things are presented to the eye and heart of the believer in Christ: (1) THE [MILLENNIAL]
These two differ in most points.
1. The [Millennial]
2. The [Millennial]
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]
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.
force of many passages is lost by supposing (a) that eternal life
and the Kingdom
mean the same thing, and (b) that the
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 Fathers 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
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
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
Let us take Matthew 3: 1, 2.
Now in those days cometh forward John the Baptist, as the
herald in the wilderness of
None, even of
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
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.
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
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.
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
5, 6. Then went out to him
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
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 Abrahams 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 earths 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 Saviours 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 Kingdoms 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.
Johns 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.
allusion here is to the mode in which the wheat is severed from the chaff in
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 Fathers 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 Gods 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
baptism of John again comes to
the front. It had already come into
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.
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
fathers 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 Gods memory of His oath to
Abraham, which contained, in effect, all the hopes of
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.
the first, the Saviour afterwards intimates that lie meant the openly profane and godless of
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
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 Fathers 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.
word actually used by the Saviour carries much force. The usual expression for the Kingdom of glory
in Matthew is the
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
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
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).
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
conclude, then, that our Lord, by the
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
Thus the Lord tested the state of