The Power and Challenge of the Kingdom of God (continued)
The Spontaneous Challenge of the Kingdom of God Through the Church
If that is the course and nature of things, what really is the heart of it all? Well, the heart of it is this, that when from the day of Pentecost men and women went out into this world in the good of what it meant that the Kingdom of God as an actual reality had come, and that it was an inward fact, the thing which characterized them was that there was, by their very presence here in this world, an impressive and overwhelming impact of the kingdom of God upon that other kingdom lying behind the framework of this world system. It just happened. Their very presence disturbed, challenged, provoked that other kingdom, and the fact of these two kingdoms being in such deadly opposition became a manifest reality simply because those believers were there; and, mark you - this is something to be marked - their predominant note in preaching was not the salvation of men from sin (which was the result of something else) but it was the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ. Everywhere they bore witness to the resurrection of Jesus, and they proclaimed Him as Lord. When it came to dealing with exercise of heart under conviction and with the inquiry, 'What shall we do to be saved?' then the interpretation or the application was that this Lord is also Saviour. You can be saved by Him because He is Lord. Let me say again - it is not just because He is officially Lord, but because He is morally in the position to forgive. Leave that again for a minute.
What I want to concentrate upon and keep to is this, that there needs to be recovered the spontaneous challenge of the kingdom of God in the Church. We may be preaching the gospel of salvation - let no one think for one moment any discrediting or weakening of that is intended - but that must come out of the established Lordship of Jesus Christ in the preacher and in the Body representing Christ. It must be that - that Jesus is Lord - not as an item of a creed or of doctrine, but as something which has become an inward power. The Lordship of Jesus Christ as an inward power, both in the life and in the Church, has to be registered in a spiritual way, not first upon men. I do not know whether you are able to follow further than I am saying; but why is the vast amount of the preaching of the gospel to the unsaved without effect? Does that not exercise you, or is that a question which ought never to be raised? It is true, is it not? The gospel is preached and preached and preached with little effect. Is the gospel weaker than it was in those days? Is the Holy Spirit withdrawn from the earth? What i the explanation? Is it that the Lord is different, His gospel is different, or His Church is different? Ah, I think it must be the last. It cannot be the others. What is the difference?
(continued with # 32)