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The Reformation Herald Online Edition

“Thy Kingdom Come”

The Mystery of God’s Kingdom
Compiled from the writings of Ellen G. White

“Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God?” said Christ, “or with what comparison shall we compare it?” Christ found the kingdoms of the world corrupt. After Satan was expelled from heaven, he erected his standard of rebellion on this earth, and sought by every means to win men to his standard. In order the more successfully to gain the allegiance of the world, he put on the garb of religion. By familiar intercourse, through his agents, with the inhabitants of the world, he worked to extend his power, that the contagion of evil might be wide spread. His purpose was to establish a kingdom which would be governed by his own laws, and carried on with his own resources, independent of God; and so well did he succeed, that when Christ came to the world to establish a kingdom, he looked upon the governments of men, and said, “Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God?” Nothing in civil society afforded him a comparison. The world had cast aside that class of people most needing care and attention; even the most earnest religionists among the Jews, filled with pride and prejudice, neglected the poor and needy, and some among them frowned upon their existence.

In striking contrast to the wrong and oppression so universally practised were the mission and work of Christ. Earthly kingdoms are established and upheld by physical force, but this was not to be the foundation of the Messiah’s kingdom. In the establishment of His government no carnal weapons were to be used, no coercion practised; no attempt would be made to force the consciences of men. These are the principles used by the prince of darkness for the government of his kingdom. His agents are actively at work, seeking in their human independence to enact laws which are in direct contrast to Christ’s mercy and loving-kindness.

Prophecy has plainly stated the nature of Christ’s kingdom. He planned a government which would use no force; His subjects would know no oppression. The symbols of earthly governments are wild beasts, but in the kingdom of Christ, men are called upon to behold, not a ferocious beast, but the Lamb of God. Not as a fierce tyrant did He come, but as the Son of man; not to conquer the nations by His iron power, but “to preach good tidings unto the meek;” “to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;” “to comfort all that mourn.” He came as the divine Restorer, bringing to oppressed and downtrodden humanity the rich and abundant grace of Heaven, that by the power of His righteousness, man, fallen and degraded though he was, might be a partaker of divinity.

In the eyes of the world, Christ was peculiar in some things. Ever a friend of those who most needed His protection, He comforted the needy, and befriended those shunned by the proud and exclusive Jews. The forsaken ones felt His protection, and the convicted, repentant soul was clothed with His salvation. And He required of His subjects that they give aid and protection to the oppressed. No soul that bears the image of God is to be placed at the footstool of human power. The greatest possible kindness and freedom are to be granted to the purchase of the blood of Christ. Over and over again in His teaching, Christ presented the value of true humility, showing how necessary it is that we exercise helpfulness, compassion, and love toward one another.

Professed Christians of today have the example of Christ before them, but do they follow it? Often, by the hardness of their hearts, they make it manifest that they do not belong to the kingdom of Christ. Too many educate themselves to censure and condemn, repulsing with harsh, stinging words, those who may seek their help. But cold-hearted worldliness excludes the love of Jesus from the heart. We can cooperate with Christ in the upbuilding of His kingdom only by being sanctified by His Spirit. We must use no force, take up no weapons to compel obedience; for to do this would be to exhibit the same spirit revealed by the enemies of Christ.

Christ can do nothing for the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness and stripped of all self-sufficiency and pride, he puts himself under the control of God. Then and then only can he be a true subject of God. No confidence can be placed in human greatness, human intellect, or human plans. We must place ourselves under the guidance of an infinite mind, acknowledging that without Jesus we can do nothing. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” “Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

Christ taught that His church is a spiritual kingdom. He Himself, “the Prince of peace,” is the head of His church. In His person humanity, inhabited by divinity, was represented to the world. The great end of His mission was to be a sin-offering for the world, that by the shedding of blood an atonement might be made for the whole race of men. With a heart ever touched with the feelings of our infirmities, an ear ever open to the cry of suffering humanity, a hand ever ready to save the discouraged and despairing, Jesus, our Saviour, “went about doing good.” His words inspired hope; His precepts awakened men to faith, and caused them to put their trust in Him.

Before man can belong to the kingdom of Christ, his character must be purified from sin and sanctified by the grace of Christ. He must become a member of Christ’s body, receiving nourishment from Him as the branches of the vine derive their strength from the parent stalk. And all who are members of the kingdom of Christ will represent Him in character and disposition. Who are thus working out their lives in the service of Christ? All such will sit with Him on His throne. But all who exalt themselves, all who oppress their fellow men in any wise, do this to Jesus Christ; for every soul has been purchased at an infinite price, and through faith in Christ is capable of receiving immortality, to live through the eternal ages.

How long God will bear with the heartless indifference shown in the treatment of men toward their fellow men, we cannot determine. But “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” If men sow deeds of love and compassion, words of comfort, hope, and encouragement, they will reap that which they have sown.

Christ longs to manifest His grace, and stamp His character and image upon the whole world. He was offered the kingdoms of this world by the one who revolted in heaven, to buy His homage to the principles of evil; but He come to establish a kingdom of righteousness, and He would not be bought; He would not abandon His purpose. This earth is His purchased inheritance, and He would have men free and pure and holy. The world’s Redeemer hungered and thirsted for sympathy and cooperation; and His earthly pilgrimage of toil and self sacrifice was cheered by the prospect that His longings would be satisfied, that His work would not be for naught. And though Satan works through human instrumentalities to hinder the purpose of Christ, there are triumphs yet to be accomplished through the blood shed for the world, that will bring glory to God and to the Lamb. His kingdom will extend, and embrace the whole world.”1

But today in the religious world there are multitudes who, as they believe, are working for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ as an earthly and temporal dominion. They desire to make our Lord the ruler of the kingdoms of this world, the ruler in its courts and camps, its legislative halls, its palaces and market places. They expect Him to rule through legal enactments, enforced by human authority. Since Christ is not now here in person, they themselves will undertake to act in His stead, to execute the laws of His kingdom. The establishment of such a kingdom is what the Jews desired in the days of Christ. They would have received Jesus, had He been willing to establish a temporal dominion, to enforce what they regarded as the laws of God, and to make them the expositors of His will and the agents of His authority. But He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36. He would not accept the earthly throne.2

Likened to leaven

The kingdom of heaven can be felt, but not seen. The inward working of the Spirit of God is compared to leaven. Said Christ, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Matthew 13:33). And again, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

The leaven of truth, hidden in the heart, will not produce the spirit of rivalry, the love of ambition, the desire to be first. Thousands upon thousands of those to whom God has entrusted talents to be improved and increased that they may bring all their consecrated ability into the kingdom of God, become slaves to gold and silver and earthly possessions. They abuse their entrusted capabilities, and scheme and plan to obtain those things which have no value with God. They buy and sell and get gain, but they neglect to secure those precious things which are placed within their reach—the bread of life, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

“Whatever ye ask the Father in My name believing,” Christ says, “ye shall receive.” Money is of value only as it is used as the Lord’s entrusted means [only] if, as the Lord’s stewards we hold it in trust as a precious gift of heaven with which we can bless humanity. But if it is used to indulge and glorify self, it is a curse and an encumbrance and a constant temptation. It becomes a stumbling block over which thousands of souls fall into temptation and all manner of iniquity.

The sixth chapter of First Timothy speaks of a class of people who dishonor God. In the place of seeking for purity of heart, for love and unity, thus revealing that the leaven of truth has been hidden in their souls, they give evidence that they know not what it means to have the leaven of truth in the heart, molding the affections and sanctifying the soul. They are proud, “knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings. Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness” (verses 4, 5). “From such” the apostle warns Timothy, “withdraw thyself.” “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (Verses 6–10).

A true, practical Christian will show himself a believer in sanctification, and his works will testify of him that he is born of God. The apostle continues, “Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (verses 11, 12).

The lesson given is for every human being. Christ by this parable illustrates the human heart. The leaven of truth, working inwardly, will be revealed in the life. The heart must be cleansed from all impurity. Man must be fitted with traits of character that will enable him to do service for God in any line. The process is invisible by which the leaven changes the mass of meal into which it has been introduced, but it works until the meal is converted into bread. So must the Spirit of God work a radical change. New faculties are not supplied, but a thorough change is made in the employment of those faculties. The natural inclinations are softened and subdued. New thoughts, new feelings, new motives, are implanted. But while every faculty is regenerated, man does not lose his identity.

The apostle Paul says: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:1–8).

Here is brought to view the change that must take place in the heart. And “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The Scriptures are the great agency in this transformation. Christ prayed, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). In this great work we are laborers together with God. With the divine agency there is to be the cooperation of the human instrument. To each of His followers Christ says, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:18–20).

An unsolved mystery

The meal in which the leaven has been hid represents the heart that believes and receives Jesus. Christ works out the principles which He alone can work in. The world looks upon this class as a mystery which they cannot solve. The selfish, money loving man lives to eat and drink and enjoy his worldly goods. But he does not keep eternity in view. He loses the eternal world from his reckoning. But those who receive and believe the truth have that faith which works by love and purifies the soul from everything sensual.

The world cannot know them, for they are keeping in view eternal realities. A motive power is working within to transform the character. A constraining influence received from heaven is working like the leaven hid in the meal. The love of Jesus has come into the heart with its redeeming power to conquer the entire being, soul, body, and spirit. When counter influences work to conflict the grace of Christ which bringeth salvation, the love of Christ masters every other motive, and raises the human agent above the corrupting influences of the world.

Because he clings to Jesus in faith and prayer, because he looks unto Him who died that he might have all the power that Christ has to bestow, the believing soul enters into fellowship with Christ. His life is hid with Christ in God. This class is widely separated from the motives which move and control the world, and therefore the world knows them not.

With the follower of Christ the love of money is not all absorbing. For Christ’s sake he will labor for it, deny self for it, cut off every superfluous want, bind about every needless expenditure, that the means which come into his possession may be used in the great work of saving souls who are without Christ and without hope in the world. Thus he cooperates with the world’s Redeemer, who for our sakes became poor that we through His poverty might be made rich.

He, our great Deliverer, left the royal courts of heaven. The Commander of all the angelic hosts laid aside His royal robes, His crown of honor. He clothed His divinity with humanity, that humanity might touch humanity, and that divinity might lay hold of the divine power of God in behalf of the fallen race.

The love of ease and pleasure and self-exaltation did not characterize His life. He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. And all who make an unreserved surrender to God will from the heart say, “I will follow Thee, my Saviour.” They will have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings.

Has the truth we profess to believe sanctified the soul? If it has, the result will be manifest. As the penetrating power of the leaven produces an entire change in the meal, so the power of the Word of God through His grace will work a transformation in the soul. The truth which is contained in the Scriptures must not be received merely as a theory. It is to work a change upon human hearts. . . .

There are grand principles set before us in the Word of God, but these are not to be considered too pure and holy to be brought into the business life. Through the reception of Christ as our personal Saviour, the precious gems which that Word contains become to us threads of gold that bind us to Christ and to each other. In loving one another as Christ has loved humanity, we receive sanctification of the soul and obtain that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. When the leaven of truth is implanted in the heart, it absorbs to itself all the capabilities of mind and soul and strength. It implants in the human being a new nature, and the grace of Christ is more and more developed.

The twelfth and thirteenth chapters of 1 Corinthians should be committed to memory, written in the mind and heart. Through His servant Paul, the Lord has placed before us these subjects for our consideration, and those who have the privilege of being brought together in church capacity will be united, understandingly and intelligently. The figure of the members which compose the body represents the church of God and the relation its members should sustain to one another. . . .

A kingdom of little things

When the leaven of truth is hidden in the heart it becomes a vital working power to bring into conformity to itself all the capabilities of the being. The mind, the affections, the motives—all the powers—become converted through the truth. And all are worked by the same Spirit. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. The truths of the Word of God meet in one grand practical necessity—the conversion of the soul through faith.

When the believer is united with Christ, that faith is manifested in holiness of character, in consistent obedience to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The truths which we receive from the Word of God are truths which reach to heaven and compass eternity, and yet the vital influence of those truths may be woven into the human life. The influence of the Word of God is to have a sanctifying effect on our speech, our actions, our association with every member of the family, and with strangers. The leaven of truth must bring under control the temper and the voice. In the home and in the church there are matters which are termed “little things,” but all these little things have great results. It is the “little things” that discipline the soul and prepare men to act with lowly-mindedness in large responsibilities. . . .

The truth must exercise an influence over the practical life. The large and the small things are always linked together. The fact that the little things are not seen and linked with the great and higher interests is the cause of the failure of many church members. There are great defects in the professedly Christian life. Their words are not leavened by the truth. There are many whose characters are now being weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and they are pronounced “wanting” because they do not bring the truth into practice.

The leaven of truth is a living principle, and it is to be exercised in the little things and exert an influence over the daily life. But many act as if the truths of God’s Word did not exist. The same love of self, the same selfish indulgence, the same temper and hasty speech is seen in their lives as in the worldling. The same sensitive pride, the same yielding to natural inclination, the same perversities of character are seen as if the truth were totally unknown by them. They have closed the windows and drawn the blinds of the soul, and shut out the sunshine of the righteousness of Christ, and then complain that they have no sweet joy, no assurance and happiness in believing the truth. But the sin lies at their own door. They have not hidden the leaven of truth in the heart.

When the waters of life flow in pure, sweet currents to the parched soil of the heart, there will be a development of fruit to the glory of God. Then the truth will not be brought into disrepute by the perverse disposition, the defective hereditary and cultivated tendencies now revealed in word and action.

Oh, that all of our people would understand the harm they do by little acts of inconsistency. There are some who have a burden for the souls of their friends. They try to bring the truth before them, to soften their hearts, but there are inconsistencies in their own words and spirit, and their influence pulls down that which they really desire to build up. It may be that bitterness is revealed in the voice, that severity is manifested in the judgment. Remember that the manner is the unspoken language of the feelings, and all this works away from Christ and daily witnesses against you, hardening the hearts you wish to save.

Should not the consideration of these matters arouse every Christian to the solemn resolution to be more faithful? Should not the words of the apostle have weight with us: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”? This Scripture is given to us to heed and to practice. The apostle continues, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16).

As men and women who profess godliness, are we obeying the Word of God? Is the leaven of truth hidden in the heart, working in the character, and conforming the entire being to the will and ways of God? Our churches need the converting power of God. The leaven of evil which works in disobedience and denial of the truth must be eradicated, and the leaven of the word of God [must be] implanted in the heart. This will work with its vital properties, restoring the lost image of God in man.

And the transformation having taken place through the leaven of truth, a work is entrusted to us. Christ commissions us, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”3

Arise and shine

My brethren and sisters, arise; shine! The time has come when we should make every possible effort in giving this last message to the world. I call upon all who possibly can to connect with the work, and to do it now. Do not be indifferent to the messages God sends for the spiritual uplifting of His people, nor negligent of the responsibility that has been placed upon you in a knowledge of present truth. God’s first and great commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” The second is like unto it: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

The Lord is sending us repeated instruction pointing us to the importance of becoming earnest, diligent workers. We have an important work to do, a work that will not wait, a work that can be accomplished only in the power of, and through, the Spirit, and under the direction and guidance of Christ. Let every believer at this time show himself a worker together with God. Let all differences be put away, all light meaningless talk. Let us speak and act righteously. The Lord will work through every soul who will yield heart and life to His control. To all who will be led by the Spirit, God will impart His righteousness. He commits to His true followers the power of persuasion, the power of His grace and truth, a deep and constant love for His work in home and foreign fields. He gives them hearts that are in earnest in gathering with Christ. With helpers possessing such gifts as these, the missionary work can not be without fruit.

The kingdom of grace is now being established, as day by day hearts that have been full of sin and rebellion yield to the sovereignty of His love. But the full establishment of the kingdom of His glory will not take place till the second coming of Christ to this world. “The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven” is to “be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.” They shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. And Christ will take to Himself His great power, and reign.

The heavenly gates are again to be lifted up, and with ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of holy ones, our Saviour will come forth as “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Jehovah Immanuel “shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.” “The tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them . . . and be their God.”

But before that coming, Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.” His kingdom will not come until the good tidings of His grace shall have been carried to all the earth. Hence, as we give ourselves to God, and win other souls to Him, we hasten the coming of His kingdom. Only those who devote themselves to His service, saying, “Here am I; send me” to open blind eyes, to turn men “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,”—they alone pray in sincerity, “Thy kingdom come.”4

1 The Review and Herald, August 18, 1896. [Emphasis added.]
2 The Desire of Ages, p. 509.
3 Manuscript 82, 1898. Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, pp. 116-122. [Emphasis added.]
4 The Review and Herald, November 14, 1912. [Emphasis added.]