KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
THE INCREASE OF THE KINGDOM
The sons of God do not have to be afraid of the passage of time, because time is on our side. History is working toward our objectives which are according to God's plan of the ages. Nearly four millennia ago God appeared to Abraham with the promise that through him and his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. Abraham was only one man in the midst of a pagan world of false gods and superstitious religion. How could such a promise be realized? Must he form an organization, design a strategy, and begin to enlist workers to help bring the objective to pass? Not at all! He stood by faith in the God who promised and staggered not in unbelief. He did nothing more than that. He understood that this was God's strange work, not man's.
Centuries passed monotonously and uneventfully by until the day God appeared to Moses in the burning bush at the backside of the desert. Swiftly momentous events were set in motion which brought Abraham's multiplied family out of Egypt and formed them into a nation at the foot of blazing Sinai. Forty years later God gave them their homeland in Canaan, according to His promise to their father, Abraham, and eventually they became a power to be reckoned with among the nations. Then fifteen hundred more years of unclimatic history passed until the angel Gabriel was dispatched to the young virgin in Nazareth and announced, "Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Lk. 1:31-33).
Jesus came into the world at the time of the Roman empire. He was crucified on a Roman cross, pierced with a Roman spear, and sealed in His sepulcher under a Roman seal. But, praise God! He burst the bands of death, shattered the seal of mighty Rome, and arose the Conquering Christ. And not only that -- He ascended victor over sin and all the powers of darkness, having brought to nought the prince of this world, having brought in eternal redemption and everlasting hope for a lost world and reconciled all things back unto Himself. He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high and poured out upon the first few citizens of His Kingdom the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Kingdom of God was birthed, and gathered from Jew and Gentile alike a vast multitude into its bosom. What a flood of light and glory and power fell upon the world through the ministry of the humble followers of the Lamb!
What glorious days those were! How God blessed His people! Mighty signs and wonders were performed as God confirmed His word with signs following. The word of God, anointed by the Holy Spirit, swept the world like a prairie fire. It encircled the mountains and crossed the oceans. It made kings to tremble and tyrants to fear. It was said of those early Christians that they turned the world upside down -- so powerful was their message and spirit! The knowledge of the glory of the Lord covered the earth as the waters cover the sea. Paganism fell. The mighty Roman empire shut up its pagan temples, sheathed its persecuting sword, and sat down as a disciple at the feet of Christ and His apostles. Jesus had said, "I will build my church," and build it He did!
Now two thousand years more have gone by and nothing new has happened! But -- can you not see the progression? God appeared at the first to one man -- Abraham. It is plain to see that out of Abraham came a nation. Out of that nation came the Christ. Out of Christ has come the church. And now, out of the church is being birthed the manchild, the manifested sons of God, destined to rule all nations with a rod of iron. No man understands history who has not the knowledge of this progression of events! The truth is that not one history teacher out of ten thousand has any idea of what history is all about. The proof of the Bible is found in the fact that its prophecies have been, and are being, meticulously and precisely fulfilled. The mighty works of God throughout the ages are the very core, the momentum, the purpose, and the meaning of history. History reveals the outplaying of God's purposes in the earth. Just as surely as Abraham fathered a nation, just as surely as that nation produced the Christ, just as surely as Christ raised up the church -- just that certain is it that the church shall birth a manchild! It is history in the making. It is the mighty God controlling destiny. It is God's plan of the ages unfolding through the divine events that shape the course of the world.
The ministry and rule of sonship is ready to be released upon the nations of earth. At this junction of history we now stand. We are on the threshold of momentous events! The Lord God of the universe is about to sovereignly interject Himself once more into the world of mankind. The sons of God are now standing in the wings. Every day brings us closer to the realization of the glory of the Lord covering the entire world, changing and transforming the nations, all people, all cultures, and all things. The nations will love and serve the one true God and Father, and will cease to make war; the earth itself will be changed, restored to Edenic conditions; all nations will be released from the bondage of corruption: sin, sickness, sorrow and death. It is a wonderful thing that we have been called and chosen at this junction of history to enter into the Kingdom. The prophets prophesied of this Day and I do not doubt that some of us will see the power and the glory of it with our own eyes.
The coming age will be one that will see the fullness of God in operation through His sons, the demonstration of the mighty power of the Kingdom of God. It is not a mansion over the hilltop, or a cabin in the corner of glory-land, or white night gowns, or harps, or palm branches, or dangling feet in some celestial stream. There is a job to be done! A battle to be fought! A victory to be won! An enemy to be conquered! A glory to be secured! "And there shall be no more death." This is God's will for humanity upon this earth, not in some far-off heaven somewhere. And this is what our call to sonship is all about! It would be a most beautiful thing if all the saints of God could have an open vision that would enable them to understand the glory of God's purpose on earth, and His election in man. The writer to the Hebrews spoke of those who have "tasted the heavenly gift, and are made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and THE POWERS OF THE AGE TO COME" (Heb. 6:4-5). The Rotherham translation renders this last statement, "Mighty works also of a coming age." The Interlinear Greek New Testament says, "The works of power of the age to come."
Jesus said concerning the mighty miracles which He did, "Greater works than these shall YE DO!" But have the followers of Jesus really done any greater works than He did? The book of Acts doesn't record them. Neither do the Epistles. Nor does church history. And, my friend, after a hundred years of the restoration to the church of the baptism in the Holy Spirit; after more than fifty years since the restoration of the five-fold ministry, the gifts of the Spirit, and the prophetic flow, have you seen any greater works than raising the dead, cleansing lepers, walking on water, calming storms, and turning water into wine? You know you haven't! But according to Hebrews 6:5 all the signs, wonders, gifts, miracles, and glory we have experienced are simply a taste, a small sampling of THE MIGHTY WORKS OF THE COMING AGE, GREATER WORKS THAN JESUS DID 2,000 YEARS AGO! Why friends, we have seen only the firstfruits of what God will do through His enChristed body upon this earth. The hospitals emptied, the dead raised incorruptible, natures changed, nations turned to God, the crucial problems of poverty, crime, violence, war, corruption and the environment solved, the whole world system transformed -- and GREATER WORKS THAN THESE SHALL YOU SEE as the glorious mind of Christ rules and reigns over the earth through the manifested sons of God bringing THE INCREASE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD! The fullness of what we have had just a taste will be the normal works on behalf of humanity in that new age of the Kingdom. The next dispensation is to be as different and as much more glorious as every succeeding dispensation has been to the one preceding it.
ALL THINGS NEW
Those who are now being transformed by the Spirit and gathered into God's Christ are the new creation (II Cor. 5:17). How little we knew when we started this wonderful journey into God what glories He had prepared for those who love Him! And even less did we realize that in that blessed day when we began to follow Christ we had joined the triumphant march that leads at last to the reconciliation and transformation of the universe. We did not know that one day every thing and every one throughout all the unbounded heavens would echo and re-echo the praise of Him who created all things for His pleasure and redeemed them with His own precious blood. "And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful" (Rev. 21:5).
God's purpose is not merely to make the members of the body of Christ a new creation, but to make ALL THINGS NEW. Like the sons of God who are now being raised up into the heavenlies and made one in Christ, from the moment of creation's first dawning it has been the divine intention "that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him" (Eph. 1:10). I believe Paul gives the clearest insight into this supernal mystery when he writes: "In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has in store for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God's purpose it has been so limited -- yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God!" (Rom. 8:18-21, Phillips).
What a glorious liberty! What a wonderful purpose! What a transcendent hope! Ultimately the whole creation will be raised up into this same spiritual, heavenly, divine and incorruptible realm that God is now bringing His sons into. God's plans are as big as the universe! This shouldn't seem strange. God created all the stars and planets and all who inhabit them. So should not the vast universe fit into God's Kingdom purpose? "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is none else" (Isa. 45:18). This passage confirms that the physical creation exists as the arena for God's majestic purpose. But consider the imperfection throughout the known universe. It needs further development, a transformation, a mighty change! The spectacular novas and multicolored clouds are undeveloped galaxies. Our own moon offers evidence that outer space needs much reworking. The other eight planets, like our moon, are also disordered, bleak, uninhabited, seemingly purposeless places.
God has raised His firstborn Son, Jesus, to an exalted position above all things. He has made Him Head over all things to the church; but we miss the whole truth of His glory until we see that God has made Him Head also of all principality and power (Col. 2:10). He has given Him all power in the heavens and on the earth. He has given Him a name that is above every name anywhere. So far as position and honor and glory and authority is concerned, Jesus is higher than all else in the universe, and all things are being made subject to Him and gathered into Him. He and His government of sons will reign until everything in the universe is brought into subjection to Him and resonates with His life; and when this is accomplished, Jesus will deliver the Kingdom up to the Father that God may be all and in all (I Cor. 15:24-28). Everything in all realms, from the depths of the bottomless to the heights above all heavens, will find their one Head in Christ. "And this is in harmony with God's merciful purpose for the government of the world when the times are ripe for it -- the purpose which He has cherished in His own mind of restoring the whole creation to find its one Head in Christ; yea, things in heaven and things on earth, to find their one Head in Him" (Eph. 1:9-10, Weymouth).
It should be clear to every enlightened mind that God is in the process of making an entirely new creation, or making all things new -- not this time a mere natural creation, nor yet a purely spiritual one, but a spiritual-physical one. This present natural creation is really only a step in the process of making the creation God had in mind from the beginning. "First that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual," is the divinely revealed order. Does that mean the natural is completely done away with, supplanted by the spiritual? Not at all! It means that the natural is swallowed up by the spiritual. The natural is a necessary step in the process of making the kind of creation God purposed from the beginning. Jesus Christ is the proto-type of that new creation -- the PHYSICAL SPIRITUALIZED, RAISED UP INTO THE DIVINE AND HEAVENLY! The physical body of Jesus was raised from the dead, brought out of the tomb, spiritualized, and made a spiritual body -- not a spirit, mind you, but a spiritual body. Jesus is still referred to as a man all through the New Testament. "There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
The firstborn of this new creation order is a GOD-MAN upon the throne of universal power! Think of it! When you see Jesus as a divine-human, a God-man, one of the natural creation metamorphosed, spiritualized, raised up into the celestial and incorruptible, then you see exactly what God is after in the whole creation. "This mortal must put on immortality." Oh, the wonder of it! We see the natural creation all around us, but this natural creation is not the finished product any more than the ore dug out of the earth is the fine piece of jewelry the artisan has in mind when he begins his work. The whole creation is still in the process of being made into the kind of creation God started out to make. God is still Creator!
We have in our theology limited the new creation to the church or to all mankind, as though we are the only ones or the only things that God cares about or that Christ has redeemed. God has a great plan for man, but the rest of His creation is included in it, and when God was in Christ He was reconciling not just the world, as we have it in the King James Bible, but the KOSMOS (universe) unto Himself. Then in the letter of Paul to the Colossians we have this remarkable statement, "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in the heavens. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh...to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight" (Col. 1:19-22). Here we can see the whole plan of God in a nut-shell!
Odd it is that we limit God's restoration to planet earth, when the ultimate objective of God , as portrayed in the Bible, heralded by prophets, taught by mighty men of old, is the complete redemption and recreation of the whole universe. The purpose of God reaches out to infinitude and to eternity. The formation and glorification of the body of Christ is but the first step on the way to "heading up all things in Christ," the ultimate raising up of the universe into its union with God in the Spirit where God becomes All in all. Grace has ordained that twice-born men should be the first to experience the powers of the age and the ages to come, but how much more there is beyond that for the glory of God and the admiration of His people! First of all that in His earth-born Son the fullness of Deity should dwell, and then making peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile or bring into oneness ALL THINGS, whether they be THINGS on earth or THINGS in the heavens. God in Christ proceeds to "reconcile" or to "merge" the natural world with the spiritual world, making them ONE NEW CREATION. God is not simply reconciling things to things, He is reconciling all things to Himself -- the natural to the spiritual, making something that has never been -- one new creation that is neither natural or spiritual, but both. I would draw your reverent attention to those significant words: ALL THINGS. He doesn't say all men, or some men, or all entities, or all creatures, but ALL THINGS. "Things" includes a lot more than men, and it isn't only all things on earth that He is reconciling, but all things also in the heavens or the worlds above, and the realm of Spirit. What a word!
All the kingdoms shall become
His whose imperial brow with crown of thorn
The men of war in mockery did adorn.
Peace shall prevail, and every land shall own
His rightful sway, and low before His throne
Shall bow and worship; angels there shall kneel.
The soul of the vast universe shall feel
The quickening touch of its life-giving Head,
And shall break forth in song. The heavens shall shed
In the lap of earth immortal joys,
And every living thing, with thankful voice,
Shall sweetly raise the universal psalm
Of glory unto God and to the Lamb.
Paul Mueller has articulated so well the travail of all creation: "The whole creation also groans to be delivered of its bondage to corruption. The creation has no language or voice, yet their message reaches from the ends of the earth to the throne of God's heavens (Ps. 19:1-6). The whole creation is expressing the desire for the kingdom, just as we are, without speaking it audibly. Every created thing groans for release from this bondage. The whole creation travails to be delivered from the curse, and to be restored and raised to enjoy the blessings of the liberty of the sons of God. Like the rest of God's creation, we may not speak forth this kingdom prayer. But it is the universal groan that emanates from every one of us. We groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, which is the glorious manifestation of the Life of Christ and the kingdom of God (Rom. 8:18-23). And God hears the groans of His suffering, burdened creation, from the smallest form of life to every person on earth. In due time, death shall be conquered in us first, for God has made us a firstfruits (Ja. 1:18).
"The whole creation is attuned and synchronized in spirit with our spiritual growth. Every blade of grass, tree, shrub, bug, bird, animal, creeping thing and fish, including every microscopic form of life, has an inbred intelligence, instinct or faculty that will trigger its release from the present bondage when the manifestation of the sons of God takes place. Then, there will be no hurt nor harm in all the earth. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb. The leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling shall also lie together, and a little child shall be able to lead them in peace and harmony. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The suckling child shall play on the hole of the once poisonous serpent, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the den of the adder. 'They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea' (Isa. 11:6-9). If we truly want to see the rest of creation changed, restored and blessed with the Life of Christ, we will grow in Christ and in the knowledge and wisdom of the truth that He is. We will earnestly seek to grow to the fullness of Christ, for our spiritual growth in the kingdom of God is the only answer to the many problems facing the world" -- end quote.
What a glorious and beautiful picture the prophets have painted of this great day of the release of creation from the nature of the curse and the bondage of corruption! No genius or artist, or wisdom of poet can ever convey the glory and beauty of this bright Day! No matter where you live, you will awaken every morning to be greeted by a smiling sun that will shine through an atmosphere as pure as the very breath of heaven. The army of germs and viruses will be neutralized by the very breath of heaven. The curse and the sorrow that the curse brings will be removed. Farmers will plow the soil with the knowledge that no tares will grow, and every troublesome weed will turn to a beautiful flower at the word of the sons of God. With all curse lifted, the glories of Eden will be restored. Glorious indeed will be the sight as you stand on the summit of the mountains and gaze across the fertile plains, vibrant with beauty, fertility and color. Mankind shall no more eat bread by the sweat of his face. Nor shall men any longer return to the dust of the earth, for all men shall freely eat of the tree of life which is the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. All enmity and strife shall be removed. All sorrows, trouble, sickness, pain, sin and death shall cease to exist. The eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, literally and spiritually.
The Spirit of the Lord will draw all mankind to Himself, giving them eyes to see and ears to hear. The stranger you meet in the city will be no stranger, for all men will know one another by the spirit and all will know the Lord, from the least to the greatest. Waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert, both literally and spiritually -- for the literal is but the sign and parable of the spiritual. No nettle will sting the legs of the playing child, who in that glad day can play anywhere without danger from ferocious beast or reptile. No mountain lion will ever again stalk the beautiful deer, for "the lion shall eat straw like the ox." No hunter will ever sight the muzzle of his gun. The wild goose on his swift unerring flight will not have to fly at a dizzy height because of its fear of man. No woman will be afraid on the street, no one will fear anyone or anything anywhere, for "they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain (kingdom)," saith the Lord. No hungry man will walk the icy streets, no sobbing mother or father, wife or husband, son or daughter will gaze into the casket at the ashen face of their beloved. No aged saint will hover over her small stove to measure out her meager food -- just enough to keep body and soul together until her body wears out and her heart gives up. The heavens will no longer be as brass. The presence of the Lord will be closer to us than the air we breathe, closer even than the blood coursing through our veins. Before anyone shall call Him, the Lord will answer them. And while they are yet speaking, He will respond to their plea. The earth, without and within, shall be full of the glory of the Lord!
The whole of created life, according to Romans 8:19-21, will be delivered from the bondage of corruption. This presents a very striking truth about God's grace to the lower creations, including the animal and all other animate creatures, and to the whole system of things, who are also under the bondage of the curse, violent natures, fear, decay and death. Against their own wish they were put into this bondage. The thing that appeals to our sympathies at once is that the creation is spoken of as though conscious of this. It, too, is suffering as well as we. And the man, woman or child who has felt oftentimes to the point of pain, the mute appealing look in the eye of some horse or dog as though asking for sympathy or help, or the melancholy braying of the burro in Mexico, will feel at once an answering within, to this marvelous promise of God. The whole creation is joining with us in unutterable groans and birth pangs, earnestly looking forward to its release with ours, out into full free Life. It is this exalted thought of the glory, that will come at the manifestation of the sons of God, that makes us so eager for the blessed Day of release!
Creation groans in every wisp of grass blown by the breeze,
In every stirring of the countless leaves upon the trees,
In every minor song of feathered fowl that rides the air,
In every blossom fading fast away just everywhere.
Creation groans in every dog's low whine and muted sound,
In every kitten's tongue-tied plaintive mew the world around,
In every caged and bright plumed singing bird that chirps its plea --
Yea, all of these repeat creation's groan to be set free.
Creation groans in jungle land and fen and desert dry,
In every mountain's soaring rocky heights that pierce the sky,
In every rock that hides an insect's nest beneath its weight,
In every grain of sand too numberless to estimate.
Creation groans -- and echoes in our hearts its longings deep,
That YAH will manifest His own indeed, His promise keep;
For we are groaning, too, to be released, redeemed, set free,
That we in turn might grant creation's hope -- His liberty!
In this connection A. E. Knoch wrote, "The resurrection of the Son of God has a wider range of beneficence than we are accustomed to consider. God's glory demands that not only mankind who sinned and marred His glorious creation, but every part of that creation itself shall be restored to Him in more than pristine perfection. Mankind has many characteristics in common with the lower creatures and is linked to them by the possession of a body...resulting in a living soul. This is the reason why Jesus did not tell His disciples to go to every 'nation' or all 'men' but, using a word of special emphasis, He tells them to go into all the world and herald the evangel of His resurrection to the entire creation (every creature). Man is not the only creature on the earth! He is not the only one to be blessed by the resurrection. The lower creatures have suffered with man in his plight. They have come in for a share in the corruption and bondage and death which is his due, and theirs only because they were made subject to him. Let us rejoice, then, that these who suffer on our account, they also shall obtain deliverance, by the same power which delivers our mortal bodies. Paul tells us, further, that the creation has a premonition of God's unveiling of His sons."
The animal world will be transformed, their natures changed, and they will prey upon each other no more, for there shall be no more death. Eventually in this restoration process God will touch even the plant life and infuse it with eternal, iridescent glory, for God will be All in all and all things shall be made new. Even the inanimate creation shall have its share in the release from the bondage of corruption. What science calls "the order of nature" is really her disorder; for all creatures feed upon other living things and all systems are slowing down, wearing out, and passing away. Every star, sun, planet and moon is moving inexorably toward its day of dissolution. Here also will be felt the renovating, transforming, spiritualizing power of God's Christ! If we can see this by the Spirit -- nature itself, an unwilling slave to vanity and corruption, stands, impatient in her bonds, with uplifted head, scanning with longing eyes the distant point of the horizon from which she looks for help, her hand stretched out to grasp and welcome the redemption into freedom and perfection which she yearns for and confidently expects. What a calling rests upon God's firstfruits -- to deliver the whole creation from the bondage of corruption and give them an entrance into the glory of the liberty of the sons of God! Hallelujah!
GOD ALL IN ALL
"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. 15:28). GOD ALL IN ALL -- this will be the grand conclusion of the great drama of universal history and of Christ's redemption. As someone has said, there will come a day -- the glory is such we can form no conception of it, the mystery is so deep we cannot realize it -- when the Son shall deliver up the Kingdom that God gave Him and which He won with His own blood and established and perfected from the throne of His glory. "He shall deliver up the Kingdom unto the Father...that God may be all in all." ALL IN ALL -- such is the grand goal of our God! He will yet be everything to every one of His creatures and all things will radiate the effulgence of His glory. Nothing less will satisfy His heart for "He has created all things, and for His pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11). Nothing less than this will vindicate His love, or form a fit conclusion for the sins and sorrow and death of the ages. Let us with joy believe it! Let us exult as we receive it! Let us be "laborers together with God" to accomplish it! May this simple phrase, that the smallest child can utter, become the very basis of our being, the root of all our faith, the strength of all our dreams, the background of every act, the key to every occurrence, a light in every darkness, a balm for every wound, and our ages-lasting consolation and good hope!
Let all who read these lines awake from the terrifying nightmare of Babylon's delusions and let us wing our spirits to God's glorious consummation! Here is a vision worthy of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ -- GOD ALL IN ALL. And now, this ultimate reality must begin in us who have this day received the call to sonship. If this is what fills the heart of Christ; if this expresses the final end of the work of Christ, then, if I would have the Spirit of Christ within me, the motto of my life must be: Everything made subject and swallowed up in Him "that God may be all in all." What a life that will be when that truly becomes our hallmark! To walk with the Father fully, to keep ourselves unto Him wholly, only, to have Him ALL IN ALL! I am praying, believing, yielding, and pressing on "that God may be all in all." By this the day of glory is hastening! Would that all the saints of God realized what a grand cause we are made participators in, that all had some conception of the scope and power of the Kingdom we are walking in, and what a manifestation of God we are preparing for!
That God is not All in all at the present is quite obvious, for only a fraction have faintly felt that God was indeed ALL to them. Some have known Him as their Saviour, some have experienced Him as their Healer, some have received gracious gifts from His hands, some have acknowledged Him as their Lord, but I am not certain that any have found Him as their ALL. Some have tasted of the cup ineffable, which quenches every thirst, satisfies every hunger, meets every need, dispels all darkness, conquers every enemy, and destroys all death. I, too, have only tasted, but I live for this and only for this -- that God may be All in all. I am living in Him, and as I move and have my being in Him I shall have a part in it all -- the Kingdom delivered up to the Father, and God All in all! I shall have a part in it and in adoring worship share the glory and blessedness with all creation. Let us permit this to penetrate deeply into our hearts that it may rule our lives -- this one thought, this one faith, this one aim, this one joy: GOD ALL IN ALL!
Everything in history is moving inexorably toward a day when Jesus will have conquered everything and everyone. Like a mountain of dirt before a gigantic bulldozer steadily moving forward, all that can be conquered is being collected into the loving arms of Jesus, whose right it is to rule. When Christ ascended on high after His resurrection, He led many captives out of the prison house and also set forth His great purpose: "Now He that ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, THAT HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS" (Eph. 4:9-10). The message is clear -- redemption includes the complete transformation of the entire universe (all heavens) and all that is within it so that God in Christ shall FILL ALL THINGS. There shall not be left one corner of this vast universe, nor one creature in it, where He shall not be Lord and King. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE SHALL BE RESTORED TO THE BEAUTIFUL HARMONY AND ORDER OF THE LOVE OF GOD. Indeed, HE SHALL FILL ALL THINGS SO THAT GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL!
All that God has ever done or ever will do, all that He has said or ever will say, will ultimately redound to His glory, that He may be "All in all" -- and why not? "In the beginning GOD..." Everything else is because of God -- God's love, God's wisdom, God's purpose, God's power, God's righteousness. And for all things to find their purpose, their reality and their end in Him is the final goal of salvation's history. It is an extraordinary thing, yet sublimely true, that the Lord Jesus gives us to understand that what He is doing on earth today and throughout the ages to come is only a beginning. What He has given us is a root, and not yet a tree, a foundation, and not yet an edifice. The Kingdom Seed must grow, the branches spread out, the blossoms appear, and the fruit be formed. In the end the Kingdom of God will have filled all realms everywhere and God will be All in all! And yet, this work first begins in man. Those who are now being perfected in Christ are the firstfruits of this marvelous revelation of God All in all. Truly HE is becoming ALL in us, as the poet has written:
Suddenly one day
The last ill shall fall away,
The last little beastliness that is in our blood
Shall drop from us as the sheath drops the bud,
And the great spirit of man shall struggle through
And spread great branches underneath the blue.
In any mirror, be it bright or dim,
Man will see God, staring back at him!
When God is finally All in all the Kingdom will have been delivered up to the Father. By this is meant that there will no longer be any external rule of one person ruling over another, or one group ruling over the other -- not even God's Christ! God Himself will then be everything to every one as one translation beautifully expresses it. God Himself will so be the indwelling factor, principle, mind, nature, will and power of each life that there will be no need of anyone ruling, teaching, guiding or instructing anyone else. It is evident that our God is reserving for that glorious consummation the greatest wonder of all time -- GOD ALL IN ALL! When God is all in me, what could you add? When God has become all in you, what can I contribute? God Himself will be everything we need within us! God will be all to us, in us, through us, and as us. Oh, the mystery of it!
The writer to the Hebrews spoke of it thus: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will imprint my laws upon their minds, even upon their innermost thoughts and understanding, and engrave them upon their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And it will nevermore be necessary for everyone to teach his neighbor and his fellow citizen or everyone his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for ALL WILL KNOW (perceive, have knowledge of, be acquainted by experience with) ME, from the smallest to the greatest of them" (Heb. 8:10-11, Amplified).
In long ago Israel, before the people rejected God as their King and anointed a king of their own choosing, it is stated that "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes." Now some view that state of things negatively, as though because there was no external authority, it was just one big free-for-all, everyone doing as they pleased! But it seems to me that the state of things in Israel at that time, when the Lord Himself was King in their midst, should be the model for all who truly walk with God in the Spirit. As we enter into the relationship of sons we discover the glory of being and doing everything exactly as we desire because we desire nothing but the Father's glorification. This must have been the awareness of Saint Augustine when he exhorted, "Love God and do what you please!" When one is under the will of God by love, he is in dominion of all things.
At that same time in Israel a certain family set up a place of worship in their own home and there was much ignorance, superstition and abomination in their form of worship, until God sent a Levite to be their household priest. Is that not a dramatic picture of the priesthood of God being raised up in our own house, in that living temple of God which we are? Those who are the true worshippers of the Father do not worship Him at certain times or in prescribed places, for they worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father seeketh such to worship Him! Worship is not something we go somewhere to do, rather, it is the living expression and manifestation of our devotion, love, and honor of our glorious Father within the Most Holy Place of our own spirit and reality. When we have learned what it means to be a "true worshipper," we will see that worship is not something we do, but it is what we are. We ARE WORSHIPPERS!
During our journey into God there are varying degrees of growth, experience, fellowship, and relationship with the Lord. "In a great house" like the Kingdom of God, "there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth" (II Tim. 2:20). The Kingdom is indeed a great house, in which are many vessels, varying in quality, capacity, purpose, rank and order. Jesus said it this way, "Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven" (Mat. 8:11). Paul stated this truth yet another way. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are but one body: so also is Christ. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members everyone of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him" (I Cor. 12:12,14-18).
The scriptures and our own experience both give ample evidence that there are degrees in the spiritual race. The fruit of God that men bear in their lives are, Jesus taught us, some thirty fold, some sixty fold, and some a hundred fold. Paul spoke of those he had fed with milk because they were babes. John wrote his epistle to three classes of believers: little children, who are the new born in Christ; young men, who are those who have grown up and become strong in many ways, but lack experience; and old men, who are the fully matured sons of God. These are not permanent states, but merely stages of growth and development. "Let patience have her perfect work, that ye be perfect and entire, lacking nothing" (Jas. 1:4). "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14). We see the same variety of levels of attainment in the Old Testament economy. Moses was above other prophets (Num. 12:5,8). Only the tribe of Levi were priests. The birthright was given to Ephraim and Mannaseh. The scepter was given to the tribe of Judah. David classified his mighty men according to their attainment (II Sam. 23). All men shall be made alive in Christ, but "each in his own order or rank" (I Cor. 15:23).
More than half a century ago Seeley Kinne shared the vision given to a brother David Lee Floyd who wrote: "I stood upon a large stadium, that had been erected to face a large gradual sloping hill. The hill sloped downward toward the stadium. Thousands of Spirit-filled Christians were seated upon the hillside, and they faced the stadium. They were grouped in many orders. They were also in many shades of color. I do not mean races or nationalities. Some were very white, some very dark. There were many varieties of shades between black and white. These thousands of Spirit-filled believers were gathered and seated in their various ranks. They were waiting for the Lord to give them the Last Great Message, for the preparation to set up the Kingdom of God among men. I was seated in the stadium not knowing that I was going to do more than to just view the thousands of God's people, seated in their various ranks upon the hillside. I studied their faces. I was fully aware that the Holy Spirit was opening my eyes and my understanding to discern the many ranks of His people. As I have stated above, every group or rank was of a different shade or color. The highest order was the whitest; and the lowest the darkest. Everyone was in rank according to the light of God abiding within them. This has nothing at all to do with their race or nationality. Everyone was located according to their individual rank in the Spirit. I was in deep meditation concerning their various degrees of experience. The Spirit of the Lord began to move upon me. I was moved to raise up and say something. I arose to my feet, opened my mouth, and the voice of the Lord began to pour forth like water, calling upon the people to repent...and prepare for the judgment of God that begins with His house."
In the great house of our Father's Kingdom there are different degrees of experience and various heights of attainment. In the book of Revelation we see in the progressive unveiling of Jesus Christ within His people a number of different companies or levels to which men attain in Christ -- there is one outstanding company called overcomers, or kings and priests, or the manchild, or the 144,000, or the sons of God; another called the woman, or the bride, or the New Jerusalem; another called the church, or the candlesticks, or the woman; and then the remnant, witnesses, martyrs, messengers, the great multitude, harpers, etc. These are all a variety of redeemed people who walk with God in varying degrees of light and glory, different depths of intimacy, and diverse levels of calling and experience. Some are very near to the heart of God, while others dwell and serve in the outer courts of His presence. Some are queens, virgins and concubines; others are counselors, judges, priests and kings; some are soldiers and warriors of various ranks; still others are servants, guests, and courtiers.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will impress upon all who read these lines the great truth that the end of the matter is not any or all of these various companies and ranks. These are merely the blueprint of our progression into God. In that glorious end where God is All in all there are no companies or ranks. In the end there is no Outer Court. In the end there is no Holy Place. In the end there is no Holiest of all. At the conclusion of God's great plan of the ages there is no Passover, Pentecost, or Tabernacles; no first Day, second Day or third Day. In the great consummation of all things there are no servants, no bride, and there are no sons. In the end there is only GOD ALL IN ALL! God All in all reveals the blessed fact that every creature will move through the progression from realm to realm. All may not move in this Day, just as all have not moved in other Days, but God has a great, tremendous, glorious plan of the ages, and all creation will move forward!
You see, my beloved, it's just like a school -- it is the great school of God! The purpose of a school is not the school itself. The purpose of a school is the progression through the grades so that you graduate. Everybody who enters the school is supposed to graduate! So we are not to glory that we are in the first grade, the seventh grade, or the twelfth grade. We are not to cling to our status as a junior, sophomore, or senior. It is wonderful to be a senior, but if you remain a senior you will never graduate! To be senior is not the goal. The beauty of all the grades is that each in turn accomplishes its purpose, bringing everyone to the same, final state of accomplishment and attainment. Everyone receives their diploma and goes out into the world a finished product.
That's how it is in the Kingdom of God! Today we view believers as being Nominal Christians, Catholics, Orthodox, Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, Charismatics, Pentecostals, Kingdom, Sonship or some other identification. We equate their standing in God with whether they are in the Outer Court, the Holy Place, or the Most Holy Place -- but those are merely pictures of their growth and development, their progression into God. Each is just a temporary arrangement, a grade to pass through, and all creation will pass through the grades! When every man who has ever lived, or ever shall live, has received his diploma and walks off the cosmic stage of spiritual graduation -- God will be All in all! There will be a sign posted on the door of the school of God's great redemptive and restorative purposes -- "Closed." When everybody graduates, you don't need the school anymore!
Some of us have been in school for a long, long time and have moved through many levels of God's teaching. We have been passing from grade to grade, from realm to realm, from experience to experience, from discipline to discipline, from dimension to dimension in God. We have moved through the Tabernacle with all of its furnishings and compartments. We have partaken of the Lord's Feasts one after another and He has now brought us to the Feast of Tabernacles. We have arrived at the threshold of the Third Day. We have stepped into the Most Holy Place. He has ushered us into the throne room within the City which has the glory of God. We have been passing through the grades, and all creation will pass through the same grades. God has plenty of time. His plan is the plan of the ages. It began ages ago, and will extend ages into the future. In one sense each of us is a microcosm within the macrocosm. There are ages within us. I lived a Pentecostal age, and it ended. I lived out a Latter Rain age, and it ended. I lived out an Anglo-Israel age, and that ended too. I lived out an Apocalyptic age, and God took that heaven and rolled it up. Every one of us has lived ages within ourselves, according to God's plan of the ages. All creation will come the same way, not necessarily with identical ages, but they will grow experientially into God from glory to glory, and God has plenty of time! God has brought us from Abraham to the Manchild in our brief lifetime, for the ages are within us.
There is a beautiful truth wrapped in the arms of one single verse in I Corinthians 15:24. "Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power." The Amplified and a number of other translations make the import of these words clearer and more meaningful. "After that comes the end, the completion, when He delivers over the kingdom to God the Father after rendering inoperative and abolishing every rule and every authority and power." The message is just this: When Christ delivers up the Kingdom to the Father so that God may be All in all, He will have put down and nullified and rendered inoperative ALL SOVEREIGNTY AND AUTHORITY AND POWER.
All rule out of God's sovereignty that has been delegated to subordinates, as administered by authorities and powers, be they kings, presidents, prime ministers, judges, policemen, apostles, prophets, pastors, priests, teachers, or any other -- when God becomes All in all such rule becomes obsolete. God will no longer rule anyone anywhere through those agencies, as He does through the ages, for He will rule by the authority of His divine nature and the mind of God in every man. I know that these words seem to be incredible but they are the truth. Christ and His holy sons continue to reign only until all other authority is swallowed up into the Allness of God in every heart. When every enemy is subjected and all immaturity, carnality, self-will, self-hood, rebellion, sin and death is swallowed up of HIS LIFE, God will no longer need to govern through the medium of His saints. The external rule of delegated authority will give way to the internal rule of the Spirit of Life. His will, His word and His ways will be the motivating spirit within the renewed heart and mind of all His creation. They will have found their All in Him! School will be over, classes dismissed, the teachers relieved, and all men everywhere will have obtained their diploma of DIVINE LIFE!
All the sons of Adam shall one day become the sons of God; that was God's purpose in creating man in the first place. "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Those who complete their growth and development into the image of God now will be the firstborn sons of God. Theirs will be the highest possible calling, bearing the greatest of all responsibilities, for upon them rests the ministry of shepherding the rest of creation into the Kingdom of God. It is my conviction that in the ages to come there will be company after company after company graduating from God's great School of Sonship -- the second-born sons, the third-born sons, and so on. What a beautiful plan and purpose! What a glorious, breath-taking prospect! What everlasting hope and joy! This is THE INCREASE OF THE KINGDOM!
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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