Two things are presented to the eye and heart of the believer in Christ: (1) THE [MILLENNIAL] KINGDOM OF GOD and (2) ETERNAL LIFE.



These two differ in most points.



1. The [Millennial] Kingdom of God and Christ is temporary.  “Then cometh the end, when He [Christ] shall deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put all enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15: 21, 25).  This, then, is the Kingdom of the thousand years.  Eternal life is, of course, a boon without end.



2.  The [Millennial] Kingdom of God is a prize, to be bestowed according to the work of each.  “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting these things that are behind, and reaching forth unto those which are before, I press [pursue] toward the mark [goal] for the prize of the high calling [calling above] of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3: 13, 14).  “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one [only] receiveth the prize?  So run, in order that ye may obtain” (1 Corinthians 9: 24).  The prize is not the present kingdom of grace, but the kingdom of millennial glory.



3.  The title to eternal life is already possessed by the [regenerate] believer.  “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life” (John 3: 36).  “He that heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life” (v. 24 R.V.).  The title to the [Millennial] Kingdom of God is to be sought by baptism and a new life.

John Baptist demanded first repentance, then baptism unto the forgiveness of sin.  “Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of the repentance,” you profess (Matthew 3: 8).  “Therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire” (3: 10).



But now let me say a few words to remove common mistakes about both Baptism and the Kingdom.



The Greek word for ‘baptism’ (now naturalized among us) means immersion only.  All the occurrences of the word in Greek authors have been collected, and ‘Immersion’ will everywhere translate them.  The sprinkling and pouring of water on the faces of infants is a tradition of men, displeasing to God.  It pushes aside the command of God, and is a turning back to law as under Moses, and to the union of Church and State.  Peter speaks of baptism as a “putting away of the filth of the flesh  It was, and is, the cleansing of the whole body of the believer.  This is the meaning of the expression as used in the Old Testament.  “He shall wash his clothes and bathe his flesh in living water” (Leviticus 15: 13).  “He shall bathe all his flesh in water” (16).  Faith is to precede it (or repentance) (Acts 2: 38). “Repent, and be immersed, every one of you  It is a something enjoined on each individual.  It is not, as under Moses’ circumcision, a responsibility laid on the parents.  The male child was to be circumcised the eighth day – “And the un-circumcised male, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumicised, shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant” (Genesis 17: 14).  “He that believeth, and is immersed, shall be saved” (Mark 16: 16).



And now a few remarks on THE [MILLENNIAL] KINGDOM.



The force of many passages is lost by supposing (a) that ‘eternal life’ and ‘the Kingdom’ mean the same thing, and (b) that ‘the Kingdom of God’ generally means the present time of mercy.  It means generally the future millennial day of reward.  Look at more of its characteristics:-



1.  It does not arrive till the King is on earth and is judging.  “When he [the King] was returned, having received the Kingdom, then he commanded those servants to be called to him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much each had gained by trading” (Luke 19: 15; Matthew 16: 28; 26: 29).



2.  Satan must be imprisoned in order that the nations of earth may be rescued from his deceits.  An angel seized the devil, “and cast him into the bottomless pit, and sealed it over him [Greek] that he should deceive the nations no more till - ” (Revelation 20: 3).  Those who obtain the first resurrection “shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (v. 6).



3. - It can only take place [for the holy dead now in Hades, (Rev. 6: 9-11; Luke 16: 30; Matt. 16: 18. cf. John 14:3, 13, etc.)] in resurrection.  “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection.” “The rest of the dead came not to life until the thousand years were finished.”  “I will not drink henceforth of this produce of the vine until that day when I drink it with you new in My Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 26: 29; Luke 22: 15-30).



4.- It is not ours as yet.  We are to seek for it as of prime importance.  “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6: 33).  Ministers of the Word of God are to preach it – “And as ye go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of heaven hath drawn near” (Matthew 10: 7; Luke 4: 43); “Let the dead bury their own dead; but go thou, and preach the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9: 60).  There are two Gospels: (1) one of the Grace of God, which tells of the pardon of sin and of eternal life, God’s gift; (2) the Gospel of the Kingdom, which tells of reward according to works, when Christ shall return.  Paul preached them both, and thus delivered “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20: 24, 25).



5. - Those that do not believe in the Kingdom of glory will not enter it.  “Verily, I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10: 15; Luke 18: 17).



6. - Pray to enter the future Kingdom.  “We pray alway for you, that God would count you worthy of this calling” (2 Thessalonians 1: 11).  “That ye may be accounted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which ye even suffer” (v. 5). …



Let us take Matthew 3: 1, 2.



“Now in those days cometh forward John the Baptist, as the herald in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, ‘Repent ye; for the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn nigh.’”



None, even of Israel, were ready for the Kingdom of God.  The kingdom over the earth had fallen into the hands of evil men, the emperors of Rome, and Herod, set up by Rome, was ruling Judaea.  But in the coming day righteous men, raised [out] from the dead and ascended to heaven, shall have dominion over

earth and reign with Christ.  John was proclaiming the time of blessedness for earth declared in the Old Testament prophets as in Psalm 72.; Isaiah 11., and Zechariah 14.  What was to be done in order to have a part in it?  There must be a change of life, a turning from law to grace and Christ.  For Moses cannot save sinners.  After repentance, there was to follow immersion.  Jehovah, in taking Israel as a people to Himself out of Egypt, led through the waters of the Red Sea; now those who desired the Kingdom were anew to pass through the waters of baptism.



3.  “For this is lie that was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saving, The voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare the way of Jehovah, make straight His paths



John was the Forerunner, to prepare the way.  His proclamation was that all were sinners and needed to turn from evil.  Who and where was Jehovah?  It was the Lord Jesus, already among them as the Son of Man.  (1) So said inspired Zacharias of his son: “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the forgiveness of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God” (Luke 1: 76-78).  (2) So said Gabriel to Zacharias in the temple: “Many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God, and he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias  (3) So said Gabriel to Mary: “Thou shalt bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called ‘Son of the Most High’; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David  “Make His paths straight” - prepare the high road whereon He shall move to His Kingdom.




4. “But John himself had his clothing of camels’ hair, and a leathern girdle around his loins; but his food was locusts and wild honey



Here is a view of the Forerunner, as distinct from the Son of God.  His clothing was cheap and coarse; his food not sought for in the city, but locusts (Leviticus 11: 22) and wild honey.   In that age of luxury, he appeared as one of the old prophets, calling Israel to repentance, as they did.



5, 6. “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were immersed in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins



Great was the effect of this strange herald, He took his stand by the river that rail through the land, and those on its eastern side, and those on its western, resorted to him.  They “were immersed in the Jordan by him  In answer to his call for repentance, they confessed sins, that they might receive forgiveness. Four times John is said to have preached “the immersion of repentance unto [obtaining] the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1: 4).  It was a cleansing of the whole body, in token of the washing away of sins.  It was a sign of their acceptance of the doctrine of John concerning the Kingdom and of their desire for it, and for pardon as the way to it.  They put off Moses and salvation by works, and put on Christ and pardon of sins.  The main features of this are still in force.



7, 8.  “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, ‘Broods of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Bring forth, therefore, fruits worthy of the repentance [you profess].”



1. - Severe were his words to the Pharisees.  They were shocked, it would appear, at his calling them to penitence.  Were they not righteous, needing no forgiveness?  They added to the word of Jehovah their own traditions.  “In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men



2. - He was severe on the Sadducees, who believed not in the prophets and in the new Kingdom of which he spoke.  They credited not resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit; but regarded only the present life and its benefits.



John was surprised at the appearance of both parties; he had sent no special warning to them; small were his hopes of any beneficial results to them.  Those owning the word and rite of John would escape ‘the days of vengeance’; but these would go on provoking Jehovah and be cut off in their sins before ‘the days of heaven upon earth’ would shine forth.  They were not to imagine that all he taught was the momentary observance of the rite of immersion - he expected a new life from those who received his message.



9. “And think not to say in yourselves, We have Abraham as our father; for God is able out of these stones to raise up children to Abraham



John knew where their hope lay.  For whom were these days of joy prepared, but for Abraham’s children?  And were they not circumcised children of the Friend of God?  But this, John tells them, would not avail to give them entrance.  Sooner than they, impenitent men, should enjoy the time of earth’s rejoicing, God would raise up another people to Abraham as his sons, children of like faith and obedience.  Here we have the germ of the Saviour’s teaching to Nicodemus: the regeneration of the Holy One would raise dead stones to become children of Abraham and of God.



10. “But even already the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that beareth not good fruit is being cut down and being cast into fire



John had spoken of the final judgment; but even already, before the Kingdom’s arrival, individuals deserving wrath would be cut off.  So was Herod, so was Judas, cut down, and their final sentence to the fire was implicitly given.



Here the Saviour is compared to the proprietor of an orchard, who in autumn has come, axe in hand, to smite the trees that bring not forth good fruit.  Some trust to be saved because they have done no harm; but this sentence goes forth against those who do not bear good fruit.



11. “I indeed immerse you in water unto repentance; but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to bear; He Himself shall immerse in the Holy Spirit and in fire



John’s element was the lowly one of the water of earth, and their immersion into it signified their death to their old life and the beginning of a new life, with pardon of the past.  But He whose way John was preparing was the Son of God, greater far than himself - He was to give a better baptism, fitting the receivers for present service and anointing them for the Kingdom.  This took place at Pentecost, when both baptisms were owned and taught by inspired Peter, (1) the baptism of water and (2) that of the [Holy] Spirit (Acts 2: 38).



12. “Whose shovel is in His hand, and thoroughly will He cleanse His barn-floor, and will gather together His wheat into the garner; but will burn down the chaff with fire unquenchable



The allusion here is to the mode in which the wheat is severed from the chaff in Palestine. The bundles of wheat are gathered on the barn-floor, a flat space on the open field; the grain is threshed by trampling it with horses or with oxen, or by drawing over it a loaded cart, the wheels of which shake out the grain and break up the straw.  As the result there is a great heap of chaff and broken straw.  This is cast by shovels  against the wind, when the chaff and broken straw is borne away, while the heavier grain is collected into one spot and borne away to the receptacle.  The destiny of these two classes ‑the risen and the wicked ‑ will be quite opposite: the latter is cast into the fire never to be quenched, the former is to be borne into the city of God.



Next appears on the scene the Most High of whom John had spoken.  But he comes in lowliness, to receive immersion at the bands of John His servant.  He would actively fulfil every ordinance commanded by His Father.  At His coming up from the water, the heavens are opened, the Holy Spirit, as the dove, descends on Him, and the Father’s voice proclaims Him as His beloved Son.  This is He, who was to immerse in the Holy Spirit and fire.



Here are two judgments: (1) one of the trees and (2) the other of the barn-floor.  They are distinguished from one   another by the baptism of the Holy Ghost (verse 11).  Thrice is ‘fire’ named.  In the first and last occurrences it is the destructive ‘fire’ into which the wicked are to be cast, whether worthless trees or chaff (verses 10 and 12).  What, then, shall we say of the ‘baptism in the Holy Ghost and in fire’? Where repentance and pardon have been followed by the immersion in water the fire of the Holy Ghost, the tongue of fire, which sat on of the hundred and twenty, shone without any injury - nay, praise to God and instruction to the sons of men, broke forth.  But where there is neither faith nor immersion in water, there follows only the dwelling in unquenchable fire. …



Let us take Matt. 21: 23-46.



23. “And when He had come into the temple, there came up to Him as He was teaching the chief priests and the elders of the people, saying, (1) By what authority doest Thou these things? (2) And who gave Thee this authority



The question asked by these two parties was a rude interruption of His teaching and it showed the resistance of the ruling portion of the Jews to God’s two witnesses - John Baptist and the Lord Jesus. At His first cleansing of the temple ‘the Jews’ demanded His right to interfere with the temple arrangements, and received for answer that they would take down Himself, the true Temple, by the death of the cross, but He would rebuild it on the third day, the day of resurrection.  It would prove Him to be the Second Adam and the Lord of life.  He had showed Himself to them as their king, coming as the prophet foretold.  But after the second time of cleansing the temple none offered Him or His disciples either lodging or food.  And He calls the temple ‘a den of robbers



24, 25. “But Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘I also will ask you one question, which, if you answer Me, I also will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John, whence was it?  From heaven, or from men”



So the mission of John - here called ‘the baptism of John’ again comes to the front.  It had already come into notice in Galilee (chap. 11.).  On that occasion the Spirit of God notices the two parties of the Jews that took opposite sides with regard to John.  Those who received John’s baptism received also the doctrine of Christ.  But the Pharisees and lawyers, by virtue of their resistance to his mission by God, rejected the Kingdom of which John spoke; and, in the coming day, will have no part in it (Luke 7: 28-30).



25. “But they reasoned among, themselves, saying, ‘(1) If we shall say, From heaven, He, will say to us, Why, then, did ye not believe him?  (2) But if we shall say, From men, we fear the multitude; for all hold John to be a prophet.’”



They do not enquire, ‘What was the truth in the matter?’ but, ‘What shall we say, without regard to the truth, to enable us to get out of our difficulty  The mission of John was most manifestly from God - in the message of Gabriel to Zacharias his father in the temple; his dumbness because of unbelief; the birth of John, and the restoration of his father’s speech when he had obeyed and given his son the name of ‘John’.  Then he is inspired to prophesy the birth of Jesus as son of Mary and son of David, and to speak of the events then happening as the result of God’s memory of His oath to Abraham, which contained, in effect, all the hopes of Israel.  They saw, then, clearly, that if they spoke the real truth they were already answered.  ‘God sent John the Baptist  ‘Then why did you not believe and obey the prophet God had sent in mercy and grace  Both the doctrine and the rite of John were of God’s sending.  But why, then, not reply - though the answer would be false - ‘From then men; John had no authority or commission from Jeliovah’?  “We fear the multitude; for all hold John to be a prophet  They fear not God - the God of truth; but men they do fear.



27. “And they answered Jesus and said, ‘We know not.’  He also said to them, ‘Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.’”



Finding there was no way out of the dilemma but by a lie, they utter it.  Jesus, therefore, declines to reply. He continues to appeal to them by parables.



28, 29, 30. “ ‘But what think ye?  A man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Child, go work to-day in my vineyard.’  But he answered and said, ‘I will not.’  At length, however, he repented and went off to the vineyard.  And he came to the second, and spake after the same manner.  But he answered and said, ‘I go, lord, and went not.’”



By the first, the Saviour afterwards intimates that lie meant the openly profane and godless of Israel. Israel alone is called Jehovah’s son (Exodus 4: 22, 23), till the Gospel-day brought in a new son - the child of God by faith in Christ.  By the second He meant those who professed to serve Jehovah, as did the chief priests and Pharisees.  From them He gained seeming obedience in words; but it was not made good by deeds.



31. “ ‘Which of the two did the will of the Father?’  They say unto Him, ‘The first.’  Jesus saith to them, ‘Verily, I say unto You, that the publicans and the harlots are going before you into the Kingdom of God.’”



Which of the two sons is to be accounted the obedient one?  They rightly answer, ‘The one who, on repentance, went away to work in the vineyard



Christ next intimates who were represented by the first son of the parable: ‘the publicans and harlots.’ The workers to-day in the Father’s vineyard will rejoice in the Kingdom in the day that is coming. The penitent and obedient at the Divine call will enter the Kingdom of glory millennial, when the disobedient are shut out.



The word actually used by the Saviour carries much force.  The usual expression for the Kingdom of glory in Matthew is ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’.  But it has long been observed that there are in that Gospel some few exceptions, where the expression used is ‘the Kingdom of God’.  This is one of them. The reason of this difference I believe to be this: ‘The Kingdom, of heaven’ represent the lower dominion of the Kingdom over the earth, which is called also ‘the Kingdom of the Son of Man’.  “There be some standing here, who shall not taste of death till they shall have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Matthew 16: 28).  That was fulfilled on the seventh day after those words, by the Redeemer’s glory shining on the Mount of Transfiguration.  For the Spirit of God in Matthew presents to us the two departments of the Kingdom. “The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all stumbling-blocks, and those that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire (Isaiah 66.); there shall be wailing, and gnashing of teeth  “Then shall the righteous shine out as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13: 41-43).



Here the earth is the Kingdom of the Son of Man, cleansed by angels.  The Kingdom of the Father is in heaven.  The righteous are, then, on high, and shine out as the sun from behind a veiling cloud.  So also speaks Paul: “There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.  So also is the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15: 40).



This distinction holds good in the other occurrence of ‘the Kingdom of God’ in Matthew.



To baptized disciples Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount : “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (6: 33).  Those who in this dispensation seek the Kingdom will take the higher place in the heaven; while the saved remnant of Israel and of the nations have part only in the earth. 



Again, in 12: 28: “But if I, by the Spirit of God, cast out the demons, then on you has come the Kingdom of God before you expected it  Satan is twice cast out; first from heaven into earth (Revelation 12: 9), then, after the battle of the great day of God Almighty, he is cast out of earth into the bottomless pit, and the Kingdom, whether in heaven or among the nations on earth, is rescued from his devices (Revelation 20: 3).



And again: “Verily, I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the Kingdom of heaven When our Lord repeats the sentiment He says: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God” - the heavenly department (Matt. 19: 24).



I conclude, then, that our Lord, by ‘the Kingdom of God’, into which the penitent publicans and harlots were moving on, means the heavenly department of it, whose centre is the New Jerusalem on high.



32. “ ‘For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and harlots believed him; but ye, after ye had seen it, repented not afterwards to believe him.’ ”



John came as a prophet of Israel, in the spirit and power of Elias.  But the learned and rulers of Israel refused to accept either his doctrine or his rite.  They who chiefly attended to John’s call were those who knew that they were sinners, and desired pardon.  “The publicans and the harlots believed him” - they repented and were immersed.  The change of life, wrought in them by the ministry of the Baptist was great, evident, and enduring.  So it showed that the message and its accompanying power, were of God.  But even when these proud ones had beheld the charge and known it must be from Jehovah, they repented not, nor obeyed the call of John.



Thus the Lord tested the state of Israel by the mission of John.  The Pharisees neither sought after the Kingdom of glory proclaimed by him, now would allow those whom they could influence to seek it.  Christian immersion is, moreover, a test of the people of God under the Gospel.  Those who refuse it will find the word true – “They reject the counsel of God [to give them part in the millennial Kingdom] against themselves, being not immersed” – even though a greater solemnity attaches to baptism now by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and by His parting command (Matt. 28: 19, 20; Mark 16: 16).