THE PATH TO THE KINGDOM

 

By LT.-COLONEL G. F. POYNDER

 

If (as is the case) the Kingdom is our hope, the prize which we must agonize to obtain, it is of vital importance that we enquire how we may do so; lest, through ignorance, or wilfulness, or blinded eyes, we miss what God has graciously provided for those who really believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Saviour.

 

First, we notice that it is no easy road into that kingdom. It is "gotten by force, and they that thrust men take it by force" (Matt. 11: 12, marg.). Let us not sit down satisfied that we are saved, that all that is necessary to be done, if we would enter that kingdom, has already been done for us. If we do, we show plainly we are not worthy to enter it. Rather let us remember it is held out before us as a prize for which we must so run as those run who are anxious to win a prize. It is a hard battle in which we must so fight, not as those who beat the air, but keeping under our bodies, and bruising them, strive to be more than conquerors; lest, when we have acted the part of heralds to others, we ourselves should be rejected at the Bema for the prize (comp. 1 Cor. 9: 24-27).

 

Secondly, as we turn to the discourse that our Lord had with Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, He plainly showed that there are two classes of believers: the one class will only be privileged to see this Kingdom of God (so called, doubtless, because He was speaking to a Jew, and referred, therefore, to the kingdom on earth, which he would have understood), and the other class who will be able to enter that kingdom. Two classes of whom we have striking types in the Old Testament: (1) Moses, because of his sin, only permitted to see the land, but not allowed to enter at that time. (2) Joshua, who was not only permitted to see it, but also to enter in, as the leader of Godís chosen people. And what constitutes the difference between these two classes? The first are those who are born again only, and go no further; but the second are those who are born out of water and of the Spirit. What could our Lord have meant by this phrase? Are we to look upon it as an Hendiadys, or figure of speech, meaning "born out of spiritual water"? Surely not! Nor ought we to read the water figuratively as the Word of God, for there is no difficulty in reading the sentence literally, as referring to those who have passed through the waters of baptism,* and then have been baptized by the Holy Spirit, and thus endued with power to win the prize, "the out-resurrection (or first resurrection) from amongst dead persons" (Phil. 3: 11, 14), which entitles them "to live and reign with Christ during the Millennial age" (Rev. 20: 4).

 

[* Certainly no virtue is to be ascribed to the water; passing through the water of Baptism is to show our obedience to the Lordís command (Matt. 28: 19).]

 

Again, as we turn to the words of the Lord (Matt. 18: 3) we read, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens." Evidently, then, more is needed than conversion, if we would enter that kingdom. We need the simplicity, the purity, the humility, the childlike faith and innocence of little children, if we would obtain an entrance into that kingdom.

 

Further, there must be no looking back when once we have set out for that kingdom (Luke 9: 62). There must be a continuance in the faith, even though we may be called upon to pass through much tribulation (Acts 14: 22). For though the Spirit of God may bear witness with our spirits that we are children of God, we are not heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ of His kingdom, unless we are willing to suffer with Him. But if we are, and do so suffer, then indeed shall we be glorified with Him (Rom. 8: 17).

 

Let us remember also the solemn, awe-inspiring words with which our Lord warns His disciples, that sloth and lawlessness will exclude believers. "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens, but he that doeth the will of My Father" (Matt. 7: 21). For, notice, there is no reference to faith, or to eternal life, it is only "the Kingdom of the Heavens" which is in question in these verses, and into which unworthy believers, even though they have accepted the free gift of salvation, will be unable to enter, although they may have professed devotion to their Lord; for His eyes of fire have scrutinized their works and found them lacking in sincerity and in obedience to his Fatherís will. And yet, how many true believers are failing to grasp the import of these most solemn passages, and the teaching generally of the Master and His disciples regarding these kingdom truths; but instead - thinking all is well - are looking for the Lord to come at any moment to call them, and all believers, to meet Him in the air, and to be with Him forever! Oh, how important, then, it is for us who know these things, to so watch an "pray that we may be accounted worthyĒ to stand before the Son of Man when He comes, and, rendering a good account of our stewardship, hear the "Well done, good and faithful servant," and enter with joy into His Millennial Kingdom of the Heavens.

 

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