the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
KINGDOM OF GOD
THE KINGDOM COMES
God rules with a great, infinite and eternal love.
He gives all His ability to His sons in love. Love is the foundation of His Kingdom throughout the
universe. Love is the very essence
and atmosphere of the Kingdom of Heaven. His
laws, proceeding from His heart, win the love of all His subjects.
The scars on His brow, in His hands, on His feet, and on His back are the
insignia of love and show that when He occupies the throne, love sits on the
throne and presides. He came to found an empire of which Rome, with her pride and
tyranny, could never be the symbol. He
came to win an allegiance that no legions in shining armor could ever compel.
That empire is the empire of love and that allegiance the response that
men can make to that which they know to be love and which, because it is love,
commands their bodies by winning their hearts.
So down this costly way of unreserved love Jesus came, His birth-chamber
a stable, His cradle a manger, and His lot in life cast among the poor.
He trod the pathway of misunderstanding, rejection and malignment, and
became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
“Wherefore,” the apostle says, “God hath highly exalted Him, and
given Him the name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every
knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the
earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
KINGDOM OF LOVE
The King of Love girds His people with gladness.
He sows the whole earth with gladness and joy. The news which is sent from His courts lifts the heads of all
men. At the mention of His name our
hearts leap for joy, and the coming of His presence among us fills us with
exceeding wonder. The air is filled
with music. He makes the morning
break over the everlasting hills with rejoicing, and causes the evening to glow
with the fire of His glory. He is
the King of Love within our hearts!
Our poor, lisping, faltering tongues cannot proclaim the Gospel as we
would like; but we have God’s word that is true for the present time, and for
all the times of all the ages: “God IS LOVE!”
IS — unchangeably!
IS — eternally!
God is love in heaven, in earth, in hell!
Wherever He is He can be no less than He is.
“If I make my bed in hell, Thou art there,” proclaims the Psalmist.
God IS LOVE — everywhere! And
the great practical consequence is for you and me to respond to that God and to
that love, to become filled with that love, one with that love, the embodiment
and manifestation of that love to all men in all realms.
That is the supreme purpose of sonship.
“Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (I Jn. 4:7).
And those who are born of God are
the sons of God — THE SONS OF LOVE!
The best and most wonderful word in the universe is Love. For God is Love. And
the best and most wonderful word in the inner chamber of our heart must be —
Love. For the God who meets
us there is Love. What is Love?
The deep desire to give itself for the beloved.
“Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we
should be called the sons of God” (I Jn. 3:1).
“For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16). Love finds its joy in imparting all that it has, to make the
loved one happy and fulfilled. And
the heavenly Father, who offers to meet us in the inner chamber — let
there be no doubt about this in our minds — has no other
object than to flood our hearts, and the hearts of all men, with His love.
But the spirit of love is not in you till it is the spirit of your life,
till you live freely, willingly, universally according to it. It knows no difference of time, place, or person; but whether
it gives or forgives, bears or forbears, it is equally doing its own delightful
work. The spirit of love does not
want to be rewarded or honored; its only desire is to become the blessing and
happiness of everything that needs it. The wrath of an enemy, the treachery of a
friend, only gives the spirit of love an opportunity to be more triumphant.
The rebellion of Adam but opened up avenues for mankind to experience and
know the incredible depths of the love of God!
God IS LOVE. And His SONS
are of His own nature. The Sons of
Love — what
a blessed thought! And what a call —
what purpose and responsibility! Little
wonder, then, that the whole vast creation, sold under slavery and bondage to
sin, sorrow, pain and death, groans in travail for the manifestation of the SONS OF LOVE!
Those who put on the mind of Christ see all men with the eyes of love
which are the eyes of God. How we
see men and think and act towards them is a measure of the Kingdom in our lives.
Perhaps you have heard the story of a stranger who settled in a town and
asked his neighbor, “What are the people around here like?”
The neighbor, a Quaker, replied quietly with a question, “What were the
people like where thee came from?” The
newcomer answered, “I have come from Anytown.
The people there were very mean, dishonest, and unfriendly.”
The Quaker answered, “I’m afraid thee will find them all here.”
A third person who had overheard the conversation, joined in by
remarking, “This surprises me, because I have come from the same town and I
found the people there to be very kind, honest, and friendly.”
And the old Quaker, turning to him, said, “Thee will find them all
Kingdom love flows from us like the powerful waters of Niagara.
It is a giving of ourselves without reservation or limitation.
Kingdom love does not allow us to withhold part of ourselves — it
requires us to give away ourselves completely.
Kingdom love does not stop to consider the worthiness of the one about to
receive it. “For if ye love them
which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good
to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and
persecute you; that ye may be the SONS OF YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN: for He
maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the
good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mat. 5:44-46).
Kingdom love is a “living sacrifice” that remains always upon the
altar. This love is the expression
of our total energies toward another without reservation, qualification, or
hesitation. It is going the second
mile — and
the third, fourth, fifth, one hundredth and one thousandth if necessary.
Larry Hodges, in one of his SHOFAR LETTERS, has wisely asked, “Shall
there be a people who will rule and reign with
Christ who are not under the absolute dominion of Love?
Shall there be a people who shall open and no man shut, and shut and no
man open, who are not in perfect accord with Love?
Shall there be a people claiming to be Love’s true representatives who
have not this Love in all its perfections?
Shall the rod of iron be given into the hand of any other than Love’s
own children, the children of the resurrection?
What people shall do and speak only what they see and hear their Father
doing and speaking but that people that is under the absolute dominion of
Love’s rule? We may speak well
and write much on ‘Sonship,’ ‘Kingdom,’ and whatever else we may wish to
call this kingdom, but unless we love Love, carefully guarding its beginning
flame, we are become as tinkling brass or a sounding cymbal.”
The omnipotent power of God is not best demonstrated in violence,
throwing thunderbolts and spreading devastation, but in self-sacrificing love
and goodness. It is love (not
tyranny) that never faileth, and with God (love) all things are possible.
God is almighty, omnipotent. That
is fundamental. But it is vital
that all God’s elect realize that His power is not something separate from His
wisdom and His love. Jesus has made
it abundantly clear that the power of God is not that of force, violence, or
compulsion, but the power of love which “never faileth.”
“I, if I be lifted up (on the cross) from the earth, will
draw all men unto me.” Love
is all-powerful and irresistible — divine power is simply love in action.
The failure to distinguish between the omnipotence of force and violence
and the omnipotence of love leads to the false ideas about God and His Kingdom
that are so prevalent in the church systems today. It is the infallible answer to those who impudently ask,
“If God is omnipotent, why does He not stop war, sin, suffering, and all forms
of evil?” The omnipotence of love
is something far grander and more noble than the omnipotence of force could ever
be, though it is slower in operation. But
the end of love’s omnipotence is
sure and abiding. Love never
faileth! God so loved the world,
and when love’s power has been played out through the progression of the ages,
love will win, will conquer all. Then
all men will love God, not fear
Him. What a plan! What
Almost a hundred years ago Joseph Fort Newton, preaching in London, said,
“Not until we see God as the Father of all souls — not simply ‘like
a Father,’ as a Psalmist said, as if it were only a symbol, an analogy, an
allegory, but the actual Father of men, as revealed in the life of Jesus —
we behold the highest truth. There
is made known what love really is in its utmost sweetness of sacrifice and
redemption. Love is social; it
cannot live alone. Heaven was never
a Hermitage. In that long-ago
beginning God did not say, ‘Let me
make,’ but ‘Let us make.’
Humanity could not worship and adore an Infinite Egoist.
Such is the deep and beautiful truth of which the Godhead is the symbol —
truth of the eternal society. Older
than our religion, older than the human home and the human family, it is a
vision of God through the home as a family in Himself — Elohim.
Love is creation. It cannot be inactive. It
must devise order, goodness, beauty, joy. God
does not love the world because He made it; He made it because He is love.
Here lies the secret of the strange and haunting beauty of the world, and
the eternal motive behind it.
Love is also providence. It
cannot be content with the joy of creation, but must follow and watch over what
it has made with absorbing solicitude and care. Men of old seemed to think that God made the world, set it
going, and sat on the edge of it watching it.
But love is never idle, much less aloof, and it must stoop to share the
lot of those whom it serves.
“Alas! many in our day, to whom it is not difficult to believe in God,
the Creator, find it hard to believe in His loving care.
Storms desolate the earth. Pestilence
and famine fill myriad graves. Youth is blighted in its bud.
Forever the cup of death is pressed to the lips of love.
War, pillage, cruelty, and brutality might make human life a hell.
There are heartless tyrannies that endure.
How can one talk of the loving care of God in face of these facts?
Why did not God make a thornless world and fill it with noble men, true
women, and a race just, gentle, and generous?
Because He could not do it.
Character cannot be created; it must be achieved.
It is not a gift, but an attainment — something
wrought out amid trials and tears, as Polasek has shown us in his figure of a
man finding himself and freeing himself by laboriously chipping away the stone
in which he is imprisoned.
“Suppose a man were to have a family created for him in an instant —
wife, a boy, a girl sitting about a table in a lovely home which he never saw
before. Would it be his family?
Would these children be the offspring of the love and sacrifice and pain
of his wife and himself? No. He might
learn to know and love them deeply, but they would not be his family because not
created by his love, not nourished from his heart, and not sanctified by his
thought, consideration and purpose. His
wife, not having experienced the babe in the womb or the pain of childbirth,
would be unable to value the children of the family as highly as she might.
Omnipotence does not mean arbitrariness.
What love cannot do God cannot do.
“There are methods love cannot use, acts it cannot perform, weapons it
cannot employ. Divine love looks
like weakness until we know what it really is, how it works, and the path it
follows. The love of God is more
than a mere indulgent good nature, more than an indiscriminate, mushy sentiment.
It is wise, and therefore takes the long look; relentless, and therefore
seemingly austere; ruling, not arbitrarily, not impatiently, but with inflexible
purpose and educative discipline — permitting
the prodigal to wander if he will, knowing, as he does not know, that riotous
living leads to husks, and these to the coming to himself, and that to the
painful and penitent return to Father’s house and to the discovery of a love
that would not let him be happy in exile! Oh,
the wisdom of love!
“Of love is born the hope of immortality, and the love of God is its
only sure basis and token of promise. What
sunshine there is in that truth! The
more deeply we love wife and child and friend, the more longingly we wish for
immortality. Only men who know not
love, who are lonely, disappointed, broken-hearted, devastated, bitter and
hopeless desire the solitude and silence of death over life.
Only miserable men cherish no hope of immortality!
Again I say, of love is born the hope of immortality.
The more deeply we love the more surely we may know that there is One who
loves our loved ones and ourselves more than we do.
Men and women, lay to heart the awful and wonderful truth that God loves
each of us as if there were no other in the world, and all of us as though we
were one child at His knee. And it
is not only His obedient children that He so loves, but the vilest sinner and
the most rebellious blasphemer.
‘God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us’ (Rom. 5:8). Yea,
He loves me, even me, distinctly, separately, passionately, unconditionally,
eternally — how
can it be! And He loves you, each
of you, with a love peculiar, particular, unutterably precious — loves
you unto the uttermost, and cannot be happy without your love in return!
Let us not ask ourselves whether we love God or not.
Let us trust His love of us, trust it in our sorrows, our needs, our
failures, our weakness, our sins, knowing that love never faileth — for God is love.
“What is this Reality which men call Christ?
Perhaps we can best make it clear by asking our hearts one question: What
is it that we worship? Is it mere
Power? No! Power may awe us, crush us, command us, but never yet has it
won the worship of the heart. Is it
An infinite Intellect may invite admiration, but we do not worship
Wisdom. Is it Vastness?
Not so! Consider for a
moment — and
you will see how a cold, bare infinitude, so far from winning the love of man,
strikes him dumb with terror. What,
then, do we worship? Reverently let
us say that, though God speak with the tongues of lightning, though He have all
power so that He could remove mountains or hurl suns into space, yea, though He
have all knowledge and understand all mysteries, and have not Love,
we cannot worship Him. Only love
can win love, and if God be not Infinite Love we cannot love Him, albeit we may
cower before Him, trembling and afraid.
“Think it all through, up one side and down the other, and you will
find that our ideal, our dream, our hope, that to which we pray, is no other
than the Spirit that lived in Jesus, shone in His face, wrought in His works,
spoke in His words, and hung upon a cross.
The Spirit of Jesus in its strength, its gentleness, its august and
wonderful humility, its incredible patience, its fathomless pity, its relentless
love, its all-forgiving mercy, its victorious valor, its purity, its gladness —
that is what is meant by God. Beyond
that love it is not possible for any man to imagine anything more divine.
The Spirit of Jesus is the ultimate Divine Reality so far as we can know
it. Where the Spirit of Love is, there God is.
Because that Love lived in
Jesus in its fullness, richness, its unclouded beauty, He is the supreme
revelation of what God is” —
And, may I add to these beautiful words this thought — all the sons of God, who are the sons of Love, are the
extension, completion and fullness of that supreme revelation of God unto
I once read the moving account of a woman seen constantly on the streets
of Strasbourg in the fourteenth century, carrying a pail of water in one hand
and a torch in the other. When
asked what she was about, she would reply that with the pail of water she was
going to put out the flames of hell and with the torch she would burn up heaven,
“so that in the future men could love the dear Lord God for Himself alone and
not out of fear of hell or out of craving for reward.”
A man comes closest to the Kingdom of God when he truly perceives the depth
of truth proclaimed by that little lady so long ago!
Is it not true that vast multitudes of Christians today serve the Lord
either out of fear of hell or hope of heaven.
It is the absolute truth. Anyone
who dares to proclaim the beautiful truth of the restoration of all men to God
and pins people right down to the word of God is immediately accused by the
unthinking masses of teaching heresy, and is accused of teaching doctrines which
give the sinner nothing to flee from, no reason for accepting salvation.
Such thoughtlessness! These
poor simple folks are merely admitting in this that they themselves have never
yet had a revelation of the abounding love of God.
Nor do they know and worship God FOR HIMSELF, apart from all other
considerations of either torment or bliss. Should the preachers one day call a
news conference and announce to the world, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have just
discovered that there is no hell,” I do not doubt for one moment that a great
number of so-called believers would immediately tell God to “go to hell” and
commence to live like the devil in the pleasures of sin.
Those who use hell as the incentive to bring men to God are but admitting
their shame in upholding a false gospel which would attempt to scare men into
the Kingdom of God. It never has
worked. It never will. Oh, it does indeed scare men into the “church,” but it
does not bring men to truly know God.
Christ leads and draws through love.
Sometimes love disciplines and breaks, but it does not play games by
“scaring” people into God! Fear is not the instrument of God to bring men unto Himself.
Is there a hell? Yes. But hell is not what salvation is about.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
It is not written that “the wages of sin is hell.”
If the wages of sin is eternal torment in hell, then we must re-write the
Bible from Genesis to Revelation. We
must make the Bible say that, if that is what God meant.
We must go back to the very beginning and make the Bible say, “And the
Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest
freely eat: 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 SUFFER
ETERNAL TORMENT IN HELL” (Gen. 2:16-17).
We must correct the word of God so that it says, “The soul that sinneth,
it shall be eternally tormented in hell” (Eze. 18:4).
John 3:16 must be made to correctly read, “For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not
be eternally tormented in hell, but spend eternity in heaven.”
If the wages of sin is the torments of the damned in hell, then Romans
5:12 must be made to say, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the
world, and torment in hell by sin; and so the torments of hell passed upon all
men, for that all have sinned...” You
will have to tear the Bible all to pieces and re-write literally hundreds and
thousands of passages if you say that the wages of sin is eternal torment in
“The wages of sin is death.”
It is not written that the wages shall
be death, but the passage we have before us, penned by divine inspiration,
states plainly that “the wages of sin IS death.”
“She that liveth in pleasure,” the scriptures again says, “is dead
while she liveth.” “Dead in
trespasses and in sins” is the way the apostle Paul expressed it.
Death takes in this whole dreadful realm of sin, weakness, fear, sorrow,
pain, heartache, rebellion, strife, war, sickness, torment, sadness, and trouble
in which men walk without the peace and joy and transforming power of God in
their lives. It is a sad and most
horrible fact that there are millions and thousands of millions of people going
about this earth who are the walking dead.
Dead to God! Dead to virtue! Dead
to truth! Dead to reality!
Dead to righteousness! Dead
to peace! Dead to joy! Dead
to promise! Dead to hope!
Death is the wages of sin.
But the gift of God is the life
of the ages. Every man is on one
side or the other; either he is now reaping his wages, or renouncing sin to receive God’s gift. The
gift is not heaven. The gift of God
is not streets of gold, gates of pearl, or walls of jasper.
The gift of God is not a cabin in the corner, or a mansion over the hill
top. You will have to re-write your
Bible again if you say that heaven is the reward
of the righteous. Is there a
heaven? Yes. But heaven
is not the issue in salvation. The
issue is life.
It was this very truth that Jesus was making clear to us when He said,
“He that hath the Son hath life,
but he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” The issue in
Eden was a matter of life and death; the issue in salvation and redemption is
likewise a matter of life and death. Heaven
and hell are not the issue.
Instead of preaching a false
gospel to sinners, instead of holding up before them fancied horrors which they
may escape, or a celestial Disney World which they may obtain, the true gospel
tells them of LIFE MORE ABUNDANT, of the unsearchable riches of Christ, of the
glory of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the
Holy Ghost. Who wants to remain a
faltering mortal, when one may be quickened and made alive in God to become the
very same manner of being as the One who created the worlds?
Oh, that all men might learn God’s one and only everlasting Gospel, the
Gospel of Life and Light and Love — and
then preach it! And BE it!
Love alone can draw all men to Calvary’s crimson fountain.
Only a Calvary love can transform a world gone mad, and revive a sleeping
church obsessed with her deliriums into a thing of beauty and praise and
usefulness. And anyone who is
lifting up to a lost and dying world anything or any one other than Jesus and
His wonderful Love is simply living a wasted life and fulfilling a spurious
ministry. The Love of God must be
lifted up IN US. The sons of God
are the sons of Love, for GOD IS LOVE!
What consolation and understanding is inspired by the blessed knowledge
that in spite of all the bluster and might exhibited by the kingdom of darkness,
the Lord God omnipotent reigneth! God
is the King, and His power He rules over all.
But, dear one, if you will examine the basis of that Kingship, the Kingship of the Lord from the beginning of the
world, you will find that it rests on God’s Creatorship.
He is Lord of the world and men and rules and overrules in all their
doings because He is their Creator with divine plan and purpose for their
destiny. But God wants to be King
in and by Jesus Christ — that is to say, He
wants to be King by virtue not of
His power, but of His love. He wants men to
reverence and obey Him not because they are afraid of Him, not because they are
out-witted and out-maneuvered by Him, not because they cannot help themselves,
and even because He promises them a Glory World above, but because they love Him. It
is reconciliation, fellowship, union, participation, oneness with man that the
heart of God is after.
Let us meditate deeply upon these words: “Our Father...Thy
Kingdom come.” Whose Kingdom is
it? Ah, it is “our Father’s”
Kingdom. Not the Kingdom of the
Lord God of the Old Testament, not the Kingdom of Yahweh, but the Kingdom of our
Father. Of our Father it is written, “God is love.” “For God
so loved the world that He gave His
only begotten Son...”
In other words, God so loved the world that HE BECAME A FATHER!
“Behold, what manner of love
the Father hath bestowed up us, that we should be called the sons of God.” “Who
hath delivered us from the rule of darkness, and hath transferred us into the
Kingdom of the Son of His love.”
Oh, what words are these! The
Father’s Kingdom is a Kingdom of Love! It
is the Kingdom of a Paternal Love! It
is a Kingdom of Beloved Sons! It is
a Ruling Celestial Family! Yahweh’s
Kingdom was a Kingdom of power. Yahweh was a God of war.
But God wants to be King not because He is Creator, not because He is
Sovereign and can ruthlessly control everybody and every thing.
He wants to be King because He is FATHER.
He desires men to be obedient to Him, not because He has omnipotent power
and can do anything He wants and have His way with men, but under the sweet
constraint of love. God has been
King by His position as Creator since the world began; God was King in Israel by
the omnipotence of His hand; but now He will become King by the position of
Father. It is for this Kingdom that sons are instructed to pray — for
the event in which all men everywhere shall realize what God’s Fatherhood
means, for the circumstances in which men’s hearts shall be so touched by
God’s love to them in Jesus Christ, that out of the response of their own
hearts they shall return from the far country to Father’s house and out of a
pure and genuine affection will render Him a willing and glad obedience.
The message which beams from the cross of Christ like the blazing rays of
the noon-day sun is one of SACRIFICIAL LOVE — REDEEMING LOVE.
The truth of love in Jesus Christ was that He loved without retaliation
for evil, a love that suffered long, even to the agonies of the cross, and then
was kind enough to pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they
do.” And I declare to you that
regardless of what other sins those wicked men may come into judgment for, they
will never stand in the judgment condemned for killing the Son of God, for HE
AND HIS FATHER FORGAVE THEM! This truth of the love of God in Jesus Christ must also be
true in us, the younger sons of God. Jesus
did not love people because He loved Himself, as it was under the law.
It was the Father’s unconditional and all-surpassing love flowing
through Him, surging as a mighty river our to humanity, overflowing redemptively,
so that He could say, “Let your love for others not be based on love for
yourself, but on what is true in Me: If the Father could love Judas through Me,
and love Peter through Me, and the people that crucified Me, then let the
Father’s love so find expression through you.”
In years past we have sung a chorus that goes like this: “His love has
no limits, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundaries known unto man;
for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth
again.” This is a lovely chorus
and I love to sing it and I say it is true.
In Jesus Christ, there is NO LIMIT to His love, NO MEASURE TO HIS GRACE,
and NO BOUNDARIES to His power, for He is omnipotent,
omniscient, omnipresent, and His mercy endureth throughout all generations and
ages. If I say that there is one
sin, one condition, one creature, one place, one age or group of ages unto which
His love and His grace shall not reach then I LIE and know not the truth.
Jesus loved His friends, He loved His enemies, the man who betrayed Him,
the man who denied Him, the mob that cried, “Crucify Him!” and the men who
nailed Him to the cross. There just
was no limit to His love! You could
never find a place where you could say, “So far would He love, but no
farther.” Is that love true in
us? Or do we say, “Well, I will
only stand so much, I will only forgive so long, I will only trust so far, and
that is the end of it.” It is
God’s purpose that His love should find no limit in us, His grace no measure
in us, and His power no boundary in us. This is the first mark of sonship.
God is preparing a people who, when they stand up and say, “God is
love,” are not talking about God’s love in heaven, or God’s love in Jesus;
no, they will be expressing the love of God in their own person. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
Son.” Everyone likes a verse like
that. But how many would like a
verse like this: “God still loves the world so much that He would like to give
His sons, right now.” We do not
like that. We like to be sons if
God will keep us, if He will bless us, if He will take us to His bosom and not
let us go. But what
does God do with His sons? Why, He
GIVES THEM! He thrusts them out
into all the sorrows, tragedies, troubles, sicknesses, pains, strife, hatred,
rebellion and death of this world. Jesus
said, “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
What did Jesus also say? “This
is my flesh, my B-O-D-Y, which I GIVE for the life of the world.” If we are His body, then will He not give us for the life of
the world? “Oh,” someone says,
“I do not like the kind of religion where I do not get something, sacrifice is
asking too much.” Well, my
brother, my sister, that is how it starts, by receiving, but it must not end
there. We must come to the place
where God can give us, where we can lie down and become a channel, a river —
River of Life poured out into humanity!
This truth might well be illustrated by the children’s story of the sun
and the wind. In the little
make-believe story, the sun and the wind discussed which of them was the
strongest. The wind said that he
could prove that he was the strongest by blowing the coat off of a man who
walked on the road below. So the
sun slipped behind a cloud and Mr. Wind started blowing until the man thought a
tornado had come up. But the harder
the wind blew, the tighter hold the man took on his coat.
Finally the wind saw that he could not blow the man’s coat off, so he
gave up in defeat. Then it was the
sun’s turn to try. The sun came
out from behind the clouds and smiled kindly on the old man.
Presently the warm loving rays of the sun caused the man to pull off his
coat. The sun had proved that the
power of love and kindness is stronger than fury and force!
Love never fails. Sons
don’t say, “I’ve had enough!” Perhaps
you’ve said it too. Maybe
you’re a parent and you’ve told your kids that you’ve “had enough.”
Perhaps you’re a teacher, and today was one of those days when you sent
a student out of the classroom because you’d “had enough.”
Or perhaps your spouse has betrayed you once too often; you’ve “had
enough” and this can’t go on. Or perhaps one of your workers showed up late once too often,
and you had to let him go. Or
perhaps your neighbor had another wild party late into the night, playing his
loud music, disturbing your sleep, so you called the police or “gave him a
piece of your mind.” You’d
“had enough” and couldn’t take it anymore.
Love, however, divine love, can
never say, “I’ve had enough!” If
God had had enough, the United States of America wouldn’t be here today, and
neither would you or I.
“No man hath seen God at any time.
If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in
us” (I Jn. 4:12). Where is God?
The question is as old as humanity.
And people’s answers range all the way from “God is everywhere and in
everything” to “God is nowhere and in nothing.”
In fact, the question can be shortened and made even more significant: Is
God? The beloved apostle John gives
us an “object lesson” to demonstrate the reality and the presence and power
of God, saying, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God
lives in us and His love is made complete in us.”
John is saying, “Do you want to know where God is?
Do you want to see God? Do you want the whole wide world to see God so that they can know that He exists?
Then, with divine love, love each other and all men and the whole world
will see and discover God in it.” If
we love with that wonderful, God-initiated, self-giving, unconditional love,
people will say, “So that’s where God is!
So that’s how we know that God is!”
It’s an object lesson that makes God impossible to miss!
Creation will respond as the Roman soldier at the foot of the cross
responded to the love of Jesus, “Truly these are the sons of God!”
Divine love does not only love the lovely, divine love does not only love
the brethren, but every man. Divine
love suffers long not only with our loved ones, our wife or sweetheart, our
parents and our children, but also with our offensive neighbors, our difficult
associates, the stupid, hateful, slothful, disobedient, wayward, rebellious,
unlovely, and our persecutors. Love
suffers long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with
jealousy; is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
Love is not conceited, arrogant, or inflated with pride; it is not rude,
and does not act unbecomingly. Love
does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it
is not touchy or complaining or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done
to it — pays
no attention to a suffered wrong. It
does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and
truth prevail. Love bears up under
anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every
person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it sweetly endures
everything. Love never fails —
fades out, becomes obsolete, never is destroyed by anything, and never comes to
an end. THIS IS THE POWER AND THE
GLORY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
VIOLENCE TO NO MAN
“And the soldiers likewise
demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?
And he said unto them, Do violence
to no man...” (Lk. 3:14). Love
will affect every attitude and action toward men on both the personal and
corporate level. I have no
hesitation in telling you that I have been a “conscientious objector” to war
all my life because from a small child I could never believe that the spirit of
warfare with its hatred, killing, and violence is compatible with the love of
God or the spirit of sonship.
Oh, yes, we have our excuses and a thousand reasons are given to go forth
and kill and maim and destroy by warfare. “The
government requires me to do it,” we
say. That’s reminiscent of that
other time-honored cop-out, “The devil
made me do it!” “I must defend
my country and our liberties,” we explain, “we have an obligation to our
families, our communities, and our nation to defend ourselves.” So we wield the sword, fire machine guns, and bomb villages
and cities into oblivion, blasting thousands, yea, millions of innocent men,
women and children out of this world, and call on God to bless! What strange
beings we Christians are who profess to follow in the footsteps of Him who said,
“For the Son of man is not come to destroy
men’s lives, but to save them”
(Lk. 9:56). I tell you today that
no son of God is sent into this world to destroy
men’s lives, but every son of God is sent into the world of save
them. No son of God, no brother of Jesus, is sent into this world
to destroy even one life, but to become a saviour for all men.
War is not a matter of one soldier against one soldier. It is now a war of guns and bombs and germs and chemicals and
land-mines against soldiers and mothers and children and babes.
Any way to intimidate the foe! Scare
and blast loved ones out of the fox holes into hell or heaven — that is the way to win.
We little realize the awful depths into which the spirit of warfare
carries us. As one wrote of a
certain war: “I had to aim carefully at the straw roof and only succeeded at
the third shot. The wretches who
were inside, seeing their roof burning, jumped out and ran off like
mad...surrounded by a circle of fire about five thousand people came to a sticky
end. It was like hell, the smoke
rose to incredible heights, and the flames reddened the setting sun.”
War is still ruling our world and it is not spiritual;
it is carnal, political, and devilish. As
ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven we pledge allegiance to a higher Kingdom
than any of the kingdoms of this world.
We cannot fight carnal warfare because we are ambassadors for Christ.
An ambassador is a representative of another country or person and he is
not subject to the political laws of
the country where he abides. The
King whom we represent has commissioned us to “love our enemies,” to
“bless and curse not,” and
“see that none render evil for evil
to any man.” We are to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are
called with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering.” “Put on, therefore, as the elect
of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy,
kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.”
How directly opposed are these to the rules of war!
Under the Old Covenant Yahweh required that His people Israel should go
to war and fight and kill, but that covenant has been done away and we are under
the New Covenant whereby the law (nature) of God is written upon our hearts, and
the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty
Well has Philip Mauro written, “War is an instrument of the god of this
world. War stems from greed and
political intrigue. Preparing the
soldier for war is a godless procedure. Hate
is drilled into him. He is taught
every trick there is to kill. This
must be so for war is a dirty business. War
differs from ordinary murders only in that it is on an enormous scale.
Every invention and contrivance that men can devise, every deception and
stratagem to which they can resort, every cruelty and atrocity which they can
perpetuate, are elements of warfare. Hence
it is not merely a questionable proceeding — not
merely a thing which it is perhaps better to avoid — war
is the thing of all things that is farthest removed from the spirit and work of
Christ. It is the work of the devil
to destroy. War is the
great all-inclusive, sum total of everything that is devilish.
When General Sherman tersely said, ‘War is hell,’ he uttered a truth.
Heaven is peace. Hell is
war. Let us look
the ugly fact squarely in the face, that the man who enlists (or is
drafted) commits himself in advance to the perpetration of every unnamable
atrocity that war is held to justify. He
repudiates his individual responsibility to God and man, and pledges himself
blindly, by an oath and under penalty of death, to obey the commands of his
officers, whatever they may be and to whatever work they may send him.
If we then are to go forth and kill our fellowmen, whose lives shall we
take? Shall we slay the unsaved, to
whom we owe the gospel of Christ? If
not those, then are we to slay our fellow saints to whom we owe our love and
service? War and the gospel are as
far apart as the east is from the west, as far as hell is from heaven...”
If fighting and killing on carnal battlefields is right for the sons of
God, then the Priesthood after the Order of Melchizedek, the priesthood of
grace, mercy, love and salvation is wrong; if the gospel of love, even for our enemies, is right, then war is wrong.
Jesus showed us clearly that the life of sonship is completely
independent of every earthly tradition,
custom, and requirement. The life of sonship belongs to the realm of the Kingdom of
Heaven which we are to seek first of all.
Jesus came to preach the Kingdom. That
was His gospel. That was His one
and only purpose. There lay His one
and only allegiance. All the things
that were spoken in the sermon on the mount pertain to the Kingdom which
we are entering. Just as the
law of Moses given at Sinai was the Constitution of the government and nation of
Israel, so the sermon on the mount is the Constitution of the Kingdom of God.
All the blessed truths set forth in the sermon on the mount are to be
fulfilled in us “that ye may be the sons
of your Father which is in heaven” (Mat. 5:45).
These are the principles that govern the lives of God’s sons and all
who live and walk in the Kingdom, just as surely as the law of Moses governed
the dispensation of the law. The
Kingdom is the realm of sonship. It is the realm of the will
of God. It is the realm of the nature
of God. It is the realm of the mind
The principles of the Kingdom of God are set forth with divine clarity in
the sermon on the mount, where the spirit of sonship is revealed.
While living here on earth, our Lord was extremely kind.
He picked up little children and blessed them.
He healed all who were suffering with pain.
While relatives were weeping over dead loved ones, he raised four of them
to life again. The Saviour of ALL
men said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you;
go, and sin no more.” His
KINDNESS made an evangelist out of that immoral woman at Jacob’s well.
Because Jesus really loved the weak, helpless creatures whom He had
created, He wept over them, prayed for them and taught them continually.
Can you imagine for one moment that Jesus, even if commanded by the
government of Israel, would have taken up the sword and slain thousands of
Romans to liberate His people from the cruel, pagan yoke of Rome?
Think of it! Even when Peter
cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, in defense
of the Son of God, Jesus stooped and picked up the severed ear and healed it
back on the man. He then
turned to Peter and reproachfully said, “Put
up thy sword into the sheath: for all they that take the sword shall perish with
the sword.” If you can believe
for one moment that Jesus, drafted or not, would have gone out to slay men in
defense of His country, then you may also justify the sons of God in this hour
fighting and killing in defense of their homeland.
The issue is really just that simple.
“What would Jesus do?”
Except for those religious Pharisees, Jesus never spoke one cross word to the unconverted masses, Israelite, Roman, or
otherwise. He was very tender and
kind in all His dealings with men. His
approach to them was very gentle, delicate, and considerate.
Surely, then, we are safer in His hands than anywhere else!
The things He has in store for every one of us are far greater than we
could plan for ourselves. He will
do us only good, and never evil. Does
God expect His other sons to be different than His Firstborn?
Jesus has taught us, “But love
your enemies, and do good...and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be
THE SONS OF THE HIGHEST; for HE IS KIND UNTO THE UNTHANKFUL AND TO THE EVIL, BE
YE THEREFORE MERCIFUL, AS YOUR FATHER also is merciful.”
In this instance Jesus plainly says that if we desire to be the SONS OF
THE HIGHEST, we must be merciful as He is merciful.
THE HIGHEST IS MERCIFUL TO ALL.
The question follows: Why should the Highest be merciful to the evil and
the unthankful? The answer is clear
— that the evil one and the unthankful one may come to know the mercy and
goodness of God! They would never
know that mercy in any other way. If
Jesus teaches us we are to be kind to those who mis-use us, reproach us, attack
us, curse us, and make themselves our enemies, then what kind of a God and
Father would He be, whose words Jesus taught us, who would HATE HIS ENEMIES and
cast them into merciless eternal hell to burn forever? If such a thing were to be, then God would require us to be
better than Himself! Jesus teaches
us that we are to be merciful and kind, to bless and do good to all who are
enemies. Do we then have a Father
whose nature is entirely opposite to ours?
Impossible! The sons of God
are sent, as was the Son, to reveal the nature of our Father to all.
If we see a God that loves only those that love Him, or who defends
Himself, and attacks His enemies, banishing them to eternal damnation, torturing
endlessly those that curse Him, meting out eternal vengeance upon those that
hate Him, and shutting up all mercy from those who persecute Him, then we have a
God who establishes His Kingdom in the same spirit, and along the same lines,
and by the same methods as the kingdoms of this
world. But we are commanded to love
our enemies, bless them that curse us, do
good to those that hate us, and pray
for them that despitefully use us, and persecute us — THAT
WE MAY BE THE SONS OF OUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN: for He makes His sun to
rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the
unjust...BE YE THEREFORE PERFECT AS YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT
Sons of God are instructed to love their enemies and not to resist evil (Mat. 5:39). In
so doing they proclaim the nature and principles of the Kingdom of God which is
the nature of unconditional redemptive love.
We are not to fight with our enemies, either personal or national —
even if they attack us. God
is not preparing His sons to be warriors carrying carnal weapons to establish
His Kingdom on earth. The weapons
of our warfare are mighty through God, for they are spiritual weapons of faith
and power and love. There is
abundant historical evidence that the early Christians considered themselves
citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, ambassadors of the spirit of Jesus, and as
such refused to be conscripted into
the military service of the Roman government.
They objected to war as carnal, political, and immoral.
God is raising up in the earth a Kingdom of Priests — as SAVIOURS
shall they come up on mount Zion! It
is impossible to love all men while hating some men. And in the “war machine” of the nations it is impossible
to go into battle with the “right frame of mind” unless your superiors have
instilled in you a sense of outrage, anger, hostility, and hatred toward the
enemy. It is not possible to be in
preparation to deliver creation from the bondage of corruption while going out
in the world’s war machine to savagely blow men to bits for whom Christ died.
The irony of war is that there are in most cases soldiers who are
Christians on both sides. These men, saved, perhaps baptized in the Holy Spirit,
members of the body of Christ, who are to love and care for one another, and
esteem one another, as Christ does us; and who supposedly are endued with a
divine and heavenly love for all men, march out on the battlefield of carnal
warfare at the command of their worldly governments and unregenerated
politicians — and BLOW ONE ANOTHER’S BRAINS OUT!
Brother shoots brother, and brother bombs brother — each
sometimes in the name of Christ! Ponder
the fact. In international wars
over the past 2,000 years, professing Christians have killed professing
Christians by the millions!
I do not hesitate to tell you that it is one of the most ridiculous
contradictions in the world.
In that blessed day when the mountain of the house of the Lord is
established in the tops of the
mountains it shall come to pass that “many people shall go and say, Come ye,
and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob;
and He will teach us of His ways, and
we will walk in His paths: for out of
Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and
they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks:
nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any
more” (Isa. 2:1-4). The spirit of that blessed day must first be perfected in
those who are destined to rule with the Lamb from mount Zion; the swords and
spears in our own hearts must be turned into acts of mercy and blessing to all
men of all nations now.
When men come to mount Zion they turn their weapons of destruction into
instruments of blessing for their neighbors.
The characteristic of the holy mountain is the Lamb — sacrificial, redeeming love. The only sword carried by the Lamb is the sword of the
Spirit, which is the word of God. Sons
who stand with the Lamb on mount Zion have surrendered their right to be the
aggressor, the destroyer with the sword. These
are they that follow the Lamb
whithersoever He goeth. These
have the mind of the Lamb, the spirit of the Lamb, the nature of the Lamb.
They are rendered defenseless before their enemies, armed only with the
power of redemptive love. They can
no longer fight any man or any nation with words or attitudes or actions of
murderous rage, let alone with weapons that maim, kill and destroy.
They come under the rule of the spirit of the defenseless Lamb who is the
Saviour of the world. The sons of
God belong to a spiritual Constitution. Their
foes are spiritual, for they wrestle not against flesh and blood.
Their armor is the armor of God and their sword is the sword of the
I am reminded of the story of a missionary who was trying to explain
Christian living to the chief of a primitive and warlike tribe. The chief was very old, and he listened patiently.
“I do not understand,” the old man said at last.
“You tell me that I must not take my neighbor’s wife or his ivory or
his oxen.” “That’s right,”
said the missionary. “And I must
not dance the war dance and then ambush my enemy on the trail and kill him.”
“Absolutely right,” replied the missionary.
“But I cannot do any of these things anymore,” the old chief said
regretfully. “I am too old. To be old and to be Christian — they are
the same thing!” We may be amused
at the old chief’s logic, but the solution is plain.
He did not do those things because he could not — we do not do them because we will not!
It is time to evaluate our Kingdom walk.
The ascended Christ stands at the doorway and bids us set our eyes toward
the world above and listen for His voice. We
came from that higher world, we are sent as ambassadors of that higher world;
let us seek first the Kingdom of Heaven. Let
us think, listen and watch for those things of the higher world.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Do not fill your minds with the things of this dark and dying age. Conspiracies, government actions, politics, foreign policy,
taxation, terrorism, all are topics of great interest and fleshly appeal, but
they are all related to the world of darkness and not that of the higher world
of the Kingdom. They are all earthly
things that Barabbas would involve himself and others in.
I first learned this beautiful truth from a good and holy man, my natural
father. It was his earnest
conviction that Jesus taught that a child of God and citizen of the Kingdom of
Heaven is required by the Holy Spirit to walk out the principles of the Kingdom
in the totality of life. He
believed in what he termed “non-resistance” and saw the basis for this
principle in the sermon of the mount and in the words of Paul: “Recompense to
no man evil for evil. If it be
possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all
men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath...therefore
if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing
thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:17-21).
Under the law we have a right to harm someone who has harmed us.
It is fair and just to retaliate when someone attacks us.
The walking out of these Old Covenant principles range from sibling
pinches to international war. If
someone takes advantage of me, I have the right to take advantage of them.
If someone files a lawsuit against me, I have the right to file a counter
suit. If someone swindles me in an
agreement, I have the right to swindle him back. In every case it is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
If a nation launches missiles against us, we have a right to send missles
back. “You have heard that all of
this has been said,” Jesus declared, “BUT I
SAY UNTO YOU!” Ah, now we are on
Kingdom territory! And what is the
higher law of the Kingdom that Jesus brought?
“Resist not evil...don’t retaliate...don’t sue anyone...if they
take your car let them have your truck also...if they force you into a bad
situation, fulfill what they require and
My father lived by these principles.
On more than one occasion he was attacked by men who had sworn to kill
him because of the gospel. They
came at him with bricks and two-by-fours and brute physical strength, and my
father was a small man. He
fearlessly stood his ground and spoke only the words, “I love you!”
Their arms stopped in mid air and they dropped their weapons.
On one occasion the scene was less dramatic, but the Holy Ghost was on my
mother. As she spoke in tongues and
turned the car around, my father was able to jump in and make his escape.
He would never resist evil,
never retaliate, never manifest any fear, antagonism, anger or animosity. And he was never injured!
God was powerfully with him at all times.
In the 1940’s my father joined himself to one of the Pentecostal
denominations. When he was being
examined for ordination to the ministry in this denomination he told the
brethren, “There is something I must let you know.
I am a conscientious objector. I
do not believe a Christian has any right in the spirit of Jesus to resist any
evil or go to war to fight against any enemy of our country.”
He explained in detail his views on this matter.
The brethren said to him, “But, brother Eby, what if a thief or rapist
entered your house at night with the intent to rob you,
or to molest your wife and children, or even to kill you — what would you — what would you
do?” He answered, “I would call
on God and God would congeal him in
the doorway and he would be unable to do us any harm.
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, they are mighty through God.” “But,”
the brethren pressed, “what if everyone believed as you do?
What if no one would join the armed forces to defend our country?
What if our enemies attacked us — what would we do?”
My father responded, “My dear brethren, if everyone in this country
believed as I do, there would be so much of the power of God in this nation that
our enemies would not be able to attack us!” “Well, brother Eby,” the brethren said, “we don’t
agree, but we do admire your faith.” They
ordained him. My father was a small
man, only five feet, one and a half inches tall, but he was a man of courage,
fearlessness, conviction, and a man of faith and power with God.
He lived, breathed, and walked out what he perceived as true in God.
And it worked! God was with
him. He was an example of the power of the grace and love of God to overcome all
evil with good. That, precious
friend of mine, is the power and glory of
the Kingdom of God!
Lorain and I have two sons and one daughter.
We are blessed that all of them are walking with the Lord and with us in
this Kingdom word. I tell you today
that we are willing to see any or all of them offered up for our Lord Jesus
Christ. We are willing to see
them suffer privation, ill health, persecution, pain, or even death for the
cause of Christ and His Kingdom, should the Father lead them in such paths.
Lorain and I have made great sacrifices (though we did not consider them
as such!) through the years in order to fulfill the call of God in our lives.
And we are now willing with joy to have our children suffer that and even
greater things in the walk of this Kingdom. We would not hinder one of them from following the Lord to
any of the far-flung mission fields of the world — even to give their
lives there for the gospel. We
would be willing to see them die for Jesus — but we are NOT
willing to see them die on any battlefield of any nation of this world. We are not
willing to see them carrying guns or driving tanks or flying bombers to take the
lives of men for whom Christ died. We
are not willing to see them blowing to bits men to whom we have been called to
bring the Kingdom of Life and Light and Love.
I am willing to see my sons and my daughter pay whatever price necessary
to deliver creation from the bondage of sin, sorrow and death — but I am not willing to see them, at the whims of carnal
politicians, blow men away into hell and judgment. The sons of God must be preeminently the SONS OF LOVE.
You cannot love and maim and kill at the same time.
The very thought is an absurdity, a horrible blasphemy.
“For God so loved the
world...” And so will all who are
called to sonship! That is the power and the glory of the Kingdom of God!
To be continued... J.
J. PRESTON EBY
If you would like to receive these studies write to:
J. Preston Eby
P.O. Box 371240
El Paso TX 79937-1240
All writings are distributed on a free-will basis.
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