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Prophetic Expositions, vol. 1

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    X. THE EMBRYOTIC STATE OF THE KINGDOM

    There are various texts in the Bible which seem to convey the idea of the present existence and the progressive character of the kingdom of God. It is from such texts the notion has been derived that Christ set up his kingdom at the time of his first advent. Some of those texts we will consider.PREX1 29.1

    1. The parable of the mustard seed. Matthew 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 greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” The usual construction of this parable, is, that the seed represents the smallness of the church in its beginning, consisting only of the twelve apostles of Christ sent out to evangelize the world; that this little beginning is to eventuate in the universal triumph of the church of Christ, and the conversion of the world and introduction of millennial glory.PREX1 29.2

    But is not the meaning obviously this, that Christ is the mustard seed; that in his death he was planted, and in his resurrection he germinated into new life; and that every soul saved through his death and resurrection is an additional branch to the tree? The branch of the mustard tree no more literally lives and flourishes and bears fruit by its union with the stock and root, and the sap it receives from that root, than the Christian has spiritual and eternal life from the indwelling of that quickening spirit which raised up Christ from the dead. It is to the church the sap of life. The indwelling of the quickening spirit of Christ in the believer is the mystery of godliness. It is religion; so that each believer can say, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh is by the faith of the Son of God. It is the resurrection, power and eternal life. The blood of Adam, which all men derive by natural generation, does not give them second life, or raise them from the dead to eternal life! But the spirit of him that raised up Christ from the dead, if it dwell in us, will quicken our mortal bodies also. This being the case, it will readily be perceived that the perfection of the tree cannot consist in its universal triumph, all over the world in any one age of probationary time. For while there is yet one more member to be added to the tree, or while death reigns in the world, the tree must of necessity be in a state of imperfection and immaturity. But in the dispensation of the fulness of the times he shall “gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.” Ephesians 1:10. Then there will be a perfection of the tree, and each branch will by in its place, mature and perfect. It cannot be before.PREX1 30.1

    2. The parable of the leaven. Matthew 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.” This, like the former parable, has been supposed to predict the ultimate and universal triumph of Christianity in this world. The leaven is the gospel, the three measures of meal the world of mankind; the leavening process the increase of the means of grace and conversion of sinners through those means, until the whole world shall be converted.PREX1 31.1

    But does it not rather express, by a figure, a definite for an indefinite number of persons; each one of whom receiving the spirit of Christ, will, if the leaven be permitted to work there, be conformed, when Christ appears in glory, to his glorious image.PREX1 31.2

    “And when Jesus doth appear, Soul and body, soul and body, Shall his glorious image bear.”PREX1 32.1

    “But those measures of meal, (persons,) which do not receive this spirit, have no life in them; they can have no hope of glory. Reader, have you that blessed spirit dwelling in you? Examine yourself and see whether you be in the faith. Christ is in you except you are a reprobate. But if the three measures of meal mean the whole world of mankind, then the leavening process will go on till all are saved; and Universalism is true. But it is not so; but each of Adam’s race is a measure, and each must receive the spirit for himself, or not be saved.PREX1 32.2

    This spirit is what I call the kingdom of God, or the germ of that kingdom in the believer. It was in Abel, as well as in Paul and the beloved disciple. So were Abel and Enoch, and a host of worthies in Old Testament times, in Christ by faith, as well as apostles and martyrs under the gospel; the embryotic kingdom was begun when the great plan of redemption by Jesus Christ was first promulged. It was no new kingdom which Christ established when he came on earth. He introduced a new dispensation or age, and the last one which the world will enjoy before his kingdom comes.PREX1 32.3

    Christ was born to be a king; but his kingdom is not of this world. That is, say some, it is not an outward and visible kingdom; but a spiritual reign. Nay, but Christ has nowhere taught us that his reign is spiritual; but, it is “according to the flesh” he is David’s son, and is to sit on David’s throne. His kingdom, although to be a visible one, and on the renewed earth, yet is not of this world, under its present organization, and while the Gentiles have the dominion of it, but in the world to come. Christ is now exalted to his Father’s throne, to be “a Prince, and a Saviour.” He is an heir to, and expectant of a throne; and will come to it at the time appointed of the Father. But a prince, although an heir to a throne, is not de facto, a king. He is to set on his Father’s throne until his foes be made his footstool. Then he will come to dash his enemies in pieces, and give his saints the kingdom.PREX1 32.4

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