Jack Carroll - Kingdom - Manhattan, Montana - 1945

I would like to read to you the last two verses of Hebrews 12, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom..." Now you might turn back to the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Colossians, Colossians 1:12, "Giving thanks unto the Father..." A Kingdom that cannot be moved, a kingdom that cannot be shaken, an everlasting kingdom, a kingdom that will endure forever. Paul exhorts the Christians at Colosse to give thanks unto the Father, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of God's dear Son. It would be a very wonderful thing indeed if all of us in this meeting this afternoon could testify to this experience, delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son.


I would like this afternoon to speak to you about this kingdom, this kingdom that cannot be moved or shaken, this kingdom of God's dear Son. The phrase "kingdom of heaven" or kingdom of God" occurs over 100 times in the four Gospels. This kingdom was the keynote of the whole teaching and ministry of Jesus. He spoke more often about the kingdom, the kingdom of God, than about anything else and the main reason why the phrase occurs so often is that it included everything that Jesus lived and taught, everything He taught about the way, everything He taught about the family, everything He taught about the fold. In all His life He exemplified what it really meant to "seek first the Kingdom of God."


I think we can say with truth that He had but one enthusiasm and that was the Kingdom of God, everything else was secondary, and I have sometimes tried to imagine what kind of people we would be in this world if we, too, got a little more of that enthusiasm and made evident by our lives that everything else was secondary, "seek first the kingdom of God." Something or somebody must be first in every life, we can't get away from this and every man and every woman has to determine for himself or herself who that person is or what that thing might be.


I think back over my own life this afternoon almost fifty years ago, when some of us heard and obeyed the Gospel. This phrase, "seek first the Kingdom of God," gripped our hearts, influenced our lives, was responsible to a very large extent for the choices we made even as young converts and helped us to put second things where they belonged and put first things first, the Kingdom of God, the extension of that Kingdom, the wooing and winning of men and women into that Kingdom had taken hold upon our hearts and resulted in a very few years in many of us young men and young women placing our lives upon God's altar and going out to give our lives in service true to God and man.


If as a result of these meetings, and the special meetings that have been held in the last few weeks in Montana, there is a true interest begotten in the hearts and lives of all God's people in the value of putting first things first and living their lives with eternity's values in view, then something will be accomplished this year for God in this state, that will bring much pleasure into the hearts and lives of men and women and much pleasure to the heart of God.


From the very beginning to the close of His ministry, He labored for one thing, the extension of the Kingdom of God. As He traveled from north to south or from east to west, as the occasion might be, He was continually inviting men and women to enter this Kingdom and made clear and plain that no man or woman was justified in permitting anything or anybody from hindering them from pressing into the Kingdom of God.


On one occasion He made this statement, "If thy right hand offend thee..." it is better, He knew, He understood, "It is better to enter into the Kingdom of God crippled, blind or maimed for life, than having two hands, two feet, two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.." If there are any in this meeting this afternoon, men or women, who know, who are very conscious of something or some person hindering them, some friendship, some habit, some idol, even though any of these may be just as dear as a right hand, right foot, or a right eye, would it not be wise for you this afternoon to take these words of Jesus to heart, "It is better to enter into the kingdom of God with one hand, one foot, one eye, than to be cast into hell fire where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched?"


I have been impressed in recent months with the importance of God's children having the right thoughts about this Kingdom in their minds and in their hearts, thoughts that come from God, thoughts that we get from the study of God's own word, and if we have a real desire to have these right thoughts about the Kingdom of God our whole lives will be influenced by these thoughts.

"As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." We are no more than the thoughts we think. If the right thoughts govern our lives and influence us in our choices, then there will be the marks of Christ reproduced and made manifest. If, on the other hand, we permit wrong thoughts to enter into our minds, it influences us in our choices and the opposite will result. Someone has said, "Every thought images itself in the mind and every image persistently held there is bound to materialize.” This seems to be a law; if we think the right thoughts and form the habit of thinking the right thoughts, this will be in evidence in our lives; if we form the habit of thinking wrong thoughts and harbor them, then these wrong thoughts will be made manifest. There are a great many wrong thoughts in minds of men and women throughout the whole wide world and because of wrong thoughts the world is filled with confusion, more so today than ever. It is more difficult for the average man or woman to get to know and understand what is right than it ever was. There are men and women from whose hearts today there is going up the cry, "Who will show us any good? Where can we get help for our souls, where can we find the satisfaction that we desire so much?"


There are three or four things I would like this afternoon to leave with you in connection with this Kingdom of God. I think they will be easy to remember and when you leave these meetings you can think them over, meditate upon them, and discuss them with your brothers and sisters in God's family, in God's Kingdom. Many of God's people are often distressed because in meetings such as these they feel, "I heard so much I enjoyed and yet somehow or other I remember so little." Very often they blame themselves and get discouraged and sometimes somewhat depressed. I have been trying to practice a little proverb, it is a very old proverb, a Jewish proverb that has been a great help to me:  "If you want to remember anything, teach it to somebody else." Isn't that easy? If you want to remember anything, teach it to someone else. Whenever I discover a little nugget of God's truth in His word I begin to talk about it, and in talking about it, it becomes more firmly rooted in my mind, and if at these meetings the Lord puts some new thoughts, writes some new law in your mind and in your heart that you are anxious to remember, if you try and pass that thought on to somebody else it will strengthen your memory and you will become truly a possessor of that thought or of that truth.


Now, the first thing I would like to say about the Kingdom of God this afternoon is that it is a Kingdom of sacrifice, founded by sacrifice. Every earthly kingdom is founded by something entirely different; in fact, the Kingdom that God sent His Son to manifest and establish is different from any other kingdom the world has ever known. Men, the cleverest of men would never have thought of founding the kind of kingdom that God sent His Son into the world to establish and if we can get firmly fixed in our minds just a few things about this strange Kingdom of God, this Kingdom that is so different from every other kingdom, we will have something to think about and something to talk about that will help us and whenever in our reading we come across the phrase, "Kingdom of Heaven, or Kingdom of God's dear Son," then we can pause for a moment, yes, that's the kind of a kingdom we have been hearing about, that God sent His own Son into the world to establish. Human kingdoms are founded on self seeking, on selfishness, on getting. God's Kingdom was founded by loving and giving, "God so loved...that He gave..." This sacrifice began in the very courts of heaven, the Father and the Son talking it over, the Father willing to give His Son, the Son willing to give Himself. This sacrifice was evidenced in the whole life and ministry of Jesus from the beginning to the end.  

In Paul's letters, he loved to emphasize the fact that Christ gave Himself, He didn't give "something," He gave Himself. He couldn't give anymore, He didn't give any less. He gave Himself for our sins, He settled the sin question as the trespass offering, He gave Himself for us as the sin offering, settled the question of what we are by nature. Gave Himself as the whole burnt offering to make clear to our minds once and forever what true consecration or true yielded-ness to the will of God really meant in a human life. It has been said, "It is loving and giving that makes life worth living; it is loving and giving that makes life a song," and even though in His giving He is spoken of as the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, yet on the last night of His life, looking back He could say to His disciples, "These things have I said unto you that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full." Selfishness, self seeking, living for self, never brought real satisfaction into any human life. We are all fooled in our earlier years in thinking in getting for ourselves we are going to find rest of heart, peace of mind, and the unhappiest men and women in all the world are the men and women who have accumulated most for themselves. Some people say, "If only I had $10,000.00, then I would be happy;" some say, "If I had $50,000.00, I would be happy" and some say "If I had $100,000.00, I would be happy." When they get the $10,000.00, $50,000.00, or $100,000.00, they are grabbing after more thousands for the more they get the more they want. It's loving and giving that makes life worth living; it's loving and giving that makes life a song. The life of Jesus was that "song." He had more rest of heart and peace of mind than any other individual that ever lived on earth even though He was tempted and tried in all points like as we are, yet because of the love and peace that governed His life and ministry He lived continuously beneath an open heaven and more than once was comforted by hearing His Father say, "This is My beloved Son..." He sacrificed the last drop of His life's blood; willingly, uncomplainingly, He gave Himself to the very limit. Apart from that giving, there could be no Kingdom of God; apart from that loving and giving, there could be no gathering such as this, this afternoon. It was His loving and giving that laid the foundation for the Kingdom we are speaking about, that set the headline, who in His own life and ministry manifested the kind of kingdom that His Father had sent Him into the world to establish. That's the reason why those first disciples, those first preachers, were so willing in their day to sacrifice. There could be no founding of this Kingdom or establishing this Kingdom apart from sacrifice. There could be no possibility of maintaining this Kingdom of God on earth apart from that sacrifice continuing, that sacrifice being maintained. The first preachers were willing to forsake all, those first Christians were willing to put first thing first in their lives, and when their homes were broken up and their property was confiscated and they were scattered, they went everywhere telling of His power, and seeking to win others into this Kingdom of God. It's a very strange thing that without the aid of the printing press, or the railroad, or the steamboat, or the airplane, the Gospel spread more rapidly in those first days than ever it has done since. When I think about this, I am humiliated. I think back and I say in my heart, "Oh what might have been!" Those first Christians and those first preachers thought of nothing else but the salvation of men, the extension of His Kingdom. I tremble sometimes when I think of the future. As one gets older in the way of life and in the service of God, very serious thoughts creep into one's mind now and then and it would be foolish if we didn't look ahead, and the conviction has been deepened in my heart and in my mind if ever this sacrifice on the part of the servants of God and the saints of God dies out in our midst, we become no better than the daughters of Babylon, we have a name to live and are yet dead, we know the way of truth, may be claiming to walk in truth, but the very heart and kernel of all that Jesus lived and taught has vanished, and as in the case of the Laodiceans of old, Christ is left outside. This Kingdom of God cannot be founded, cannot be extended apart from the continual sacrifice of the servants and people of God. We have been spending a few days here in this place, we who are separated unto the ministry, and we have enjoyed hearing each other testify and open up God's word and as we looked into the faces of these men and women, I was impressed with the tremendous sacrifice that was represented - men and women taking steps that blighted and blasted forever all their earthly prospects, willing to go forth into the world in the name and way of Jesus, as strangers, as poor and homeless as He was. Sometimes I have thought that God's people, looking at these bondservants and handmaidens of the Lord, forget just what the cost has been even for them to take the first step into the pathway of Jesus. It isn't an easy thing for a young man or a young woman to say "goodbye" to everything they could have been and could have enjoyed to advantage in Adam, and even in the family of God, and take steps to separate them from all this, and then year in and year out in the joys and sorrows of service, keeping their lives upon God's altar. If I were asked this afternoon what men and women in the world I admire most, that I respect most, that I would like to honor most, it is the men and women who have heard the whisper of Jesus in their hearts, and for His sake and a lost world have gone forth in His name, losing their lives, wasting them, in order to bring you and others into His great family, His great Kingdom. If there is no real love in your hearts this afternoon for such men and women, then I am a little afraid there is something very seriously, very radically wrong with your experience, for the spirit and attitude you assume toward those that have made themselves poor, homeless, and strangers for the Gospel's sake will ultimately determine where you will be in Eternity. Remember what Jesus said in this connection on one occasion, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me." It is very easy for you here in Montana to minister to some of the visiting brethren who are a little older in the way of life, but Jesus didn't say, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto the oldest and most prominent..." He said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these..." so that He measures your interest in His Kingdom and the real worth of your fellowship in the Gospel, by your attitude toward those who are weaker and very often have little place. Isn't that like Jesus? "Inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of these...”  One of the things that we who are the servants of God very often think upon is the fact that He never asked any of His servants to take one single step that He Himself had not taken. He made no demand upon any that He, Himself had not faced. He left two homes, we have left but one. He said, "Goodbye," to His heavenly home and later He said, "Goodbye," to His earthly home, He sacrificed both homes. He said, "The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but, the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." We surely enjoy the hospitality of God's people and the comfort of their homes, but we are reminded very, very often that we are just passing on, guests for an hour or a day, and we go on to live this homeless life for Jesus' sake and the Gospel. Thank God for the parents who have joyfully given their boys and girls to go forth into God's harvest field. Many a mother's and father's heart has been broken as they pleaded, would not give their consent, but their boys and girls went nevertheless, that's the spirit that counts if this Kingdom of God is going to be established in this world. Apart from lives laid down, apart from men and women willing to be as the kernel of wheat that falls into the ground and dies, there could be no Kingdom of God and no extension of the Kingdom of God. The whole future of God's servants, of His people to sacrifice, if by any means they can be used in extending His Kingdom, to bring men and women into His Kingdom, founded by sacrifice.


The second thing I would like to impress upon you with regard to this Kingdom is that it is a reign of love, not law. In this respect, it is different from every kingdom the world has ever known, all kingdoms have been founded as kingdoms of law. You must do this, you must not do that. This code of laws is necessary in the kingdoms of men, but in this Kingdom of God it is a reign of love and not law. That seems very weak, doesn't it? How could a kingdom be established on earth without rules, without laws, without regulations? How could a kingdom be established on earth by love? That's the very thing Jesus came to do. He came to impart life unto men and establish in their hearts a Kingdom where love would reign and not law.. We have met many of God's people at different times and they are anxious for us to tell them just what they should do and not do, they would be very pleased if we would sit down and write them out a set of rules or laws to direct their lives and then they would look at them every day and honestly try to obey them, but they wouldn't be much farther on. The only power that will bring about the fulfillment of the purpose of God in the hearts and lives of His people is the power of love. Paul said, "The love of Christ constraineth me." That's the motive that governs, that controls. It's the love of Christ, not the love for Christ, but the same love that was in the heart of Christ in relationship to His own disciples and for those out there in the cold dark world, that's the love that will count.


The basic law in the United States is the Constitution, men may come and men may go, but it remains. No town, city, county, or state can enforce any law that isn't in line with the Constitution or its Amendments. The basic law of the Kingdom of God is the law of love. On that last night of the life of Jesus, looking into the future and knowing better than His disciples what awaited them, understanding the difficulties and problems that they would have to face as they went out into the world to fulfill His commission, He didn't give to them that night a set of laws or regulations, He gave them a new commandment. He said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another" - a Kingdom that's a reign of love and not law.


I remember some years ago when on my way down to South America, I was asked to preach in the First Class Saloon on Sunday morning. I accepted the invitation; I spoke to them about what it meant to be a Christian. In the afternoon, I was sitting in a chair on the deck and a man sat down beside me and introduced himself as a professor of history at the University of California, and stated he was very much interested in what he had heard. I told him of the ministry I was engaged in. He could not believe there was such a group of people on earth. I could not convince him. The ministry of the Kingdom is a very wonderful thing to me, that it's possible for men and women to be united and held together in this Kingdom of God without all the different aids that men of the world consider so absolutely necessary. When love reigns, when we are willing to let love reign and guide and govern our thinking and actions, and all our relationships with our brethren then we are going to get somewhere. Men of the world will say, "How weak it is." Some people would be puzzled, how did you all get here? How did you hear about these meetings?


If you want to know what this love is that Jesus spoke that last night of His life, it's to be found in I Corinthians 13. God's Kingdom is made up of men and women, brethren in the same family, who have purposed in their hearts to live in obedience to the law of love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13. Did you ever allow the Lord to search your soul as you read that chapter, and as you read it, did you feel that the word is indeed sharper than any two-edged sword? There are none of us if really honest with ourselves and each other, but will hang our heads and say we have come far short of this, but how wonderful if there is a real purpose in our hearts to say even though I have come far short and have failed often, and even though I have violated this law of love in my heart, I want henceforth to live in obedience to the law of love.


There are seven things mentioned in this chapter that love will not do; seven things mentioned that will always characterize the law of love, you can separate these two lists, can measure yourself by these two lists, and would it not be a very wonderful thing if we really grasp that simple statement Paul makes when he says, "Love never fails?" Other things will fail but love never fails. I think if I know my own heart, and you know your hearts are very deceitful and desperately wicked and hard to understand, but I would like better to know how to live in obedience to this law of love, because if I do I can't fail, and no man or woman will fail and wherever they will go they will be a blessing among God's people. If we do not recognize this kingdom which we represent is a reign, not of law, but of love, we won't get very far. There is another thing I would like to mention, this Kingdom of God is a kingdom where all serve and none rule, the spirit of service, not of ruling predominated.


During the meetings here, Willie quoted to us that passage in Philippians 2 that has often searched our souls, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus...and took upon Him the form of a servant...wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him...that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." I know my soul has been searched by these words of Paul, this appeal of God's servant to God's people in Philippi when he said, "Let this mind be in you ..." He was dealing with the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, was dealing with the need of harmony in the family of God on earth. He said, "If you want harmony, if you want the right spirit to be manifested, you let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." I wonder how many of us this afternoon could honestly say, "I would like that, I would like my whole life to be controlled and governed by the mind that was in Christ Jesus - a Kingdom of service and not of rule." Very easy for us to allow thoughts in our minds that this Kingdom of God is more or less like the kingdoms of the world where men rule and reign over their fellows. Jesus said, "There is no room in My kingdom for anything like that, for in My kingdom any who are truly in fellowship with Me, have no desire to rule, they have a passion to serve."


Let me read in this connection a little from Matthew 20. You remember the incident of those two sons of this mother asking her to make an appeal to Jesus, in His Kingdom that one might sit on the right hand and one on the left hand, seemed they had not caught the real spirit that governed His life. The whole idea of ruling and reigning, of being great in the eyes of men had taken possession of them, so they asked their mother to appeal to Jesus that they might get ahead of the other ten.  "And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren, but Jesus called them unto Him and said, 'Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them, but it shall not be so among you; But whosoever shall be great among you let him be your servant; even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many.'" He was talking here to preachers. Luke 22:27, "For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth." The oldest and most responsible of God's servants on that day took the place of the servant of all. "I am among you as one that serveth." Is it not then a very strange coincidence that the King Himself would come down and down and down, and then take upon Himself the form of a servant and be amongst His brethren as one that serves? Wouldn't it be a very wonderful thing if in all our relationship with each other as the servants of God and people of God, we drank deeply of this spirit, that the mind that was in Christ Jesus might be in us and that the spirit of service would rule in every little church, in every little group of God's people, in every group of God's servants, where if there is any competition at all, it would be in competition for the place of service?


One more illustration:  Do you remember the last night of His life in that upper room? It was customary in those days for the younger, or the least in a group, to take the place of a slave and wash the dirty feet of the rest of the company. On that night Jesus waited and waited for some of them to take the place of the servant. He thought perhaps John might do that, or Bartholomew, or Peter, but He was disappointed and we are told He rose from supper and He girded Himself and He got a basin and took a towel and went around and washed the dirty feet of these disciples. I can understand Peter's protests, but Jesus made clear he had to learn this lesson and learn it well or he had no part. Peter said, "Wash me hand and foot." He could not bear the thought of being separated from Jesus. Jesus said, "I have left thee an example." Would it not be a very wonderful thing if throughout the coming year we would recognize this Kingdom of God of which we form a part, is a Kingdom of sacrifice, that it's a reign of love, and not law, and it's a Kingdom where all serve and none rule? That was the idea in the heart of Jesus. May God grant that each of us may have grace to fill our appointed place so that the future of our lives will bring more honor to God and blessing to men, for His Name's sake.