TEXT FOR PRAYER
Centering Our Minds On Christ’s Kingdom
We shall continue our reading from Christ’s Object Lessons, page 44, the last paragraph–
“As the birds are ready to catch up the seed from the wayside, so Satan is ready to catch away the seeds of divine truth from the soul. He fears that the word of God may awaken the careless, and take effect upon the hardened heart. Satan and his angels are in the assemblies where the gospel is preached. While angels of heaven endeavor to impress hearts with the word of God, the enemy is on the alert to make the work of no effect. With an earnestness equaled only by his malice, he tries to thwart the work of the Spirit of God. While Christ is drawing the soul by His love, Satan tries to turn away the attention of the one who is moved to seek the Saviour. He engages the mind with worldly schemes. He excites criticism, or insinuates doubt and unbelief. The speaker’s choice of language or his manner may not please the hearers, and they dwell upon these defects. Thus the truth they need, and which God has graciously sent them, makes no lasting impression.”
What do we need to pray for this afternoon? – That the angels may be around us so that the Enemy will not have an opportunity to catch away the seeds of Divine Truth; that we keep our minds completely centered upon Christ and His Kingdom, so there shall be no loophole for the Evil One to gain an entrance and thus beguile us into sin.
THE WAY THE KINGDOM IS TO COME
The Jews had built up an erroneous conception of what the Kingdom was to be, and how and when it was to come and so when the Lord exposed their misconceptions, they became indignant. They were very angry, not because the Kingdom which the Saviour disclosed was not much more bountiful and practical than they had ever conceived, but because their errors were exposed! Thus Heaven’s favored people, the Jews, piled error upon error, and brought upon themselves shame and disaster.
Should the Christian’s idea of the Kingdom be somewhat erroneous, too, and should we fail to profit by the mistakes of the Jews, then our fall would be even greater than that of the Jews. Let us therefore lay aside any pre-conceived ideas we may have, and accept the Lord’s revealed Truth which brings us His idea of the Kingdom fresh today:
Matt. 13:24-26 – Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
The pestering tares which grow higher and sturdier than the wheat Satan inspires and by them fabricates erroneous theories concerning God’s plan. The tares, according to the parable, so closely resemble the wheat that they cannot be discovered except after they bear fruit; that is, they can be discerned only by the final results brought forth by their works.
And what can these results be? What else from ideas that are not Heaven-inspired may you expect in the Church but selfishness, egotism, bigotry, worldliness, prejudice, hatred against reproof and light on their evil deeds? Is it not their aim to exalt themselves rather than to exalt Christ and His Truth?
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth.” 2 Tim. 3:1-7.
Matt. 13:27-30 – So the servants of the Householder came and said unto Him, Sir, didst not Thou sow good seed in Thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto Him, Wilt Thou then that we go and gather them up? But He said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into My barn.
Here we see that even the ideas of the most faithful servants of God as to the setting up of His kingdom and the weeding out the tares, are not the same as God’s plans. This cleansing work belongs only to the angels of heaven, and this they will do in the time of harvest after being commanded to do so, not before.
In this parable we are also told that the spiritual harvest is a “time,” not a momentary work, and that it brings the end of the world just as naturally as the year’s harvest brings the end of the summer.
Thus, you see, the separation of wheat and tares takes place in the last days and in two different places: first in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17; Matt. 13:47, 48), then in Babylon (Rev. 18:2-4).
In the former the tares are taken out from among God’s people, but in the latter God’s people are taken out from among the tares – from the habitation of devils, of foul spirits, of unclean and hateful birds.
There are two fruits, also: the first are from the twelve tribes of the children of Israel (Rev. 7:2-8), the Church, and the second from “all nations” (Rev. 7:9).
Matt. 13:31, 32 – “Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the great-est among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”
Mustard seed being the smallest of all seeds this parable shows that that which is to start the Kingdom will be very insignificant, contrary to all human expectation. Nevertheless, like the mustard plant becomes the biggest of all herbs, so the Kingdom shall grow and become the greatest of all kingdoms. This being contrary to all human planning, it is but natural that those who are like Nicodemus, and continue to be ashamed to be identified with something that is unpopular, hated, and insignificant, will as a result be left out of the Kingdom.
Matt. 13:33 – “Another parable spake He unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”
The Kingdom is here again shown to start with something small, but that little thing is to be like yeast in a loaf of bread. What could the leaven be but an unpopular message borne by some insignificant one and put into the Church, the loaf. Well, the leaven is in the dough now. Just watch it leaven the whole.
Matt. 13:44 – “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
Those who will gain entrance into the Kingdom are here represented as searchers of great treasure, and when they find its location, the field, they are very eager to make it their own. They are certain of its worth, and count it not a risk to sell all they possess, whether much or little, to obtain the Kingdom. What they sell, of course, is not only lands or houses, but anything which, if not disposed of would keep them out of the Kingdom. They are certain that they are making a good investment, that they are to get much more out of it than they put into it. On the other hand, those who are foolish, who do not know the value of it, feel they dare not make the investment, and consequently will be the losers.
Matt. 13:45, 46 – “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
Those who are to inherit the kingdom are here again represented as searching for a very valuable jewel, the Kingdom Truth. And when they find it, they count it not a gamble to sell all they have in order to make it their own. They know that they are getting a bargain, that such an investment will actually make them rich.
Both the man who bought the field containing the great treasure, and the man who bought the pearl of great price sold everything they had in order to close the respective deals. But even though it took everything they had, they both did have enough to buy what they wanted. So it is that it matters not who we are, how rich or how poor we be, if we make up our minds to sell all and buy the Kingdom, we will have just enough to buy it.
Matt. 13:47, 48 – “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.”
The net must represent the Truth, the message of the Kingdom. As it is cast into the sea, published and sent out, it is bound to catch good and bad. But when the net is drawn to shore, the bad are then cast out from among the good, and the good are put into vessels, into the Kingdom. Hence, merely because one is attracted by the mighty Truth, does not mean he is saved. His chance of staying forever with the Truth depends on his meeting the Lord’s expectations of him.
Matt. 13:52 – “Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.”
Here the Master plainly points out that God’s messengers of the Kingdom bring out of the Word things both old and new: things that are known and things that are unknown to them. Thus it has ever been in the unrolling of the scroll and thus it must be now.
Luke 14:16, 17 – “Then said He unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent His servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.”
In this parable it is made known that in the closing hours of probationary time (at supper time, about the end of the day), Heaven is to send a message to them that are bidden, to them that already know the Gospel of Christ, to the members of the Church. The servant is to inform them that everything is now ready, that they should now come in for the great and long expected supper, – a supper which they are to eat in the Master’s mansion (the Kingdom), not in their own.
Luke 14:18-20 – “And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”
Those here mentioned did not excuse themselves from accepting the Gospel of Christ, but they excused themselves from going into the Master’s mansion, from taking their seats at His table! Yes, according to the parable, those who had money to buy land, oxen, and houses, also to marry at the time the last call for the supper came, all excused themselves with one consent. But the poor and afflicted, those who were in the streets and in the lanes, so to speak, who had nothing much of their own, and were in need of everything, were glad to go in for the supper.
This is very natural: Those who are satisfied with what the world gives, do not care to get out of it. Here you see why it is easier for a camel than it is for a rich person to get through the needle’s eye (Matt. 19:24). Those whose only difficulty is in trying to get richer, those who are deeply engrossed with this world’s goods, cannot take time to eat of the Master’s supper. Here fits the age old saying, “Almost saved, but entirely lost.” Here is vividly seen that to accept one truth but to reject the next, profits one nothing. The last call to the individual is what counts most.
At the times when new truths have been introduced millions have lost out only because they were too well satisfied with what they had. They saw need of nothing better, or else they were too proud to accept unpopular Truth from one of God’s own appointed messengers. Thus it is that when God sends a message, rather than it being to them a step upward toward salvation, it has been and still is to many a step downward toward damnation. To this end was the prophet instructed: “…Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” Isa. 6:9, 10.
Luke 14:22, 23 – “And the servant said, Lord, it is done as Thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled.”
The fact that in the city were those who had already been “bidden” when the last call for supper came to them, proves that the city represents the Church. To them was the servant first sent. The highways and hedges, therefore, where the servant next went, represent the world, far and wide, aside from the Church. But the most important and very sad part to remember in this parable is that which is told in the verse that follows:
Luke 14:24 – “For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of My supper.”
This is what happened: As soon as they excused themselves, probation closed for them, they had no other chance of tasting His supper. Probation, nevertheless, remained open for those who had not yet been bidden. Those who were in the highways and hedges could yet be saved.
The church seems too well versed as to the time probation closes for the world, but not at all informed that probation for her members closes at the very time they reject a heaven-sent message. Here is shown why the five foolish virgins found the door closed though they had later obtained the oil and gotten to the door: their probation had closed when they failed at the first opportunity to fill their vessels with extra oil, an extra message.
Matt. 25:1-8 – “Then [while the unfaithful servant is being cut asunder Matt. 24:51] shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.”
Here is Truth that should not be lightly passed by any: The oil can but represent revealed prophetic Truth, Truth that lightens the path ahead. Oil in a vessel, before being put into a lamp, however, cannot lighten the path of anyone. Hence the oil in the vessels of the five virgins must represent an extra supply, extra Truth, that came to them during the period of slumber and sleep. For when the call was made, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh,” all ten virgins found the oil in their lamps consumed. The vessels of the wise, however were full and so they could refill their lamps. In contrast, the foolish found that not only were their lamps out, but their vessels were empty, too. They then went to obtain the oil, but it did them no good, for they found the door closed to them. They had been satisfied with what they had in their lamps, presuming that there was no need for more. Contrary to their assumption though during the period of slumber and sleep they suddenly saw their lamps go out. Finding themselves in spiritual darkness and confusion they were then anxious to get oil.
Here is seen that the message which the Church has during the period of slumber and sleep is not sufficient to carry her members through to the end. They need an extra message.
Now what is the difference between the oil in the lamp and the oil in the vessel? – Just this: The oil that is in the lamp, that already lightens the traveler’s path toward the Master’s mansion, must represent Truth in progress. But the oil in the vessel, must represent Truth that is to lighten one’s path after the former Truth has accomplished its work. For example, after the harvest (Investigative Judgment) of the dead is past, other truths even more important must be introduced for the harvest of the living. I say more important truths because they are concerning the living themselves, concerning those whose own cases are to be weighed in the balances, those who personally are to be judged either as “wheat” or as “tares,” either as good “fish” or as bad “fish.”
Moreover, after the judgment of the dead which the Church has been preaching for a number of years, is over, if the Church does not then receive a new message, the message of the judgment of the living, she will have no message, no oil, for the time of the judgment of the living.
As the oil was available to all ten virgins, the parable makes clear that the message of the judgment of the living is brought to the Church, but that only half the virgins availed themselves of it. When the judgment of the living begins and the cry is made, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet Him,” they will all arise, but only half of them will gain admittance. The other half will have sinned against the Holy Spirit, will have rejected His Truth! Consequently when they knock on the door, the Bridegroom’s answer will be, “I never knew you.” What foolishness! and what a disappointment that will be!
This, you see, is not man’s theory, Brother, Sister. It is God’s plain Truth. How sad the case, then, for those who are not only neglecting their own vessels, but are even preventing others from getting the extra oil now while it is dispensed to all. Indeed, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth unless all the lukewarm Laodiceans now at their first opportunity change their minds about being rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing.
Matt. 25:14-30 – “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, Who called His Own servants, and delivered unto them His goods. And unto one He gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took His journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his Lord’s money. After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, Thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. He als that had received two talents came and said, Lord, Thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His Lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew Thee that Thou art an hard man, reaping where Thou hast not sown, and gathering where Thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid Thy talent in the earth: lo, there Thou hast that is Thine. His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: thou oughtest therefore to have put My money to the exchangers, and then at My coming I should have received Mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The talents in this parable represent the Lord’s goods, His timely messages for the people. Each of His servants is here represented as being given a certain amount of responsibility, but not beyond their “ability.”
From this parable we see that any service which does not measure up 100% to capacity, that does not double its talents, is not acceptable to God. Half-hearted service is not service at all, but only a great waste.
Matt. 25:31-40 – “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me. Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, and fed Thee? or thirsty, and gave Thee drink? when saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or naked, and clothed Thee? or when saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto Thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”
Here is pointed out that self-centered persons will never enter the Kingdom of God. Only those who are endeavoring to do something for others, and especially for those who are of the household of faith, will ever enter into the joy of their Lord.
Most certainly this coming of the Lord mentioned in these verses is not one in which the saints meet Him in the air, but it certainly is the one in which He meets them in judgment on the earth, “the judgment of the living.” He sits on the throne of His glory, on the throne of His Church, His Kingdom, and from there He judges and separates the whole world. Some He places to His right, and some to His left.
Let us now view the separation in the Church according to The Revelation.
Rev. 3:14-16 – “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and True Witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.”
The “angel,” the one that has charge of the church, cannot represent any class but the ministry of the church, His servants. Those who are satisfied (lukewarm), who feel no need of anything, no need of an additional message for the judgment of the living, – such will He spue out unless they repent. This work, you see, represents the cleansing of His temple.
Now we turn to Malachi–
Mal. 3:1 – “Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”
This verse introduces two persons, the Lord and His messenger. In the language of today these verse would read as follows:
“Behold, I send My messenger, even the messenger of the covenant, and he shall prepare the way before Me; and the Lord whom ye seek and in Whom ye delight shall suddenly come to His temple. Behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Verses 2-4 – “But 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 fullers’ sope: 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, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”
Plainly these verses foretell that the Lord is to send Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, before the judgment of the living members of His church begins, before the separating of the “tares” from the “wheat,” the bad “fish” from the good. Then He purifies the sons of Levi – the ministry. God assures us that before this work begins, He will send His messenger, the messenger of the promise, Elijah the prophet.
Rev. 18:1-4 – “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
These verses illustrate the separation that takes place in the so-called Christian world. But mark that the angel proclaims the fall of Babylon in the time of the angel’s Loud Cry, in the time the earth is lightened with the glory of the angel. Then it is that God’s people are actually called to come out of Babylon.
Moreover, for God to call His people out of Babylon on account of her sins, means that He must bring them into a place where there are no sins, – into His purified Church, His Kingdom, the place that is free from sin, and that is not in danger of the plagues. Plainly, then, the purification of the Church first takes place, and then are the rest of His people called out of Babylon.
Remember now, this is the way in which the Kingdom is to come.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;…”? Heb. 2:1-3.