THE KINGDOM AND THE PRIZE

 

OR

 

THE KINGDOM A REWARD

 

Will all believers, then, reign with Christ? By no means. The Kingdom of the thousand years is never said to belong to those who only believe. There are not a few texts addressed to believers which declare that certain classes of them shall not enter the kingdom.

 

1. Those whose (active) righteousness shall not exceed that of the Pharisees (Matt. 5: 20).

 

2. Those who, while professors of Christ's name, do not the will of His Father (Matt. 7: 21).

 

3. Those guilty of strife, envy, and contention. (Luke 9: 46-50; Mark 9: 33-50; Matt. 18: 1-3).]

 

4. Rich disciples [who are unwilling to give up their riches when called to do so] (Matt. 19: 23; Luke 6: 24 18 24).

 

5. Those who deny the Millennium (Luke 18 17; Mark 10: 15).

 

6. The un-baptised (John 3: 5).

 

7. See also 1 Cor. 6 : 9, 10 Gal. 5 19-21 ; 6 : 7, 8; Matt. 10 32, 39; 16 : 26; 18 : 17, 18; Luke 9 : 26."

 

Those who sit on the throne are evidently crowned ones, for the throne-sitters are always those who are crowned. We know from many Scriptures that all the saints will not be crowned, and therefore all will not enjoy the high places of sitting on the throne. Christ's injunction to the Church at Philadelphia is, "Let no man take thy crown" (Rev. 3: 11), which implies the crown may be lost or not gained. Again, when we listen to the Apostle Paul we hear him say that he "kept his body under" that he might obtain the incorruptible crown, and at the end of his earthly life, when he could say that he had kept the faith and finished the course, "henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness" (1 Cor. 9: 25; 2 Tim. 4: 8).

 

Yet again we listen to what our Lord said to the disciples, when some of them were desirous of sharing in Christ's earthly kingdom, and when, also, Peter called attention to what he had given up for the sake of the Lord (Matt. 19: 28), "Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

 

What an urgent call this is to go in for all that the Lord has for us, for those who are willing to suffer with Him now will surely reign with Him in His coming glory.

 

Again, John says, "I saw," and this time it was those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus, and because of the Word of God. This body of martyrs is a special set of people. They are evidently a part of that company which John had previously seen, and who are described under the fifth seal as those who had been slain because of the Word of God, and because of the testimony which they held. "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And. white robes were given unto them: and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also, and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled" (Rev. 6: 9-11). The whole company is now seen.

 

This special class is further described as those who had not worshipped the beast nor his image, nor received his mark on their foreheads or on their hand. We know there will be a terrible time of slaughter after the Church is removed, and during the Great Tribulation, so much so that not a single believer of those days will escape death.

 

This martyred company will share a peculiar privilege in a distinct resurrection which is called the First. We must not confuse the First Resurrection with the pre-resurrection of 1 Thess. 4, when the dead in Christ are raised. Many will say that we thought the first resurrection included the redeemed of this dispensation, and they come to this conclusion because of the word "first." Dr. Bullinger as gone into this matter of first and second in a very explicit way, and I cannot do better than quote in extenso what he says:-

 

"This is the first resurrection: or this completes the first resurrection. There is an ellipsis of the verb in this sentence; and we may supply 'completes,' having in mind the several resurrections which shall before then have taken place. It is also a fact that, when two ordinal numbers are used in such a connection as this, are used relatively. The one is first in relation to the second, follows: and not to what may have occurred before. In like the second stands in relation to the first. Hence, in English we always say, in such cases, former and latter, where we have only two things thus related: and not first and second, unless there are more to follow in the series. It is the same in chapter 21: 1, where we read of the new heavens and the new earth: 'for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.'

 

"Here again we have two things standing in related contrast, the 'first' and the 'new'; i.e., the new and the one that immediately precedes it: the former, and not the 'first'. For the present heavens and earth which are now (2 Peter 3: 7) are not the first. For Scripture tells us of three, of which the present is the second. In 2 Peter 3 : 6, 7, 13, we read of the first - the world that 'then was' (Gen. 1 : 1) of the second - 'the heavens and the earth which are now'; and of the third - 'a new heavens and a new earth,' for which we now look. This (second of three) is what is called in Rev. 21: 1, the 'first' of the latter two.

 

"Hence this 'first resurrection' is the former of the two mentioned in this verse: and not the resurrection of the Church (the Body of Christ, revealed in 1 Thess. 4: 16, 17. This special resurrection (1 Thess. 4: 16) must be carefully distinguished from that which is called the 'first resurrection' in Rev. 20 : 6. The word 'first' in 1 Thess. 4: 16, does not refer to 'the first resurrection,' so called in Rev. 20 : 6, but merely records the order of events, and simply states that 'the dead in Christ' will 'rise first' ; i.e., before the taking up of either them or the living saints."

 

This interpretation is confirmed by what Paul says in writing to the Church at Corinth, when speaking of the resurrection of the dead: Christ the Firstfruits, afterwards they that are Christ's at His coming": then cometh the end, or, as it should be, "then the last rank." Christ the Firstfruits includes the Church, and it is in that sense that "the Christ" is used in 1 Cor. 12: 12; so, also, is Christ, taking in the Head and the members. It is not Christ the Firstfruit, that would make Him stand alone; but Christ the Firstfruits, which determines that others are with Him, and those others are those who are sanctified in Him. "Afterward they that are His at His coming" denotes those who are the several companies that are slain during the Great Tribulation, whom He will raise when He comes to redeem them to Himself. We can see, therefore, how important it is to distinguish between the pre-resurrection of 1 Thess. 4, and the first resurrection which is identified with those who are mentioned in Rev. 6: 9-11, and with those alone.

 

All these who share in what the Spirit calls the First Resurrection are said to be "blessed and holy," and shall reign with Christ for a thousand years. They are "blessed" because of the special honour that will be placed upon them, and they are "holy" because they shall share in this separated and consecrated place of holy dignity, and their special reward is that they shall not only be with Christ, but shall reign with Him in manifest glory during that time which we know as the Millennium.

 

- Prophetic News.

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THE PRIZE

 

By E. M. LEATHES

 

BEYOND the wondrous gift of Eternal Life in Christ Jesus, Paul unveils a marvellous secret of a prize to be won, and a priceless treasure to be secured by all who are willing to count the cost. We find him declaring with eager intensity, "I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus." "Brethren," he cries, "I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the Prize of the Upward Calling of God in Christ Jesus." And what is the Goal towards which Paul is stretching every nerve and flinging away every hindrance that he may reach it? He then reveals his most thrilling secret. "Howbeit," he declares, "what things were gain to me, those have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ" (or win) (Phil. 3: 12, 13, 14, 7, 8. Amer. R.V.)

 

And for those who are out to win this prize the Apostle gives another illustration. Paul had probably watched the runners who competed for the prize in the Greek Games, when the winner received a laurel crown. "Know ye not," he asks, "that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so run; that ye may attain." We know that the competitors in these races had to undergo very arduous physical training beforehand. So Paul continues, "Every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, as not uncertainly so fight I ,not beating the air: but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected (or disapproved from the prize) (1 Cor. 9: 24-27. Amer. R.V.) Note the Lord's words to the lukewarm of Laodicea. "He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit with Me in My Throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in His Throne" (Rev. 3: 21. Amer. R.V.) If you watched the runners in a race, you will have noted as I have done that they all start together, but from various causes one after another falls out. I have watched such a race till finally only two remain and even they are pressed beyond measure: then one suddenly with his last ounce of strength reaches frantically forward and touches the Goal.

 

I am certain there are many of God's intrepid followers today, who are being tested beyond all their natural resources: it is at such a time when absolute reliance on God alone will avail. A free translation of 2 Cor. 12: 10, runs thus - "I take pleasure in being without strength, in being chased about, in being cooped up in a corner, for when I am without strength, I am dynamite." And now comes to us ringing down the centuries from the depths of a Roman dungeon the triumphant shout of that old battered and wounded warrior, Paul. He exclaims, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of Righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous judge, shall give to me at that Day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved His Appearing" (2 Tim. 4: 7, 8. Amer. R.V.)

 

- The Midnight Cry.