“Christ does not find his subjects fitted for his kingdom, but he qualifies them by his divine power.”
“ ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.’ The whole life of Christ upon earth was lived for the purpose of manifesting the will of God on earth as it is in heaven. Said Christ, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ Christ does not acknowledge any caste, color, or grade as necessary to become a subject of his kingdom. Admittance to his kingdom does not depend upon wealth or a superior heredity. But those who are born of the Spirit are the subjects of his kingdom. Spiritual character is that which will be recognized by Christ. His kingdom is not of this world. His subjects are those who are partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And this grace is given them of God. Christ does not find his subjects fitted for his kingdom, but he qualifies them by his divine power. Those who have been dead in trespasses and sins are quickened to spiritual life. The faculties which God has given them for holy purposes are refined, purified, and exalted, and they are led to form characters after the divine similitude. Though they have misapplied their talents and made them serve sin; though Christ has been to them a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, because they stumbled at the word, being disobedient, yet by the drawing of his love they are led at last into the path of duty. Christ said, ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’
“Christ draws them to himself by an unseen power. He is the light of life, and he imbues them with his own Spirit. As they are drawn into the spiritual atmosphere, they see that they have been made the sport of Satan’s temptations, and that they have been under his dominion; but they break the yoke of fleshly lusts, and refuse to be the servants of sin. Satan strives to hold them. He assails them with various temptations; but the Spirit works to renew them after the image of him who created them. They work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God who worketh in them, to will and to do of his good pleasure. The human agents co-operate with the divine by putting forth earnest, holy endeavor. They realize that they have exchanged captains, and they take their directions from the lips of Jesus. As a servant looks to his master, and as a maid looks to her mistress, so these souls, drawn by cords of love to Christ, constantly look unto him who is the Author and Finisher of their faith. By beholding Jesus, by obeying his requirements, they increase in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. Thus they become changed into his image from character to character until they are distinguished from the world, and it can be written of them: ‘Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.’
“The qualities which shine with greatest luster in the kingdoms of the world, have no place in Christ’s spiritual kingdom. That which is highly exalted among men, and brings exaltation to its possessor, such as caste, rank, position, or wealth, is not esteemed in the spiritual kingdom. The Lord says, ‘Them that honor me, I will honor.’ In Christ’s kingdom men are distinguished according to their piety. Jesus said: ‘Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.’
“The kingdom of heaven is of a higher order than any earthly kingdom. Whether we shall have a higher position or a lower position, will not be determined by our rank, wealth, or education, but by the character of the obedience rendered to the word of God. Those who have been actuated by selfishness and human ambition, who have been striving to be greatest, who have been self-important, who have felt above confessing mistakes and errors, will have no place in the kingdom of God. Whether men will be honored as members of the royal family of God, will be determined by the manner in which they bear the test and proving of God that is brought to bear upon them in this life. Those who have not been self-denying, who have not manifested sympathy for the woes of others, who have not cultivated the precious attributes of love, who have not manifested forbearance and meekness in this life, will not be changed when Christ comes. The laws of Christ’s kingdom are unalterable; for they have their foundation in his own unchangeable righteous character. Not one of his precepts will be weakened or altered in the slightest degree. Heaven and earth will pass away rather than one tittle of his law shall fail. There can be no amendment made to the law of God; for ‘the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.’ Should the voice of the highest human authority announce an amendment or an addition to the law of God in any human legislature, such an announcement would be registered on the books of heaven as treason. It would be placed on the same list as the presumptuous claims of the first great rebel who was cast out from heaven.
“In matters concerning the kingdom of Christ no compulsion or forcing of conscience is permitted. No blood is to be shed, no force of arms employed, no prison is to be opened for the incarceration of one who does not choose the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Christ will accept only of the voluntary service of the heart which has been sanctified through the truth. But if one of Christ’s followers offend, his faults are not to be opened up to unbelievers, not to be brought before earthly tribunals by his brethren. Those who are lawful and obedient are the only ones who are empowered by Christ to deal with the cases of the erring. Those who correct the erring should be divested of self, and have the mind of Christ. In every council where important decisions are made, heavenly agencies watch with intense interest. There is an unseen presence in the midst of the counselors, and the manifestation of harshness, of levity, of carelessness, of partiality, is registered as an offense against God. Self must be studiously kept under control, and not permitted to become a ruling power in these meetings of decision, or in meetings for the reproof of error, or for setting aside those who are manifestly injuring the church.“The character which we now manifest is deciding our future destiny. The happiness of heaven will be found by conforming to the will of God, and if men become members of the royal family in heaven, it will be because heaven has begun with them on earth. They have cherished the mind of Christ, and when the call comes, ‘Child, come up higher,’ the righteous will take every grace, every precious, sanctified ability, into the courts above, and exchange earth for heaven. God knows who are the loyal and true subjects of his kingdom on earth, and those who do his will upon earth as it is done in heaven, will be made the members of the royal family above.”*
* Review and Herald, March 26, 1895.