KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
QUALIFYING FOR KINGDOM DOMINION
"Let me help, Mommy!" cries little Mary to her busy Mom. She then proceeds to mop the floor with streaks and messy wet and dry spots here and there. Having finished, she eyes it with a satisfied sigh and says, "Didn't I do good, Mommy?" Her mother stands back and with a cheerful smile replies, "Yes, sweetheart, you did a wonderful job!" Now, does that mother need Mary's help to get her house clean? Not really. In fact, Mary's childish efforts at "helping" actually create more work for her mother. As soon as Mary is out of the house Mom will quickly re-mop that floor! But she knows that Mary needs to learn how to do housework, and feel the importance of her contribution, because one day Mary will have her own house to clean!
The question follows -- Does our heavenly Father really need our puny help with the accomplishing of His great universal Kingdom work? Not really, for He is self-sufficient, omnipresent, and omnipotent! As such He is not dependent on man for the fulfillment of any of His plans or the accomplishment of any of His purposes. But -- God has purposed within Himself to expand Himself in us as His very own sons and daughters, and bring us, upon our maturity, into HIS FAMILY BUSINESS. God's love for us is utterly pure and unselfish, and His plan for us is paternal, eternal and sovereign. He bestows upon us the high honor of sharing His nature, life, wisdom, knowledge, glory, power and dominion. Our work in God's family business -- His great and eternal and inexhaustible Kingdom -- is our response to His love. We are destined to rule all things for God and therefore we must learn how to rule! Sometimes, along our journey to maturity, we may not do the job much better than little Mary, but our Father is patient and persistent and we will eventually grow up into Him in all things, praise His name!
If a young athlete wants to play major-league baseball, he usually has to play in the minors first. Major-league teams raise their players in their minor-league farm teams. Every year they hope to get a harvest that justifies what the minor-league teams cost them. The Kingdom of Heaven is similar. Jesus said that if we are faithful in little things, He will increase our responsibilities, and that if we use our gifts and resources for His purposes and only for His glory, He will give us more to use. The reward for work well done is . . . well, more work! God has great responsibilities just waiting to be entrusted to His sons. His Kingdom has major-league openings to manage, judge, lead, supervise and rule to establish His Kingdom forever. But whom will He put in those major-league slots? Those who have been faithful in the farm leagues of the Kingdom! God is, at this very moment grooming a body, a people, a company of kings and priests to bring the glory of the Kingdom of God upon earth and throughout the universe. Men and women are being selected for this awesome responsibility from among all nations, cultures, races and tongues around the earth, and are being processed and prepared in their present walk with God. We are in contact with thousands of people who are experiencing the special dealings of God for this Day! The world as a whole is not cognizant of what God is doing, but this selection and preparation process is nonetheless well underway.
Have we, in our desire to reign with Him, forgotten that "if we suffer, we shall reign, and if we deny Him, He will deny us?" Have we forgotten the words of Jesus, which He spoke, saying, "Ye that have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Do we know what it means to follow Jesus? Do we know what it means to drink His cup and be baptized with His baptism? Are we truly followers with Him from the cross to the throne, or are we merely the throng that flock about Him seeking the blessings, the loaves and the fishes, and not brethren at all?
David, Christ's kingly ancestor, is in this way himself a type of his Lord. For chosen by God to succeed the lawfully appointed but rejected king (Saul), he was yet for many years allowed to be hunted and persecuted by the doomed monarch whom he was to follow. During these wanderings over the mountains and wilds his faithful followers shared his hardships, and he and they together learned to endure and to fight; and thus when God's time of preparation was over, and their training had been completed, David and his men were found equal to the great task of freeing God's people from all bondage to their foes. And, of course, those brave men who had shared their leader's path, with its dangers and distresses, were rewarded with the chief positions of glory in his kingdom. Surely all who read these lines can see the correctness of this, and can appreciate how worthwhile it finally proved to be to have shared their king's rejection and persecution. And thus in intenser measure will it be in this Day of the Lord! There is truly a price to be paid to walk with God in the new order of this new Kingdom Day that is now dawning, and there is great heavenly reward to those who pay that price!
A brother we have heard from through the years shared this illustration in one of his communications: It is as a great king of old who had two sons. Twins they were. The sons grew together. Soon they reached an age when much correction came. The boys needed the rod and found it in full force for their errors. One day both sons still felt the pain of the rod and their tears still flowed. There came by a young orphan about their age. He said to them, "I am free to do what I want. I am not as you who must endure the force of a father. I can skip and play and do cartwheels in the streets. I can beg, lie, steal, and sleep anywhere I please. I have fun every day for I am under the king's protection as one in his realm but I need not suffer as you with his corrections. I am free! Why do you not come with me and we can be free together?"
The boys made a decision that day. The first said, "No, though I am hurting from my father's rod, I would endure it every day for I will grow and inherit all that belongs to my father. I will learn and follow him wherever he leads me." The other boy was sore tempted for the pain of correction and the harshness of restrictions laid upon him was so much to bear. Soon he decided to follow the young orphan. Oh, how they played for days and years! They skipped and jumped and did cartwheels. They lied and stole as they wanted. They begged in the streets when it pleased them. They rejected the call of the king to serve him in any way. They only thought of their great fun and so chased after it. The two children grew. One learned of, and thus loved greatly, his father and his ways. The other rejected the loving call to come back into the household. The father let him go to do what he wanted. He knew that a love that is forced upon another will only bring bondage and hatred. Thus, for the will of the rebellious child, he left him to his fun.
The hour came to inherit the kingdom. The first son received great honor. All that his father had became his. The other son wanted some of his father's riches, too, for he also grew old and the pleasure of being an orphan left him. Being of age, if he stole, he would go to prison. Skipping and playing failed to please him anymore. Begging got him little. He wanted some of the kingdom too. However, the judge of the kingdom deemed him unworthy of even a morsel from the king's table. In like manner, God has many who want all that is His. They say, "If it is of my Father's, I want it!" They want the mercy, the grace, the blessings, the benefits, the healings, the miracles, the experiences -- anything they can enjoy without coming under the disciplining hand of their Father. Oh, they want to skip and jump and do cartwheels and shout and rejoice and prosper and get rich and use God's blessings in any way they want, and to their own ends. But they have no desire to learn God's ways, to put on His mind, to be conformed to His image, to do His will and be involved in His purposes. The churches today are filled with blessing seekers who follow the Lord for the loaves and the fishes, but have no heart for His corrections, to suffer with Him, to endure the cross, to die to all the carnality of the flesh and of the fleshly religious systems, in order to qualify to share His throne. The way to sonship is not an easy way, and some find it a little too hard, and would rather choose an easier way. This reminds me of the young aspiring musician who said to an old master, "Can you tell me of an easy way to become a great musician?" The old master just looked him in the eye and said, "Son, there is no easy way." And there is no easy way to sonship and the throne of God! This is why God has chosen certain ones, who have the stamina to seek first and only His Kingdom, to endure, and persevere, submitting to His will and His dealings, come what may.
I will have you to know that the Lord, having saved the children of Israel out of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. There is a teaching that God saves, and the devil destroys. I do not believe that the devil can destroy anybody. After having saved the people out of Egypt, GOD destroyed them, not the devil! And the angels that kept not their first estate, GOD cast them down, not the devil. When Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Ghost, GOD slew them, not the devil. I could go on and on. The old idea is, you try to live for God and the devil is on your trail trying to drive you to hell. But once God has called you and you belong to Him, whatever happens to you after that is from HIM, not the devil. When Israel was in the wilderness, it was not the devil that sent fiery serpents. The Bible says, "And YAHWEH sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died" (Num. 21:6). God sent the plague that judged them. So we need not be afraid of the devil, we need the fear of God, the reverence for the disciplines of our Father, in our hearts. God is not out to kill people, for all of these things are examples written for our learning. God is after the carnal nature, the religious foolishness, the selfhood of the Adamic mind -- He is out to slay the beast in us. "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:28-29). "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons" (Heb. 12:6-7).
These are the days in which God is preparing a people to reign in the Kingdom of God over all things. These will have to be those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb. They will be those who have been filled with all the fullness of God. They will be those who have learned to be led only and always by the Spirit. They will be those who have kept His word and walked according to His will. This company of people will be one with God in mind, heart, and purpose. They will have put on the mind of Christ and their will shall have given way to His will in all things. The people whom God shall use to reign over the nations and the universe, bringing God's Kingdom to pass in all realms, will be a strong people. They will be those who live in the presence of God and breathe in union with Jesus Christ.
Those who reign with Christ cannot be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, nor deceived by every good sounding theory of man that poses as deep revelation. They will not be moved by smooth-tongued orators or fast-talking deceivers. They will perceive the hearts of men and understand the true nature of all things. God is not interested so much in what is going on today within the church systems of men. God does not want just anybody to go out and do miracles, signs and wonders. He is preparing an incorruptible order of people to do these things on a level never seen before. There are many miracles and good works done in the name of Jesus by men whom the Father has not sent. God is very selective in this hour of those He chooses to manifest His power in the earth. Not just anybody is suitable. God trains and chooses in many ways. Moses was in the backside of the desert for forty years. David went through many years of battles and trials and testings to be eligible for the throne to which God elevated him.
In the natural realm you can get away with a lot of things. You can break the law and get away with it. You can go 50 miles an hour in a 30 mile an hour zone and probably not get caught. You can squander your bosses time on the job and cover it up. But you cannot get away with anything in the Kingdom of God! You can wallow in carnality, live in sin and partake of the harlot's table in the carnal religious systems of man and still go to heaven when you die. That is grace. But one does not reign in the Kingdom by grace. Oh no! Paul said, "By grace are ye saved..." He did not say, "By grace you will reign..." Of a truth I tell you that God knows all of our thoughts, He knows every motive and intent of our heart, every root of bitterness and lurking power of sin, every hidden weakness, and those unexplored tendencies and propensities that, under the right conditions, would make us traitors like Judas. He just knows everything! The very hairs of our head are numbered and He knows all of our ways.
We are talking about the Kingdom of God, not about being saved by grace. If you want a shack in the corner of glory-land, you can have it. Grace will secure it. But we are talking about the power and the glory of the Kingdom and those to whom it shall be given. To be saved there is only one prerequisite -- "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." But there are higher qualifications to rulership in the Kingdom! We cannot come to God and say, "I am eligible because I have attended church every Sunday for many years; I have brought a certain number of souls to Christ; I am eligible because I have paid tithes and given offerings to support the work of the gospel; I have taught Sunday School and worked in the programs of the church." There are many reasons that we could come to God and try to pay our entrance into the Kingdom. None of these will suffice. Not even the fact that we have come out of Babylon and believe the truth about sonship, reconciliation, and the Kingdom of God. What God wants is character -- the mind of Christ formed in us, the obedience, submission, love, purity and maturity of the life of Christ raised up in us as our very own reality, the image and likeness of God appearing in us, and the will of God done by us. Nothing else will suffice!
God is shaping our lives with a view to the future. What is happening to each son of God today has a bearing on what his role will be in the Kingdom of God throughout the ages to come. Our present travail will be easier to bear when we understand this truth. A crown prince cannot live like other people. When the crown prince of Great Britain is born, he is a marked child from the day of his birth. He is different from other children. His education, his way of dress, what he is taught in the home, his associations, his activities, where he goes and when and how, his leisure time -- everything about his life is planned to prepare him to be a king. The man or woman called to sonship cannot be like other people or other of God's children any longer. God has a special plan for this one! The truth is that a son of God marches to a different tune than his contemporaries. He hears the band playing the march of victory. He stays in line with those enChristed ones who march with him. He keeps in step with his leader, Jesus Christ. He marches to the music of the celestials. He marches in the procession of Christ. His music is the music of the Kingdom. Because this is a different kind of marching from that of those in the church systems, he is often out of step with them. They are not all marching to the same place! Most Christians are marching to a place in the sky with golden streets, palm branches and harps, to sing and dance and play and frolic for eternity. Sons do not have time for such frivolity, for they are marching to the throne of the universe, to a position of eminence, power, authority, responsibility, and eternal glory as lords and kings and priests and creators after the likeness of their eternal Father. Their business is not dancing over the hillsides of glory, but bringing the Kingdom of God to pass throughout the infinity of God's universe.
The great artist, Sir Joshua Reynolds, once painted a picture of Lord Holland, a prominent Englishman. The artist asked a large sum for his work, which he had completed in only a few hours' time. Lord Holland said to him, "You get money very quickly. It did not take you much time. How long were you in painting this picture?" Reynolds replied, "All of my life." The artist meant that the talents which had been developing all his life had entered into the picture and had made possible its production in a few hours. And he was correct. No great picture is painted in an hour. Life is back of it. And kings are not made in the day of their coronation. Oh, no! The willingness to submit to God's dealings and the work of conformation into the image of God's Christ is not reached in a moment. It is the outcome of an upward process by which we are transformed from glory to glory into the likeness of God. Kingship is the outcome of breakings, purgings, experience, growth, and development in the spirit throughout long months or years. God gives us a lifetime to build the character of a king, and that is generally how long it takes. It is the flowering out of the seed of Life which has been nurtured in our experience and testings day after day after day. It is not attained by one grand leap into a spiritual experience.
A. E. Knoch put it so well when he wrote, "Those who endure shall reign with Christ for the eons (II Tim. 2:12). It is a great pity to make this everlasting. Eonian life will, indeed, never end, because death itself shall be abolished at the consummation. Therefore it is unwise to overstress that the word eon does not denote endlessness in relation to our life in Christ, for it does involve it. But reigning is a different matter. All will be made alive eventually, but by its very nature, all cannot reign. Some must be subject. Reigning implies submission to intermediaries, and insubordination to God. When the kingdom is handed over to the Father, God cannot be All in all so long as some of His creatures reign over others. All rule, even that of Christ, shall cease when all authority is transferred into the hands of the Father. Endurance now is the proper preparation for reigning with Christ in the future. How different would rule be today if every officeholder had to undergo a thorough course of training in patient suffering! A prominent medical specialist in Europe tried to express a similar thought when he said that every physician ought to be thrown out of the window before he should be allowed to practice on a patient. He should know what suffering is, to deal with it sympathetically and successfully. So it is with governing! Only one who has felt the pains and penalties of mortality, and has endured the consequent suffering and shame, is fitted to rule. Only such a one will reign so successfully that ruling will eventually be ruled out!"
Today God is preparing the nobility of His Kingdom. Therefore, the qualifications are exceedingly stringent. The constant challenges and testings of our pilgrimage in Christ are not for the purpose of earning our salvation, rather the challenges and testings are for the purpose of preparing us to reign with Christ. The story is told of a certain bank in which there was a trust department in which four young men and one older man were employed. It was decided by the directors that they would promote the older employee and also promote one of the younger men to have charge of the trust department after the older gentleman was removed to his new position. After considering the merits of each of the men, a certain one of the four younger men was selected for the new position and a substantial increase in salary. It was decided to notify him that afternoon at four o'clock.
At the noon hour the young man went to a cafeteria for lunch. One of the directors was behind him in the line with several other customers in between them. The director saw the young man select his food including a small piece of butter. The butter he flipped on his plate and threw some food on top of it to hide it from the cashier. In this way he lied to the cashier about what was on his plate. That afternoon the directors met to notify the young man that they had intended giving him the promotion, but because of what had been seen in the cafeteria they must discharge him. They felt that they could not have one who would lie and steal as head of their trust department.
It reminds me of when Lorain and I were in Egypt. We took a cruise up the Nile to the Aswan Dam, visiting a number of ancient Egyptian temples along the way. At these temples are great, huge, colossal granite, sculptured pieces of kings and queens and gods. It was interesting to learn that these great sculptured pieces were all mined from one super granite quarry. The tremendous obelisks that the ancient Egyptians made were carved from one chunk of granite. These huge obelisks were monuments to history. They were placed at the entrance to a temple. Often an obelisk was more than a hundred feet high. Their sides were carved with hieroglyphs telling of the wonderful things their rulers had done. We saw a number of them at the temples, but in past centuries the finest pieces were dispersed all over the world by nations that controlled Egypt. There's one in Saint Peter's Square in Rome. Others are in Paris, France, London, England, and in Central Park, in New York City. But the best and biggest one of all still lies in the quarry up near Aswan. They spent decades cutting it out, chiseling it, filing it, sanding it -- and there it lies. It is fourteen feet square at the base. We were able to walk all over it. It's 142 feet long. And it's still lying there. Why? Because just before they got ready to move it, the experts looked at it, and they saw what no one else could see -- flaws in the basic quality of that granite. Flaws! And because there were flaws, they wouldn't move it. They abandoned it!
Many students who enter college are required to take an entrance exam. As with every test, the entrance exam is given to determine, and prove, those who qualify, and eliminate those who don't. Those who pass the test will remain and continue with their studies; those who fail are rejected. Every test and trial has within it the element of elimination. Those who do not stand and pass the test are eliminated -- not killed or tortured -- but cast off, excluded, rejected, prevented from entering in to the new realm. That this possibility exists in the callings of God is clearly seen by the earnest exhortation of Paul when he writes to the saints at Corinth, "So run that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (I Cor. 9:24-27). The Revised Standard Version reads, "I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air (a shadow boxer), but I pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." Paul realized that the thing that could disqualify him from the high calling of God was his old body with its desires, passions, and deceits -- his flesh. He fought against it, he pummeled it, he beat it down, as some translations say, not yielding to the desires of the flesh, but bringing his flesh man into subjection to the spirit, lest after a wonderful and successful preaching ministry setting forth the deep things of God, he himself would be cast away, rejected from the High Calling of God. Being a preacher, even a great preacher, articulating the wonderful truths of manifest sonship and the Kingdom of God, is not sufficient to qualify one for sonship in the Kingdom or the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. And I can assure you that there are vast numbers of preachers who will be eliminated in that day; those who have not been able to pass the test!
Listen carefully to the wonderful provision God has made for those who love Him and seek His Kingdom above all else. "Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver..." (Mal. 3:2-3). In the refining and purifying process there is a purging taking place. Purging is getting rid of unwanted and unnecessary material. When Hitler came to power in Germany he instituted a purging of the government. He cast out all of those not in favor of his agenda and whom he believed he could not trust to cooperate completely with him. These were put out of office. When a conspiracy to get rid of him was discovered there was another purge. Those involved in the purge were not just relieved of their responsibilities, they were executed. Under the communist government of the former Soviet Union there was a purge of the high officials every time there was a change of leadership. Many were demoted to a lesser office, some were retired altogether, while others were promoted to higher positions and power. This is what is called a purge.
The Lord, when He comes to His temple of living stones and purges the sons of Levi, or His kingly priesthood, He first of all purges out one man -- old Adam! He comes to cleanse us from the carnal, Adamic mind, nature, and ways. He comes as a consuming fire to burn out of us all that is contrary to the righteousness and wisdom and purposes of the Lord. He is coming to each one of us in the new Day of the Lord and is executing the old man of sin in us. But on a corporate level He is also coming to those who have received the call to sonship and is separating out all who talk the Kingdom but do not walk the Kingdom. Only the ones who have completely surrendered to His will, and have walked in His ways, and have obeyed each sound of His voice, who have clean hands and pure hearts, will remain to reign with Him. How can anyone be put in a place of authority and power in the Kingdom who has not come to the place of complete SUBORDINATION TO THE KING? He will purge the sons of Levi, the kings and priests of His Kingdom, disqualifying those He cannot trust to do His will and cooperate completely in the administration of His Kingdom. The ways of Babylon and all the soul-possessing demands of the insipid church systems must be purged, the attributes of the carnal mind must be cleansed, all self-hood must be purified, and all desire to make a name for ourselves and to gather men to ourselves rather than to Christ must be purified. The ones who will abide the day of His coming and stand when He appeareth are those He is refining and purifying now.
"Kings and priests" are not honorary titles conferred on us because we have believed on Jesus, had our sins forgiven, and made it to heaven. Rather, these are positions of responsibility, authority and power. Kings and priests of God must be trained with far, far more rigor than are subjects of the Kingdom who bear little responsibility. They must also be trained and equipped more thoroughly than the church age ministries which are in part and last only until the Perfect Man is formed. The sons of God partake of a more excellent ministry and bring in a better age! The Kingdom of God is God in His Christ ruling over all things, performing the will of God on earth as it is in heaven. Obviously a great transformation must take place in our personality if we are to meet the standards for ministry at this high level!
This is a day of instant things. In the fast-paced, fast food society, we are used to having things as we want them, when we want them. Everything is instant. We can walk into a room and get instant light, heat, and air conditioning by flipping a switch. We get up in the morning and drink instant coffee, eat instant oatmeal, instant soup, instant mashed potatoes, and instant other things too numerous to name. If it isn't instant, then we turn on the microwave. All too often we also expect instant results in our spiritual life -- instant perfection, instant power, instant maturity, instant sonship! But, dear one in Christ, God doesn't believe in shortcuts! Haste in the high and holy things of the Kingdom of God is freighted with grave danger. As someone has pointed out, when the almighty Creator plants a redwood tree in the womb of mother earth, He is looking forward in infinite wisdom and patience perhaps five thousand years to a day when it is a towering monarch of the forest. Think it not strange, then, that He would spend the entire span of a man's brief life-time in bringing to perfection a saint who is to rule the world as a son of God, bringing life and order out of the dreadful death and chaos that everywhere reigns upon earth. The wonder is that it does not take much longer! Let us, therefore, not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
I am deeply impressed with the words of George Hawtin penned some years ago in his paper THE PAGE. "God increases our faith through patience. At first what faith you had was void of patience. It wanted to see creation leap in response to its impatient demands. The sick must be healed right now. The world must be converted right now. You must get rid of carnality and become perfect now, of course; but as years went by and things continued much as they were before you tried to set the world on fire, you began very slowly to see that God is not enthused about impatient faith; you came to see that faith and patience are inseparable and methinks someday you will see that patience is faith. We have heard a great deal about faith, much of it springing from the desire of the carnal mind. Little indeed have we heard of patience without which there can be no real and lasting faith.
"Harvests do not come without patience and waiting. Vainly we have tried to squeeze God into our mold of haste and hurry. We have cried, wept, and teased like spoiled children in an endeavor to get our way and hurry God in His program. We have demanded of God and tried to command Him. We have quoted scriptures to try and bolster our position but all in vain. To learn faith in patience is much more important than for us to have our own way about things. In Hebrews 10:35-37 the apostle wrote, 'Cast not away therefore your confidence which hath great recompense of reward. For YE HAVE NEED OF PATIENCE that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise'" -- end quote.
Ah, beloved, does it seem that you shall never overcome the flesh, the world, and the devil; that you shall never live the abundant life, never arrive at perfection or attain unto maturity of sonship? Be encouraged, dear ones, for our gracious heavenly Father dropped a word into my heart in such an hour of foreboding when progress seemed so slow in my spiritual life that it appeared I was going backward instead of forward. His voice fell in quickening illumination upon my attentive ear with this beautiful word of wisdom: "My son, look back upon your walk five years...ten years...twenty years...how were you then? Have you changed at all? Have you grown some? Have you learned lessons and gained victories? Are you in any measure wiser, stronger, more enlightened, experienced, and triumphant? Do you know me in a deeper way than you did at the beginning? Have you made some progress? Can you see how much different is your life today in the deepest recesses of being than it was before? Ah, my son, if all this has been wrought by my hand in your life within the span of these years, can you not now trust me to finish and perfect that good work which I have begun in you? Do you not know that I am silently but faithfully working in you this very day to conform you to the image of my Son?"
Sons of God! Do not spend your days fretting about whether you are making progress. There is nothing in the world that grows so fast that you can see it grow! My eight grandchildren are growing every day of their lives, but I cannot see them grow. Tomorrow they will be taller, stronger, and wiser than today but I will be unable to discern it. Let God be the judge of how much or how little you have grown. Your duty and mine is to press relentlessly onward heedless of circumstances or conditions, but pressing patiently toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Few of us look in the mirror and come to the conclusion of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath. During his heyday as a player, Namath wrote a book titled I Can't Wait Until Tomorrow ... 'Cause I Get Better-Looking Every Day. As egotistical as that title sounds, it can help us see how we as sons of God being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ should view ourselves in the lifelong process of becoming like Him. Scripture tells us that to become more like Christ, we need to keep getting better every day!
I will tell you a great secret. I read a story about a wonderful violinist who traveled to Houston to give a concert. He had recently spent thousands of dollars on a Stradivarius violin. Naturally all the news media carried stories about this wonderful opportunity to hear the fabulous music that such an exquisite violin would produce. The local newspapers ran photographs of the Stradivarius and published articles about its history and marvelous tonal quality. Few words were printed about the violinist himself. Most of the praise went to the violin. On the night of the concert, the hall was packed. The crowd was thrilled with every note and the auditorium filled with wave after wave of tremendous applause. The concert ended with a prolonged standing ovation.
But then the violinist did something quite shocking! He took his violin, that beautiful instrument that had been the source of such wonderful music, and lifted it over his head. After the crowd rose to its feet in adulation, he brought the instrument down -- hard -- across his knee. Its back was broken and the strings hung loose. Now it was completely worthless. A gasp of horror went through the auditorium as people wondered if the violinist had lost his mind. But he raised his hand to quiet the murmuring and said, "This is not a Stradivarius! I went down to the pawn shop and bought this violin for ninety-five dollars." The message is clear -- it wasn't the quality of the instrument that produced those beautiful, soul-stirring sounds. It was the quality of the person playing that instrument! And today, in our present state of spiritual growth and development, some of us may feel like ninety-five dollar pawn shop violins along side the famous Stradivarius -- Jesus, the firstborn Son of God! But the reality is that it doesn't matter whether you're as gifted, accomplished, fluent, knowledgeable, wise and externally holy and spiritual as other saints. If your life is committed into the Father's hands, then you too, can produce the most beautiful music imaginable. The key is to get your focus away from yourself and on to the Great Musician -- God Himself. Right where you are, let God begin to "play" you!
A dear friend of ours in the city of Detroit shared this meaningful experience with us some years ago following a message I brought along this line. She said, "I will never forget my first day in school in a rural community in the South. I arrived alone, but refused to go inside. I didn't think that I would enjoy school, and was quite certain that I didn't need an education. In my childish mind I made a firm decision not to go to school at all. Quickly I passed by and went straight to my grandmother's home. Grandmother, surprised at seeing me, asked, 'Why, Veta, what are you doing here? Didn't school start today?' I actually felt that I was in command and could carry out my plans, so I replied with finality, 'I have decided not to go to school!'
"Grandmother was a wise old woman, and appeared to respect my decision. She didn't scold, but sadly said, 'I'm so sorry to hear that, Veta. I'm really disappointed that you aren't going to school. You see, grandmother needs someone to write letters for her, and I had hoped that you would go to school and learn to write. I thought you would be the one to write the letters for me.' I loved my grandmother very much, and her words impacted my childish mind. I changed my mind, deciding to go to school just long enough to learn how to write. I left grandmother's, made my way back down the road to school, arriving late, of course, and walked in with my hat and coat on for I was certain that I would be there for only a short time. The teacher was very understanding and quite gentle with me. Later, I found myself at the blackboard, chalk in hand, the teacher's hand upon mine, showing me how to make the number 2 along with the letters of the alphabet. After some minutes I asked the teacher when would we get on with the writing. Suddenly the whole prospect loomed menacingly before my mind and irritatedly I inwardly shouted, 'If we don't go faster than this, I'm going to be here ALL DAY!' And I was, of course! I went back to school the next day, and the next, and the next for many years to come! I became a star student, and a joy to my grandmother."
So God, omniscient and omnipotent, has established here upon earth a School for the training of those destined to be the future rulers of the universe. This School is known as "the church, the body of Christ." None shall ever rule as King-Priests after the order of Melchizedek who have not graduated from this School! And what a great Teacher we have! One begins in God's School of Kingship and Priesthood in the first grade. You start with the ABC's. God opens the class and says, "Now children, we are going to learn how to rule. To rule means to govern, to control, to be master over that which is ruled. You can never rule anything until first you overcome it within yourself. To 'overcome' means to COME UP OVER THAT WHICH IS OVER YOU. When, within yourself, you rise above the circumstance, the problem, the obstacle, the weakness, the temptation, so that it no longer controls you, you are then ready to control it, no longer to be the victim of circumstances, but the master of them." That is the first lesson, the first step in becoming a King! And so, in the nitty-gritty of everyday life God teaches us how to overcome, how to reign, how to bless, how to love, how to have compassion, how to be a King and a Priest in His Kingdom.
The promises of God are vast and varied. Some of them, like forgiveness of sins and healing, are free and unconditional and may be obtained very easily. That is why so many receive them! But if you would be a King-Priest and receive the power to rule over, bless, and deliver creation, if you would learn the life, authority, and government of God to reign in His Kingdom, then that is a different matter altogether! You must become a follower of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. It takes patience to attain any worthy goal. It takes endurance too. No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. Even in this hour some do look back to the former orders of the church age that God has brought them through, and clinging to a lesser realm disqualify themselves for God's fullness. We do not attain sonship by a single bound. Neither do we qualify for Kingship and Priesthood in a moment of time. It is not an experience we can receive one night at the altar. It cannot be conferred on us by the laying on of hands. We cannot claim it and seize it today by faith. We have need of patience. We must through faith and patience grow up unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ. We must become mature, spiritually skilled ones through experience. Only such can serve as Kings and Priests of the Most High God!
The following historical sketch came across my desk. It was the time of the French Revolution. They beheaded the king and then the queen. The crown prince was left orphaned. Somebody said, "Behead the little prince." But then the devilish suggestion was made, "Don't behead him; you'll only send his soul to Heaven; that's too good for royalty! I say turn him over to Old Meg; she'll teach him the vile, filthy words and ways of the street. Then he'll end up going to hell." So, as the story goes, he was turned over to this wicked woman of the streets, who tried to get him to repeat these ugly, profane words and commit vile, filthy acts. But, he would stamp his feet, clench his fists, and his little golden curls would shake on his velvet shoulders, and he would say, "I will not say it; I will not do it; I was born to be a king, and I will not do it!" I say to every person reading these lines today, you were born to be a prince, you were born to be a king with Christ upon His throne and His Father's throne, and therefore you will be an overcomer!
Ern Baxter, who worked and ministered with William Branham and the great healing revivals of the late 1940's and the 1950's was once asked to share how he later faced the change in his relationship with William Branham and the whole healing movement. He said, "In the ministry with William Branham, I saw a dimension of the supernatural that had in it such seeds of spiritual unity and other good fruits that my excitement was hard to contain. But when I saw carnality start to invade the movement -- exaggeration, misrepresentation, metaphysics, and eventually the breakdown of many of the healers in critical areas of their lives because they couldn't handle the crowds, the popularity, or the money -- I had to withdraw from it. That was one of the most traumatic times in my life. I did a lot of praying at that time, a lot of groaning. In fact, I did a lot of screaming because I was close to an emotional breakdown. A tremendous move of God had been sold out so cheaply; it was difficult to handle. If I hadn't had an experience with God, if I hadn't had a consciousness of His sovereignty, if I hadn't had some kind of a relationship with God based on process, I don't know what I would have done. I had maintained the pastoral oversight of a church while working with Branham, and I went back and gave myself totally to that. I was now ministering in a church, where before I had been with thousands of people in city-shaking meetings. It was quite a shock. I would go to my study, get down on the floor, and just groan. I'd talk to God, and just wait. I couldn't do anything else. If it were not for my relationship with God, my knowing God, I could have taken the extreme position that Christianity was all just a 'bunch of bunk.' But I couldn't do that, because it wasn't a matter of Christianity; it wasn't a matter of the healers; it was a matter of who was the most important person in this, and that was GOD. God wasn't bunk to me. I knew that. I knew God, and I knew where God was."
Ah, yes, my beloved, many have failed in the in-part realm and have been disqualified and fallen by the wayside, leaving heartbreak, tragedy, and disaster in the body of Christ. Of a certainty I know that it shall not be thus in the King-Priest ministry of the manifested sons of God! Those who come with the Christ making war, subduing the nations unto God, restoring all things and delivering creation from the bondage of corruption shall themselves be incorruptible, having been called, and chosen, and faithful, tested in the wilderness, tried in the fire, proven under pressure, purged, refined, purified, molded and fashioned into the very nature and character of Christ. These shall reign with Christ over all things because they have first reigned with Him within themselves!
As I have pointed out many times before, the journey to the throne of the universe begins in that small and undistinguished place where you are. The Kingdom of God is within you. The enChristed who are to reign with Christ from sea to sea, then from planet to planet, and finally from universe to universe, are being prepared. Think not in your heart, precious friend of mine, that you may pass your life here careless, indifferent to the dealings of God, suddenly to awake one fine morning to find yourself sitting with Christ governing the galaxies, because such a thing will not be. Begin today to prepare for the kingship! This present time is but a proving ground for those who through grace will reign with their Lord over the endless vastnesses of infinity. He is raising us up to sit with Him in the higher than heavenlies. And the place which He is preparing for each one is not only a world to come, and a Kingdom of Life and Light, but a place IN HIM, bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh, spirit of His spirit, mind of His mind, nature of His nature, wisdom of His wisdom, power of His power, authority of His authority, and life of His life!
Years ago an IBM junior executive made a mistake that cost the company several million dollars. IBM's founder, Thomas J. Watson Sr., summoned him into his office. Assuming the worst, the sullied young executive said, "I guess you want my resignation?" Mr. Watson replied, "You can't be serious. We've just spent millions of dollars educating you!" God is the founder of the most important enterprise of all -- the Kingdom of God. God is now in the process of hiring, educating and developing His management team. He is training us to become powerful rulers in that Kingdom in the day when He initiates the next phase of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. How much has God already invested in your training and education? God has made a supreme investment in us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Without that price none of us could even enter into the Kingdom of God, much less attain the high-ranking positions God has waiting for those who overcome -- who graduate from His school. But God doesn't stop there. He invests in us daily through His guidance and processings, and through the continuous gracious outpourings and deep and vital dealings of His Spirit. God is at work in us!
In a very real sense, God owns us. The apostle Paul reminds us, "For ye were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (I Cor. 6:20). The great King of this Kingdom expects to see a profit for all of His time, effort, and sacrifice. God, of course, is not interested in making money. He already owns everything. God is in the business of developing His family -- sons with character. If those of us who are called now succeed in qualifying for positions of rulership, we will in turn be able to help millions of others become citizens of the Kingdom. To put it in business terms, our future profit to the Kingdom of God will more than make up for our present losses -- if we stay with the organization and apply the new lessons! Saints, like the junior executive at IBM, are capable of making costly mistakes. Have you ever felt that God has given up on you? Do you feel like you are wasting His time? Sometimes our mistakes are very costly to us, too! Have you ever felt that the cost is too high, and that you are wasting your time? Let's see what God says: "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).
God will never give up on us! He is investing in us with every intention of making a profit and expanding His Kingdom. Our all-wise Father sees our potential. He knows our capacity to grow and develop. He is keener at discerning it than we are. He is also well aware of our weakness, and is ready to help. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," said Paul. The children of God make a lot of mistakes, for children are children. Our ability to learn from our mistakes is part of what God uses to build character in us. In the book of Revelation, we read that it is the overcomers -- those who don't leave God's school or resign from His calling -- who ultimately are given power in His Kingdom. "And behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every one according to his work" (Rev. 22:12). "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more" (Lk. 12:48). Have you made costly mistakes? Have you been stumbling and seemingly wasting God's time? Don't resign! Don't drop out of God's school! His investment in you is too great! He will see you through! Graduation day is coming! The positions in His authority and glory are waiting! Learn the lessons that will help you to better serve in the Kingdom of God. If you do, great heavenly wealth and power and opportunity lie ahead for you in the age and in the ages to come. Through you creation will be lifted, redeemed, restored to life and liberty and glory -- and that's where the real profit begins!
Let us learn our lessons well -- and let us never presume that we have attained to something in God that we have not yet qualified for. And let us never grasp after a place or position the Father has not conferred upon us. There is no need to DECLARE OUR SONSHIP -- the Father Himself declares His sons. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This is my Son, hear ye Him." Some today have grown weary of waiting for the manifestation God has promised, so they have "watered down" the hope and settled for a lesser reality, declaring themselves sons of the Kingdom on a lower plane than God has called us to. Some have settled for a "revival" realm, or a "New Testament Church" realm and now speak disparagingly of what they term "classical sonship." These impetuous souls just can't wait for the Father's appointed time. The place that God has called us to will be in His time, not ours. "The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father" (Gal. 4:1-2). The story is told of a fifteen year old boy who stole his father's car keys. The father's plan was to give the keys to his son a year later. The boy, however, thought that he had all the attributes necessary to drive the car. The father knew better; he understood the law, insurance liability, driving skills, and such like. As a result, the court would not let the boy drive a car until he became twenty-one. Let us earnestly seek wisdom from above to avoid such a costly error of SELF-MANIFESTATION!
Brother Bob Torango wrote the following powerful exhortation some years ago, and it is still as pertinent today as when he penned it. "Are we ready now for the greater things of this word and walk? I pray so. If not, you can be sure of one thing, the Lord will be faithful to hide them from us until such a time as they will be a blessing in our life and not a curse. I believe it to be vital that we leave the rudimentary basics of this word and shove away from the shore to the deepness of the waters. We have only dealt with the surface things thus far. We have striven to be happier than we were yesterday, more prosperous than we were last year, try not to cuss so much and love our families like we should. Excuse me for being so blunt, but shouldn't we be doing these things by now? I may be wrong, but it seems to me there are too many people connected with this revelation that are constantly having to attend self-help meetings and seminars on 'How To Keep Your Marriage' and 'Have You Talked To Your Kids Today?' Those are First and Second Day problems. Surely somebody is ready to venture into the things beyond the keeping of the basic rules necessary to live in a civilized world. The ten commandments should suffice to keep us from killing each other! If we can't even love our own mate or friends, how in the world can we expect to come into a word that says we must love our enemies? We need to be EMPOWERED!
"I hear from the community of Kingdom folk how much revelation we have, and we are in the Third Day, and we have arrived into the Holiest of all, and just any moment now we are going to walk on water and glow in the dark. But look around you! Ministry are still playing a game of politics and preying on feeble-minded people, and the body of Christ can't even forgive one another of wrongs or say an apology if they have wronged someone else. There has to be a people that is ready to go on into the things that God has prepared for this new dimension of ministry regardless of whether their friends are ready to go or not. We'll just have to pick them up on the next go around -- visit them in the next visitation and leave them our forwarding address. We must go on! If we stay here we will die. The only hope for those who refuse to pay the price of this next transition is for you to leave them in the hands of the First and Second Day ministries and go through the door and believe that God will send you back to them at another time."
Everything that is worthy and valuable is filled with labor, and the road to it always lies through the mountains of difficulty and the valleys of testing, never through the plains of ease. Dearly beloved, let us give diligence to make our calling an election sure. Let us strive to enter the straight gate. Let us run that we may receive the prize. Let us fight, not as those who beat the air. Let us press toward the mark and never flinch under stress or the pain. Let us not be mere religious wind bags who make great claims of revelation and attainment but do not live up to them. A religious windbag claims intimate knowledge of God, but his behavior shows no signs of such knowledge. He claims to walk with God and to know the ways of God, but such a relationship has little affect on the way he treats his wife and children. He is like the farmer in the fairy tale who brags that his daughter can spin straw into gold -- but, of course, that is all talk. His poor daughter is forced to try and live up to her father's lie, but she never can. Our claims to sonship must not be empty. If we want to be sure we have this Life, our expression of nature and character must be like Jesus. Love describes Jesus! Love was made perfect in Him, and it must be in us, too.
A dear brother pointed out that there was a time in our childhood when we played "grown-ups." He added, "I see in my spirit that there are children who are merely playing 'sons.' They appear to be sons, they speak like, and they act like sons, yet there is more pretending than being. They still cling to worldly joys, to family ties, and to the old ways and customs of Babylon. My dear brethren, this is not a voice of condemnation, for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, it is a voice of discernment, a voice of love, tenderly admonishing the precious jewels of the Father to abandon all, and to enter into the dawning of the Day of the Lord, that He might manifest Himself in us, as He prepares to manifest us to each other and then to the world." God grant it!
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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