KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
O BE THE LORD’S PRAYER
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven..." (Mat. 6:9).
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (I Jn. 3:2). That is the truth, the final, absolute, and ultimate truth about you and me. It is a dogma, and an intolerant dogma, as all dogmas are. It does not permit any compromise. If I am the son of God revealed in Jesus Christ, then I am not just a little better than the beast, nor just a little lower than the angels — I am better and higher than the angels and have obtained a more excellent name (nature) than they, raised up in Christ to sit together with Him in the higher than all heavens, to sit with Him upon His throne even as He is set down with His Father in His throne, crowned with glory and honor. Every kind of thought or action based upon the belief that I am anything less than this — a spirit being in the image and likeness of God — any idea that my life is limited like the life of the animals, or controlled as theirs is controlled — is a tissue of falsehood and all action based upon that falsehood can only issue in disaster. If I am the son of God then I am born of the Spirit, for that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
If I am the son of God, nothing but God will satisfy my longing; no amount of comfort, no amount of pleasure, no amount of wealth, will give me peace or rest. If I had the cup full of all the world’s joys held up to me, and could drain it to the dregs, I should still remain thirsty if I had not God. If the feast of all the good things of life, pleasures and powers, fame and prestige, that have been and are, could be laid out before me and I could eat it all at one meal, I should still be hungry if I had not God. There is not enough in a hundred billion galaxies to satisfy a fully developed spirit — I must find my life in the Father. I must know the Father. I must fellowship and commune with the Father. I must dwell where He dwells. There are not in reality two worlds or two lives, there is but one — and that is life eternal, which is to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent (Jn. 17:3).
TWO LEVELS OF SONSHIP
Although God is "the Father of the spirits of all flesh (Num. 27:16; Heb. 12:9)," it is evident that not all sons are created equal. Let me give you an example. The first son that Abraham had was Ishmael. Ishmael was conceived when Sarah had despaired that she would ever bear the son of promise. She persuaded Abraham to take unto him her Egyptian maidservant, Hagar. Ishmael is a type of the son of the flesh, rather than promise. Abraham loved Ishmael! He was indeed his son, and undoubtedly a beautiful and winsome child. But — while Ishmael was the son of Abraham, he was also the son of the Egyptian bondwoman. The analog is just this — your first birth is that of Ishmael. It’s the love of the Father, it’s the Father’s son, His very offspring — but it’s born out of the Father in an Egyptian (earthly, worldly, sensual) mind. Abraham could not tell that when he looked at his son — he looked at Ishmael and all he saw was his son. His bowels cried out, "This is my son — O Lord, please bless Ishmael!" But the Lord responded, "No — in Isaac shall thy seed be called." "Who in the world is Isaac, Lord? I’m seventy-six years old — what do you mean, Isaac? Sarah is ninety years old — how are you going to give me a baby?" But the record states: "He believed." And in that wonderful day when Isaac was born the Bible says that Ishmael mocked the son of promise. And then Abraham could see the real nature of things. Two sons — two natures — but both from one father. One of the low realm of the flesh, and one from above by the power of God. Can we not see by this how it is that God is the Father of the spirits of all flesh.
We might ask, Who really is entitled to think of, or to pray to God as Father? In one sense, every living soul, if we take into consideration such a passage as Malachi 2:10, "Have we not all one Father? Hath not God created us?" Jesus said to His disciples, "I ascend to My Father, and to your Father; to My God, and your God" (Jn. 20:17). Yet, at the time He uttered these words none of them had been "born again" by the Spirit of God. When Jesus spoke to the multitudes He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" — none of those people to whom He spoke these words about being the children of the heavenly Father had ever heard about a "born again" experience! Apart from Jesus’ death and resurrection, apart from the coming of the Holy Spirit, and apart from any New Testament salvation or born again experience they were all the children of their heavenly Father!
God is the Father of all men. There is a special sense in which God is the Father of those only who are reborn of Him through the Holy Spirit of re-generation. To these He gives, in a blessedly distinct sense, the "spirit of adoption" or the revelation of their sonship, whereby they cry, "Abba, Father!" Nevertheless the fact remains, universal and unalterable, that God is the Father of the spirits of all men. Father Adam is declared by the spirit of inspiration to be "the son of God" (Lk. 3:38). He is indeed a "prodigal son." But notwithstanding his disobedience and banishment from Father’s house, he has never ceased to be a son; the Father, notwithstanding His anger and punishment, has never ceased to be a Father. A famous preacher of yesteryear once said, "The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy. The lonely pine on the mountain top waves its somber boughs and cries, ‘Thou art my sun!’ And the little meadow violet lifts its cup of blue and whispers with its perfumed breath, ‘Thou art my sun!’ And the grain in a thousand fields rustles in the wind, and makes answer, ‘Thou art my sun!’ So God sits, effulgent, in heaven, not for a favored few, but for the universe of life: and there is no creature so poor or low that he may not look up with childlike confidence and say, ‘My Father, Thou art mine!’"
Now consider how this truth of God’s Fatherhood will affect some views of ours. God is the Father of the spirits of all flesh. He is the Father of all virtuous and lovely souls, and He is equally the Father of the sinful and the vicious. He was the Father of the exemplary, dutiful, faithful, industrious son who stayed at home and worked. He was not less the Father of the prodigal who wandered into a far country, spent his substance in riotous living, and began to be in want. "If you are not good God will not love you," a parent sometimes says to a child. But He will! He cannot help it. You do not cease to love your little one because of his mistakes and shortcomings. You smile and are sorry together! But the love is there. God may have to punish — but that need not be unloving. His strokes may be mercy, His chastisement grace. He cannot possibly treat all alike, the responsible and the irresponsible, the faithful and the rebellious. He may have to leave the unfaithful alone, to taste the fruit of his doing, and see what results from his sin. He may leave him to pass through sorrow, the grave, and hell. In a word, God may have to deal with a sinning child of His as the noblest and purest earthly parent might with his prodigal son or daughter who would not come home. Yet God is still the Father, and God is love.
Charles Aked wrote: "This fact of Fatherhood is indestructible. On that we must insist. In the nature of the case it is indestructible. A father cannot become an un-father. You cannot travel back in time and prevent the birth of your children. Fatherhood is not a contract. It is one of the inevitabilities of life. If I am already, here and now, your son, how can you make it otherwise? I may be unworthy of you. You may desire to disown me. You may even disinherit me, but the fact of your fatherhood is one of the facts of the universe. And to many of us it is inconceivable that God should ever want to destroy such a fact, or abdicate His Fatherhood. Suppose your son is so unworthy, and you so righteously grieved and pained and angry with him. Suppose he came to himself, with tears and shame and through a cleansing baptism of repentance sought his way back to your heart. Suppose you, with divine insight, saw that his repentance was sincere and that he longed with a great longing for your moral and spiritual help and uplift in his toilsome, agonizing struggle backward to the forgotten good and forward to the light of day. It is only barely conceivable that you would turn a deaf ear to his petitions and prayers. And when it is a question of God’s love and of His eternal Fatherhood, it is forever and forever impossible to conceive of a time or a circumstance, when, if the prodigal wishes to return to his Father, the Father will refuse to receive him. We may trust death and if need be hell itself to demonstrate the Father’s love."
Now in a very real sense — and I ask that you follow me closely — all mankind are the sons of God. I must emphasize that. Scripture is very accurate and careful to make this assertion. Paul, when speaking to the pagan Athenians on Mars hill said, "God that made the world and all things therein...hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, FOR WE ARE ALSO HIS OFFSPRING" (Acts 17:24-28). And the word he used — offspring — is GENOS in the Greek which carries the meaning of that which is generated or begotten. When Adam sinned mankind fell from that intimate and sweet relationship with God, dying the spiritual death, unresponsive to the reality of the spirit, and knows not of his sonship, but walks estranged and without God and without hope in the world.
So, there are two levels of sonship — those whose spirits have been quickened by HIS Spirit, begotten again unto a living hope; and those who walk estranged from the Father’s house, lost even from the knowledge or remembrance of their true identity, for they have not yet "come to themselves." They are the Father’s sons even while they wallow with the pigs in the stench and filth of the pig pen of sin, eating the swill of the flesh.
MAN — THE IMAGE OF GOD
You may remember the story of Helen of troy. According to legend this beautiful queen was captured and carried away and became a victim of amnesia. She became a prostitute in the streets. She didn’t know her name or the fact that she came from royal blood. But back in her homeland, friends didn’t give up. One Greek man believed she was alive and went to look for her. He never lost faith. One day while wandering through the streets, he came to a waterfront and saw a wretched woman in tattered clothes with deep lines across her face. There was something about her that seemed familiar, so he walked up to her and said, "What is your name?" She gave a name that was meaningless to him. "May I see your hands?" he pursued. She held her hands out in front of her, and the young man gasped, "You are Helen! You are Helen! Do you remember?" She looked up at him in astonishment. "Helen!" he yelled out. Then the fog seemed to clear. There was recognition in her face. The light came on! She discovered her lost self! She put her arms around her old friend and wept. She discarded her tattered clothes and once more became the queen she was meant to be. God searches for all men in the same way. He uses every method possible to look for men and women to convince them of their worth to Him — their true value.
The almost universal urge to pray is due to the fact that originally man was created in the image of God, begotten of the Father in heaven. It is true that as a result of man’s fall into sin and death the divine image in his character has been much blurred, and in many instances almost erased, yet remnants of it still remain, and one of its manifestations is the urge to pray — to fellowship and commune with God in the realm of the spirit. Even atheists pray, sometimes!
The story is told of a painter who saw a child so perfect in his beauty that he painted him, and said that if ever he found a face as vile as that face was angelic, he would paint that as a contrast to it. Years passed, and he had not seen a face so absolute in its degradation as that child’s in its loveliness. But one day he visited a prison, and there saw a felon, still young, but with face almost devilish in its vicious demoralization. He painted this wretched prisoner, and while painting him found, to his appalling astonishment, that this man was that lovely child, as drink, and lust, and greed, and hate had made him; and the two pictures, it is said, hang side by side in some Italian gallery. But the awful tale they tell is a tale of every day, and in all these cases the holy image of God is not seen, but is distorted by the fraud and malice of the devil and the carnal mind.
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, but it is certainly unresponsive to this world. 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). This is the second birth BY WHICH THE DIVINE PART OF MAN MAY COME TO LIFE.
It has been said that in Jesus Christ the divine and the human meet, but this is also true of every one 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 men. The first Adam and the last Adam are both Adam. Those in the first Adam are in part what the last Adam 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 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, as a grain of mustard seed will grow, until we are fully "strengthened with power by His Spirit in the inward man," being "filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:16,19).
As one brother has so ably said: "God is equipping a people by revealing the power of words — the Word. Thus saith the scriptures: ‘The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart’ (Rom. 10:8). What word? ‘The word of faith which we preach’ (Rom. 10:8). It is the word of power, the word of the Kingdom, the word of salvation, the word of life over death. When you realize how powerful words are, by virtue of believing words that are God in you, and which can change and transform you, then you will understand how ‘at hand’ the Kingdom of God really is. You see, in the beginning was the Word. And the Word is God. The Logos — the speaking — is God. So when Jesus appeared on the earth all He had to do was say ‘Be made whole,’ and the power of God worked, for His word was God in expression and manifestation. The essence of divine words is God. This is not so difficult to understand when you realize that everything in life is moved by words.
"There isn’t anything that isn’t done by words. The method of educating all children is with numbers and letters. With numbers and letters, configured in various forms, you raise the educational and functional level of a human being from nothing at the time of birth, to become a surgeon, a politician, an architect, a scientist, or accomplishment in a vast number of fields. We have surgeons that perform brain surgery. They are people just like you and me. The only difference is the words of letters and numbers that are ingrained within their thinking. The combination of that learning, the disciplines of those sciences of mathematics, medicine, politics, etc., have given to them a different personality and capability. They have a personality and consciousness that enables them to open up your head and operate on it. Let me ask you something — would you let me open up your head and operate on it? Of course not — and I wouldn’t ask you to! And you know why — you know that the knowledge contained in those words and letters is not in me! The words and letters used in medical school have not trained me to be a doctor. But the greatest doctor started out as a baby with no knowledge, no ability, no accomplishment, no skill. He started out with nothing in his head — just like you and me. The only difference is that someone took the time to instruct him and put the knowledge of medical science into that person who by the assimilation of that knowledge and experience became that reality. And it was all done by words. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is no more a mystery than a man planting seed in soil. He said that if you would plant seed in the ground and water it, while the sun shines upon it it will produce a plant that you can neither understand or explain how it does it. He said, ‘So is the Kingdom of God!’ If you will just take the time and effort to plant the Word of God in your mind, and water it and give it light, it will grow of itself and make you something you weren’t."
Someone has pointed out that we are more attracted to a personality than to an idea. In very fact, most people respond more heartily to a weak idea presented by a great personality, than to a great idea presented by a weak personality. The Bible says that "In the beginning was the Word" (Jn. 1:1). Every word originates in the realm of thought. All words are merely ideas expressed verbally. You cannot divorce the spoken word from the idea it articulates — they are the same. I may pray, for example, in audible words or I may pray silently, sending only my unspoken request to the Lord by the spirit of my mind, as did Hannah of old as she prayed for a son and was heard. "Now Hannah, she spake in her heart: only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him" (I Sam. 1:13,17). She asked without speaking. It is in essence, the same. A word is a thought or idea verbalized or otherwise expressed. Let us take the liberty of paraphrasing parts of the logos passage in the first chapter of John’s Gospel. "In the beginning was the Idea, and the Idea was with God, and the Idea was God...and the Idea was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:1,14).
Now, the best way to promote an idea is to wrap it up in a personality. 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!
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 stood before Michelangelo’s statue of David or 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."
Christianity today has no need greater than the need to know the power and glory of the 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. "And God said, Let us make MAN IN OUR IMAGE, after our likeness: and let them have dominion...so God created MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE, in the IMAGE OF GOD created He him" (Gen. 1:26-27). 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. The divine nature was best and fully expressed in the man Christ Jesus who shed upon mortals the truest reflection of God and lifted man’s sights higher than their poor thought-models would allow. Jesus revealed to men their true origin, heritage and destiny. He came to show man what man really is, was intended to be, and through redemption shall be — THE IMAGE OF GOD. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 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.
Consider the scene! After having created man a spiritual man, in the image and likeness of God, God then formed a man of the dust of the ground. God then came to man in the earth realm. He breathed into the man, so magnificently formed, the spiritual realm, the winds of heaven, the breath of divinity. He released into Adam something of the heavenly, and out from His breath came a brilliant, sparkling, effervescence like a living star that entered into the clay. That wind, that spirit, that breath, that substance of God animated the clay model, creating within a dimensionless quality, condition, and state of being. That "breath of lives" as the Hebrew states it was the glory of the spiritual man breathed or infused into the clay model. Only the Light that God Himself is is more beautiful than this creature. And the magnificent wonder is that this man can see right into the heavenly, spiritual realm. The animals can’t see into that realm, the birds can’t see into that realm, the fish can’t see into that realm — no creature on earth can see beyond this gross material realm except the man in God’s image.
Please mark this! Here is a physical, visible creature who can see the unseen. He is not frightened by it. He is not intimidated by anything or any creature he beholds in that glorious realm. In all the brilliance, purity, glory, and power of that high and holy realm that he beholds, he is at home with who he is and who they are. He looks around and all things are open to him. He sees all, perceives all, understands all. The face of God bent down and looked into the face of man, and man looked up into the face of God and they looked like each other. They looked like Father and son. They looked like twin brothers. They looked like clones. They bore an incredible, remarkable resemblance. God stretched forth His hand, Adam stretched forth His hand, and Adam stood up from the dust and faced his Creator. He belonged to this planet, but the winds of heaven were within him. He belonged to the heavens as well as the earth. Man is the only creature that ever has been, is now, or ever shall be that belongs to both realms!
Contrary to popular teaching man has never LOST the image of God, although the image has been obscured, marred, and corrupted by the usurpation of the carnal mind, the outer man. A lost image is NO image. The true likeness cannot be lost in divine Being. It would be like fire without light. The out-raying image of God is the Word of God. To destroy the Word of God you would need to destroy God Himself, for God and His Word are ONE. To destroy the image of God would necessitate the destruction of God, for God and His image are ONE. The apostle Paul confirms that man, even in his fallen and mortal state, is still the image of God in his remarkably significant words to the saints in Corinth: "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, foreasmuch as he I-S THE IMAGE AND GLORY OF GOD" (I Cor. 11:7).
What is man? Brain, heart, blood, bones — the material structure? If the real man is in the material body, you take away a portion of the man when you amputate a limb; the surgeon destroys manhood, and worms annihilate it. But the loss of some physical member has sometimes become the quickener of manhood as in the crucible of suffering there appear the virtues of humility, thankfulness, patience, compassion, drawn from the rich resources of INNER SPIRITUAL STRENGTH. The unfortunate cripple may present more nobility of true manhood than the dashing athlete — teaching us that the man on the inside is of far more enduring substance than the man on the outside! Take away the physical and take away the outer worldly elements of wealth, possessions, fame, social recognition, which weigh not one jot on the scales of God, and in what remains we get a clearer picture of man as God made him. Let goodness, mercy, justice, purity, health, holiness and love — the Kingdom of Heaven — reign within us and the outer is found to be of no consequence. The real man is SPIRIT, not dust. The inner man is the IMAGE OF THE HEAVENLY, not the image of the earthly as perceived by the physical senses. Some maintain that there is no life apart from or beyond the body — when the body dies, they say, the man ceases to exist. If such be the case, then the inward man that is being renewed day by day is no different from the outer man which is perishing!
Adam’s sin in eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lay in his walking after the flesh (sense realm) instead of the Spirit. It consisted in his making the outer, physical, material, sensual man his center, identity and existence rather than the inner man of spirit. The remarkable thing is that he perceived not that all that pertains to the material world is illusionary, transitory, corruptible. Sensual treasures are laid up "where moth and rust doth corrupt." Mortality is their doom. Death breaks in upon them, and carries off their fleeting joys. The sensualist’s affections are as imaginary, whimsical, unreal and short-lived as his pleasures. Covetousness, fleshly passions, gluttony, drunkenness, immorality, fame, fashion, vanity, worldly wisdom, political power, military might, envy, hypocrisy, revenge, hate, and so forth, pass away with the works thereof. Stripped of its coverings, what a mocking spectacle the flesh is! When the almighty Creator counseled the first man and his wife, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," He gave precisely the same instruction in wisdom and prudence that the apostle Paul offered long millenniums afterwards when by inspiration he wrote, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit, the things of the spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Rom. 8:5-6,13). Life is in the SPIRIT WITHIN.
George Hawtin has eloquently expounded on this thought, and I share a few of his valuable insights. "Well did the apostle Paul know that the vast majority of humanity was ‘at home’ only in the REALM OF THE BODY. They belonged entirely to an earthly realm where things are visible, audible, and touchable. Their minds seldom mounted higher than things physical, and when for a few moments they did rise to walk upon a spiritual plane, they were not really ‘at home’ there, but waited for the moment when they could LAPSE BACK to the NATURAL AND NORMAL, for that is where they were ‘at home.’ So, while men are ‘at home’ in the body, they are always ‘absent from the Lord’ (II Cor. 5:6-7), absent from the spiritual world of true reality. HEAVEN IS CLOSED TO THEM. Their minds dwell in the realm where men buy and sell, plant and build, marry and are given in marriage. They dwell in a realm of eating and drinking, of finding pleasure for the body, amusing their minds with silly things of the world, absorbing, listening to, or looking at some fictitious thing that serves only to amuse the natural man, keeping his heart away from the realm of eternal reality."
My heart burns within me and my spirit is flooded with joy unspeakable and full of glory as these sacred and wonderful truths find lodging and substance within my consciousness. With what clarity I see that when Adam stood between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, his future condition was to be shaped by the tree-identity (consciousness) he pursued. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit the things of the spirit" (Rom. 8:5). It is all a matter of what you are AFTER! These are the two trees: spirit and flesh, life and death, truth and error. Every man who has ever lived has had his center, his identity and existence, in one of these two trees. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil are not fossilized relics from some ancient age. They are living, breathing, enduring, ever-present realities throughout all generations, and each of us in God’s great today is living by one or the other of these two trees in every thought, word, and deed. The tree of life (spirit) invariably ministers incorruption and immortality, whereas the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (flesh) unfailingly leads to death.
Again I would share significant and enlightening words from the able pen of George Hawtin. In his excellent paper, THE PASSING AND THE PERMANENT, he explains, "Now, since the flesh lusts against the spirit and is at endless conflict with it, then anything that seeks to make you earthly and fleshly-minded is a great evil. The things that belong to the realm of the flesh are passing away. Even the flesh itself is passing away. Anything that is passing away is not real. It is like a bubble that floats prettily in the air only to burst never to exist again. It is like the darkness that disappears with the dawn and has no certain dwelling place. It is like a flower in the field that blooms for a moment and disappears, a vision of the night, a fleeting shadow, a moment of joy, a passing sorrow, or a sudden pain. When such things have passed by, no one knows where they came from or whither they have gone. Those, however, who indulge themselves in the things that belong to the body grow to think that nothing is true or real but what is bodily and can be touched or seen or eaten or drunk or enjoyed by the passions of men. Unwittingly they change true riches for false; things that are unseen by mortal eyes for things that are seen. They exchange things that are spirit for things that can be touched, tasted, and felt by the body. The soul now begins to think that these things which belong to the body are real and therefore becomes fleshly minded. The carnal or earthly mind is an enemy of God and an enemy of all things spiritual. It is small wonder then that the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God; for all things connected with the natural belong to time and change, while all things belonging to the spiritual are eternal and changeless. So then all who would know the WISDOM OF GOD and the REVELATION OF THE LORD, must turn their spirits from the realm of the physical and changing, the corrupt and mortal, and fly away into the realm of the pure, eternal, unchanging and immortal."
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, 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 kind of man — all His wonderful works were the 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. Paraphrased).
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 the nail pierced feet, that He might use those hands to remove the napkin and the grave clothes, and 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 second man, the last Adam — 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. And now with unspeakable joy and overwhelming wonder we cry, "O, our Father!"
Before closing this message I am moved to share some anointed, inspiring, and penetrating words from Bro. Carl Schwing. "Many of you have wondered who and what I am. I am not a teacher or a prophet. I do not bear a great title, nor do I seek the praise of men. I am, so to speak, a sower...I have gone out to sow the seeds of the Kingdom. I seek no reward except His good pleasure. I am one of you, I seek a better country whose Builder and Ruler is God. I am like you...I yearn for the Spirit to rule over the outward man. I am part of you...for I too bear the suffering of Jesus in my body. And with you I look up...for total redemption draws near. I sat with you in another time and another place...and we all shouted for joy! We share together our birthright in Christ Jesus and share the longing for our manifestation: the hour of truth and freedom for the creation. Hallelujah! Truly we are blood relations...born of His Spirit before there was time, place, or things. But most important is what He is in us. He is more beautiful than beauty. He is richer and fuller than life. He is the One who hath made us one in Him. We follow the Lamb...we hear His voice...He is the fullness of the Word within our inner son. And we shall plunge ourselves into His depths until He alone remains. Truly, we are of a higher order; all that is inflicted upon us is a blessing and a cause to rejoice in His perfecting will.
"We are not dreamers, we share a vision. We are seeing beyond the limitations of the past, beyond the consummation of the age...perhaps beyond the Millennium. It is a vision we shared long ago within our Father’s house. A vision of the finished plan: man in the image and likeness of God. A vision of the place by Him where condemnation and punishment is met by mercy...ah, His mercy endures forever. A place where His light overpowers all darkness. A place where reconciliation replies to the cry of vengeance. And when ‘It is done’ is heard, a beginning rises like ten thousand suns...for all things, good and evil, light and darkness, truth and error, life and death, hell and the grave, have all served in His perfect plan to establish forever His glorious Kingdom upon the earth, within the hearts of all mankind and upon all creation; unto the filling of the universe and all therein. This vision leads to attainment...and attainment is the accomplishment of predestination. Hallelujah! Do you realize, my faithful ones, just what it means to be one with the Father? or to be filled with His fullness? or to sit with Him upon His throne? Do you realize the depths of this truth?...we are to share all things in common with Him. Do you recall when He said to us, ‘All that I have is thine?’ Awesome, is it not? Born of the seed of God’s Christ...heirs with Christ of the Father’s glory. Is it any wonder that we could not find life in the religions of men! Is it any wonder that He called us unto Himself! We are receiving the inheritance we have in Christ Jesus and the Father is receiving the inheritance He has in us. Oh! the wonder of it all...
"Have you ever wondered why you could not find fulfillment in the form, or in the letter, or in the ministries of men? I would imagine that we have all wondered that at one time or another. It is simply because of this: it was never meant for us to find fulfillment in anything, or anyone, except the Father. The six days of man’s feeble rule is coming to an end, as the reign of God’s eternal Christ rises in transforming glory within our inner son. The way of life is breaking forth in the wilderness of man’s dead ideologies, theologies and philosophies. Time could only give us ‘present truth’...now beyond time, ministries, and dispensations, comes the ageless truth of our union with God. Though we have walked with the understanding of a child, we are now coming to the full knowledge of the Son of God, which will enable us to walk as mature sons, entering our appointed place in the fullness of Christ.
"Do you think it awesome to call God Father? Are you beginning to see that as sons we have been freed of all the gods and idols of the world and of religion? Who do we have in heaven besides Him? Who is there on earth that we could desire more than Him? There is not one! Whenever we cry Father, the Christ-son within us leaps for joy! As sons, we see the creation as a visible expression of the Father. It is not true that the Father made all things from nothing, rather, all things were made out-from-Himself...everything bearing a likeness, to some degree, of His infinitely perfect nature. In this hour it has pleased the Father to reveal a son in us. The full scope of this is beyond my finite understanding. A Christ-son covered over with the skin of flesh...ah, such a treasure in an earthen vessel. ‘Christ in you’ is no longer the hope, it is the glory...Hallelujah!
"Many years have passed since we were ‘called out’. Even then there were ‘leaders’...they too drew followers unto themselves, and sadly there are still those today who play ‘follow the leader’. How vain is man to think he has control; even more vain are their followers. The truth which so many have missed is simply this: He called us out unto Himself, to be His sons...and He, our Father. There were always the few who were strangely different, eccentric little creatures who enjoyed the beauty of isolation, the joy of solitude, and they heard only the voice of their Beloved. They were not ‘torch bearers’...they were the light. Today, my brothers, we are the light that shines in a world of darkness. We are the stars of the Kingdom Morning, our Beloved has come to set up His Kingdom within our inner son. He shall rule, with a rod of iron, the earth that we are...till He has conquered us, and our inner son stands in His perfect image; receiving once again the glory we had with the Father in a beginning. If all voices were silenced, all pens put aside, and all men laid to rest, the truth and light would only burn brighter within the bosom of the sons. Nothing, and no one, can hinder the plans which the Father made with His sons in eons past. All power, political or religious, falls backward in the presence of God’s Christ. All preaching, teaching and prophesying are but shadows in the light of God’s Christ; even the sacred page fades in the presence of the Living Word.
"For you that are called and chosen of the Lord, this is the hour of freedom and great holiness. This is probably the most serious and sacred hour in the history of the world. That which the Father is doing within His sons shall change the course of time and man. He has quickened our spirits (the inner son), and our minds (the understanding); all that remains to be conquered is the flesh. Now we wait in the silence of the morning for our Mighty Christ who shall redeem and quicken our mortal bodies. The creation is on tiptoe, waiting and longing, perhaps even sensing, that the time is at hand for the manifestation of the sons of God. The world and its people are crying out for freedom; proclaiming the dawn of a new age...yet, how little they know of what THE DAWN shall bring. Far greater is the rising of the sons than the sunrise of the morning. They bring with them the fulfillment of all that the creation has moaned for: Justice, Peace, Equality, and the Liberty of the Sons of God. When they appear the long night will be over...the ways of man will be gone forever, and the dead in Christ shall live again. They are the City of our God, the place where the sun never sets...where light began, where truth was born, where love and mercy met...and grace came forth. They are the many-membered Christ. The Kingdom is rightfully theirs...the rule of the universe and of the ages is theirs...and the souls of all mankind. This is the covenant the Father made and sealed with the Lamb’s Blood, before there was time. Eternity echoed with these words of the Father: ‘Sons, thou art ever with me, and all I have is thine.’ Hallelujah!" — end quote.
Some dear heart, a new reader of these precious truths, may inquire — If all men are sons of God, and ultimately to be brought back into oneness with the Father, what then is the hope of MANIFESTED SONSHIP? Why is there a special calling of sons and a distinct dealing of the Father with these sons? Manifested sonship is the FULL INHERITANCE OF SONSHIP. It is the realization of the full potential of the true man in God’s image. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the first of the firstfruits of this glorious dimension of life. Since that long-ago day when the first Adam walked in the glory of Eden, Jesus is the very first man to demonstrate what true manhood and sonship really is. There is a firstfruit company to follow, cleansed and perfected through the unique ministry of their Elder Brother, fashioned and formed out of the crucible of His dealings through this age of the Spirit, conformed to His image, filled with His fullness, imbued with His wonderful mind, wisdom, nature and power, that through these firstfruits of Christ’s redemption the full inheritance may then be ministered to the rest of creation. Jesus, the first of the firstfruits, gives it to us — we, in Him, minister it to the rest! This, precious friend of mine, is the glory of sonship and the hope of all creation! "The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited — yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the sons of God!" (Rom. 8:19-21, J. B. Phillips translation).
A man’s last words can be of supreme importance and significance. This was no less true of Jesus. It is significant that in His Upper Room Discourse with His disciples that somber night before the crucifixion, and in His great prayer recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel, He should refer or make appeal at least sixty times to God as Father. His first words following His resurrection were instructions to Mary Magdalene to go tell His "brothers" that He was going to be returning to His Father and to their Father. He then exhorts them with tender concern just prior to His ascension not to try to establish the Kingdom apart from their sonship relationship to God. They were to wait in Jerusalem for the "promise of the Father" which would mantle them with power and authority through which they would be able to establish the Kingdom of God among men. As the Father had sent Him as the Royal Son, so would He send forth a mighty company of royal sons and daughters to manifest and minister the blessings and benefits of His Kingdom to men upon earth. Herein is the key to the Kingdom — we are beloved sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, in the royal family of God!
Sons of God know they are sons of God, not by the message of some preacher or writer, but by the revelation of the Spirit of God. Jesus revealed God as Father. How do we respond to it? A child responds to fatherhood when it reproduces the father’s likeness. The child inherits the father’s nature — but he must then develop the father’s character. Press on, saints of God — the hour of the great unveiling is at hand!
To be continued... J. PRESTON EBY [HOME] [KINGDOM RESOURCES]