This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
1. The Gospel and the Kingdom 2. Life and the Kingdom 3. The Relation Between the Kingdom and the Church 4. The Building of the Church in Relation to the Kingdom CHAPTER ONE
THE GOSPEL AND THE KINGDOM
Scripture Reading: Matt. 4:17; Matt. 24:14; John 3:3, 5; Rev. 5:9-10; Rom. 14:17 In this booklet we will consider the relationship between the kingdom of God and the church, but let us first ask a question which is vitally related to our subject: What is the object of the gospel? In our preaching we generally tell the gospel story from the human standpoint, seldom from the divine. For one thing, we preachers lack a lofty enough concept of the gospel; for another, it is easier to preach from the human angle, for then we can make a more personal appeal to our audience. If we preach the gospel from God's standpoint, our hearers are apt to consider it too remote, and because they feel it is of no immediate interest, it is difficult for us to touch their emotions; so we make salvation from sin the object, and offer our audience joy and peace. Occasionally, we raise the standard a little and present life as the goal. Our starting point is man's sin, man's unrest, man's misery, and man's dead condition. Our goal is pardon, peace, joy, and life. Because we stress man's need when we preach the gospel, our converts stress their gain when they accept the gospel. They will say, "I believed on the Lord Jesus, and I obtained forgiveness of sins; I obtained peace and joy and life." But if we look carefully through the Bible, setting aside our own concepts, we see that the scriptural presentation is quite different from ours. It is this: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." It presents the kingdom as the object of the gospel. We should repent not merely to obtain pardon, not merely to obtain peace, not merely to obtain life, but because there is a heavenly kingdom that requires our repentance. We must repent in order to become partakers in this kingdom. We may be satisfied to have obtained pardon, peace, and life, but God is not satisfied with that. It was not only John the Baptist who began his gospel preaching with the words, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." These same words were also spoken by the Lord Jesus when He began His ministry. In this New Testament dispensation, when presenting the gospel to man, God presents the kingdom as its one transcendent object. When in the New Testament He substitutes grace for law, He does it for the kingdom's sake, because the law was impotent to lead men into the kingdom. Once we see the kingdom, we realize how inadequate was our former apprehension of the gospel. What a familiar topic the new birth is! How many have preached on the subject from the third chapter of John! But how many have seen the purpose of the new birth? Our Lord said, "Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). The
" The kingdom of God is the reign of God. which means that we were not in the kingdom of God. but there was no divine authority in our lives. of kingly authority.object He presented was the kingdom! The purpose of the new birth is to enable us to enter the kingdom! I fear that not many have this concept of the new birth—that thereby God has given us His life so that we may be able to partake of His kingdom. The word "kingdom" used in the New Testament is a strong term in the Greek. "You must repent!" Repent of what? Not just repent of certain wrongs. Many think "to enter the kingdom" is equivalent to "going to heaven. for unless I possess His life." Matthew 24:14 says. We were not under the rule of God. "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world. and he sees a notice indicating one-way traffic. How orderly! But remove the government. he does not go that way. Some translators have advocated the use of "sovereignty" as its equivalent. This presentation is contrary to the Scriptures. to men who have rejected His rule." When I was a child I heard very much preaching of this kind—setting forth "the kingdom of heaven" or "the kingdom of God" as a place of eternal happiness reserved for the future. and outwardly our lives were governed by men. That is the New Testament gospel! . If I am to live in the kingdom of God. But one day. But what does this imply? Surely it is not difficult for us to understand. I need to possess a life other than the life I have by nature. as citizens we were under the authority of the state. not just repent of certain sins. remove the police. Why is it that today people are so orderly? It is because the government. the police. it is therefore called "the gospel of the kingdom. to men who would not have Him to reign over them. I must receive the life of God. The kingdom touches our actual. God came to us and said. When someone is about to drive in a certain direction." so he does not park there. No one crosses that white line. I must be born again. remove the law-courts. but repent radically —repent of not being subject to the authority of heaven. The word "reign" used in both verses comes from the same root as the word "kingdom. But how can He bring them under His authority? By means of the gospel! The gospel that the New Testament reveals is a gospel proclaimed to rebels—to men who have resisted God's authority. Look at the modern cities. Do you recall the words of Revelation 20:4 and 6? Both verses speak of the resurrected saints reigning with Christ for a thousand years. That gospel cleanses such men and puts God's life within them so they can accept God's government. Before we were saved we were under the dominion of Satan. as students we were under the authority of our teachers. Are they under the authority of God? No! And neither were we before we were saved. the kingdom of heaven is the reign of heaven. and see what the cities would look like! There would be utter chaos. The reason for our wrongdoing is primarily our nonacceptance of God's government. We acknowledge there is an aspect of the kingdom that is future. What we have said makes it sufficiently clear that the gospel always has the kingdom of God in view. through the gospel. What order prevails! A white line runs along the middle of the road and controls the comings and goings. Men commit all kinds of sins because they will not let God exercise His authority over them. everyday life. The Scriptures show that the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven relates to our life in this present time. Elsewhere he sees "No Parking. repent of not submitting to the sovereignty of God. and the law-courts are exercising control over them. As children we were under the authority of our parents. a matter related to the future. but the scriptural emphasis is on the present rather than the future." But what is the kingdom? The Christianity of today has made the matter of the kingdom largely a matter of prophecy. I cannot live in His kingdom. The idea is one of sovereign rule.
The kingdom of God is within you. and this government is the government of the kingdom. He has received "all authority in heaven and on earth. and have asked me for an explanation. so His coming has brought His throne into your life. God's kingdom is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. is to bring you under the sovereign rule of God? That is the gospel! Revelation 1:5-6 reads. Why is there all this trouble inside?" We sometimes tell people that there is trouble inside because they have the life of the Lord inside. Our spirits become weighted so that we cannot rejoice. but it is not the whole truth. That is true enough. you have believed and you have been saved. these three things will characterize our daily life—toward ourselves we shall be strict in all matters of "righteousness". He is the Savior on the throne. As I have preached the gospel in different places. in our relation to others we shall be characterized by "peace". that is the story of every saved person. something has gone wrong with us. that you might come under His control? Have you seen that your salvation is not merely a question of pardon. Let us cease to think of the kingdom as a matter merely of prophecy. What does it all mean?" Is not that your story too? Yes. It is when we throw off the divine restraint that we are silent while others are praising. The question is not just one of a life within. 14:17). but have you seen that the gospel has brought you under the rule of God? Have you seen that you have been saved for this specific purpose. we cannot even produce an amen. now I can no longer do as I please. but also King? He is not only the Crucified One." If we lack joy in the Holy Spirit. When righteousness marks our personal walk. so that thereafter our lives are lived in subjection to His kingdom. The New Testament reveals that as soon as we are saved. Paul said." "God has made Him both Lord and Christ. and made us a kingdom. 'You can't!' And when I want to do that it says. Yet at the time of our salvation we never thought that someone would come into our lives and take control. 'No! No!' Formerly I was my own master. and life. but you have not realized that there is a throne within your life. Many people. It is as King that He has become your Savior. ." When the authority of God's kingdom is allowed to operate within us. but that the very object of your being forgiven and having life imparted into you. something in me says. Hitherto you have been aware of a restraint upon you." The reason God washed us in the precious blood was that we might be brought under His government. He is also the One who has been exalted to the throne. peace. when we have peace in our relation with others.You have heard the gospel. and when we have joy in the presence of God—then the kingdom is manifesting itself in our everyday life. I have had personal contact with numbers of people who have been clearly saved and who after their salvation have said something like this to me: "How is it that ever since I was saved I seem to be under some sort of control? It seems as though someone has taken over the management of my life. do not understand this. God's kingdom is likewise a practical matter of daily life—as practical a matter as eating and drinking. and I long to do the same. While they sing their hallelujahs. A few days ago I met someone who said with amazement: "My fellow students can enter heartily into all sorts of recreations. and in our walk with God we shall have "joy in the Holy Spirit. but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. the throne of God is brought into our inner beings. "The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking. I have sought to explain it this way: How did you believe in the Lord? Did you not receive Him into your life? Then do you know that the Lord you received is not only Saviour. when they are first saved. "To Him Who loves us and has loosed us from our sins by His blood. What are "eating and drinking"? Very practical matters of daily life. Every saved person is under an inner government. so that when I want to do this or that. but of an authority within. there is a strong inner restraint. Yet when I want to take part in those amusements." Today He is no longer the Savior on the cross.
Do you see that at the very outset the Bible has linked authority and life? And at the end of the Bible these two are still linked.CHAPTER TWO LIFE AND THE KINGDOM Scripture Reading: Matt. Matt. A little knock and they go to pieces. he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:3. like God—so that when you have seen this man who is in dominion. but it's all beyond me! I truly want to submit to the authority of God. as soon as Genesis 1 has presented a man in the divine likeness and in the exercise of divine authority. so Genesis 2 supplements the record." The man who is to rule the earth for God must be a man after God's "likeness"—that is. Rev. We have no strength when it comes to submitting to God. Matt. 22:1-2 The Scriptures. In the final two chapters of Revelation you see life issuing from the throne—and the throne represents authority (Rev. But Genesis 1 does not tell us all that transpired between God and man when man was created. The man who is to govern the earth for God is not merely one who wields authority. 19:23-26. he must possess the divine life. Of course sinners need to be born again. we are all very earthy. This matter of authority is entirely a matter of life. Do you see that here again life and the kingdom are linked together? You may say: "Oh. Therefore. Matt. we are all children of dust. If you have the life. And earthen things are so fragile. That is what we are like. To use the Old Testament illustration." "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit. you have. God was indicating that He would have man partake of the tree of life so that he might possess the divine life and thereby be enabled to fulfill the responsibilities of his ministry. but we have lots of strength when it comes to rebelling . and that human creature would be able to rule the earth on behalf of the Lord of creation. 1:28). If he is to wield divine authority and be a divine representative. then that human creature would be able to represent the Lord of creation. 5:48. John 3:3. and it tells us also what sort of man this man must be who is to wield authority for God. and over the fowl of the air. He must be "in the image of God. do not think that we must be born again because we have sinned. Oh. That is a tremendous thing. associate life with authority. but I simply can't! I'm too weak. Genesis 2 presents the tree of life. we are fallen creatures. 7:21. for we are all children of Adam. As soon as God created Adam. Our Lord told Nicodemus he needed to receive the life of God so that he might become a partaker in the kingdom of God. we are all too weak. as it were. When man is first mentioned. And we are not just feeble creatures. 5). the new birth would still be necessary. the Adam of Genesis 1 with his earthly life must receive the heavenly life of Genesis 2. then man must possess a supernatural life. We must be born again because we need to possess a life which we do not possess by natural birth. but if man had not fallen. That is a transcendent thing and it demands a transcendent life for its accomplishment. and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (Gen. he cannot see the kingdom of God. If only the uncreated life of God could enter a human creature. A supernatural task requires a supernatural life. It is necessary for us to grasp this point—that if man is to represent God and to exercise dominion for God on the earth. He cannot possibly bear so lofty a responsibility in the strength of his own natural life. Genesis 1 tells us that God wanted man to exercise dominion over the earth on His behalf. We are rebels by nature. When God created man He said. from beginning to end." Yes. In the first chapter of Genesis the question of authority is brought up. "Have dominion over the fish of the sea. We must become possessors of a life other than the life we have by nature. 22:1-2). 5:20. it's all very good. "Except a man be born anew. you have the authority. He bestowed on him the right to govern the entire earth. If we are to have part in the kingdom we must be born anew. seen God Himself. these two matters are both introduced. he is one who wields authority as God's representative.
The demands of the law . A full gospel presents the kingdom with its requirements. the life of a bird is a life that flies with ease. Our problem of authority is no problem to God.take away thy coat. There is no need for us to do. but one day God showed me that what I was trying to do was an utter impossibility. and it would suffer intensely if you did not let it fly. Oh. but I say unto you: Resist not him that is evil. The more we submit. The question is not one of our ability to do. turn to him the other also. but ask it to fly and it simply cannot. It is as spontaneous as for a bird to fly. but by virtue of the cleansing that comes through the precious blood and the power that comes through the divine life. and I was able to praise God that He was my Father. how could the demands of the kingdom ever be met? Listen to these lofty demands! "Ye have heard that it was said. it can do that. If we suppress the divine life within us and do not let it submit to the divine authority. A dog cannot fly To a dog. the more released we are until. let him have thy cloak also" (Matt. Praise God. and from within He supplies the life that can be subject to Him. if you want it to crawl into a hole. totally incapable. But what a dog cannot do. it is the most natural thing to come under His authority. and it cannot possibly submit to God. From the throne He requires that we be subject to Him. It is a matter of life.. Imagine trying to attain to this: "Ye therefore shall be perfect. and the life." I wanted to draw back. The life we have by our natural birth is totally incapable of yielding to His authority. even we who by nature are fallen creatures can live the kingdom life. so that what before was impossible to man now becomes possible. I can't be a false Christian. and God never expected man to meet them. This takes no toll of our strength. The gospel presents these three things—the kingdom. Otherwise. As for the dog. The kingdom makes its demands. a bird can do with ease. the blood. so I'll have to give up being a Christian. the misery of it! For a long time I was in great perplexity. It also presents the precious blood to cleanse from defilement and the life to supply the power which makes us partakers in the kingdom. and I can't be a true one. He is impotent if we refuse consent. but the provision of the divine life is equal to all its demands. And that is where the trouble often lies—He is willing. The demands of the kingdom are far more exacting than the demands of the law. Our corrupt natural life cannot be subject to God.. and He had never meant me to try. But when we submit to the divine control we are wonderfully released. The demands He makes. 19:26). Brothers and sisters. I could not possibly do that! And never in all my life shall I be able. We have to confess that our natural life is a rebellious life. but we are unwilling." Let me use an illustration here. 5:48). It is the simplest thing for a bird to soar up into the sky. or if you want it to climb up a hill. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. Do you see? The requirements of the kingdom can never be met by man. We need the life of God. 40:31). When the disciples heard the Lord speaking about the kingdom. flight is a sheer impossibility. "With God all things are possible" (Matt. but in the New Testament it is the kingdom that makes its demands. And if any man would. but it does require our cooperation. Himself meets His demands. He Himself meets—and that is the grace revealed in the New Testament! In the Old Testament the law made its demands on man. The life of a dog is a life that cannot fly. it can do that too. That day light dawned. they heaved a sigh and said.against Him. and that the Father's life in me could enable even me to be perfect. but whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek. When we have His life. In my youth when I read those words I thought. "Oh. The new birth is the coming of God into man. 5:38-40). of coming under the government of God. "Who can?" And the Lord answered. but of giving our consent to His doing. "With men this is impossible. so I can't be one at all. There's no way out!" But a voice within me said: "You can't help being a Christian. but I could not go forward. Our natural life is incapable. but I could not draw back. I wanted to go forward. we can "mount up with wings as eagles" (Isa. We need another life for that. The bird has the kind of nature that flies. then we suffer as a caged bird suffers. do you see that the whole question of the kingdom is a question of life? The demands of the kingdom are terrific. as Isaiah puts it. the very source of life is within us—even God Himself! The God who from the throne issues His demands. but there is the need for us to let Him do.
why doesn't He save me from my bad temper? I know the Lord hears prayer. Then all their cries were unavailing. and at times I spend a night in prayer before accepting a speaking invitation. and He will let you go on being defeated until you realize that He has put His life within you in order to establish His kingdom within you. for that has been conclusively proved by the demands of the law. what need is there to say anything more? You are on the throne and you want the Lord to help you. but when they refused to let Him have dominion. and unless we allow Him to establish His kingdom in us. why can't His mighty life overcome this little temper of mine?" All that she said was very reasonable. "Sister. Why then is that little temper not overcome? Please do not misunderstand me when I say that the life of the Lord has been put within you and me to meet the needs of God's great kingdom. but how able God is. you or God?" When I pressed the point and refused her a loop-hole to escape. His life cannot operate in us. In the Old Testament days. It is important to realize that God's life has been given for the sake of His kingdom. He has become our life that in us He may meet all the demands His kingdom makes upon us. Today the requirements of the kingdom serve to demonstrate the infinite ability of God. I have prayed and prayed about it. God has put His life in us for the specific purpose of meeting the demands of His kingdom. all their enemies were subject to them. You cry out to Him: "Are You not the Mighty One? Have You not promised to answer prayer? Can You bear to see Your child living a life of defeat?" Yes." Then I said. If you try to restrict God to the throne in heaven and refuse Him the throne in your life. for if He has His place on the throne of your life every foe will be vanquished. now the demands of the kingdom prove. A sister came to me with her troubles and after talking awhile she said something like this: "I have really no problem except the problem of my own bad temper. I asked again. There is no need for the demands of the kingdom to prove man's inability. Why is it? I know the Lord is my Savior. not to meet the need of our little temper. So I said to that sister. the more my temper gets the better of me. you or the Lord? Is the authority in your hands or in His?" And when she reasoned again about her temper. but the more I pray for victory. If we do not let Him set up His throne in our lives and assert His authority over us. Then every foe will be overcome. the question is this: Who is on the throne? You are always hoping God will confine Himself to the throne in heaven while you occupy the throne in your life. the enemies gained the ascendancy. Why cannot God's mighty life deal with our little tempers? The question is not one of little problems or big problems. A brother once came to me and said something like this: "Why is it that my platform ministry is so weak? I pray a great deal about it. You must let Him have the throne. all your cries for help will avail nothing. not how unable man is. why doesn't He hear my prayers about my bad temper? I know His life is mighty. There will be no need then to pray about your weaknesses. at long last the answer came: "I am in charge of my own life. "Who is on the throne of your life. how can He do anything for you?" That is our whole trouble today. . Let me use one or two illustrations.proved how utterly impotent man was. when Jehovah had His place as King over His people. I sometimes fast and pray. the question is one of the throne. destroyed the temple. His life within us cannot function. Why am I still powerless?" My answer was the same as before: "Who is in control of your life?" That is the whole question. Then you are bothered by your weaknesses and sins. I keep losing my temper with my husband and with my children. and the Lord is a hearer and answerer of prayer. "Who is Lord of your life. The Lord's life within us is a mighty life. Let Him establish His kingdom in your life. carried off the ark. If He is not in the place of authority in your life. The question is not one of weakness or power. and took God's own people captive. Their enemies took the holy city. He can bear to see you defeated. so you call upon Him to help you. Let Him take control.
The four Gospels record only two occasions when our Lord on earth made reference to the church. which speaks of government. 22:1). for this purpose—the building of My church. 4:15-16. 22:2). 2:19 The opening proclamation of the New Testament is this: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. Where the authority of the kingdom is absent. 3:2). the Christ. 1:22-23. the Son of the living God. "Thou art the Christ." He immediately added. by reason of her submission to the heavenly rule. When we yield to God's authority and let Him establish His kingdom in our lives. 16:16-18). bearing twelve manner of fruits. From that fact we may know how intimately the kingdom and the church are related. But where did the river come from? "And He showed me a river of water of life. "Upon this rock I will build my church. and Matthew is the book that proclaims the kingdom. CHAPTER THREE THE RELATION BETWEEN THE KINGDOM AND THE CHURCH Scripture Reading: Matt. the Lord raises the question of the church. Life is always associated with the throne. and that building of which I am the foundation is the church. when the disciples have come to know Him. It was as though He was saying: "I am the Son of God. That is only one half of the New Testament revelation. deals with God's enemy. But after a while. I am a Rock. Col. The church which comes into being under the rule of heaven. When Peter said. he will never be built into the structure of the church. and both of these are in the book which specifically proclaims the kingdom. The New Jerusalem combines in itself both the church and the kingdom.. And in saying this we have summed up in a sentence the entire content of the . The Bible first presents the kingdom and thereafter presents the church. It is the presence of God's enemy that hinders God's will from being done on the earth. 16:18-19. and in the New Jerusalem you see the kingdom and the church blending into one. But the New Testament goes beyond that. The Lord's second mention of the church is still in the book of Matthew—chapter 18." The keys of the kingdom are given to make the building of the church possible. When the Lord said. Throughout the New Testament we find these two advancing together in the closest connection. Where the kingdom of heaven is in authority. Wherever this river flowed. yielding its fruit every month" (Rev. there a church will be built up. The New Jerusalem is the Bride. and it was not until the Lord Jesus had brought His disciples to the point of recognizing Him as "the Christ. "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.. for then we too are in authority. every need was met." Let us bear in mind that the first mention of the church is in Matthew 16. and in this center of government there is the throne of God and of the Lamb. Anyone who refuses to submit to the authority of the kingdom can at best be a saved person. The church was a mystery that had been hidden throughout all the generations of the past. which according to Ephesians 5 is the church. Eph. the Son of the living God. then we are maintained in victory and in fullness of life." that He spoke openly of the church. Eph." the Lord came in at once with the word: "Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. there the building of the church will be lacking. A church comes into being where a company of people accept the government of heaven. So it would appear to be the presence of the kingdom that produces the church. the other half is this— the church brings in the kingdom. It is also a city. and it is the exercise of God's authority by the church that casts him out. As the Son of God and as the Christ. Then the New Jerusalem appears. The New Testament calls immediate attention to the matter of the kingdom.proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Rev. the Foundation Stone of a building that is to be built.We read of the river of living water that "on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life.
Ezekiel says that the children of Israel were in the sight of God like a heap of dry bones. He sought a company of men who would give Him the right-of-way on the earth to carry His will into effect. When the church has ceded to the kingdom the right to rule and has submitted to its sway. The Scriptures present this far more profound aspect—that the church has been secured through the sovereign rule of heaven. therefore. That is what Matthew 16 reveals. 2:5). there is need of relatedness and there is the need of building up. all perfectly placed in relation to one another. he did a crucial thing—he violated God's authority. How did God seek to meet the situation? He did so by securing another creation through which He could exercise authority. He needed a people who would subject themselves to the dominion of heaven. Why was the church brought into being? For the purpose of bringing in the kingdom! How was the church brought into being? By means of the authority of the kingdom! God's purpose was to bring His heavenly dominion to the earth. Because the kingdom of heaven is able to assert its authority over a company of men. then He could accomplish His purpose concerning Christ in and through them. but for its accomplishment it was necessary for Him to wield authority. so that under that dominion they might be built up into the church. that one set beside the other one. Whether or not God would be able to implement His purpose hinged on this matter of authority. He wanted to have the church in order to bring His kingdom from heaven to earth. God's temple. God has a purpose concerning the universe. What is the church? It is the saved assembled together. above and beneath. the church brings in the kingdom. until eventually this blending issues in the New Jerusalem. We admit that a house is built of stones. and the ultimate issue is the kingdom and the church. but it is a very superficial aspect of the truth. But what kind of an assembling together is it? A great number of stones heaped up together is not a house. and they became one body (Ezek. Our body has very many bones. But how does the church become an actuality? It is through the exercise of kingdom authority. His goal could not be attained. Apart .New Testament. The New Testament opens by presenting the kingdom and thereafter presenting the church. Do not imagine that by our salvation alone we become the church. If only He could secure a band of men on the earth who would let Him wield dominion over them. the church then brings the dominion of heaven to the earth. In the New Jerusalem. It is necessary at this point to recapitulate. where you can detect the nature of the church and the conditions of the kingdom. but our salvation alone does not constitute us the church. and apart from the church. because as we pointed out earlier. With that summary in mind let us now inquire: Why was the church needed? We can only indicate the answer in a few words. It was for this reason that God needed the church. it means that the church is here. The church is a Body. no plan can be carried into effect where authority is lacking. but do many bones constitute a body? Let the Old Testament book of Ezekiel supply the answer. the church is a house. to left and to right. It is God's dwelling. The question which now arises is this: How is the church secured? We might answer: "The Lord Jesus shed His blood for the remission of our sins and gave His life that we might be born again and thereby constitute the church. One day the breath of life came into them. but a heap of stones is not a house. Now the Bible says that we who are saved are "living stones" and are built together into a "spiritual house" (1 Pet. So when God's enemy sought to frustrate God's purpose. before and behind. What then is a house? It is stone built upon stone —this one set on top of that one. 37). To illustrate again. God is able to express His sovereignty fully and can therefore execute His will and display His glory. that company of men can be built up into a church. We who are saved are in the church. Brothers and sisters. do not take for granted that if a thousand brothers and sisters come together here. We might express it in three phrases—the kingdom produces the church. and the bones were knit together. All the way through the New Testament we see the church blending with the kingdom and the kingdom blending with the church. Let me illustrate." This is true enough.
we must submit to the authority of the Head. she's so humble. We often meet brothers who are delightful Christians. So the stone has to be chipped and chipped and chipped until the shape of the stone and the space in the building perfectly correspond." So we read of believers being "edified" and of the church being "edified. Our Savior has been exalted to be Head of the universe. we have never known her to be irritated. and one below her and one above. and applies that tool to the stone until its surface is perfectly even. But that stone has to fit into a certain space in the building. "Oh. said: "Oh. Then into the space the stone is fitted. she's such a precious sister. Unfortunately. it is there to be part of the building. In many gatherings there is quite a display of beautiful stones." But the original language does not imply (as does the word "edify") to "improve morally. but no good for building. The stone is not there to be ornamental. it is frequently rendered "edify. He wants a complete church. "singers who strike such high notes as she find few who can sing with them. In the first place this implies that the church must come under His headship. or has her spirituality related her to others?" "Oh!" replied the sister." And again she added. so precious they cannot be fitted together with common clay or stone. while the word "built. What God wants is not a lot of precious stones. she said. yet they remain individualists who cannot be "built. but whether they are the church or not depends on whether or not they have been built together." or to "benefit spiritually. Their lives are well ordered. tool-in-hand. and there the question of church building cannot even arise. Oh. it is not a lot of ornamental stones that are needed." Alas! that sister was so spiritual that no one could be her spiritual companion. There might be a thousand brothers and sisters together and all are saved. not numbers of scattered Christians. not a lot of separate stones. The stone is triangular. You can find Christians all over the world. The kind of sister needed in the church is one who can have another placed behind her and another in front. they are careful about the early morning watch and earnest in evangelistic work. The one indispensable condition is submission to the authority of the kingdom. In ." as used in Matthew 16." They are precious stones. and all authority has been given Him in heaven and on earth. He wants a spiritual house. "Is she an isolated spiritual sister. but where is the building? May the Lord have mercy upon us! Brothers and sisters. That is the kind of Christian God is seeking today. they have attended many meetings for spiritual "edification" and have become so truly "edified" that they call forth the commendation of others. but where in any one place has a spiritual house been built? There are lots of stones that have been wrought upon until they are very beautiful. They are certainly church material." but truly to "build. so gentle. Where there is no Head there is no authority. They are too beautiful to be built up into one building with others. is the lack of Christians who have been built together. so spiritual!" When I asked more about her. but I am afraid there has not been a building up of the stones into a house. Without building there is no church. During the past two thousand years one of the greatest hindrances to the purpose of God. What is headship? It is the government of the Head. and you can find spiritual Christians too. What God desires is a house." How do we build? Well. there is a condition to be fulfilled if there is to be a building. but she is of no use for church building.from a building together of the stones there can be no house. Such a sister is all right for display purposes. Perhaps some would ask what it really means to be built. The space is rectangular. lovely for display. God has put all things under His feet and has made Him Head over all things to the church. "She's so spiritual!" "Who is she spiritual with?" I asked. however beautiful they may be. here is a stone! Along comes a workman. is found very often in the New Testament. so they remain individual Christians. and the main reason why our Lord has had to delay His return. One sister. but we would still ask whether they have been built together or not. so quiet. speaking to me of another. another to her left and another to her right. Do realize that if the church is to be built up.
then we will know that the church was a secret long hidden in the heart of God. Only through those who come under the control of the Head can the building of the church be secured. CHAPTER FOUR THE BUILDING OF THE CHURCH IN RELATION TO THE KINGDOM Scripture Reading: Matt." Get subjection to the authority of the Head. which speaks throughout of the building of the church. for the God of heaven has come to dwell within him. Christ. 2:22. a great mystery. 4:11-12. increaseth with the increase of God. this mystery is God Himself wrought into humanity. and even many of our other good qualities. even our love. Where the government of heaven is secured. the human and the divine." nor does it say: "holding the life. truly man but into his inner being has come the heavenly nature. but the work that is central to all His other work. "All the Body. Col." It happens as each member submits to the Head. The extent to which the church is built up in our midst will depend entirely upon the place given in our midst to the church's Head." It is when we submit to the government of the Head that there will be the building of which the same verse speaks—"all the body. there will follow the building up of the Body as these two verses show. by the second creation they have become possessors of a divine nature. and if we know something of fellowship with God. and you get the building up of the Body. Note that it does not say: "holding the Savior. Who is the Head. fitted and knit together. the building of the church." Colossians 2:19 speaks of "holding the Head. but God Himself has taken up His abode in man. fitted and knit together. He has undertaken many other tasks. We have not yet understood what it means to have our affections governed by Christ. But through redemption these creatures have become partakers of divine life and have thereby experienced two creations—creation "in Adam" and creation "in Christ" (2 Pet. If we know our Bibles. 2:5. it happens as each accepts the government of the kingdom of heaven. Not only has man become possessed of two dispositions. Where there is truly a growing up in all things into the Head. 15-16. God Himself wrought into the lives of His creatures—and fallen creatures at that. He is still man. it is shown to be of primary importance that we "grow up into Him in all things. 1:4). by the second creation they have received uncreated life.. By the first creation they have received created life. 2:19 The New Testament clearly reveals that in this universe God has focused all His activities on a building project. Eph. ." In how many things are we really growing up into Him? Even our humility. 1 Pet. fitted and knit together"—that is church building! But how does it happen? "Out from Whom all the Body. To state it briefly. Man in his outer being remains unchanged. are not necessarily a growing up under His headship." What does that mean? It means in all things submitting to the authority of the Head. and to have all those other desirable qualities developed under His headship.. "All the Body. By the first creation they have become possessors of a human nature. being supplied and knit together through the joints and bands. The church is a mystery. is the structure of which the Lord speaks in Matthew 16—"I will build my church.causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love. 16:16-19. there the church is secured.Ephesians 4:15-16." All the divine activity in the universe is directed toward this. So the question as to whether or not the church will be built up becomes a question of whether or not you and I can accept the authority of the kingdom. and the work that is the ultimate to which all His other work is directed. Eph.
. and some prophets. I trust you have caught a vision of the church. 4:11-12)." But how did He set about this task of building the church? It was by sending the Holy Spirit.God is now working upon this humanity that men should not be separate units. the bringing of men under the authority of the church's Head. When His Son came to earth He plainly stated that His desire was this building (Matt. you get things organized a bit—and you have the church! I do not wish to enlarge on this line. It is a great grief to me to hear people explaining salvation as a matter of being saved from hell to heaven. God is putting up a great building in the universe. or the kingdom of God—it is here that all God's fullness dwells. that they shall become His Body. and by giving gifts to the church. "I will build my church. how immense. "He gave some apostles. and some shepherds and teachers. But let us bring our consideration of this so lofty theme right down to everyday life and consider it in its practical aspect." The objective here is not heaven. Call this as you will—the Body of Christ. But what are those buildings compared to the church? They are mere worthless structures. The building up of the church has its beginning . and what we now see as God's dwelling. and all who are seeking to work for Him should have this goal before them. God has laid hold of men and has imparted Himself into them. when I went to Hong Kong. He was referring to this when He said. He is putting Himself into the building. but I long that the Lord's children might realize that what we have just described is not what the Bible means by building the church. Though there was satanic interference. What is the usual concept of building the church? You open a place of worship.unto the building up of the Body of Christ" (Eph. a fellow-worker drew my attention to the high buildings everywhere. While much evangelistic work goes on. Salvation is not merely a matter of God in His compassion for men translating them from hell to heaven. you introduce people to Christianity. God saves us that we may come into subjection to the Son of His love. this was the goal He had in view. but the kingdom. but heaven is not the goal of our salvation. Of course salvation brings us to heaven. but brought in redemption that the work might continue. 16:16-19). so that in and through them He may manifest Himself in all His glory. He wants the many to be built up into one structure. but of delivering them "out of the authority of darkness" and transferring them "into the kingdom of the Son of His love. and teachers for the specific purpose of building up the church. and He is building all that material together. The building of the church means first. what we now see as Christ's Body. He wants them to be brought into such correspondence with Christ. which is His governmental center. we shall then see as the Bride of Christ and the city of God. you have them baptized. and when in time God began His creative work. or the family of God. one house. Brothers and sisters. I trust you see how sacred a thing the church is. This is the task to which God has been bending all His energies. 1:13). When the work of God is perfected. Before men are saved they are under the authority of Satan. God did not suspend His activity. yet God has given evangelists. I hope you realize that this is the one thing in the universe God is after. and He is also putting into it numbers and numbers of men who have been saved through the generations. prophets. and it is in the light of this that we must read again the words of the Lord Jesus: "I will build my church.. but be coordinated into one. there is little evidence of church building. and much work for the edification of believers goes on. and He is using Himself and man as building material. This is what God planned in eternity past before the creation. and some evangelists." Once. or the house of God. and after they are saved they are delivered out of the authority of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col. you arrange a variety of meetings. one Body. He wants them to be brought into such harmony with Himself that they may become His dwelling place. He is now working to make them one corporate whole. To be saved is to be delivered out of Satan's authority and to be placed under the authority of Christ. how mysterious. He is putting heaven into the building. He wants many men to become one organic whole.
then you yourself will need to submit to the headship of Christ. and you can set up a church on this street. If those two had both come into subjection to the church's Head. That is why we have kept stressing the fact that there must be the sovereign rule of the kingdom if there is to be any building up of the church. no church will be built up here. but His authority over me has brought me to love my brethren. Those two brothers rejoice more heartily than ever. and I can set up a church on that street. If the mass of material that went into the building of a meeting hall were torn down until it all lay in a heap. That is exactly the state of things in the present day! We think if we are just keen enough. Is the church built that way? Far from it. so that I can truly serve Him together with them. There is only one place where love is permanent. and we can hire a preacher to preach for us. If in any person. Brothers and sisters. and the southerners too have their peculiar temperaments. Brothers and sisters. but this love of ours one for the other is very transient. But let us return to our illustration of the two brothers. but for the building up of the church under the government of the church's Head. Oh. what is the cause of all this confusion? The ultimate cause is that we have not subjected ourselves to the Head of the church.here—the bringing of people under the sway of Christ who formerly had been under Satan's sway. for the northerners are rather strange characters. That all the material serves a purpose today. and there they instituted a form of "divine worship" (Judg. They decide to preach the gospel together. Unless the kingdom is here. hired a Levite to be their household priest. we can gather some people together. But if such a church is to come into being—a church against which the gates of Hades cannot prevail—then a building up must take place. praise God! The building of the church begins in your life. They praise the Lord and are thrilled that they have found one another. Christ is able to assert His authority. In the face of such a church Satan will be impotent. until one day the northerners and the southerners decide to part company and each rents a separate meeting place. and that is under the Head of the church. 17). that you might realize that as soon as the question of church building arises. able to do battle for the kingdom of God. and that cannot take place apart from a recognition of the church's Head and subjection to His authority. the question of the headship of Christ arises! When you meet that challenge. Brothers and sisters. If you are to have a part in that. but soon it becomes hard work to produce a "Praise the Lord!" Before long criticisms begin to take the place of "hallelujahs. or in any company of believers. then He starts to build His church." and discord increases. what would be the good of it? It would be utterly useless. When there was no king in Israel. When His authority becomes a settled issue in your life. Oh. 21:25). . That is the way the church is destroyed. At that time a certain family set up a place of worship in their own home. With delight each recognizes the other as a brother. Such a company of believers will be a strong church. and the people just did as they pleased. You may ask what this means in practical terms. an amazing thing will begin to take place—you will find yourself most naturally being built together with others who are also in subjection to His authority. How they praise the Lord that they were able together to lead all those souls to Him! But this happy state of affairs does not last. What is the source of the trouble? It is the absence of the throne! In the book of Judges we read: "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judg. what rebel stuff there is in our make-up! I confess that my own nature is utterly antagonistic to the Lord. Two strangers meet. both believers. is because it has all been built up into an ordered structure. their problems would have been solved. there is an urgent need for the building up of believers! The need is not for the establishing of Christian groups. there was no authority. At first praise is so easy. and soon a score of people are saved—twelve from the north and eight from the south. we talk about mutual love. Let me illustrate. for authority quells all rebellion.
. will have a contribution to make to the whole. and this local church will become a strong church in which.Nowhere else is there true harmony or permanent relatedness. something tremendous happens—a building process begins to take place. Under His headship we shall cease to reckon with difficulties. Those brothers and sisters who have been our problems become our blessings. Then the specific spiritual function which belongs to each member of the Body will become apparent. and it is not long before a company is built up in the life of Christ. It is not enough that we preach the gospel. this is what God desires today. Brothers and sisters. When we are willing to be broken under His authority. under the direction of the Head. A constant acceptance of the discipline of His government makes way for the flow of His life. from the smallest to the greatest. and to a measure of spirituality. bring people to a knowledge of salvation. and so the building work goes on apace. for we shall touch fullness of life. every member. We must also bring them under the headship of Christ so that they may be built up.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.