Kindgdom Bible Studies Kingdom of God Part 25


"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."



Part 25 



            Before beginning this Study it would be beneficial to each reader to refer to the previous Study, or your Bible, and rehearse our background scripture, Matthew chapter eighteen, verses one through fourteen. 

            The subject of this wonderful passage of scripture is: WHO IS THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?  There are two characters in the divine drama.  You find these two all the way through this teaching of Jesus.  The two characters are directly involved in the answer to the question, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”  Of these characters one is a child, the other a man.  The child is the greatest in the Kingdom.  The man is so offensive that he ought to be drowned in the sea.  These are the two characters the child, and the man. 


            Both of these characters reside in you and in me.  The man who is so offensive and despicable that he ought to be drowned you look at that man every morning in the mirror.  He is the natural man, the soulish man, the outward man, and the carnal-minded man.  This man is hostile to the spirit and offensive to the little child of the Kingdom.  This man is self-centered.  The characteristics of his nature are self-indulgence, self-appreciation, self-love, self-motivation, self-defense, and self-preservation.  The soul is self, and self is the soul.  The soul is man’s personality apart from the spirit.  Soul and body in union constitute the flesh.  Therefore, this man is the earthy, fleshly man.  You can look this man in the eye across the table or in the mirror.  You need not look in the mirror, however, to meet the little child who is the greatest in the Kingdom.  This child cannot be seen with the natural eye.  You must look deeper, into the deepest part of your being; past the body, and inward past the soul, into the very spirit itself there you will find the child of the Kingdom, the inner son, Christ  in you.  The little child is the spiritual man having the mind of Christ and bearing the image of God.


            In this Study we take up at verse five.  “And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me” (Mat. 18:5).  What a tremendous statement that is!  If you receive even one person who has that child-like relationship with the Father, you receive the Lord Christ Himself.  And we know that  when we receive Christ we also receive the Father.  Luke’s Gospel says it this way: “Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth Him that sent me” (Lk. 9:48).  It should be obvious to any who meditate upon these words that when one receives Christ he receives the Father, for the Father is in the Son.  In like manner, when one receives the little child he receives both Christ and the Father. 


            Someone says, “Well, I don’t know that I know a little child like that whom I can receive in that way, so that I receive both the Father and the Son simply by receiving him.”  Let me put in a way where you can grasp the eternal truth of it.  When you become that little child, the Father and the Son dwell in you.  And when you make yourself available in this world as the temple of God, as a vessel through whom the anointing and the wisdom and the life and the power and the glory of God flow when you make yourself available on that level as a king-priest let me assure you, precious friend of mine, there are vast multitudes of people that will hasten with expectation to drink from that fountain which you are.  They will receive you and drink from you when you come as that little child that is greatest in the Kingdom with a flow of Life, Light and Love; and receiving you and drinking of you they partake of both the Father and the Son who are in you.  The little child is the ultimate conduit for the life of God to flow out into creation.  The one through whom God flows unreservedly and unconditionally is the person who is the greatest in the Kingdom! 


            In Matthew chapter twenty-five there is that wonderful teaching of Jesus about the nations being divided as sheep and goats at His right hand and His left.  Of the sheep it is said that the Lord was hungry, and they gave Him meat; He was thirsty, and they gave Him drink; He was a stranger, and they took Him in; He was naked, and they clothed Him; He was sick, and they visited Him, and in prison, and they came unto Him.  The goats, of course, failed to do any of these things.  The sheep asked, “When did we see you and do any of these things unto you?”  Then the Lord answers them, saying, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  Through many years I have heard a great many sermons on this passage of scripture especially missionary and fund-raising sermons!  We have been told of the starving children in India, the impoverished masses in Africa, the drunk in the gutter, the homeless on the streets, the orphans, the run-aways, the drug addicts, the prisoners and the sick and dying in the hospitals.  Impassioned pleas have been made for money to support programs to minister to all these people, to help the needy, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, rehabilitate the drunks and addicts, and preach the gospel to the heathen.  And with reference to all these desperately needy ones the scripture has been pressed upon us, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto ME.”  The notion is that if you give a dime to a bum, a dollar to the homeless, a meal to a starving child, or some used clothing to the missionary barrel, you are ministering to Christ Himself.  Let it be thoroughly known and understood by every man and woman who names the name of Christ we ought to do those things!  And more.  That is the gospel in action, and it is certainly the love of God in manifestation.  We are commanded to pray for all men, do good to all men, and bless all men.  None can deny that.  But that’s not what Jesus is talking about!


            The remarkable words of Jesus are, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of one of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  The subject is not the starving in India, the poor in Africa, the drunk in the gutter, or any other sinner in the world.  The subject is the LORD’S BRETHREN.  These brethren of the Lord are members of the Christ-body, kings and priests in His Kingdom, participators in the government of God.  That is the issue.  It’s about how the people of the nations act in respect to the Lord’s brethren, not how Christians act in respect to the needy in the nations!  The preachers, as usual, have it backwards.  “And before Him shall be gathered all NATIONS: and He shall separate them (the nations) one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.”  The nations who respect, assist, bless and minister to the Lord’s brethren in the Kingdom are set at the right hand of the King to receive the blessings and benefits of the Kingdom of God.  Those who hate, mock, resist, persecute or ignore the Lord’s brethren are set at the left hand of the King to receive the purification of judgmental fire.  The way the nations will be dealt with relates precisely to their response to the sons of God, the “least” of His  brethren, the “little child” who though humble, meek, unpresuming, unpretentious, and esteemed as the least of all is, nevertheless, THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD! 


            “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but  woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!” (Mat. 18:6-7).  I would draw your attention to the words, “Woe unto that man.”  Earlier I pointed out that there are only two characters in this teaching of Jesus, the “little child” and “that man.”  Everything is summed up in these two personalities.  Now the Lord explains that whoever shall offend one of these little ones, it would be better for that man to be drowned in the sea.  “Woe unto the world because of offenses...woe unto that man by whom the offense cometh!”  Can we not see by this that the world is that man!  That man is the man of this present world, the natural man, the soulish man, the fleshly man.  He is the man of human reasoning, soulish logic, carnal understanding and worldly wisdom.  And this is the man who offends the little one!


            What does it mean to “offend”?  Have you, dear brother, precious sister, ever been offended?  To the modern mind offend means to speak a word or commit an act that creates resentment, anger, hurt feelings, or bitterness.  If I offend someone, usually I can discern that they are offended by their demeanor, response or actions.  They may have a “hurt” look on their countenance, eyes flashing with anger, bitterness in their words, or coldness in their actions.  Offense is a matter of the feelings, the emotions.  “You stepped on my feelings, you said something I didn’t like, you did something I don’t appreciate, you didn’t do something I expected, and that hurts me I’m offended.”  So I pout, thrust out my bottom lip, put a scowl on my face, and if I see you coming down the street I will cross over to the other side and pretend that I’m window shopping so that you won’t know that I know that you’re passing by.  You see, I’m OFFENDED!  My feelings are hurt, so I throw a pity-party.  But I have news for you, my friend.  When we throw a pity-party, God doesn’t show up.  Nor do the sons of God show up!  The sons of God are not offended after the manner of the natural man.  But that kind of offense is not what Jesus is talking about.  He’s not saying, “But whosoever shall hurt the feelings of one of these little ones, it were better for him that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.”  The ways of God are not petty or trivial.  If you’re the greatest in the Kingdom your feelings are going to be quite stable, in fact.  God is not fickle and those who walk in His nature and bear His image are not fickle, either. 


            The word “offend” is from the Greek SKANDALIZO meaning “to trip, to snare, to cause to stumble, or cause to fall.”  If a man comes to the little one, that child of humility and yieldedness to the Lord, who is guileless, pliable, obedient, and trusting if a man comes and does something so deceitful, so crafty, so drastic, and so detrimental that it trips that little one, snares him, causing him to stumble and fall, turning him aside from his journey into the fullness of God woe unto THAT MAN!  That is the man who is so offensive that he should be drowned in the sea!  And let me say to every one reading these lines that man is not your boss; he is neither your husband nor your ex-husband, your wife nor your ex-wife;  he is not your mother-in-law; he is not your neighbor; he is not your meanest enemy.  No that man is the natural man, the soulish man.  May I say it another way he is your natural man, your fleshly man, your very own carnal mind!  We have found the culprit and he is us!  That man lies within each one of us.  Our own natural reasoning, our own human logic, our own carnal desires, our own will, emotions, ways, plans, hopes, ambitions, and designs point the finger at us, crying, “Thou art the man!”  That is the man who is always seeking to trip, snare, and cause this little one to stumble and fall.  Out of the heart of that man springs the whole world system of things.  Everything in this natural realm is set against the life of the spirit.  The world system moves along lines and upon principles that are contrary and opposed to the mind of Christ and the ways of the Father.  Woe unto THAT MAN!


            Go with me now into that long ago when Jesus walked the dusty trails with His disciples.  He had asked the twelve who they thought He was.  Peter promptly answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!”  Then Jesus said to him, “Peter, flesh and blood did not reveal this unto you, but my Father which is in heaven.”  In other words, “This understanding didn’t come from your fleshly mind.  You didn’t figure this out by yourself, Peter.  You didn’t reach this conclusion by human logic.  This came to you from my Father.”  So remarkable was this revelation to Peter that the Lord said to him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona!”


            Only minutes later Jesus began to introduce to these disciples the subject of His coming suffering and death on the cross.  This was an unsettling and disturbing possibility for these men, for they had all their hopes fastened upon Jesus and all their fortunes invested in Him.  They had forsaken all to follow Him because they were convinced in their heart of hearts that He was indeed the Messiah, the King of Israel.  Was He not the Son of God?  Did not He come to liberate their nation from the yoke of Roman tyranny and establish a great and glorious Kingdom?  Were not they, the disciples, to reign with Him in that Kingdom?  And now their King announces that He is going down to Jerusalem to be despised, hated, mistreated, yea, to suffer and die!  Then Peter, who had just been pronounced blessed, took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, “No way, Lord; that can’t be.  We won’t allow it to be!  We will fight to the death to defend you and see that your mission is accomplished.”  Ah, when Jesus mentioned the cross and dying, Peter began to rebuke Him.  Where did he find the senseless courage that would dare to rebuke the Lord?  The answer is disturbingly evident far, far too clear to be a comfort to any of us!  The Lord Himself gives us the answer, for, He turned and said unto Peter, “Get thee behind me, SATAN!  Thou art an offense unto me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”  What a shocking way to talk to the great apostle Peter, the one possessing the revelation of Christ’s identity, the one called blessed, the one to whom the Lord had just given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven!  Atrocious to say to this man of deep revelation and keen perception, “Thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men!”  Indeed, “Get thee behind me, SATAN!  How unthinkable!


            Hearing Peter’s entreaty to the Lord, which of us would not have said that this was the language of genuine affection, tender solicitude, and loving concern?  No doubt we would have chimed in and said, “How kind!  How true!  How good!  Amen!”  Our carnal mind is no better than Peter’s.  But Jesus replies, “Get thee behind me SATAN!”  And our Lord was not merely on a name calling spree, nor was He retaliating out of hurt feelings or fleshly anger.  He never uttered words in vain, without a definite meaning.  Jesus did not speak merely to Satan in Peter, nor did He say to Peter that His words sounded like the words of Satan.  He didn’t say, “Get thee behind me Satan, because you’re full of devils.”  He didn’t say, “Get thee behind me Satan, because you talk to the dead,” or, “you're and ax-murderer.”  There was no gross sin just this explanation: “Get thee behind me Satan, for thou art an OFFENSE unto me: for (because) thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men!  The problem was that Peter spoke out of his natural man, his soulish man.  He SPOKE AS A MAN!  “Get thee behind me Satan you who think and speak like a man!  Was this not also what James was saying when he described the wisdom of man in these words, “If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.  THIS WISDOM descendeth not from above, but is EARTHLY, SENSUAL and D-E-V-I-L-I-S-H!” (James 3:14-15).


            On the surface there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with what Peter said.  It was a good thought, a kindly thought.  He didn’t want to see his Master suffer and die, and he said so.  What was wrong with that?  Wasn’t that a good sentiment for him to have?  What was wrong with it was that it was the product of Self, it emanated from human sympathy and not from the heart of God.  Anything that proceeds from Self, by the very nature of things, is bound to be opposed to the mind and will of God, for if His thoughts, and His ways, are as far from being like ours as the heavens are above the earth, there can be no compatibility between them at all.  Self and Satan despise and hate the cross.  They will scamper wildly in any direction to avoid it.  They will turn their backs upon it, try to go around it, or climb over it, but they will never embrace it.  The cross is the death knell of Self, and Self is the arch enemy of the cross.  The friendly sympathy and good logic of Self is the cunning mind of the Serpent.  And Self is THAT MAN! 


            Have you ever considered that Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, could be offended?  Do you think that means that Jesus’ feelings were hurt, or that He was greatly disappointed in Peter?  Do you suppose that Jesus went out and threw a pity-party?  Do you think maybe Jesus “snubbed” Peter for a few days?  Isn’t that how people act when they are offended?  But that’s not what it means!  Armed with the understanding that “offend” in the scriptural sense means to trip, snare, stumble, cause to fall or turn aside, how clear it is that Peter was trying to turn Jesus aside from the path Father had marked out for Him.  Peter’s logic would have caused Jesus to stumble and fall from His child-like walk wherein He was completely yielded, one hundred percent pliable, and totally obedient to the Father’s plan and purpose, though it included deep suffering and the agony of the cross.  Peter’s suggestion was of an alternative pathway to the throne, just as the devil had propositioned Jesus in the wilderness.  Peter was Satan, an adversary, whose kind and well-meaning counsel would have aborted the whole redemptive work of the Christ.  Peter was an OFFENSE!


            Each of us faces this same test, and we meet it every day.  The test is just this: Will we do things God’s way, or, do we do them, in the words of the song, “My way.”  God’s will can only be done by the little child.  Our will is done by that man.  That man who does things “his way” deserves to be drowned in the depths of the sea, for he is an offense to the little child who treads the path of the Kingdom.  This is why discernment is so important in the life of a son, and all things, even prophecy, must be judged the spirit of man can even enter into and pollute a prophetic word.  For example, several years ago the Lord spoke to me clearly and powerfully that I should stay home and give myself to writing.  Every year we receive numerous invitations from all parts of the country to speak to various groups, churches, seminars, conventions, etc.  For many years we traveled extensively throughout the United States and abroad.  I love to travel.  I love the body of Christ, and enjoy fellowshipping with, and ministering to, the elect people of God.  And, believe it or not, it would be a lot easier to be on the road than to maintain the schedule we have to keep with the writing ministry.!  The Father requires us to give ourselves personally to answering our mail, and overseeing each of the various operations involved in sending out many thousands of articles and books.  The burden to put into print a number of truths never before penned (by me) or published intensifies within my spirit.  To comply with this vision requires our total and undivided energies.  Heretofore we tried to accommodate the brethren who have pressed us to come and minister at their gatherings, crowding meetings into our already busy schedule.  But on Monday morning we would stumble into our office tired, bleary-eyed, and exhausted to begin another week of ministry to thousands of saints through the written word.  Finally the message penetrated, bringing the deep and clear conviction that we must not accept any further out-of-town speaking engagements, except on those infrequent occasions when Father Himself directs us to go here or there.  We miss seeing many of our precious friends across the country, but the reward expresses itself in a flow of revelation truth from our pen unhindered by conflicting concerns.


            My point is just this.  No sooner had the Spirit of God settled the issue in my heart, when every traveling ministry that passed through El Paso prophesied to me, “Yea, my son, thou shalt travel more than thou hast ever traveled!”  And sometimes they prophesied this to me just before their next Convention!  I am not joking brethren have tried to “prophesy” me to their churches and gatherings.  This is why Paul wrote, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge” (I Cor. 14:29).  All prophecy stands to be judged.  If I tried to do everything people prophesy to me, my life would be total confusion.  One brother said to me once, “Bro. Eby, the Lord  shows me that you’re going to Alaska.”  I replied, “Well, praise God, brother, if I ever go to Alaska, it will be the Lord!”  No offense to our precious brethren in Alaska, it’s a wonderful state  I just don’t like cold weather!  It gives me no joy to find it necessary to say these things, but to my utter grief I find that there are a lot of the Lord’s people running around today, saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” or, “the Lord told me this,” or, “the Lord showed me such and such,” when the Lord has said nothing.  Have you never been in a service where someone stood up and prophesied out of their own mind and heart, out of their own desires or emotion?  Flesh touched the gift of prophecy and perverted it.  The shabbiness and shallowness of modern day prophecy too often stands in the weakness and humanity of that man.  And sometimes it can be an offense, designed to trip, snare, cause to stumble or fall, to turn one’s feet away from the will of God.  Let no one misunderstand me.  We are always open to allow Father to speak to us through writings, ministries, prophecies, or any other avenue, but these must bear witness with our spirit and confirm the stirrings of the Spirit within our hearts.  We cannot alter our course just because someone tells us that God has told them something for us.


            In twenty-seven years of publishing Kingdom Bible Studies, having mailed out, free of charge, well in excess of a million papers and books, we have never solicited funds in any meeting or by mail.  The Lord dealt with us many years ago never to ask for money or even mention any needs, great or small.  And, of course, we have nothing to sell!  We are forbidden by the Holy Spirit to put a price on any word of God, or even to “suggest” the amount of a “free will offering” to cover the costs.  We neither judge nor condemn our brethren who do those things, for every man stands or falls to his own Master, but this has been the dealing of the Lord in our lives.  We have been called upon to trust God completely and explicitly without any manipulation.  The “closet” principle has been tried, tested, and proven in our walk and we have found that it works!  Through these years, though the expenses have been great, we can testify that every bill has been paid each month, and sometimes God blesses with an overflow!  At other times we have had to tighten our belts, but I bear witness that we have never gone hungry or defaulted on a payment.  Great is HIS faithfulness!


            Then the Lord gave us a further word.  He instructed us never to use our mailing list to promote any kind of business proposition.  We could never become involved in any financial venture or multi-level marketing program, and use our brethren who love us and support this ministry, to draw them, because of their confidence in us, into some financial scheme whereby we would profit monetarily.  The word of the Lord was emphatic we could never do such a thing.  It’s not that we could not participate in any business program, it’s just that the Lord has prohibited us from using our brethren or our mailing list to promote it. 


            How many times do you suppose we’ve been tested on that?  I’ve lost count!  Friends have tried to enroll us.  Brethren have pressured us.  And, of course, offers come almost daily in the mail.  Just recently a dear sister sent information about a unique money-making program, and as I scanned it I could immediately perceive the vast potential that it held.  At once the thought presented itself in my mind, “Wow, if I would just send this out to everybody on the mailing list, probably within a year or two I could retire!”  And not only would we have been blessed,  undoubtedly it would have blessed a number of people on our mailing list!  So what could be wrong with that?  As soon as the thought came I had to turn, just as Jesus did to Peter, and rebuke that wily devil “Get thee behind me, Satan: you’re an offense unto me!”  You see, God told us how to finance this ministry by prayer and faith and such ideas and schemes savor not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.  Time and again I have heard the voice of that man!  The thought that I could bless both my brethren and myself was a kindly thought.  It was a good sentiment.  It might even appear to be spiritual.  What was wrong with it was that it was a product of Self, it emanated from human sympathy and greed, not from the heart of God.  Worst of all, it was opposed to the mind of God and contradicted the revealed will of God.  It was an offense!  It was a snare to trip me into disobedience which, simple as it is, could, as with Moses, KEEP ME OUT OF THE PROMISED LAND.  That man was an offense to the Spirit-led little child in me.  Both of these personalities were right there within me!  And they are both in you today, my friend.  The Spirit of God is even now causing some who read these lines to make the application of this feeble illustration in your own life.  You know where the area is that that man is an offense to the little child of the Kingdom.  And you will deal with that man when you clearly understand that he deserves to have a millstone hung about his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea!  The issue is crucial, for that man is an offense to the little child destined to be greatest in the Kingdom of God.


            “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into hell fire.  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Mat. 18:8-9).  For many years I read this passage of scripture and it was a complete enigma to me.  I heard a number of explanations, but none of them spoke to my spirit.  I read what the Commentaries have to say, but that didn’t satisfy. 


            The deepest desire of my heart is to bring the power of the everlasting word of God to bear upon all our lives that we may be able to see with all saints what is the height and depth, and the length and breadth, of the wisdom of God.  Let the word of God not be a dead letter but a quickening spirit that we may be, one and all, conformed to the image of Christ.  The scriptures certainly do not teach or condone self-mutilation.  Can we not see by the spiritual eye that the hands, feet and eyes that offend us are most often the hands, feet and eyes of that man, the natural man, the soulish man within us.  That man with all his self-motivated actions must be severed from us, member by member, if necessary.  I think David Wilkerson hit the nail on the head when he wrote: “It is a rebuke against self-effort.  It’s all about our helplessness!  The Lord is saying, ‘If your hand tries to work out your problem that is, if you’re taking matters into your own hands then stop immediately!  If your feet run around desperately trying to solve your trouble, then stop running!  If your eye looks to something or someone else for help a man or woman who you think may be the answer to your prayer then by all means, stop looking and pluck out that type of thinking immediately!’ 


            “I used to do these very things in Teen Challenge.  A man once donated a house to our ministry, and we sold it to help buy a building in Brooklyn.  About six months later, I was in deep financial trouble we needed about $5,000.  I sat in my office, thinking, ‘Whom shall I call?’  Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, the man’s name appeared, and I thought: ‘He gave us a house worth $55,000!’  I told my associate, ‘Call him on the phone.  We’ll get our $5,000!’  Ten minutes later, my co-worker came back with his head down.  He said, ‘I’ve never been so chewed out in my life.’  Then, instead of getting on my knees, I said, ‘Surely, there’s somebody else who can help.’  I wasn’t praying I was thinking!  Oh, how it hurts God when we keep looking for a person or something else to solve our problems!  We go around with our hands, feet, and eyes searching for answers but God is saying, ‘Cut it out!  Stop it!  It is an offense!  Jesus makes it clear that there are serious consequences when we try to make things happen without relying on Him.  ‘What?’ you say.  ‘Do I have to pray about everything?  Do I have to depend on God for all?’  Yes!  That is the humility of a child!  It means spending the rest of your life saying, ‘It’s better to live totally dependent on the Lord than to be cast into the fire trying to do it on my own!  I see such shrinking back among many today.  They have no faith; they do not abandon themselves to God’s care.  They see themselves as helpless, forsaken, abandoned children.  They have not cast themselves upon the Lord, saying, ‘Yes, I’m helpless but I’m a son of Almighty God!’”   end quote.


            This truth applies as well on another level.  We are all members of the body of Christ.  Just as the body is a unity and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form only one body, so also is Christ.  By one Spirit have we all been baptized into one body.  The body does not consist of one limb or organ but of many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not the hand, I do not belong to the body,” would it be therefore not a part of the body?  If the eye should say, “Because I am not the ear, I do not belong to the body,” would that make it not a part of the body?  God has placed and arranged each of the members in the body as it has pleased Him and with the best adaptation.  Collectively we are Christ’s body and individually we are members of it, each part distinct, each with his own place and function.  Not only are we all the members of Christ, we are also members of one another!  As an individual member of the body, you may serve as my “ear” or my “hand” or my “foot” or something else.


            What I am about to say may sound drastic to some, but let us hear the voice of the Spirit and consider the words of Jesus in the light of the body of Christ.  “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee.  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, or with one eye, than having two to be cast into hell fire.”  Please read these words with all diligence and prayer, that the Holy Spirit may apply its truth as a cleansing purifying soap to cleanse us all as we press our way into the Kingdom of God.  If the present form of the body of Christ is the end of your hope, then you will despise the words I now write.  But if you are of those who cherish a hope in Christ above and beyond the present church order, you will hear and understand by the Spirit and rejoice with exceeding great joy.


            The hand that holds the pen with which I am now writing is not my true hand.  The feet that walk the streets of El Paso are not the feet of which Jesus speaks.  My eyes which beheld with wonder this morning the beauty of the dawn are not the eyes that offend and should be plucked out.  The physical is not the realm where the truth and the power of Jesus’ teaching should be applied.  The true body members of those who believe on Christ are the MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.  Someone is quick to retort, “Now wait a minute, brother Eby, that doesn’t sound right.  Do you mean that if my brother in Christ is a foot, or if my sister is a hand, or if another is an eye, I am to cut that one off, and cast him from me?”  If he offends you YES! 


            Hear my heart.  I’m not talking about if your brother hurts your feelings, gossips about you, falsely accuses you, cheats you, mistreats you, or does something you don’t condone.  That’s not the issue at all.  The issue is offense.  If one would trip you, lay a snare for you, cause you to stumble and fall, or turn you aside so that you miss the Kingdom even if that one is your brother CUT THAT ONE OFF!  It is better for you to lay hold upon the power and glory of the incorruptible life of Christ without that one’s contribution into your life, than to fall short because of his influence and be cast into the fiery, purging, purifying judgment of God.  Nothing not even your brother in Christ must prevent you from growing up into your sonship or keep you from possessing your inheritance.  The stakes are too high.  The issue is too critical.  If anyone by carnal wisdom, fleshly zeal, false doctrines, powerless traditions, worldly methods, man-made programs and promotions, or religious guile would turn you aside from following the Lamb to mount Zion and fulfilling the high purposes of God in your life separate that person from you.  That is precisely what it means.


            The Lord is not talking about condemning your brethren, assuming a holier-than-thou attitude, exhibiting an ugly spirit toward them, hating them, mistreating them, or damning them.  He is talking about raising up a barrier between your forward walk in God and their walk so that you are not turned aside from God’s purpose in you.  You see, my beloved, you cannot cut any man or woman off from Christ and it is utterly impossible for anyone to cut you off from Christ.  No bishop, board, organizational hierarchy, church or saint can excommunicate anyone from the body of Christ.  Ah they can certainly excommunicate you from an organization or denomination, from a man-made religious system, even from their love and fellowship, but not from Christ. 


            We must love every man, especially those who are of the household of faith.  I do love them.  I love them every one.  I pray for them all.  I care for them all.  I yearn after them more deeply and fervently than they could ever imagine.  I ask God’s blessing upon them all without partiality.  I want only God’s best for every believer in Jesus Christ, irrespective of their level of spiritual development, or what doctrines or religious systems they are involved with.  But I cannot walk with many of them.  I cannot join myself to them in their childish traditions and carnal institutions.  I cannot partake with them at their table of static creeds and man-made doctrines.  I cannot participate with them in their empty rituals and ceremonies.  I cannot be involved in their grandiose schemes and soulish promotions by which they imagine to save the world.  Their insipid vision of joining the church and waiting to die and fly away to that bright glory-world above has nothing in common with the beautiful hope of sonship and the revelation of the Kingdom birthed within my ransomed spirit by the quickening breath of my Father in heaven.  Their expositions, sermonizings and homilies, their activities, meetings, and projects, their hopes, aspirations and goals hold nothing for me in the light of the glory to be revealed in us.  Such high and glorious purpose is certainly beyond the comprehension of the natural man or the carnal mind.  “That man” knows nothing of God’s eternal purpose and is an offense to it and to all who would lay hold upon it.  The truth and sacredness of the high calling of God in Christ only begins to dawn within the consciousness of a saint of God when the spirit of wisdom and revelation bursts upon our quickened spirits giving us a glance behind the scenes into the glorious and wonderful fullness of our Father’s great and heavenly plan.  “That man” within our brethren is altogether as offensive to the little child of the Kingdom as is “that man” within us.  Anything within me that would detrimentally affect my progress in the Kingdom must be cut off.  Anything that proceeds from “that man” in any person or movement must be put away from us.  It must be cast from us as a menstrous cloth is cast from a woman.  Anything that would hinder our growth and development into Christ must be severed.  Anything that would prevent us from becoming the king-priests that shall bless the nations and deliver creation must be separated from us.


            I must say today to every Christian who walks as “that man,” just as our Lord said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”  When it comes to my quest after the Kingdom of God I do not receive input from “that man.”  I receive not the counsel of the Pope, nor the opinions of the theologians, nor the authority of the denominations, nor the vision of the Charismatics, nor the hope of the Pentecostals.  Neither do I receive the testimony of any man or movement, even if he calls himself “kingdom” or “sonship” or by any other label, when he seeks to lead me in any direction other than the voice of the Son of God.  Although I love and respect all of the Lord’s people, that is why I am not pastor at First Baptist, rector at St. Michael's, or elder at First Pentecostal Church.  I’m not there because I can't do things their way.  I am called to do things my Father’s way.  If they are my foot, I have cut them off.  If they are my eye, I have plucked them out.  There’s a break, a division, a separation.  Their input into my life does not help me on my journey or contribute anything to the vision of God.  It would, in fact, derail and destroy the call of God in my life.  Are they people of God?  Certainly!  Do they love God?  Absolutely!  Are they very busy trying to do the will of God?  Undoubtedly!  But they still think like men. 


            “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Mat. 18:10).  For centuries there has been a world of carnal-minded preaching from this text.  First, it has been said that every person has a guardian angel.  I do not deny it.  I believe there are guardian angels.  Is it not written, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them” (Ps. 34:7).  I am not of the opinion, however, that Jesus is talking about guardian angels when He says, “their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”  Most people conceive of every sweet little child having a guardian angel who as a spirit being is able to see the face of the Father in heaven.


            Another interpretation is that the “angel” is the very spirit of the little child, and that when a child dies, his spirit goes to heaven, where it abides in the presence of the heavenly Father.  That is a beautiful and sentimental thought, and probably true, but it has nothing to do with the child-like one who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven!  May God deliver us from childish interpretations and impart to us all a child-like spirit of understanding.  The word “angel” in both Hebrew and Greek means messenger: one sent with a message, who is both the message itself and the personal representative of the Sender.  Anyone sent with a message is a messenger an angel.  The very same word is used of those sent by men and those sent by God.  Any messenger sent by a king, or any other person in both the Hebrew and Greek languages, is an “angel” of that person.  And anyone sent by God, whether a man on earth, or a spirit being out of celestial realms, is called an “angel” a messenger.  Any messenger of God is His angel, His personal representative in that particular mission and message.  There are scores of examples throughout scripture of those who were God’s angel-messengers either by what they said, by what they did, or by what they were in their person by nature, character, or obedience to God.  Often the message and the messenger are one.  It is not my purpose to belabor the point, though many passages of scripture might be presented.


            Let your heart consider what I now say.  “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven...”  In heaven!  Where is heaven?  Is it a place?  Is it a planet?  Is it a galaxy?  Is it beyond the stars?  The easiest way to understand heaven is to realize that it is where God lives.  And God lives everywhere at the same time!  I point you today, dear child of God, to another world, spiritual in content, which lies beyond the immediate grasp of the physical senses.  Heaven is not a place, not a geographical or astral location it is a sphere or realm of reality.  It is the invisible realm of the Spirit that transcends this gross material realm.  It is only up in reference to its essence and quality, it is a higher realm than this universe of matter, though it is all around us and within us.  It is the realm of spirit reality, of being where God is all that He is.  Heaven is the unseen realm of the Spirit, and when we are in the Spirit we are in that realm.  Here and now we are raised up together and made to sit together in the heavens in Christ Jesus.  So you see, beloved, we’re not going to heaven, we’re in heaven!


            In the realm of the Spirit the angel of the little child who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven does always behold the face of the Father.  That is, the message the little child bears, yea, the message that he is, the word that is in him, the revelation of the Spirit expressed through him this angel-message-word-revelation always beholds the face of...WHO?  The FATHER!  Those who are the little ones who are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are ever looking only upon the Father.  They are Father oriented.  They behold the glory of the Father.  They know the Father.  They love the Father.  They dwell in the Father.  They speak the words of the Father.  They do the works of their Father.  They reveal the Father.  The Father is the message they bear.  The Father is the message they are.  These are the sons of God through whom the Father is made known.  Babes in Christ are most conscious of JESUS THE SAVIOUR.  They are always talking about Jesus, calling on Jesus, Jesus...Jesus...Jesus!  However, as one grows up into Christ he receives a revelation of the FATHER.  This is the spirit of sonship whereby we cry, “Abba, Father!”  If there is a spirit within you today that cries, “Father!” then know, my beloved, that you are beginning to enter into your sonship to God.  You know that you are a “little one” because more and more, in all you say, do and are, you are beholding only  the face of your Father which is in heaven.  The Father has become your reality, your life, your message, your expression.


            Not only do the little ones see the Father’s face by entering into His glory, but they behold it also in all things.  As the Holy Spirit takes the things of Christ and reveals them unto us, we begin to understand that back of all things standeth GOD, omniscient and omnipotent, arranging and ordaining with infinite wisdom and purpose all the events that touch our lives.  It is my conviction, learned both in moments of glory and in the crucible of suffering, that everything God does to us and in us is to further our growth and development in Him.  But as we come to realize that behind every happening in our life, behind both the good and the evil, is the mighty hand of God working to bring forth gold from these earthen vessels, we are caused to exclaim with the patriarch Job, “He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).


            Job was no baby saint, for no one less than God Himself had given testimony that Job was a perfect and upright man, one that feared God and eschewed evil.  God had blessed this man with great wealth and a large family.  He had seven sons and three daughters.  He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses.  His household was very great with many hired servants so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.  In one tragic day all Job’s earthly wealth and glory had vanished in a mist before the rising sun.  But did Job curse God for all of this calamity?  Did he even blame the devil?  Was he a fair weather saint without spiritual understanding?  No, indeed!  He rent His mantle, shaved his head, and falling upon the ground, HE WORSHIPPED GOD with the unmistakable words of reverence, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: THE LORD GAVE, AND THE LORD HATH TAKEN AWAY; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!” (Job 1:22).  Ah, Job KNEW God!  Therefore, in spite of how terrible and hopeless things appeared, He did not condemn himself, wallowing in self-pity, nor did he see the hand of Satan in any of this HE BEHELD ONLY THE FACE OF HIS FATHER!  Yes, precious friend of mine, that is the experience of every little one who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven in everything he sees only the face of His Father in heaven!


            Marvelous are the promises of God to these little ones who are the greatest in the Kingdom.  “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost” (Mat. 18:11).  It is positively true and abundantly evident that these meaningful words are directly connected to the passage above them.  This is clear due to the connecting word “for” at the beginning of verse eleven.  For is a preposition used here as a conjunction bearing the meaning of “because”.  Using the word “because” it reads, “In heaven their angels (the message they are and bear) do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven because the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.”  It is plain to see that the two statements belong together, the former depending upon the latter.


            The question follows: What was it that was lost?  The religious world supposes that lost means eternally damned.  “You’re lost!” the preacher shouts, and he means you are headed straight for hell to burn, writhing mercilessly in pain and indescribable horrors, forever.  Eternal, unending doom!  Do you know what it means to be lost?  Have you ever been lost?  Incredibly, I was lost right here in El Paso several months ago.  While driving about the city on business one day I unconsciously made a wrong turn and found myself in unfamiliar territory.  I recognized none of the streets, including the street I was on.  The streets ran in weird formations and within only a minute or two I was completely disoriented and had no idea what direction I was going or how to get back to my point of deviation.  How terribly confusing and bewildering it was!  What a relief when I finally found my way out of the labyrinth of streets!


            When one is lost there are three things he doesn’t know:  (1) he doesn’t know where he is  (2) he doesn’t know how he got to where he is from where he was  (3) he doesn’t know how to get back to where he was from where he is.  In other words, when you are lost, you just don’t know where you are, you don’t know how you got there, and you don’t know your way back!  For many years it has been clear to me that this is exactly what Paul had in mind spiritually when he wrote of the unbelieving people in the world, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ...should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:3-4).  The truth of Christ is hidden from those who don’t know where they are.  The teeming multitudes of earth know not the place of their origin.  They have no idea why they were born.  They have never discovered for what purpose they are here on earth.  The wonderful plan and purpose of God is veiled from their understanding.  They are like men walking in a fog.  They perceive not that they came out of God and have not the knowledge of how to get back to God.  Untold millions don’t even know that they are supposed to get back to God.  THEY’RE JUST L-O-S-T!


            “How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?  And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray” (Mat. 18:12-13).  Within my spirit is the blessed knowledge that the sublime words of Jesus now under consideration are something beyond God’s plan of salvation for the world.  It is sadly true that all mankind is lost, but it is equally true that our blessed Jesus is the Saviour of all men.  He is not merely a Saviour for all men, but He is the Saviour of all men meaning that He will save all.


            The subject in Matthew 18:12-13, however, is not the masses of mankind that are lost and must be found.  The subject has not changed one iota from verse one all the way through verse thirteen.  The subject is still the little child who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, and that man who is so offensive that he should be drowned in the sea.  There are many things to be learned from types and parables for by them truth is taught with more force than any spoken word.  Here Jesus relates a wonderful parable about a man who has a hundred sheep.  One of these sheep is somehow enticed, and goes astray.  Now, pay close attention to the equation here!  It is not, “ALL we like sheep are gone astray,” as the prophet said of Israel, but merely one sheep out of one hundred!  Only one percent of this shepherd’s sheep has become lost.  Can any doubt that these words fail to describe the scope of the tragedy that befell the human race when Adam sinned?  “For by the offense of one judgment came upon all men...  When Adam sinned ALL THE SHEEP were lost every single one of them!


            Many of us have thought that the one lost sheep was the heathen in Africa, the starving in India, the godless communists in Russia, or the sinner across the street.  But if the unconverted masses are the one lost sheep, then WHO ARE THE NINETY-NINE THAT AREN’T LOST?  If the sheep are humans, then God would still have ninety-nine percent and the devil would have only one percent!  Something is seriously wrong with the mathematics I’m sure you know that’s not how it is in the real world!  Let us look at it.  The flock is the Lord’s flock, for Jesus is Himself the Good Shepherd.  “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:32).  So the one hundred sheep are Christ’s little flock who are given the Kingdom!  Christ gives the Kingdom to His whole flock and it is a little flock, even a flock of little ones.  The masses of unsaved humanity are not in this little flock that receives the Kingdom, nor are they the one lost sheep out of this flock.  It is speaking of something else.


            In our parable only one little sheep is lost out of one hundred.  One of them goes astray.  One is turned aside.  One is enticed away by something or someone, and becomes lost.  What happened to cause this “little one” to be turned aside?  Ah, he was offended!  You see, my beloved, that is still what Jesus is talking about.  “But whoso shall offend (turn aside) one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Mat. 18:6).  Some person or some thing offended, tripped, snared, and turned aside this little one.  GUESS WHO THAT COULD BE!  “Woe unto that man by whom the offense cometh” (Mat. 18:7).  According to Jesus it is a serious offense to offend one of His younger brethren sons  in preparation.  You had better believe it!  Woe unto that man.  There is something within each of us that seeks to turn aside that inner son, that little one, the Christ-life within, from fulfilling the will of the Father, from growing up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, from inheriting his inheritance in, and position in, the Kingdom of God.  Everything in our soulish man, everything in our carnal mind, everything in our flesh, everything in the whole world, and most of the things in the church systems, are arrayed against that little one, hostile toward the spirit of sonship in our hearts, and in active opposition to that inner son who is destined to become the ruler and the blesser of all nations and the deliverer of  creation.  That is the warfare of this dark hour between that man of the flesh and the little Christ child within.  And blessed be the Lord, the judgment is pronounced: “Woe unto that man!”


            Deep within the depths of my spirit is an inconsolable longing to see things as God sees them.  I want to see with the eyes of God and I want to feel and understand with the heart of God.  What is the Father’s attitude and what is the Father’s action toward the little one who goes astray?  He goes after him!  Write it between your eyes and never forget it.  The Good Shepherd who came from heaven, that Great and Good Shepherd of the sheep who laid down His life for the sheep, will seek, and seek, and seek until that little sheep is found and brought back to the fold.  This is the work of the Good Shepherd.  Let it be perfectly clear, the Good Shepherd will seek him until He finds him.  If He didn’t, He wouldn’t be the Good Shepherd!  He will seek him in his solitude at home; He will seek him in the frenzied activities of the religious systems; He will seek him in the pleasure spots of the night; He will seek him in the cults; He will seek him in the heights and in the depths; He will seek him in the deserts and in the swamps; He will seek the little one lost from his little flock through all the earth and through all the hells and through all the heavens until He has found him and set him again among the congregation of those who are marching to Zion.


            Friends, make no mistake about this not everyone who starts out on this path into the Kingdom is a sheep.  Some people start out on the path of sonship and turn aside because the spirit of sonship was never in them.  No one trips, snares, or turns them aside.  They were never called to begin with.  They were not chosen.  Therefore they were not faithful.  They were goats in sheep’s wool.  They had not the depth in their soil for the Word of the Kingdom to put down firm roots, grow and produce fruit.  Their ground was so full of briars, thorns and thistles that they had neither the will nor the courage to eliminate.  The seed fell by the wayside of their carnal minds, received only momentarily as an exciting proposition, as a beautiful possibility, as an intellectual concept, as another religious fad in their shallow spiritual world.  These are not lost sheep.  These are not offended little ones.  The Good Shepherd does not go after these dogs who have returned to their vomit or these sows who return to their wallowing in the mire.  Yes, He will go after them in due time to save them, but He does not go after them to make them the greatest in the Kingdom.


            But if you are of that blessed company that has truly received the call to sonship; if you treasure deep within your being the beautiful hope of the Kingdom of God; if you desire above all else that the Father’s purpose be fulfilled in your life; then, my beloved friend, you will never get away from Jesus.  Even though you be momentarily turned aside by some work of the flesh, by some allurement of the world, by misunderstanding, by error or deception, by spiritual pride or vanity, by sin or Self, Jesus will follow you everywhere, He will tenderly pick you up, He will carry you back in His loving arms and restore you to the hope of your high calling.  You can’t get away.  You may think you can, that man may lead you to believe you can, but if you are ordained to this Day, you are HIS.  HE will not let you go!  We have His own word for it.  What consolation, hope and faith this evokes in our hearts!


            How can we know for certain that the one lost sheep is one of these little ones destined to be the greatest in the Kingdom?  In closing let us hear from the gracious lips of the Master Himself the true and powerful explanation of His parable.  “If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth He not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?  And if so be that He find it, verily I say unto you, He rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine   which went not astray.  Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Mat. 18:12-14).  There you have it!  Who is the little one whom the Good Shepherd seeks?  “And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you...whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, THE SAME IS THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN” (Mat. 18:2-4). 


            The little ones are the greatest in the Kingdom.  While the world in its vaunted pride passes on unheeding and unknowing, the Lord of the universe has been preparing individual lives among mankind in His own image and likeness.  They have brought forth fruit unto eternal life, sending their enlightening rays to illumine the earth and their heavenly perfume to call men home to the love of God.  The whole creation, that has groaned in travail and pain throughout the night of every dispensation, is soon to hear the glad refrain of sons coming up on mount Zion to rule and reign in righteousness, filling the earth with wisdom, power, and understanding, for the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the seas.  The little ones are the sons of God.

            To be continued...                                                                                          



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    El Paso TX 79937-1240

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