“MY kingdom is not of this world.”
The words of Jesus are spirit and life when applied to the subjects of his kingdom; every one of this kingdom is subject to the King of kings. All power and authority are his, his word is law and verily truth. When he says, “My kingdom is not of this world,” we are not to question what he says, but believe his kingdom is not of this world, whether we can understand it or not.
The apostles in their first acquaintance with Jesus, as a man, thought he would set up an earthly kingdom; two of them, James and John, desired to be prominent in such kingdom by sitting the one on the right and the other on the left hand of Jesus. He answered, “Ye know not what ye ask.” They had to be taught by many sorrowful lessons, in drinking of the cup that Jesus drank and in being baptized with the baptism that he was baptized with, that his kingdom is not of this world. The apostles had no prominence in the world, we mean religious world, or among men, because of being the servants of God, but were considered “the offscouring of all things,” accused of most every evil because they preached Christ and the resurrection; they were prominent, however, in the kingdom of God, where believers in Christ and his power to save are only found. These men did not seek the applause of the world, they did not love the world, nor did they seek to please men. Paul said, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” A most serious question arises here: Are we who profess to be the servants of Christ seeking to please men? If so, we are not the servants of Christ; he is our King and Master, to him alone are we accountable for! our stewardship. Do we sometimes round the corners in presenting the gospel, or desire to speak “smooth things,” lest some one of the world be offended? Do we fail to talk of Christ and his loving-kindness when in the parlor because some are present who do not believe the truth? What is this but denying Christ and pleasing men? The conversation of those of God’s kingdom in the early ages of the church was, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever;” they were not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. A command was once given to “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Should not the gospel of the grace of God be so set forth to-day? Should we not be bold in the defense of the truth to speak in such a way that all who hear may know where we stand in this matter of salvation!
There is no place in the army of God for a coward; in ancient times those who were afraid were not numbered with those who fought the battles. The doctrine cannot be preached too plain nor too strong for those who believe it; if unbelievers are offended at the truth it will be no more than they were when Christ preached his own power, the efficacy of his own blood and God’s eternal purpose in preparing him a body. Hundreds were offended at this kind of doctrine at one time, twelve only in that great company heard with comfort and said, “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Jesus did not shun to preach the truth just as it is because it would not be received by unbelievers. Why should we attempt to build up this kingdom of God (which he alone builds) with worldly matter? Why, if it is not of this world? John, when in the isle that is called Patmos, saw, in vision, the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven; this is God’s kingdom, and the fact that it comes down from God shows conclusively that it is not of this world; it is in the world, but no part of it, it is of God. It is a peaceable and quiet habitation, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” God’s kingdom is spiritual, heavenly and divine, because he reigns in it without a rival, he is one Lord and his name one, therefore there can be no such thing as division in his kingdom. The question might he asked, Does not the strife and war in the church to-day prove clearly that there is division, and that all of his kingdom is not spiritual? No, unless the words of our text, “My kingdom is not of this world,” can be proven untrue. If we say there is division in God’s kingdom, we say that in part his kingdom is of this world; we also say the Zion of God is not a peaceable and quiet habitation. In our ideas of the kingdom of God we must not deny his word, his word is true, and all things must be tested by it. How can there be division in a kingdom when there is but one power? There is no power in God’s kingdom except his own almighty power, therefore no division, no strife. Now the question, What means all the strife in the church of God to-day! “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” If there is division in God’s kingdom or house what will be the result? “It shall not stand.” Who would dare say the kingdom or house of God shall not stand? “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” If there is division in it it cannot stand, but the fact that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it proves conclusively that in it there is no division. The fighting of Satan against it does not make Satan a part of the church; he may be transformed into an angel of light, “so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God,” but it is all false, this is only one of bis ways of fighting against it; he is still Satan, a liar and a deceiver. Would God work against himself? No. Satan cannot work against himself. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” Why should we imagine that God is divided against himself, or that there is division in his kingdom? God is God, Satan is Satan, truth is truth, error is error. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not; and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” Does not James make the distinction clear between these two principles! They are set forth as being opposite in every sense of the word; the one of the earth, the other from above; the one working every evil, the other all good. These principles cannot be blended, therefore are not divided against themselves. When trouble, war, strife and confusion are manifest we have no authority to say the kingdom of God is divided, but the two principles are made manifest, the one of war, strife, error, unrighteousness and every false way; the other of peace, truth, righteousness and every good work. In this we see the word of God still maintained, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The precious is often separated from the vile, but the vile has never been a part of the kingdom of God. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” When the apostles speak of division, a careful reader will observe that the idea of division in the kingdom of God is not set forth, but carnality was ever manifest, and we know that carnality is not a part of that kingdom which is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Should wolves, in sheep’s clothing, get into the visible kingdom of God, they are no part of his house any more than a goat would be a sheep if clothed in a sheepskin. God will cast out all such, because no worldly material can have place in his heavenly kingdom. When we say visible kingdom, we mean church organization, nevertheless “the kingdom of God cometh not with observation.” Mortal eye cannot behold it; the Holy Ghost guides and teaches, but by faith we see the house of God eternal in the heavens.
The saints of God do not differ in form and appearance from those of the world, but there is something within them that identifies them with God; “it is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” They do not love the world with its follies and delusions, they hate the commandments of men when preached as the gospel of God, they hate all sin, yes, even the appearance of evil, they hate their own life; this shows also that the kingdom of God is not of this world.
The bondwoman and her son were cast out, because her son could not be heir with the son of the freewoman; it was impossible that there could be division in the inheritance. This casting out of the bondwoman’s children is still going on, and will continue; this is one of God’s ways to make manifest the heirs of promise. Paul did not claim relationship with the children of the bondwoman, but said, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” The children of God need not be disturbed with regard to his kingdom, he builds the house and keeps the city. In Christ was chosen a definite number before the world began; this number composes the kingdom of God, hence having been chosen in Christ it is not of this world. Neither has it nor can it diminish, “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” This kingdom cannot be divided on earth nor in heaven. May the Lord give us to see by faith its spiritual completeness and perfection. K.
Editorial – Elder H. C. Ker
Signs Of The Times
Volume 74., No. 15.
AUGUST 1, 1906.