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The Kingdom of God part 7


PLAN OF THE AGES KINGDOM OF GOD PRAISE & WORSHIP HISTORY MISCELLANEOUS


  THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Part 7

 THE BEGINNING OF THE KINGDOM

              “Mankind does not understand the longing that is within him and we may be sure that all the inanimate creation is also blind and in the dark.  We have become like babies who sometimes cry for reasons they know not, refusing to be comforted.  Our souls often deplore the awful conditions that are in the world the rebellion, anarchy, delinquency, self-assertion, and war yet if we could look deeper than the surface, we would understand that all these things actually spring from man’s hatred and rebellion  against the bondage he is in.  In his darkness and bondage he imagines that could he but throw off his restraints he would be happy, that could he have all he wants, he could be content, but he does not know that his discontent lies far deeper than his outward life.  While he thus seeks liberty from without, he does not know that the inner man is seeking for freedom from the bondage of corruption and all the wretchedness into which the carnal mind has brought him.  Man is longing for freedom from the slavish thralldom he is in but, not knowing God, he seeks freedom by rebellion only to find that his new-found freedom is even a greater and more hateful bondage than the one from which he escaped.  But those to whom Christ the King has revealed Himself know that true freedom is found only when Christ is crowned King.  When He comes into the life, the snares of the fowler are broken, the tears of sorrow turn to pearls of praise, sins of years are washed away by His blood”   The Page.

             According to the good pleasure of His will, and to the praise of His glory, the plans of God from the creation of the world focused on the Kingdom.  From age to age God lead mankind, in each age setting the stage for that fullness of time when He would establish His Kingdom in power over the earth.  The glory of God was revealed through all His works from that awe-filled moment when the almighty Creator first uttered those omnipotent words, “Let there be!”  All the works and institutions of the early ages, however, were to become but chaff and refuse in the light of the transcendent grandeur of Christ’s Kingdom.  Ears had heard God’s own voice thundering the law from mount Sinai, but no ears had heard the message of compassion, grace, mercy and power from the lips of heaven’s King.  Eyes had seen the golden glitter of the temple built by man, but no eye had seen the reign of God’s love and power in the hearts of transformed men.  Hearts had dreamed of God’s future for men, but human hearts had not the power to imagine the glories God had in store. 

             At the time of Abraham all nations had fallen into idolatry.  The knowledge of God was merely a flickering candle in some remote corner of darkness.  To Abraham God was pleased to make Himself known, and to promise that of him He would make a great nation and a company of nations, and in him and his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed.  To accomplish this purpose God selected the spot in which he and his posterity were to be placed; and no spot on earth could have been better suited for the purpose.  God said of it, “This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the center of the nations, with countries round about her” (Eze. 5:5).  Many mapmakers in the Middle Ages placed Jerusalem in the center of their maps with the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa arranged around this center like blades of a pinwheel.  The land of Canaan a tract of country situated about midway between the three great divisions of earth Asia, Africa, and Europe on the great highway of nations, and in the very path of conquest, commerce, and travel, was equally accessible to all parts  of the known world. 

             There were four specific items that set the stage for the coming of Christ and the rapid spread of the gospel of the Kingdom.  First, the Roman Empire provided a highly efficient and comprehensive system of roads, facilitating ease of travel throughout all provinces controlled by Rome.  Just a century before Jesus’ day the world was intensely localized and subdivided and broken up into separate little nations, with their separate religions and customs and laws, their jealousies and suspicions, their constant wars, their bristling frontiers barring communication.  But after the setting up of the Roman Empire the conditions changed rapidly.  When Jesus came, instead of frontiered nations separated and suspicious, He found a leveled world with the fences down.  The Roman roads traversed the civilized world, the iron power of the Caesars kept universal peace.   Good news could spread easily.   The highway was open for the coming of the King!

             Second, because of the Pax Romana, or Peace of Rome, travelers could move from one province to another with little concern for anything such as a passport or visa.  The general spirit of peace provided a fit medium for the dissemination of new ideas across borders. 

             Third, prior to the Roman conquest, Alexander the Great had brought Greek to his empire.  By the time of the Roman Empire, Koine Greek had become the world language.  This was a common form of Greek spoken by the masses and the language in which the New Testament was written.  Not only could the apostles and evangelists travel safely throughout the vast Roman Empire; they could preach in the same language everywhere they went.  Such a situation has never existed before or since that day.  If one were to try to preach the gospel in the same area now he would have to know Greek, Italian, Spanish, Slavic, Turkish, Hebrew, and Arabic.  Paul preached in Greek from Damascus to Rome.

             Fourth, the penetration of the Jewish religion in all the civilized world of that day set the stage and served as a springboard for the gospel of the Kingdom.  The whole world was intensely pagan, but into that pagan world went the Jew with his worship of the One God.  It was a new message.  For centuries the Jews had been scattered throughout all the nations of the world.  There was a Jewish community, sometimes numbering thousands, in every city.  At the time of the Babylonian captivity a new institution arose.  It was the synagogue, or “gathering together,” a term which first signified the congregation and then the place where the congregation worshipped.  By the time of Christ there were Jewish synagogues in every major city of the Roman Empire.  The apostle James could say to the Jerusalem Conference, “For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21).  The reading of the Mosaic law was heard in the synagogues each Sabbath not only by Jews, but also by Gentile proselytes (converts to Judaism) and a still larger group of “devout men” who attended but did not join.  Thus the Jews spread among the nations not only the worship of God and the synagogue, but also the MESSIANIC HOPE.  People’s minds and hearts were thus being prepared for the coming of the Messiah.  And come He did “in the fullness of time.”  Just when the stage was set for Him by the overruling wisdom and power of God, He stepped into history announcing, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the good news!” (Mk. 1:15).

 THE FORERUNNER

             John the Baptist performed the word of the Lord as revealed by Isaiah the prophet which was a preparatory ministry in advance of the coming of Christ.  It is constructive to observe how God’s new revelation of the Kingdom takes up exactly where the last words of the Old Testament leave off.  The very last words from heaven, preceding the interval of silence that lasted for four hundred years after Malachi laid down his pen, were these: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6).

             The very next words reveal the fulfillment of this promise in a striking way, and the significance of the fact is awesome.  In the angel Gabriel’s message to Zacharias, we have a direct continuation of the subject of the last words spoken by God through Malachi.  For Gabriel’s words to Zacharias, while he, a priest,  was exercising his office in the temple were the next words sent from heaven to earth.  This is the record: “And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.  And when Zacharias saw him he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.  But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard;  and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John, and thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.  For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb.  And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.  And he shall go before Him in the Spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk. 1:11-17).  It is abundantly clear that the purpose of Gabriel’s message  was to announce the great person promised in the last words of Malachi, who should perform the Elijah-ministry of “turning the hearts to the Lord their God” thus making ready a people “prepared for the Lord.”

             Some time ago Paul Mueller wrote: “Much of the preparation necessary for the coming of the Lord took place in John’s life while he was in the desert.  John was about six months older than Jesus and about thirty years old when his ministry began.  He ministered for a year or a year and a half, then spent another year or more in prison before he was beheaded.  John’s preparation amounted to perhaps the greater part of thirty years in the wilderness without schools, colleges, universities or teachers.  In our modern world of knowledge and education, John would have been considered a fool.  However, he was anything but.  John the Baptist was constantly ministered to by the Holy Spirit as the way of the Lord was being prepared in his own life.  He remained in the desert for most of those thirty years and was not bothered by the many distractions in the world about him, for he daily communed with the Lord.  All  during those years of preparation, John grew in the knowledge of the Lord and became the way for the coming of Him who was to introduce His kingdom of peace and righteousness.  And when John came out of the wilderness, he did not consult with the learned elders of Jerusalem.  Rather, he went right to work in the spirit and power of Elijah, preaching repentance and calling all Jerusalem and Judea to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord.  Not only was the way prepared in his life, but he also set about to prepare the way of the Lord in the lives of others.”

             Knowing that someone important was coming to stay in your home would mean, of course, that you would make things as presentable as possible.  Should your guest be a president or a prime minister, you might even do some quick redecorating, buy a new mattress for the guest room, or whatever.  But you would get ready!  Two thousand years ago the world heard a startling announcement.  The great King of the universe, the Lord of glory, is Himself coming to this world that He  created, loves and cares for.  GET READY!  When Christ came the preaching of His gospel did not begin with His own preaching.  That was not the first preaching of the gospel.  Mark’s Gospel says, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord...John came and preached...”  Therefore, the scriptures themselves declare that “the beginning of the gospel” was not the preaching of Jesus Christ, but was the preaching of John the Baptist.  There is no question about that.  That is the beginning of the good news of the Kingdom.  The gospel began when John came announcing the approach of  both the King and the Kingdom.

             Let me illustrate.  If Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain should die tonight you would see a very strange scene.  Before more than a very few minutes had passed, the declaration would be made solemnly in the chamber of death that the Queen was dead.  In a moment the high officers of state would turn about and salute the King.  The heir apparent would become the monarch in a moment, but before he had ever assumed the reins of power; before he had ever issued a proclamation of any kind;  before he had committed a single royal act as the successor of his mother as the King of Great Britain and the Commonwealth; before he had ever done one thing as the great ruler of hundreds of millions of people, a strange thing would happen.

             There would issue from the Royal Palace, in peculiar garments, a number of men called Heralds.  The Chief Herald would march at the head, and they would go into the street in a historic part of London.  They would stand there with their long silver trumpets, and the Garter King at Arms would cause them to blow seven times.  Then he would declare: “The Queen is dead.  Long live the King.”  His proclamation would be the first legal proclamation of the reign of Charles Philip the present Prince of Wales, as the King and Emperor of all of Great Britain and the Commonwealth of nations over all the lands and seas.  It would not be because the Garter King at Arms was greater than the King, but because the law of England demands that his proclamation shall be set forth in a particular way.  Only one man in all the kingdom can do it, and only certain Heralds under his command can accompany him.  That man is the man appointed by law and by centuries of custom as the Announcer of the death of the Queen and the reign of the new King.

            At a definite time appointed by God, a man of strange habits and appearance began to preach in a remote desert part of Judea, near the river Jordan.  “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” he thundered.  This man was of the priestly tribe, and had been consecrated to God from his infancy by the vow of the Nazarite.  He was not clothed in soft raiment, but in a coarse tunic of camel’s hair; he had no craving for sumptuous food, but was content with the simplest fare of dried locusts and honey from the rock; he was no reed shaken by the wind, but a gnarled oak that the wind could neither bend nor break.  He was literally the Voice of one crying the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.  Make straight in the desert a highway for our God!”  He professed to be raised up by the Spirit of God to announce the immediate appearance of the Messiah.  Like the prophets of old he had a message directly from God for the people of Israel.  His message consisted of the announcement that God was about to act.  God would again visit His people.  The Kingdom of God was at hand, and the King was already in their midst!

             The effect of John’s ministry was instantaneous and electric.  Israel was moved as Israel had not been moved for centuries.  His voice reached from the Jordan to the capital city, and awed its heart.  Pharisees and Sadducees, priests and scribes, publicans and sinners, went forth to listen.  East and west, north and south, the tidings spread that the silence of centuries was broken, and that God’s voice was to be heard.  Publicans, like Zaccheus, left their ill-gotten gains; Pharisees, like Nicodemus, left their phylacteries; soldiers of Roman or Herodian armies who were on the march, the common people in their myriads all left their homes and occupations and hurried to the Jordan, till the river banks were black with the crowds of penitents.  “There went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.”  Beneath his burning words thousands repented, turned from their old ways, and began to climb toward the heavenly life.

             Some thought that John was the Messiah.  His fame soon reached the government and priesthood in Jerusalem.  The Jewish authorities sent a deputation of priests to inquire who he was.  He told them that he was not the Christ, but was sent to introduce Him.  “I came to point Him out to Israel.”  He was raised up by God to prepare their hearts for the great revelation of God they were about to receive, to shape their thinking for the new and glorious age about to dawn.   

            We can readily see by the teaching of Jesus that He never spoke of the Kingdom of God as previously existing.  To Him the Kingdom is something entirely new, first to be realized.  Even of John the Baptist He says that he was not in the Kingdom of God, because his whole style of ministry identified him with the preceding dispensation of the law.  “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. 

            Jesus made a startling declaration.  “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding, he that is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he” (Mat. 11:11).  Many wonderful men had lived before John the Baptist.  Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Daniel, and many other powerful men of God had been born and had done exploits in the name of the Lord.  But Jesus said that no one that had been born up to that time was greater than John the Baptist.  In saying this, He was putting John the Baptist in a very high position.  But then He said something even more astonishing.  He said that even the least of us who are in this heavenly Kingdom is greater than John the Baptist!  What an exalted position He has reserved for the members of His body, the citizens of His Kingdom!  This means that even the least of the called out, the apprehended, the elect, whether a child, a day-laborer, a janitor, educated or uneducated, rich or poor, when we are born from above, birthed into the spiritual world of God, transformed  in nature, renewed in mind, regenerated  in heart, and invested with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are in a superior position among God’s people than John the Baptist and all the other men of God that went before. 

            The words of Jesus are clear: John the Baptist is the greatest man that ever lived outside the Kingdom of God!  Those who enter the Kingdom have the potential to become ministers of a SUPERIOR DISPENSATION, even that which by the Spirit of God shall subdue all things unto God and make all things new.  In Matthew 5:19 there is another significant word.  Here we find the story of a man who disobeyed one of the Lord’s commandments and even taught others his disobedience.  The scripture says that he will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.  At first this may not seem very encouraging.  Who wants to be the least in the Kingdom?  But the good thing about it is that this man was still found in the Kingdom!  He may be the least, perhaps, but nevertheless he is there.  And even this one, the very least in the Kingdom of Heaven, IS GREATER THAN JOHN THE BAPTIST!  Think of it! 

            A greater than Solomon is here, beloved,  a greater than Moses, a greater than John.  The greater is now realized in the Christ of God, and I declare that those whom God is bringing forth in conformity to HIS IMAGE shall be a part of the greatest dimension of the Kingdom ever revealed.  Consider, in light of the fact that John was the greatest man that ever lived before Christ, and the very least in the Kingdom is greater than he how unspeakably awesome is the greatness of those elect sons who qualify as THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

PROCLAIMING THE KINGDOM

             “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.  And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all the sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them” (Mat. 4:23-24).  The ministry of Jesus began in a manner which is the essence of simplicity.  Note the words again, “teaching,” “preaching,” and “healing.”  That means there was enunciation, application, and demonstration.  First, He taught.  Now, first of all He did not heal people.  He did not preach to people, but, first of all, He was the great Teacher.  He went about teaching preaching healing.  Teaching is the first thing He did, preaching is the next, and healing is the last. 

             The Word  of God is the power of God unto salvation.  Hence, the necessity of teaching, first of all.  That is why in this hour just before the manifestation of the sons of God, as God prepares to do a new thing and usher in a new age, teaching is the first thing He is doing.  Teaching is more important than preaching.  We have had the idea that if a minister got very emotional and loud he is preaching.  Preaching, technically, is only the proclamation of an ascertained truth.  The proclamation by the Herald, “The Queen is dead, long live the King!” is preaching.  There is no argument about it.  It should be short, sharp, and to the point.  Proclamation is not teaching.  Preaching is not teaching.  When Jesus went to a place, His disciples went before Him and said, “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  There was no teaching about that.  They simply preached, proclaimed. 

             You will notice that this order teaching, preaching, healing is not accidental.  The same statement is made in other parts of the Gospels.  For instance, in Matthew 9:35, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness.”  Then  in the eleventh chapter we read, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and preach in their cities.”  The teaching came first and the preaching next, and the healing last. 

             In the “teaching” of Jesus the old ideas of the Kingdom of God were charged with divine and heavenly meaning; it was NEW LIGHT.  What did He teach?  I want to tell you what He taught.  I know.  There are things I do not know by the million, but there are some things I do know, and I know what Jesus taught.  I know, but I know it not yet in all its fullness.  I have been sitting at His feet for more than fifty years.  To me the Christ has filled my life, and for me there is no  life,  no reality, no love, no power apart from Him.  He has been to me, all.  He is more to me now than ever, and I know Him.  I know something of the power of His resurrection and I know something of the fellowship of His sufferings, and I have trod somewhat in His footsteps, and I love to speak His Name.  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!  My Christ, my Lord, and my God!  The name that charms our fears, quickens life within, and gives peace, love and immortality.  He taught only one thing the Kingdom of God.  That is not a doctrine or creed the Kingdom is life and power and reality and glory unspeakable.  He preached deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, the setting at liberty of them that are bruised, and the acceptable year of the Lord the day of blessing and release for all men.

             Then He came preaching.  What a word is this!   It is the cry of the Herald.  We call him a preacher who delivers his well-prepared sermons to his select and cultured audience on Sunday morning; but the preacher is a herald, whose voice rings out on the quiet air, suddenly, startlingly, “Prepare!  Prepare!  The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”  The Greek word here translated “preaching” was commonly used of a special event in the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day.  It was the announcement the proclamation that a son and heir had been born to the Emperor.  This proclamation also went out when the heir came of age and when he ascended to the throne to become the next Emperor.  John the Baptist came preaching, announcing, heralding the coming of Jesus, the King of glory.  But Jesus came announcing a far greater and much more enduring inheritance, beyond His days on earth.  God, the Creator and Ruler of the universe, was ready to restrain men no longer by law.  He was ready to do a new thing to bring men into His Kingdom, into His own realm, into His own state of being as His very own sons and daughters.  God was ready to make ordinary men royal citizens of His Spiritual Domain, His Divine World, the Kingdom Realm.  First He would make them citizens.  Then from among those citizens He would select an elect company and form them into a divine government, kings and priests after the order of Melchizedek, overcomers, the manifested sons of God, to administer His Kingdom and reign over all things after the power of incorruptible life.

             The healing was the evidence, the supernatural proof that the “Sun of Righteousness” had indeed arisen “with healing in His wings.”  “It was never so seen in Israel” (Mat. 9:33).  Go back with me in thought two millenniums ago in Capernaum, in the land of Israel, and see what a manifested son of God is like.  Jesus is the firstborn, the elder brother of this sonship order and His voice rang loud and clear across the green Galilean hills as He cried, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  And they came from every direction bringing victims of every type of disorder lame, blind, deaf, mute, fevered, epileptic, lunatic, demonized until it seemed as if the whole of Galilee gathered at His feet. 

             Come, see a little girl whom He healed.  It was yesterday, only God’s yesterday, that this happened.  Come, I want to lead you along the streets of Capernaum, and take you into this house.  See that little daughter, but twelve years of age, lying there.  See the father, who is a rabbi, bending over her, and the little maid is whispering, “Father, go and get Jesus to come and heal me.”  “I dare not, my daughter, if I do the rabbis of the Great Council in Jerusalem will strike my name from the roll of rabbis; they will curse me in the temple of my God.  Oh, daughter, I dare not do it.”  And the maid replies, “Then I shall die; no doctor can heal me.”  Said the rabbi, “Daughter, you shall not die.”  “Yes, my father, I shall; for you cannot get Him to come and heal me unless you go to Him and beseech Him.”  And the rabbi cries, “Then I shall worship Him; you shall not die.”  Away speeds the rabbi, and he searches through the streets of Capernaum for Jesus, and cannot find Him.  Then he is told that He has gone to Gadara, but is coming back today. 

             He watches for Him beside the sea, and the moment that Jesus appears he falls at His feet and worships Him, and cries, “Lord, my little daughter lies at the point of death; come and lay Thy hands upon her and she shall live.”  Jesus says He will go.  Away through the streets He goes with the rabbi.  On the way a woman touches the hem of His garment and is immediately healed.  He turns around and addresses words of comfort to her.  Then they go on.  Suddenly a messenger comes to the rabbi, and says, “Your little daughter is dead; do not trouble the Master.”  But Jesus said, “Be not afraid, only believe.  Did I not say I was going to heal her?”  “Yes.”  “Then I am going to do it.”  They go into the house and into the room and there they find the beautiful little girl dead!  Oh, she is dead!  But the hand of the Christ is laid on the head of the child and He says, “Talitha cumi!  Maid arise!”  In a moment the spirit has come back into the body and the maid arises and looks into the face of Jesus.  She lives!  She is well!  “Blessed Jesus!  That was done by Thee yesterday, and Thou art just the same today!  Thou art raising up Thy life within Thy many brethren that Thy glory may be revealed to all creation, from the highest heaven unto the lowest hell, in this Thy greater and more glorious day!”

             We have not yet witnessed the magnitude of the ministry that shall be revealed through the manifested sons of God.  God is preparing His perfected and matured body, anointed with the seven-fold Spirit of God, and this enChristed company shall appear on the cosmic stage of history with the suddenness with which Jesus of Nazareth appeared two millenniums ago and with ten thousand times more power than a Luther, a St. Patrick, a Wesley, a Whitfield, a Finney, a Moody, a Billy Sunday, or any of the revival showers of this century.  God has moved deeply upon my heart to prophesy to God’s elect that there is approaching a grand and glorious MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST before the face of all nations and the whole earth.  There will be a fresh revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is going to come in the midst of a people who truly love His appearing, and I see and hear signs that already He is beginning to come.  We are standing on the threshold of a new and fresh and transcendental manifestation of our Lord.  Not this time through apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  This time it will be through SONS.  It will be like tens of thousands of Jesus's turned loose in the streets of the cities of the world.  These things are burning like a furnace inside of me.  I am being quickened by these things.  I know God is on the move, and my deepest desire is to be a part of this manifestation that will usher in a new day for this sin-cursed planet.  The Lord wants to reveal Himself IN ALL HIS LOVE, GRACE, POWER AND MAJESTY TO ALL CREATION. 

            Jesus did not theorize about the Kingdom, but He taught, preached, practiced, and set the powers of the Kingdom in operation.  For three and a half years Jesus manifested sonship full and complete, not the in part  and by measure we have known through the Church age.  Jesus did mighty works and spoke the words of the Kingdom among the people of Israel.  He also ordained twelve and seventy and sent them forth to preach the Kingdom of God and demonstrate its power.  It was not the design of Jesus to keep His power within Himself.  Rather it was His delight to share with His own.  After His ascension He gave of this power by measure to men and women within His body, gifted ones in the Church.  And now, in the end of the age, out of this Church He is bringing many sons to glory, exact copies and replicas of Himself, His brethren.  To these shall be given the fullness of the power of His resurrection within each one to deliver creation not only from sin and sickness, but from the bondage of corruption the very power of death in spirit, soul, and body.

             Christ appeared just when the cosmos was ready for the revelation.  Paul says that “when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son” (Gal. 4:4).  The Kingdom was the supreme concern and purpose in the heart of Jesus, as it now is in those who have received the call to sonship.  The Kingdom was His dearest dream, the one consuming passion of His life.  As a child, when He studied the holy scriptures and communed with His heavenly Father, the reality of the Kingdom of God was birthed in His life and set the fires of expectation burning in His soul.  As He fulfilled His daily responsibilities, as He strolled in the solitude of the peaceful Galilean hills, the hope that constantly throbbed within His breast and would not let Him go was that of the Kingdom of God.  It was upon the Kingdom that He meditated when He went to worship at the synagogue.  It was of the Kingdom that He spoke to His Father in the secret place of prayer.  In the soul  of Jesus the reign of God was supreme. 

             When Jesus turned aside from the carpenter shop that day, He set out to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom was ever His dominant theme.  By deed and by example, no less than by word, He toiled to expound it.  With divine motivation He set out to bring the Kingdom of God to pass in the earth.  The world of His day was mad pagan, vicious, violent, wicked, and intolerant beyond description.  His was the most impossible task of which we can conceive.  But He was convinced that by the power of His Father all things are possible.  He was absolutely sure that God was stronger than the devil.  He was absolutely certain that sin and death in their every ghastly and hideous form should at last be driven out of the world and that God should reign in every human breast from the rivers to the ends of the earth.  He longed, and bade us pray, that this glorious consciousness of, and obedience to, God’s reign should be shared by every man, woman, and child that lives or has ever lived.  That, surely, is what we ask when we pray as He taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come!”

 THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM

             When Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God was at hand, He called on the people to repent and believe the good news.  By repentance the people would be delivered of the past with all its dead religious forms and ceremonies, law and regulations, and would be free to embrace the new gospel of the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus.  When I think of the radical change Jesus brought into the world at that time, it is not surprising that many rejected Him and refused to believe His message.  This was especially true of the tradition-bound religious people, such as the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees.  It will not be different in the day of the manifestation of the sons, but they will triumph over all until God is truly “all in all.” 

            The message of the sons of God is the same message proclaimed by the first Son of God.  “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel...”   What gospel?  “...the gospel of the kingdom of God...”  That is the gospel Christ proclaimed.  The message He brought was about the Kingdom of God.  It was not about the Church, for the Church is only an aspect of the Kingdom, a part of the process.  It was the gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus wanted proclaimed AS A WITNESS to all nations!  Jesus said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent” (Lk. 4:43).  Jesus commissioned His disciples to teach the Kingdom of God.  “Then He called the twelve disciples together, and...He sent them to preach the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:1-2).  “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom...” (Mat. 4:23). 

            Jesus’ parables concerned the Kingdom of God..  To His disciples, in explaining the parable of the sower, He said: “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God” and then explained to them the parable.  Again, “Then said He, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?” (Lk. 13:18) and then came a parable.  “And again He said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven...” and then follows the parable of the leaven. 

            After Christ’s resurrection, the disciples were with Him forty days.  Of their conversations during this time  we read,  “...until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: to whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God...” (Acts 1:2-3).  After the day of Pentecost “Philip went down to the city of Samaria...when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).  The apostle Paul spoke boldly at Ephesus for three months “disputing and persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of God.”  On a later trip, at Miletus, Paul called for the elders of the Church at Ephesus.  Saying his farewell to them, he said, “And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more” (Acts 20:25).  Then at Rome, “there came many to Paul, into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God...” (Acts 28:3).  Again at Rome, “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God...” (Acts 28:30). 

            The churches the apostasies would be a better word for the most part are always talking about “the Gospel.”  Why do they not go on?  Why do they not conclude the words?  The gospel of what?  The word gospel is incomplete.  Gospel means “glad tidings,” or  “good news.”  But the good news of what?  What is the good message about?  That is a legitimate question, because the full meaning is not presented in the word “gospel”.  It is presented  in the Bible, yes, as “the gospel of the Kingdom of God,” the good news of the Kingdom of God.  The good news is that God has a Kingdom and that He is establishing it in individual lives, in homes, in cities, in nations, and in the world.  The good news of the Kingdom of God that is the gospel.  It is not the gospel of the Baptist Church, or the gospel of the Presbyterian Church, or the gospel of the Lutheran Church, or the gospel of the Roman Catholic Church, or the gospel of the Pentecostal Church.  It is not the gospel of any church, movement, nation or man.  It is the gospel of the Kingdom of God. 

            You hear the different expressions brought forth by preachers, “I preach the gospel of the New Testament”; “I preach the gospel of salvation”; “I preach the gospel of grace”; “I preach the gospel of Christ”; “I preach the gospel of God”;  “I preach the gospel of eternal life”;  “I preach the everlasting gospel”; “I preach Paul’s gospel”; “I preach the Foursquare gospel”; “I preach the old-fashioned gospel”; etc.  These expressions may be well and good, a couple of them appear a time or two in the scriptures, but just what do the masses of people conclude from them?  Many people think there are several different gospels.  I heard a preacher say that we have no business preaching the gospel of the Kingdom at this time.  He said, “I only preach Paul’s gospel and that is the only gospel for us to preach.”  But the gospel Paul preached was the same gospel the Lord gave the other apostles to preach the gospel of the Kingdom.  When Paul called the elders from Ephesus to talk to them for the last time, some of His words were these, “And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone PREACHING THE KINGDOM OF GOD, shall see my face no more” (Acts 20:25).  What gospel did Paul preach?  The same as Jesus told His disciples to preach when He sent them out to the villages of Israel; he preached the Kingdom of God.  Grace is a part of that gospel.  Salvation is a part of that gospel.  But none of those aspects are the gospel.  They are merely parts or segments of the gospel of the Kingdom.  Some people say, “We preach the FULL GOSPEL!”   Indeed?  The only “full gospel” in the whole world is the gospel of the Kingdom!  It is the all-inclusive gospel.  It contains all the plenitude of God’s rule by the Spirit.  It will carry you all the way from your elementary walk in God to maturity in the mind of Christ and the image of the Father. As far as the scriptures and the Lord are concerned there is only one gospel  the GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD! 

            This truth of the Kingdom is missing from the popular preaching of our day.  Our long years of captivity in Babylon have erased the knowledge of the Kingdom from our minds.  The Kingdom has become a future hope rather than a present reality.  The term “kingdom” is mostly absent from the evangelism you hear from the churches, television preachers, and crusades.  The sad fact is that the popular gospel of the church systems is not fully rooted in the Word of God, nor does it correspond to the heart of God or the eternal purpose of God.   

            As I scanned the morning paper, I noticed that every article reported “old” news: a prominent sports figure arrested for drunkenness, a man charged with conspiracy, a government policy criticized, wars and rumors of wars, and a riot in the Middle East.  There is really nothing new about such stories.  They’re simply modern versions of what people have been doing since Adam and Eve disobeyed God.  The news headlines from three millenniums ago would read the same as this morning’s paper.  A humorous columnist wrote a bit on the news printed in daily newspapers.  It is actually NOT news, he insisted, since it is a reporting of events that already have happened.  Therefore it is no longer new, but old when printed.  He insisted that it really ought to be called OLDS! 

            So what is real news?  It isn’t about the kind of conduct that comes naturally, that repeats out of human nature again and again, but behavior that takes more courage and strength than we’re capable of.  When someone acts in ways that are holy, righteous, loving, and for the good of creation now that’s news!  How many know today, that Jesus’ gospel was a sensational, never-before proclaimed NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT?  Jesus was a NEWSCASTER.  His news was something absolutely NEW never before proclaimed to mankind.  It was the most wonderful NEWS ever reported.  Actually almost too wonderful for humans to believe.  It was the news of the utterly transcendent potential of man.  It was the news of the Kingdom of God within.  It was the news of a realm of life, a dimension  of reality, where sin, sickness, sorrow, pain, ignorance, poverty,  limitation, fear and death can all be overcome and man can know and think with the mind of Christ and live in the abundant life of God.  The word “gospel” means GOOD NEWS and that is the only news this poor old world needs to hear the GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD!  It is the good news concerning the reign of Christ. It is the good news about salvation, deliverance, healing,  blessing, provision, a new mind, a new nature, and the dominion given to the sons of God.  It is the good news of manifested sonship.  Jesus was HIMSELF the revelation of what the Kingdom is for all men. 

            The following words by Paul Mueller are encouraging.  “‘Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old’ (Mat. 13:52).  Notice Jesus’ reference to those who are ‘instructed unto the Kingdom of Heaven.’  All manner of teaching has gone forth and is still going forth, but much of it has to do with the church order of the past.  Much of it is useless in this new Day!  But Jesus taught the truths of the Kingdom of God.  It is only the blessed truths  of the Kingdom of God that shall enable us to withstand the great shakings of this time.  All other teachings and instructions shall fail the test of time.  But the Kingdom of God and all related truths shall prevail when all else fails.  Therefore, the Lord would instruct us in those truths of the past, present, and future, which pertain to the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth! 

            “The coming of the power, the authority and the throne of the Kingdom of God to the earth was not a surprise to those instructed unto the Kingdom.  The truth of it was proclaimed by Jesus, as well as His apostles and prophets of that day and this.  It is the hope of all mankind!  It is only that the church system and its leaders have lost the blessed truths of the Kingdom of God.  Multitudes  in the church system turned away from the truths of the Kingdom and embraced instead the narrow, restricted and confined teachings of man regarding church order.  All those who are thus involved with the things of the past age are blinded to the reality of the Kingdom of God and the blessed throne of that Kingdom, which is a positive influence now in the earth.  Only by repentance, which is deep and complete, can anyone see the narrowness of the past age and embrace with joy the glories of the Kingdom of God in the earth. 

            “The gospel of the Kingdom includes not only the promises of Luke 4:18-19, but all the promises of the original prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-3 as well.  The gospel of the Kingdom is indeed the gospel for the whole person.  It truly is the good news of the sovereign dominion of our almighty God!  It is the Jubilee message for every person of every nation and tongue.  The gospel of the Kingdom includes the fullness of salvation, the removal of the curse, the restoration of all things, and  prosperity for all.  It is a message of the Christ-Life for every person!  And we are the firstfruits; we are the seed of the beginning of the restoration and reconciliation of all things, which marks the blessed reality of the Kingdom of God on earth.  But to get here, we marched ever onward and forward at our Lord’s bidding.  Our Father never allowed us to camp and remain at any of the road-markers of the past!”   end quote. 

            The gospel of the Kingdom includes the whole purpose of God and if we wish to inherit the Kingdom we must embrace the whole purpose of God.  We have known many people who have accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour and they are quite satisfied with that level of experience.  They get saved, live a few years and die and go to heaven.  To be with Christ after one dies is a wonderful hope, but God wants us to enter in to all He has for us.  Others have learned what it is to consecrate their lives to God and desire to serve Him with all of their hearts.  Others desire a holy life that is set apart for God.  Others seek to be filled with the Spirit of God and desire to be led by the Spirit.  Others long to receive spiritual gifts and enter into a spiritual ministry, and still others desire to go on and become manifested sons.  They long to overcome, to be conformed into the image of God, to put on the mind of Christ, and sit with Christ in His throne (Rev. 3:20-21), not because they are power-mad, but because there is a deep and compelling desire to minister to the whole need of the whole creation. 

            We have the record of the revelation of God’s Kingdom purpose in I Cor. 15:22-28.  “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, but every man in his own order; Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.  Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign, until He hath put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.  For He hath put all things under His feet.  But when He saith that all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him.  And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL.” 

            GOD ALL IN ALL this will be the grand conclusion of the great drama of the world’s history and the conquest of the Kingdom of God.  There will come a day the glory is such we can form no conception of it, the mystery is so deep we cannot realize it when the Son shall deliver up the Kingdom that God gave Him and which He won with His own blood and established and perfected from the throne of His glory.  ALL IN ALL such is the grand goal of our God.  He will yet be everything to everyone of His creatures, as it is fitting He should be.  Nothing less will satisfy His heart for “He has created all things, and for HIS PLEASURE they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).  Nothing less will vindicate His love or form a fit conclusion for the sin and sorrow and death of the ages.  Let us with joy believe it!  Let us exult as we receive it!  Let us be “laborers together with God” to accomplish it!  May this simple phrase, that the smallest child can utter, become the very basis of our being, the background of every act, the key to every occurrence, a light in every darkness, a balm for every wound, and our ages-lasting consolation and good hope.  Let us awake from the terrifying nightmare of Babylon’s delusions and let us wing our spirits to God’s glorious consummation.  Here is a vision worthy of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ GOD ALL IN ALL.  God help everyone who reads these lines, God help us all to yield ourselves to Him, that we may be in the fullest sense the FIRSTFRUITS OF HIS REDEMPTION.  This is realized when HE IS ALL IN US for we have appropriated the fullness of Himself.  Amen!  

            While we praise God for every moving of His Spirit and each step of His all-wise plan, the fact remains that none of the revivals of history has ever once-for-all defeated satan, sin, and death.  No revival in any land has turned the whole world to God!  No dealing of God with humanity has ever brought to pass the TOTAL TRIUMPH of His Kingdom in all realms!  Sin and death still stalk across the earth, the vast masses of humanity held tight in their terrible clutches, with sorrows beyond description.  Is there no deliverance for these?  How truly the whole creation groans and travails in pain together, waiting, not for another Luther, nor another Paul, nor another Finney, nor another Peter, nor another Moody; waiting not for another Pentecost, nor for another healing campaign, nor for another prophet, nor for the rapture.  “For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD” (Rom. 8:19).  And why does all creation stand in the wings waiting with bated breath, crowding the door and standing on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of God’s sons coming into their own?  “For the creation itself ALSO shall be delivered...INTO THE GLORIOUS LIBERTY OF THE SONS OF GOD!” (Rom. 8:21).  Praise God!

            Thank God, Daniel 7:27 is really true!  “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and ALL DOMINIONS SHALL SERVE HIM!”  Thank God, Ephesians 1:10 is actually the fully inspired word of God!  “And this is in harmony with God’s merciful purpose for the GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD when the times are ripe for it the purpose which He has cherished in His own mind of restoring the whole creation to find its one Head in Christ; yes, things in heaven and things on earth, to find their one Head IN HIM” (Weymouth). 

            If God had no such plan for the world, what kind of a God would He be?  An African tribe has this notion: “God is good and wishes good for everybody, but unfortunately He has a half-witted brother who is always interfering with what He does.  The half-witted brother keeps on intruding himself and does not give God a chance.”  This quaint conception of God is interesting since it conforms precisely to the modern “gospel” of the church system!  Their version goes like this: God is good and wishes good for everybody, but unfortunately there is a cosmic accident.  One of God’s highest creations, one of the protectors of His throne, one of God’s own body-guards, the singing, musical archangel Lucifer, rebelled and became the devil, and he mischievously and maliciously goes about everywhere interfering with what God does.  The devil keeps on intruding himself and doesn’t give God a chance.   

            The good God, according to the common testimony of church goers, is ever trying to do this and that, while the devil is continually interfering with His plans, frustrating His purposes, usurping His instruments and defeating the issue.  On some good days the good God wins, on some bad days He loses.  They go about continually talking to the devil, praying to the Devil (though they call it commanding and rebuking), and giving place to him over and over again.  They “bind” him in this meeting and in that situation, but, like Samson breaking the cords of Delilah, he bounces right back in full regalia at the next meeting or occasion.  These “devil-worshippers” ever beat the air against him and do, occasionally, they claim, win a battle against him, but the war rages on.  If they do not get an immediate answer to their prayer, they are sure the devil is hindering.  If everything does not go according to plan, the devil is interfering.  If obstacles appear along the way, the devil is fighting them.  They live out their lives in a constant state of paranoid devil-consciousness.  The churches are literally filled with these devil-worshippers.  They do not intentionally plan their worship this way, but it develops into that form, nevertheless.  These go on and on about the devil, attributing so much power and mischief to his cause, and inadvertently sing his praises, because they truly believe in the devil.  I have been in meetings where the people spent more time talking to the devil than they did talking to God.  What faith they have in him!  What power and wisdom they ascribe to him!  With what cunning does he, to hear them tell it, repeatedly “out-fox” the good God!  In their minds he is HIS MAJESTY THE DEVIL! 

            I do not hesitate to tell you that that is NOT the gospel, it has absolutely nothing in common with the “good news” of the KINGDOM OF GOD!   Such teaching is no compliment or credit to the dominion of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Rather, it is a monstrous heresy, a wicked blasphemy.  If God allows Himself to be “out-smarted” or “hindered” or “defeated” by the devil, then God is Himself the half-witted brother, if I may say so reverently.  You cannot have a half-God ruling over a half-realm without implying a half-wit as God. 

            The King of the Kingdom has said, “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Mat. 12:28).  In other words, when Jesus cast out demons He was representing what the Kingdom of God will do.  When you get the rule of God in your life there is no devil anymore.  We have the same illustration when Jesus cleansed the temple.  He went into that natural temple in His physical body and chased out all the animals and the money changers and all who merchandised the bestial realm in the temple of God.  How He cast them out!  He was illustrating that greater temple which we are, and when the Christ comes in, when the rule of God is raised up within, when the Kingdom of God is come, all that has occupied and usurped this temple, contaminated this temple, controlled this temple has to go.  At the recognition of His presence and at the power of His Word they all march out.  Anyone with one spiritual eye and half spiritual sense should know that Christ does not co-habit with devils.  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour! 

            The gospel of the Kingdom is yet to be preached in power to the inhabitants of the world in our generation.  The gospel of grace has gone into most of the world, the gospel of salvation has penetrated nearly everywhere, but not the gospel of the Kingdom.  God is raising up His sons in this day to again proclaim that very gospel to every kindred and tongue and people and nation.  Jesus was the firstborn of the Kingdom realm in His day.  Now many sons are being brought to His glory.  Many who read these lines are being processed and matured, as Jesus was for thirty years in Nazareth before His sonship ministry began, to be shown to the world as the sons of the living God.  A new move of God is at hand not another church revival, but THE KINGDOM OF GOD SHALL BE SEEN IN POWER.  God has let us into the secret of His counsels.  He has granted us wonderful spiritual illumination.  He has given us a message of the utmost importance to deliver to His people.  We have been informed by the Lord that a great change is impending the manifestation of the sons of God.  A new order looms bright upon the horizon.  A new Day is dawning.  We are instructed that the present religious systems of Christendom are coming down, the present order is about to end, and the dominion is now given to the saints of the Most High.  Praise the name of the Lord! 

            To be continued...                                                                                           J. PRESTON EBY

 

 

                                                        

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