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By saying that some of them teach it, does not imply that others teach the opposite. Some Scriptures teach salvation as a whole, others in detail, describing the successive degrees of it attainment, but this implies no discord in their testimony.
And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son . . . and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:1-3, 10-14)
All the guests had been invited by the king’s messengers, they accepted the invitation, entered the king’s mansion, and participated in the royal feast, i.e., the blessings of the “kingdom of heaven.” But, on viewing the guests, the king found one that had not on the wedding garment. “How comest thou in hither?” You see, he was actually in the king’s house—“the kingdom of heaven”—he was found among the other guests, yet had not on the wedding garment, which evidently means the “robe of spotless purity,” or the “righteousness of God” with which we are to be invested after entering the kingdom; this is the uniform order of the Bible. Not sinners, but the bride, the Lord clothes with the “garment of salvation” and “covers with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). God calls the world to repentance, but “ Zion ”—the church—to “awake, put on thy strength” and “put on thy beautiful garments, O, Jerusalem the holy city” (Isaiah 53:1).
But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
We have seen that this wedding garment is the “robe of righteousness,” and here Christ makes a distinction between the “ kingdom of God ” and “His righteousness,” the latter is something that is to be sought in addition to, and subsequent to entering the kingdom. Hence Paul longed to see his brethren at Rome and impart to them the “fullness of the blessing of the Gospel” “for therein is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith.” They had sought, and entered the kingdom of God , and now he wanted them to “seek His righteousness,” the “wedding garment.”
Hear “what the Spirit saith to the churches:” “He that overcometh the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.” (Revelation 3:5)
Two things are here promised on condition of overcoming: (1) I will clothe him; (2) I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.” Does not this prove that the Bridegroom only offers the “white raiment”—“wedding garment”—to such whose names were previously written in the book of life? If receiving the robe were inseparable from entering the kingdom, or enrolling new subjects, the Spirit would have said, “He that overcometh the same shall be clothed in white raiment and I will enter his name in the book of life,” instead of “not blot out.” But such a proposition could not be addressed to the churches; it would properly belong to the world, to outsiders. This voice from the midst of the “seven golden candlesticks,” John corroborates in his first Epistle (1 John 5:4).
First we are born of God and have our name written in the book. Second, overcome the world by faith, and, as a prize, we then receive the beautiful “white garment”—the “robe that is washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb”—“a pure and holy nature,” “for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints,” “clean and white” (Revelation 19:8). Thus, I have briefly shown that this parable of the Savior comports with the Scriptures elsewhere.
It matters not whether we apply the inspection in the parable to the final judgment, or the time that “is come when judgment must begin at the house of God,”—1 Peter 4:17—the facts are the same; the man actually entered the kingdom here typified, but when sufficient time had been given, he was still found without the requisite qualifications for the final glory of the kingdom and was therefore cast out. If it were true, as some teach, that we must put on the pure white robes of perfect righteousness in the act of entering the kingdom, the should Christ have said, “The kingdom is not like a certain king,” etc., who admitted a man not fully conformed to the costume of his royal palace.
It is one thing to enter the “ kingdom of God ,” and another to “partake of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:7-10). Had this man, after entering, put on the garments provided for the guests, he would not have been confounded and cast out. And I fear that many are clinging to a hope of heaven simply because they were admitted into the kingdom of God’s grace and consider not that “He that (already) hath this hope in him (through regeneration) purifieth himself even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). What awful surprise and amazement when these shall hear the Judge proclaim, “Let him that is filthy be filthy still.”
The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend.” (Matthew 23:41)
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. (Matthew 13:47-48)
Here the idea of both good and evil elements entering the kingdom is most clearly taught. Hence the need of purification from all sin and unrighteousness, lest we be finally gathered out of the kingdom. This must surely be the fate of all who have in them any “thing that offend”—is opposite to the holy nature of God.
The parable of
THE TEN VIRGINS, MATTHEW 25:1-11,
teaches us the same lesson. They were all virgins—members of the church—all had lamps, and all had some oil in their lamps. It is generally understood that the Lamps represent the profession of religion: oil is essential to the lamp, so a measure of grace is essential to a valid profession of Christ. Hence the oil in the lamps represents the grace of justification without which there is no true profession.
This measure of God’s grace they all alike possessed. But five had a supply that was distinct from what their lamps contained, a measure of grace in addition to justification; while the other five relied wholly upon that grace which is consequent upon a profession of Christ. These, not having sought and obtained the “fullness” the “grace upon grace,” will wake up when the Bridegroom comes to find, with awful consternation, that their lamps had “gone out;” or as in the margin, and other versions, “are going out.” This shows that they had been burning, hence must have had oil in them. But now, when too late to buy: yea, when that very moment comes for which they had procured their lamps and oil and gone forth to watch, just then they find their lights going out, leaving them in the gloom of despair.
Dear reader, are you sure that you are in the kingdom? Well that is not enough, for the “kingdom of heaven is likened unto ten virgins,” five of whom were foolish enough to be shut out of heaven at last. May you not be of that number? The light of many professors of religion will turn into darkness at the coming of our Lord and Savior; their justification into condemnation; because refusing the “more grace”—the filling of the vessel—“that which they have,” or “seem to have, shall be taken away.” Not having their “love made perfect,” they will not have “boldness to stand in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17).
The parable of the
HIDDEN TREASURE AND PEARL
beautifully concurs with all the Holy Book, in teaching two stages of grace.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; which, when a man had found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)
Seeking the kingdom applies to the penitent approaching the door of pardoning mercy. Finding the kingdom here symbolized by the treasure and pearl, can only mean induction by regeneration; for, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God ” (John 3:3). There was joy connected with this finding, evidently the joy of pardon. Now, what follows all this: A universal sell out, and investing all in the kingdom. What is this but the Christian consecration—the offering of self, with all that pertain to us, upon the altar of God, which sanctifies the gift. For, says Jesus, “If thou wilt be perfect, sell all that thou hast,” etc. This transfer must be just as real as if made by an unconditional quit-claim to some man.
Notice, that when we first find the kingdom, notwithstanding the joy, there is a strong tendency to hide it; to put the light under the bushel. Again, remember that when we crossed the Red Sea of regeneration we were in the kingdom but had not reached our possession, which lay beyond the wilderness and Jordan , and could only be entered by a second miraculous passage. Hence, entering the kingdom is one thing, and taking possession of it a subsequent realization.
This parable of the Lord coincides very strikingly with the experience of the hundred and twenty disciples, with the Samaritans and the twelve disciples at Ephesus, who by faith received Christ, “the life,” had the joy of pardon and sonship, and afterward took full possession of the kingdom in the mighty baptism of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). What do we see here but two distinct attainments in grace: 1st, the finding of the kingdom upon the condition of seeking and resulting in joy. 2nd, the full possession of the kingdom, or rather our perfect conformity to its holy law, and qualification for its enjoyment upon receiving the great “seal” of the kingdom—the “Holy Spirit of promise.” The divine order is, “Seek first the kingdom of God , and (second) His righteousness,” by which the soul apprehends all the wealth and glory and fruition of the heavenly reign.
My God, I know, I feel thee mine;
And will not quit my claim,
Till all I have is lost in Thine,
And all renewed I am.