The Deep Things of the Spirit

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - The Kingdom of God

Transcribed from a message given in December 1954.

In the gospel by Mark, chapter 9, verse 1: "And He said unto them, Truly I say unto you, there are some here of them that stand by who shall in no wise taste of death till they see the kingdom of God come with power".

The gospel by Matthew, chapter 16, verse 28: "Truly I say unto you, there are some of them that stand here who shall in no wise taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom".

Chapter 12 of Matthew, verse 27, 28: "If I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the Kingdom of God come upon you".

You will remember that last Lord's day, in speaking of the things of the Spirit, we were occupied with this great matter of the Kingdom of God. And we said then that this term, "the Kingdom of God" sums up the whole mission of Christ. Within that term everything that Christ came for is to be found. And then we went on to point out that the real meaning of the word "kingdom" is not a system of things in the first place, nor a realm of things, but a nature of things, which is the sovereign rule of God.

These passages should be rightly translated, "the rule of God", "Then is the rule or sovereign rule of God come upon you", and so on. Now we are going a little further this morning with this matter of the sovereign rule of God, as that which has come in with the Lord Jesus.

I cited the two passages from Mark and Matthew in order that you might recognise one thing in Matthew. In Mark the form is: "there are some that stand by who shall in no wise taste of death till they see the kingdom of God come with power". In Matthew it is, "the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom". Both passages relate to the same thing and the point in quoting them both is that the kingdom or sovereignty of God operates through the Lord Jesus as the Son of Man. It is the Son of Man with whom the kingdom of God, the rule of God, has been brought in.

Now then, we have to note in the first place that this sovereign rule of God by His Son, Jesus Christ, was inaugurated in the church by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. That statement needs to be noted in its several parts.

The Kingdom, or rule of God, in this particular dispensational form was inaugurated, or introduced, brought in, in the church by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. And a quiet contemplation again of all that took place on that day, the reading of the details, will make clear the meaning and nature of the sovereign rule of God coming into this world, being deposited in the church, and to operate through the church, in the power of the Holy Spirit. That is very comprehensive, but it is very important to recognise each, several part. It would be quite valuable to us to stay with each part and to explain what it means, but that is not our purpose at the moment.

It was then, on that day, that this prophecy of the Lord Jesus in His foresight through the Holy Spirit, was fulfilled. We quoted that other passage in Matthew in order to just get our finger upon one point: "If I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you" - that what Jesus was doing was by the Spirit of God, by the Holy Spirit, and by the Holy Spirit the Kingdom of God came in. It is a part of that pre-vision of the Lord Jesus in the Holy Spirit, that on the day of Pentecost the Kingdom would come in, in power. The rule, or sovereignty of God, came in by the Spirit in power on the day of Pentecost.

And again we dwell upon the nature of that power and the simile used of that power, and we have an interpretation of the sovereign rule; the Kingdom, which has come in. It says, "like a mighty rushing wind", and if we need any education on that matter, we've been having it very thoroughly lately. This long, drawn out season of terrible gales with all the havoc, and wrecking, and threat, and peril, rendering man and his means impotent, helpless, incapable of controlling and subduing. That is a parable of the sovereignty of God. And the day of Pentecost was like that: man entirely put at a discount. All the forces of men and devils which had combined and loosed themselves at Calvary for the utter and final submergence, subjugating, and annihilation of Jesus Christ, and all to do with Him, simply made as straw before a hurricane on the day of Pentecost. It's just seen sweeping through Jerusalem almost like a laughing at all that combination of forces which had brought Christ to the cross. This is the answer of the rule of God.

That is what the Kingdom of God means and that was inaugurated in the church, and did not just remain for one day. There was a long enough period at the beginning to show that this thing was intended to be the normal life of the church. So, for some considerable time, in spite of what a lot, what a lot of every nature and kind of religious, political, and everything else, the Wind went on, the Wind expanded. The mighty rushing Wind proved all obstacles to be no hindrance. The Kingdom had come, the rule had been introduced with power. That is, the sovereignty of God took charge, just as the wind takes charge, and there is no setting yourself against it when it does. You have just to let go or be broken. It took charge.

I will not stay to speak of the mystery of this heavenly rule, but it's there, some other time may serve for that, but what I do want to come to, particularly for the remaining few minutes, is the basis upon which this Kingdom, this rule, this sovereignty, rests.

If it is true that it was by the Holy Spirit that this Kingdom was inaugurated in the church, then we have to look again at the Holy Spirit, for we are occupied in these days with the things of the Spirit. And the titles of the Holy Spirit will help us, one particularly at this point, He is called, "the Spirit of Jesus".

The Spirit of Jesus

You will remember that that title and clause occurs in the missionary journeys of Paul when he and those with him essayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus, suffered them not. In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle slightly enlarges upon that, "by the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:19). The Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus Christ, inaugurating the rule of God in the church.

What is the Spirit of Jesus Christ? And I think there is no better passage to answer that question than this: "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus, who, though He were rich, yet for your sakes He became poor", and to link with that His own words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for they shall inherit... they shall inherit"... the Spirit of Jesus.

Upon what does this sovereign rule rest, this power which none can resist or stay? It rests upon the whole self-centredness and self-sufficiency of man having been undercut. A strange paradox, and yet there it is. Power rests upon human weakness. Paul has told us that as to himself quite definitely, but here is a law or principle of the sovereign rule of God in the church and through the church. It rests upon our entire self-life having been shattered, and broken, and undercut. It is probably the greatest feature of the life of the Lord Jesus Himself, from birth to cross, His complete human weakness. From man's standpoint, from the world's standpoint: His human insignificance... His utter self-emptying, or, to put it into His own words, "I am meek and lowly in heart. I am meek." Meekness, the destruction of pride.

The whole kingdom and strength of the prince of this world, of Satan and his kingdom, is pride; from first to last. God's abhorrence and hatred and loathing of pride, which is declared again and again in the Scriptures, is because it is the strength of a kingdom inimical and antagonistic to His own rule.

Pride is only the definition of self. Arrogance, which is presumption, arrogating to our selves something: arrogant. Presumption. Conceit, one's notions about themselves, self-centredness. Those are the laws and principles of this other kingdom which Christ is casting out by the Spirit of God in order to bring in the Kingdom of God. It's tremendously searching.

It's not pleasant hearing or saying it, but it is very important, dear friends, that you and I should recognise this and get this thing deep down and settled in us, that to clear the way for the sovereignty of God in terms of power like this, God has to utterly devastate our soul-life. It is a deep, maybe a long process. It may be lifelong, but sometimes it seems to be concentrated; concentrated... to the point of despair, if Paul is an illustration: "We despaired of life... we had the sentence of death, that it was death, that we might not trust in ourselves." It's always good to get the clue and the key! You have to put your finger upon the solution: "That, or in order that, we might not trust in ourselves". "A thorn in the flesh... lest", here is the clue: "lest I should be exalted". Keeping the way open for the Kingdom, or if you prefer that word: keeping the way clear for the power of the rule of God. And therefore the church ought to be the most chastened, disciplined vessel in this universe, if it is to be the vehicle of this rule, this Kingdom.

It is within the church that we shall find this work of the Spirit going on more than anywhere, if we find it anywhere else at all, this work of undercutting the entirety of our self-life in all its aspects. And the aspects are countless in this matter. God only knows what we never suspected, would never have believed, in what we believed to be utter devotion to the Lord, what we have thought to be an unreserved abandonment to Him: to pour ourselves out to the last drop, and then to discover that there are depths of self-life yet to be dealt with. It is devastating. Oh, the depth of this thing!

How deep Satan has gone in human nature. The kings and the princes in this Kingdom are the meek and lowly of heart. It is something, not to take up and go and worry about, make the stuff of introspection, and all that sort of thing, but to recognise that God, moving on positive lines, does this. And the great example in the children's talk this morning, talked about emptying, emptying, emptying... but in the end God's vindication of Job is perfectly clear. He's the man alongside of whom God stands. "My servant Job... you go to him. If you want anything from Me, you will get it through him". And may that not be a parable of the church when rightly related and chastened? If the world is going to get anything, it will get it through the church. God will be jealous for His chastened vessel and will not ride over its head. "You go to My people; I will meet you there. "

Well, that is the word for this morning. God cannot establish His rule, His government, if you like: His Kingdom, upon anything that He has set aside, and He has set the very nature of this kingdom of Satan in man's heart aside. Aside.

One of the characteristics of the Kingdom of God, His sovereign rule, is its permanence: "His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom", its permanence. And God will not build that Kingdom upon the ­thing that is rotten, that will break down. And the kingdom of this world is like that, it cannot stand. It is itself a divided kingdom; it cannot stand.

Now, we'll dwell upon that more fully at some other time, but you see, the sovereign rule of God is focused upon that which is going to abide.

And here is the mystery element or factor in the rule of God. We shall be baffled, completely baffled, over this matter of the sovereignty of God, we'll have to stand back and yield to it, and in these days, in these days there is a very great deal of perplexity about the sovereignty of God. I do not mean in the world, but in Christian activities. It would seem that there are numerous things which are associated with some work of God, which in principle you cannot accept. You have to say, "That is the world! What is the difference between that and the world? There is no difference between that and the way the world goes on." You are completely defeated when you try to explain this method of Divine sovereignty; you have to stand back. But be sure of this one thing, dear friends, the sovereignty of God is focused upon what's going to endure, and all the rest will go. All the rest will go. In months or in years you will find nothing of that, but what you will find is something, something within it all was secured by God, and was the result of His sovereignty. His Sovereignty within, within - that is not it, but this is.

But let us take note of the principle of the law of the Kingdom: it is permanence. And nothing will abide that has not passed through the fires in which the self element has been consumed. Everything - and it may be a large percentage that is man's own making and projecting and energising; it will go! It will go and not be found. Though it were ninety-nine per cent, you will not be able to trace it. It will be a story of the past. But what the sovereignty is doing is just within, to get something permanent that abides.

We will leave it there. But you see the permanence, the abiding, is that which is not of man; it is of God. And the maximum of what is of God will be where there is the minimum of what is of man.

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