THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM Part 1 of 2
In this writing we want to talk about the spiritual dynamics of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The gospel of the Kingdom is much more than a "message." Our Lord Jesus promised His disciples that there would be a powerful demonstration of the gospel of the Kingdom before the end would come. THIS MUST YET HAPPEN:
"And THIS gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN shall the end come" (Matt. 24:14).
Notice He said, "THIS gospel of the Kingdom." I think one would have to be extremely blind to think that our Lord was talking about this kind of gospel preaching that is generally pouring forth from the Church in this hour. Certainly He is talking about the kind of gospel that shone forth from His ministry, and that of His apostles, and not the sterile kind that is going forth today from our many pulpits, and through the mass media of radio and television. "THIS" gospel of the Kingdom is much, much more than a message. It is a dynamic Word that works mightily in the hearts of those who hear it:
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the POWER [dunamis] of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..." (Rom. 1:16).
Bible colleges and seminaries can give one a lot of instruction in the scriptures--and God certainly wants us to know the scriptures. But going forth to the nations with this knowledge and understanding, and preaching it to men and women, IS NOT THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM. Paul's gospel was much more than that:
"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance... (1 Thess. 1:5).
Man's thirst for knowledge and understanding has been insatiable ever since our foreparents partook of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." And somehow, even in the Church, if we know what God has said we get the feeling that we know the truth. But truth is a dynamic working of God in the hearts of men and women. The letter of it is in the Bible, that is true-and we love the written Word. But it must be deeply imbedded within us, and spring forth from our hearts in a mighty working of His Spirit before we really know God, and before we can truly declare Him, and make Him known to others.
Sent By God--Or Sent By Man
The great commission, as it is called, ("Go ye into all the world...") was never given to the Church as a mandate to organize missionary programs. It was given to a handful of His disciples who had walked with Him and learned His ways. But even then they were not equipped. They must first tarry at Jerusalem, at home base, until they were "endued with power from on high" (Lk. 24:49). Even then, having received this mighty baptism of fire they continued to linger in Jerusalem-for how many years we do not know exactly--awaiting God's time. Let us not accuse them of lethargy, negligence, or cowardice. They braved the storms of persecution and stayed in Jerusalem even when the Church was scattered far and wide. (See Acts 8:1.) Why did they not obey the Lord and "go into all the world and preach the gospel"? They did, but they walked with God, and knew God, and they knew that He had a time for everything, and a way, and that they must walk in His way. They had learned much of God's way as they walked with their Lord. They knew they must wait for God's TIME.
GOD NEVER SENT HIS PEOPLE FORTH IN MISSIONARY ACTIVITY EXCEPT AS THEY OPERATED IN THE REALM OF KINGDOM-OF-GOD DYNAMICS. AND WHEN HIS PEOPLE WERE READY GOD DID THE SENDING.
Whenever I get one of these little slips that comes in the mail, I quickly throw it in the waste basket: "I can t go to the mission field, but here is my donation of $___ to help support someone that can."
I CAN GO, if God sends me. So can you. God has made no provision for substitutionary service in the Kingdom of God. If God tells you to go and you reply, "I can t Lord, but here is my $100 for someone that can," YOU ARE TOTALLY DISOBEDIENT TO THE WILL OF GOD.
May God quickly bring His people to the realization that He is still Lord of the Church, and that He knows how to prepare vessels for ministry, and when to send them forth. The presence and the Lordship of the Holy Spirit has been completely ignored in most of our programs and endeavors to reach the nations of the world. Our Lord is still capable of saying to a handful of believers who are walking with Him, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:2). Even then they did not get up and run. They waited on God in fasting and prayer, and for the blessing of the Church. And when they went forth they were "SENT FORTH BY THE HOLY GHOST..." (Acts 13:4).
I am not saying that what happened in Antioch must in any sense be a pattern for the Church. For God always moves in different ways as He may choose. We are simply emphasizing that God wants to speak distinctly to His people in this hour, as He did in her early beginnings.
I know it is all so different now. The Holy Ghost is no longer expected to speak in this emphatic manner. BUT THE COLOSSAL BLUNDER OF THE CHURCH RESTS IN THIS VERY FACT, THAT IF GOD IS NO LONGER SPEAKING DISTINCTLY WE WILL SIMPLY DO THE BEST WE CAN WITHOUT HEARING HIS VOICE. It is even taught that it is our responsibility to act boldly without waiting for God--waiting with such an intensity of commitment and devotion that we know we dare not go forth except as we hear from Him. We have a right, and a responsibility, to know what the will of the Lord is. "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:17). If God wants us to have this understanding, then we must seek for it, and wait, till we know for sure what the will of the Lord is. I am not denying that there may be seasons of perplexity as we struggle to know clearly what He is saying. But this is all in the learning process. In such times it is important that we learn patience and trust, rather than to act in haste. The hasty spirit generally moves in the wrong direction. Jesus said that if we would but walk with Him in His yoke, we would find rest unto our souls.