The great purpose of Jesus Christ in coming to the world was to establish the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is universal, containing all moral intelligences willingly subject to the will of God both in heaven and on earth, both angels and men. The kingdom of heaven is Christ’s kingdom on the earth, which will eventually merge into the kingdom of God. We read of that merging period in the 15th of 1 Corinthians, where it says:
“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power… And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may he all in all.”
Now then, in order to establish a kingdom there must be a basis upon which it is to be founded. When the Revolutionary fathers got together in 1776 they laid down the Declaration of Independence, the principles upon which American government was to be founded. They laid down as one of the first principles this one: “All men are born free and equal.” That every man, by his being born a man, is likewise born on an equality with all others. All men are born free and equal before the law; there is no special privilege.
Next, they considered this as the second principle: That man, because of his birth and his free agency, was entitled to “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Third: That government rests on the consent of the governed.
These were the underlying principles upon which the government was to rest. There was nothing little about them. They did not discuss the doctrines by which these principles were to be made effective, but they laid down the foundational principles upon which was built the greatest system of human government in the world’s history.
Now Jesus likewise, when he came to found His kingdom, first enunciated the principles upon which His government was to rest. The eight Beatitudes, as they are given in His official declaration in His Sermon on the Mount, were the great principles upon which His government was to be founded.
A principle is not a dogma, or a doctrine. It is that underlying quality, that fundamental truth, upon which all other things are based. The principles of the kingdom of heaven are those underlying qualities upon which the whole structure of the Christian life rests and the principles upon which the real government of Jesus Christ will be founded and exercised. The eight Beatitudes are the principles of the kingdom, the Sermon on the Mount is the constitution, and commandments of Jesus are its laws or statutes.
First, the kingdom is established in the hearts of men. The principles of Jesus Christ are settled in our own spirit. We become citizens of the kingdom of heaven. The aggregate citizenship of the kingdom in this present age constitutes the real Church, which is His body. And throughout the Church age the working of the body is to be apparent in demonstrating to the world the practicability and desirability of the kingdom of heaven, that all men may desire the rule of Jesus in the salvation of men.
It is the purpose of Jesus to make the Church, which is His body, His representative in the world. Just as Jesus came to express God the Father to mankind, and Jesus was necessary to God in order that He might give an expression of Himself to the world, so the Church is necessary to Jesus Christ as an expression of Himself to the world.
Now the first principle that He laid down was this one: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Usually we confuse this with the other one, “Blessed are the meek,” and we have commonly thought of one who is poor in spirit as being a meek person: possessing the spirit of meekness. But it is much more than that. The thing Jesus urged upon men was to practice what He had done Himself.
Jesus was the King of glory, yet He laid down all His glory. He came to earth and took upon Himself our condition. “He took not on Him the nature of angels; but took on him the seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16). He took upon Himself the condition of mankind, that is, of human nature’s liability to sin. Therefore, “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” And because of the fact that He took upon Himself our nature and understood the temptations that are common to man, He is “able to succor them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). He understands. He is a sympathetic Christ. Bless God!
Now see! “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Blessed is he who regards the interests of the kingdom of heaven as paramount to every other interest in the world, paramount to his own personal interest. Blessed is he whose interest in life, whose interest in the world is only used to extend the interest of the kingdom of heaven. Blessed is he who has lost his own identity as an individual and has become a citizen of the kingdom. Blessed is he who forgets to hoard wealth for himself, but who uses all he has and all he is for the extension of the kingdom of heaven. It is putting the law of love of God and one another into practice.
So after Jesus had laid down the things that He possessed, then bless God, He was able to say to us, as He had experienced it Himself, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
We commonly think as we read the Word of God that some of the teachings of Jesus were accidental or were applied to a particular individual and no one else. So we think of the rich young ruler, who came to Jesus and said:
“‘Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said unto him…‘Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother.’ And he said, ‘All these have I kept from my youth up…’ He [Jesus] said unto him, ‘Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me’” (Luke 18:18-22).
Don’t you see, Jesus was applying to that young man that first principle of the kingdom. We have said that young man was covetous and he loved his wealth, etc., and that was keeping him out of the kingdom of heaven. Not so. Jesus was applying one of the principles of the kingdom to that young man’s life. He turned away sorrowful. He had not developed to the place where he could do that thing.
There is a apocryphal story that tells us that the rich young ruler was Barnabas. After the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Ghost, Barnabas received from heaven the thing Jesus had tried to impart to him. He forgot all about Barnabas, his own interests and his own desires, and he sold his great possessions and came with the others and laid them at the apostles’ feet. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” So Jesus was able, after all, to get the real thing in the heart of Barnabas that He desired in the beginning.
The real miracle of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost was not the outward demonstration of tongues, etc.; but it produced such unselfishness in the hearts of all baptized that they each sold their lands and estates and parted the money to every man as he had need. They were moved by God into one family. Their brother’s interest was equal to their own. That was “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
The second principle of the kingdom is this: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” This figure is taken from the old prophets, who when the nation sinned, took upon themselves the responsibility of the nation. They put sackcloth on their body and ashes on their head and in mourning and tears went down before God for days and weeks, until the people turned to God. They became intercessors between God and man and in some instances in the Word we read where God looked and wondered. He wondered that there was no intercessor. There were no mourners who took upon themselves the responsibility of the sins of the people, who dared to stand between man and God.
We see how wonderfully Moses stood between God and the people. When God said to him after they had made the golden calf, “Let me alone…that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation” (Exodus 32:10). Moses said, “Not so, Lord. What will the Egyptians say, what will be the effect upon Thy great name? Will they not say that their God destroyed them?”
God had said to Moses, “I will make of thee a great nation,” but Moses was big enough to turn aside the greatest honor that God could bestow upon a man: to become the father of a race.
“Not so, Lord. This people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin…and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book” (Exodus 32:31-32, paraphrased).
The prophet became the great intercessor. He took upon himself the burdens and sins of the people, and when he got down to confess he did not say, “Oh! These people are so weak and they do this and that.” But when he got down to pray he would say, “Lord God, we are unworthy.” He was one with his people. He was identified with them, as one with them. He was not putting any blame on them. He was big enough to take the whole blame, the entire responsibility, and go down before God and lay the whole matter before God until the blessed mercy of God was again given to the people. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are they that mourn.”
Blessed is the man who comprehends the purposes of God, who understands his responsibility and possibility, who by God-given mourning and crying, turns the people to God. With his heart yearning for sinners, he becomes a mourner before God and takes the responsibility of fallen men on his own life. He goes down in tears and repentance before God until men turn to God and the mercy of God is shown to mankind.
In the day that God puts the spirit of mourning upon Pentecost, it will be the gladdest day that heaven ever knew. Blessed be His precious name!
Do you know, it always jars me down in the depths of my spirit when I hear people say hard things about churches and sects. That is not our place. Our place is as intercessor, as the one who is to stand between the living and the dead, as those whom God can trust and use to pray down the power and mercy and blessing of God upon this old race.
First we see that the kingdom is based on principles. Principles are greater than doctrines. Principles are the foundation stones upon which all other things rest. Doctrines are the rules, the details by which we endeavor to carry out the things that the principles contain; but the principles are the great foundation stones upon which all things rest.
Let us turn away from this until we see Jesus at the Jordan, consecrating Himself to His own life work, then we will understand how the Christian is to consecrate himself to carry out the principles.
The Word tells us that when Jesus began to be about thirty years of age, He came down to the River Jordan where John was baptized and presented Himself for baptism. John looked in amazement on Him and said, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” But Jesus said, “Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” Unto “all righteousness.”
Listen! Hear the declaration to which Jesus Christ was baptized; it was His consecration unto “all righteousness.” There was no further to go. It comprehends all there is of consecration and commitment unto the will of God and all there is of good. Unto “all righteousness.” Bless God!
So Jesus understandingly permitted Himself to be baptized of John unto “all righteousness.” Now listen! You and I have also been baptized. But see! Immediately after He was baptized, something took place. First, the Spirit of God came upon Him as a dove and abode upon Him. Then we read He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. It was not the devil that led Him into the wilderness. It was the Holy Ghost.
In the 16th of Leviticus, we see one of the beautiful figures which will illustrate that to you. On the day of atonement there were brought two goats. One, the priest laid his hands upon, put a towrope around its neck, then the Levite took the towrope and led it three days into the barren sands of the wilderness, and left it there to die. That is the picture of the life-death of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Ghost is God’s Levite. He put the towrope on the neck of Jesus Christ and led Him likewise three days—a year for a day, God’s three days—into the wilderness. What for? To prove out, to test out the real fact of His obedience unto God and whether His consecration was going to stand. So the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, led Jesus into the wilderness.
Now I want you to see something. We are triune beings just as God Himself is triune. You will see the character of the consecration that Jesus made at the Jordan. God is triune. He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Man is also triune. The Word says—
“I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
So Jesus, when He went into the wilderness, encountered a peculiar temptation, peculiar to each separate department of His being. The Word of God says He fasted forty days and was an hungered. Satan comes to Him and says, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” But Jesus could not do it. If He had done that, He would have been exercising His own authority in His own behalf and He had committed Himself unto “all righteousness.” He only lived to express God, He only lived to express the Father. He said, “The words I speak, I speak not of myself. The work that I do I do not of myself.” All He said and all He did and all He was, was the expression of God the Father.
May the Lord give us an understanding of the utterness of what a real baptismal consecration ought to be. When an individual comes and commits himself to Christ once and for all and forever, he ceases to be, he ceases to live in his own behalf, to live for himself any longer, but becomes the utter expression of Jesus Christ to mankind.
So Satan had no power to tempt a man who had made a consecration like that. The hunger calls of Jesus’ body, after He had fasted forty days, were not enough to turn Him aside from the consecration He had made to God.
The second temptation was one peculiar to the mind (soul). He was taken to a pinnacle of the temple, and Satan said, “Do something spectacular, cast yourself down; let the people see You are an unusual person, and that You can do unusual things, and they will give You their acclaim.”
Jesus could not do that. There was nothing, bless God, in the mind of Jesus Christ that could tempt Him to be disobedient to the consecration He had made to God, unto “all righteousness.” So He turned the temptation aside.
The third temptation was one peculiar to the spirit. By a supernatural power Jesus is permitted to see, “All the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them,” in a moment of time. Then Satan said unto Him, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” But Jesus turned him aside. No crossless crowning for the Son of God, no bloodless glory for my Lord. He had come to express God to the world, He had come to demonstrate one thing to you and me. That is, that man relying on God can have the victory over sin and Satan. Bless God! That is the peculiar thing about the life of Jesus Christ that makes Him dear to your heart and mine.
After going on the towrope of the Holy Ghost for three years as the first goat, through the sorrows and trials and disappointments of life—even ministering and blessing—though the world cursed Him, He was able to come as the second goat and present Himself as the sinless, spotless sacrifice unto God at the cross.
If Jesus had fallen down anywhere along the line, if there had been a single instance where He had failed to express God to the world, He could never have been the Savior of the world. “He became the author of eternal salvation.” He was honored of God in being permitted to die for mankind, having triumphed, having presented Himself the sinless, spotless sacrifice unto God. His blood flowed for all the race. Blessed be His name!
We have seen two things. We have seen the principles of Jesus Christ. We have seen His consecration to carry out those principles. He consecrated Himself utterly unto the mind and will of God. But now we are going a step farther.
We come to the last night of the Lord’s life. He is with His disciples in the upper room. Here comes the final act, the consummation of all His life. There is a phase of this act, I know the Lord has made clear to many.
They sat around the table after they had eaten their supper, Jesus took bread and brake it, saving, “Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you,” and yet He was there in the flesh. Now what did it mean? What was its significance?
This: By that act the Lord Jesus Christ pledged Himself before God, the holy angels, before men, that He would not stop short of dying for the world. There was no limit. He was faithful “even unto death.” Just as He had been faithful in life and had lived each day the conscious life-death, dying to every desire of His mind and will and being, He is now going one step further. He is going to be faithful “even unto death.”
So He said, “Take, eat, this is My body, broken for you.” After supper, likewise, He took the cup, when He had drunk, saying, “My blood of the new testament.”
Now you listen. From time immemorial mankind has been in the habit pledging themselves in the cup. There is no date that mankind has of its origin. It is so ancient we do not know when the custom began, when men began to pledge themselves in the wine cup, but our Jesus sanctified the custom to God and His Church forever.
Jesus poured the wine into the cup, took it, and said, “This is my blood of the new testament,” and He drank that Himself. That was the pledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having laid down the principles of the Gospel of the Son of God, having walked and lived and suffered for three years, now He was going to the very uttermost. There was no further to go. He said, “This is My blood of the new testament,” meaning He would give His life for the world.
That is not all. That was His pledge, but after He had drunk, saying, “Drink ye all of it.” And when they took the cup of which their Lord had drunk, they drank to that pledge. They were made partakers in the same pledge and likewise pledged themselves, “My blood of the new testament.” Bless God.
Christianity had character in it. Jesus Christ put character in it. Bless God! “My blood of the new testament.” The other day I was going over the list of the apostles as they are given by Hippolytus, one of the early writers, and he tells us that five of the twelve were crucified just as Jesus was. Others died by the spear and sword, and three died natural deaths after enduring tortures. So it meant for them just what it means for their Lord, “My blood of the new testament.” We see the degree of faithfulness to which they pledged themselves that night.
We have loved and admired the spirit of the apostles. The spirit of Jesus Christ was so intense in the early Christians, that millions of them gave their lives for the Son of God; multitudes of whom died the death of martyrs and multitudes died in the war to exterminate Christianity. Thirty million! Think of that. It gives some meaning to the saying that “The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church.”
How often have you and I taken the Lord’s cup? Has it meant that to you and me, and does it mean that to you and me now? Beloved, I have no doubt that the sacred cup has touched many lips, perhaps the lips of most of you. If we have been understanding, comprehending Christians, we have realized it meant to us just what it did to the Lord: our everlasting pledge of faithfulness.
There is no place for sin in the Christian’s life. There is no place for letting down in the Christian’s life. There is no place for weakening in the Christian’s life. Paul said, when they were having a hard time, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:4). That was expected of them. They were expected to resist even unto death; so Paul says, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood.” In the revelation, the Church in Smyrna is commanded, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
In this land, after our fathers had signed the old Declaration of independence they pledged, “Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,” then they went out and gave themselves to eight years of war to make it good.
When people make a declaration on principles, it is going to cost them something and it costs them something. After awhile the men in the Revolutionary Army got where they did not have shoes on their feet, but in the depth of winter they tied straw and rags on their feet. They had stood by principles, they had lived by principles, they were ready to die by principles, and the British tracked them by the blood marks on the snow.
So Jesus Christ, in enlisting an army, put them under a kindred pledge with Himself. He pledged Christians on the same plane with Himself. Just as far as the Lord went, they went “even unto death.”
The real purpose of becoming a Christian is not to save yourself from hell or be saved to go to heaven. It is to become a child of God with the character of Jesus Christ, to stand before men pledged unto the uttermost, “even unto death,” by refusing to sin, refusing to bow your head in shame. Preferring to die rather than dishonor the Son of God.
If the character of Jesus Christ has entered into you and into me, then it has made us like the Christ. It has made us like Him in purpose. It us has made us like Him in fact. Bless God! His Spirit is imparted to us. Bless God for that same unquenchable fidelity that characterized the Son of God.
My God and Father, in Jesus’ name I come to Thee, take me as I am. Make me what I ought to be in spirit, in soul, in body. Give me power to do right. If I have wronged any to confess, to repent, to restore, no matter what it costs. Wash me in the blood of Jesus that I may now become Thy child and manifest Thee in a perfect spirit, a holy mind, a sickless body, to the glory of God. Amen.
John G. Lake was one of the most influential Pentecostal pioneers early in the twentieth century. His teachings have continued to bless many for generations, and he continues to be one of the most read minister’s in Pentecostal circles today.