KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
THE INCREASE OF THE KINGDOM
It is a conspicuous fact that the various errors and inconsistencies found in the King James Version of the New Testament serve to obscure any clear understanding of the teachings of the scriptures in regard to God's wonderful plan of the ages. One of the most inexcusable of these misleading translations is the unqualified use of the English word "world." The word "world" has a limited meaning in English, but is used by the translators as the one English rendering for at least three widely differing ideas in the Greek text. This one word, world, is used to translate a Greek word which means a distinct period of time such as an age, epoch, or dispensation; it is also used to translate a Greek word denoting the visible things created -- the earth or the universe; and finally it is used to translate a Greek word denoting the inhabitants of the earth together with their culture, morality, customs, life style, organized society, government, etc.
One of the Greek words erroneously translated "world" is the word AION. AION denotes a specific period of time -- an eon or an age. The ages are often referred to in the scriptures, and the study of the exact conditions and purposes of each of them is not a fanciful pursuit, but is rather the only foundation for any true knowledge of the development of God's plan and kingdom in the earth. It is not possible to consider all of the ages in this writing, but only a few that might be confused one with another.
The age of law, which began with the giving of the law to Israel at mount Sinai, and ended with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, is mentioned by Zacharias in his prophecy at the birth of John the Baptist: "As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world (aion -- age) began" (Lk. 1:70). The same period is referred to by Peter in Acts 3:21, "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world (aion -- age) began." These references, as one can clearly see, are not to the creation of the world, as the King James rendering would indicate, but to the beginning of that particular period in which the prophets spake, beginning primarily with Moses. As a distinct period of time which was to end, the age of law is mentioned about forty times in the New Testament and is called the "world" in the King James Bible! Here are a few examples. "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world (aion -- age, the age of law), neither in the world (aion -- age, the church age) to come" (Mat. 12:32). "The disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world (aion -- age)?" (Mat. 24:3). "And the Lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world (aion -- age) are in their generation wiser than the children of light" (Lk. 16:8).
The present age of the calling out of the body of Christ, in which the grace of God has had its appearing unto salvation, began where the law ended, with the coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh. This age, and the fact that it, too, will end, is referred to as "world" in a number of places. A few of the passages follow: "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (aion -- age)" (Mat. 28:20). "Which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world (aion -- age), but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:20-21). "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (aion -- age)" (Tit. 2:12). By these and other passages it may be seen that the present age is a particular limited period of time in which special conditions are to prevail, and definite purposes to be realized.
In explaining one of the Kingdom parables to His disciples, Jesus mentioned that "The harvest is the end of the world (aion -- age)" (Mat. 13:39). Because of the King James' misuse of the word "world" in this and other passages, people have latched on to this and fabricated all kinds of doctrines about the "end of the world." But the world is not about to end! This age will end, of course, for every age has its ending, and then gives way to the dawn of another age -- so why then all the upset and fear? Furthermore, if WE ARE NOT OF THIS AGE, and have by God's grace tasted of the POWERS OF THE AGE TO COME, why do we get overly concerned about this age ending? The desire of all the Lord's people should be for that new age which lies before us, and however God chooses to bring this present evil age to an end, will but open the flood-gates of far greater glory to come! We say that we are not of this world/age, yet we are constantly clinging to it and fearing the doom to come upon it. Ah, how we need the Holy Spirit to guide us into ALL TRUTH, until we are ready to joyfully relinquish all of the old, to lay hold upon the new.
Judging from the mass of Christian writings and from utterances in sermons and teachings from many different doctrinal persuasions, this age is assumed by many to be the final age, ending with the coming of Christ, the final judgment, and the destruction of the world. Others believe that there is yet one more age which they term the "Kingdom Age" or the "Millennium," which will wind up God's great program on earth. These are the two errors abroad in the land today in respect to the Kingdom of God. There is a tendency among God's people to limit the Kingdom either to this age of the Church economy, or to the next age called the Millennium or the Kingdom Age. The first group can see nothing in the Kingdom beyond our present experience -- except to die and go to heaven! To these the Kingdom is identical with our salvation experience and the multiplied gifts, blessings, provisions, and benefits of the Church age. This concept views the Kingdom as a "little flock" right up to the end of time, in the world, coexisting as it were with the world, yet not of the world, but never triumphing over the world. According to this view the Church and the world, or the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil, both continue as they now are right up to the end of time when Jesus comes again and terminates the whole program, destroying the present heavens and earth, casting the wicked into everlasting hell fire, and shipping the saints off to glory. In this view there is no ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God over the kingdom of darkness on earth, no consummation of the Kingdom where all kindreds and tongues and peoples and nations serve Him, and God is all in all. Instead of consummation these dear people settle for termination. God just "winds things up" and the whole program on earth comes to a jarring halt. According to this scheme the prophecy of Daniel will never be fulfilled: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall BREAK IN PIECES AND CONSUME ALL THESE KINGDOMS, and it shall stand for ever" (Dan. 2:44). Nor, if these brethren are right, can the prophecy of Revelation 11:15 come to pass: "The kingdoms of this world ARE BECOME THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD, AND OF HIS CHRIST; and He shall reign for ever and ever."
The second error recognizes no present literal Kingdom of God on earth, pushing the Kingdom off into a future age, making its present reality utterly meaningless. These people are always talking about the "coming Kingdom." Men with their human theology have imagined that the Kingdom of God has not yet come on earth and that it remains to be "established" during the "Millennium." People often declare in no uncertain terms that Jesus is returning to "set up" the Kingdom. They proclaim that the Kingdom is an "age" of one thousand years duration. I do not hesitate to tell you that every shred of evidence is to the contrary! All such notions are utter rubbish and have no foundation in the spirit of Truth. At this very moment, when Christians are busily looking for a one-world government under the antichrist, and the great tribulation followed by the return of Jesus and the establishment of the Kingdom, we who have followed on to know the Lord, and have sought first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, have had our hearts ravished by this blessed reality: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath TRANSLATED US INTO THE KINGDOM OF HIS DEAR SON" (Col. 1:13). Let demons rage. Let fools and unbelievers hang their heads in shame. The Kingdom of God is a present reality to those who have been caught up into the high places of the Spirit! It is not a matter of this or that, of here or there, of now or then, of this age or the next age. The Kingdom is none of those things. It is more than all. It is this and that, here and there, now and then, this age and the next -- and much, much more!
The great truth I declare to you today is that Jesus Christ came two millenniums ago and brought the Kingdom and set up and established the Kingdom in the hearts and lives of the sons of the Kingdom. "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the good news" (Mk. 1:14-15). And again, "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it" (Lk. 16:16). God has a plan for His great and glorious Kingdom! Indeed, God has a wonderful plan for this world! It is a plan of which the architectural drawings were made in eternity. It encompasses the minutest detail of all creation. I assure you that when time has run its course, and the curtain is drawn upon the final scene, we shall discover that that plan has been worked out to its tiniest detail, just as God planned it in eternity.
Upon your table today there is or should be a book we call the Bible. This book alone reveals God's secret plan of the ages. It unfolds with unerring accuracy the mysteries of ages in the dim and misty past, and points with unerring finger to the purpose of countless eons yet to come. The Christian Church as we know it has been living in a fool's paradise, propounding pet doctrines, ranting and raving about an endless eternity with golden streets and harps and white nightgowns for some and crackling, searing, tormenting flames for others, while almost completely overlooking God's wonderful PLAN OF THE AGES. Paul writes of this plan of the ages in Ephesians 3:8-11. "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and make all to see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." The word translated "eternal" in the phrase "eternal purpose" is the Greek word AIONON which means "ages." Young's Literal Translation reads, "And to cause all to see what is the fellowship of the secret that hath been hid FROM THE AGES in God, who the all things did create by Jesus Christ, that there might be made known now to the principalities and authorities in the heavenly places, through the assembly, the manifold wisdom of God, according to A PURPOSE OF THE AGES, which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord." The Emphatic Diaglott renders verse 11 thus, "According to A PLAN OF THE AGES, which He formed in the Anointed Jesus our Lord," and Rotherham says, "According to A PLAN OF THE AGES which He made in the anointed Jesus our Lord."
As men with the aid of God's Word have gazed into the vista of the future, it seems to have missed their understanding that God says very little in His Word about eternity, while devoting many hundreds of passages to His will and works wrought through THE AGES. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds" (Heb. 1:1-2). What tremendous statements we have here! God has spoken to us through His Son -- literally, "spoke to us in Son," or, God spoke to us in One who has the character that He is a SON, revealing the realm and relationship of sonship to God. Every age has its beginning and its end, its first days and its last days. So the writer to the Hebrews tells us that God has spoken unto us in the person of His Son in "these last days," that is, in the closing days of the age of law in which Jesus came into the world. People talk about "the" last days, as though the end of our present dispensation were the only "last days" or "end time" to ever exist!
This Son is heir of all things and, blessed be God! we are joint heirs with Him. "By whom also He made the worlds." Many people believe this refers to the creative act -- "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It does not refer to that at all. The word here for "worlds" is AIONAS. It means ages -- "...by whom He framed the ages." This goes beyond His being the Creator of matter and its arrangement into multiplied billions of galaxies, stars, suns, planets and moons with their atmospheres and inhabitants. This lends purpose to everything. He is the heir who GIVES THE PROGRAM FOR THE FUTURE! He planned and framed the ages, He ordained the end from the beginning; not only did He create everything, He did it for a purpose, and "known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). Notice -- the Amplified Bible says, "But in the last of these days He has spoken to us in the person of a Son, whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things, also by and through whom He created the worlds and the reaches of space and the AGES OF TIME -- that is, He made, produced, built, operated and arranged them in order!" "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God" (Heb. 11:3), but it should read, "the ages were planned by the word of God." God made, planned, and determined the destiny of all the ages in and by Jesus Christ.
The age we are now living in is not the last age, nor is the age to come the final age in God's vast Kingdom program. The apostle Paul tells us that God "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the AGES TO COME He might show (put on display, exhibit) the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6-7). According to these inspired words there are "ages" yet to come -- so there can be no less than two ages beyond our present age and there could be many, many more! It is during these "ages to come" that God shall take the wonderful work He has so meticulously wrought in His elect throughout the past age and put it on display in and through them for the whole creation to behold and consider. This will certainly not be to the condemnation of creation, the masses of unregenerated men that have lived and died upon this planet, but rather redounds unto their blessing, deliverance and transformation; for it is HIS KINDNESS TOWARD US IN JESUS CHRIST that is exhibited through the saints throughout the coming ages. Grace and kindness on display! Think of it! That is no curse, no judgment -- it can only mean salvation! The grace of God appears unto salvation. This glorious display is for the instruction and enlightenment of all men. What a marvelous prospect!
The Word of God is crystal clear that there is to be an increase of the Kingdom from age to age. The very fact that there are yet "ages to come" shows that the Kingdom advances from one age to another. Historically, every new age has superseded the previous ones, bringing greater light, a further revelation of God, and more advanced dealing with mankind. Each new age inaugurates a higher dimension of God's purposes in the earth. Nothing is clearer in the scriptures than the fact that THIS IS NOT THE LAST AGE. There is no "final windup" at the close of this present dispensation. We can expect, therefore, fresh and greater manifestations and administrations of Kingdom dominion as we move from this age into the new one now beginning. What anticipation this evokes in our hearts!
The apostle James made a statement to the council at Jerusalem in which he clearly defines the complete outline of God's purpose for the so-called age of grace and the dispensation that is to follow. "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, AFTER THIS (after God has taken out of the nations a people for His name) I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David (the fullness of God's glory in a people), which is fallen down (following the great apostasy); and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the RESIDUE OF MEN MIGHT SEEK AFTER THE LORD, and ALL THE GENTILES, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things" (Acts 15:14-18). Dispensationally, this is one of the most significant passages in the New Testament! It gives God's divine purpose for this age and the next age. James says that the purpose of God during this age now ending has been to visit the Gentiles, or the nations, as it is in the Greek, to TAKE OUT OF THEM A PEOPLE FOR HIS NAME.
One thing that nearly all Christians have missed is the fact that it has never been God's purpose to save the world during the Church age. While the gospel was to be preached as a "witness" to all nations, there is no hint of it being accepted by all. Jesus never led His disciples to expect any such result from their ministry! Wherever the preached gospel is referred to in the New Testament, its limited acceptance is at the same time made clear. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned (judged)" (Mk. 16:15-16). The witness of Paul is equally clear. He says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). "I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some" (I Cor. 9:22). "For we are a sweet savour of Christ unto God, in them that are being saved, and in them that are perishing."
All through the centuries the Church has been found holding to the false hope of converting the whole world during this age. Frequently one hears preachers, especially missionaries and televangelists, speaking of "winning the world to Christ." In missionary conferences and evangelistic crusades people are admonished to go forth and "win the world." But as honest and sincere as these persons are, the fact remains that the efforts of those who walk in the spiritual feasts of Passover and Pentecost are doomed to failure. The fact remains that nowhere did the Lord tell His disciples to save the world! Rather, Jesus said, "I will build my church." And that is precisely what the Lord has been doing for the past two thousand years -- building His Church! But never did He say that all would believe or that we should win the world to Him or sweep the nations into the Kingdom of God in the age now ending. If He would have said it, it would have happened, for He is the omnipotent Lord with all power in heaven and in earth! The fact that the world hasn't been saved, and the nations have not been subjected to the rule of God, is the only proof needed that it has not been God's plan to do so! He who holds to the hope of converting the world by Pentecostal preaching, or by gifts of the Holy Spirit, or by well organized revival crusades, or by forty days of fasting and prayer, is running after a mere phantom. It simply won't happen!
But God has been calling out a people for His name -- saving, delivering, teaching, purging, purifying, dealing, maturing and bringing them progressively unto the full stature of Jesus Christ. It has taken the process of two millenniums to bring His people to birth that a manchild, the manifested sons of God, might be revealed. Meanwhile, the Lord has not interfered with the downward course of the world! He has allowed the selfishness of the human race to drag it down into ever lower depths of sin and degradation. Even when His professed people, misguided by their lack of understanding, and motivated by their unscriptural and unspiritual ambitions, have established church-state systems in His name, He has not interfered. And when these have fallen, and when all the misguided efforts of those people who have tried to establish peace for the Prince of Peace by carnal warfare and bloodshed and tyranny in the Lord's name, God has still not intervened. His plans for the salvation of the world have been separate from all human efforts, and He wants the whole world, including worldly churches, to learn that apart from GOD'S CHRIST and GOD'S TIME they can accomplish nothing beyond the limited work prescribed for this dying age. He wants them to learn that in order to achieve success they must work with Him, and in keeping with His plans, rather than expect Him to bless their plans and their efforts to establish His Kingdom.
I once wrote articles against communism. That was because of their atheism and rejection of God and His word and His people. But I think I realize now, more than I did then, that ALL NATIONS have been cut off from God by God's own decree, since the time of Adam and Eve. Jesus emphasized this when He said, "No man can come to me, except the Father...draw him" (Jn. 6:44). Many nations have never known much if anything about God. In ancient Egypt they worshipped their fictitious gods, Isis and Osiris, about the time the ancient Chinese were worshipping their ancestors -- even before the appearance of Confucianism and Taoism. The ancient Greeks and Romans had their idol gods, such as Jupiter, Diana, Hermes and others, and the ignorant worship of these gods was the state religion in almost every land and among all peoples. They had no salvation -- but neither were they "lost" -- God Himself had cut off the descendants of Adam. They simply were not being judged at all by God -- nor are they even yet today! God is not now dealing with nations, He is building His Church and bringing His sons to birth!
Since God is not now judging the nations, WHY SHOULD YOU OR I? I know that I myself am being judged now! The temple of God is being measured in the heavens, the elect of God is being judged by the measure of the stature of Jesus Christ as the sons of God stand in this hour before the judgment seat of Christ. Some of us are called now and the work of the Spirit will be completed in us now. The world as a whole has not been called YET! Those now called to salvation to be a part of the body of the Christ are the "firstfruits" -- merely the first small "harvest" of spiritual life. To all others, God said, in effect, "Go, since you have rejected me, my government, my salvation, my revelation and knowledge, GO form your own gods and your own religions and philosophies and your own cultures and moral codes and your own governments." And, for six long millenniums has the world so done! Therefore I do not judge their governments, or their religions, or their cultures. I do not go to try to "sweep nations into the Kingdom of God," as some say. BUT GOD DOES HAVE A PLAN FOR THE NATIONS and a glorious day of release and restoration into the Kingdom of God! And those called and chosen as the elect of God, as the sons of the Father in this significant hour, are being given understanding of the sacred secret of God -- His plan of the ages! Out from among the billions of earth God is choosing an ELECT COMPANY to bear His name -- His nature and His authority. It is here, in the true Church, which is His body, that Jesus Christ FIRST ESTABLISHES HIS GOVERNMENT that He might rule and reign on the throne of men's lives. And now soon -- very soon -- these sons of God shall be revealed to all creation that the exceeding riches of the grace and kindness of God unto these sons might be exhibited for all to see and be blessed thereby! But most Christians will not come to this! They are too busy playing Church, rejoicing that they are not going to hell or that they are going to heaven when they die, and blundering around in the carnal programs, immaturity and shame of a wretched, fleshly, religious system which falsely calls itself "the church." But just as the dispensation of the law, at its conclusion, brought forth that which it typified and pointed to -- Jesus Christ the Son of God -- so this present Church age must, in these last days, at its conclusion, bring forth that for which it was intended and to which it pointed -- a many-membered body of Christ, perfected, matured, overcoming, and full grown into the exact likeness and glory of the firstborn son of God, its Head and Lord.
God never intended that Christ should rule over all the earth and all nations during this age. His reign is confined completely to that company of footstep followers who have heard His voice and follow Him all the way unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ. Baptized in His fullness these sons of God become the very embodiment of His government in the earth. This may seem to be an extremely slow method and a very small Kingdom for such a great and exalted King, but we cannot over emphasize the importance of this lowly beginning for a government whose authority is destined to "subdue ALL THINGS." So let us see that not only is God establishing His government in the lives of His elect, but through His dealings with them He is actually FORMING THEM INTO A GOVERNMENT -- a ruling body of sons of God, kings and priests after the Order of Melchizedek!
God is calling out a people to bear His name, to be His nature, authority and power in the earth! But -- to bear His name WHERE? WHEN? HOW? To bear His name only through their fleeting years in the flesh? Not at all. James says, "AFTER THIS (after the Lord has completed His work of calling out a people for His name) I will return and build again the tabernacle of David... THAT THE RESIDUE OF MEN MIGHT SEEK AFTER THE LORD, AND ALL THE NATIONS...saith the Lord." The "residue" of men denotes "all the rest," that is, all who were not part of the "called out." I tell you, my beloved, God is now forming a government composed of faithful sons (the tabernacle of David) whom He shall use in the age now dawning and in the ages yet to come as kings and priests after the Order of Melchizedek to bring God's Kingdom to pass in all the earth and in all realms. Through this glorious anointed body of sons ALL THE REST OF MEN...ALL THE NATIONS...SHALL SEEK THE LORD. What wonderful news that is! While the church world is getting ready to "fly away" to some far-off heaven somewhere, the sons of God are even now being prepared and equipped to rule all nations with a rod of iron. This is not the "coming" of the Kingdom -- it is the next step of "advancement" and "increase" of the Kingdom! The Kingdom has already come. It is being refined now in the hearts of all those blessed ones who have received the call to sonship. This next step of the Kingdom will come with great power and glory when the elect of God is fully matured, perfected, prepared and equipped. God, through nearly two thousand years, has been slowly, methodically, meticulously, surely and wisely choosing this body of sons, preparing them through the furnace of affliction and the discipline of testings to sit together with Him on His throne, for those that suffer with Him shall also reign with Him!
The promise is sure! "And he that OVERCOMETH, and keepeth my works unto the end (of the processing), to him will I give POWER OVER THE NATIONS: and he shall RULE THEM with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers" (Rev. 2:26-27). "To him that OVERCOMETH will I grant to SIT WITH ME IN MY THRONE, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne" (Rev. 3:21). "And now they sing a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll and to break the seals that are on it, for You were slain and with Your blood you purchased men unto God -- from every tribe and language and people and nation. And You have MADE THEM A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS to our God, and they shall REIGN OVER THE EARTH! (Rev. 5:9-10, Amplified).
This great truth cannot be any more forcefully presented than it is by the prophet Daniel when he writes, "These great beasts which are four, are four kingdoms (Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome), which shall arise out of the earth. But THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH SHALL TAKE THE KINGDOM and POSSESS THE KINGDOM for ever, even for ever and ever. I beheld and the same horn made war with the saints (throughout the Church age), and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and JUDGMENT WAS GIVEN TO THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH; and the time came that THE SAINTS POSSESSED THE KINGDOM (world rule). And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High...BUT THE JUDGMENT (of the saints) SHALL SIT, AND THEY (the saints) SHALL TAKE AWAY HIS DOMINION TO CONSUME AND DESTROY IT UNTO THE END. AND THE KINGDOM AND DOMINION AND THE GREATNESS OF THE KINGDOM UNDER THE WHOLE HEAVEN, SHALL BE GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE (elect) OF THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and ALL DOMINIONS SHALL SERVE AND OBEY HIM" (Dan. 7:17-18, 21-22, 25-27).
The work of the sons of God only begins at the opening of the age that follows the Church age. Even as I pen these words we are in the transition of the ages, the overlapping of the ages as the old age dies and the new age is inaugurated. Already the sons of God are beginning to move in the authority of God within the high realms of the Spirit. A word is proceeding forth from their lips by the inspiration of the Spirit that is shaping the nations for the greater glory soon to be manifested before the face of all peoples and every nation. These sons are not filled with the darkness of man's carnal mind, but are heralds of the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom of God! They cherish the precious truth of their Father's plan of redemption and restoration for all! They are the true sons of God, or sons of Life, Light and Love, who are by their proclamations dispelling the darkness of this long night of sin, sorrow and death. They are the sons of Zion raised up in this hour to bring righteous judgment into the earth! By the Spirit, they are lifting mankind from the depths of sin onto the new highway into the Kingdom of God. They are lifting up their voices as trumpets in the Most Holy Place, in the high place of the Spirit, singing the praises and victories of their King and Lord of all. By the spirit of their sonship they are crying aloud, saying to all who shall hear, "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth!"
As we ascend in the Spirit into the place of God's throne, we thereby rise up above all the lower realms of evil and darkness, to dispel them by the power of His word. This is the present ministry of the sons of God in the new order of the government of God on earth! As we press forward into our new Kingdom ministry, the power of all evil and darkness shall eventually be removed, to trouble the world no more. Preaching and ministering according to the old church order will avail nothing in this conquest of the nations. The five-fold ministry was given for the edification of the saints during the Church age, but only the ministry of sonship is given to rule the nations and restore all things to God! We are entering into a ministry in the Spirit that will manifest the power and glory of the Kingdom of God to all mankind. We are called, not merely to preach the gospel, but to RULE AND REIGN with Christ!
Make no mistake about it; we have an awesome responsibility! We are to RULE with a rod of iron, over all the enemies of Christ, including the nations and all darkness, error and evil. There is a world of difference between edifying the saints and ruling the nations. We are called of God to REIGN with grace and love and mercy and wisdom and power over the affairs of mankind in the earth by ministering the authority of God in the Spirit and by the Spirit. We will never understand this deep mystery of reigning in the Kingdom until we know that the work of the Kingdom of God is spiritual work. As Paul Mueller recently wrote, "It is work that is nothing like the carnal, religious, church works of the flesh, which have now become works of iniquity!" As we minister from this high and holy place of God's throne in the Spirit it shall come to pass that "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE NATIONS shall worship before Thee" (Ps. 22:27). That will be the blessed effect of our ministry from the throne! By this spiritual ministry from the throne we shall see and know that "The Lord most high is terrible; He is a great King over all the earth. He shall subdue the people under us, and THE NATIONS UNDER OUR FEET" (Ps. 47:2-3).
Scripture could be piled upon scripture, but it should be clear to every honest heart that God has a plan beyond this age, and beyond the Church, the called out -- a plan that includes ALL THE NATIONS OF EARTH! The age now ending has been the age of the "called out," the age for the formation of God's elect into a Kingdom of Priests. The next age is the age for that Kingdom of Priests to take authority over the nations and bring the Kingdom of God to pass in the earth among all living nations. That is the difference between the two ages! And it means a difference in ministry, for God is now raising up in His sons the new ministry for the new age! In the ages beyond God shall deal with all the billions of men who have lived and died from father Adam all the way down to this and future times. All these shall be restored to God and to life and brought into the courts of His Kingdom. It is an extraordinary and awesome thing that the Lord by revelation of the Spirit gives His sons understanding that what He is doing on the earth today is merely a beginning. Nothing is finished yet! The dawning new age will accomplish a mighty work of God in the earth, far beyond that of the previous age, but the new age will not finish God's purpose, either! We are not even approaching the end of the world, or the consummation of the ages, or the great "wind up" of God's program. Nothing is so complete, so perfect, that it is to remain unchanged from what it was in its time. What the sovereign Lord has given us is a root and not yet a tree. The Kingdom seed still must grow, the branches spread out; the blossoms will come later. In the end the fruit will come, for that is how the Kingdom develops, saith the Lord, "first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear." This wonderful work goes on from generation to generation, from dispensation to dispensation, from age to age, from realm to realm, from world to world, from galaxy to galaxy, until all things everywhere find their life in God.
Within this divine and glorious principle lies the nature of the Kingdom of Christ and the purpose He represents. God's Christ, Head and body, is for the redemption of creation -- and how can that be completed in a day? How can that be finished in one earthly generation? How can that be accomplished in one age, or in two or three? Creation took a long time -- seven incredibly long epochs called "days" in the book of Genesis. In like manner redemption, restoration, and re-creation -- require time! It is not for just a few people or for several thousand or several million; it is not for one race, or one nation, or just for the Church; it is for all mankind, for every kindred, tongue, people, and nation, and for the whole vast creation! The Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end regarding the Kingdom of God and must reign until all enemies are under His feet, all things are made new, and God is all-in-all (I Cor. 15:25-28). All must be restored to Him in the far-flung heavens above, in the earth, and under the earth. No wonder there are yet AGES TO COME!
THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK AND THE AGES TO COME
God's house of sons is a Kingdom of Priests after the Order of Melchizedek. The Lord Jesus Christ is a King-Priest after the Order of Melchizedek, and we are the body of Christ. Thus, Christ is the Head of the Melchizedek Order of King-Priests, and we are the body of that divine and heavenly Order. Jesus has inherited that exalted position as King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek, and we are joint-heirs with Him. "Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne" (Rev. 3:21). That throne is the throne of the Melchizedek order of King-Priests after the power of an endless life!
I would now draw your attention to the duration of the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Melchizedek Priesthood is after the power of an indissoluble or indestructible life, but does that mean that the ministry of the Melchizedek Order continues forever? It is stated, "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 7:17). The average person sees that word "forever" and assumes that it means that the Order of Melchizedek is an eternal Order. But this is not the case! The Greek word from which "forever" is translated is AION from which, as we have already pointed out, we get our English word eon. Whenever one speaks of "eons" he is not talking about eternity, for eons denote specific spans of time.
Any thinking person should clearly see that if you translate the word AION, which means an age, by the words eternal or forever, which have nothing to do with time, you immediately get the wrong idea. While the King James Bible says, "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek," the Greek form is eis ton aiona which literally translated is "to the age." The Melchizedek Priesthood lasts for time. In this tremendous passage we see the precise duration of this Priesthood -- TO THE AGE. We have no conception yet of the great and vast ages that are still ahead of us! When the ages have all been completed, then a priesthood will not be needed, but as long as time lasts, the priesthood is a necessity, for it falls within the scope of God's PLAN OF THE AGES!
A priesthood "to...THE AGE!" The true understanding of the Word of God is freighted with far more glorious meaning and depth of purpose than the shallow traditions of church creeds. While the scriptures speak of an age, and the ages, and the ages of the ages, -- one age proceeding from, or out of, a previous age until all the ages have run their courses, -- it also points to that glorious climatic age of all ages. We read the phrase, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (Heb. 1:8). We carelessly suppose that it refers to the eternity of God's throne! But this expression, "for ever and ever," comes from the Greek which literally reads TO THE AGE OF THE AGES. This is very familiar terminology in the Greek scriptures.
Few men have been caught away by the spirit of inspiration as was the wise king Solomon when he penned the beautiful Song of Solomon. God dropped one thousand and five songs down into the heart of Solomon, but of these, only five comprising the Song of Solomon, have been preserved and have found a place in the canon of scripture. Inspiration named it "The Song of Songs," that is, the one song which was above and beyond all the songs that have ever come from human heart and human lips. Just as the "Song of songs" was chief above them all, just as the "Holy of holies" was the Holiest place of all, just as the "King of kings" is the greatest King of all, so all through the scriptures, though obscured by many translators, we have this remarkable phrase TO THE AGE OF THE AGES. It points to that age which shall be the most glorious of all, and which finds its type in the year of Jubilee. This is the Holy Spirit's way of expressing the superlative, and so far as God's plan of the ages is concerned this AGE OF THE AGES is THE AGE PAR EXCELLENCE of them all!
A simple illustration of this is our expression, "a day of days," meaning a day that comes out of previous days, but which crowns them, and embodies not only what they contained, but the full fruition of all that was elementary in them. Eternity does not emerge full grown in man's consciousness until this wonderful age, the "age of ages," is ended. This AGE OF THE AGES is that glorious climax to God's purpose and process of the ages, wherein He states, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). And when He says, "A-L-L," it is self-evident that there is nothing remaining in the whole vast universe which shall not be made new, else all is not all. "For He must reign until He hath put ALL enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Cor. 15:25-26). When the last enemy is under His feet, destroyed, and there is no more death -- no more physical death, no more spiritual death, no more first death, no more second death -- in any creature anywhere in all God's great universe, in any heaven or in any hell, then shall God be ALL IN ALL! The Amplified gives, "...be everything to everyone." Time comes to an end when the ages end and eternity, with God all in all, becomes a conscious reality. There is no more change, therefore there is no more time.
Our blessed Lord Jesus Christ is a great priest after the Order of Melchizedek, not forever, as we have erroneously been taught, and not for just this one age of the Church dispensation, either, but unto THE AGE, that wonderful climatic age of all the ages, the grand finale of God's great plan of the ages! It cannot be made plainer than it is in Young's Literal Translation where we read, "And those indeed are many who have become priests, because by death they are hindered from remaining; and He, because of His remaining -- TO THE AGE, hath the priesthood not transient, whence also He is able to save TO THE VERY END, those coming through Him unto God -- ever living to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:23-25).
Great are the mediatorial and redemptive glories of God's Priesthood! What distinguishes this ministry above all others is the fact that it carries its wonderful mission to a successful, victorious conclusion. The Melchizedek Priesthood is a priesthood TO A FINALITY. The fact that there will come a day, O glorious day! when it will no longer be needed, is the highest praise that can be brought to the Melchizedek Priesthood. It will, in due time, have accomplished its mission, and finished the task God intended it to do. All other ministries retire because of their weakness and inability to bring aught to perfection. That is why God shall bring His son Company into the fullness of incorruptible life -- the sons of God must be able to live for the ages in order to fulfill their role in this Priesthood of the Ages. All creation is standing on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of God's sons coming into their own! All creation is in travail and pain waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God! All creation is groaning together for each of God's elect to come to their adoption -- to wit, the redemption of the body! And this is because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty from sin, sorrow, limitation and death, which is the liberty of the sons of God!
The priests of the old covenant all died, so that even the good and faithful priests were not able to stay on the scene to see that God's purpose was fully fulfilled in His people Israel. They could never bring anything to perfection because of death! But the Royal Priesthood after the Order of Melchizedek retires with honors -- having accomplished its glorious mission! Oh, how it drags the Christ's highest honors in the dust to distort God's Word so that His priesthood is eternal and His reign everlasting! Christ does not reign forever, my friend, for "He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He (the Father) hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith that all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that GOD may be all in all" (I Cor. 15:25-28). May God forgive the ignorant zeal which seeks to gild the glory of His crowns with the tarnished tinsel of man's imagination! What He starts He will finish, and what He commences He will consummate, praise His wonderful name!
One of the main arguments of the book of Hebrews is that the Aaronic priesthood and sacrificial ritual "brought nothing to completion." It was a treadmill of repetitive service which could not make the participants perfect. But Christ's Melchizedek Priesthood does and will bring mankind into perfect harmony with God, however many ages it takes, for He continues to live and remains a priest unto "THE AGE." During the Church age the Lord Jesus has been the only priest of that High Order, a priest for us, His younger brethren, to bring us to the perfection of His incorruptible life. But now we, together with Him, shall make up that priesthood for the age and the ages to come. Oh yes! We shall REIGN WITH HIM. "Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign over the earth" (Rev. 5:10). In and through His body of sons He is well able to complete the work and bring the priestly service to a close! If the Melchizedek Priesthood should continue forever, then His priesthood would be just as impotent as Aaron's, never able to obtain its objective. Hence Christ, and those who share His Priesthood, are priests after the order of Melchizedek "eis ton aiona" -- to the age. WITH WHAT ANTICIPATION DO WE AWAIT THAT GLORIOUS AGE! WITH WHAT JOY DO WE GIVE OURSELVES TO SERVE IN THIS MELCHIZEDEKIAN ORDER TO BRING THAT AGE TO PASS! At last, at long last, praise God, the Royal Priesthood will be able to say with finality, IT IS FINISHED! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
That God might advance His Kingdom from one stage to another He has by omniscient wisdom designed dispensations, epochs, and ages. From time to time He brings about a change in dispensations, which means the bringing forth of new means, methods, and revelations, always richer and more glorious and powerful and earth-shattering than the previous ones. There always lies between the closing of one age and the opening of another, a short period which partakes of the powers and methods of both ages, and is especially filled with dramatic manifestations of God's activity. We are now in the very throes of such a time, which lies between the age of the building in the earth of the many-membered Christ body and the age when the Kingdom shall subdue and break in pieces all the governments and nations of man. The rule of the Kingdom of God over the nations is about to open in power and great glory! This new age that is even now dawning will see the most extraordinary move of God, so vast in proportions, so dynamic in power, so revolutionary in its effects that it will transform all the present cultures and society of mankind, switch the currents of civilization, and alter the structure of the nations. This earth will receive such dramatic shock, such a global earthquake, such a divine impact of wisdom and glory and power that the whole world will be changed, completely remodeled.
This revolution will come through the manifestation of the sons of God and will penetrate and judge the motives, character, intents, activities, and institutions of the whole world! This marvelous work and ministry will be wrought by a company of King-Priests after the Order of Melchizedek. This sonship ministry will be the most awesome and powerful ministry the Lord has ever unleashed on the earth. Nothing will be able to stand before it! It will consume and break in pieces the whole fabric of the nations. The economic, cultural, educational, military, ecclesiastical and political structures that man has erected by the carnal mind and fleshly wisdom will disintegrate before the very eyes of all men. These sons of the Most High are even now being prepared and empowered with the mightiest weapon in the universe -- the sword of the Spirit which is the living word of God! All things and all creatures obey the command of the word of the Most High God! At His word creation springs forth and darkness flees from before His face.
"The Lord shall utter His voice (speak His word) before His army: for His camp is very great: for He that is strong executeth His word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?" (Joel 2:11). This army of God is earth's deliverers and the Lord's restoration hosts; not a revival crusade, not a political action committee, not a movement or organization, not a regiment of soldiers, but a spiritual company of divine origin and formation -- invincible and all-conquering! These are the marching men and women of God progressing through the ages, tramping the corridors of God's purposes, binding time and eternity together, fulfilling their mission, bringing the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Wherever the desperate needs of men are, from India's vast land, teeming with hundreds of millions, from Africa's dark juju ceremonialism, from the igloos of Iceland to the farthest reaches of Tierra del Fuego, from Wall Street to the Great Wall of China, from the ivory-covered halls of learning in Paris, or Cambridge, to the dusty roads of the commonplace of all nations -- wherever man may be found -- the sons of God shall bring the blessings and benefits of the Kingdom of Heaven with power and great glory!
THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
What a high and holy calling! "But God, who is rich in mercy...hath quickened us together with Christ...that in the ages to come He might SHOW the exceeding riches of His grace..." (Eph. 2:4-7). Those dear people who teach and preach that the day of grace will soon be ended know nothing at all of grace, nor do they understand that God Himself is grace. He is the God of all grace. You may as well say that God can die as to say that grace will end. So vast, so marvelous are the wonders of His grace, it will require the ages to come to continue to unfold these wonders, and He has purposed that there shall be a people through whom He would give this demonstration. "That in the ages to come He might show..." "Show" is from a Greek word meaning "to exhibit, to put on display like a work of art, to demonstrate." The Amplified Bible reads, "He did this that He might CLEARLY DEMONSTRATE through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace..." Kenneth Wuest translates, "In order that He might EXHIBIT...in the ages that pile themselves upon one another in continuous succession the surpassing wealth of His grace..." What a word! "Show...demonstrate...exhibit the riches of His grace" -- unto whom? Not to those who already know it, for they are the demonstration! For those who have experienced His grace to demonstrate that grace unto themselves would be useless nonsense. Ah, but to demonstrate it to those who do not know it! To the whole vast creation of men and realms and worlds and universes who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
Ah, God is preparing a divine show for all the earth, indeed for the entire universe. The mighty Barnum, in describing his circus, said it was THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH. True, Mr. Barnum was a great showman and, for its kind, he had a great show, but God is the Master Showman and He is preparing to give the world THE GREATEST SHOW IT HAS EVER SEEN. It is a theatrical of MERCY and GRACE and LOVE in a world of wrath and despair and sin and death. This will be God's master stroke as the curtain rises on creation's greatest drama -- God's Great Show -- THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD! Praise His name, once the finishing touch is put on the last stone of His living temple of Kings and Priests, the firstfruits of His redemption, in ages yet to come He shall put His grace and kindness and wisdom and power inwrought in us ON DISPLAY so that the entire creation may walk across the stage of His cosmic theater and behold and see and finally come to understand and appreciate what God has provided for all men in Christ.
Our ears have heard the sound of the trumpet and we cannot, dare not, settle for anything less, we must follow on to know the Lord in all His glorious fullness, to put on the mind of Christ, to be transformed into His image, to drink deeply of His incorruptible life, so that we in turn may be His Givers unto all. Let us not sell creation short in these days! All creation is groaning and travailing together in pain to be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Mankind is sick and tired of sin and fear and hatred and sorrow and pain and empty religious platitudes, rituals, ceremonies, doctrines and programs. The whole race is gripped by the most intense desire to receive, there is everywhere an unprecedented hunger for deliverance, life and reality. Let us not deny the Lord who purchased us to be a Kingdom of Priests by settling for something less, a comfortable position in the church realm, or a mansion over the hilltop. While we seek no glory of our own, there is, nevertheless, great wealth and heavenly glory for all who fulfill the will of God. You never lose with God!
The compelling passion of my life is to be filled with all the fullness of God and come to the image of Jesus Christ. The deep cry of my heart is for the satisfaction of knowing that my life counts for God. As God knows my heart, it is not a selfish desire. The reason I want to be like Jesus is because I love Him so, but also because it is the only way I can ever be used in the restoration of the fallen creation. I see the needs of the world around me, and realize that I am practically powerless to do anything about it. Oh yes, I can pray, and give a little, and believe God, and see occasional conversions, deliverances, and blessings. But anyone who says they have reached the place where their ministry is meeting the needs of the world is either blind to the needs of humanity, a proud hypocrite, or a compulsive liar. "Lord Jesus! Breathe Thy Spirit into all who read these lines until we are like Thee in all of Thy ways that Thou mayest be glorified and all creation blessed. Make us a center of omnipotent God! May the great river of Thy love and grace and power flow, and flow, and flow until the outflow of Thyself from our center knows no circumference, enveloping all creation in Thy life and light and love. Amen!"
God will make the reality ours. And it shall bring the increase of His Kingdom into the next age and unto the ages to come. Blessed be His name!
To be continued...
J. PRESTON EBY
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J. Preston Eby
P.O. Box 371240
El Paso TX 79937-1240
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