KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
TO BE THE LORDíS PRAYER
THY KINGDOM COME
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven...Thy kingdom come..." (Mat. 6:9).
The prophets of Old Testament times regarded the Kingdom of God as an event of the future. It was for them something yet to be achieved. They looked forward earnestly to the time when God would arise and come to judge the earth. They saw in vision the day when all nations of men would live in peace; when strife, war, tyranny, injustice, sorrow, hunger, want, pain and death would be vanquished. That age of perfection would bring blessings unparalleled and would be the rule of God in the midst of men. These beautiful dreams of an age to come of heavenly bliss on earth are among the most enchanting passages in the Bible.
There are two errors abroad in the land today in respect to the Kingdom of God. There is a tendency among Godís people to limit the Kingdom either to this age of the Church, or to the next age called the Millennium or the Kingdom Age. The first group can see nothing in the Kingdom beyond our present experience. To these the Kingdom is identical with our salvation experience and the many gifts, blessings, provisions, and benefits of the Church age. This concept views the Kingdom as a "little flock" right up to the end of time, in the world, co-existing as it were with the world, yet not of the world, but never triumphing over the world. The Church and the world, or the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil both continue as they now are right up to the end of time when Jesus comes again and terminates the whole program, destroying the present heavens and earth, casting the wicked into everlasting hell fire and shipping the saints off to glory in eternal heaven. In this view there is no ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God over the kingdom of darkness, no consummation of the Kingdom where God becomes all-in-all. Instead of consummation these dear people settle for termination. God just "winds things up" and the whole program on earth comes to a jarring halt. According to this scheme the prophecy of Daniel will never be fulfilled: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall BREAK IN PIECES AND CONSUME ALL THESE KINGDOMS, and it shall stand for ever" (Dan. 2:44). Nor, if these brethren are right, can the prophecy in Revelation 11:15 come to pass: "The kingdoms of this world ARE BECOME THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD, AND OF HIS CHRIST; and He shall reign for ever and ever."
The second error recognizes no present literal Kingdom of God on earth, pushing the Kingdom off into a future age, making its present reality utterly meaningless. Men with their human theology have imagined that the Kingdom of God has not yet come on the earth and that it remains to be "established" during the "Millennium". People often declare in no uncertain terms that Jesus is returning to "set up" the Kingdom. They proclaim that the Kingdom is an "age" of one thousand years duration. I do not hesitate to tell you that every shred of evidence is to the contrary. All such notions are utter rubbish and have no foundation in the spirit of Truth. At this very moment, when Christians are busily looking for a one-world government under the antichrist, the great tribulation period followed by the return of Jesus and the establishment of the Kingdom, we who have followed on to know the Lord and have sought first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness have had our hearts ravished by this blessed reality: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath TRANSLATED US INTO THE KINGDOM OF HIS DEAR SON" (Col. 1:13). Let demons rage. Let fools and unbelievers hang their heads in shame. The Kingdom of God is a present reality to those who have been caught up into the high places of the Spirit! It is not a matter of this or that, now or then, this age or the next age. The Kingdom is none of those things. It is more than all. It is this and that, now and then, this age and the next ó and much, much more!
The great truth I declare to you today is that Jesus Christ came two millenniums ago and brought the Kingdom and established the Kingdom within the hearts and lives of the sons of the Kingdom. "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the good news" (Mk. 1:14-15). And again, "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it" (Lk. 16:16). God has a plan for His great and glorious Kingdom! Indeed, God has a wonderful plan for this world! It is a plan of which the architectural drawings were made in eternity. It encompasses the minutest detail of all of creation. I assure you that when time has run its course, and the veil is dropped upon the final scene, we shall discover that that plan has been worked out to its tiniest detail, just as God planned it in eternity.
Upon your table today there is or should be a book we call the Bible. This book alone reveals Godís secret plan of the ages. It unfolds with unerring accuracy the mysteries of ages in the dim and misty past and points with unerring finger to the purpose of countless eons yet to come. The Christian Church as we know it has been living in a foolís paradise, propounding pet doctrines, ranting and raving about an endless eternity with golden streets and harps and white nightgowns for some and crackling, searing, tormenting flames for others, but almost completely overlooking Godís wonderful PLAN OF THE AGES. Paul writes of this plan of the ages in Ephesians 3:8-11. "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and make all to see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." The word translated "eternal" in the phrase "eternal purpose" is the Greek word AIONON which means "ages." Youngís Literal Translation reads, "And to cause all to see what is the fellowship of the secret that hath been hid FROM THE AGES in God, who the all things did create by Jesus Christ, that there might be made known now to the principalities and authorities in the heavenly places, through the assembly, the manifold wisdom of God, according to A PURPOSE OF THE AGES, which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord." The Diaglott renders verse 11 thus, "According to A PLAN OF THE AGES, which He formed for the Anointed Jesus our Lord," and Rotherham says, "According to A PLAN OF THE AGES which He made in the anointed Jesus our Lord."
As men with the aid of Godís Word have gazed into the vista of the future, it seems to have missed their understanding that God says very little in His Word about eternity, while devoting many hundreds of passages to His will and works wrought through THE AGES. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds" (Heb. 1:1-2). What tremendous statements we have here! God has spoken to us through His Son ó literally, "spoke to us in Son," or, God spoke to us in One who has the character that He is a SON, revealing the realm and relationship of sonship to God. This Son is heir of all things and, blessed be God! we are joint heirs with Him. "By whom also He made the worlds." Many people believe this refers to the creative act ó "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It does not refer to that at all. The word here for "worlds" is AIONAS. It means ages ó "...by whom He framed the ages." This goes beyond His being Creator of matter and its arrangement into multiplied billions of galaxies, stars, suns, planets and moons with their atmospheres and inhabitants. This lends purpose to everything. He is the heir who GIVES THE PROGRAM FOR THE FUTURE! He planned and framed the ages, He ordained the end from the beginning; not only did He create everything, He did it for a purpose, and "known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). Notice ó the Amplified Bible says, "But in the last of these days He has spoken to us in the person of a Son, whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things, also by and through whom He created the worlds and the reaches of space and the AGES OF TIME ó that is, He made, produced, built, operated and arranged them in order!" "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God" (Heb. 11:3), but it should read, "the ages were planned by the word of God." God made, planned, and determined the destiny of all the ages in and by Jesus Christ.
The age we are now living in is not the last age nor is the age to come the final age in Godís vast Kingdom program. The apostle Paul tells us that God "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the AGES TO COME He might show (put on display, exhibit) the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6-7). According to these inspired words there are "ages" yet to come ó so there can be no less than two ages beyond our present age and there could be many, many more. It is during these "ages to come" that God shall take the wonderful work He has so meticulously wrought in His elect throughout the past ages and put it on display in and through them for the whole creation to behold and consider. This will certainly not be to the condemnation of creation, the masses of unregenerated men that have lived and died upon this planet, but rather redounds unto their blessing, deliverance and transformation; for it is HIS KINDNESS TOWARD US IN JESUS CHRIST that is exhibited through the saints throughout the coming ages. Kindness on display! Think of it! That is no curse, no judgment ó it can only mean salvation! This glorious display is for the instruction and enlightenment of all men. What a marvelous prospect!
While the scriptures speak in the Greek of an age, and the ages, and the ages of the ages ó one age proceeding from, or out of, a previous age until all the ages have run their courses ó it also points to that glorious climatic age of all ages. We read the phrase, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (Heb. 1:8). These words "for ever and ever" come from the Greek which literally reads TO THE AGE OF THE AGES. This is very familiar terminology in scripture.
Few men have been caught away by the spirit of inspiration as was the wise king Solomon when he penned the beautiful Song of Solomon. God dropped one thousand and five songs down into the heart of Solomon, but of these, only five comprising the Song of Solomon, have been preserved and found a place in holy scripture. Inspiration named it "The Song of Songs," that is, the one song that was above and beyond all the songs that have ever come from human heart and human lips. Just as the "Song of Songs" was chief above them all, just as the "Holy of holies" was the holiest place of all, just as the "heaven of heavens" is the highest heaven of all, just as the "King of kings" is the greatest King of all, so all through the scriptures, though obscured by many translators, we have this remarkable phrase TO THE AGE OF THE AGES. It points to that age that shall be the most glorious of all, and which finds its type in the year of Jubilee.
This is the Holy Spiritís way of expressing the superlative, and so far as Godís plan of the ages is concerned this AGE OF THE AGES is THE AGE PAR EXCELLENCE of them all. A simple illustration of this is our expression, "a day of days," meaning a day that comes out of previous days, which crowns them all, and embodies not only what they contained, but the full fruition of all that was elementary in them. Eternity does not emerge full grown in manís consciousness until this wonderful age is ended. This AGE OF THE AGES is that glorious climax to His purpose and process of the ages, wherein He states, "Behold, I make ALL things new" (Rev. 21:5). When He says, "ALL," it is self-evident that there is nothing remaining in the universe that shall not be made new, else all is not all. "For He must reign until He hath put ALL enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Cor. 15:25-26). When the last enemy is under His feet, destroyed, and there is no more death in any creature anywhere in all Godís great universe, then shall God be all-in-all! The Amplified gives, "Be everything to everyone." Time comes to an end when the ages end and eternity, with God "all-in-all," becomes a conscious reality.
The Word of God is crystal clear that there is to be an increase of the Kingdom from age to age. The very fact that there are yet "ages to come" shows that the Kingdom advances from one age to another. Historically, every new age has superseded the previous ones, bringing greater light, a further revelation of God, and more advanced dealing with mankind. Each new age inaugurates a higher dimension of Godís purposes in the earth. Nothing is clearer in the scriptures than the fact that THIS IS NOT THE LAST AGE. There is no "final windup" at the close of this present dispensation. We can expect, therefore, fresh and greater manifestations and administrations of Kingdom dominion as we move from this age into the next. What anticipation this evokes in our hearts!
The apostle James made a statement to the council at Jerusalem in which he clearly defines the complete outline of Godís purpose for the so-called age of grace in which we live and the dispensation that is to follow. "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, AFTER THIS (after God has taken out of the nations a people for His name) I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David (the fullness of Godís glory in a people), which is fallen down (following the great apostasy); and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the RESIDUE OF MEN MIGHT SEEK AFTER THE LORD, and ALL THE GENTILES, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things" (Acts 15:14-18). Dispensationally, this is one of the most significant passages in the New Testament. It gives Godís divine purpose for this age and the next age. James says that the purpose of God during this present age has been to visit the Gentiles TO TAKE O-U-T O-F T-H-E-M A PEOPLE FOR HIS NAME. Godís purpose for this age has never been the conversion of the whole world. God has not been trying to save the whole world. God has had no plan for "sweeping nations into the Kingdom of God." That never was Godís plan for this dispensation. Godís purpose, then, in this Church age, is to "call out" a people for His name. Out from among the billions of earth God is choosing an ELECT COMPANY to bear His name ó His nature and His authority. God has been forming His Church, the body of Christ. The Church is the "ecclesia" ó the "called out ones." That is the meaning of the word "church." Precisely this has been in progress since Pentecost. The gospel has never, anywhere, converted all, but everywhere has called out some. It is here, in the true Church, which is His body, that Jesus Christ FIRST ESTABLISHES HIS GOVERNMENT that He might rule and reign on the throne of menís lives.
Godís purpose in His Church is not to save men from sin and hell and take them off to some far-off heaven somewhere. Godís plan is to first set up His government in the hearts of His elect and then as they become totally committed unto Him to imbue them with His own mind, spirit, thoughts, will, nature and power until they have grown up into the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ. But most Christians will not come to this! They are too busy playing church, rejoicing that they are not going to hell or that they are going to heaven when they die, and blundering around in the carnal programs and immaturity and shame of a wretched, fleshly, Babylonian religious system which falsely calls itself "the church." But just as the dispensation of the law, at its conclusion, brought forth that which it typified and pointed to ó Jesus Christ the Son of God ó so this present Church age must, in these last days, at its conclusion, bring forth that for which it was intended and to which it pointed ó a many-membered BODY OF CHRIST, perfected, matured, overcoming, and full grown into the exact likeness and full glory of its Head and Lord.
God never intended that Christ should rule over all the earth and all nations during this age. His reign is confined completely to that company of footstep followers who have heard His voice and follow Him all the way into sonship to God. Baptized in His fullness these sons of God become the very embodiment of His government in the earth. This may seem to be an extremely slow method and a very small Kingdom for such a great and exalted King, but we cannot over emphasize the importance of this lowly beginning for a government whose authority is destined to "subdue ALL THINGS." So let us see that not only is God establishing His government in the lives of His elect, but through His dealings with them He is actually FORMING THEM INTO A GOVERNMENT ó a ruling body of sons of God, kings and priests after the Order of Melchizedek! God is calling out a people to bear His name, to be His nature, authority and power in the earth. To bear His name WHERE? WHEN? HOW? To bear His name only through their fleeting years in the flesh? Not at all. James says, "AFTER THIS (after the Lord has completed His work of calling out a people for His name), I will return and build again the tabernacle of David...THAT THE RESIDUE OF MEN MIGHT SEEK AFTER THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES...saith the Lord." The "residue" of men denotes "all the rest," that is, all who were not part of the "called out." I tell you, my beloved, God is now forming a government composed of faithful sons (the tabernacle of David) whom He shall use in the coming age and ages as kings and priests after the Order of Melchizedek to bring Godís Kingdom to pass in all the earth and in all realms. Through this glorious anointed body of sons ALL THE REST OF MEN...ALL THE GENTILES...SHALL SEEK THE LORD. Hallelujah! This is not the "coming" of the Kingdom, it is the next stage of "advancement" and "increase" of the Kingdom. The Kingdom has already come! But this next step of the Kingdomís expansion cannot come until the sons of God are fully matured, perfected, trained, prepared and equipped. God, through nearly two thousand years, has been slowly, surely and wisely choosing this body of sons, preparing them through the furnace of affliction and the discipline of testings to sit together with Him on His throne, for those that suffer with Him shall also reign with Him!
The promise is sure. "And He that OVERCOMETH, and keepeth my works unto the end (of the processing), to him will I give POWER OVER THE NATIONS: and he shall RULE THEM with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers" (Rev. 2:26-27). "To him that OVERCOMETH will I grant to SIT WITH ME IN MY THRONE, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne" (Rev. 3:21). "And now they sing again a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll and to break the seals that are on it, for You were slain and with Your blood you purchased men unto God ó from every tribe and language and people and nation. And You have MADE THEM A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS to our God, and they shall REIGN OVER THE EARTH!" (Rev. 5:9-10, Amplified). This great truth cannot be any more forcefully presented than it is by the prophet Daniel when he writes, "These great beasts which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH SHALL TAKE THE KINGDOM, and POSSESS THE KINGDOM for ever, even for ever and ever. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and JUDGMENT WAS GIVEN TO THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH; and the time came that THE SAINTS POSSESSED THE KINGDOM. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High...BUT THE JUDGMENT (of the saints) SHALL SIT, AND THEY (the saints) SHALL TAKE WAY HIS DOMINION TO CONSUME AND DESTROY IT UNTO THE END. AND THE KINGDOM AND DOMINION AND THE GREATNESS OF THE KINGDOM UNDER THE WHOLE HEAVEN, SHALL BE GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE OF THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and ALL DOMINIONS SHALL SERVE AND OBEY HIM" (Dan. 7:17-18, 21-22, 25-27).
The work of the sons of God only begins at the opening of the age that follows the Church age. "Then I saw thrones, and sitting on them were those to whom authority to act as judges and pass sentence was entrusted...blessed and holy ó spiritually whole, of unimpaired innocence and proved virtue ó is the person who shares in the first resurrection...and they shall be MINISTERS of God and of Christ...and they shall RULE WITH HIM a thousand years" (Rev. 20:4,6, Amplified). Ah, yes, they shall rule for that age but the Kingdom doesnít end there, for, "of the increase of His government and peace THERE SHALL BE NO END!"
It is my deep conviction that Godís Kingdom program for the past two millenniums has been the calling out of the body of Christ, the formation of Godís divine government of Kings and Priests after the Order of Melchizedek. These are called out by God, called out of the world, and called out unto God. Furthermore, they are called out of every religious system on earth including those man-made systems which have the audacity to call themselves "the Church," although their organizations are unscriptural, their programs unspiritual, and their ceremonies uninspired. They are in reality a pretense and a sham. The true Church is the ecclesia, the "called out" ones. They are called out by the Holy Spirit of God and they are called out unto God. Their ears know His voice and not the clamoring voices of strangers. Well they know by the Spirit that the Babel of voices which clamor to be heard from the pulpit and radio and television are too often the voices of strangers posing as the ministers of Christ who seek to draw away disciples after themselves, and not to point men to the Christ of God upon whose shoulder is the government of the world.
God has had no plan to save the world during the Church age, only to call out a people unto Himself. If God had purposed to save the world during the past two thousand years He most certainly would have done so, for His IS GOD ALMIGHTY. Godís Kingdom program for the next age, as His Kingdom progresses from age to age in that glorious increase of which there is no end, is the subjugation and salvation of all the living nations on earth. The promise is sure. Hear what the Lord is about to do through His Anointed Christ Body in this, our day! "He that overcometh...to him will I give POWER OVER THE NATIONS: and he shall RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON" (Rev. 2:26-27). "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, THE KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD ARE BECOME THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD, AND OF HIS CHRIST, and HE SHALL REIGN TO THE AGES OF THE AGES" (Rev. 11:15). "And all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE NATIONS shall worship before Thee" (Ps. 22:27). "For the Lord most high is terrible; He is a great King over all the earth. He shall subdue the people under us, and THE NATIONS UNDER OUR FEET" (Ps. 47:2-3). "Yea, ALL KINGS shall fall down before Him: ALL NATIONS shall serve Him" (Ps. 72:11).
Scripture could be piled upon scripture, but it should be clear to every honest heart that God has a plan beyond this age and beyond the Church, the called out, a plan that includes ALL THE NATIONS OF EARTH. The Church age is the age of the called out, the formation of Godís elect into a Kingdom of Priests. The next age is the age for that Kingdom of Priests to take authority over the nations and bring the Kingdom of God to pass in the earth among all living nations. In the ages beyond God shall deal with all men who have lived and died from father Adam all the way down to this and future times. All these shall be restored to God and brought into the courts of His Kingdom. It is an extraordinary and awesome thing that the Lord by revelation of the Spirit gives His sons to understand that what He is doing on the earth today is merely a beginning. Nothing is finished yet. We are not even approaching the end of the world, or the consummation of the ages, or the great "wind up" of Godís program. Nothing is so complete, so perfect, that it is to remain unchanged from what it was in its time. What the sovereign Lord has given us is a root and not yet a tree. The seed still must grow, the branches spread out; the blossoms will come later. In the end the fruit will come, for that is how the Kingdom develops, saith the Lord, "first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear." This wonderful work goes on from generation to generation, from dispensation to dispensation, and from age to age.
Within this principle lies the nature of the Kingdom of Christ and the purpose He represents. Godís Christ is for the redemption of creation ó and how can that be completed in a day? How can that be finished in one earthly lifetime? How can that be accomplished in one age, or two or three? Creation took a long time ó seven incredibly long epochs called "days" in the book of Genesis. In like manner redemption, restoration and re-creation ó that requires time! It is not for just a few people or for several thousand or for one race or for the Church; it is for all mankind, for every kindred, tongue, people, and nation, for the whole creation. The Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end regarding the Kingdom of God and must reign until all enemies are under His feet, all things are made new, and God is all-in-all (I Cor. 15:25-28). No wonder there are yet AGES TO COME!
For many years now multitudes of preachers and people in the church systems would have us believe that God has been in this great work of the ages for the short period of 6,000 years. They tell us that in this day God is about to become so disgusted with the whole mess that He is going to close it down, take a few saints away to a planet called heaven, and give up on the rest of creation, the work of His love. What a WEAK and STUPID God some folk have and worship! They worship a God who changes, one who in the beginning did start out to bring about a glorious end, but somewhere along the line lost control of the situation and has now thrown up His hands in despair and decided to destroy the whole thing and content Himself with a "little flock" of followers for all eternity. What great pity I feel for such people and for the god they serve! For this is going to put their god in the unenviable position of being filled with regret throughout all eternity because He was unable to carry out His purpose, a large segment of humanity and creation forever lost to Him, and He will have to always remember that over in the hell He created is the vast majority of men for whom Jesus died suffering the tortures of the damned for ever and ever. What a prospect for God and His creation! What a prospect for God and His Kingdom! What a prospect for God and His Anointed body of Kings and Priests after the Order of Melchizedek! What an unthinkable prospect!
There are worlds beyond this one, scattered throughout the vastnesses of infinity, all created by our Lord Jesus Christ and all included within the scope of His ever-increasing Kingdom. Long millenniums ago God "created the heavens and the earth." A universe of raging infernos called stars came into existence. Astronomers estimate that their number is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or one sextillion ó yet, their utter extremity has never been seen! There seems to be no end to the twinkling points of light. And scattered among these myriads of stars and nebulae are millions of solar systems composed of suns, planets and moons. Those worlds, too, are to be explored and Godís great purpose fulfilled in them through the sons of God, for Godís Christ is heir of A-L-L T-H-I-N-G-S. Ages to come...it will take them all, precious friend of mine, though there should be billions or trillions of them, to complete the great and grand purpose of our Creator. What a calling! What a plan! What a destiny! How magnificently awesome and meaningful the words of the inspired prophet: "And of the INCREASE OF HIS GOVERNMENT AND PEACE there shall be no end!"
When Jesus came revealing the great truth and reality of sonship and the Kingdom of God He taught us to pray, "Our Father...Thy Kingdom come." In offering this prayer we must not stop at ourselves. The prayer embraces the whole wide world in its sweeps and indeed all of creation. Thy Kingdom come! Where? Everywhere. All nations are to bow down before Him, all people are to serve Him, and unto all principalities and powers in the heavenlies the wisdom of God is to be revealed. Men discuss the question sometimes as to which race is likely to become the dominant race in the earth. Hitler thought that the Aryan race was the master race and set about to conquer the world. The Jews believe that they will eventually rule the earth. We who live in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England and Northwestern Europe are sometimes inclined to believe that this unique destiny is reserved to the ten-tribed house of Israel ó the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples. There is abundant evidence that the ten-tribed house of Israel migrated from Assyrian captivity into those areas which today are populated by the Anglo-Saxon race. But there is something I am more anxious about than the dominion of the Anglo-Saxon race, and that is the dominion of CHRIST. Above all else I am a son of God, born not of blood, nor of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but from ABOVE, born of GOD. Such a birth forever and completely removes me from the question of race and initiates me into the higher realm of celestial citizenship. No men are subjects of the Kingdom of God by natural birth. As the firstborn Son of God explained to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God...for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Natural or fleshly birth introduces us to the privileges of nature and of flesh. Birth in time with its inherent seed of sin and death, introduces us to a passing realm that is crucified on Christís cross. Spiritual birth gives us internal, spiritual, and divine advantages. Born of the Spirit of God, we are introduced to the eternal and abiding privileges of this Kingdom. It begins not on the outside, but within; it alters not our circumstances, but ourselves. It is called a birth because it is the beginning of a new life; a life that has no sin and meets with no death, nor needs any third birth to carry one onward to a yet higher state. It is called a second birth, because it breaks off the life that the first birth began, and swallows up the death by which it held us. It could not be called a birth if we had initiated it ourselves; it can only be called a birth, because we thereby become through the generation of another a creature that we were not before. Birth never originates with the one born, but always with another generating power of life. We are born again because "the seed of God" is quickening us. Men become citizens of the Kingdom of God, then, by becoming through a new birth the children of God.
As a part of the many-membered Christ of God I want to see the banner of HIS LIFE raised high in every heart and in every land. I want to see every nation, every tongue, every tribe, every people and every race acknowledging one and the same King of kings, even Jesus. I want to see the crown of the world on the brow of the Christ of God and the government upon His shoulder. And, brethren, I know that this shall surely come to pass! HE is seated upon the throne of the universe today and we, in Him, are destined to rule all things. The hour is wonderfully nigh at hand when that great company of the manifested sons of God shall arise to deliver creation from the long tyranny of sin, sorrow and death. This sonship is the hope of all creation and, even now, every created thing on earth and throughout the vastnesses of infinity is standing on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of an age and ages governed by the holy sons of Love.
What redemption there shall be! What reconciliation! What salvation! What peace and joy and righteousness! What health and blessing and life more abundant! The time is coming when every evil heart shall be made pure as the lily and clean as the driven snow. The time is coming when every manís life day by day shall be sweet and holy and happy. The time is coming when lying, deceit, greed, strife, violence and shame shall be banished from the earth. The time is coming when mental hospitals and penitentiaries shall no longer openly proclaim our shame. The time is coming when the drunkard, the drug abuser, the fornicator, the homosexual, the harlot and the criminal shall be no more, but the people shall be all righteous ó a branch of Godís planting, that HE may be glorified! The time is coming when there shall be no more weeping widows nor starving orphans, nor manhood and womanhood debased from the image of God. The time is coming when the clash of arms shall be heard no more; when there shall be no more war of armies or tanks or battle-ships; no more missiles streaking through the sky, or bombs bursting.
The time is coming when business and politics and pleasure shall be carried on to the glory of God. The time is coming when literature and art and television and movies and the media shall be cleansed from all their impurity, vulgarity, violence and immorality, and shall speak of God as our own hearts speak of Him today. The time is coming when the United States of America and China and India and Asia and Africa and Russia and Europe and all other nations small and great and the isles of the sea shall relinquish their governments into the hands of Godís many-membered Christ. The time is coming when every idol shall be broken and every religious superstition, myth, tradition, fable and folklore destroyed, and the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. The time is coming when righteousness, peace and joy shall in every heart prevail, and sin and limitation and sorrow and death shall be words only in some archaic dictionary, whose meaning men no longer understand. Lift up your hearts! That glorious age ó the age of the ages ó is coming! The next age is now dawning, the radiant beams of its Sun is even now enlightening our hearts! The darkness is past and the glorious Day is now breaking. Thy Kingdom come! It has come. Yet, it still must come. It will come. It will come and it will continue to come! The sons of God are now prepared for the hour of victory and "the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in their hands." We look for a redeemed humanity upon a regenerated earth. And no combination of powers or persons, on the earth or elsewhere, can for a moment hinder the Kingdom of God from moving steadily forward to its predestined triumph and to ultimate victory in the earth and throughout the universe.
THE JEWISH VIEW OF THE KINGDOM
The children of Israel, especially when they suffered the captivity and bondage of Babylon, longed and prayed to be restored unto the Promised Land. They prayed and yearned for the coming of Messiah and the Kingdom of God. Again, when the gall and heaviness of the Roman yoke fell upon them, the Pharisees and scribes looked and longed for the coming of Messiah. Whenever the Kingdom of God would come the Roman eagles would no more scream in triumph over their land, and the hated heels of the soldiers would forever be silenced from their streets. Jerusalem would then be the capital of this glorious Kingdom, and every nation under the sun would do homage and pay tribute. On the throne of David in Jerusalem would the King of kings sit and sway His scepter of righteousness, love and mercy over His chosen people throughout eternity. Thus the Jews hoped and believed. Thus many of my Anglo-Israel friends still believe. The Jews conceived of a visible material Kingdom, like that of David; righteousness was to characterize it, but it was to be enforced by military might, ruled by external laws, and administrated by political and economic institutions, attended with great prosperity and extended over all the earth. Most of the views of the church systems today respecting the second coming of Christ to establish His Kingdom in person on the earth CORRESPOND EXACTLY WITH THE JEWISH EXPECTATION. But this is not the view of King Jesus!
THE KINGDOM WITHIN
I do not hesitate to tell you that the sphere of the Kingdom is the individual heart. This is the end for which man was made, the final cause of his creation, that he might be a province and principality of God: the King eternal septering him throughout his whole nature, spirit, soul and body. When I pray, "Thy Kingdom come," I do not feel that I am praying solely for my city, my nation, the world, or the vast reaches of creation. I do not think first or foremost about the harlots, drunkards, drug addicts, criminals, atheists, or the masses of sinners throughout the world. When I pray, "Thy Kingdom come," I am not content with adding to the thought my unpleasant neighbors, the Mafia, or Fidel Castro. No! When I utter the prayer it is with the deep conviction that I am praying for myself. I am praying that Godís rule may come fully and powerfully in my own heart, mind, nature and life.
Oh, yes, this prayer has reference to ourselves. There is a problem and that is that we have our own kingdom, the kingdom of man. My business, my enterprise, my family, my ministry, my church, my elders, my people, my thing that I am doing, that we are concerned with. And over against all that, Jesus sets His "Thy." "THY Kingdom come." When we pray, "Thy Kingdom come," we pray, "Father, come in Thy Lordship into my own heart; rule there; take Thy throne there; make me completely Thine." See what it means. It means that we are asking that every wicked way, every cherished sin and passion, every self-serving desire and ambition, every carnal thought, word and deed may be cast out of our hearts. It means that neither money nor pleasure nor prestige should have any power over us. It means that the Fatherís will and not our own may dictate fully our lives. It means that the precious mind that was in Christ Jesus so possesses us until all death is swallowed up into HIS VICTORY. Oh, that is a great prayer!
I have known men that loved their sins too much, their pleasures, their money, their position, their religion, their traditions, their power, themselves too much, ever to be able to pray sincerely, "Thy Kingdom come!" The Kingdom is, first and foremost, the reign of God in the hearts and lives of men. Less than this it cannot be; more than this it will not be. There is no department of human life where the Kingdom can rule unless first God rules the heart. God cannot rule nations until first He rules in the hearts of the citizens of those nations from the king, president or prime minister all the way down to the garbage collector and the shoeshine boy. God cannot rule over things or institutions until first He rules the hearts of those who form, own and control those things and institutions. Imagine God trying to rule over an army without first winning the allegiance of the general who commands that army and the soldiers who fight in it!
Is it not a right thing and a possible thing, that all men should in their hearts yield allegiance to God? And were this allegiance yielded, would it not necessarily result that all our relations with one another would be transformed and hallowed by the law of His life within? Would it not necessarily result that the whole constitution of the world, in all its domestic, political, social and economic arrangements, would be guided by the Spirit of God and would show in every situation and circumstance that God was ruling? You see, to bring the Kingdom of God to pass in the earth does not require that all forms of government and all institutions be changed ó but that the spirit of those who administer be changed! Capitalism or communism would either one work just fine if every person involved, from the top to the bottom, were guided and motivated by the spirit of love, generosity, faithfulness, honesty, goodness, brotherly concern, righteousness, meekness, and the mind of Christ. In order for the kingdoms of this world to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ it is not necessary for many employments or relations of life to be altered, but it is needful that WE OURSELVES BE ALTERED!
As brother Paul Mueller has aptly written: "The Psalmist continued this Psalm, by saying, ĎThe king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse (or any of manís weapons of warfare) is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its strengthí (Ps. 33:16-17, N.A.S.). Indeed, God does not change the world by manís armies, or by any of manís carnal systems of government. The Lord is beginning to change the world by first changing the hearts, souls and minds of mankind. People shall be changed, not by human agreements or by war, but by the operation of the Spirit of God in their lives. The Lord also is beginning to dispel the darkness in the world by imparting the greater Light of His presence into the hearts of His elect. This is the method by which the just and righteous rule of the Kingdom of God is coming to the earth. In this way alone, all the evil and darkness in all the earth shall be completely dispelled. Then the blessings and benefits of the Kingdom of God shall be fully manifested in all the earth for the glory and honor of our sovereign and omnipotent Father. And His glory shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea" ó end quote.
This door into the Kingdom is open to every man on a personal and individual level. I wonder if you can get that. You cannot enter the Kingdom by multitudes, even if six billion people were brought into it in one hour. You have to enter the Kingdom individually, and enter in at the gate one by one. You came into this world one by one, no matter how many other babies were born the day you entered. Men pass out of this life one by one, and you must pass from the power of darkness into the Kingdom of Life, Light and Love one by one, giving up your self till it is no more "I" but "Christ" that lives. We must clear our minds of fantastic and carnal notions about the Kingdom. We must refuse to think of the Kingdom in terms of the overturning of human rule by the descent of legions of angels and the establishment of such military might, judicial authority and legislative coercion as never existed in any empire in history.
We are to clear our minds of the idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is to be in some far-off heaven somewhere, or anywhere else than our homes, our cities, and our world ó by first being established in our minds and hearts. And we must relegate to the limbo of dreams the idea that the Kingdom has to be ushered in by a spectacular display of Jesus crashing down through the clouds with a vast army of robe-clad saints riding on white horses, a dramatic judgment day, and a glorified Jesus reigning from a physical throne over in the city of Jerusalem in the land of Israel. Learn this, my precious brother, sister, and you will know the deepest mystery of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the KINGDOM OF THE SPIRIT. The Kingdom is not physical or material to be seen with our eyes. The Kingdom of God is spiritual because God is spiritual. The Kingdom of Heaven is spiritual because heaven is spiritual. God is spiritual, but spirit is very real. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual dimension presently on this earth available to all who will believe. It can be attained and literally located within us.
The Kingdom comes not by observation or outward show, as our Lord Himself has taught us. The Pharisees came to Jesus one day with their crafty question demanding of Him when the Kingdom of God should come. They wanted to know when it would come and where it is. "Give us some downright, concrete facts. We are not going to fall for any air castle of a Kingdom that nobody has ever seen. We have no intention of staking our lives on a phantom. Either you are a fairy prince, in which case you can go to grandmother and give her something to tell stories about, or you have something visible, tangible and literal on which we can depend. So tell us, Jesus of Nazareth, Where is your Kingdom, when is it coming?" Jesusí answer to that question was very strange and certainly, at first glance, not very satisfying. "The Kingdom of God comes not with observation ó outward show. Neither do men say, Lo, here! or, Lo, there! for, behold, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU!"
It is called the Kingdom of Heaven by way of contrast to the selfishness, strife, sin, sickness and death of earth. It is high, exalted. It is ideal, glorious. The Kingdom of Heaven is not bounded by the deserts of Arabia and Syria, not by the great sea and the river; it is not measured by the hills and valleys of Judah; it is not protected nor displayed by armies and navies; it is not centralized within the walled city of Jerusalem. No, the foundation of this wonderful realm of the Prince of Peace is found within the souls of redeemed men. Here the unseen scepter of righteousness and love sways over thoughts, words, and deeds, and here the Messiah, as the King of kings, reigns for time and eternity.
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). Notice ó "the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Where is your hand located? Is your hand not right before you? 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 ó at hand." On the other hand, if my Bible were at home I would say, "Iím sorry, it is not at hand right now." To be at hand means to be near, present, reachable, attainable! 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!" (Mk. 1:15).
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" at all ó 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" (Mk. 1:15). 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.
It is a great folly to conclude that we can pray the prayer, "Thy Kingdom come," by rote, in cool detachment. The Kingdom is not an antiquated Jewish dream, dusty with the history of centuries. It touches us at all vital points ó if we are sons of God. It is an immediate and personal concern. It is Godís plan of the ages, His time-abiding strategy for redeeming us from ourselves and the vanity of the flesh and the world. It is Godís 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.
THE NATURE OF THE KINGDOM
Let me close this Study with the question: "How is this Kingdom to be administered?" Let me first say how it cannot be administered. It cannot be administered by force. As a preacher of yesteryear ably wrote: "Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon and many others built up their empires with the sword, and cemented them with blood, but not so is the Kingdom of God to be established. Men have tried that method; they have used fire and sword to make Godís Kingdom come. Peter had that spirit when he pointed to the two swords the disciples possessed. Mahomet followed this plan when he gave to men the alternative either of Islam or death. The Crusaders, spurred on by the burning eloquence of Peter the Hermit, committed the same blunder. The old Saxon and Gothic kings, who when they accepted Christianity themselves compelled their people to be baptized as well, followed the same mistaken method. But these people did not advance the Kingdom of God one whit. You do not make a man a member of this Kingdom by baptizing him, or enrolling him among the adherents of a church, or by calling him a Christian. Men must have their hearts changed. They must be willing to render glad obedience to their Father King before they become members of this Kingdom.
"Force may increase the numbers of a sect, it cannot add one to the membership of the Kingdom. The sword may compel a man to change his name; it can never compel him to change his heart! Oh, no; it is not by the sword that Godís Kingdom will come. To all ecclesiastical persecutors Christ says, ĎPut the sword up into its sheath.í Not by the sword is the Kingdom to come, but by the Cross. Constantine of old, when on the eve of a critical battle, dreamed he saw a cross in the sky, and around it this legend, Ďby this conquer.í That is the weapon we have to use in our warfare: THAT IS THE WEAPON WHEREBY GODíS KINGDOM IS TO BE ESTABLISHED. We are to conquer Ďby the Cross.í We are to conquer by the power of love. For the cross means love ó love at its best, love in the glory of sacrifice. The Cross is the power of God. It is by the Cross that menís hearts are broken, and their affection and allegiance won. ĎBy this conquerí is the charge given to us. Conquer by the Cross!" ó end quote.
The Captain of our salvation is not General Joshua, but Jesus the Lamb of God. Therefore He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, not on the war-like horse, but on the peaceful ass. And therefore He will yet cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and break the battle-bow; He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. And such is the spirit too of all the sons of God! For, though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh; and therefore the weapons of our warfare are mighty before God to the pulling down of strongholds. The only sword that the sons of the Kingdom are permitted to wield is the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD.
There are different kinds of government but of one thing we may be very certain ó the Kingdom of God is no dictatorship. It is no tyranny. A preacher once said that Jesus will one day come back to earth and force the people to be obedient and happy. That, undoubtedly, is how he would reign if ever he got the chance! But that is not how God reigns. God reigns as a Father, not a despot. "Our Father...Thy Kingdom come!" The nature of God is entirely gracious in all His dealings with men. That is the way of our wondrous God and Saviour. It is not by force, but through love. In the days of His flesh the Lord Jesus could have easily consummated His Kingdom ó He had the power to subdue every enemy, to vanquish every foe. Had He so willed He could have by a single word or look disintegrated the bodies of all who opposed Him so completely that not a vestige thereof would ever have been found by man! Then everything on earth would have been at His command. But would that have been HIS Kingdom? NO! Only in outward appearance ó not in reality.
God is love; and love does not impose its will upon us, or enforce it against ours. Love woos and wins by a principle far higher than brute force. Should Jesus return to earth to enforce the laws of His Kingdom with carnal weapons all that could be accomplished would be the erection of larger and more secure prisons overflowing with ever-increasing masses of rebellious humanity. Force does not transform ó it merely breeds contempt. Love transforms. Love changes the nature. Love wins the allegiance of the heart. Love forms an indissoluble bond. Love makes one. Love captivates the will. Love, though omnipotent, is very gentle. God reigns by infinite wisdom, power and love and the greatest of these is love. Love conquers all! And King Jesus came to earth to reveal that love and the Fatherís Kingdom.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave..." From childhood most of us have heard these blessed words, yet they are so freighted with heavenís riches that one instinctively shrinks from talking about them. Who presumes to be able to measure the magnitude of Godís love? "God so loved the world." Charles Spurgeon once struck off a bold figure when he exclaimed, "Come, ye surveyors, bring your chains, and try to make a survey of this word so. Nay, that is not enough. Come hither, ye that make our national surveys and lay down charts for all nations. Come ye, who map the sea and land and make a chart of this word so. Nay, I must go further. Come hither, ye astronomers, that with your optic glasses spy out spaces before which your imagination staggers, come hither and calculate imaginations worthy of all your powers. When you have measured between the horns of space, here is a task that will defy you: "God so loved the world!í" Although we may completely despair of calculating the love of God, there are nevertheless in these classic words of Jesus some very clear statements that help us compute, to some extent, the greatness of the heart of God.
This little word so finds its definition, I think, in the object and gift of Godís love. God loved "THE WORLD" ó the world that then was and now is. That means His love sweeps around the whole earth and flows out to men of every race and tongue and nation; but it means more. It means He loves the men and women of the world who by their own evil have wrenched themselves away from Him. It means that He loves the blaspheming atheist, the scornful skeptic, the lecherous outcast, the criminal behind bars, the grafter who swaggers about as a good citizen and the unscrupulous leeches who drain the very lifeblood of widows and orphans. God so loved THE WORLD. ALL of it! And He loves it still. He loves the men living now upon the earth, and He loves those who have lived and died in dim and distant ages past. He loves them on earth and He loves them in hell. God so loved! Herein is manifested the love of God; He loves the unlovely, the unloving, and the humanly unlovable! Let holy and powerful angels from the extended galleries of heaven sing it! Let the redeemed in rapturous wonder take up the song and let sinners fall prostrate in penitence before the almighty Creator and Redeemer! "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." It was in Jesus Christ that the love of Godís great heart embraced us. But God still loves the world. As we move from the Church age into the age of blessing upon all nations, God so loves the world that He will now give His sons, the many brethren of the first-begotten.
The sons of God must be preeminently the Sons of Love. "God so loved the world..." And so will all who are called to sonship! Small wonder, then, that the glorious message of the reconciliation of all things is sweeping like a tidal wave through the ranks of those who treasure the beautiful hope of sonship to God. It could not be otherwise! Only those who are possessed with the spirit of Infinite and Omnipotent Love shall be able to minister on the level that will persevere through all obstacles and all ages until ALL CREATION is reconciled unto God and delivered from the realm of death. I do not hesitate to tell you that those who fight against the ultimate triumph of Jesus Christ, those who wage war against the salvation of all men for whom Christ died, those who set themselves up as Prosecutor and plead before us and God and His Word for the eternal damnation of the billions of helpless souls who have lived and died like beasts upon this darkened planet are not the sons of God at all ó they are the DEVILíS ADVOCATE! They plead not for the Kingdom of God, but for the devilís kingdom, demanding that he be allowed to keep and imprison and torture forever all those he has gained through subterfuge. These are not the sons of the God who so loved, yea, who is Omnipotent Love. They are the offspring of a weird, distorted, devilish notion of justice; and they will never reign as sons of God in His glorious redeeming Kingdom of life and light and love. THY KINGDOM COME!
To be continued... J. PRESTON EBY [HOME] [KINGDOM RESOURCES]