the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
KINGDOM OF GOD
In an earlier article of this series I wrote concerning the difference
between seeing and entering the Kingdom of God. Permit
me to rehearse those thoughts for a moment before proceeding further into the
supernal glories that lie before us upon our entrance into the full inheritance
that belongs to each and every son of God in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Kingdom of God means different things to different people, according
to their understanding. This is
only natural, because of the many figures under which the idea was presented by
Jesus, and also because people are at different stages in their progress along
the way to the Kingdom, which means that they have attained different degrees of
growth as children of God in the family of God.
What a familiar topic the new birth is!
How many thousands of sermons have been preached about it!
But how many have perceived the true purpose
of the new birth? Jesus said that
one must be born again in order to “see” or “enter” the Kingdom
of God. The reality He
presented was the Kingdom! The
purpose of the new birth is not to get us into the church or to some far-off
heaven somewhere. The purpose of
the new birth is to enable us to enter the Kingdom.
I fear very few who fill the pews of the churches today have this
conception of the new birth — that thereby God has infused into us His very own divine life so that we
may be able to partake of His Kingdom.
Here we find Jesus laying down the preliminary requirement for an
understanding of the Kingdom, as well as entrance into the Kingdom.
When men come into the world, they are born outside of the Kingdom of
God, and they cannot see into it. They
may go round and round it, and examine it from the outside, and pass an opinion
on it. But they are no judges.
They are not seeing what they are speaking about.
For that which is born of spirit is spirit,
and that which is born of flesh is flesh;
and flesh cannot see into the realm of spirit.
Fleshly men can only give an uninformed and unenlightened criticism about
something spiritual that they can neither see nor understand. Therefore the critical value of a natural man’s opinion on
spiritual matters is nothing. His
opinion is simply ludicrous — he is talking about a thing
that he has never had experience with. If
I am to partake and participate in the Kingdom of God, then I need to possess a
life other than the life I have by nature.
I must be born again into a higher
realm. I must receive the life
of God, the life of the Kingdom, for not unless I possess His life can I begin
to enter into and explore and experience the realities and powers of His
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see
the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3). Everyone
with spiritual understanding knows that the words “see” and “know” are
identical in their spiritual meaning. When
I tell a friend something he did not see before, and I am trying to get him to
see it, all at once there passes over his face the illumination that indicates
understanding. He says, “Preston,
I see it.” What does he mean?
He does not mean that he sees anything with the eye of flesh.
He means that he “understands” or “knows” it.
How many times a day do you say, “I see!” So Jesus is telling us that apart from the new birth a man
cannot understand, comprehend, or know the Kingdom of God. It is better to know the Kingdom of God by the spirit than to
see with physical eyes any “age” or “external government” that might be called
the Kingdom of God. Here is the
mighty power of the New Creation: it sees what others cannot see!
It sees, amid the thousand things natural men see and are guided by,
something infinitely greater and more real — it SEES
GOD. No wonder it leads a man to
think and act differently from other men. On
everything it looks at, the bright light of eternity is shining.
The depths it perceives are infinite.
The heights it beholds are immeasurable.
The truth it understands is without flaw or error and is eternal.
Seek to walk in the light of HIS countenance.
Seeing the INVISIBLE will make it easy to forsake this world and do the
will of God! The heavens are shut
up from the natural man. He cannot
see eternal things. He hears only
the lower sounds of earth. But you
see beyond all this into the very heart of God, into the depths of His great
plans and purposes, and the “whys” and “wherefores” of all things since
the creation of the world and unto the consummation of all ages.
You see the Kingdom of God!
Far away in the depths of my spirit the perfumed breezes of the Kingdom
of Heaven sweep over my being until my very soul weeps for joy and laughs for
gladness. I write to you today of a
realm of reality that is wonderfully real, solid, awesome.
Jesus Christ intends for us to actually enter into the Kingdom of God
here and now, and to begin exploring it in its height and depth and length and
breadth. “Get thee out of thy
country...unto a land that I will show thee,” the Lord commanded Abraham. Just as on any earthly adventure, we must be willing to be
surprised. And we will be, for
“eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard,” what God has prepared for us.
To “enter into” the Kingdom is, as we should readily understand, more
than to “see” it. Moses stood
on the heights of mount Nebo and saw
the Promised Land, but he never got into it.
God kept him on the other side of Jordan, although he was the leader of
God’s people, because of his disobedience.
In this realm of entering the
Kingdom we discover the Kingdom realm as a gift.
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give
you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:32). God
is a giving God. Because He is
love, He would have to be a giving God.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave
His only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16). “If
ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much
more shall your Father which is in heaven give
good things to them that ask Him?” (Mat. 7:11).
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). To His footstep followers today the Lord says, “Fear not,
little flock, who already has the gift of eternal life; fear not, little flock,
who already has bountiful gifts from the hand of the Father; fear not, little
flock, who already has possession of the gift of the Spirit of God.
It is now the Father’s good pleasure to give you more yet than you
have. It is the Father’s good
pleasure to GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM!”
The Kingdom of God is not being offered here to the world.
It is not being promised to the natural man.
It is not being proffered to the religious people in the church systems.
Here it is being promised to the “little flock” who are already
earnest and steadfast followers after all that God has. “My sheep know my voice,” Jesus said, “and a stranger
they will not follow.” You are a
sheep of His pasture if you are following hard after God, if you are following
on to know the Lord; and it is to you that He gives the Kingdom. The picture here is of the shepherd leading his flock out of
the sheepfold down the dusty road until he suddenly comes to a gate.
The shepherd goes up to the gate, unlatches it, swings it open, and leads
the entire flock into a lush green pasture.
The sheep enter and begin to graze and enjoy the fresh green field which
has not been trampled down by the heavy feet of other flocks.
Jesus says, “It is my good pleasure to lead you down all the dusty
roads of spiritual experience until I bring you to the secluded, reserved,
select, appointed green field of God’s Kingdom.”
At this point the Kingdom of God is a gift.
The offer of the Kingdom is not predicated upon any self-effort or any
good work or religious exercise. You
cannot buy it. Nothing you have can
be traded for it. All the
education, position, fame or fortune you can amass will not gain you admission.
The offer is made, the call goes out, but God will not force the flock
into that Kingdom. If this Kingdom
is entered it must be entered by a heart desire that will make us seek first the
Kingdom of God and His righteousness. The
earnest, effectual desire of our hearts as followers of God’s Christ will
bring us into this Kingdom that God is giving to His flock.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray as John taught his
disciples to pray, the very first petition that He taught them was, “Thy
kingdom come!” They were to ask
the Father with a sincere desire and a deep and intense yearning in their heart
to let the Kingdom be made available to His flock for entrance.
This characterizes the people who receive it.
Let not the careless and unconcerned think that they shall have any part
in the Kingdom of God and of Christ. Those
to whom the Kingdom has no value will miss it just as did the Pharisees and
scribes in Jesus’ day. They
rejected the Kingdom when it was offered, and it can still be rejected today.
Jesus plainly taught His disciples and the scribes and Pharisees that He
had brought the Kingdom of God to them. He
spoke to them of its beauty and glory, of its principles and powers, of its ways
and potentials. But the Jews
continued to reject it. Therefore,
Jesus told them that because they counted themselves unworthy of the Kingdom of
God, God was going to take it from them, that is, they would not be permitted to
enter into it, and God would give it to a nation, even a people, “worthy of
it.” He would give it to a
company called His “little flock,” the body of Jesus Christ.
Jesus spoke many parables about the acceptance or rejection of the
Kingdom of Heaven. One such parable
was about the man who went out into a field and began to plow.
Half way down the furrow it became very hard.
He gave up the task and returned home.
Jesus said, “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back,
is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62).
If you are of the little flock you have put your hand to the plow.
You have already begun to plow a furrow for God straight towards the
Kingdom. Have you grown weary and
looked back to decide that the carnal house of religion and religious systems is
easier and more secure than the field of the Kingdom of God? Has the pressing of your way into the Kingdom seemed so hard
you have compromised with the imperfection of the church realm and rejected the Gift of God?
In my years of ministry I have had occasion to reflect upon this saying
of our Lord. Some people come to
the hard work of pressing into the Kingdom only under painful duress.
Once the price of entrance becomes clear to them, they drop the plow and
turn back to the beggarly elements of religion, joining themselves again to the
programs and activities of a church system in a lesser realm.
They are not yet ready for the Kingdom.
They refuse to enter into the Kingdom.
In contrast are those who find themselves unable
to leave the Kingdom walk. They are
drawn irresistibly to the transforming and creative process going on within
them, and thoroughly understand that there is nothing in the church systems of
man for them anymore. Nothing could
entice them — not blessings, nor programs, nor fellowship, nor
activities, nor personalities, nor needs, nor preachers — to
turn from their quest of the Kingdom. THEY
HAVE REACHED THE POINT OF NO RETURN. No looking back! The
hook is in their jaw. They can do
nothing else, so help them God.
If we are the elect of God in this hour, there is a call within us, and
deep calleth unto deep. I tell you,
my beloved, there is something within me, an inner compulsion, and I know that I
have set my face as a flint and cannot turn to the right hand or the left from
my journey into God’s fullness. I
can’t go back to the world — the world has nothing to offer me; it is all vanity and
vexation of spirit. I can’t go
back to religion — religion holds nothing for me anymore; it is an
abomination. I can’t even go back
to Pentecost, back to the Holy Place — for the veil has
been rent and I have tasted of the powers of the world to come. There is no turning back because my heart has turned to the
Lord. As the apostle says, “When
it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away...and we
all, with unveiled face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are
changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the
Lord” (II Cor. 3:16-18). For some
in this hour the veil has been rent and we have found an entrance to behold the
transcendent glories of that land that lies before us.
By the blood of Jesus we have been granted the opportunity to enter into
the Kingdom of God.
Sometimes, when the pressures and processings come, when the dealings
of God are deep and heavy upon us, when the going is especially painful
or difficult and saints complain of its demanding nature, I ask, “Could you
stop this inward work if you wanted to? Could
you find an exit and escape the demands of His purposes in your life?”
The answer comes back, “No — I have no choice
but to fellow on to know the Lord.” For
these precious souls the glory and honor of the Kingdom of God is close at hand,
and there is no longer any question of dropping the plow and turning back.
One more and more comes to know what it means to walk in the Kingdom as
he follows on into deeper and deeper measures of God’s dealings and further
separations unto His purposes. As
we become ONE WITH GOD the world does not understand what has happened; but they
know that a separation has taken place between us and them that is more than
bodily separation. Although we are
living and moving among them, and they see us at our earthly tasks and daily
living, they realize that we have mounted up beyond them and their
understanding. In this connection a
brother in Christ some time ago sent us these meaningful words: “Yes, this is
an holy calling — and it involves much separation, often from our friends, religious
realms, and everything and everybody that would hinder the upward climb into the
hill of the Lord, that we might stand in His holy place.
The flesh will cringe at the aloneness
of the walk. The mind will question
as to why it must be so. But the
spirit within will continue to draw us onward without the camp, bearing His
reproach, while we are loosed from so many hindrances and infirmities.
IT IS A DAY OF REVELATION — and little did we
know what things were hindering our spiritual progress until suddenly we found
that God was stripping something from us, and though we wept at the time, and
would have retained it if we could, nevertheless being yielded to the will of
God, we relinquished our grasp, and found to our amazement that we received a
new measure of freedom. And how
many things we hold so dear, but they are actually a weight upon us, rather than
Many times it is most grievous and perplexing to those who do not know
the Lord, as well as to those Christians bound in the religious systems, who
cannot understand the workings and separating processes of the Spirit of God, to
have one who is near and dear to them in the flesh, separated from them in the
Spirit. Though the body with its
personality is still in the home, office, or business, it is as though the loved
one were not there. In such cases,
how often do they who are watching the lives of those who are entering hard into
the Kingdom realm of God, entreat them that they will return; that they will
again be unto them as they once were. When an apprehended one has entered into this experience, he
has counted all things but loss, and suffered the loss of all things, that he
might WIN CHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM. Truly,
HIS DRAWING leaves us no choice but to FOLLOW ON that we might KNOW HIM in all
His glorious and eternal reality! “He
that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that
loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is
not worthy of me” (Mat. 10:37-38).
As we follow on to enter into the righteousness, power and glory of the
Kingdom of God, earth and friends and religious things fade away in the
exceeding brightness of our vision of God’s great purpose in us.
Our eyes are fixed with a steadfast gaze upon Him who has gone before us,
opening up the way into the fuller glory that lies BEYOND THE VEIL.
Those apprehended to be
conformed to the image of the Son of God and to share the glory and authority of
His Kingdom, have been caught away in the Spirit and set in the ranks of the
chariots of the Lord, even among the company of the overcomers who shall
come forth in the name of the Lord to rule and reign and conquer and bless until
all things have been subjected unto God. The
purpose of the Church is to form the
body of Christ; the purpose of the Kingdom is to restore all things, in heaven and in earth, to God.
I mentioned earlier that the purpose of the new birth is to give us the
life of God which is the life of the Kingdom of Heaven. As this life is perfected and raised up in us, the Kingdom of
God is established within us by life and as life.
There are very special dealings of God within each of us in relation to
the development of that life. Our
elder brother, Jesus, put it this way: “I am the true vine, and my Father is
the husbandman. Every branch in me
that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He
purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (Jn. 15:1-2).
Every branch that beareth fruit — He purges
it! The purpose of purging, or
pruning, is to effect a concentration of the life.
When all the branches of the vine are permitted to grow unrestricted
there is a resulting debilitating or weakening of the life.
It is like diluting a chemical — the
more water you add, the weaker it becomes.
The nourishment and vitality of the vine are sapped by all the
multitudinous branches, shoots and tendrils, and utilized to keep them alive and
bearing abundance of foliage rather than being channeled into producing fruit.
Thus, with the excess branches and shoots cut away, the life becomes more
concentrated and stronger in those remaining, and the clusters of grapes become
more rich and full. In like manner
it is necessary that our natural tendencies, actions and desires, with all
carnal religious activities and exercises, must be cut away, that the virtues
and powers of our Lord be wrought and manifested
in us. When Jesus speaks of
“bearing fruit” He is not talking about “winning souls”;
rather, He is speaking of the formation within our lives of the
fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness,
goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. All
these are the underlying nature of the sons of God who reign in the Kingdom of
It has been my experience that God not only prunes away the sins of the
flesh and the emotions and tendencies of the soul, but a great deal of
religiousness — religious activities and those involved in them — as
well. There was a time years ago
when we made the circuit, speaking for the Full Gospel Business Men’s
Fellowship and various organizations and movements within the Pentecostal and
Charismatic realms. Our desire was
pure — to
share the present truth of sonship and the Kingdom of God — to
inspire and bless and challenge any and all possible to the deeper life of the
Christ within. Here and there we
found an elect few who had ears to hear, but for the most part it became evident
that we were “spinning our wheels.” Then,
one day it dawned on me! Our word
was not producing fruit in those
places. Oh, they were delighted to
have brother Eby come by and share his testimony, even minister a revelatory
word, and prophesy over some people, with the laying on of hands, momentarily
satiating the intense craving in a few hearts for a richer diet of spiritual
fare. But after I left, nothing
changed! There was no fruit.
There was no heightened vision, no going on
in God, no raising up of the Kingdom of Heaven within.
These merely took the word we ministered, diluted it with their own
shallow church program, and used it to further their own kingdom on a lower
plane. Ah, they enjoyed drawing life from us so long as it didn’t
require them to bear Kingdom fruit! As
long as our ministry could be used to
increase their branches and put on many beautiful leaves — the
manifestation of life without fruit — we were welcome in
their midst. But what they were
doing was “sapping” the life out of us to enhance and embellish and
strengthen their own babylonish system! Suddenly
the voice of the Spirit thundered authoritatively in my ear,
“Enough!” And the celestial
husbandman did a pruning work. He
pruned from my life a RELIGIOUS REALM that will draw life but will not bear
fruit of that life. God does,
indeed, prune people from us! “Every
branch in me that beareth not fruit He TAKETH AWAY: and every branch that
beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
The doom of the unfruitful is: They are TAKEN AWAY.
There are multitudes today who loudly profess to be in Christ who yet do
not bear fruit of the Christ life. Though
they are branches of Christ, and His life in them produces abundance of foliage,
God will cut off their life-supply that they may be seen to be dry ones.
Those called to this high calling, who shall rule and reign with Christ
in His Kingdom in this great Day of the Lord, are being separated from all that
binds them to a lower order, that they may enter into the fullness of His life.
Many people find it a lot easier to be one
with the babylonish religious systems, where the crowds are, than to become
separated to go out beyond, leading
the way for others to follow. How I
rejoice that God is now calling a people — sons of the Kingdom — separated ones —
a realm beyond the norm or religious activity, beyond the programs and
promotions, beyond the sensationalism and hand-clapping, beyond the revivals and
conventions and seminars, into the new and seemingly strange paths of
HIS LEADING. The prunings are not easy, friends and loved ones and
brethren do not readily understand, especially the preachers and organizations
set upon holding you within their pews and coffers.
I do not doubt for one moment that many of these programs are being used
of God on some level, in spite of the worldly methods and fleshly techniques, to
touch many lives with salvation, healings, and blessings.
We are thankful to our heavenly Father
for His blessing on every plane where He chooses to work, but when the
call comes to leave behind the outer court of salvation and the holy place of
the baptism in the Spirit in order to ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD, those
called to be kings and priests unto
God come aside to prepare for the glory soon to be revealed, to make ready for
the next great move of God in the earth!
The message is clear — there are things that others can do, but which you cannot
do, when you begin to enter into the
Kingdom. Religion today has become
big business. It is one of the
biggest and most lucrative businesses in the whole world.
More than one preacher, supposing that gain is godliness, has
become a millionaire over the past few decades, not because he was anointed by
God, but because he was a TERRIFIC PROMOTER.
Through clever speech and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to
deceive they have beguiled innocent people, pretending that they were the great
power of God. By craftiness they
obtain the names of tens of thousands of the Lord’s precious people to whom
they monthly send their high-pressure pleas for financial help to further
grandiose programs which are not the plan of God at all, but merely the product
of an imaginative, scheming, grasping and greedy mind. Untold millions of dollars have been extracted from innocent,
humble saints to build huge cathedrals, church buildings, office complexes,
radio and television networks, outreaches, and missionary programs that are more
of a curse than a blessing. Some
time ago David Wilkerson was asked, “What do you think about American
religious broadcasting, especially Christian television?” His reply: “They should shut it down. Turn off all the cameras.
Release all these men from all the pressures we have put them under.
They should be stripped from their heroic robes, all of their glamour,
and be taken outside from all the lights. Then
they should go back to the ‘mountain’ and be broken before God.
Let God bring them back, as He chooses, in a purified form.
It’s all become flesh, absolute flesh...”
And though some will be offended by my words, I do believe that those who
truly hunger and thirst to enter the
Kingdom will hear, believe, and obey when I say that those who feed
upon those polluted tables are no better than the preachers that spread the
tables! If you want to hear the
voice of the King of kings in this hour, turn
off the so-called Christian television, and fall upon your knees in holy
brokenness before God until you receive a word directly out of the heavens.
We have passed through a time of great darkness.
But thank God, the first rays of light of a new day are painting the
eastern sky! Thank God, a few of
His chosen ones have arisen to behold the glories of the dawn and to drink in
the intoxicating freshness of the morn. But
the popular churches are still lost in dreams.
They have not awakened. They
know not of the dawn. And the Word
describes them and their shepherds in very uncomplimentary terms.
The heads of the churches are called “the drunkards of Ephraim” (Isa.
28:1-4). Then in Isaiah 29:9-11 we
are told, “they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with
strong drink. For the Lord hath
poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the
prophets and your heads...hath He covered.
And all vision hath become unto you as the words of a book that is
sealed.” And when these drunken
shepherds spread tables for their flocks, instead of those tables being loaded
with good wholesome spiritual food, the prophet says, “ALL tables are full of
vomit and filthiness, so that there is NO PLACE CLEAN” (Isa. 28:8).
But we who are of the Day, who are not lovers of the drunkenness of
religious teachings and promotions, nor sleepers of the night, have a higher
heritage. “We are not of the
night, nor of darkness. Therefore
let us not sleep as do others” (I Thes. 5:5-6).
We who have received the love of the truth are heirs to a higher calling.
We have privileges, and we have duties to perform.
We must be about our Father’s business.
It is time to forsake the shame and error, and time to look up, time to
arise and shine. The day is at
hand. The night is far spent.
We must go forth and lead the way for all who will follow.
“Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful
garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come
into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” (Isa. 52:1).
Because the church today has not received of God’s enlightenment, we
find Christians in the pathetic state of darkness.
Because Christians today, whether baptized in God’s Spirit, or not,
have stopped far short of God’s fullness, and are still spiritual babes, they,
with few exceptions, do not discern the things that pertain to the Kingdom of
God. Their human minds comprehend
the natural side of things, but deep
spiritual realities are veiled from their view.
They have not arisen above the mists of night. But the Day which we have now entered calls for all who will
to awake, and to go forth, beholding the more glorious scene of an abundant
entrance into the Kingdom of God.
Do you know that one reason God’s children do not hunger and thirst
after righteousness and follow on to apprehend the Kingdom of God, is because
they have not taken the steps that went before?
With the things of God, there is a progression just as there is in any
school; and if we do not take the first steps, we shall not take the last steps.
Every lesson we skip or neglect, we shall have to go back and learn
before we shall be able to go on; for every advance step is a foundation for the
next advance step. The reason that
many of God’s children have never advanced into higher realms in the Spirit is
because they have not taken the steps as they came to them.
They have not perfectly endured or appropriated that which God called
them to pass through, in order that they might reach this place of perfection
and glory and power in Him. Some of
God’s people try to leap into the full strength and dominion of the Kingdom in
one grand leap; but if they have this experience granted them, it is only when
they have taken the first steps of enlightenment, understanding, cleansing, pruning, judgment,
obedience, and overcoming. Ah,
the way of entering the Kingdom is by
There is a passage in Daniel 7:18 that says, “But the saints of the
Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for
ever and ever.” Here it says that
we shall take the Kingdom, and
sometimes we think this means that we are to take the Kingdom by exercising the
authority; but before we can do that, the Kingdom must first be given to us, we
must be able to enter into it, strong enough to possess it, and worthy to
inherit it. If we try to take it
before the authority is given to us, we are usurpers, not inheritors, and are
guilty of spiritual treason. If I
tell you that I intend to give you my car, but you come and take it before I
give it to you, you are a thief. If
you worked for a large business concern and the president of the company
mentioned that he had intentions of making you vice-president; if you took over
the vice-presidency before he actually gave it to you, you would be a usurper —
probably would be fired! Although
God has promised us the Kingdom, and is leading us into it step by step, we
still do not have all the authority, power, or glory of the Kingdom.
Sometimes we try to exercise authority that we don’t have and it
doesn’t work. Some may be
offended at me for saying this, but if you are honest, you will have to admit
that it is so. When we really have
the authority, when it has been given to us, and we have laid hold upon it, it
will work, not just sometimes, but all the time.
Either we have it or we don’t, and if we have it it will never fail.
May God in His great mercy forgive us if we are trying to usurp something
we haven’t yet possessed. I
don’t want to be a usurper — I want to be an inheritor! My deepest desire is to be counted worthy of the Kingdom of
TO ENTERING THE KINGDOM
A new movement can always benefit from having a few rich and famous
converts. So it must have been
exciting when the rich young ruler approached Jesus to talk about his possible
involvement in the Kingdom. No
doubt Judas already had his pledge envelopes out, and I can just hear Simon
Peter exclaiming, “Wow, this guy is future board-member material!”
At the beginning of His ministry Jesus had said, “Lay not up for
yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where
thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through
and steal” (Mat. 6:19-20). On
another occasion He said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter
into the kingdom of God!” The
record states that the disciples were astonished at His words.
But Jesus answered again, and said unto them, “Children, how hard is it
for them that trust in riches to enter
into the kingdom of God! It is
easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter
into the kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:23-25).
Don’t misunderstand — Jesus was not opposed to money. His mind of omniscient wisdom understood the eternal truth
that a person could hold on to wealth all the days of his life, but the only
true and eternal treasures, which are in the Kingdom of Heaven, could only be
obtained by doing the will of the Father in heaven.
The will of the Father is Kingdom business, and it yields Kingdom
dividends in the realm of the spirit. So
be careful, Jesus warned. Don’t
get involved in the wrong treasure hunt. He knew that people get obsessed with earthly things. After a
while little else matters to them, or, as Jesus put it, “Where your treasure
is, there will your heart be also.” It
is true that Jesus says merely that it is hard
for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom — hard, but not
impossible! Wealth tends to
make a man self-sufficient and independent of God and arrogant and presumptuous
towards others in that he learns that money will purchase him any special
privilege he wants. He becomes
trapped in a mesh of values where everything has a cash-value attached to it.
“No man can serve two masters,” Jesus said, “you cannot serve God
and mammon (money).”
It is so very difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom because the
Kingdom of Heaven is THE REALM OF THE SPIRIT.
The Kingdom operates within the economy of spirit,
not the methods and systems of the flesh. To
enter into the Kingdom a person must allow God to perfect the spiritual
dimensions of his personality. The
perfecting of the spiritual life requires the utmost attention and the
expenditure of much time and
energy. The heart and the
determination must be turned from the things and circumstances of earth and
placed in heaven. Material wealth,
with its attending demands and responsibilities, also requires the utmost
attention and expenditure of prime time and energy.
Therefore, either the spiritual life of the Kingdom must prevail and the
pursuit of material gain must
yield, or else the pursuit of material things must prevail and the development
of the spiritual life of the Kingdom must suffer.
NO man can serve both of these
masters at the same time. The
wealthy person often finds most of his pleasures and
resources in the material realm. To
enter the Kingdom of Heaven is, for the rich, very, very difficult.
To make the seeking of the Kingdom the prime consideration of each day is
virtually impossible. That is why
the Lord counseled the rich young ruler to sell his many possessions, give the
proceeds to the poor, and to “take up your cross and follow
Just recently I came across this article.
Hear what it says. “In 1928, a group of the world’s most successful
financiers met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.
The following were present: the president of the largest utility company;
the greatest wheat speculator; the president of the New York Stock Exchange;
a member of the President’s Cabinet; the greatest ‘bear’ on Wall
Street; the president of the Bank of International Settlements; and the head of
the world’s greatest monopoly. Collectively,
these tycoons controlled more wealth than there was in the United States
Treasury. And for years, newspapers
and magazines had been printing their stories, and urging the youth of the
nation to follow their examples. TWENTY-FIVE
YEARS LATER, THIS IS WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO THESE MEN: The president of the
largest independent steel company, Charles Schwab, lived on borrowed money the
last five years of his life and died broke.
The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten, died abroad, insolvent.
The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, served a
term in Sing Sing Prison. The
member of the President’s Cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from prison, so
he could die at home. The greatest
‘bear’ on Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, committed suicide.
The President of the Bank of International Settlements, Leon Fraser,
committed suicide. The head of the
world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar Drueger, committed suicide. All of these men had learned how to make money, but not one
of them had learned how to live.”
And, may I add, not one of them had laid up even one copper cent of
treasure in the heavenlies!
Our Lord’s only concern for the rich young ruler was that this ruler
seek for those things that were truly valuable, the priceless
treasures of the mind of Christ, the eternal
wealth of the will of the Father, and the imperishable riches of the nature and power of God.
Still this disciple-candidate was unable to act on what he heard.
The Bible says he was sorrowful. Think
about that! The dictionary defines sorrowful as, “full of sorrow, disappointment, regret, grief.”
Why was the young man sorrowful? Ah,
the record states, “For he had great possessions.”
By the spirit of wisdom and understanding from God we can see how
undiscerning and unwise he was!
Yet, among the Lord’s people I have heard it said that if we really
focus our energies on the Kingdom, we will become rich.
Or another way of saying it is that prosperity
is a sign of God’s blessing. The
more affluent a brother or sister in Christ is, the more they must be seeking
the Kingdom or applying the principles of the Kingdom.
The reasoning goes like this: God has promised that He will bless His
children if they are faithful to Him and have faith.
Since kings live in extravagant palaces, sons of God have the right to
live luxuriously to demonstrate that they are indeed the “King’s Kids” —
of God’s Royal Court. Children of
a king should dress and eat in royal fashion.
They should have the best jobs, live in the finest homes, drive
the most expensive cars, and enjoy all the amenities of life.
Just follow Jesus, we are told, and we will be successful in almost
everything. Just walk in the Spirit
and we will rise to the top of the ladder.
Have faith in God and we will win more beauty contests, hit more home
runs, make more sales, and receive more awards!
My beloved brethren, does this not contradict
the words of our Elder Brother and Forerunner that a rich man can hardly
enter into the Kingdom of God? Have
these reprobates in the modern “prosperity message” never read the inspired
admonition of our beloved brother Paul, “If any man teach otherwise, and
consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to
the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but
doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife,
railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and
destitute of the truth, supposing that
gain is godliness: FROM SUCH WITHDRAW THYSELF.
But godliness with contentment is
great gain. For we brought
nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But they that will be rich
fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which
drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted
after, they have erred from the faith,
and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee
these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience,
meekness. Fight the good fight
of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art called...” (I Tim.
Oh, would to God that all who name the name of Christ would learn what it
means when Jesus says, “Seek ye first
the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
As we move from “things” to seek the reality of Christ’s Kingdom we
discover that our goal in life is not to make money or accumulate things.
If that is our goal, then we need to set our priorities straight.
You see, in the world within,
that world which you are, that world
where Christ dwells, that inner world
where the Kingdom of God is found,
there is no money and there are no things.
There is no need for money and there is no need for things. The only need for money and things is in the world on the
outside. But if we go out and try
to seek that which is on the outside, then we have left the Kingdom.
If we love the world, the love of the Kingdom is not in us.
The Kingdom of God is within you. The
world of the Kingdom is that inner world of the spirit.
There are two dimensions of “you” — the outer you and
the inner you. Paul refers to these
as the “outward man” and the “inward man”.
“Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by
day” (II Cor. 4:16). The outward
man is the visible, tangible and fleshly life of you.
The inward man is the invisible man of spirit. The former is of earth, natural, carnal, and mortal; the
latter is of heaven, divine, spiritual and immortal.
The former is the first Adam, the latter is the last Adam — Christ.
Within that inward man is the power of all things.
The law of the Kingdom is that he who makes the Kingdom of God and the
righteousness of God his first and chief concern will have all earthly
necessities supplied in the overflow.
Care for God’s essentials, and God Himself will care for your
incidentals. First seek the bread
of heaven, the water of life, the robe of righteousness, and the peace, joy and
power of the Kingdom, and the Lord of the Kingdom will see to it that you shall
not lack earthly bread, water, raiment, or any good thing.
All our choices in the outer world should serve to extend, express and
demonstrate the reality of what we are in the inner world.
When we choose a job or any activity, we don’t choose on the basis of
its value in the outer world, we choose that which will serve as an expression
of the inner man. That’s where
peace is. That’s where joy is.
That’s where righteousness is. That’s
where the power of God resides. That’s
where the only fulfillment is. Because
that is where the Kingdom is, that’s where life is, that’s where reality is,
that’s where the true riches are, that’s where heaven is!
So many people work on their jobs just to make money, to pay bills and
put food on the table. They don’t
really like the job, and are
miserable. That is what the outer
world calls “making a living”. But
making a living is more than making
money, for all the men in that outer world are dying,
and what they are actually doing is MAKING A DEATH!
Their emphasis is on laying up store for old age, making out the will,
and seeing that the funeral is paid for. That
is not life! The Lord of the
Kingdom has taught us the truth of the Kingdom in this sublime word of wisdom:
“A man’s life consisteth not in
the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15).
To make a living means, first and foremost, to LIVE!
It’s making what you are live!
It denotes quality of life, and the only life of quality is the inward
man — Christ. You
will know true joy, peace and power when your inward man lives through your
outward man, your inner world is expressed and revealed through your outer
world. Matters not what you do
outwardly, where you live, what your vocation is, what your responsibilities are
your inward life is dominant all outer things are affected, transformed,
swallowed up. As sons of God we are
not victims of either money, things, or circumstances. These are not able to take away our peace.
They are unable to rob us of our joy.
They cannot take our life. The
Christ within is our reality, our stability, our substance, our all.
And that is what we are seeking. We
are seeking incorruptible and immortal realities and powers.
We are seeking the Kingdom of God. And
that is why a rich man can hardly enter
into the Kingdom!
While I have written of the perilous danger to those who pursue the
wealth of this world, there is an
abomination more dreadful than this right within the ministry of that which
professes to be the Church. There
is no shortage of men and women seeking gold and glory in the name of the Lord. The land is overflowing with them, those seeking their own
gain and each staking his own claim. Within
the past decade or so, two of the most famous international television
pulpiteers have been exposed and their vast financial holdings have been
publicized. They had millions of
dollars invested in their personal homes and property while they begged and pled
for money from the widows and the poor. They
lived sumptuously while multitudes of those who supported their grandiose
programs were living as paupers. And
things have not changed one whit. Where
are those who are true ministers of God and blessers of creation rather than
those who gather money? Where are
those who are building God’s Kingdom rather than their own?
Where are those who truly feed the sheep?
Where are those who are not lifted up with pride?
Where are those who are not puffed up with their own importance? Where are those who do not exalt themselves?
Where is the preacher who doesn’t seek to ingratiate himself to the one
with the expensive clothes and the luxury automobile?
Where is the weeping before the altar?
Where are those who refrain from using the world’s methods to conduct
God’s business? Where are those
who do not charge for the gospel, even if it is only a price on their tapes or
books? Where are those who do not
have a ministry for sale? Where are
those who have not taken unto themselves the gold and the glory?
Where are those who are not displaying flesh in their man-made schemes and promotions?
Where are those of a broken and contrite spirit?
Where are those with the meekness and purity of the Lamb?
Where are those who have not brought the spirit of the world into their
midst? Where are those who do not
put their picture on every page of their magazine and their name on everything
they do? Where is the beauty and
glory of the message of the Kingdom of God without the Hollywood extravaganza
and showmanship? Where is the
worship in the beauty of holiness, in spirit and in truth, rather than musical entertainment? Where
are those who approach God with reverence and godly fear and do not treat the
sacred things as though they were part of a carnival?
Where are those who have laid hold of God?
Where are the humble? Where
are the pure in heart? Where are
those who are being conformed to the image of the Son?
Where are those who are putting on the mind of Christ?
Where are the prayer warriors and the intercessors?
Where are those who love and treat the poor, the elderly, the senile, the
maimed, the feeble minded, the illiterate, the sick, the homeless,
the diseased, the widow and the orphan, and those in prison as their own
flesh, yea, as the Lamb of God Himself? Where
are those who proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom without the slightest motive of
financial reward? WHERE ARE GOD’S
TRUE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE HOUR? Of
this you can be certain — these will not be found within the halls of the harlot
religious systems, nor will you see them on the Christian television networks.
You will find them only among God’s faithful remnant that has heard the
Spirit’s call to come out of that great city Babylon and, forsaking all, have
gone unto Him, without the Camp, bearing His reproach, separated unto Him alone.
No one can deny that religion today is BIG BUSINESS.
Some of the best known “born again” Hollywood personalities, should
you inquire about engaging them to give their testimony at a meeting, will send
their business manager over with a contract guaranteeing them several thousands
of dollars for their forty-five minute appearance; and if there is no contract,
there is no “ministry”. This is
not ministry — it is BIG BUSINESS. And
the Judge standeth at the door. The
local Christian Bookstore has become quite a showcase for what is called
“Christian bric-a-brac”. They
are crammed full of every imaginable trinket, plaque, statue, poster, and
artifact that they can sell with a religious flavor. Christian music albums now cost $8.00 to $12.00 apiece.
The country is swarming with those who call themselves Christian
speakers, musicians, bands and singers who CHARGE an admission fee to their
seminars and concerts. Verily, I
say unto you, the ticket prices are an abomination and a stench in the nostrils
of a holy God and a spike in the hand of our dear Saviour who freely and
sacrificially gave His all for us and to us.
There is no Biblical or scriptural foundation or precedent whatsoever for
SELLING THE WORD OF GOD — be
it a Bible, a music album, a sermon, book, tape, trinket, concert, seminar or
any other thing. It was just such
abominations that led the firstborn Son of God to enter the temple in Jerusalem
and, weaving a whip of cords, violently drive the money changers and those who
bought and sold sacrifices from His Father’s house. Methinks it is TEMPLE-CLEANSING TIME AGAIN!
The only person who can enter the Kingdom realm of God is the one who
elects to come on God’s terms and in God’s way.
The word of God reveals hindrances to
entrance into the Kingdom. Another
obstacle to entering into the Kingdom is the noxious weed of fleshly religion.
When Jesus spoke to the self-righteous Pharisees and the blind,
mis-guided chief priests and elders of the Jews, He delivered to them this
stinging rebuke. “Verily I say
unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go
into the kingdom of God before you. For
John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the
publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented
not afterward, that ye might believe him. Woe
unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut
up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in”
(Mat. 21:31-32; 23:13).
The damning sin of the Pharisees was that they made godliness a law
rather than a life. “Moses said!”
they thundered from their station high upon the craggy pinnacle of Sinai, and
proceeded to lay upon the people the heavy burden of 613 commandments that must
be meticulously kept according to the elaborate and extrapolated interpretations
of the rabbis. I must point out
that self-righteous religion is as old
as the garden of Eden. In the mists
of that heaven blest paradise, when the first woman and man stretched forth
their inquisitive hands and furtively took of the forbidden fruit of the
knowledge of good and evil, the eyes
of them both were mysteriously opened to discover their own nakedness. To be naked means to have ones flesh exposed. Only the
knowledge of good and evil could have caused them to realize that their flesh
was exposed, and that knowledge never came to them as long as they walked in life.
It was, in fact, a forbidden knowledge.
There were only two trees — the tree of life
and the tree of law — the knowledge
of good and evil. God’s
purpose for man is that he live in life, not after law.
The law came by Moses, but grace and truth (life) came by Jesus Christ.
By means of the law “the eyes of them both were opened,” but, alas!
to what a sight! When they departed
from walking in life it was only to discover their own nakedness. They opened their eyes upon their own condition, which was
“wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).
By the law is the knowledge of sin, the scripture teaches us.
Suddenly “they knew that they were naked” — they knew that
their flesh, their fleshly nature, was
now revealed, bare and exposed — sad fruit of the tree of
knowledge. No sooner does a man
discover his nakedness than this knowledge gives rise to the impulse to make an
effort to COVER the nakedness. Thus,
in the case of Adam and Eve, the discovery of their nakedness was immediately
followed by an effort of their own to cover it — “they
sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons” (Gen. 3:7).
This is the first record we have of man’s attempt to remedy, by his own
device, his condition, but this was not the single act of Adam in the Garden, it
is truly the act of each of us, yes, OUR VERY OWN!
The Spirit must make it very real to your heart, dear reader, that
Adam’s effort to cover his nakedness was not a mere physical act, not even a
moral act, it was a RELIGIOUS ACT. Our
spiritual understanding of what transpired in that Eden of long ago will afford
us wonderful instruction as to the character of human RELIGIOUSNESS in all ages.
In the first place, we see, not only in Adam’s case, but in every case,
that man’s effort to remedy his flesh nature is
based upon the sense of his nakedness.
He is shocked and shamed by his own sense of nakedness, so that all the
“works” that follow are the result of this consciousness.
This can never avail! For
just as it was GOD who clothed man with life
before his disobedience, now it must be GOD who clothes the man in his state of
And this, let every man know, is just the difference between the walk in
the Spirit of God and human religiousness.
When you “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and “walk in the Spirit”
you are wonderfully clothed thereby as you eat of the tree of His Life. There was no sense of nakedness so long as they lived by the
tree of life. And though it is a
great and deep mystery, what happened to Adam happens to us. What he was we have been.
His experience is our experience. Ah,
child of God, may the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God give
enlightenment to your mind that you may comprehend of a truth that what happened
to Adam in the Garden IS EVEN NOW HAPPENING TO EACH OF US.
Every man from Adam to this day has been naked — his fleshly nature has been exposed — and,
at some time, in some manner, has been busily engaged in weaving together his
very own fig-leaf apron to try and cover his nakedness.
No one wants to appear as what he is, even though he is a thief, an
adulterer, a murderer, a liar, or a religious hypocrite.
In an effort to appear other than he is he sews together very wide leaves
of the fig tree, to gloss over his true condition; that is, he tries every
device he can, including multiplied religious works, rules, regulations, dress
codes, good deeds, and a thousand others, to gloss over his true condition. Much fleshliness is still exposed, but the more gross
manifestations are partially and temporarily concealed by his apron of fig-leaf
works. But all the garments a man
may devise to hide his nakedness become mere “spider’s webs” when the
blazing light of God’s presence and glory shines upon them. Fig-leaf
righteousness is so shallow, limited to outward observances, religious
exercises, ceremonies, rituals, appearances, works, regulations, do this,
don’t do that, go here, don’t go there, eat this, don’t eat that, drink
this, don’t drink that, which make a show of righteousness in the flesh but
leave the nature unchanged, the mind untransformed,
and the will of the Father undone.
The miracle of what God has done through Jesus Christ ravishes my heart.
I am enthralled beyond measure that by faith He has clothed me with the
robe of Christ’s righteousness. The
first thing God does is to strip away all the artificial, man-made coverings,
and presents His own glorious covering, the slain Lamb.
“For Adam also and for his wife the Lord God made long coats (tunics)
of skins, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21, Amplified).
We would be hard pressed to understand the deep mystery of these
“skins” with which the Lord clothed the sorrowing pair were it not that the
scripture informs us that at that precise
point in history GOD SLEW A LAMB FOR OUR COVERING.
Christ, the Lamb of God, was “foreordained before
the foundation (disruption) of the world” (I Pet. 1:20), and He is “the Lamb
slain from the foundation (disruption)
of the world” (Rev. 13:8). And
that Lamb is the atonement (Hebrew: covering) of God for us, typified by all the
Old Testament atonement sacrifices, and He
is our only robe of righteousness. Interesting
that the Lamb was slain not merely for the sinning
man and woman, and not only for the naked
man and woman, but for the man and woman CLOTHED IN FIG LEAVES!
The “skins” of covering from the Lamb were given to replace the fig
leaves of man’s self-effort, and not only was the man himself brought to the
cross, but all his self-made religion of works as well!
Ah, yes, the cross shall deal not only with sin and nakedness, it shall
deal as well with our fig-leaves!
How vain have been our strivings about externals and our insistence upon
carnal technicalities that we in ignorance deemed so very important!
How often the spirit within me has been grieved as I have listened to
brethren wasting their time contending over baptisms, communion, foot washing,
meats and drinks, holy days, dress codes, long hair, short hair, women
preachers, prayer veils, and petty doctrines of every kind, and when they were
through with their pietistic wrangling, they had accomplished nothing but to
prove that they knew everything about the dead
letter of the Word and absolutely nothing about the
mind of Christ or the life-giving
Spirit! Men do not need any
external ordinances, ceremonies, rituals or regulations.
They need CHRIST AS LIFE! It
was not the gospel, but the Old Covenant “which stood in meats and drinks, and
divers washings (baptisms), and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until
the time of reformation (change). But
Christ being come an high priest of good
things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with
hands (not anything you can produce externally)...” (Heb. 9:10-11).
Fig leaves! Fig leaves!
Fig leaves! Cursed covering
of man’s own devising! And any
man with eyes to see can see the flesh shining brazenly through it in spite of
all the intricate design and superficial appearance of life.
Oh! how men try to conceal the corrupt flesh underneath, and indeed they
may partially hide it from men, but the fig-leaf apron can never screen a man
from the eye of God. But, blessed
be the name of the Lord, God has reserved to Himself a people who is completely
different, a people who is wholly HIS, a people who dwells in the light which
Christ Himself is, elect according to the foreknowledge of God, sanctified by
His Spirit, obedient to their heavenly Father, and clothed in the GARMENTS OF
LIFE, even the righteousness of God’s Lamb by the Spirit of resurrection from
the dead. There is no doubt in my
mind that this is the people that shall be granted an ABUNDANT ENTRANCE into the
everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
To be continued...
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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