The Gospel and the Church are concerned with government.
God, in creating people, has a program in mind and He made us first physical. So, first it started with the first Adam, the first man was called Adam. But then the spiritual phase of God's whole program begins with Jesus Christ, and Christ is the second Adam, and that is the spiritual phase, not the physical. So Jesus is the second Adam. (I Corinthians 15:45-47)
Now Jesus came for a dual purpose primarily. Jesus came — why did He come to Earth? Primarily for a dual purpose: First He came to be a king. You will find it back in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah; you will find it back in the seventh chapter of Isaiah isn't it, or no, it's the ninth chapter, the sixth verse and so on. So, He also came to be a Savior, His name was Immanuel, which is 'God with us', and He came as a Savior (Isaiah 9:6, 7:14). He is the one seed, in whom all the families and nations of the earth are going to be blessed, as a Savior. So, He came to save us and give us eternal life.
But He also came to establish and restore the Government of God. And the Government of God had once been on the Earth but Lucifer took it away (Ezekiel 28:14). The former archangel and he's been changed now to become Satan, and his name now is Satan.
Now God's purpose begins with the first Adam who was a physical man. That's the physical phase of God's great master plan, and of God's whole great purpose. And the spiritual phase of God's Work — you see, there's a physical phase and a spiritual phase — now the spiritual phase begins with the second Adam, who is Jesus Christ.
Now it's necessary to understand what happened to the first Adam if we're going to understand this.
Satan, who is the former Lucifer, was once established on a throne over angels. Now God set that throne and God set His Government there and He set this super archangel there to govern it. Now Lucifer was the most powerful angel that God could possibly create. There are two other angels as great as that, that are Cherubs — Michael and Gabriel. But there is none greater except God Himself, and He has such great power.
But the government became inoperative because Lucifer rebelled. Lucifer, instead of the way of love, began to live the way of 'get', which is the way of self; 'I love me and I don't care anything about God, I covet more power, I am filled with lust' — and he was filled with envy and with hostility and he changed just the opposite of God's way of life. So, the government became inoperative, and there was no government on earth when God created Adam. The Government of God was not being executed at all.
Yet God's Universe Government — now get this — the Universe Government of God over the whole Universe required that once Lucifer was set on that throne he must remain on that throne until a successor has qualified and been inducted into office and put on that throne. So Lucifer was changed to Satan and Satan is still there now, and Satan was there when Adam was created and Satan has remained there ever since and is still there up to this time now.
The First Adam Now, Adam — remember this — the first Adam is the father, or the progenitor physically of the whole world. He is the physical progenitor of the whole world. And the whole world started in and through him. He had to make a choice; he had to decide between God's way and God's government and Satan's way of get. God's way is the way of give or love. Adam was making that choice not only for himself but for the whole world, for all humanity that would follow him.
There were two symbolic trees in the garden of Eden. One was the Holy Spirit — that is it represented the Holy Spirit — the tree of life, it was only a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The other tree was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now that simply symbolized what it says. The taking to oneself of the knowledge of good and evil; or to decide for oneself what is right and what is wrong; what is sin and what is not.
Now Adam listened to his wife — Eve just grabbed him by the nose and led him along and Adam — the poor simp — he went along with her and so Adam was not deceived but Eve was. But Adam made the choice for the whole world, for his family, he was the father of that family.
God made that binding on the whole world until the Government of God is restored once again to the Earth! Now that meant it was binding for 6,000 years but God did make an exception. It was binding except that God was going to call a few — just one here, one there — a very, very few, once in a while, that God would call to come to Him. Otherwise people are cut off from God.
You read in the very last verses of the third chapter of Genesis how God drove the man and the woman out of the Garden of Eden and He put angels with flaming swords pointing every direction lest they go back, they or their children would go back and take of the tree of life and gain immortal life and live forever in sin (Genesis 3:23-24). Now God did not intend for people to have eternal life and live forever in sin because sin makes you unhappy. Sin brings pain and sorrow and suffering, and God loves us too much to let us live forever in that kind of misery.
You know back in the time of the flood — do you know that it was in great mercy and love for the people that God drowned the whole world except for Noah and his family? He saved them from more suffering — they were just bringing suffering. Violence filled the earth — and everything evil was filling the earth in that day and we're back to a time just like that again now. That's right, we know that we're right at the end of this age, we're at the end of this world just exactly as the Bible says time and time again.
The Foundation of the Church Now, God called certain ones — for example — He called Abraham. God must have called Abel because he's called righteous Abel (Matthew 23:35), and then there was Enoch who walked with God (Genesis 5:24), and Noah. But that's all we find at all until we come to Abraham. And God made all of the promises that we all have to rely on to Abraham. And Abraham's children were slaves in Egypt 430 years later and God called them out and made Old Testament Israel His chosen nation.
Now they were just one of the nations of this world. He gave them His law — they had His spiritual law — the Ten Commandments, but they also had God's civil law, for the regulation of man with his neighbor. Then they had some other religious laws that were only temporary until Christ. But they were a national government, but He did not give them the Holy Spirit. They were cut off from the Holy Spirit but He did give them the knowledge of right and wrong. He did give them the Ten Commandments and His Spiritual Law but they were just one of the governments in this world.
But their prophets were given the Holy Spirit and their prophets were sort of co-founders of the New Testament Church; I wonder if you ever thought of them as that? The Church is founded on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets — Jesus Christ being the Chief Corner Stone. Now that's in the — what is it — the second chapter, I believe it is, of Ephesians (Ephesians 2:20).
And so it is not speaking of New Testament prophets there at all because there were no New Testament prophets at all that had anything to do with putting doctrine into the Church, with what the Church is to believe or do or with administration of the work of the Church, not a one. As a matter of fact there are only four prophets mentioned in the New Testament starting with an elderly woman that picked up the Christ child when He was a little tiny infant and blessed Him, she was passed eighty years of age at that time (Luke 2:36).
But, remember now, Satan is still on that throne and still has power. And Adam sold out to Satan. And when we have to redeem the time we have to redeem it from what Satan has been leading us into. That's the thing we need to realize.
Now to reproduce Himself — which is the purpose of God — God must save humanity from Satan and He must save humanity from rebellion that Satan has led us into and He must save us from death. So it required a Savior to pay our penalty for us so we don't die, so we don't have the penalty of death. And He can't save the whole world until Satan is put away.
The Four 'Untils' So in God's plan there are four important — I call them 'untils' — where it speaks about a certain thing won't happen 'until' a certain time. Now first; except for the very few specially and individually called by God all humankind was cut off from access to God — or His Holy Spirit — until — the second Adam, who was Christ, had qualified to restore the government of God; and actually had been restored on the government of God ruling the whole world by the kingdom of God. And the whole world is cut off until that time.
Jesus Himself said plainly; "No man can come to me, except the Father which sent me draw him" (John 6:44): Now they're cut off from the Father unless the Father draws them and Jesus said "no man can..."
I tell you, these evangelists that go out and preach to the world and say: 'whosoever will may come.' There is even a hymn they sing, 'whosoever will.' You know where that is in the Bible? Back in the very last chapter of the Bible after the thousand years; after the Great White Throne Judgment. But not during this time in the church; not during the time of ancient Israel; whosoever will could not come, no sir, not until then, let's get the Bible straight.
Now, the second 'until'; The Holy Spirit was not yet given even for the church when Christ was on earth until Jesus — having conquered Satan and having overcome and qualified now to rule in the Kingdom of God — had been glorified in heaven. You read that in John 7:37-39 and that was on one of the Feast days that was the very last day, the very Great day after the Feast of Tabernacles.
Therefore, the Old Testament Israel could not receive God's Holy Spirit, only their specially called prophets could, and they were specially called. And I tell you, I think it's still a question that is not made absolutely clear in the Bible as to whether the Holy Spirit of God was in them or with them. However it is made clear they will be in the Kingdom and how could they be begotten and to come into the kingdom unless the Holy Spirit had been in them. So I assume that some way the Holy Spirit was in them.
Now third, there's a third 'until.' Even the gospel — that is the good news of the coming kingdom of God — the gospel is the good news about a government. But those who go off preaching the gospel they call the gospel only preach about a person, about Christ. Christ was only the messenger who brought the gospel, and that they don't preach at all, the kingdom of God. Well, even the gospel could not be proclaimed until Jesus — the second Adam — had qualified by overcoming Satan while Jesus was yet a human being. Now you'll read of that in Mark 1:14-15 when He said the time was now at hand and He began to preach the kingdom of God.
So, during Old Testament Israel, we read in Luke 16:16 "The law and the prophets were until John..." (Luke 16:16), Not the gospel, just the law and the prophets were until John, and since that time the kingdom of God is preached.
Now, there's a fourth one. Even now today the heavens have received Jesus until the times of restitution of all things. You read that in the third chapter of Acts in verse 21, Acts 3 and verse 21. That is the time of restoration of the government of God over the Earth at Christ's soon coming, which will be very soon now in our time.
Now Old Testament Israel had a function preparatory to the ultimate establishment of the Kingdom of God. But the gospel could not be proclaimed to the world, nor could God's called congregation of people — that is the church — have the Holy Spirit until first Jesus had qualified by overcoming Satan; and second, had been glorified after He had ascended up to heaven. He had to ascend up to heaven.
New Testament Church But now we come to the Church of the New Testament. The time had come when first the gospel announcement could go to the world after Christ had overcome Satan. And second, they, the congregation — or the church — could receive the Holy Spirit. And that's when the church really began. So that's what you find on the Day of Pentecost.
Now, I have been tracing things from the time of Adam on but in due time Jesus was born and He qualified by overcoming Satan. He was put to the very supreme test as you read in the fourth chapter of Matthew. He qualified; He proclaimed the good news of the coming government, the Kingdom of God, the family of God ruling in the government. He taught His disciples and then He died for us and paid the penalty of our sin in our stead.
Now only then could God call a body — the Church — to receive His Holy Spirit, it couldn't happen until that time and receive the Holy Spirit on repentance and faith. And even now we have to repent and have the faith in Christ to receive the Holy Spirit. So, that was the Day of Pentecost, the third festival. But now a little further before we come again to this.
What is the Church? What is the Church? The Church is the firstfruits, the first group, or body to have the Holy Spirit of God. To be begotten by God, that can be born of God at the coming of Christ. Now, why the Church? What is its purpose? To be spiritually trained in God's government. And it's a matter of government and most of the evangelists of the world and most of the so-called Christian churches don't realize anything about the government of God. To be trained in God's government and to be growing in spiritual character, in order that we can rule with Christ; we're being trained as people to rule with Christ.
When Jesus comes brethren, just stop and think a minute; He is not going to rule all alone by Himself with no one, He's going to have a very great organization. You know, old father Abraham's going to be there, he's going to be resurrected and he's going to have a very important position. And I think he'll be right next to Christ. I may be wrong about that but that's what I believe. And I don't say very often what I believe; usually I speak with authority because it's in the Bible. But we're to rule with Christ.
Now you read back here in Revelation, the third chapter and verse 21, and this applies only to the Church by the way. It does not apply to people in the kingdom of God later after Christ comes. This did not apply to ancient Israel.
Here it says: "To him [these are the words of Jesus Christ Himself] To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, [even] as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21) He that has an ear he had better pay attention and hear, He said. (verse 22)
Now also in the second chapter of Revelation and the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh verses Jesus said: "To him that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end (now it's keeping His works — in other words it's your performance, the way you live, God's way of living — right to the end of your life] to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron" (Revelation 2:26-27).
We're going to rule the nations; we're going to sit with Christ on His throne. Why the Church? WE'RE BEING TRAINED TO RULE WITH CHRIST WHEN HE COMES! GOD IS GOING TO HAVE A GOVERNMENT WHEN HE COMES!
But I'm telling you what's being prepared for that time when Christ comes. And He's going to have a whole organization. Now for that He needed a church, and He needed a church that itself would be well organized and well prepared. How was He going to train the church for that kind of thing?
Can any individual Christian just say; "Well I'd like to be a lone Christian, I'll go off and I'll just simply get into heaven or I'll get into the kingdom all by myself." Oh no you won't, you can't do it that way. If you ever do you won't have a very important position when you get there, I'll tell you that, because we're to be rewarded according to our works.
Church Organization But, the Church is a special organism that is well organized. Now I would like to have you turn with me to the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians. Now the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians really is a whole chapter about the Church. Now notice the first verse:
"Now concerning spiritual gifts brethren [that's to the people in the Church], I would not have you ignorant. Now [he says] there are diversities of gifts, but [only one Spirit] the same Spirit [of God]. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all." (I Corinthians 12:1-2, 4-6)
Now you notice there that there are different administrations and different operations. For these different operations we have to have different administrations. In other words a different group of people administering those operations; in other words different departments. And each department is an administration.
You know, in the United States Government we talk about the administration, the President. Well he administers, he does what Congress tells him to do — in other words — Congress makes the laws and he's supposed to enforce them, or to run them. And so you will notice now beginning with verse 8 again:
"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; and to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the same Spirit;" (I Corinthians 12:8-9)
We don't all have ability to do the same things. God is showing us that He gives special abilities to special people for different performances, different operations in the functions of the Church.
Now then: "To another the working of miracles; and to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits; and to another [different] kinds of tongues (I Corinthians 12:10). And so on. All these different things are the different operations to be administered in the work of the church.
Now, verse 11: "But all these worketh that one and [the] selfsame Spirit..." (I Corinthians 12:11). It's the same Spirit working in each one of us.
Now that is explained a little more explicitly in Ephesians 4; where it says in verse 11: "That God gave some [or Christ gave some], apostles; and some prophets [now there are no prophets in the New Testament church now, the prophets were as I say Old Testament prophets], and some evangelists; and some pastors and some teachers;" (Ephesians 4:11-12, paraphrased);
Now the preaching of the gospel is primarily to apostles and evangelists. An apostle is one sent forth — with the gospel — one sent forth. Well, an evangelist is one who also carries the gospel out. And they're called evangelists in the New Testament who went out preaching the gospel to the world. But pastors are pastors over a local church and preach to those that are already in the church. But a pastor even can carry the gospel to the world in his own community or in neighboring communities.
But anyway, we're all put in the church now "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry [that's getting the gospel out to the world], for the edifying of the body of Christ [that teach us, edify us so that we grow in grace and knowledge in order to help Christ to govern the whole world when He comes] ...Till we all come to the unity of the faith, to the knowledge of the Son of God, unto the perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we be henceforth no more children tossed back and forth with different doctrines but all with the same doctrine" (Ephesians 4:12-14, paraphrased). Because in I Corinthians the first chapter and the tenth verse the apostle Paul says that "we must all speak the same thing". Now you can't do that if you're not organized.
How does God put the truth in the church? It came through Christ but Christ put it in the church through the apostles and through the Old Testament prophets; but it was the apostles who took what the Old Testament prophets had and who put it in the church. And every doctrine we have in the church today God has put in the church through His apostle. That's the way in the Bible, that's the way God has made it. Now if you want to go the way of men or go the way of Satan you go some other way. But if you want to go the way of God that's the way we will have to go. Now I want to go back here to the second chapter of Ephesians just a minute.
"...therefore [in the church now] you are no more [this is verse 19 of the second chapter, verse 19] Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God;" (Ephesians 2:19)
The household brethren, is a family. We are the family of God, as you read in I John, the third chapter: "Behold now [even now, already] are we the children of God" (I John 3:2 paraphrased). We're not yet born, we're only begotten — but we're already the children of God.
"And his Spirit witnesses with our spirit [in the eighth chapter of Romans] — that we are the children of God." (Roman 8:16 paraphrased)
"Now therefore, we are no more strangers or foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints of the household of God [a family]; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets [that's the foundation], Jesus Christ himself the chief corner stone [of course, in a sense, Christ Himself is the whole foundation because the prophets and the apostles are only built on Christ. Now]; in whom the whole building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord." (Ephesians 2:19-21)
What is the Temple that Christ is going to come to? A lot of discussion about that. Christ came as a physical person the first time to a material temple built of stone and wood and gold and other materials. Christ is coming as the spiritual Christ this time to rule and reign; He's coming to His spiritual temple, the Church. Christ has called us to build that temple, to be ready for His coming, to be trained and to grow up until we come to that place where we're ready to rule with Him, and to take over the reins of government. You see how great it is and how important it is?