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The Kingdom of God part 8


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


 THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 Part 8

 THE BEGINNING OF THE KINGDOM

            “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, ye, and believe the gospel” (Mk. 1:14-15). 

            Great controversy has raged over the precise meaning of the Greek word  ENGIKEN, here translated “is at hand.”  The simple Greek word from which it is formed (ENGIZO) means “draw near”, but ENGIKEN is the perfect tense of this verb.  This is a significant tense in Greek for which we have no exact equivalent in English.  It indicates an action that has taken place in the past, but which also has a continuing effect in the present.  Here, if we labored it, we could say that the perfect tense means, “It has drawn near and is now very near.”  It certainly means very much more than just an ordinary present tense that would be translated “is drawing near.”  The New English Bible seeks to do justice to this Greek perfect tense by translating it, “The kingdom of God is upon you.”  The verb could also be translated, “The kingdom of God has arrived,” that is, it is a present reality now, not just a future eventuality. 

            The essence of the message of Jesus was that God’s chosen time had arrived NOW.  His Kingdom was already breaking into the world of men.  This was no longer a promise for some distant future for which men must wait with a hope so fragile that it soon dwindles into disillusionment.  God’s action had begun.  Men must awaken to the truth of it, and respond eagerly and actively.  Satan’s realm was already threatened, invaded and about to be conquered.  The ancient hope was already being swallowed up in present reality.  NOW was the moment of God’s action, and the time for man to act in response.  Men were summoned to identify themselves with this arrival of God’s Kingdom, and to make themselves God’s instruments in its coming.  Their response is demanded urgently, without delay, without hesitation, without misgiving.  The fact that God is actively breaking into the life of the world is expressed in such terms as these: The Kingdom “has drawn near”, “is coming”, “will come”, “has burst upon”, “is forcing itself into”, and “men are pressing into it”. 

            When Jesus said the Kingdom was at hand, He surely didn’t mean that it would not appear for hundreds or thousands of years!  Two positive and incontrovertible facts are written of the Kingdom.  It is said that the Kingdom of Heaven is “within you” (Lk. 17:21) and that it is “at hand” (Mat. 4:17).  Where is your hand located?  Is your hand not right before you?  Is it not accessible for your every command?  And are not all things reachable by your hand said to be “at hand”?  If you were to ask me where my Bible is, because it is here on the desk before me, I might answer, “It is right here at hand.”  On the other hand, if my Bible were at home I would say, “I’m sorry, it is not at hand right now.”  To be at hand means to be near, present, reachable, attainable!  At hand bespeaks of something that is within our grasp, not something that is away out in the future; but something that is now.  Not the Kingdom that was, not the Kingdom that is to come, but the Kingdom that IS, that is NOW.  If the Kingdom of God was not to be established on earth until the millennium two thousand years later, how could Jesus have said, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe the good news!”  So it is that when Jesus came two thousand years ago declaring that the Kingdom was then at hand, He was saying that the reality of the Kingdom GOD’S INTERNAL RULE BY THE SPIRIT was even then accessible and attainable by all who would receive it. How could Jesus say that the Kingdom was at hand, that men had entered it, that it had come upon them, if it was not to appear for ages?  How could an event be said to be near, or even present, if it was actually further off than the whole period of the history of Israel from Moses to Christ!   

            There comes the time in the life of every son of God when he claims the Kingdom as a present tense reality in his life.  The Kingdom of Heaven is here just as much as it will be there in some indefinable and indefinite future.  It is not a matter of “here” or “there”, nor a matter of “now” or “then” at all for “neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, Lo, there!, for, behold, the Kingdom of God IS...”  This realization of the “is-ness” of the Kingdom is the first step to Kingdom reality.  What blessed instruction we receive in the words of Jesus, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye (change your mind) and believe the good news.”  When a man or woman is quickened by the spirit of truth to say, “The time is fulfilled for me, right now,” he enters into a new relationship with the Father and the present and the future merge into oneness.  What is the good news of the Kingdom?  IT IS HERE!  One cannot have God without His expression, His realm, His rule.  It is within you because God is within you. 

            The Kingdom is not an antiquated Jewish dream, dusty with the history of centuries.  It touches us at all vital points if we are sons of God.  It is an immediate and personal concern.  It is God’s unfolding plan of the ages, His time-abiding strategy for redeeming us from ourselves and the vanity of the flesh and the world.  It is God’s way of conforming us into the image of His Son and making us one in Him.  We are faced then with the solemn truth that when we pray for the coming of the Kingdom we are not praying for the advent of some great world-wide political or economic program.  We are not praying for the end of the world, or for the rapture, or for the millennium, or blessing upon the state of Israel, or the exaltation of the United States and Great Britain.  It is far more personal than that.  This is a prayer that storms the gates of my own little kingdom, and breaks down the barriers between the will of God and me.  It brings the rule of the Spirit in mind, heart and body until the glory of God arises upon me and His glory is seen upon me, bringing blessing and transformation to all He touches. 

            I’m sure most of those who read these lines have read the following by an unknown author.  “Nearly two thousand years ago in an obscure village, a child was born of a peasant woman.  He grew up in another village where He worked as a carpenter until He was thirty.  Then for three years He became an itinerant preacher.  This Man never went to college or seminary.  He never wrote a book.  He never held a public office.  He never had a family nor owned a home.  He never put His foot inside a big city nor traveled even 200 miles from His birthplace.  And though He never did any of the things that usually accompany greatness, throngs of people followed Him.  HE HAD NO CREDENTIALS BUT HIMSELF.” 

            On what mission was Jesus sent?  We already know the answer to this question.  Jesus began His work in Galilee as the messenger of the Kingdom of God.  He testified by acts of power that the Kingdom was close at hand, and sought to effect in men the “change of mind” that would make them worthy to receive it.  His mission was to usher in the beginning of the Kingdom, making its blessings, benefits, privileges, and supernatural powers a present possession for all who by faith would use them to usher it in as a living reality which would grow and grow until, by a final crisis, it passed into the perfect and all-consuming Kingdom of God.   

            In the third chapter of Matthew, when Jesus began to preach that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, He was preaching that there were three things being brought into this earthly realm and they came in at the same time as the Kingdom, for they are the Kingdom.  One of them was the ROYALTY OF HEAVEN.  THE ROYALTY of heaven had moved into the earth and was tabernacling with men, abiding in flesh.  And though Jesus was the royalty of heaven, yet He took a house made of flesh just like we live in, and walked upon earth.  The royalty of heaven went about touching the lepers, commanding demons to go, lifting up the sick and afflicted, forgiving sins, and teaching men the ways of the Kingdom.  The royalty of heaven raised the dead, showed many signs and wonders, and moved through this earth which had now become the realm of heaven.  The second thing was that the RULE OF HEAVEN had been injected right into the earth.  The third thing was that the REALM OF HEAVEN had been moved into the earth.  We no longer need to think that we must go some place in order to get to heaven.  IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO US.  Jesus brought the rulership, the realm, and the wonderful royalty of heaven into the earth to take over the dominion from mankind.  It is even so today.  This is the power and the glory of the Kingdom of God on earth! 

            In Jesus Christ, the firstborn Son, the new age of the Kingdom had arrived.  Its privileges and powers were available, and He used them freely and fully.  Although the priests and other leaders of the static religious system of the day were busy with their time-worn routines of the dead past, and the slumbering world was doing business as usual, nevertheless, a new day had come and Jesus came forth in the life of the Kingdom.  Now the Son of God had to reveal Himself personally to all Israel, thereby establishing a new order providing the necessary guidance for all who believe and follow Him. 

            After the Lord announced that the time for the beginning of the Kingdom had come, He went into the synagogue at Capernaum and began to teach.  Immediately, the people noticed something very different about this man.  There was an authority in His teaching that the scribes did not have.  Furthermore, a man in the synagogue in which resided an unclean spirit began to cry out.  The evil spirit could not withstand His presence nor the power of His authority.  When Jesus rebuked the demon, commanding it to come out of the man, the demon cried out with a loud voice.  When the people saw this happen before their eyes, they were greatly astonished.  Never before had they seen an evil spirit come out of anyone by the direct command of a man.  None of their religious leaders, nor even the prophets had such power.  They questioned among themselves about what new doctrine or power this was (Mk. 1:21-28). 

            It was true.  A new power had come into operation among men.  All through the Old Testament times, though the prophets had power to perform miracles and do exploits, not one person had cast a demon out of anyone by means of a direct command.  What was this new power that was operating among men?  Our Lord Jesus, Himself, explained it this way.  He said, “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come...” (Mat. 12:28).  This new authority which He was exercising over demons and over all things was the sign and proof that the Kingdom of God had begun.  When He first began to preach, He had said that the Kingdom of God was drawing near, but now, after He had started to cast out demons by the power of His Word, He declared, “The Kingdom of God IS COME.”  It was no longer future, but had become a present reality.   

            That same Jesus has now been made Lord and has absolute power over all nations and all mankind so that the course of history is altered.  The coming of Christ to the earth was a mighty manifestation of omnipotent power.  By the power of His coming the whole nation of Israel was changed.  The course and destiny of many lives was completely transformed as men and women repented of their sins and the empty religious realm in which they had served, and were brought into harmony with the Kingdom.  Multitudes who lived in subsequent times, all through the past age,  have also experienced the transforming power of Christ.  This is the power of the Kingdom of God.  Christ was the seed, the firstborn, the pioneer, the proto-type, the author and the beginning of all that the Kingdom is.  Those days of the Son of man were sample days of the Kingdom in the blessings bestowed.  All the mighty works done by Jesus were but a taste of the Kingdom. 

            Jesus came into the world in the time of the Roman Empire.  His ministry was carried forth under the rule of the Roman government.  He was crucified on a Roman cross, pierced with a Roman spear, and sealed in His sepulcher under a Roman seal.  But praise God!  He burst the bands of death, shattered the seal of mighty Rome, and arose the conquering Christ.  And not only that He ascended Victor over all the powers of darkness, having brought to naught the prince of this world, having brought in eternal redemption for a lost world and redeemed all back unto Himself.  He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high and poured out upon the first few citizens of His Kingdom the gift of the Holy Ghost.  The Kingdom of God was birthed, and gathered from Jew and Gentile alike a vast multitude into its bosom.  What a flood of light and glory and power fell upon the world  in the ministry of the humble followers of the Lamb! 

            And what glorious days those were!  How God blessed His people!  Mighty signs and wonders were performed as God confirmed His Word with signs following.  The Word of God, anointed by the Holy Spirit, swept the world like a prairie fire.  It encircled the mountains and crossed the oceans.  It made kings to tremble and tyrants to fear.  It was said of those early Christians that they had turned the world upside down! so powerful was their message and spirit.  In spite of persecution, in spite of untold thousands of saints impaled upon crosses, burnt at the stake, and fed to hungry lions to the thunderous applause of wild spectators, it grew and multiplied, for God dwelt mightily in the midst of His people.  The knowledge of the glory of the Lord covered the earth as the waters cover the sea.  Paganism fell.  The mighty Roman Empire shut up its idol temples, all the gods of the ancient world perished from the face of the earth forever, and multitudes of many nations sat down as disciples at the feet of Christ and His apostles.  That, like the ministry of Jesus Himself, was but a sample, a demonstration of the Kingdom, but not the fullness of that Kingdom when it has grown and developed in the hearts of an elect people who shall establish it in the fullness of God over all nations and peoples and realms.  The words of Jesus and His apostles reveal that “ages” are required to carry the Kingdom through its various stages of progress and development and finally deliver it up to the Father with all things subjected and God “all in all.” 

            Frequently one hears the opinion voiced that the only thing that will save the world of our day from utter ruin, and the race itself from destruction, is a beneficent SUPERMAN, an authoritative one who would be wise enough to map out a new and better course for the people, order his plans put into effect, and have power to enforce his edicts.  Convince the world that such a ruler is on hand and he would probably be universally proclaimed!  Not a single one of the kings of all the nations, past or present, ever possessed these qualities.  A king qualified to take over this chaotic world of today would need to fulfill the prophetic picture given to us by king David, “Give the King Thy judgment, O God, and Thy righteousness...He shall judge Thy people with righteousness, and Thy poor with justice.  The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, Thy righteousness.  He shall judge the poor of the people, He shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor...in His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.  He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (Ps. 72:1-8). 

            The One of whom these words speak is the great King of kings and Lord of lords.  The Lord our God is the King, and His Kingdom shall rule over ALL.  And praise His name, He is even now bringing forth in the earth a KINGDOM PEOPLE the harvest of the Christ-life sown into the earth who are discovering His Lordship over all of their lives.  When all hell assails us, when the power of death all around crowds in upon us, when the pressures of this world would frustrate and vex and suffocate us, when our own passions and emotions and self-will would drown us in a sea of carnality and ungodliness, then HE STANDS UP WITHIN US AS KING in Kingly authority.  When the world, and our own flesh, would tear us apart and smash our lives and our hope of sonship upon the rocks, HE IS THERE, the still small Voice, the deep inner consciousness that all is well, that He, the Lord of glory is the Mighty One in the midst of us, and all is secure in His loving hands, for He ordained our path and made provision for the hour.  He is Himself the provision, the indwelling Christ, the anointing, the authority inherent in the Spirit moving in our lives.  Through all these testings and processings we are being prepared for our “showing unto the world” in the righteousness, power, and glory of the Kingdom of God.  Press on, O sons of God! 

            Jesus is the beginning of the Kingdom of God and Jesus is a Sign.  His life is a Sign pointing to, and a pattern for, His anointed body.  Those who make up His body shall follow in His steps and be conformed into His image.  This thing of which Jesus is a Sign is a SON COMPANY, born from above, filled with His Spirit, possessed of His glorious mind, caught up into the purposes of God, processed through Father’s faithful dealings, and anointed for rulership...to sit on the throne with Him.  This body of people, though composed of a multitude of saints throughout the world, and gathered out of the ages, yet is seen in the scriptures as ONE BODY, also spoken of as ONE PERFECT MAN, the OVERCOMER, and the MANIFESTED SONS OF GOD.  How this elect body comes into existence and what happens to it and through it can be learned by studying the Pattern, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And although there will be unnumbered multitudes of people saved by the grace of God through the precious blood of Jesus, and we certainly thank God for these dear ones, still the high purposes of God are tied up in that company of saints who press their way toward the mark for the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

            Consider now what is next in order for the people of God today!  Would you like to have a true prophetic insight into God’s purposes and plans?  Then consider the Pattern Son.  See how the baby Jesus began to grow up into mature manhood.  Except for one brief glimpse of the boy Jesus at the tender age  of twelve, we know nothing of how He grew from babyhood to manhood.  Yet we know that He did.  “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Lk. 2:52).  And though the growth of His body in this hour may appear to be imperceptible from day to day, just as with the growth of a natural child, it’s progress is sure, and in the Father’s appointed time it will come to the full maturity of the Christ Man.    Let us look at the boy Jesus.  When we do see Him, where was He?  What was He doing?  See Him there, He is in the temple, His mind upon the things of God, astounding the lawyers and the revered doctors of the law with His knowledge of God and the depth of His revelation, while the other children are playing their religious games in the market-place.  The doctors of the law cannot understand this lad, nor the source of His wisdom, who someday will be God’s Man; neither can they answer His searching questions.  See how He is about His Father’s business, recognizing at least in a measure who He is and the magnitude of His divine calling. 

            See Him at Jordan laying down His life and giving Himself into the hands of His Father in such a way that He became a vehicle for the expression of God.  God reveals His might in the storm and His power in the lightning.  He has expressed His creative ability in the majesty of the universe.  But only in Jesus, His Son, could He truly reveal and express His divine nature.  So the Son, as a man, laid down His own rights, His own thoughts, His own will and ways, and became a visible means of expressing that which was divine, that which was invisible.  No man can see the invisible God.  But He has One to truly represent Him to creation, One to express His love, His grace, His goodness, His knowledge, His wisdom, His glory, His authority and dominion in heaven and in earth.  He has One like Himself, in His own image, a human-divine One, and at Jordan He placed this One publicly as HIS SON.  “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” declared the Father’s voice out of the heavens. 

            From His anointing at Jordan, Jesus entered a ministry for three and a half years that destroyed the powers of hell, and shook this world to its very foundations.  HE IS THE PATTERN.  Looking unto Him, we see our course set before us.  “Be of good cheer,” He said, “I have overcome the world.”  Never once was anyone turned away that came to Him.  There was no disease too strong or too advanced, there was no limb too crooked, there was no eye too blind, there was no storm too violent, there was no demon too powerful, there was no corpse too dead, there was no sinner too wicked, there was no situation too helpless or hopeless.  He was victorious over every devil, over the elements of nature as the winds and the waves obeyed His mighty Voice, over every evil force.  He had entered into that realm that the enemy had usurped from Adam, and had won it back, step by step as He walked for thirty years with His heavenly Father.  Glory to God!  THIS WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH. 

            What does this mean to you and me, my brother, my sister, who have received the call to follow the Lamb?  We don’t yet see all things under the feet of God’s CORPORATE SON (Heb. 2:8), but (verse 9), “we see Jesus, crowned with glory and honor.”  We see the Head, the Firstborn of this body supremely victorious, waiting until the body comes to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that His enemies become His footstool.  The Head is victorious, triumphant and crowned!  But this glorious work that He began shall be carried forth until His whole body, even the feet, shall rise to the place of authority that He has.  “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20).  Now in these appointed days there is coming forth a body of people, raised up by the Holy Spirit of God, who are not content to let Satan and the carnal mind and the curse rule here on this earth.  They are crying out for deliverance and interceding for the Kingdom of God on earth.  They know not how this can be done, for it truly looks impossible!  But having heard from heaven they gladly embrace the hope.  The Spirit of God is now revealing truths that have been hidden from ages and from generations.  Hope is springing up in the hearts of the saints, God’s “called out ones,” and they are beginning to see that we can follow Jesus into that which is beyond the veil, into the Holiest of all, into the fullness of God.  These are looking not to be ordinary Christians, but extraordinary.  These are not looking to die, but to live; not for eventual victory in heaven, but for victory right here on this earth. 

            Can our finite minds comprehend even in a measure what this shall mean, to walk in the STATE OF BEING Jesus lived in?  To have dominion over everything within our own hearts, wills, minds, desires, emotions, intents and passions, so that we express only and always the Spirit of our Father?  To have dominion over the elements, the beasts, the birds, over the worse diseases and the most powerful devils.  Yes, even victory over death itself, the last enemy to be conquered.  Some claim now to have already conquered physical death, while they still fear a mad dog, still fasten their seatbelts on the highways, and still eat three meals a day to sustain their life.  Precious friend of mine, death is the last enemy to be destroyed!  But fall it must, before the mighty power of God working within the enChristed.  Jesus said that the works He did, we would do also, and even much GREATER WORKS (Jn. 14:12).  This power is not given for us to gratify our carnal appetites with bread made from stones, nor for sensationalism, nor to build a kingdom for ourselves, nor for financial reward, nor to make a name.  Jesus was tempted with all these things, and He overcame every one of them.  And so will those who follow His pattern.  Praise God!  What a destiny!  How marvelous the plan of God!  How glorious the path of those who walk with God! 

            “The life which Jesus lived on earth was the greatest parable ever known.  It was a parable of the KINGDOM OF GOD.  He fully demonstrated by His divine life and power all the blessings that were to follow in His Kingdom.  The evil things that we have learned to live with and accept as part of our very existence He conquered, putting them beneath His feet.  Behold this King as He delivers those who believe from every sickness known to man!  The word of His mouth makes the lame man to leap as an hart.  Hear Him as He commands deaf ears to be unstopped and blind eyes to see.  Listen with bated breath as His wisdom puts all His enemies to silence, causing them to say, ‘Never man spake like this man!’  Stand in awe beside the tomb of the dead while He Who is the resurrection and the life calls, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’  Weep with the forgiven woman to whom He said, ‘Neither do I condemn thee.  Go and sin no more.’  Feast as He feeds the hungry multitude with enough and to spare.  Rejoice as He preaches, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.’  Stand in awe as He stills the raging storm even as He stilled the fevered brow.  Weep with His friends as He died.  Shout for joy that He liveth again to reign, no more in humility and rejection in tiny Palestine but in power and wonderful glory OVER ALL THE EARTH”   The Page. 

THE MANIFESTATION AND DEMONSTRATION OF THE KINGDOM 

            The wandering Nazarene, who a short time before had been denounced, condemned, and cast out as a deluded dreamer and dangerous heretic by the synagogue at Nazareth, and deserted by His own people, soon became acclaimed throughout Galilee and all Israel.  He found favor with God and men.  He was no longer Jesus of Nazareth; no more the shepherd and carpenter; no longer the son of Joseph and Mary.  He was Christ, the Son of the living God; not of this world, but of the other world.  The secrets of the universe were no longer hidden from Him.  The deceptive dazzle and glittering tinsel of this world held no attraction for Him.  The barrier which separated this earth from the heavens had vanished.  He feared no criticism, no hostility, no man, no demon, no weapon, not even death.  His heart overflowed with the infinite love of His Father for creation.  The broken hearts of His countrymen were comforted. 

            New hope, new faith, new courage, new understanding, new victory, new joy, new peace, new righteousness, a new law of life, new power and glory were revealed to all who hungered and thirsted after righteousness and sought for the Kingdom.  He forgave men their sins, He cast out the evil spirits with His word, He healed the sick and raised the dead.  Instead of the implacable law which Moses inscribed on hard granite, the law of God’s own nature began to be written into the hearts of men.  A new chapter in the history of the world began to be written.  The God who hitherto had revealed Himself only through prophets was now to dwell in transforming power in the hearts of the humble.  What a victory for an obscure preacher who had sprung from poverty into notoriety and prominence, and who fearlessly denounced the priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees!  “Verily, I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” 

            Jesus the Christ came into this world as the second Man, the last Adam, the new Federal Head of Adam’s ancient race redeemed and restored.  He stood in all the dignity and splendor and wisdom and power and dominion given to man in the beginning ere sin and limitation and death passed upon him.  What a Man!  Sinless man.  Perfect man.  Diseaseless man.  Unlimited man.  Anointed man.  Crowned man.  Man in the image of God.  God-man.  Man the revelation of God to creation.  Deathless man.  What a specimen!  What a Man!  And yet don’t forget this He took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, even Adam’s benighted race.  What infinite strength out of incredible weakness!  He was EVERY INCH A MAN! 

            Can we imagine what Jesus might have accomplished had He elected to use the wisdom and knowledge and power resident in His PERFECT MANHOOD for His own ends?  He could have used His power for wealth and become the richest man in the world.  He could have used His talents for worldly power, usurped the thrones of the rulers of this world and become Himself Emperor of the mighty Roman Empire.  He might have used His power for sensual gratification, attracting the fairest women of the world to Him, building the largest harem of the most beautiful women ever possessed by a man.  He could have become the world’s greatest general and military tactician, or the most famous artist, or the most acclaimed orator, or the most accomplished musician, or the most brilliant scientist, or the most articulate philosopher, or the most important, distinguished, eminent, exalted, renowned, or noble of a thousand different vocations and positions, or all of them put together!  But He didn’t.  He could have rallied the masses and marshaled an army before which the name of Alexander the Great would pale into oblivion.  He could have built great hospitals, magnificent schools of learning, and gold-domed cathedrals.  He could have initiated wonderful programs to better society and save the world from disease, poverty and trouble.  But He didn’t!  He said, simply, “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I can do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things...for I do always those things that PLEASE HIM” (Jn. 8:28-29).  This is the simplicity and the power and the glory of the Kingdom of God! 

            When Jesus trod the pathways of this earth two thousand years ago He came forth as the LIVING MANIFESTATION AND DEMONSTRATION of the Kingdom of God.  When He gave testimony to the presence of the Kingdom, He was the only one experiencing it.  He was in the realm of God, under the rule of God, and the dominion of God was working in Him exactly as it should be in all men.  In every aspect of His life He was completely submitted to God’s reigning and ruling.  For the first time since the sin of Adam there was a MAN walking the earth who perfectly expressed the nature, will, power and purpose of God.  Through Jesus’ life, words, and ministry the Kingdom of God was declared to men.  He was the unique manifestation of God’s Kingdom.  He was God’s message to mankind, not a message merely in words, but a message in BEING.  He came to demonstrate what a citizen of the Kingdom is and must be.  He was Himself the first citizen of the Kingdom; He was the founder of the Kingdom; in Him the Kingdom was embodied.   

            Look at Jesus, my beloved, and you will see at once what the Kingdom means and how a citizen of the Kingdom lives.  Oh, the wonder of it!  The child of God is a man or woman who is born a  citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.  In this world citizens of different countries behave in different ways.  We would not be likely to mistake a Frenchman for a Chinaman, or a Nigerian for an Eskimo or a person of our own country for either.  Therefore it is quite clear that the citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven must be different from people who are merely citizens of this world.  The New Testament over and over again insists that the sons of God must live a life worthy of their sonship, that the citizens of the Kingdom must live according to the laws of the Kingdom.  They must live a divine and heavenly life-style.  They express the nature of the Kingdom and manifest the power and glory of the Kingdom by the Holy Spirit.   

            “But all of us have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord.  We are transformed in ever-increasing splendor into His own image, and this is the work of the Lord who is the Spirit” (II Cor. 3:18, Phillips translation).  You may have seen a room, the walls covered with mirrors at different angles, and when you stood in the midst you were reflected at every point: you were seen here, and seen there, and there again, and yonder again, and so every part of you was reflected; so is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus is the center, and all the sons of God like mirrors reflect His glory.  Is He a man?  So are they!  Is He the Son of God?  So are they the sons of God!  Is He perfect?  So are they!  Is He exalted?  So are they!  Is He a prophet?  So are they, making known unto principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God.  Is He a priest?  So are they, priests forever after the Order of Melchizedek.  Is He a King?  So are they, for He has made us priestly kings unto God, and we shall reign unto ages of ages.  Look where you will along the ranks of the family of the Most High, this one thing shall be seen, the glory of Christ Jesus in His saints, even to the surprise and wonder of all creation. 

            “When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe in that day” (II Thes. 1:10).  The crowning honor of Christ shall be seen in His many brethren, the manifested sons of God.  All who grow up into His fullness shall shine like the sun in its brilliance in the Kingdom of their Father.  Today we are like vessels on the potter’s wheel, but half fashioned, yet even now somewhat of His divine skill is seen in us of His handiwork.  Still the unformed clay is in part seen, and much remains to be done; how much more of the great Potter’s creating wisdom and transforming power will be displayed when we shall be the perfect products of His hands!  In the bud and germ our new nature brings honor to its Author; it will do far more when its perfection manifests the Finisher.  Then shall Jesus be glorified and admired in every one of us when the days of processing are ended and we are manifested in the full glory of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Then shall thousands upon thousands of ones like Jesus of Nazareth walk the pathways of this world and the harvest of the Christ-seed shall bring a new and mighty dimension of the Kingdom of God to all creation. 

            Behold, and see, ye who laughed at His Kingdom, see how the little one has become a thousand yea, thousands!  Now look ye, ye foes of Christ, who saw the handful of corn on the top of the mountains; see how the fruit thereof doth shake like Lebanon, and they of the city do flourish like grass of the earth.  Who can reckon the drops of the dew or the sands of the seashore?  When they have counted these then shall they not have guessed at the multitude of the many sons Christ brings to His glory!  And all this harvest from one grain of wheat, which except it had fallen into the earth and died, would have remained alone!  The church of the past two thousand years is not the fruit of that original seed planted in the earth; it has been first the blade, then the stalk, and then the ear that is how the Kingdom of God develops.  The “full corn in the ear”, the final fruit and harvest of that seed is THE MANIFESTED SONS OF GOD, those conformed precisely to the image of that firstborn Son and filled with the fullness of His divine life.  The life flows through the blade and the stalk and the ear but the life settles in the grain in the ear and there incorporates all its fullness and likeness.  The full corn in the ear is the only complete reproduction of the original seed and the only stage of development of that life capable of reproducing that life.  Ah, my beloved, what a harvest from that lone Man of Nazareth!  What fruit from that glorious Man the firstborn Son of God! 

            Do you have a ministry?  Do you have a gift?  Have you a talent?  Have you an ability?  Is there an expression and fragrance of Christ through your life?  Know this, precious one, it is not God’s eternal purpose in your life but merely an instrument by which the Father is perfecting within you His nature, His righteousness, His faithfulness, His grace, His wisdom, His power and His glory.  This present time is a practice session, a trial run, a proving ground, a small sample of the glory yet to be revealed.  We are mere apprentices of the Christ to learn the ministry of sonship.  You must not think, as do the babes in the church systems, that when you are done working here that the Master will say, “You have finished your course, I have discharged you from your responsibilities.  Go and sit on a heavenly mount and sing and dance yourselves away for ever and ever.”  Not at all!  I am only learning how to preach now; I shall be able to preach in the age and the ages to come.  You are only learning to teach now; you will be able to teach when Christ is fully revealed in His saints.   

            You are learning the ways of His wisdom, righteousness, love, power, authority and glory now; yes, to angels, and principalities, and powers, and worlds, you shall make known the manifold wisdom of God throughout ages yet unborn.  All those stars, those worlds of light, who knows how many of them are inhabited?  I believe there are regions beyond our imagination to which every son of God shall become an everlasting illumination, a living expression of the infinite love of the omnipotent Creator.  Remember how the Lord will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things” (Mat. 25:21).  He is to keep on doing something, you see.  There is no stagnation in God’s great and eternal Kingdom, and there is no end to the increase of His government and peace.  Instead of having a home and family, or a Sunday School class,  or a bit of a community, or a small or vast ministry to govern, the overcomer is to be made ruler over some VAST PROVINCE.  Read the forty-fourth verse of Matthew chapter twenty-five: “Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.”  What a word is that!  That is nothing short of UNIVERSAL DOMINION. 

            Do you know how it used to be in the ancient times in the Spartan army?  Here is a man who has fought well, and has been a splendid soldier.  He is covered with wounds on his chest.  The next time that there is a war, they say, “Poor fellow, we will reward him!  He shall lead the way in the first battle.  He fought so well before, when he fought one hundred with a little troop behind him; now he shall engage ten thousand with a larger troop.”  “Oh!” you say, “that is giving him more work; he should be honored with rest.”  But that is God’s way in the development of His sons in His Kingdom.  That shall be our heaven not a mansion over the hilltop or a cabin in the corner of gloryland but to be always in the battle, forever working and increasing and winning in the everlasting and unbounded Kingdom of our God!  I have fought the devil in my own life, I have fought the devil in my home, I have fought the devil in the church, I have fought the devil in the world, and God has given wonderful victories.  I shall continue the warfare against sin, sickness, sorrow, fear, torment, limitation and death in all the hells of this world, in that hell in the underworld, and in all the worlds and all the hells in all the realms of God’s vast creation until there is no sin nor death nor devil anywhere and God is all in all.  That is my hope, that is my vision, that is my call and my destiny.  And that is the hope, vision, call and destiny of all the sons of God. 

            In God’s blessed Book numerous ages are visible, stretching in a vast panorama from the first ray of light in chapter one of Genesis to the end of the dispensation of the fullness of times when all shall be subdued unto God and God becomes all in all.  As the years have gone by the Holy Spirit has convinced me more and more that it is intensely important to the spiritual growth and understanding of every son of God to know the intention of God in each successive age as it unfolds.  Some precious saints have in ignorance stated, “I am not concerned about what God may do away out there in the ages to come; it  is enough to know what He wants me to be doing right now!”  That sounds very wise and spiritual, and it gives me pain to say it, but the truth cannot be denied that such a statement is really an excuse, a “cop out” to absolve these dear ones from searching the scriptures or exposing themselves to the revelation of God’s beautiful plan of the ages.  Furthermore, it saves them the trouble of getting involved in some controversy!  What spiritual cowards we are! 

            The Kingdom came when the King came.  Nothing can be clearer than that.  In His battle with evil Jesus saw the foretaste of the ultimate triumph of God in the earth.  Because He came preaching the Kingdom of God, He was demonstrating the glory and the power of that Kingdom and showing us the wealth of its glory by doing for the few what will eventually be done for the all when the light of His Kingdom shall cover all the earth as the waters cover the sea and every creature in heaven and in earth and under the earth shall sing praise and glory to the Lamb of God.  In His death He engaged in mortal combat with him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and conquered.  Jesus was declared by the Father to be the Son of God with power because of His resurrection from the dead.  At the right hand of God He continues to reign through His body on earth and shall continue to reign from stage to stage, from victory to victory, and from glory to glory, until “He hath put all enemies under His feet” (I Cor. 15:25).   

            Here is God’s Kingdom plan in a nut shell.  In Christ’s incarnation, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension we see the initial victory.  Through His people during this dispensation of the church, we see His continuing and increasing victory.  And in the manifestation of the sons of God we see His ultimate victory.  The Kingdom spans all generations and ages from the advent of the firstborn Son into the world to the manifestation of the sons of God.  FINAL VICTORY SHALL THEN BE ACHIEVED.  Then shall the Kingdom be delivered up to God, even the Father, “that God may be all in all” (I Cor. 15:28). 

            God has a wonderful Kingdom plan!  Failure to understand God’s plan of the ages will leave us on the rocks of ignorance and unbelief and we will spend our lives in the shallows, chatting aimlessly about God’s acts and blessings, but never knowing or embracing His purposes.  I am convinced that those who reject or deliberately side-step the great truth of God’s plan of the ages and the reconciliation of all things to God will never be a part of that blessed company of sons who are destined to set creation free!  How can anyone be God’s instrument to bring deliverance to the whole creation while he closes his eyes and stops his ears and shuts up his heart to the beautiful revelation of His purposes

            There is nothing that opens the wellspring of love, of faith and understanding, in the human heart like the knowledge of His purpose.  What infinite joy, what satisfaction and assurance floods our souls when for the first time in our lives our great and wonderful Father is seen to be a God of purpose, knowing the end from the beginning because He planned the beginning and planned the end!  He created all things and made all things and brought all things into being that His glorious purpose might be fulfilled.  It was this triumphant knowledge that gripped the heart of the apostle Paul when writing to the Romans, he drew aside the veil to give the saints a clearer view into the mysteries that lay hidden in God’s mind from the foundation of the ages.  This is what he plainly stated: “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”  Now take particular notice of the words that follow: “For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him (God) who has subjected the same in hope.  Because the creation itself ALSO shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:18-21).            

            Frankly, I never cease to be amazed at those who profess to yearn for the sons of God to be manifested, who continually quote the scripture about the WHOLE CREATION GROANING, WAITING for the manifestation of the sons of God, because THE CREATION ITSELF SHALL BE DELIVERED FROM THE BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION INTO THE GLORIOUS LIBERTY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD and then when you tell them that the sons of God shall really, truly, actually, factually, completely SET ALL CREATION FREE they get bent all out of shape and call you a heretic, or ask foolish questions like, “What good is it to believe that?”  If God isn’t going to do what He said; if the Christ isn’t going to actually draw all men unto Himself; if the whole creation is not going to be delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God; if God will not make all men alive in the Christ; if the last enemy, death, and hell shall never be destroyed; if the devil is going to  possess the souls of the vast majority of men forever, and thus be the victor; if God is never going to become “all in all” or “everything to everyone everywhere”; then I fail to see what is the purpose in all this qualifying for sonship, for a glorious ministry in the age and the ages to come, for THERE IS NO MINISTRY FOR THE SONS, and NO TRIUMPH FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.  We may as well forget about sonship, forget about being kings and priests unto God, forget about setting creation free, content ourselves with the current church program, and be satisfied that while untold billions are damned to the flames of hell forever God shall have His sweet little handful of saints to dance and shout with Him over the hilltops of heaven! 

            This is not the end-time.  Every generation and age has its end-time.  One day Jesus’ disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple.  As they observed its magnificence Jesus told them, “Truly I say to you, by no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.”  While He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached Him privately, asking, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and the end of the age?”  (Mat. 24:1-3).  All three of those questions have been fulfilled historically.  Jesus came in an end-time, the end of the age of the law and all previous ages that pointed forward to His coming.  He came at the end of a Judaistic world, at the end of the Old Covenant, and when the Spirit was poured out, when the church was established, when the temple, the sacrifices, the priesthood, the nation and the whole Old Testament economy was destroyed in A. D. 70, the end came.  He came at the end of those ages.  “...but now once in the end of the ages hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26). 

            If you will take your concordance and run every reference in the Bible concerning “last days” you will have to conclude that it is referencing the last days of the dispensation of the law and Judaism.  You can say we are living in the last days, the last of the last days, or the end-time, matters not what term you use, but you are wrong on all counts.  It’s a lie, it misleads, injures and confuses the Lord’s people.  Ah, yes, we are living in “last days,” but not in “the last days” generally referred to in the scriptures.   

            But according to the word of the Lord there is yet an age and ages to come!  “That in the ages to come He might put on display the exceeding riches of His grace in...us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).  This is an end-time, but not the end time.  The true and final “end time” the Bible presents speaks of the final consummation of all ages, the climax and end of all times and dispensations, when God’s plan of the ages is fully fulfilled.  All words about THE END-TIME close with Jesus reigning supreme over everything everywhere.  “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.  And when all things shall have been subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (I Cor. 15:24-25,28).  The word “subdued” means “to line up as a troop or an army in subordination or surrender.”  This verb appears three times in verse 28.  Literally it reads, “Now when the universe shall be lined up as a troop in subordination to Him, then also Himself the Son shall be lined up as a troop in subordination to the One lining up  a troop in subordination to Him, in order that God may be all in all.”  What a word! 

            What love!  What wondrous love!  What victory!  What a glorious consummation!  The might of God’s strength which operated in Christ, raising Him from the dead, was sufficient to exalt Him to the highest pinnacle of the universe, thus ensuring that all His enemies would be reconciled to Him, that every opposing power would be made subordinate to Him, that all sin and death in every realm and in every man and in every creature throughout all the unbounded heavens would be so swallowed up of HIS LIFE until God would be ALL IN ALL, bless His glorious name!  The gospel of the grace of God!  Truly it is not just for this age, but extends to all ages and realms.  May it flood our hearts that they may, indeed, be illuminated with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.           

            This kind of total subjugation to God is that which is being wrought in the “firstfruit company” in this hour.  Have you totally surrendered yourself to God?  This is what God demands.  In numerous places, in various ways, in different words, God says the same thing over and over again.  And yet, sometimes it seems that we fail to get the message: Yield yourselves to God!  Submit yourselves to Christ!  Offer your bodies as living sacrifices!  Lay down your life!  Present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead!  Yield not your members as instruments of unrighteousness but as instruments of righteousness unto God!  Put off the old man!  Put on the mind of Christ!  Come out of the harlot Babylon!  Walk in the Spirit!  Again and again, God says the same thing.  And what He now requires of us, His firstfruits, He ultimately requires of the whole creation! 

            It seems that, usually, we are ready to do almost anything but surrender ourselves to God.  I recall the time when the British general came to surrender to Washington.  The general began with a flowery speech in which he praised Washington for his magnificent military tactics and the way he had conducted the campaigns.  He was eloquently praising Washington when Washington suddenly interrupted him with these words: “Your sword, sir!”  Similarly, we come to offer God the flattery of our lips, the praise of our hymns.  And God is saying to us, “Your sword, sir!”  Surrender is what God wants!  Total surrender of all our will, our ways, and our lives! 

            The following words by George D. Watson will help us see the unsurpassable beauty and majesty of what it really means to be SUBDUED UNTO GOD.  “Before God can launch us out into the breadth and sweetness of His service, and entrust to us great things for Himself, we must be perfectly subdued in every part of our nature to His will and disposition of His mind.  We must be subdued in our hearts, in our wills, in our words, in our tempers, in our manners; subdued through and through so thoroughly that we will be flexible to all His purposes and plans.  We must be subdued that harshness, severity, criticism, sluggishness, laziness, impetuosity, and all wanting our way, even in religious matters, must be subdued out of us.  Conversion will not finish this work. 

            “We must be subdued, not merely in our own opinion, not merely think ourselves subdued, not only subdued in the esteem of our friends and fellow workers, but subdued so perfectly that the all-seeing eye of God can look us through, and the omniscient One knows that we are subdued.  God must conquer the man that He can trust with His great thoughts and plans.  The Holy Ghost must saturate us with a divine conquest, before He can use us to conquer other souls.  The Lord will begin to subdue us with gentle means; and if we sink lovingly and promptly into His mind, the work will be done; but if we have flint or iron in our nature, and it is necessary, He will use heroic means and put us between the millstones and grind us to powder, until He can mold us without any resistance to His purpose.  We must be so subdued that we can hold our tongues, and walk softly with God, keep our eyes upon Jesus, attend to our own work, and do God’s will promptly and lovingly, glad to have a place in His Kingdom. 

            “Oh! it is grand to be absolutely conquered by the Holy Ghost, and swing out a thousand miles from everybody and everything into the ocean of God’s presence.  When we are subdued in the sight of God, He will work miracles in us, and power in experience, in healing, in finance, in service, in gentleness, and in sweetness of the inner heart life; miracles of grace that will astonish us and surprise our friends, and utterly amaze our enemies, when they come to know the magnitude of what God has wrought.  Let us get subdued in every way, in everything!”   end quote. 

            Oh, the ineffable glory to be revealed when ALL RULE AND ALL AUTHORITY AND ALL POWER AND ALL ENEMIES AND ALL THINGS SHALL BE SUBDUED UNTO CHRIST AND GOD SHALL BE ALL IN ALL!  What expectation this evokes in our hearts! 

            A little seed is the beginning of a great tree.  A mustard seed becomes a tree in which the birds of the air can nestle.  That great day of which our text speaks, when Christ shall deliver up the Kingdom to the Father, and God shall be All in All that is the great tree of the Kingdom of God reaching its perfect consummation and glory.  Ah, beloved, let us take the seed of that glory into our hearts and let us bow in lowly surrender and humble submission, saying with a broken heart and contrite spirit, “Amen, Lord; this be my one thought, this be my life to yield myself to the unutterable yearnings of the Holy Spirit that I may not rest, but ever keep my vision set on that day the day of surpassing glory, when in very deed God shall be 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 and total sense the FIRSTFRUITS OF HIS KINGDOM.  This is the beginning, and the power, and the glory, of the Kingdom of God!  Amen!

            To be continued...                                                                                           J. PRESTON EBY

 

                                                        

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