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The Kingdom of God part 9


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


  THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 Part 9

THE BEGINNING OF THE KINGDOM

             We are all sailing the sea of life.  All are mariners, spiritual voyagers.  We might profitably use the following illustration.  Tom Smith and John Jones both presumably own sailing vessels.  They agree to race to a certain point in the Pacific Ocean one hundred miles due west from Los Angeles harbor.  The first few hours out all goes well.  Fair and constant winds enable them to keep their course at a steady rate of speed.  But then foul winds are encountered, and a storm drives them far off their course and separates them from each other.  The following morning breaks with each one alone on a vast ocean on which there are no roadsigns and no mileposts.  There is nothing as far as the eye can see but blue water.  Somewhere on that ocean is a spot which is exactly one hundred miles due west from Los Angeles harbor.  But in which direction is it?  Both boats have lost their bearings.  They know not how far they have sailed, nor in which direction.  In other words, they have no knowledge of where they are.  So, until they take their bearings, and learn their exact positions, it is positively impossible for them to know in which direction or how far away their destination is.  They might be one hundred miles from it, or it might be only five miles distant.  And so, until they learn exactly where they are now, it is impossible for them to know what the next mile will be. 

            Each and every son of Adam is a navigator on the sea of life.  And the voyage upon which we all embarked at birth is one for which none of us was fully prepared or equipped; we were thrust out upon a tempestuous sea, there to maneuver our tiny bark to another shore.  Winds, tides, and currents swept us out to sea, and carried us on alone.  Humanity, at present, is divided into a thousand fragments both individually and collectively.  We are fragmented, separated LOST!  But I have good news for you, my friend it is possible to discover exactly where we are now and how to get back on course to that bright and beckoning harbor ahead for our heavenly Father has sent One to search for us and SHOW THE WAY! 

JESUS PERSONIFIED THE KINGDOM 

            We have centered the Kingdom around the King.  And that is truth that is off-center unless we understand what it is that makes Him King.  Jesus didn’t preach Himself as King He ran from it!  He preached the Kingdom, in His magnificent parables He defines the Kingdom, He tells us what the Kingdom is like; and in the Sermon on the Mount He enunciates the great principles or laws of the Kingdom.  In this world there are various kingdoms the animal kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and the mineral kingdom.  Each of these kingdoms is a sphere of existence, a plane of being.  Yet none of these kingdoms has a KING!  Each kingdom has certain inherent characteristics and specific manifestations.  Each is part of a “kind,” a “realm,” a “domain,” that is what makes them a kingdom.   

            “King” is from the old Anglo-Saxon word “cynn” pronounced “kin.”  Our modern word “kin” is from the same root denoting kindred, kinfolk, kinship, kinsmen, kind, people, race.  King actually meant “one of noble birth,” one who was born or came out of, and thus was the “kin” of, nobility.  It didn’t mean that he was the ruler, but that he was from that “class,” the class of those who had power and wealth.  The king was simply one who bore the characteristics of that order.  If the animal kingdom, or the vegetable kingdom, or the mineral kingdom should have a king it would be one of that order par excellence, beyond comparison, the one whose every characteristic is in full splendor, the perfect specimen, the representative one, the epitome of all the order is.  Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  Can we not see by this that Jesus Christ is THE KING of God’s Kingdom just because He is the One who came and exhibited the full splendor, majesty, power and glory of the realm of God intended for man.  He came as the man par excellence, the One of greatest excellence, the representative One, beyond comparison, the perfect specimen, the epitome of all man was ordained of God to be.  In His very person He defined for fallen and sinful men a NEW KINGDOM, a new sphere of existence, a new plane of being, a new dimension of consciousness the kingdom of men in the image and likeness of God! 

            More than a century ago Johann Blumhardt wrote, “True man is missing...False men with a false spirit, with false desires and false aims, think that they are real men.  The false man is the world’s undoing.  True man is still missing until Jesus comes and does away with the false man.  Yet now we do have the fortune to know that there is One in whom the world is God’s again, in whom all that is created is again placed into the light of the first creation.  This One is Jesus.  Jesus, the Son of man, is more real than any other man, more childlike than all other children.  He lives among men, and He is the Kingdom of God.  He does not make it, or bring it; He is the Kingdom!  Why?  Because He is God and man.  When God created the world He founded His Kingdom on earth.  The earth was His Kingdom.  And who was to reign, to rule, and to care for it as His representative?  Man.  God’s Kingdom was in paradise through man.  God’s Kingdom is on earth through one upright man, no matter what men are like otherwise.  One True Man and God’s Kingdom is here!” 

            There is one image that is perfect: the blessed Son of God, the visible manifestation of the Father, the only one who has ever walked upon this planet who sums up the totality of DIVINE HUMANITY.  He is the only whole, united, balanced, UNFRAGMENTED MAN!  In Jesus Christ a Man stepped forth who came from God without any lack, so that in Him was expressed the fullness of the image of God in man.  Jesus is man as he was created in Genesis 1:26.  He is man in the image and likeness of God.  That is the true man.  Man today is lost.  He knows not from whence he came, he knows not what manner of man he is, he knows not where he is, nor where he is going.  He is lost in his separation from God and from the godhood that is his in the likeness and image of God.  Jesus Christ is the One who shows us just where we are and opens up the way for our return into the Kingdom of God.  In order to know the power of the Kingdom of Heaven, the anchor of hope must be cast beyond the veil of this carnal, dying realm into the Shekinah into which Jesus has passed before us, as by faith we are led to prove for ourselves and demonstrate for those about the authority of the SPIRIT OF LIFE WITHIN over the law of sin and death in the flesh.   

            This is exactly what the Lord Jesus taught and demonstrated so wonderfully through His sonship ministry.  He spoke the words of compassion and power into the souls of all marred creatures and called them beloved children of God.  He didn’t call them sinners, or condemn them.  He saw them as they were meant to be, as they are in the eyes of the heavenly Father.  That was the value of their lives.  He healed their diseases, forgave their sins, raised their dead and lifted them up from the mire and defilement and set them on the pathway to holiness and restoration to their lost estate that they might live again as sons and daughters of the Most High. 

            The great Italian sculptor, Benvenuto Cellini, told of receiving a block of marble with one flaw.  Because of this flaw, no artist would submit a design except one.  In the public square of Florence a fence was built around that piece of marble, and a little shack was erected for the artist.  For two years the sculptor labored.  Then on a certain day a vast multitude of the citizens of Florence assembled in the public square; the fence was torn down, and the shack was taken away.  At this unveiling all of Florence beheld the result and marveled.  Since then Italy and all the world have marveled at Michelangelo’s “David”.  I have seen it with my own eyes in the museum in Florence, and there are no words to describe its magnificence.  In that block of marble was a statue, others did not see it, but Michelangelo did.  And, precious friend of mine, in that lump of clay which is you, the almighty Father sees an image too the image of Jesus Christ!  And God is working unceasingly and tirelessly to form the image of His Son in you.  No truth has come with more soul-gripping force and power to the elect of the Lord than the beautiful hope of sonship to God.  Well indeed may we yield ourselves into the hands of heaven’s skilled sculptor that HE may form His Son in us.  All it takes is to chip away that portion that  conceals the image.  The image is there if only it can be uncovered, brought forth out of our innermost being.  The outer veil of the carnal mind and the obscurity of the flesh are all that the sculptor must chip away in order to reveal the image of God within.  It is for sonship that the whole creation groans in a sort of universal travail while it eagerly waits to see the glorious sight of God’s sons coming into their own (Rom. 8:22-23).  It is the Son in the sons the revelation of Jesus Christ!  There is coming a day when all the glories of the Son of God will be revealed and manifested in the sons of God.  With a heart of understanding and a spirit bright with the hope of God’s eternal purpose the apostle penned these meaningful words: “...it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to REVEAL (apokalupto: to uncover, unveil) HIS SON IN ME” (Gal. 1:15-16). 

            George Hawtin once wrote: “Did you ever stand in awe and marvel at the work of the great artists on earth?  Perhaps expressions failed and words became inadequate as you gazed with wonder at the faces of the presidents carved in the heights of Mt. Rushmore.  Wonderful as these things are, it must be that, ere the sculptor placed his chisel upon the stone to chip it away, he beheld in the uncut rock the very image of that which he by toil and skill would bring into being.  Thus it was that God, the mighty architect of the universe, beholding in His own Spirit the glorious image of things to come, set the forces of His own will in motion to bring forth with unerring exactness the image of His pleasure in the very likeness of Himself.  God with omniscient wisdom planned with unerring and immutable accuracy every blow of the hammer that would in the end bring forth from the uncut rock a race of sons in the image of Himself.” 

            What was fully manifested and seen in Jesus is potential in every man.  Something of that same divine spirit that was expressed in Him in all fullness is also in us.  Something of the same divine likeness in which we were created is hidden in all men.  Concealed and corroded by sin the resemblance is not evident save to the penetrating search of love, but there is something of God-life in every man.  Our spirit must indeed be quickened by His Spirit before it can be made evident and recognized.  To be “dead” does not mean to be non-existent, but to be unresponsive to the realm of spiritual life.  The body in the casket is not non-existent, otherwise there would be no point in attending the viewing.  But it is certainly unresponsive to the world about it!  This is what Paul meant when he wrote: “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.  Wherein in time past ye walked (dead men walked!) according to the course of this world...among whom we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ; and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus...for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:1-6,10).   

            It has been said that in Jesus Christ the divine and the human meet, but this is also true of everyone of us.  He is the true humanity who is the Son of God.  It is not that He is super-human, but that we are sub-human.  But inasmuch as we are human at all we are akin to Him.  The first man and the second man are both man.  The first Adam and the last Adam are both Adam.  Those in the first man are in part what the second man is in perfection.  The whole purpose of our lives is to become human in the sense in which He was human; to be changed into the same likeness from one glorious conversion to another, even by the Lord who is the Spirit PERFECT MANHOOD.  Christ is to grow up in us, and the whole process of life is one in which “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  Paul said it so well, “It pleased God to reveal HIS SON in me,” which precisely describes the life of sonship, for the Son of God is the PERFECT MAN IN GOD’S IMAGE.  It is as the Spirit of Christ becomes manifest within us that we approach nearer and nearer to the true humanity as it was seen in Jesus, “till we all come to a perfect manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).  His possession of our lives will grow, until we are fully “strengthened with power by His Spirit in the inward humanity,” being “filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16,19). 

            Now, the best way to promote an idea is to wrap it up in a personality.  The Maytag repairman is an example.  Always sitting  with nothing to do, he personifies the idea that Maytag washers never break down.  That is what God did in Jesus Christ.  He wrapped up all His nature, character, glory, grace, wisdom, knowledge, love, and power in a man and stood Him up in the earth.  This man was God’s Idea the Word!  And Jesus Christ is the ideal of all mankind, the second man, the last Adam, the example and pattern and proto-type of God’s will and purpose for all men.  What Jesus is is what God meant when He said in that long ago beginning, “Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).  That is GOD’S IDEA!  That is GOD’S WORD!  That is the glory and majesty of man AS HE WAS INTENDED TO BE! 

            The people of God today have no greater need than the need to know the power and glory of CHRIST WITHIN.  CHRIST is the image of God, the scripture says.  I know these words may seem to be incredible, but they are truth the very first mention of the “image of God” is applied, not to Jesus Christ, but to our forefather ADAM (Gen. 1:26).  As we consider the wonderful advent of man created “in the image of God” we can only conclude that this is a spiritual man brought forth out of the very spirit-substance of God Almighty, and bearing His own divine nature, character, power and attributes.  The image of God is the nature of God reproduced in man.  Thus, man is the true image of God.  And Jesus Christ is the image of God because He is the true man, man as he was meant to be.  Jesus revealed to “lost” men their true origin, heritage and destiny.  He came to show man what man really is, was intended to be, and through redemption (buying back to the original) shall be THE IMAGE OF GOD.  Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, man as he was and man as he shall be.  In Jesus Christ you see man as he was in the beginning and as he ever shall be world without end THE IMAGE OF GOD.  Of Him it is written, “He is the expression of the glory of God the Light-being, the out-raying of the divine and He is the perfect imprint and very image  of God’s nature” (Heb. 1:3, Amplified).  Christ, and humanity in Christ, is like a ray of light that comes from the sun man, the extension of God, emanates God. 

            When the Lord lowered man into this gross material realm man possessed, by the spirit, the divine potential to overcome the flesh, sanctify it, transform it, preserve it, infusing it with the qualities of life holiness and incorruption.  Jesus, the last Adam, the Ideal Man, came and demonstrated for us this very principle.  This potential in man to rule the natural by the spirit is shed forth in Jesus’ mighty works by His healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, casting out devils, forgiving sins, doing miracles, and raising the dead He transcended by His life, words, and actions all the so-called laws of the material, mortal realm.  The great significance of Jesus’ mighty works will never ring clear in our spirits until we understand that He did not perform as a unique, different, higher kind of man all His wonderful works were the example and teaching of what is NORMAL FOR MAN IN HIS TRUE STATE AS THE IMAGE OF GOD.  As the last Adam Jesus demonstrated all that the first Adam lost mankind’s heritage as the sons and daughters of the Most High.  Little wonder, then, that He confidently and joyfully proclaimed to His disciples, “The works that I do shall ye do also; and greater works than these shall ye do” (Jn. 14:12). 

            By His resurrection Jesus proved the spirit within to be OMNIPOTENT, all-conquering, all-sufficient.  He met and mastered death itself by the law of the spirit of life.  He took no drugs to fight infection or inflammation.  He did not depend upon health food or pure air or vitamins or herbs to renew depleted energies.  He did not require the skill of a surgeon to heal the torn palms and bind up the wounded side and nail pierced feet, that He might use those hands to remove the napkin and the grave clothes, so that He might walk as before.  Jesus vanquished every material obstacle, overcame every law of matter, and stepped forth from His gloomy grave, crowned with the glory of a sublime success, and everlasting victory the role-model for each and every man and woman of Adam’s race!  Jesus’ victory over sin, sickness, pain, limitation, death and the grave was for the enlightenment of all men and the salvation of the whole world.  Paul writes, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved BY HIS LIFE (within)” (Rom. 5:10).  Glory be to God and peace to the fainting hearts!  Christ hath rolled away the stone from the door of human hope and faith, through the revelation and demonstration of Life in God, the life resident in the SPIRITUAL MAN.  Halleluyah! 

            We are never told how long Adam lived in that wonderful Garden where the glory of God was revealed through him in dominion and blessing to creation, but that glorious reign of wonder and peace under the direction of a son in the image of God was but a dim figure of the day when a whole company of sons in God’s image would reign in splendor over all things in all realms throughout all worlds and all things in heaven and in earth would be gathered together into union with God in His life and purpose.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is the first and Head of this glorious company, and as typified and shadowed by the first man Adam He is the connecting link between God and creation the revelation of the invisible Father to the visible worlds.  A God who is unseen and unknown, or who is only the product of inferences from creation, or providence, or the mysteries of history, or the wonders of my own inner life, the creature of logic or reflection, is very powerless to sway and influence men or to affect creation.  The limitations of our physical faculties and the boundlessness of our hearts both cry out for a God that is nearer to us than that, whom we can see and love and know.  The whole world wants the making visible of Divinity as its deepest desire. 

            Christ meets this need.  How can you make wisdom visible?  How can a creature see love or purity?  How do I see your spirit?  By the expression and deeds of your body!  And the only way by which God can come near enough to the natural creation to be a constant power of eternal life and light and love is by creation seeing Him at work in a man who is His image and revelation.  Christ’s whole life is the making visible of the invisible God.  He is the manifestation to the  world of the unseen Father.  Jesus Christ in all His words and in all His works is the perfect instrument of the heavenly Father, so that His words are God’s words, and His works are God’s works; so that, when He speaks, His gentle wisdom, His loving sympathy, His melting tenderness, His authoritative commands, His prophetic threatenings, are the speech of God, and that when He acts, whether it be by miracle, by wonder, by transforming grace, by creative energy, what we see is God working before our eyes as we never see Him in any other creature or thing anywhere in the whole vast universe. 

            E. Stanley Jones said of this Man who is the revelation of God to creation, “He did not argue that life was a growth and character an attainment He ‘grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.’  He did not speculate on why temptation should be in this world He met it, and after forty days’ struggle with it in the wilderness He conquered, and ‘returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.’  He did not discourse of the dignity of labor He worked at a carpenter’s bench and His hands were hard with the toil of making yokes and plows, and this forever makes the toil of the hands honorable.  As He came among men He did not try to prove the existence of God He brought Him.  He lived in God, and men looking upon His face could not find it within themselves to doubt God.  He did not argue about whether or not there was a resurrection, for the Pharisees believed there was and the Sadducees believed there wasn’t He raised the dead. 

            “He did not teach in a didactic way about the worth of children He put His hands upon them and blessed them, and setting one in their midst said, ‘Of such is the kingdom of God.’  He did not argue that God answers prayer He prayed, sometimes all night, and in the morning ‘the power of the Lord was present to heal.’  He did not teach in the schoolroom manner the necessity of humility He girded Himself with a towel and kneeled down and washed His disciples’ feet.  He did not discuss the question of the worth of personality He loved and served all men from the least to the greatest.  He did not discourse on the ‘equality’ of men He went to the poor and the outcast and ate with them.  He did not try to prove how pain and sorrow in the universe could be compatible with the love of God He took on Himself at the cross everything that spoke against the love of God, and through that pain and tragedy and sin showed the very love of God.  He did not discourse on how the weakest human material can be changed and empowered to change the world He called to Him a set of weak men,  ignorant and temperamental Galilean fishermen, transformed them and sent them out to begin the mightiest movement for uplift and redemption the world has ever seen. 

            “He wrote no books only once are we told that He wrote and that was in the sand but He wrote upon the hearts and consciences of people about Him and it has become the world’s most precious writing.  He did not paint a Utopia, far off and unrealizable He announced that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, and is ‘at hand’ and can be realized here and now.  He did not discourse on the beauty of love He loved.  We do not find Him arguing that the spiritual life should conquer matter He walked on water and fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes.  He did not argue the possibility of sinlessnessHe presented Himself and said, ‘Which of you convinceth me of sin?’  He did not merely ask men to turn the other cheek when smitten on the one, to go the second mile when compelled to go one, to give the cloak also when sued at the law and the coat was taken away, to love our enemies and to bless them He Himself did these very things, and in the agony of the cruel torture of the cross He prayed for His enemies, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ 

            “He did not merely tell us that death may be conquered He rose from the dead, and lo, the tomb now glows with light.  Many teachers of the world have tried to explain everything they have changed little or nothing.  Jesus explained little and changed everything.  Many teachers have tried to diagnose the disease of humanity Jesus cures it.  Many philosophers speculate on how evil entered the world Jesus presents Himself as the way by which it shall leave”   end quote. 

            The grand fact is that this Jesus of Nazareth, by the sheer force of His personality, has so impressed Himself upon mankind, and upon human history, and upon principalities and powers in the heavens, and upon spirits in the darkest underworld, and continues to impress Himself, that the only adequate description we can give of Him is EMMANUEL God with us; that in the Man Jesus dwelt and dwells the fullness of the Godhead, under bodily conditions.  In Him all we can ever know of the invisible Creator becomes  concrete, and therefore becomes powerful to save.  And if all this has been effected by one son of God revealing the Father to creation, what, I ask, shall be the result when A VAST COMPANY OF SONS SHALL BE BROUGHT TO RULE AND REIGN in His glorious image and likeness over all the earth and throughout the vastnesses of infinity forevermore.  Ah!  What an Eden of God’s glory it shall be when judgment is given TO THE SAINTS of the Most High, when all the OVERCOMERS out of all the ages SIT WITH THE CHRIST OF GOD IN HIS THRONE even as He overcame and is set down with His Father in His throne; when SAVIOURS shall come up  on MOUNT ZION to judge the house of Esau (flesh) and the Kingdom shall be the Lord’s (Obadiah 21).  Then shall the earth be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  Then shall all things in heaven and in earth be gathered together into one in Christ.  Then shall God be All-in-all. 

            The firstborn Son said, “Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.  I have glorified Thee on the earth: and now, O Father, glorify Thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (Jn. 17:1-5).  To “glorify” God means that man’s total expression of life would emit the very presence and effulgence of God.  An illustration of what it means to glorify God can be seen in the simple incandescent light bulb.  Screw it into the socket and the invisible electrons flowing through it are transformed into the light and heat energy that causes the halo of light.  The bulb is glorifying the invisible electricity making it visible and beneficent to mankind.  The sons of God are thus ordained to glorify the Father, emitting His presence, revealing His character, manifesting in a visible way His invisible reality. 

            I have shared the following story once before, not so very long ago, but am constrained to share it again.  John Wesley, it is recorded, was one day preaching in a rough neighborhood of London, where raucous and vulgar sensualities were in command, when two ruffians appeared at the edge of the crowd.  “Who is this preacher?” they asked, roughly.  “What right has he to come here spoiling our fun?  We’ll show him!”  A moment or two later, each with a stone in hand, they began elbowing their belligerent way through the throng.  But just when they were ready to “let fly” at Wesley’s face, he began talking about the power of Christ to change the lives of sinful men.  In that instant something dramatic happened.  Even as he was speaking a serene beauty, a celestial glow spread over his face.  The two men, obviously quite overcome by this unusual radiance of glory, stood there momentarily, their arms poised in mid-air.  Then one turned to the other, and said, “He ain’t a man, Bill; he ain’t a man.”  Their arms came down.  The stones dropped from their hands.  As Wesley continued to preach, the altered expressions on their countenances spoke of the softness that had stolen into their hearts.  The sermon over, Mr. Wesley began making his way through the crowd.  The path that the people respectfully opened for him brought him within arms length of where these tough boys were standing.  One of them, almost tenderly, reached out and touched the evangelist’s coat.  At that, Mr. Wesley paused, placed his hands on the heads of the lads, and said, “God bless you, my boys!”  As he passed on, one of the ruffians turned to the other, and said, “He is a man, Bill; he is a man.  He’s a man like God!”  This is the heritage of the people of the Lord. 

BEHOLD THE KING! 

            Kings are not in great demand these days.  When we think of kings, we imagine powerful rulers who meddle in people’s lives.  They require huge sums of money to keep their expensive homes and palaces running.  And they have the nasty habit of requiring us to do things we don’t really want to do.  Most of the nations of the world have discarded the rule of kings.  They prefer either democracy or communism, with governmental systems involving congresses, parliaments, presidents and prime ministers.  The order of kingship has almost disappeared, but the people are no better off and no more satisfied with their present governments than they were with their kings.  Most are not really free nor truly happy.  Now, in the United States we talk of creeping socialism.  The nasty kings of the past have turned into nasty “big government.”  The world stays in a state of constant turmoil and confusion, with revolutions, riots, wars, carnage, hostage situations, political prisoners, violation of human rights, persecution, economic failures, gangs, drugs, moral breakdown, hi-jackings, crime, racism, poverty, fear and hatred everywhere. 

            There is no doubt about it the kings of this world have failed, and it is abundantly evident that the governments which have taken their places are quite unsatisfactory.  And it is just this very condition that cries out for a new world order.  It is surprising to many to hear the Bible say that true joy is found, not in democracy and freedom, but with a king in charge! Even in the world many hold the opinion that the only thing that can save the world from utter chaos and destruction is some great SUPERMAN, one who would be wise enough, good enough, and strong enough to create an entirely new order for the nations of mankind, and have the power to put his plans into effect and enforce his edicts.  Convince the world that such a ruler is at hand and he would probably be universally acclaimed! 

            I have news for you there will indeed arise such a ruler.  He has, in fact, already come into the world, but only a few have been aware of His presence.  Only a small number of people, out of earth’s teeming billions, now truly know Him or have experienced the genius of His rule.  Two millenniums ago a man walked the dusty pathways of the land of Israel whom His disciples and followers believed was destined to be the world ruler that all the prophets of ancient times had foretold.  This man was raised as a boy in the town of Nazareth in Galilee of the Gentiles.  Today, Nazareth is a noisy city, with a population of about 200,000.  But in Jesus’ day, Nazareth was a small town on a ridge.  That does not mean that it was an isolated village, because it was located on one of the primary trade routes connecting the empires of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Rome, Assyria, and Babylonia.  Day and night foreigners marched the highway and brought their life-styles into the streets of Nazareth.  As a boy and as a young man Jesus gazed upon the occupying Roman soldiers, sailors, merchant men, and the trade caravans that brought goods from far-off lands.  He saw harlots, zealots, rebels, philosophers, thieves, and priests and priestesses of the pagan religions.  The people who passed by His tiny town of Nazareth brought news of events from great cities around the vast Roman Empire.  The town provided a young man with a window to the world.   

            Jesus did not grow up behind a window of obscurity, but saw face to face in all its stark reality all the world had to offer its best and its worst.  He saw the flowers that bloomed on the hillside in the spring, and the majesty and solitude of the green Galilean mountains.  But He also saw the sensual lust and crudeness of the surrounding cultures.  He felt the Roman’s hate of His people.  He saw violence, sin, death and destruction.  He saw drunkenness, revelry, debauchery, and heard every filthy gutter word in the languages of His day.  Childhood impressions leave an indelible impact on any evolving mind, and it was no exception with Jesus.  With all the negative faces and fears to which He was exposed, He could have grown up to become a negative reactionary, a wild, ruthless, militant revolutionary.  But with the aid of His heavenly Father the view He had of life as it really is was a part of the preparation necessary for His sonship ministry and the kingship to follow.   

            Jesus was the only man alive who not only saw life as it really is He saw God as He really is!  And there you have the perfect catalyst for the Kingdom of God!  Out of His relationship with His Father grew a mighty faith that the power of God in man could change the course of history and bring redemption and restoration to the fallen race.  Jesus saw fabulous possibilities in the worst person.  He saw fantastic potential in the most unlikely personality.  He saw the triumph of the spirit.  He saw victory over sin, sorrow, limitation, fear, bondage and death.  As the Kingdom was raised up in His own life He saw that the roadways carrying merchant men out of Nazareth, and the highways that brought conquering armies in, could be used to carry the gospel of peace, joy, righteousness, love, power and hope to the whole world. 

            When Jesus stepped forth in Galilee proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom of God He had no formal education, He had no list of academic credentials.  He could claim no politicians as His friends.  Never had He courted or dined with power people in industry, commerce, politics, the military or religion.  He couldn’t have been a name dropper if His life depended upon it. He had no organization and no supporters.  He was a total unknown.  He had no money and no natural means.  He had no name recognition anywhere.  Even after thousands flocked to Him and multitudes sat at His feet, He founded no movement, He had no army, He never enforced His will on the people.  He didn’t exalt himself or live apart in isolation, or in splendor and luxury.  He was known only for His kindness, His gentleness, His approachability, His unconditional love, His unmitigated mercy, His unfailing goodness, His surpassing wisdom, His spiritual power and His wonderful compassion.  He loved everybody and was merciful and sympathetic even to the most wretched sinner.  He healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, caused the blind to see out of obscurity and the lame to leap as an hart, raised the dead to life again, and cast out the devils with His word. 

            Have you ever wondered why in Jesus’ day there seemed to be so many people who were crippled or blind or deaf or terminally ill?  It is because Galilee is part of a massive volcanic fault line, stretching from Syria through the Jordan River valley, across the Red Sea, all the way down to Lake Victoria in Africa.  Beneath this fault, fissures of molten lava heat the springs around the Sea of Galilee.  People traveled great distances because they believed they could be healed by the water and minerals in the hot springs.  Astute investors built cities near these pools and erected beautiful marble bathhouses with inlaid mosaic.  Businessmen and physicians charged high fees for the ill to sit in these baths.  I do not doubt for one moment that that is one of the reasons God selected Galilee as the location for Jesus’ sonship ministry.  The hurting, the sick and the dying were there, Christ was always finding a hurt and healing it, showing how they could overcome all things and turn their scars into stars.  One of the most revealing observations made concerning Him states, “How God anointed Jesus  of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).           

            But the world was too evil to appreciate so noble a character.  He was hated and despised by those in authority, and charges were brought against Him.  One of the charges was of sedition that He claimed to be a king.  He was brought before the Roman governor, Pilate, for trial, and was questioned.  “Art thou a king?” He was asked, to which He replied, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (Jn. 18:37).  This confession became His death warrant for the angry rulers of Judea who wanted Him put to death chanted, “We have no king but Caesar!”  In the night madness Pilate finally realized he could do no more to save this man’s life, so he permitted a crown of thorns to be pressed upon His brow, and showing Him to the mob, he cried, “Behold your king!”  But they shouted back, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” 

            It is interesting to observe Pontius Pilate’s perception of Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus informed Pilate that He is indeed a king.  Pilate was an officer of the Roman Empire.  He appeared to know little of the Hebrew prophets.  He was seeing only the carpenter’s son who stood before him.  Pilate’s conception of a king was defined by Caesar and Herod.  A king is a person of supreme authority over a nation.  A king lives in a palace and is attended by a variety of lesser authorities and powers.  The king should be a person of integrity, knowledge, wisdom and personal magnetism.  Pilate “sized up”  this man before him and he discerned the character and nobility of a king.  Pilate was not talking “religious” talk.  He weighed his words in the light of his professional perception of a king when he wrote the title and nailed it to the cross: JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.  They crucified Jesus, but He told His disciples that He would rise again.  And He did.  He arose the conquering Christ and from that day to this He has been patiently, consistently, and methodically forming and establishing His Kingdom in the earth, in the hearts and lives of His elect.  And it shall yet triumph over all! 

            There is yet to be a revelation of His person and power in an unprecedented measure before the face of all nations.  The fullness of God’s glory was once manifested in the firstborn Son of God, and it shall ultimately be manifested in all His “many brethren.”  This night of sin and death and darkness is stormy, but the light of His presence and the power of His Kingdom will soon become  manifest, and the sorrows of earth will give way to the brightness of the new day of deliverance and release for all mankind.  All peoples shall yet bow before Him in this Day, and all nations shall obey Him and serve Him.  Thus it is written and thus shall it be. This One is GOD’S KING.  You see,  my beloved, God’s government is a KINGDOM not a democracy, not a military government, nor any other form of government.  God has not raised up Jesus to be president or prime minister or military dictator.  God is not forming His sons into a company of congressmen, senators, parliamentarians, cabinet members, or secretaries of departments of government.  No!  Jesus has been anointed KING and He “has made us unto our God KINGS AND PRIESTS, and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).  This is the power and glory of the Kingdom of God! 

            “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.  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, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Dan. 7:13-14,27).  “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Lk. 1:30-33). 

            “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:6-7). 

            Ah, yes, Jesus has real power “power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him” (Jn. 17:2).  Other men spoke and their words died with their echo: Jesus spoke and His words shook the world.  Other men died martyr deaths and were not long remembered; He died and His cross now stands against every skyline.  He is the True King, the Real Man.  He has power like dawn’s banners, like the unseen constraint of tides, like a fragrance, like great music, like buried seed, like that spirit in history which litters time with the debris of proud empires and wills that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” 

            The gospel that we have in the Bible is the gospel of the Kingdom of God.  The gospel that presents Jesus as King, as Lord, as First One, as the Maximum Authority.  Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”  What does this mean?  I am the king of my life; I am seated on the throne; I make the decisions; I glory in the fact that I do it “my way.”  But when the Lord Jesus comes I must abdicate my throne and let Him sit on the throne.  Now everything must be done HIS WAY.  The testimony of those who are really in the Kingdom of God is all the same: “Till I met the Lord Jesus, I was the commander of my life.  Since I met Him, He commands.” 

            Most people are Christians because they want to escape hell and go to heaven.  If all the preachers and teachers  one day called a press conference and told their people, “We have discovered that there is no heaven or hell,” how many would stay in the church after that?  Most of the people would ask, “Why are we coming then?”  They were coming for heaven, not because JESUS IS LORD AND EVERYBODY MUST SUBMIT TO HIM.  You see, they have missed the idea of the Kingdom altogether.  In the hour in which we live the vast majority of Christians are more miserable than most other people in the world.  They are only enduring this life in order to eventually get to heaven where they imagine they will spend the next billion trillion years or so singing, playing harps, shouting, and dancing over the hill tops of glory.  I am quite sure that if such people would admit the truth, they would admit that even a thousand years of singing, shouting, playing harp music and dancing about in white robes would become quite monotonous and very boring, to say the least.  I find that most of these people can’t endure five hours in a church meeting even if the glory is falling all around!  Most of them start watching their watches about noon on Sunday morning!  The problem is that their theology leaves them with nothing constructive to do and all eternity to do it in!  They know nothing about the KINGDOM OF GOD.  A kingdom denotes rulership and advancement of all kinds.  It means WORK and RESPONSIBILITY and a place of ministry and power to bless.  God has a purpose and a great plan for this earth and for the whole vast universe.  His Kingdom purposes have nothing to do with dancing on the streets of gold they have everything to do with redemption, restoration, and creation involving the earth and all the boundless endnesses of infinity!  This is the power and glory of the Kingdom of God! 

            Then there are those who are Christians for a fire escape out of hell, not because Jesus is King and they truly hunger and thirst after the righteousness, peace and joy of His Kingdom.  I do not believe that it is an understatement when I say there are untold millions of Christian believers who have no true love for God, no intimate relationship with Jesus, no vital union with the Lord, but are going through the motions of serving Him out of fear of going to hell, as a slave in fear of a tyrant!  If such persons had the fear of hell removed from them it is obvious that they would promptly tell God to go to hell and then proceed to drown themselves in devilish pleasures and fleshly pursuits.  If the wages of sin were removed, they would immediately go out and live it up in the world, serving both the flesh and the devil.  That is where their hearts are now, but they cannot risk hell, so they “serve” the Lord.  Such have no love for God at all, their eyes have never beheld the King in His beauty, they have never seen the Lord high and lifted up with His train filling the temple, their hearts have never been touched by the altogether loveliness of the all-glorious Lord and King of the universe, their heart-strings have never been touched by the beautiful  melody of the KINGDOM OF GOD.   

            Jesus is the great King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is not the soon coming King as the citizens of Babylon are trained to say, denying by the very words that Christ has any Kingdom on earth at this present time.  Such ignorant statements always leave me cold.  What could be further from the truth, which teaches us that Christ now sits with His Father in His throne and that all power is given unto Him in heaven and in earth.  We are already citizens of that Kingdom and have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear son.  Already it has taken place, already Christ has a Kingdom and is its King.  From the barrenness of Patmos the beloved apostle John wrote that he was our brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the Kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:9).   

            Christ is the great King right now, ruling all things for the well-being of His subjects and bringing absolute perfection and completion to His plans which He ordained before the foundation of the world.  He is the King  of the ages and invincible.  He shall yet arise in power and glory in His completed and perfected body the MANIFESTED SONS OF GOD  revealing Himself as the great conquering King, bringing deliverance to every man and all creation, reconciling all things unto Himself, on earth and throughout all the unbounded heavens.  Every son is finding his place in this Day and the hour of manifestation is nigh at hand. 

            Not long ago we received these words from the pen of Paul Mueller.  “The kingdom of God is the only hope for the world!  May God give us all a vision of Christ the King and Lord of all.  He is high and lifted up, far above all other powers.  His train, or the skirts of His priestly garment, fills this temple, which we are.  His train or priestly robe covers, protects, enables and empowers us with His royal, priestly, Melchizedek authority.  Jesus Christ is the Head, and we are the body.  His robe of royal, priestly authority and power covers the entire body, which we are, making us one in Him (Ps. 133).  He rules from His throne in the realm of Spirit.  God grant that we shall see Christ in His ascended glory, seated on His throne and ruling in all the earth, and we with Him.  When we see Him, we shall indeed cease from man.  Then we will stop regarding man and esteeming him as the hope of the world.  The truth is, we also are the hope of the world, for we are hidden in Christ, who is the King and Lord of all.  We are becoming one with Him and are being made a kingdom of kings and priests unto God and His Father (Rev. 1:6).  A vision of this Christ and His glorious, all encompassing kingdom will deliver us from looking to man.  Then we will put all our hope and trust in Him who reigns in life forevermore.” 

            George Wylie wrote a precious word about the reverence of the sons for the Son, the esteem of the kings for the King, and the devotion  of the lords to the Lord.  “It is a marvelous thing to belong to the family of God.  I’m so glad I belong to the God family, that God is my Father, and that we, the sons of God, have such a wonderful elder brother.  But just because He is one of the family, and we are one in Him, doesn’t mean we should treat Him as just another member.  Let us never forget that He is Lord, and that our Father is God.  ‘But to us there is but one God and He is our Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him’ (I Cor. 8:6).   

            “When the last king of England died, the family was gathered around his bedside waiting.  As soon as the king had breathed his last breath, and it was evident he was gone, the first thing the Queen did was to turn to her eldest son, bow before him, and say, ‘Your Majesty.’  He was her son, but he was now more than that; he was her king.  And as her king she gave him the reverence and respect due to his position.  She didn’t say, ‘My son Edward, you are now king.’  No, she addressed him with respect in reverence to his position, bowed in submission to him, and said, ‘Your Majesty.’  What she was really meaning was, ‘My King.’   

            “The rest of the family did the same; they bowed to their brother, as Joseph’s brothers bowed to him in Egypt, and also said, ‘Your majesty.’  I suppose up until this time they treated him as a brother; they likely played with him, argued with him, and perhaps sometimes fought with him.  No longer!  From now on he would not be treated as just a brother, but as a king their king!  We have a wonderful Father and He is God and Creator of the universe, the upholder of all things; and we have a wonderful brother, and He is the Head of all principalities and powers, the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He has all power in heaven and in earth.  His name is above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.  Before His majesty every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.  All realms and all worlds and all dominions and all nations and all men shall worship and adore Him and pledge their eternal allegiance to Him.  He is Lord of all.  Next to our Father He holds the highest position in the universe; so let us reverence them and their names in humility and undying devotion and exaltation”   end quote.  Amen and amen! 

            To be continued...                                                                                           J. PRESTON EBY

                                                        

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