and truth (life) came by Jesus Christ.

By means of the law “the eyes of them both were opened,” but, alas! to what a sight!  When they departed from walking in life it was only to discover their own nakedness.  They opened their eyes upon their own condition, which was “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).  By the law is the knowledge of sin, the scripture teaches us.  Suddenly “they knew that they were naked” they knew that their flesh, their fleshly nature, was now revealed, bare and exposed sad fruit of the tree of knowledge.  No sooner does a man discover his nakedness than this knowledge gives rise to the impulse to make an effort to COVER the nakedness.  Thus, in the case of Adam and Eve, the discovery of their nakedness was immediately followed by an effort of their own to cover it “they sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons” (Gen. 3:7).

This is the first record we have of man’s attempt to remedy, by his own device, his condition, but this was not the single act of Adam in the Garden, it is truly the act of each of us, yes, OUR VERY OWN! The Spirit must make it very real to your heart, dear reader, that Adam’s effort to cover his nakedness was not a mere physical act, not even a moral act, it was a RELIGIOUS ACT.  Our spiritual understanding of what transpired in that Eden of long ago will afford us wonderful instruction as to the character of human RELIGIOUSNESS in all ages.  In the first place, we see, not only in Adam’s case, but in every case, that man’s effort to remedy his flesh nature is based upon the sense of his nakedness.  He is shocked and shamed by his own sense of nakedness, so that all the “works” that follow are the result of this consciousness.  This can never avail!  For just as it was GOD who clothed man with life before his disobedience, now it must be GOD who clothes the man in his state of nakedness.

And this, let every man know, is just the difference between the walk in the Spirit of God and human religiousness.  When you “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and “walk in the Spirit” you are wonderfully clothed thereby as you eat of the tree of His Life.  There was no sense of nakedness so long as they lived by the tree of life.  And though it is a great and deep mystery, what happened to Adam happens to us. What he was we have been.  His experience is our experience.  Ah, child of God, may the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God give enlightenment to your mind that you may comprehend of a truth that what happened to Adam in the Garden IS EVEN NOW HAPPENING TO EACH OF US.  Every man from Adam to this day has been naked his fleshly nature has been exposed  and, at some time, in some manner, has been busily engaged in weaving together his very own fig-leaf apron to try and cover his nakedness.  No one wants to appear as what he is, even though he is a thief, an adulterer, a murderer, a liar, or a religious hypocrite.  In an effort to appear other than he is he sews together very wide leaves of the fig tree, to gloss over his true condition; that is, he tries every device he can, including multiplied religious works, rules, regulations, dress codes, good deeds, and a thousand others, to gloss over his true condition.  Much fleshliness is still exposed, but the more gross manifestations are partially and temporarily concealed by his apron of fig-leaf works.  But all the garments a man may devise to hide his nakedness become mere “spider’s webs” when the blazing light of God’s presence and glory shines upon them. Fig-leaf righteousness is so shallow, limited to outward observances, religious exercises, ceremonies, rituals, appearances, works, regulations, do this, don’t do that, go here, don’t go there, eat this, don’t eat that, drink this, don’t drink that, which make a show of righteousness in the flesh but leave the nature unchanged, the mind untransformed,  and the will of the Father undone.

The miracle of what God has done through Jesus Christ ravishes my heart.  I am enthralled beyond measure that by faith He has clothed me with the robe of Christ’s righteousness.  The first thing God does is to strip away all the artificial, man-made coverings, and presents His own glorious covering, the slain Lamb.  “For Adam also and for his wife the Lord God made long coats (tunics) of skins, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21, Amplified).  We would be hard pressed to understand the deep mystery of these “skins” with which the Lord clothed the sorrowing pair were it not that the scripture informs us that at that precise point in history GOD SLEW A LAMB FOR OUR COVERING.  Christ, the Lamb of God, was “foreordained before the foundation (disruption) of the world” (I Pet. 1:20), and He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation (disruption) of the world” (Rev. 13:8).  And that Lamb is the atonement (Hebrew: covering) of God for us, typified by all the Old Testament atonement sacrifices, and He  is our only robe of righteousness.  Interesting that the Lamb was slain not merely for the sinning man and woman, and not only for the naked man and woman, but for the man and woman CLOTHED IN FIG LEAVES!  The “skins” of covering from the Lamb were given to replace the fig leaves of man’s self-effort, and not only was the man himself brought to the cross, but all his self-made religion of works as well!  Ah, yes, the cross shall deal not only with sin and nakedness, it shall deal as well with our fig-leaves!

How vain have been our strivings about externals and our insistence upon carnal technicalities that we in ignorance deemed so very important!  How often the spirit within me has been grieved as I have listened to brethren wasting their time contending over baptisms, communion, foot washing, meats and drinks, holy days, dress codes, long hair, short hair, women preachers, prayer veils, and petty doctrines of every kind, and when they were through with their pietistic wrangling, they had accomplished nothing but to prove that they knew everything about the dead letter of the Word and absolutely nothing about the mind of Christ or the life-giving Spirit!  Men do not need any external ordinances, ceremonies, rituals or regulations.  They need CHRIST AS LIFE!  It was not the gospel, but the Old Covenant “which stood in meats and drinks, and divers washings (baptisms), and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation (change).  But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands (not anything you can produce externally)...” (Heb. 9:10-11).

Fig leaves!  Fig leaves!  Fig leaves!  Cursed covering of man’s own devising!  And any man with eyes to see can see the flesh shining brazenly through it in spite of all the intricate design and superficial appearance of life.  Oh! how men try to conceal the corrupt flesh underneath, and indeed they may partially hide it from men, but the fig-leaf apron can never screen a man from the eye of God.  But, blessed be the name of the Lord, God has reserved to Himself a people who is completely different, a people who is wholly HIS, a people who dwells in the light which Christ Himself is, elect according to the foreknowledge of God, sanctified by His Spirit, obedient to their heavenly Father, and clothed in the GARMENTS OF LIFE, even the righteousness of God’s Lamb by the Spirit of resurrection from the dead.  There is no doubt in my mind that this is the people that shall be granted an ABUNDANT ENTRANCE into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

 


Chapter 21

POSSESSING THE KINGDOM

Canaan what volumes the name speaks to us!  Many are the songs written about Canaan Land, yet the masses of believers entertain the mistaken notion that Canaan is a type of heaven that bright glory world above with streets of gold, walls of jasper and gates of pearl.  This cannot be, because the great mark of Canaan was that the land had to be conquered and that God gave such glorious victories over enemies.  There is warfare in Canaan.  There are giants in Canaan.  There are hoards of enemies in Canaan.  The battles in Canaan make the experience in the wilderness look like a Sunday School picnic.  The possession of Canaan was for victory and through victory.  The children of Israel crossed the Red Sea to escape the enemy.  They crossed the Jordan to conquer the enemy!  Canaan speaks to us of the realm of the Kingdom of God.  If we are going to possess the Kingdom, we are going to have to fight for it.  The powers that are there will contest every foot of it; as soon as we start to possess our inheritance in God, we will come face to face with them, and we will find they are not easily defeated.  We are no threat to them until we begin our march to possess our inheritance.

Multitudes of Christians are settled upon their lees they are satisfied with knowing the joy of sins forgiven and hope to make heaven their home at last.  There is no desire in their hearts to attain to anything of value in the Kingdom of God or to any position of responsibility and usefulness.  It is said of Israel, “They despised the pleasant land” (Ps. 106:24).  Canaan was a land of fruitfulness, of heights and depths and beauty and glory and power, a type of the Kingdom of God; but some of the people thought it would cost them a great deal to possess it, and they would rather go without it.  I have read of certain Spaniards that lived where there was a great store of fish, but they were so lazy they would not exert themselves to catch them, but begged of their neighbors.  Such sinful sloth is upon the masses of Christians that fill the pews of the church systems in this hour, and though the Kingdom of Heaven be offered them, yet they will not yield to the leadings and dealings of the Holy Spirit to possess it.  They have only some faint wishes or desires.  “The soul of the sluggard wisheth, and hath nothing” (Prov. 13:4).  Men could be content to have the Kingdom of Heaven if it would drop as a ripe fig into their mouths, but they have no desire to pursue it, and their unsanctified hearts would abuse, misuse, prostitute and profane it were it given into their hands.  We cannot have the world without labor, or any success or position or rank or responsibility or recognition without applying ourselves, and do we think to have the Kingdom of Heaven without paying the price?

Paul shows us how God’s people under the Old Covenant, ransomed by grace, and set upon a course of divine privilege and opportunity, were called to win the prize of their calling, and missed it.  They were delivered out of the hand of their enemies by the blood of the Lamb.  They were visibly under God’s protecting wing, and led out of Egypt by a mighty hand.  They were set under the cloud of Yahweh’s presence. All were led out of Egypt by a door miraculously opened, and miraculously shut.  Pharaoh’s claims upon them were forever cut off by the Red Sea.  They had bread sent down from heaven as their daily supply. They had water given them by grace, out of the rock smitten by the rod of law and judgment.  The water, after once bursting out of the rock known of old as Jacob’s Pillar, continually followed Israel in their wanderings through the desert (I Cor. 10:4).

Israel then was led as one family by God’s appointed leader, and all were blessed alike and all promised alike.  Must they not, therefore, all alike receive God’s approval?  Far from it!  “But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness” (I Cor. 10:5).  The whole body of Israel received the same great privileges, and were set at the same starting line.  But did all win the goal?  Nay, they became “castaways,” or were disapproved of God.  God was not well pleased with Israel.  Their privileges did not so place them under grace, as to put them beyond responsibility, and the call to obedience.  The Lord displayed His disapproval of them, for they never gained the prize of their calling.  What was that calling?  An entry into the land that flowed with milk and honey!  The possession of all the riches, beauty, resources, expansiveness, fruitfulness and power of the land!  That was the object set before God’s rescued ones.  “I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3:8).  They were His people ransomed by blood, numbered by hundreds of thousands, and yet out of the delivered out of Egypt by grace only two entered the land of promise, when it became a question of their believing God, obeying God, and possessing their possession!  Among the number of the excluded were Moses the servant, and Aaron the saint of the Lord.  God was not “well pleased.”  The proof was visible enough; they never entered the good land.

When God told the children of Israel to go into the land of Canaan, He said, “I have given it to you.”  In a little while He added this striking admonition, “Go in to possess it.”  These were potential terms. In the divine and sovereign council of heaven God had already deeded the land to them, but they were not qualified yet to possess it.  The land was full of giants, and walled cities, and fierce armies, which required a struggle for its possession.  “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” our beloved brother Paul has told us.  The simple meaning of the word “tribulation” in the Greek is pressure.  Ray Prinzing has mentioned how we are pressured on every side, but as birth pangs it is pressing us into His Kingdom, pressing us out of self’s aspirations, pressing us into the plan and purpose of God.  Through intense pressure, great distress, much trouble and suffering, strenuous effort and fierce warfare we enter the Kingdom this realm of spiritual reality, fullness, glory and power.  The Kingdom is obtained through much pressure and steadfast discipline.

When Israel came to the end of their wilderness journey and arrived at the Jordan River, it was a time of new beginnings.  The old generation of disobedience and rebellion passed away in the wilderness.  And now a new generation camped at the Jordan, and was preparing to cross over into their promised land of Canaan.  It was the end of one era and the beginning of a new day for the nation.  Joshua would now lead the new generation of the people of Israel across the Jordan and conquer and possess and inherit the glorious land given to them by God.  Wonderful things were to take place when Israel set foot in their promised land. Although Israel would face great and strong enemies when they entered Canaan, the Lord promised that He would drive out all those enemies from before them.  He further said, “Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.  There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the Lord your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon” (Deut. 11:23-25).

The covenant of the old Land of Canaan is our example to prepare us to enter the new and greater “land” of the Kingdom of God on earth.  These words of Paul Mueller are so very significant for us all at this present time.  “The Psalmist said, ‘The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever’ (Ps. 37:29).  Not only shall the saints inherit the earth, but they shall inherit the land.  This land is a special place reserved for the elect.  It is the place that corresponds in type to Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, the place of David’s throne.  It is the glorious realm of spiritual Zion, the “land” that corresponds to the Holiest of all in the tabernacle or house of the Lord.  That place, or land, is a land of the incorruptible and immortal glory of the presence of the Lord.  From that “land” the saints shall rule and reign with Christ in incorruptible bodies, with incorruptible minds, the mind of Christ.

“O that the wonderful spirit of revelation would enlighten us to the grandeur of these promises of God!  The wisdom and understanding of the Spirit is being given to us.  We are growing up to know the hope of our calling, and to see the glories that are reserved for us in the realm of  Spirit.  Only as we are enlightened by the spirit of revelation can we possibly comprehend the marvelous truth of our inheritance in Christ.  When we fully understand that Christ is our inheritance, the things of earth will indeed grow dim.  The world and all things of it will lose its attraction, and we will run with patience the race that is set before us.  Our glorious, risen Christ has already set down the footprints, the steps, into the glory that is reserved for us.  He has pre-destined our walk unto His fullness.  He has set aside an inheritance for us that makes the things of this world look like the paltry dust and ashes that it is.  Compared to the splendor of the incorruptible and immortal Christ of glory, all else is corruption.  He has reserved Himself for us!  He has set aside the Holiest of all, the place of His greater presence, for the holy remnant who are now growing up into Him.  What an inheritance!  The steps to that glory are there.  Walk in the Spirit and the way will be made clear”    end quote.

Consider, precious saint of God, how vast and rich the land is!  The land is unsearchably great, unlimitedly rich.  The dimensions of the land are the length, the breadth, the height, and the depth of the Kingdom of God.  The land is all the riches and the glory of Christ Himself.  Many saints have no desire to attain experientially to the fullness of Christ Himself.  They are more interested in a mansion over the hilltop, or a cabin in the corner of glory-land, or some such foolishness.  The land is peace, joy, righteousness, incorruptible life, wisdom, knowledge, power, dominion and glory.  All this is ours as children of God, but only as we grow up into Christ and put on Christ do we become mature and arrive in the position to assume this responsibility of possessing our possessions.  We are talking about the full stature of Christ within ourselves, not gold bath tubs in heaven.  By a mature understanding and a divine faith we see the way to enter the land and take possession of all the riches and glory of full sonship to God.

Why have we not, then, fully possessed our land?  The thing that kept Israel out of their land was a heart of unbelief.  “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Heb. 4:1-2; 3:19).  You remember how those that spied out the land of Canaan brought back an evil report.  On the one hand they said that the land was exceptionally good, but on the other hand they said that it was impossible to enter.  The people were giants, they said, and the cities fortified and great.  They asserted that Israel could never conquer the land, and if they tried they would be utterly defeated and devoured.

Ah, how often that wily devil of unbelief speaks the very same things within us!  He says, “Don’t talk about overcoming every enemy.  Don’t talk about walking in the nature of God.  Don’t talk about coming to perfection nobody can be perfect in this world.  Don’t talk about conquering death everybody dies until the rapture.  Don’t talk about being manifested sons of God it is enough to join a good church, pay our tithes and be faithful Christians.  Don’t talk about becoming exactly like Christ nobody can measure up to Him.  Don’t talk about putting on the mind of Christ.  Don’t talk about ruling and reigning with Christ it might go to your head.  Don’t talk about being kings and priests after the Order of Melchizedek that is too high for you.  All of these things are good and wonderful.  But it is absolutely impossible for you to possess them.”

I do not doubt that even while some have been reading this message that devil of unbelief has whispered such things in your ear!  “You cannot possess the land, you cannot attain to the high calling of sonship, you will never stand among the manifested sons of God because you are weak, you are now old and feeble; you can’t preach or teach the Word; you are beset by physical ailments and disease, silly of you to think of overcoming sin and death; you have already failed so many times to please your heavenly Father; God never answers your prayers, anyhow; you have no church or fellowship, no one to encourage and strengthen you; you have too many problems and hang-ups; you are young and inexperienced, others have walked in this truth for years; your own home is out of order, you are bedeviled by a carnal, opposing spouse and unruly, rebellious children; don’t ever think you can enter the good land of the Kingdom it is far beyond your ability.  You can never make it!”  The little devil of unbelief lurking within the carnal mind in each of us is just waiting for the opportunity to inject his deadly venom and deliver to us the evil report — “You are not able to go up and possess your inheritance!”  Never believe him!

“The inhabitants are giants,” he will tell you. “and the cities have walls that chariots run upon.  You will be defeated and you know it.  You will go by way of the grave at last.  You will miss the unveiling of the Kingdom glory in the earth, you will not be a member of God’s overcoming, conquering army.”  All this is an evil heart of unbelief.  It is a heart occupied by the evil one; so it is called an evil heart.  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, saith the Lord!  We must ask the Lord to deliver us from the evil heart.  We must take our stand with Joshua and Caleb and proclaim by the faith of the Son of God within us that WE ARE ABLE TO GO UP AND TAKE THE LAND!  We must have faith in the power of His resurrection within ourselves.  The mighty power of God within us is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think, above all that we dream or imagine.  God will do the work as we follow on in patience,  faith and obedience, even as He did for Israel of old.  “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”  That is the confession of the heart of faith born of God.  The Lord has promised it, but we must possess it.  He has given it, but we must experience it.  It is our portion, but we must take it.  The fullness of the Kingdom is not presently our possession, but HE will cause us to take it, HE will enable us to possess it.  Our heavenly Joshua,  Christ Himself in us, is taking the lead in His army; He will go before us; He will fight the battle for us.  All we need is such a vision.  Joshua received such a vision, and thereby the faith and assurance that God was with him.  And armed only with that faith, trust, and obedience he possessed the land!

The generation in the wilderness consented to the spying out of the land no doubt they really enjoyed the grapes and the figs and the pomegranates the spies brought back but they refused to enter in and possess the land.  It is all right, this same unbelieving generation tells us today, to be baptized in the Spirit, speak in tongues, heal the sick, prophesy, be slain in the Spirit and do some miracles these things are all right.  They relish the firstfruits of the Spirit that the spies bring back, the little sample of the richness of the land, but they do not want to hear about Christ appearing in glory in the saints, or the manifestation of the sons of God.  And as for people conquering death and by-passing the grave that is definitely not for God’s people today.  True, God has it for us, it is part of our inheritance, but we dare not try to lay hold upon it today.  That will take place, automatically, at the “rapture”, or in the first resurrection “at the last day” not now.  We cannot possess the land the walls are too high, the giants too tall, and the people too strong.  The armies of the enemies have iron chariots.  How utterly ridiculous to suppose that we can overcome such obstacles!

 Oh yes, you can be filled with the Spirit, teach a Sunday School class, move in the gifts, get into prosperity but you cannot be conformed to the image of the Son,  defeat Satan, conquer sin and death, and ascend the throne of God to rule and reign with Christ over the nations and all things.  You can sneak in and seize a cluster or two of grapes from the valley of Eschol, but it is positively absurd to try and take the whole valley of Eschol!  You can get some healing for your body, you can receive an occasional word of wisdom or knowledge, you can get deliverance from habits and demons, and overcome everyday weaknesses and sins but you cannot have the mind of Christ replace the carnal mind, you cannot be perfect, you cannot put on the nature and character of God until you are sinless, you cannot put on incorruption and immortality, you cannot be caught away in the Spirit as were Philip and Elijah, you cannot rule and reign in the Kingdom, you cannot be a manifested son of God today.  We don’t mind tasting the grapes of Eschol, but DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT MARCHING IN TO CONQUER THE WHOLE LAND!

It should be obvious to any thinking person that this is the mind-set of just about all Christians today and the teaching of all the preachers and churches.  Of course, many churches don’t even want their people to taste the firstfruits!  The whole issue revolves around this question: Are we going to settle for the “earnest” of our inheritance, the “down payment” of the Spirit, or, are we going to arise from the dust and rocks of this great and terrible wilderness and follow our Joshua across the Jordan to lay hold upon, and enter into, and possess fully, ALL THE GLORIOUS INHERITANCE OF THE LAND GOD HAS GIVEN US?  Together we can praise God that there is arising a new generation that has heard the trumpet call.  Moses the servant of God is dead, the old-order ministry is passing away, and a people is gathering in preparation to follow their heavenly Joshua into the fullness of the glory and power of the Kingdom of God.  And there shall be a glorious victory!  For God has promised the land is ours if only we can hear His voice and obey.  There are only two real enemies fear and unbelief.  But God has promised, “Be strong and of a good courage...I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee...”

THE VIOLENT TAKE IT BY FORCE

When our blessed Lord came teaching the Kingdom of God throughout the province of Galilee, He made it abundantly clear that possessing the Kingdom is not an easy thing.  It is not so difficult to see the Kingdom, as Moses saw the promised land from the heights of mount Nebo, but to possess the Kingdom takes a definite effort.  Jesus spoke of this when He told the Pharisees, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Lk. 16:16).  It is doubtful if any of those who heard these words had the remotest idea of the effort involved in possessing the Kingdom.  Let me put it this way.  It takes an added effort after you have already put forth an effort!  Like a sprinting race, it is that final thrust at the end where the contender puts forth all of his complete energy.  He will press forth with all the strength he can muster to win the race.  In like manner it takes running, pressing, and even violence in one’s effort to take the Kingdom.

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mat. 11:12).  Some say that this is a negative statement, that Jesus is not talking about the necessity of taking the Kingdom by violent effort, but that in the hour when the Kingdom was announced many carnal people sought by the violence of carnal effort to seize the Kingdom for their own ends.  These words of Jesus in Matthew are, however, a sequel to the words written by Luke.  Matthew says that since the days of John the Baptist, the Kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force.  Luke says that since John the Baptist the Kingdom is preached, and men press into it.  Each of the Gospel writers expresses in his own words the thought given  by Jesus.  The backdrop to this is the conquest of the land of Canaan, the Old Testament type of our possessing our inheritance in Christ.  No one can dispute that when Israel went in to possess their inheritance that the land of Canaan suffered violence.  Ah, yes! they pressed their way into the land and violently took it by force.  That is the picture the Holy Spirit has drawn of what it means to take the Kingdom!

These words suffers, violence, violent and force are all related words with much the same meaning.  They picture vital energy and activity used in forcing or crowding oneself into something.  To interpret these words of Jesus one needs to know the location of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Violence can only happen where an adversary is located.  Surely, up in God’s eternal heaven, there is no violence, as Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”  Today we know that the Kingdom of God is within you (Lk. 17:20-21).  Can we not see by this that the Kingdom of Heaven can suffer violence only within the life of the believer where both the Spirit of God and the spirit of the adversary function, where the spirit and the flesh indeed war with one another, where the mind of Christ and the carnal mind both exert themselves to control.  I am sure that Jesus is not referring here to armies or physical violence.  The violence He is talking about is violence that is done to SELF the fleshly nature, the carnal mind, the human will which wars against the life of God and prevents one from entering into the Kingdom.  Sometimes we must be violent in our own land, with our self, with obstacles within and without, in order to possess the promised Kingdom.

Never forget, beloved, that it is possible to enter and possess the Kingdom of God while we live upon this earth right now.  To possess the Kingdom within ourselves is going to take a mighty effort.  The spirit of this world, the spirit of your own natural mind, resists you.  The Greek word that is used for “presseth into it” is a strong word.  It is the word that is used for storming a city and forcing an entry.  It could be translated, “Everyone forces his way into it.”  One writer, commenting on this verse, said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is not for the well-meaning but for the desperate.”  In a violent sense we must fight our way through every adversary and possess the land of Christ within our world.  In this way we take the Kingdom of God by force violently.  Possessing the Kingdom is no Sunday School picnic.  It means resistance, opposition, contention, struggle, confrontation, engagement,  assault, attack, conflict, fighting, battle WARFARE!  I can assure you, precious friend of mine, no one ever drifted into the Kingdom, no one everstumbled into the Kingdom, and no one ever possessed the Kingdom by accident or unawares.  To possess the Kingdom is something that demands effort and which takes everything of mind and heart and spirit that a man can muster.  To possess the Kingdom requires a victory and a triumph and a conquest.  We must struggle and battle our way in, just as the Allies did in Europe in the second World War.  All this is very difficult, and the natural thing to say is that we can never do that by ourselves.  Nor can we!  But the King who leads the battle is right within us to enable us to do the things which by ourselves we could never have done.

Another possible rendering of the Greek in this passage would denote not so much “to force an entrance” as into a besieged city, but to “seize hold of” and carry off as plunder.  It suggests the picture of a prize just coming within reach, which the bolder spirits immediately capture, without waiting for a signal.  This would make the passage read: “The law and the prophets were until John; since then, the Kingdom of Heaven is taken forcibly, and the violent drag it towards them.”  The thought here is that the coming of John the Baptist marked the beginning of a new era.  In former times the Kingdom had been merely prophesied and foreshadowed; now it had come so near that men could hasten their possession of it by a strong and mighty effort.  They were no longer to wait passively for the Kingdom (God will bring it in His time), but hasten it by their own faith and action.  Its powers were already manifesting themselves in the mighty works of the firstborn Son of God, and the nature of its new righteousness was powerfully proclaimed by Jesus.  The great Day had drawn so near that a strong and united faith might break down the remaining barriers.  Men might “take the Kingdom by force” might “drag it towards them,” and see its full realization in their day!

Jesus believed that the Kingdom could be apprehended by any who had the vision and the faith.  To that end the work which He laid on His disciples was not that of passive waiting, but that of activelyseeking the Kingdom.  By hungering and thirsting after it, by lifting their hearts to it with earnest desire and invincible faith, they were to hasten the day of its coming forth.  The blessed firstborn Son of God Himself became the example and prototype of an all-conquering faith, revealing by His nature and His mighty works, by His authority and dominion over all things, by His death and triumphant  resurrection, the accessibility of the Kingdom to every son of God.  He taught men to cry out to God, “THY KINGDOM COME!  THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN!”  And this is the message for those who have received the call to sonship in this significant hour at the end of the age. We are now in the days when decisions are being made and portentous events are in the offering. Some people are making conscious decisions by proclaiming, “I will follow the Kingdom and I will pursue it like a dog pursues a fox.”  When a hound chases a fox, he never gives up.  He may lose sight of the fox, but he still has its scent. Even though we may not have the Kingdom in sight, we will not give up either because we know by faith that the Kingdom will come to pass in a people that presses violently into it but, blessed be God, we have the scent and we will follow on!

The marginal reading of one Old Version is even stronger “the Kingdom of Heaven is gotten by force and they that thrust men.”  You cannot win a good place in God’s Kingdom without a fight.  I tell you I shall employ FORCE to possess the Kingdom.  It will not be the force of bullets.  It will not be the force of guns.  It will not be the force of numbers.  It will not be the force of personality.  It will not be the force of organization and promotion.  I ask God to give me the mightiest force of all the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost.  Holy ones are looking down upon us and they are saying, “Rise up, and take the Kingdom!”  A great cloud of witnesses from all the centuries and all the ages is looking down upon us from the battlements of that unseen realm of spirit as the final battles of God’s sons are fought for the possession of the Kingdom territory of God.  The last contest for the dominion of this earth is heating up.  The supremacy of God’s Kingdom over every other kingdom and power is now to be asserted, without earthly weapons of war, but with the spiritual weapons of prayer, faith and the power of God.

By the army of God the claims of the Kingdom of God are to be enforced; for all that is within us, and all the world, must bow to the supremacy of God’s Christ and the will of the Father in heaven.  The weapons of the Spirit are infinitely more potent than all the guns that ever were fired, than all the battles that ever were fought, than all the bloody fields that ever were won; for the Holy Spirit’s conquests are made without any of the weapons of men.  They are made by a power greater than these.  The Kingdom of God is gotten by violence by taking sin, sickness, sorrow, pain and death by the throat, and saying, “You shall not rule this earth!  Nor shall you rule this earth that I am!  I am the Lord’s!  The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof!”  That is the only way the Kingdom of Heaven will ever be won by violence, by those who know how to thrust men with the sword of the Spirit, a two-edged sword that is sharper than steel.

The kind of faith God is looking for in His sons is tenacious faith the faith that embraces the promise and will not let it go.  That is how Jacob became Israel “I will not let you go until you bless me.”  This is a warfare.  The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.  I have never received anything from God beyond mere merciful blessings that came easy.  It has taken asking, seeking, knocking, and pressing violently through until the victory is secured.  Babies can’t get violent.  But even they can cry until you act!  Children aren’t sent out to war.  The immature do not possess the Kingdom.  The spiritually lazy do not become sons of God.  Salvation is free.  The  baptism in the Holy Spirit, with all of His gifts, is free.  And that is where all the children of God stop. But nothing beyond that is free.  Everything else in God costs.  And the Kingdom of God will cost everything you have.

In order to gain this Kingdom we must aim high.  There is an interesting passage of scripture in Judges 3:31.  “And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.”  One brother, in commenting on this verse, said, “Not failure, but low aim is the crime!  This has been the opinion of all the people who have greatly influenced this world, but it has not been the opinion of those who have not.  Is it yours?  It was certainly the opinion of Shamgar.”

It is probable that many who read these lines have never heard of Shamgar.  Except for the one verse quoted above, there is no other mention of him in the whole Bible, but that one single verse speaks volumes!  Shamgar was a most remarkable man, and a type of all those who refuse to be hindered from possessing the Kingdom.  Shamgar must be understood in the light of his time.  In those days the Philistines had conquered Israel and were oppressing them ruthlessly.  They had disarmed the entire population of Israel, systematically confiscating all the swords and weapons of war and removed them from the land of Israel.  Then to make sure that Israel did not organize any resistance to their tyranny, they also deported all the blacksmiths so that not only did they not have weapons, but they lacked the skill and ability to produce them.  The people were despondent and felt absolutely hopeless  in the face of their oppression.  They had lost faith in themselves, but had also lost faith in Yahweh.  The situation, indeed, seemed beyond remedy!  What could they do?  The Philistines were a strong and numerous people with powerful weapons of war and a well trained army.

Enter a man named Shamgar.  Shamgar was not a king, nor a general, nor a sergeant.  He was not even a private.  There is no record of him ever having been in the army or having any military training or experience.  Shamgar was a farmer, a very good farmer, no doubt, but only a farmer.  He broke a yoke of oxen and used these oxen to plow his fields.  At  that time this required great boldness and tenacity because when crops were planted, and after much investment and toil, the harvest finally arrived then the Philistines would sweep down and carry away the crops.  The whole land lay in desolation, the roads were overgrown with grass and weeds, the villages were ghost towns, because the people were hiding in the walled cities where they had at least a modicum of safety.  The land was helpless before the Philistines.

Shamgar was not satisfied to accept this state of affairs and so he went out, plowed his fields with his oxen, and planted his crops.  When harvest time arrived six hundred Philistines armed with flashing swords swept down upon this one farmer.  The only weapon at Shamgar’s disposal was an ox goad.  An ox goad was usually made from the limb of an oak tree.  It would be from eight to ten feet long with the bark stripped off and a sharp iron point affixed to the tip.  It was used to jab the ox when he tried to get out of the furrow.  On the other end of the goad was a flattened piece of metal that was sharpened for the purpose of scraping the dirt off the plow as it collected.  Not a very sophisticated weapon of war!  But it was all Shamgar had in addition to his fierce determination, his seething resolve, and his violent passion.  This situation would not stand!  One thing Shamgar was efficient in the use of an ox goad.  In the hands of a man who had handled one from his youth, it could become quite lethal.  So when these six hundred Philistines swept down upon Shamgar, he decided that he had had enough; and that he was going to do something about it.

Excuses would have come easy.  There was only one farmer with an ox goad and there were six hundred soldiers with gleaming swords.  What could any man do without a sword?  There was no way to resist such a formidable foe.  The best thing to do would be to hide and just let them have the crops.  But that kind of reasoning was not to be found in Shamgar’s heart.  Shamgar had a deep and profound faith in God.  He also had a compassionate concern for his people, and for his own dignity as an Israelite and a child of God.  Armed with this resolve, he determined to take a stand at whatever the cost.  He stood in his field and as the Philistines came upon him, he grabbed that ox goad and began to swing it!  There must have been some astonished Philistines.  And the battle that ensued became the battle of all battles in the annals of military history.   There were sculls cracking all over the place.  That mighty oak limb with its iron tip on one end and its flat iron on the other was whirling like the propellers of a helicopter.  They must have thought that they had come upon a hornet’s nest because they were getting it from all sides.  No one could even get close enough to Shamgar to thrust him with a sword!  They were jabbed and cut and pounded on.  When the dust settled there were six hundred dead Philistines scattered through the fields.   Then there is that remarkable little phrase that says it all: “He also delivered Israel.”  What a warrior Shamgar was!  What a mighty man of God!  His popularity soared so high that the people made him a Judge.  He was the third  Judge that delivered and ruled the people of Israel.

From this farmer in ancient Israel there rings through the centuries and millenniums a message for each of God’s elect in this vital hour at the end of the age.  The first lesson has to do with the crime of low aim.  Most Christians never really try to accomplish anything significant in the Kingdom of God because they never really set any high goals.  They are satisfied to set their goals low or to set no goals at all and then they generally hit them very accurately.  It does not take too much aim to hit the target when there is no target.  The target of most Christians is to die and go to heaven.  That is not a hard one to miss!  It takes no vision, revelation, purpose or violence to die and go to heaven!  That has nothing whatever to do with the Kingdom.  Being filled with all the fullness of God, conformed to the image of the Son, putting on the mind of Christ, laying hold upon manifested sonship, overcoming death, delivering creation from the bondage of corruption, and bringing in the Kingdom ah, those are goals that challenge!  Those are goals that have the power to change the world and alter the course of history.  Kingdom goals!  If you have no Kingdom goals in your life you will never possess the Kingdom.  Jesus never preached about dying and going to heaven.  He said, “Seek ye first THE KINGDOM OF GOD!”  It pains me to say it, but I am certain that many in this hour intellectualize the wonderful truths of sonship and the Kingdom of God, but their hearts are not set on those goals; they have another set of goals that are unnamed, undefined, but very real which control their affections and thus, their lives.

One of the tragedies of life is that many people live their whole lives without ever finding out what they were here for.  If they had only known what they were supposed to do they might have done it.  But like the faithless Israelites of old, they just wander in the wilderness for forty years.  They wander through thirty, sixty, eighty years of life never really knowing where they came from or where they are going. They never see what the purpose of God is in their lives.  They have no sense of divine destiny.  Like the animals, they eke out a meager existence in their little insignificant and meaningless world of earthly things and carnal pursuits.  They never breathe the rarefied air of the heavenlies, or catch a glimpse of the heights of Zion, or taste the powers of the Kingdom of God.  It reminds me of a baseball player wandering around inning after inning, and after the ninth inning, finally finding out what the game was all about.  If he had only known!  That is the way with the church world today.  They don’t know what the game is all about!  They have no idea whatever of what is really going on.  But those who have heard the sounding of the trumpet, and received the call to sonship and the Kingdom, are expecting great and mighty things from God!  And wonderful and glorious things are happening in their lives in God’s today!

Shamgar had a goal.  Shamgar had a vision.  Shamgar had a hope.  Shamgar had a purpose.  Shamgar was stirred to radical action, to violent movement.  Shamgar’s goal was to get free from bondage and to free his people from bondage.  It was a high and noble and lofty goal.  It was not just an idea in his mind.  It was not just an intellectual belief or a theological position.  I suppose that every Israelite in Israel secretly nursed the same goal.  But Shamgar set his affections upon that goal.  Shamgar sought first that goal.  It became a burning passion in his heart.    Shamgar found the wisdom of God as to how to attain that goal.  In spite of all the obstacles and limitations, he trusted God that somehow He would use him to bring that goal to pass.  He was going to take a stand and he was going to do it now.  He would press his way in, and take the victory by force.  He would act violently.  And he did it!  He delivered himself and his people, and they made him a Judge in Israel.  He was just a lowly farmer, and all alone, but they elevated him to the head of the nation.  This man who had never done anything but goad an ox became the leader of God’s nation on earth.  Why?  Because he would not take “No” for an answer!  And by the grace of God he did it! Advancement is from above.  And God blessed him.

These words of brother Paul Mueller are so very pertinent here.  “The great issue now before the sons of God has to do with our entrance into the Kingdom of God.  This is not a question of our salvation, but of our approach to the throne realm of God’s Kingdom where we will eventually rule and reign with Him, making all the blessings and benefits of His dominion available to others.  We believe that it is of paramount importance for all sons of God to be vitally concerned with our entrance into that Kingdom realm, thereby making our calling and election sure.  Jesus spoke to the people and admonished them: ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able’ (Lk. 13:24).  Since the Lord has revealed the value and importance of entering into His rest, the word strive has not been in our vocabulary.  However, when searching the true meaning from the original, we find this word comes from a Greek word meaning to struggle.  Strong’s Concordance gives three examples of this word: (1) to compete for a prize,  (2)  to contend with an adversary,  (3)  to endeavor to accomplish something.  With this understanding, we can better comprehend its use and application in our lives.  The root word from the original Greek is AGON and indicates a place of assembly where a contest is being held.  Therefore, we might picture ourselves as sons of God struggling to compete for a prize, contending with our adversary, and endeavoring to accomplish something within the great arena of the universe where we are being observed  by the whole creation.  Because we are aware that all creation is anxiously awaiting that attainment unto full sonship, and that their full release and deliverance depends upon the manifestation thereof, we will strive in the Spirit, not after the flesh, that we might attain to that prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus    end quote.

This striving, this pressing, this violence, means that the myths that spiritual warfare is gentlemanly, that you enter and possess and inherit the land essentially unscathed, that it costs relatively little,  that all you have to do is believe and confess, that violent men no longer need to take the Kingdom by force these myths must forever end.  The hour is late, the day of unveiling is at hand.  Only an unreserved commitment, only an indestructible faith, only a radical thrust will birth this manchild of the ages and herald the dawn of that blessed age when the glory of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea, and all peoples and all nations shall come and walk in the light of the Lord, and there shall be no more curse anywhere forever.  Sons of God let us arise with courage and boldness and give ourselves to the task!

 


Chapter 22

INHERITING THE KINGDOM

“In whom we also have obtained AN INHERITANCE, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11).

Having read these words from our beloved brother Paul, three questions only concern us.  What is this inheritance?  To whom does it belong?  How do we obtain it?  In order to answer the first of these questions, we are naturally concerned whether the inheritance is worth possessing.  If we should be promised an inheritance of a million dollars, I am sure there are few of us who would not become considerably excited.  Our interest would be stirred.  Our hope would be aroused.  If there were conditions laid down which must be fulfilled before we could inherit, we would look carefully at those conditions.  We would not risk the loss of our inheritance through indifference or willful disobedience.

Stop to think what a million dollars could do for you if you had it!  It could do much, but there is just as much, and more, that it could not do.  The power of money to do good and to give happiness is strictly limited.  To mention just a few things that it cannot do: It cannot give you an untroubled conscience or peace of mind.  If you are sick it can buy you the best medical care, but it cannot guarantee to make or keep you well.  Does it give security?  After a fashion, yes; yet, those who have it anxiously wonder how long they can keep it, or they may blow it all in just a few months.  A thousand hands are outstretched to grab it, by fair means or foul.  The ways in which it may be lost or destroyed are too numerous to mention.  Nor can it stave off death or prolong life.  Its enjoyment is limited strictly to this present world, which is passing away, and it is the matter of only a few years.  Such is every human inheritance.  We do not despise it for its limited present value.  We would simply look at it dispassionately in its true light, in order that we might appreciate the more the words of the hymn writer,

We Christians should ever consider
What Christ hath so gloriously taught;
For He who hath made us His children
Would have us retain in our though
How little things earthly do merit,
Lest we who the Kingdom inherit,
The heavenly prize leave unsought.

“Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints in the Light.  The Father has delivered us and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:12-13, Amplified).  This beautiful passage sets forth the great truth that as saints God is preparing us to receive that which the Spirit identifies as “the INHERITANCE of the saints.”  What is the inheritance which is ours as children of God?  Do you really know?  Of course most Christians have always heard that the grand purpose of our salvation is that we might escape hell and make heaven our home when we die.  And most believers have simply accepted this concept without question.  But have you ever stopped to prove it for yourself?  Did you ever look into the promises of God to see whether it really does say that “heaven” is the inheritance of the saints?   

We have surely read these inspired words of instruction: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Pet. 1:3-5).  Let me draw your earnest attention to seven wonderful truths revealed in these words of the apostle.  (1) We have been, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, begotten again unto a living hope.  (2) This living hope is the hope of an inheritance.  (3) This inheritance is incorruptible.  (4) This incorruptible inheritance is reserved in heaven the invisible realm of the Spirit for us.  (5) Until we fully receive our inheritance we are kept by the power of God unto the inheritance preserved so that we can appropriate it.  (6) The inheritance is salvation full and complete.  (7) This full salvation is ready for us already prepared for us and appointed to us and shall be revealed in the last time.

Blind to the true nature of our inheritance and the plan by which God is bringing His elect into it, many of the Lord’s people make ignorant and unscriptural statements regarding it.  For instance, speaking of a departed saint who has passed from this life, they say, “He has gone to his reward.”  Where does the Bible say such a thing?  Nothing could be father from the truth!  It is not death that qualifies one to receive his inheritance, but rather, the raising up of one’s entire being INTO THE RESURRECTION LIFE OF CHRIST.  The hope is a living, quickening hope.  It is secured for us by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. This living hope has been given to us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  And “heaven” is NOT the inheritance.  The inheritance is merely “reserved” in heaven for us.  That is, it is reserved, laid up, retained, earmarked, allocated and proportioned in the realm of the Spirit for us.  It is available and accessible in the Spirit.  It is there for us.  Let us say that you have $50,000.00 and all of it is in a checking account at First National Bank.  The money is all yours but it is kept, held, reserved, retained, earmarked, allocated and proportioned for you in the bank until you write a check on it.  The check is a claim on the account and by that claim you gain what is “reserved in the bank” for you.  You don’t have to live in the bank or even go to the bank in order to spend the money.  And you don’t have to go to some far-off heaven somewhere in order to receive or live out of  your inheritance in the Kingdom of God.  Faith is our claim upon the inheritance “reserved in heaven the realm of the Spirit” for us!  It is not paid at ourdeath, for it is Jesus who died to give it to us, but is paid upon our claim.

Furthermore, the inheritance  is reserved for us, ready to be revealed, that is, paid, “in the last time.”  Make no mistake about it the “last time” is not a date on the calendar!  That is where so many “end-time” teachers go wrong.  They think the last time is a date, so they are always trying to figure out the date, setting dates for the coming of the Lord, the beginning of the great tribulation, the dawn of the millennium, or the manifestation of the sons of God.  I do not doubt for one moment that our present age is rapidly drawing to a close, perhaps the new age has already dawned, but that is not the issue here.  The Kingdom of God is not an age.  The Day of the Lord is not an age.  The last time is not a date on the calendar.  The last time relates to the people of God entering into and possessing their inheritance!  The last time is the finish, the completion, the consummation of our experience in God.  It is when we have grown up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  It is when we have fully put on the mind of Christ.  It is when we have gone on to perfection.  It is when we have attained unto a perfect man.  It is when we have been filled with all the fullness of God.  It is when Christ has been raised up within us in all the glory and fullness of Himself.  It is when we have spiritually developed into a mature faith, hope, and love.  It is the third day, the third feast, and the illumination, life, and authority of the Most Holy Place.  It is a time, not on the clock, but in the development of Christ in us.  It is not the end of the age that brings the manifestation of the sons of God it is the manifestation of the sons of God that brings the end of the age. Therefore let us take heart as saints of God, for growth in Christ is far more accessible to each of us than the unknown dawning of a chronological age!  The truth and fullness of the wonder of it all only begins to dawn upon our ransomed souls when the spirit of revelation shines with penetrating power upon the eyes of our understanding enabling us to see into the magnificent working of the divine and heavenly scheme.

HEIRS OF GOD

An heirship always implies an inheritance.  If we are made heirs of God, we become partakers in the inheritance left us at the death of the Testator.  It comes with the divine sonship, and is ours because our Lord died.  In the epistle to the Hebrews, we read of the method whereby the inheritance of the Lord was secured for us.  “How much more (than animal sacrifices) shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this cause He (Jesus) is the mediator of the new testament (covenant, will), that by means of (His) death...they which are called might receive the promise of eternal INHERITANCE” (Heb. 9:14-15).

Notice how the writer tells us that through His death, Christ became the mediator of the New Covenant.  And those who are called into this new covenant relationship as sons of God, are given the promise of eternal inheritance.  The writer goes on to say, “For where a testament (will) is, there must of necessity be the death of the testator (the one who made the will)” (Heb. 9:16).  Nothing is more certain than this! A will is worth nothing until the person who  made the will has died.  This is how our eternal inheritance has come to us.  The Lord Jesus loved us and He died!  Now our inheritance has been made sure.  Thank God, that there might be no question about our inheritance, that none could rob us of it, that we might be assured of receiving it, Christ arose from the dead to become the executor of His own estate!  I have read accounts where an executor squandered an estate and the heirs were cheated out of their rightful inheritance.  This cannot possibly happen to the sons of God for Jesus Christ ever liveth to make sure the inheritance goes to the RIGHTFUL HEIRS.

But there is a truth deeper and more wonderful than this.  As the ocean includes the seas, the bays, the straits, which, though known by separate names, are parts of its majestic and all-embracing fullness, so is there a dimension of HIS INHERITANCE that encompasses all that is ours in Christ.  In the law of the Old Testament priesthood, “the Lord spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them.  I AM THY PART, and THINE INHERITANCE, among the children of Israel” (Num. 18:20).  It was a very satisfactory arrangement for the pious priest.  He could not own any land  in Israel.  But he could well dispense with the oliveyards and vineyards, the cornfields and homesteads of Canaan, if he might have GOD HIMSELF as the strength of his heart, the source of his supply, and his portion forever.  And the Psalmist eagerly caught at the thought, gladly surrendering all portion in this life, if only he might be “satisfied” with God (Ps. 17:15).  “The LORD is the portion of MINE INHERITANCE and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot.  Yea, I have a goodly heritage” (Ps. 17:5-6).

Ah, our inheritance is God Himself!  That is the inheritance of the kings and priests of the Kingdom of God.  Not golden harps.  Not golden streets.  Not walls of jasper or pearly gates.  Not a cabin in the corner or a mansion over the hilltop.  Not wings and a white nightgown with which to flit about over the Elysium hills of glory.  There is something deeper, more inward and rapturous the possession of God. HEIRS OF G-O-D!   Not merely heirs of the things of God, but heirs of God Himself.  Oh, the mystery of it!  Oh, the wonder of it!  Heirs of all the communicable glories of the divine nature and power.  To know Him, to explore His being, to live on His fullness, to discover new tracts and continents in the “terra incognita” of Godhead, to see His glory, to be changed into His image, to receive His authority and power, to be filled with His wisdom and knowledge this is “the heritage of the servants of the Lord.”  Glory to God!

 Beloved, you and I have been given an inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He has left us a title deed to His very own wisdom, righteousness, nature, glory and power.  Of course, Jesus lived in absolute poverty while on this earth; He owned no land, no vast estate, no great herds of cattle, no store of gold or precious stones, no account in the bank.  But He willed to us riches greater than the diamond mines of South Africa, greater than the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, greater than the gross national product of the United States.  Jesus gave us an inheritance that makes us far richer than a Rockefeller, Bill Gates,  or any Middle Eastern oil sheik.  It is the inheritance of all the riches of His very own life and glory!  Once you understand the value of this inheritance you will count everything else in your life and in this world as mere rubbish.  You will seek after it with all your mind, strength and heart, and be a glad and willing heir to His legacy.  The most important thing we can seek God for in this life is the value of our inheritance in Christ and it’s waiting to be claimed!

INHERITING THE KINGDOM

We are learning what it means to be a son of God, realizing God’s great plan and purposes involved.  One of the most important rights of sonship is that of inheritance.  Heirship depends entirely upon our relationship with God.  When we were born again, born of God, we became children of God and consequently heirs of the Almighty Father.  This is an aspect of the great and wonderful purpose of God in redemption.  Inheritance is also concerned with law and nationality one inherits in the country of his parentage and according to the laws of that land.  Jesus explained to Nicodemus that in order to enter the Kingdom of God human beings have to be born again of the Spirit.  The Kingdom of God is the realm or land of our inheritance, and that great land is entered into by birth.  It is there in the land of the Kingdom of God that we are able to see, enter, possess and inherit Christ as our All-in-all.

Having been separated and set apart for the Father’s work in His Kingdom, we are then given our inheritance, which is the Kingdom of God.  That is the condition of the will the full inheritance is given only upon our reaching maturity.  Upon reaching spiritual maturity the Kingdom of God is our rightful inheritance.  Then the Lord says unto us, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mat. 25:34).  When Father set forth His plans and purposes in the beginning, He determined to give His Kingdom to His sons when the time was ripe for it.  According to the Amplified Bible, we are to receive the Kingdom of God as our own!  And that is exactly what it means to “inherit” the Kingdom!  After we have learned  all the lessons of our walk in Christ, after we have endured our share of the sufferings of Christ, we are then fully qualified to receive our rightful inheritance in the Kingdom of God.  We shall then have no worldly or personal kingdoms of man.  We shall own no other kingdom but the Kingdom of God, which becomes our very own.

How little does the wailing infant, over whose cradle hangs the photograph of his father’s vast estate, understand of the inheritance to which he has been born!  The old homestead, the far-spread lands, the immense business enterprises, the enormous investments, the accumulated wealth, the prestige of fame and prosperity and power all these things are his; but years must pass ere they can be truly realized or appreciated.  And how little do most earnest and zealous and saintly children of God conceive of that inheritance which is ours so soon as we become the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.  As a matter of right all God’s nature and power and glory and wisdom and dominion is ours the moment we are born into His family; as a vast tract of land, filled with woods and rivers and oil wells, belongs to the heir at the moment of birth.  But, as a matter of fact, we shall never occupy all until we have grown up into the maturity of Christ.  His gifts are for His children, but His inheritance is reserved for His full-grown sons.  We are urged, therefore, by the apostle Paul, to press forward from the gift-realm into the inheritance-realm!  “Therefore it is said...He bestowed gifts on men.  His intention was the perfecting and full equipping of the saints, that they should do the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body, that it might develop until we all attain...at really mature manhood the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ, and the completeness found in Him” (Eph. 4:8,12-13).  Together we can praise God that He has brought us tothat day!

Here is a scene with which we are all familiar.  The car is humming along the road.  Suddenly there’s a sputter, a fruitless pumping of the gas pedal and then a full halt.  You’re out of gas!  Hundreds of thousands of motorists have that experience each year, and I must confess that it has happened to me a few times, too.  The problem is not technological.  The basic problem is usually human error either a failure to plan ahead or heedless attention to an obviously depleted gas level.  That failure to plan ahead is common.  Although the motorist is aware of the distance to be traveled and of the gas performance of his car, he sets out without adequate fuel.  Closed gas stations or long distances of remote highway on which there are no service stations  spell trouble.  Simple preparation would have averted the dilemma, but after some inconvenience the destination will likely be reached.  The Kingdom of God is another journey that might not end up where we would like it to.  Unfortunately many Christians are content to drift aimlessly with no thought of whether they are prepared for the journey of journeys.  Often they are prepared for the wrong journey, and therefore miss the Kingdom.  They are getting ready to fly away to heaven instead of preparing to inherit the Kingdom of God!

There are four classes of people in relation to the Kingdom of God today.  There are those who see the Kingdom.  Then there are those who enter the Kingdom.  After that there are some who press in topossess the Kingdom.  And finally there is a people that inherits the Kingdom.  It is one thing to see the Kingdom, but quite another thing to inherit the Kingdom.  To see the Kingdom is vision.  To enter the Kingdom is exploration.  To possess the Kingdom is appropriation.  And to inherit the Kingdom is to fully and permanently utilize and exercise all of its riches, abundance, position, responsibilities and powers.

Those who inherit the Kingdom are the ones who sit with Jesus upon His throne and rule with Him; those who only enter the Kingdom enjoy its blessings and benefits and they serve Him, not reign with Him.  They are citizens and subjects of the Kingdom, not kings and priests.  Those who enter the Kingdom will be a great multitude, as John the Revelator saw them... “After this (the sealing of the 144,000) I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.  Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth upon the throne shall dwell among them.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Rev. 7:9-10,15-17).

It should not be difficult to understand that those who sit with Christ in His throne occupy an altogether different position than those who merely enter the Kingdom and serve Him before the throne.  “To him that overcometh shall I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).  “Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).  Those who inherit the Kingdom and reign with Christ upon His throne are a select and chosen people, especially prepared for this position, a small number in comparison with the “great multitude” serving Him before His throne.  The requirements for those who inherit the Kingdom are much higher than for the ones merely entering the Kingdom and partaking of its wondrous blessings and bounteous benefits.

 Some who read these lines are familiar with the visions of Annie of Argentina.  In one of her visions she recounts, “While I was with Him in the wonder and glory of His invisible world, He showed me His own entering into the possession which He gives them.  He explained that there were two distinct times of tremendous importance in which there could be an entering into one’s possession.  Now, before the storm or later, after the storm.  Those who entered their possession before the storm became His elect ones, with a far superior place and development.  In them the perfect will of God was brought  forth.  Occupying a place very near to Him, they became the instruments of God in His workings.  Those who entered their possession after the storm were perfected upon a definitely inferior plane.”  I believe the “storm” represents God’s dealings in judgment.  Those who now gladly submit to all of Father’s dealings and chastisements upon His sons become qualified to occupy a place of intimacy with Him and share His glorious throne.  Those who, though His children, must be dealt with in judgment in order to bring His will into their lives, occupy a lesser place in His Kingdom, a place of serving rather than reigning.

The Kingdom of God is something we inherit.  Jesus Christ of Nazareth has already inherited the Kingdom of His Father and now sits upon His Father’s throne.  And, like a multibillionaire Father, He has written His will, designating each one of us as potential inheritors of His vast, unlimited estates called the Kingdom of God!  Paul says that we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17).  Yes,heirs not yet inheritors!  All creation is waiting with eager anticipation for the heirs to become inheritors, for all shall be delivered and blessed in the overflow of their glory and power.

Paul Mueller has written, “Obviously, there is a difference between entering the new land and inheriting it.  As soon as Israel entered their promised land of Canaan, they were to appoint judges ‘in all thy gates’ (Deut. 16:18).  If their judges rendered righteous judgment and observed many other principles of righteousness and obedience to the law and word of the Lord, Israel would then inherit the promised land of Canaan.  This truth applies to this new land of the Kingdom of God on earth as well as to the old land of Canaan.  In entering our promised land of the Kingdom of God on earth now, we are beginning to experience a new and different set of tests and trials that qualify us to LIVE IN and INHERIT this land of promise.  Jesus explained the high calling of His disciples, which was to inherit the Kingdom of God and judge the twelve tribes of Israel.  He said to them, ‘Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations (testings).  And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’  In speaking to His disciples as He did, Jesus fully recognized the trials and testings they had gone through with Him.  Jesus said because those disciples remained with Him all through their adversities and trials being literally put to the proof through those difficult times they would inherit the Kingdom.  This establishes a pattern for us also.  The early disciples were appointed to the Kingdom as a result of the tests and trials they endured and by being obedient to the work of the Spirit within them.  Even so do we inherit the fullness of the Kingdom of God by being tested and tried.  We are entering the Kingdom ‘through much tribulation’ (Acts 14:22).  If our testings are increasing, it is because Father is pressing us into the fullness of His Kingdom with greater haste and intensity.  Because we are proven by experience to be true, faithful and righteous, we shall eat and drink of Him at His table in His Kingdom.  We shall also sit with Him on His spiritual throne to judge the world in truth and in righteousness”    end quote.

That the hope of honor and glory may be fastened firmly in our spiritual minds let us examine more closely this principle of inheritance.  When a titled person dies, the heirs inherit all that is his: the family crest, the property, the land, the fortune, or possibly even a great mass of debts.  What I am saying is that sons and heirs inherit everything pertaining to the title of their father.  Even in life all children inherit genetically something from their father, such as his nature, life, love, care, and daily provision.  But how much of his wealth they will each receive, a wise father will determine by their individual capacities for profiting by possessions.  He will not bequeath a mansion to a son who loves only nature and prefers to live in a shack on the creek bank, nor will he leave a million dollars to one who has no appreciation of the value of money and would squander it all in a short time.  And he most certainly will not give the family business into the hands of an irresponsible, reckless, and lazy son who has never prepared himself for assuming such responsibilities.

This practical principle also operates with the Lord in the realm of the Kingdom of Heaven, for Jesus has taught us that “The kingdom of heaven is as a man who was about to take a long journey, and he called his servants together and entrusted them with his property.  To one he gave five talents (probably about $5,000), to another two, to another one; to each in proportion to his own personal ability.  Then he departed and left the country.  He who received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he gained five talents more.  And likewise he who had received the two talents; he also gained two talents more.  But he who had received the one talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.  Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.  And he who had received the five talents came and brought him five more, saying, Master, you entrusted to me five talents; see, here I have gained five talents more.  His master said to him, Well done, you upright, honorable, admirable and faithful servant!  You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much.  Enter into and share the joy the delight, the blessedness which your master enjoys.  And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, Master, you entrusted two talents to me; here I have gained two talents more.  His master said to him, Well done, you upright, honorable, admirable and faithful servant!  You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much.  Enter into and share the joy the delight, the blessedness which your master enjoys.

 

“He who had received one talent also came forward, saying, Master, I knew you to be a harsh and hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you had not winnowed the grain; so I was fearful, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.  Here you have what is your own.  But his master answered him, You wicked and lazy and idle servant!  Did you indeed know that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather grain where I have not winnowed?  Then you should have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I could have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.  For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he will be furnished richly so that he will have abundance.  And throw the good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness (a realm of loss outside the Kingdom); there shall be weeping and grinding of teeth (in sorrow at being denied the power and glory of the Kingdom)” (Mat. 25:14-30).

Christians as a whole have very faulty ideas concerning ruling and reigning with Christ, and the structure and administration of the Kingdom in general.  They imagine that by sheer grace they will be caught up into heavenly realms of power and glory.  But the Spirit of God teaches us clearly that “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Rev. 21:7).  The whole passage (Rev. 21) mentions three classes in relation to the Kingdom first, the unconverted, who have their part in the lake of fire the purging, purifying fires of purposeful, redemptive judgment; second, saved peoples with God dwelling among them, children of God who have an entrance into the Kingdom to receive of its blessings and benefits; third, heirs and sons inheriting all things.

 George Wylie once gave the following illustration which beautifully makes the point.  He said, “In entering the Kingdom you are just being there, you have a place in the Kingdom, you are a subject of the Kingdom: but to inherit it is something else.  This might help you to understand it better.  I live in Canada, and am a Canadian subject.  Many times I cross the border between here and the U.S.A.  When I cross the border I have entered the United States, but I am just a visitor there, I am not even a citizen of that country; but I have entered it when I left Canada and crossed the border.  As I travel around the U.S.A. I meet many people who are citizens of the land; they belong there, but I am a foreigner, nevertheless I have entered that country and enjoy its hospitality.  But if in some way I inherited the country, I could go to the White House and say to the President, ‘Now Mr. President, you kindly get out of here, I am taking over this nation, for I have inherited it.’  So you see there is a great difference between entering a place and inheriting it.

“When one enters the Kingdom of God, he is there, he is a citizen, a subject of that country.  But when one inherits it, he is not just a subject of the Kingdom, he is the owner, the controller, the authority, the power, the government!  This is something greater than merely entering into the Kingdom and enjoying the blessings and rights of citizenship.  The qualifications for entering the Kingdom and those for inheriting the Kingdom are altogether different”    end quote.

That this great honor and glory to which Christ is now bringing us through many trials, testings, and sufferings, is predicated upon our overcoming in them, cannot be disputed in the light of what He further states in chapters two and three of the book of the Revelation.  Oh, let us give earnest heed to these tremendous statements!  “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Rev. 2:26-27).  “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).  “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Rev. 21:7).  It is the son who is the heir of the heavenly glories not simply any child of God you may meet on the street or in a church meeting.  Let not carnal, self-willed, immature Christians imagine for one moment that it will be given to them to reign with Christ without first having shed their carnal minds and put on the righteousness, knowledge, wisdom, obedience, and maturity of the Son of God.

God only commits Kingdom authority and power to those sons who have reached the spiritual stature of maturity.  The scriptures refer to this as the “adoption”.  Paul speaks of this adoption when he says, “Having predestinated us unto the ADOPTION OF SONS by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5).  To understand the various New Testament references to adoption, we must first have some background to show how the Oriental customs in this regard differ from our own Western concepts.  Here in the West, adoption is the taking of a child from one family and making it the member of another family.  The Greek word for adoption is HUIOTHESIA.  The first half is HUIOS, the common noun for an adult son.  The latter half is THESIA, meaning a placement or an installation. In Israel, as in many Eastern countries, after a male “child” had come to full age and had been instructed and trained and had proven through obedience that he was able to assume the responsibility of the family name, wealth, and power, then the father held a public ceremony where some of the families and neighbors in Israel gathered together and the father publicly placed his boy as a “son”.

 Jesus, in His relationship to His heavenly Father, passed through these two stages, as the prophet points out: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given...” (Isa. 9:6).  Consider these two statements: (1) a CHILD is BORN  (2) a SON is GIVEN.  Jesus fulfilled the first when He came into the world as a babe.  The “child” was born in Bethlehem.  But thirty years passed before the “son” was given at the Jordan river.  When Jesus was twelve years old the revelation of who He was came to Him, but even then “He went down with them (Mary and Joseph), and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them...and Jesusincreased in wisdom and (spiritual) stature, and in favor with God and man” (Lk. 2:51-52).  After passing through thirty years of spiritual development under the dealings of His Father, learning His ways andcomplete obedience, in a public ceremony at Jordan, with multitudes of the families of Israel present with John the Baptist, God declared His Son’s SONSHIP: “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am WELL PLEASED!” (Mat. 3:16-17).  From that day forward Jesus assumed the responsibility of His Father’s name, wealth, and power, and God’s SON became manifested to the world, glorifying the Father in word and in deed.   That is when the Kingdom of God came among men.

The proclamation of adoption gave the son certain privileges not enjoyed by him before this time.  These privileges are important to all who have received the call to sonship and will teach us much about our own adoption as God’s sons if we think upon them.  First, the son at the adoption ceremony was given the right to use his father’s name.  He had the power of attorney and could buy or sell and do business in his father’s name.  Secondly, at this time the son was given his inheritance, all the wealth that the father would entrust to him.  It was at this time that the prodigal son came to his father to request of him all the portion of goods that belonged to him.  Thirdly, and of tremendous importance for our consideration, the son was promoted to equality with his father!   None of this was his by right of birth, but only as an attainment received following years of growth, development, discipline, schooling, testing, and experience.  Ah, at this present time we know in part and prophesy in part and our spiritual life and ministry is limited to that “measure” given to us as the children of God.  But the Spirit witnesses around the world, by incontrovertible witness and testimony, in dreams and visions, through the mouths of holy prophets and apostles, and by the spirit of wisdom and revelation to many thousands of saints, that the hour is wonderfully close at hand for the adoption, the placing, the manifestation of the sons of God, the full, complete, qualified, prepared, body of that firstborn Son.  What a day this is for us, and for the whole creation that groans and travails for deliverance!

The implication of such a marvelous event as the manifestation of the sons of God is staggering to the imagination, and it is small wonder that the immature and careless Christians know nothing at all of it even as the day of manifestation draws nigh.  But the implication it holds not only for those who have received the call, but for the entire creation in the age and the ages to come, is beyond expression or even imagination.  Jesus Christ, the lonely carpenter of Nazareth, the first manifested Son, who challenged death, healed  the sick, cleansed the lepers, raised the dead, cast out devils, wrought mighty signs and wonders and miracles, and had power over the laws of nature and all things, was but one man placed as the Son of the Almighty Father in heaven; but what glory it will be when the entire family of sons is placed by adoption and stands up in the earth to do the works Jesus did and even greater works than those!

Earlier I mentioned that an adopted son shares equality with his father.  Suppose you are driving down the street and pass a store with a sign out front that reads, BROWN AND SON HARDWARE what does this suggest to you?  Naturally, it suggests that Mr. Brown is the owner of the store and that Mr. Brown has a son who is partner with him in the business.  But it further suggests that this son is grown, that he has reached the age of maturity, experience, and responsibility where he can be taken into his father’s business as a partner as a mature business man!  You certainly would not expect, upon entering the store and asking for the son, to be presented to a ten year old boy or an infant in a playpen!  Nor have we ever seen a sign across the front of a store that read: BROWN AND CHILD HARDWARE!  This, then, is exactly the difference between a child of God and a son of God.  A child is born, but a son is developed.  Since we have been born of God we have God’s nature, the divine nature.  But we must grow up into God’s character and ability!  That is what it really means to be a manifested son of God!

So many Christians today are satisfied with merely an entrance into the Kingdom realm of God where as children they can enjoy the many blessings and the wonderful benefits of God’s mercy, goodness and kindness.  Their eyes are blind to the higher purposes of God, and any efforts to lead them on to higher ground are rebuffed and resisted by a human reasoning that asks why one should waste time on “deep things” when they are already saved and “on their way to heaven.”  But the new birth, while it is the most astounding miracle of the ages, is, nevertheless, but the birth of a mere spiritual infant.  There are many further steps that must follow this birth if one is to come into all the glories and the full heritage which is prepared for those who follow on to know the Lord.  The life of God is a free gift of unmerited mercy and favor. But heavenly attainments of spiritual wealth and power and glory and usefulness are given to those who grow up unto the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).  There is great glory, wisdom, power, and responsibility awaiting those who grow up to be God’s sons.  Let us press forward unto SONSHIP!

 QUALIFICATIONS AND DISQUALIFICATIONS

God’s Kingdom is a body politic.  And there are two parties: God’s righteous government, and the opposition.  The opposition has been trying for six thousand years, by any and every means, to gain control of the government.  But it has been a disheartening battle.  The Word says, “The government shall be upon HIS (Christ, Head and body) shoulders...of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isa. 9:6-7).  Because this rule can never diminish or cease, every apparent victory of the enemy, in the end, has turned out to be a defeat.  Of course, God planned it that way from the beginning for our learning and development in the Kingdom.

Out of God’s own mouth proceeds the assertion, “I have created the waster to destroy” (Isa. 54:16).  We gather from this passage that God has created the negative realm for a specific purpose, to serve as a backdrop for the positive realm.  That purpose is stated in the opening words of the above quoted verse: “I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an INSTRUMENT for His work.”  The “smith” that “bloweth upon the fire” is also the one who heats the furnace seven times hotter!  “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you” (I Pet. 4:12).  Our trials and testings are associated in the Word of God with the ministry of Satan.  You never thought of Satan having a MINISTRY?  Meditate deeply upon the following passages and I do not doubt that you will see how it is that God Himself sends the adversary into our lives to accomplish that work which can only be done by adversity, trouble, temptation, processing, trials and testings.  “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be TEMPTED (tested, tried) OF THE DEVIL.  And when the Tempter came to Him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Mat. 4:1-3).  “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, THAT YE MAY BE TRIED...be thou faithful...and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).  “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, THAT HE MAY SIFT YOU AS WHEAT: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Lk. 22:31-32).

A friend has written, “God is constructing a temple, made of living stones, through which to manifest Himself throughout the ages to come.  Satan was created as a chisel and hammer to be used in the construction of this building.  The living stones that are even now being placed in this temple have been chosen, says the Lord, in the ‘furnace of affliction’ (Isa. 48:10).  God, however, is mercy; God is love; God is compassion.  He is a healer, not a destroyer.  It was, nonetheless, necessary that an oven be heated in which to purify the gold a furnace in which the wood, hay, and stubble were to be burned but God, in His nature of love and goodness, could not perform the necessary affliction.  It was for this reason that He created AN INSTRUMENT that was capable of performing this essential action in the lives of men, for in Satan God literally created  a chastening rod.  If we can realize that behind the acts of Satan is the mighty hand of God working to bring forth gold from these earthen vessels, we can rejoice, as David, in our afflictions and trials and exclaim with him, ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes’ (Ps. 119:7).  Praise God!  When we begin to see the good that comes from the assaults of Satan in our lives, we are able to appreciate all the more the greatness of our God and the depth of the wisdom of His great mind.  He is truly a God of power and might, and all things are in His hand and by His design even this adversary whom we call the Devil.”

The human race fell to the deception of the opposition at the very beginning.  But instead of that being a victory for the adversary, it turned out to be a blessing for the human race.  For now, not only will all men be restored to what was lost by the fall, but those who are called and chosen are translated to the heavenly realm, to a position as far removed from a perfect Edenic state as the east is from the west.  The opposition even went as far as to crucify the King, the Lord of glory.  But that seeming defeat for Christ’s cause was a signal victory, for on the third day the crucified One arose from the tomb, thus breaking the sway of death and delivering all who were in bondage from its clutches.  Because He arose, so shall every son of Adam arise.  “The hour is coming, in the which A-L-L that are in the graves shall hear His voice and come forth...” (Jn. 5:28-29).  The Kingdom of the righteous One has not yet been brought forth in all its fullness and perfection over the earth.  We are passing through a period of preparation in which those who have proven themselves faithful to the rightful King and His cause, are being sealed, and now joyfully await the day when, upon the full manifestation of the Kingdom, they will be raised to great honor and power and majesty, to reign as heavenly kings over the earth, to bring life and light and love to all mankind and to all worlds and all creatures throughout the endless vastnesses of infinity.

Faithful adherence to the principles of the government is the one and only condition laid down by which men attain to these positions of honor.  But through the ages the opposition has been trying to overthrow the dominion of the Kingdom of God and to gain the ascendancy by enlisting the supporters of the government in his own cause.  He enlists them and leads them to work against their sovereign Head by confusing them concerning the principles of the government.  Those who thus follow the adversary are rebels, traitors, unfaithful servants.  They can never come to honor.  That doesn’t mean they can’t be saved it means that they forfeit their place in the government of God.  They have betrayed a sacred trust in that which is considered least: they have been faithless in a few things.  Thus they have proven themselves unfit to be entrusted with more important matters.  I have seen brethren who received the call to sonship take the word of the Kingdom and prostitute it with the ways of religion and the methods of the flesh, for financial gain, for a name,  for a following,  to build a little kingdom around themselves, to control men’s lives, or simply because they lacked the faith and consecration to walk out the principles of the Kingdom of God.  They can never, with the faithful, be made rulers over many things.  And such is the sad state and condition of the church in general of the present day.

The Lord has, in mercy, allowed the least faithless of the popular church systems to declare enough of the gospel to lead a few to the Saviour.  Some of these receive and teach a genuine baptism in the Holy Spirit, with gifts, and healings, and blessings and miracles.  But from here on, practically everything that is taught is nothing but defilement and shame: nothing but the traditions of the elders, and the lies and deceptions of the adversary.  Oh, that we all might now leave our delusions and press on toward perfection.  My God, lead us onward and upward to “be no more children, tossed to and fro, carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:14-15).  Adult spiritual perfection alone will win the prize incomparable at the end of the race.  And that perfection can be attained only by leaving the popular crowd: by seeking the Lord who is our life, and by trusting Him to take us all the way in to His crucifixion, and then into all His glorious fullness of resurrection life and light and glory.  Let us die to all that defiles.  Let us awaken to righteousness and truth and reality.

From out of the masses of the redeemed our Father in heaven is even now calling and preparing a people to inherit the Kingdom of God, a people that has learned through the processings of this Day to let the mind of Christ dwell in them.  They live and act out of that perfect, holy, wise,  glorious mind.  From the hosts of the redeemed He is raising up a company of kings and priests to share His glorious throne and dominion.  Even now they are reigning over a few things, and soon they shall be given dominion over many things.  By the spirit of revelation these have been quickened to the knowledge that they are integral parts of Himself all the sons of God elect according to the purpose of Him from the very foundation of the world.  Oh, with what incredible faithfulness and omnipotent power our heavenly Father has with His chastening rod and His tender mercies molded the vessels of glory appointed to His Kingdom!  Ah, my brother, my sister!  Strip for the race!  Let nothing impede your progress now.  Cast off every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, looking unto Jesus, who is both the author and the finisher of our faith.

Just as there are certain things which are essential prerequisites to inheriting the Kingdom of God, so there are certain things which are hindrances and barriers and which stop a man from inheriting it. Certain of these barriers we must already know for they are the opposites of the things that are the qualifications for the Kingdom.  Just as the childlike, the forgiving, and the serving spirit are all necessary passports to the Kingdom, so the proud, the bitter, and the selfish spirit are hindrances and barriers to the Kingdom.  The apostle Paul, earnestly contending with the carnality of the saints in the church at Corinth, speaks to believers about such a mundane thing as suing each other at the law.  He admonishes them in the love of Christ that it is a shame for them to do this.  He is trying to persuade them that this is not something the elect of God should be doing.  They, like Jesus, should be willing to suffer loss rather than fight and contend with one another over earthly things.  How can we rule and reconcile all things in mercy and love, if we demand our rights and use the law against those who wrong us today?  That very spirit is contrary to the principles of the Kingdom!  It will keep you off the throne of righteous judgment, my friend!

By the wisdom given to him by the Lord, Paul writes, “Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another.  Why do ye not rather take wrong?  Why do ye not suffer yourselves to be defrauded?  Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.  Know ye not that the unrighteous (believers) shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:7-10).

 The above list is not pleasant, but it needs to be published.  These things remind us that the principles of the Kingdom must be laid in our everyday lives.  It is easy to relish the deep teaching of the Kingdom, and revel in the hope of the glory that is coming, but the nature of holiness and love and perfection must become expressed in every word and deed of those who call themselves the sons of God.  We may not be subject to the grosser sins of the flesh, but there is also selfishness, anger, jealousy, idle words, faultfinding, condemning, dissension and a hundred other personality traits that defile the Kingdom.  There is a Kingdom of God to which we must give answer every day of our lives.  There is an eternal Kingdom of power and glory to be “inherited” or lost.  There is an eternal issue to all of life.  It has its terminal point in the eternal Kingdom.  There is something then at stake vitally and desperately at stake.  It is our inheritance, our place, our usefulness, our reward, our very future in the government of God!

 

A passage in Galatians says essentially the same thing: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21.  Do you know any Christians who do such things? Do you practice these things yourself?  If you do, then you can be assured that you will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  You will not enter into the glory God has prepared for you.  You will be ruled “disqualified”.  Disqualified for the Kingdom!  Ah, you will be saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but will forfeit your opportunity to rule and reign with Christ.  This is not judgment and condemnation I am preaching today this is the solemn truth and wisdom of God who is raising up kings and priests who shall REIGN IN RIGHTEOUSNESS!  Only the righteous can reign in righteousness!

In God’s Kingdom today there are great spiritual rewards.  There is joy unspeakable and full of glory, and righteousness and peace in the Holy Ghost.  But there is a Kingdom of life, of incorruption, of immortality, of universal rule and dominion, of almighty power and glory that lies just before us.  But we will never know it or taste it unless we lay aside what is keeping us from entering in.  The exhortation of the first perfect Son of God reaches us even today, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk. 13:24).  This is referring to how a pack animal, in order to go through a narrow opening in the gate of a city, first had to have its baggage all unloaded.  It was only after being thus disencumbered that a beast of burden could squeeze through.  The sad reason that some who have heard the call to sonship do not enter into the Kingdom is that they are unwilling to rid themselves of all the baggage that is keeping them from the will of God.  They are hanging on to many things, fleshly or religious, being afraid to let go of them and trust God to be all to them.  Many believers have barely gotten the aroma of the rich enjoyment of Christ that is available to them today.  They stand in the Outer Court, or in the Holy Place, and never enter into the Most Holy Place, into the very presence of God, into the fullness of incorruptible life, glory and power, because they are attached to an outward, organizational, ceremonial, ritualistic, creedal, emotional, sentimental and works-oriented religious realm.  Let us lay aside the weights and the sin which so easily besets us and run the race.  If there is something that is keeping you from inheriting the Kingdom, cast it aside.  Do not be encumbered, my beloved, so that you cannot fully enter  in to inherit your promised land.  The Kingdom of God lies waiting before us.  The door is open, and all who hear the call may enter in.  Let me say boldly that no one is too weak or too feeble.  The ones who do not enter are simply unwilling.  No matter what your state or your condition, you can turn today to the heavenly Father, the Father of mercies, the Father of glory,  and He will strengthen you, nurture you, and empower you to inherit the everlasting Kingdom.  Arise, and enter in!

 


Chapter 23

INHERITING THE KINGDOM

(continued)

We are learning what it means to be a son of God, realizing God’s great plan and purposes involved.  One of the most important rights of sonship is that of inheritance.  Heirship depends entirely upon our relationship with God.  When we were born again, born of God, we became children of God and consequently potential inheritors of all that pertains to our Almighty Father.  One inherits in the country of his parentage and according to the laws of that land.  Jesus explained to Nicodemus that in order to enter into the Kingdom of God human beings have to be born again of the Spirit.  The Kingdom of God is the realm or land of our inheritance, and that great land is entered by birth.  It is there in the land of the Kingdom of God that we are able to see, enter, possess and inherit Christ as our All-in-all.

Sometimes when a person inherits money or an estate, conditions are laid down which must be fulfilled before that person can receive his inheritance.  That principle is also true in the Kingdom of God.  For instance, one of the conditions in the Kingdom is that the full inheritance is given only upon our reaching spiritual maturity.  Another condition is overcoming the world, the flesh, and the devil.  “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and he shall be my son” (Rev. 21:7).  To be poor in spirit is yet another condition for inheriting, as Jesus taught, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 5:3).  We must also undergo a mighty change in order to receive our inheritance, for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 15:50).  Only those who possess the spirit ofministering to and serving their needy brethren and the groaning creation shall have any inheritance in the Kingdom, for it was to those who saw the Lord hungry, and gave Him food; who saw the Lord thirsty, and gave Him drink; who saw the Lord naked, and clothed Him; who saw the Lord sick, and visited Him, and in prison, and went to Him; it is to these that the King says, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mat. 25:34-46).

There are four classes of people in relation to the Kingdom of God today.  There are those who see the Kingdom.  Then there are those who enter the Kingdom.  After that there are some who press their way in to possess the Kingdom.  And finally there is a people that inherits the Kingdom.  To see the Kingdom is vision or revelation.  To enter the Kingdom is exploration, as when the spies went in and spied out the land of Canaan.  To possess the Kingdom means appropriation, as when Joshua led the children of Israel to conquer the land.  And to inherit the Kingdom is to fully and permanently utilize all of its riches, abundance, provisions and position; and to fulfill all of its responsibilities and exercise all of its powers, as Israel did once the land was fully possessed.   That is the power and glory of inheritance in the Kingdom of God!

THE POOR IN SPIRIT

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 5:3).  It seems strange to say that the poor in spirit inherit the Kingdom of Heaven; rather it would seem that the rich in spirit should inherit the Kingdom!  There is a great depth here that can only be plumbed by the wisdom of God.  The things of the spirit are always contrary to the logic of the natural mind.  Only when we are willing to reject our minds and our wisdom does God draw nigh to us and give us light, true light.  “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14).

It is in that glorious sermon called “The Sermon on the Mount” that Jesus reveals this great truth.  The Sermon on the Mount announces the laws or principles of the Kingdom of God.  The giving of the Kingdom of Heaven to the poor in spirit sets the tone for these laws.  To be poor in spirit does not mean to be lacking in spirit, but indicates an attitude of heart.  The Greek word used for poor is PTOCHOS.  It is one of two words for “poor” in the Greek language.  While the other word, PENES, is used to describe one who has fewer possessions, and has to work hard for a living, the word PTOCHOS describes the man who has absolutely nothing at all.  It means a pauper or a beggar.  It has connections with the root word PROSSEIN which means to couch or cower.  It describes the poverty of one who has been beaten to his knees. To be “poor in spirit” is to become like Jesus, who “made Himself of no reputation” (Phil. 2:7).  For, “though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor (pstchos), that ye through His poverty might be rich” (II Cor. 8:9).

Ah, we cannot come to be taught of God feeling within ourselves that we are understanding, we are wisdom, we are power, we are creators, we are kings and rulers, or that we have anything that commends itself to God.  We must be poor in spirit, poor in attitude unclothed of self.  The word “spirit” is used many times to describe an attitude of heart or a state of mind.  If we say of someone, “He has a good spirit,” we don’t mean that he has an holy angel or a well-mannered ghost living inside of him.  We mean that he has a good attitude, disposition, temperament, personality, demeanor, and expression.  The beatitudes are just that attitudes of being.  They are the BE-ATTITUDES, the very attitudes the sons of God must become.  Jesus said in effect, “The attitude of a poor person is the same attitude that will help you to inherit the Kingdom of God.”  But He does not mean by this that we are to be spiritually destitute!  We must realize that we are the “branch” dependent upon the Root and the Vine just as the firstborn Son testified of Himself, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.  I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (Jn. 5:19,30).  It follows then that the poor in spirit are actually the rich in spirit!

Poor in spirit means “renounced in spirit.”  Yielding up everything of self selfishness, self-assertiveness, self-interest that we may gain Christ.  One Greek scholar has said that poor in spirit comes closer in the Greek to mean “teachable in spirit.”  Ah, that hits the nail on the head!  “Blessed are the teachable in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Have you ever observed one who knows everything (in his own estimation), how far from happiness and fulfillment he really is?  Being rich in his own eyes he is extremely impoverished, for no one can add of their wealth to him.  The poor in spirit are poor enough to receive they are receptive in spirit, willing to break old habits and ways and thought- patterns and mind-sets and take new ones.  Right on the threshold of the Kingdom of God we encounter an act of renunciation from the deepest depths of our being.  This is just the opposite of the sociology and psychology being taught in the colleges and universities.  In many schools they teach “self-assertiveness,” “take,” and “realize.”  But the Kingdom of God will not sanction such concepts.  To be happy and blessed you must be poor in spirit, renounced in spirit, teachable in spirit, pliable in spirit, and receptive in spirit. Receptive to all that God is, to all that God does,  and to all that God is saying by His Spirit.  You must be pliable in the Master’s hands at all times and in all situations.  You must have an ear to hear, and a heart to respond.  You must know and think and be nothing of yourself.  You don’t just belong to the Kingdom, and you don’t bring anything to the Kingdom.  But the Kingdom is yours!  All the resources of the Kingdom are at the disposal of the renounced-poor-teachable-pliable-receptive.  The Kingdom is within you, and it also reaches to the lowest hell and beyond the farthest star.  All the powers of  the Kingdom are centered in you, not in your self, but in Christ your life.  “It is no longer I, but Christ that liveth in me.”  That is the glory of the poor in Spirit!

The saintly George MacDonald has beautifully expressed the truth in these inspiring words: “The poor, the beggars in spirit, the humble men of heart, the unambitious, the unselfish; those who never despise men, and never seek their praises; the lowly, who see nothing to admire in themselves, therefore cannot seek to be admired of others; the men who give themselves away these are the freemen of the Kingdom, these are the citizens of the New Jerusalem.  The men who are aware of their own essential poverty; not the men who are poor in friends, poor in influence, poor in acquirements, poor in money, but those who are poor in spirit, who feel themselves poor creatures; who know nothing to be pleased with themselves for, and desire nothing to make them think well of themselves; who know that they need much to make their life worth living; these humble ones are the poor whom the Lord calls blessed.  The gate of the Kingdom begins to open to such a man.

“Whatever such a man has attained to, he straightway forgets; it is part of him and behind him.  His business is with what he has not, with the things that lie above and before him.  The man who is proud of anything he thinks he has reached, has not reached it.  He is but proud of himself, and imagining a cause for his pride.  If he had reached, he would already have begun to forget.  He who delights in contemplating whereunto he has attained, is not merely sliding back; he is already in the dirt of self-satisfaction.  The gate of the Kingdom is closed, and he outside.  The man who does not house self has room to be his real self God’s eternal idea of him.  He lives eternally; in virtue of the creative power present in him with momently unimpeded creation, he is.  How should there be in him one thought of ruling or commanding or surpassing!  He can imagine no bliss, no good in being greater than some one else.  He would lift every man to the embrace of the Father.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they are of the same spirit as God, and of nature the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs”    end quote.  Awesome!

 CORRUPTION DOES NOT INHERIT...

The apostle Paul by the wisdom of the Spirit given to him, said, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (I Cor. 15:50).

If there is one lesson we are learning from all the sex scandals, unethical conduct, fraud and  financial shenanigans coming out of the government in Washington it is the lesson of the depravity of the human nature and the corruption of the carnal mind.  The carnal manifestations that have come out of the religious systems over the past couple decades are not one whit better than the events in Washington or what is transpiring in the vilest section of an inner city.  We are disgusted with the fleshiness and corruption on every hand, and I am sure I get an “Amen” from many who read these lines.  Corruption of one kind or another has destroyed the Lord’s people as well as His temple except for the holy remnant.  Corruption cannot inherit the Kingdom of God!  Therefore there must be a mighty victory over corruption in the life of every one who cherishes the beautiful hope of sonship.  We must be changed!

The perfect example we have been given of one who has been changed into the full glory of the Kingdom of God is Jesus.  He is the first Son to overcome the dominion of corruption, and He is our example.  As Jesus conquered by the Spirit of Life from God, so is it given to every one of His younger brothers to overcome in this day.  To be changed, we must be cleansed and purged of every vestige of the carnal mind and every work of the flesh.  Our omnipotent Lord who lives within us is completing the work He began when He saved us by His grace.  He is bringing us to completion and perfection by manifesting the power of the Kingdom of God within us.  Christ is reigning in mighty power upon the throne of our lives, by the Spirit.  When He has completed His cleansing, purifying, transforming work within us, we shall be fully prepared for the last trump transformation the redemption of our body.  Paul wrote to the Romans, telling them that the whole creation travaileth in pain together for deliverance from the bondage of corruption.  But I must remark that the corruptibleness of “flesh and blood” the body is but an infinitesimal part of the great and dreadful realm of corruption.

The Holy Spirit, speaking through the apostle Peter, has given us these blessed words of divine understanding.  “According as His divine power has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Pet. 1:3-4).  The Amplified Bible renders verse four, “By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape from the moral decay, rottenness and corruption that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed) and become sharers of the divine nature.”  And J. B. Phillips has beautifully translated, “It is through this generosity that God’s greatest and most precious promises have become available to us men, making it possible for you to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and to share in God’s essential nature.”  Corruption is thus far more than the aging process in our mortal bodies which eventually leads to physical death and dissolution.

The word corruption is from the Greek PHTHORA meaning “to destroy by bringing into a worse state or inferior condition.”  According to Romans 8:20-21, the whole creation, animate and inanimate, is subject to the bondage of corruption.  Corruption is so universal and absolute that it was formalized about one hundred years ago into a fundamental law now called The Second Law of Thermodynamics.  This law states that “all systems, if left to themselves, tend to become degraded and disordered, and deteriorate.”  Physical systems, whether watches or suns, eventually wear out.  Organisms grow old and die.  Instead of life and growth there is decay and death.  There is no permanency in anything physical.  This universal law of the cosmos is diametrically opposed to the theory of evolution which supposes a progressive improvement and refinement of living organisms.

From the very heart of events from the dawn of creation this law of corruption has been manifested in the things that are made.  The fall of Adam into sin, separation, sorrow, pain and death, is the very first sad example of the law of corruption.  Man has ever been the object of God’s solicitude and care.  Man came from the hand of God created in His image and likeness, crowned with glory and honor, and given dominion over all the works of God’s hands.  Gradually, however, subjected as he was to this gross material realm, formed of the dust of the ground, the cycle of his career turned downward from his high plane upon which God had placed him, until he reached the depths of disaster.  The race of Cain was a filthy, perverted race; they were hateful and violent and they were murderers.  They were boastful and vile in the extreme, and would have nothing to do with the God that made them.  They were the offspring of a murderer who slew his brother.  They filled the earth with their lust, violence, and evil, until even the righteous line of Seth was corrupted and they were so bad that the scripture says that “their thoughts” and all the “intents of their hearts” were “only evil continually.”  They were so bad that God could not wait for them to die, and another generation to arise, but in order to re-establish some order in the earth He had to sweep all of them off the earth into hell.

Noah alone, out of all the families of the earth, was perfect in his generation and found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  His uncles and aunts were not righteous.  His brothers and sisters were not righteous. His cousins and nephews and nieces were not righteous.  They were all corrupt.  How do we know this?  They were all swept away in the judgment of the flood!  Only eight souls out of an entire civilization were spared.  Righteousness started afresh in the earth with Noah and his seed.  But this did not help, for man’s one obsession and inborn trait all through the centuries has been rebellion and backsliding and faithlessness. And so again God made a new provision.  So far, His saints had freely mixed with the world.  But now He purposed to segregate them from the world.  He purposed to remove them from the idolatrous influence of the ungodly.  And so, beginning with Abraham, He began this segregation.  He called Abraham out from the world and promised him a land, an inheritance.  When once in this land, his seed were to destroy completely, even to the last man, the heathen who dwelt there.  “Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: but thou shalt utterly destroy them.”

Here was a truly remarkable and wholly new provision.  For in Egypt God took His church and made a nation of them.  And then He led them out of Egypt with many infallible signs and wonders and miracles.  He divided the sea for them: the same sea in which their enemies perished.  He gave them a tabernacle and sanctuary, patterned after the true Sanctuary on High, and there He condescended to have His very presence dwell among them continually.  He gave them a perfect set of national laws written by the finger of God Himself on stone.  He showed them His power.  He fed them with manna from heaven.  He preserved their clothing and shoes throughout the whole period of forty years of wanderings in the wilderness.  And yet, in spite of God’s manifest love and care, their very first act, when Moses left them to go up into the mount of God, was to make a golden calf and fall down to it!  Talk about corruption!

Read the account of their sojourn in the wilderness.  Read the accounts of their idolatry after they entered their own land.  Yes, the first thing they did upon coming into their promised land was the exact opposite of what God commanded them.  Instead of destroying their enemies completely, they began making covenants with them.  No wonder God says concerning them, “But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments...and my sabbaths they greatly polluted” (Eze. 20:13).  No wonder God says, “I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof...they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Prov. 1:24-29).  And friend, human nature has not changed one particle in all the years.  Believers as a whole (the popular church) are just as wayward and rebellious now as they ever were.  God’s church has ever been “a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face” (Isa. 65:2-3).  And it was not to the fleshly Israel of old, but the New Testament Church that the Lord Jesus sent this piercing rebuke, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee...remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.  Thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”  Obviously, the law of corruption was still at work!

Let us go on.  God intended that His saints, as long as they obeyed Him and walked with Him, should be masters of the earth.  They were: that is, until God, because of their sins and backslidings, had to cut them off.  He was very lenient with them.  He made more than one new provision following their rebellions from Him.  He gave them every consideration and every opportunity to reign over the earth.  For did not He tell them that if they would hearken unto Him, “thou shalt be blessed above all people”? (Deut. 7:14).  “And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, as He hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all His commandments; and to make thee high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour” (Deut. 26:18-19).  “If thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God...the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth” (Deut. 28:1).  Ah, here was great provision made which would enable God’s people to dominate the whole world! And they did enjoy that heritage of power and honor for a time.  Consider the Patriarchs, and Job.  Consider Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, of whom God witnessed that they were very great.  And then consider king David, and consider king Solomon in all his glory, a glory so resplendent that even the Queen of Sheba witnessed, “Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it, and, behold, the half was not told me: the wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard” (I Kings 10:7).

But then there came a change.  A new order was introduced.  For, in spite of all of God’s provisions and blessings, His people went from bad to worse.  And here is the result, foretold by Moses in the wilderness.  He told them that if they would not keep God’s commandments then, instead of being masters of the earth, “the Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies...thou...SHALT BE REMOVED INTO ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE EARTH” (Deut. 28:15-25).  Of all the physical proofs of the inspiration and infallible accuracy of the prophecies of the Bible, there is no proof that can compare to that great sign of signs which is the NATION OF ISRAEL.  In 721 B.C. the northern house of Israel was carried into captivity into Assyria and consequently disappeared from the page of history so suddenly and completely it was as though the land of their captivity swallowed them up.  Historically, however, the ten tribes escaped their captivity and through various migrations became scattered throughout the continent of Europe, just as the Lord had said.

The house of Judah finally experienced the same fate.  Some thirty-five years after Jesus prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, the wrath was poured out.  Jerusalem fell, and great was the fall thereof! Signal, terrible, and unparalleled was the Jewish war, ending with the siege and capture of Jerusalem by the Roman general, Titus.  It needs a pen dipped in fire and in blood to write the story in its true colors!  The sufferings and miseries that overtook the Jewish nation in that age, are all but indescribable, the very record of them is appalling.  And they have been scattered for two millenniums through all nations just as the Lord said.  In this sordid picture of the unceasing degeneration of the human race, as well as God’s own people, we receive the unimpeachable testimony of the universal LAW OF CORRUPTION.  Ah, my beloved, if you think corruption refers only to the mortal body, you are badly mistaken.  It runs much deeper than that.  Science states that “all systems, if left to themselves, tend to become degraded and disordered, and deteriorate.”  God puts it this way: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Tim. 3:1-5).

Oh what a stormy sea the world has sailed from Adam’s transgression until now!  What indescribable travail the earth has seen under the curse of bondage to corruption!  And not just man, not alone the earth, but the whole creation was made subject to this vanity and it is the whole creation that now groans with a sort of universal travail, waiting for the sons of God to reach the glory and honor of adoption, waiting for the transfigured family of sons at last to speak the wonderful words of life and deliverance.  In the throes of corruption all things are propelled by the swirling momentum of the downward spiral to destruction, utterly helpless and powerless to invent any method of preventing the ultimate catastrophe.

The dark foreboding and terror of every creature and all things is not unlike that of the victim of punishment by the Hohenstaufen house in Germany.  One of the methods of punishment, it is said, was to incarcerate the victim in a luxuriously appointed room.  Instead of feeling any special remorse, he was rather delighted with his lot.  In a day or two, however, the prisoner realized his illusionment.  He noticed, as he arose each morning, that the walls had slightly contracted.  At first he could scarcely conceive of it.  He examined the space closely and found his fears verified.  He watched the movement very closely, and sure enough, they were gradually contracting.  In oiled and silent grooves these heavy metal walls were gradually drawing closer and closer.  He was startled, and placed all manner of objects to check the oncoming tide. But it was all in vain.  The walls were irresistible in their progress.  It dawned upon him that this beautiful luxurious room was a deceptive snare.

When he realized that this comfortably and beautifully furnished room  was to be his death cell and the place of his doom, invariably cold perspiration poured out of his temples and he cried out frantically for help.  But no response came.  The metal walls simply gave back a hollow echo and continued to draw closer.  When the furniture had been demolished by the pressure and the walls had come so close he could not do anything but stand upright, he placed his back to the wall, and bracing himself with his hands and feet, he tried with one superhuman effort to withstand his doom.  But the walls were not to be gainsaid; they were not to be denied of their prey.  Finally the walls crushed him to death.  Is this not the sense of every man who beholds the ravishing power of corruption in his body?  As old age appears, with its multiplied physical weaknesses, degeneration, ailments and limitations, they feel themselves crowded to the wall and think they are daily approaching their fatal and final end.  Unable to make any further resistance, they passively submit themselves to the inevitable and slip away quietly from this world.  Behold in this, my friend, the awesome power of the BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION!

The crumbling ruins of ancient civilizations buried beneath the swirling sands of ages bear silent testimony to the unrelenting power of corruption.  Proud empires which like the towering mount Everest dominated the lives and fortunes of multitudes of men and vast stretches of global real estate, have disappeared from even the memory of those now dwelling upon the earth.  In the afterglow of a thousand battlefields, in the shattered dreams of kings and world conquerors, in the light of treachery, moral decay, and spiritual bankruptcy, the word of God standeth invincibly true.  Mighty empires and nations that with the vaunted pride of wealth, commerce, education, refinement, and disciplined armies controlled the souls of men have all eventually fallen and crumbled to dust beneath their own weight, becoming like the dust of a summer threshing floor and the wind blew them away.

The universe itself is no less subject to the bondage of corruption.  As a recent article in Discover magazine reported, six or seven billion years from now the sun will begin to die, but it will not die alone. When the sun runs out of hydrogen fuel at its core and begins burning the hydrogen, helium, and heavier elements in its outer layers, it will swell tremendously, expanding out to earth's orbit.  In its death throes it will swell into a red giant star, engulfing and incinerating Mercury, Venus, and Earth.  Life on earth — if indeed any still exists — will surely end.  A like fate awaits every star and planet in every solar system in all the two hundred billion known galaxies that make up the universe.  Everything is winding down and burning out.  In the light of this solemn knowledge let us reflect again upon the Holy Spirit’s sacred message of hope and deliverance, “For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.  For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope.  Because the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:19-23).  Lift up your heads and rejoice! O creation — the sun will not burn itself out, the earth will not be incinerated, the universe will not collapse, the myriad worlds scattered through space will not pass away, because the creation itself shall also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God!  What a word!  What a hope!  Universal deliverance from the bondage of corruption!  The reversal of the Second Law of Thermodynamics!  No wonder the earnest expectation of all creation WAITS FOR THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD! Hallelujah!

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, neither does corruption inherit incorruption.  The message is clear — we must be changed!  That is what it means.  Mortal flesh and corrupted blood cannot inherit the Kingdom realm of God.  As long as our bodies remain in the vile form they are now in, they cannot inherit that eternal sphere.  “Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”  Standing alone these words sound as though that which is corruptible is beyond hope.  The body of corruption would go to the grave with no hope of resurrection or change forever.  And it would mean exactly that were it not for the qualifying message that follows.  “Behold, I show you a mystery...this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (I Cor. 15:50-54).

No one can deny it — we must be changed, spirit, soul, and body!  Only by a mighty quickening of divine life can soul and body inherit the Kingdom.  The apostle does not say that the body cannot inherit the Kingdom, merely that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom.  The word of God has made it very clear that our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. 3:21).  The vile body of flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, but the changed body does indeed inherit the Kingdom.  Oh, the mystery of it!

Very few of the Lord’s people understand the great truth that there are two bodies, but the truth is that “there is a NATURAL BODY, and there is a SPIRITUAL BODY” (I Cor. 15:44).  Many seem to think that the spiritual body will be the natural body changed or transformed.  But that is not what the apostle tells us.  It is not said that there IS a natural body, and some glad day after while there SHALL BE a spiritual body.  No!  “There IS a natural body, and there IS a spiritual body.”  There IS!  Both bodies are a present tense reality.  The natural body is the body of the outward man, whereas the spiritual body is the body of the inward man.  That is why Paul in another place assures us, “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16).  The outward-man has a body and that body is perishing — we all know that!  But few understand that the inward-man also has a body that is renewed, being raised up within us, day by day.  The outer-man body is the flesh and blood body inherited from Adam. The inner-man body is the glorious resurrection body of Jesus Christ inherited from Him.  Just as the outer-man body is not given to us “ready-made,” but following conception in our mother’s womb is graduallyformed over a number of months, and continues to be formed for years until we reach adulthood; so the inner-man body is not given to us “ready made,” but subsequent to our begettal as children of God the spiritual resurrection body of Jesus is formed in us by the life of Christ raised up in us, progressively fashioned as we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  And just as the outer-man body is from earth, so the inner-man body is from the Lord from heaven.  The first is a natural and earthly body; the second is a spiritual and heavenly body.

The inner-man body is the spiritual body.  The inner man body is our house from heaven.  So the apostle continues by showing how it is that the inner-man body exists even if the outer-man body is dissolved or passes away.  But God’s highest purpose is that the outer-man body be caught up into, and swallowed up by, the inner-man body.  Hear what the Holy Spirit would teach us in these words of wisdom and understanding: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (the outer-man body) were dissolved (dies, decays), we (still) have a building of God (the inner-man body) eternal in the heavens.  For in this (the outer-man body) we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven (the inner-man body, the Christ body): if so be that being clothed (having the inner-man body) we shall not be found naked (a dis-embodied spirit).  For we that are in this tabernacle (the outer-man body) do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed (not have any body), but clothed upon (with the inner-man body), that mortality (the outer-man body) might be swallowed up of life (the inner-man body).