Seeking the Kingdom

Jesus Christ was the greatest preacher that ever walked upon the face of the earth. He taught by both word and deed. We have recorded for us in Holy Writ the most beautiful sermon which was ever preached, preached by our Lord Himself, the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon Christ reveals to us the truth concerning the kingdom of God, which is a heavenly kingdom of righteousness, whose ruler is God through Christ, and whose subjects are God’s children. The last time that the undersigned wrote in this department we discussed the proper use of our time. What Jesus has to say in this sermon is very closely related, for a proper use of our time involves our life as subjects of the kingdom of God. Our calling with respect to the kingdom of God is set forth in Matthew 6:33 in His sermon on the mount where we read: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This passage stands in marked contrast to the preceding context in which Jesus warns us against the evil of worrying about material things. But there is no need to worry about such things because our Father knows that we need these things for our earthly sojourn. That for which we must use our time is the seeking of God’s kingdom. This admonition is for the youth as well as the adults. Let us take a closer look. 

The kingdom of God is that glorious commonwealth that God realizes through the blood and Spirit of Christ in the midst of the world. The world in which we now live is the kingdom of darkness; this darkness the result of the fall of our first parents in paradise. By nature all men, including ourselves, are subjects of this kingdom in which Satan is the king. Hence, our whole life by nature centers around “these things.” Just take a look around you and then at yourself. What do you see? Everyone is seeking the pleasure of this world. Note the large increase in recreational vehicles, equipment, and parks. Look at the time spent on sports in all its variety of manifestations. And look again at the whole field of entertainment. Everyone is looking for a way to be amused. That is only one sphere of life. What about today’s emphasis on luxury? The old stand-bys are no longer good enough; everyone needs the best whether he can afford it or not. That is right, the whole world is going crazy in its seeking and in its worrying about food, clothing, luxury, and pleasure. This, however, we must know, namely, that the kingdom of darkness which is characterized as such is destined to ‘be destroyed along with all those that are its subjects and seek it. 

We as God’s people must not be dismayed, as if to think that this kingdom of the devil is the only one in existence. God by grace through His Son reestablished His kingdom. That kingdom is now here, although it will not be perfected until all is consummated in the new heavens and the new earth. Nevertheless, it is here and we must seek it now in antithesis to the kingdom of darkness which the Lord hates. As far as this kingdom is concerned we know that God is its King. It pulsates with His life “for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Rom. 11:36. Under God is Christ, the blessed Mediator between God and man. As the Christ He was eternally ordained of the Father to this place, that in Him the fulness of the Godhead should dwell bodily, and that He should be the fount of every blessing for all the redeemed. In His blood He crushed the kingdom of Satan and merited the righteousness that could satisfy God. Thus, the kingdom of God is realized by the Spirit of Christ in the hearts of men. Christ alone, then, rules. As you perhaps have already surmised, the subjects of this kingdom are the believers. Into our hearts the Spirit of Christ must come to renew our hearts and dethrone the devil who has set up reign there. With this new life we belong to and are citizens of that heavenly kingdom. 

The youth today use a common phrase: “be right with God” or whatever else they happen to be talking about. Did it ever occur to you that that is what righteousness is? I ask this question because the kingdom that we are talking about is a kingdom of righteousness. To be righteous, one must be in legal harmony with God, that is, his sins must be forgiven. He must also be in spiritual harmony with God, that is, living in sanctification and obedience. Such is the kingdom of heaven where all is in harmony with God, where all live what they are by grace in Jesus Christ. 

This kingdom we are enjoined to seek. This means more than simply having our names recorded in the records, of some church. This means more than having a passing acquaintance with what is going on in the church. Again, seeking the kingdom involves more than outwardly cooperating with this or that kingdom cause, or contributing of our abundance to the church or some institution of mercy. Rather, to seek the kingdom means that we want that kingdom with our whole heart, mind; soul, and strength. We desire to live the life of the kingdom, serve its God, love its Mediator, and obey its laws. Now to seek that kingdomfirst does not mean merely first in the order of time—that is, first seek the kingdom of God and then we may seek other things. Nor does it mean that if we want to succeed in gathering earthly treasures, then we must first seek God’s kingdom. 

Positively, to seek the kingdom of heaven first means to seek the kingdom of God as the fundamental principle of all our life. This is not just for our fathers and our mothers, and for our grandfathers and grandmothers, but for you young people and children as well. Young people, you must seek the welfare of God’s church and kingdom when you seek a helpmeet. You cannot be seeking that kingdom by making an unholy alliance with the world or by being unequally yoked with the unbeliever. You must look ahead to the day also when covenant seed will be born, the church of tomorrow. Amalgamation with the world will only yield a seed that is fit for destruction; thus you will not have advanced the cause of the kingdom. And if you are not working at some job now, you are perhaps seeking employment or soon will be. Here too the principle of seeking first the kingdom of heaven applies. Why do you want to work? You answer: that I may provide for a family with food, clothing, house, and whatever else is needed to “make a living.” I also need work that I may support the church, the school, and various institutions of mercy. This is all true. But do you realize that you work in God’s world as God’s servants using God’s tools, and that all that is wrought must be rendered unto the Lord? That is right. Now do not immediately take your paycheck and put it in the collection plate. That is not what is meant by rendering all unto the Lord. 

However, in your work you must consciously labor to the end that the gospel may be preached in order that all God’s children may be gathered from the four corners of the earth. Then we will not give only of our abundance to the church. No, there must first come the church, whatever that may take, then of what is left we supply our family. God knows the needs of our daily life; He will supply them. The same holds true with respect to the desiring of a family. Why do you marry? You marry that together as husband and wife in the Lord you may walk in covenant relation before God as a picture of the relationship between God and His people, and between Christ and His church. Further, you seek to bring forth covenant seed out of which God will gather His children. But in this area we so often let our carnality show. One puts off the begetting of children so that both husband and wife can work in order that “these things” may be paid for. As soon as the house, the car, the furniture, etc., are paid for, then we can think about the expense of children; Covenant youth, please do not look forward in your life with these ideas in your mind. See how selfish and self-centered they are? God’s kingdom must be the governing principle in our lives which will dictate the way you and I must go. To say that the children have to wait so that you can have “these things” is telling God that you are more concerned about yourself than about Him. Thus, top priority in our lives must be given to the church in order that the gospel may be preached, the gospel which is God’s power unto salvation, salvation which is necessary to enter into the heavenly kingdom. Top priority must also be given to the instruction of the covenant seed which God pleases to give unto us. Not just any instruction, but instruction which is covenantal. The old excuse of “I can not afford it” simply does not hold. Covenant instruction is included in our calling to seek first the kingdom of God. This may mean less of “these things” or going to the deacons, but it is our calling, and one which God always gives us the means to fulfill. We do not always see this, but that is the way of faith. It belongs to the righteousness of the kingdom to labor with all our might and talents for the temporal maintenance which God has entrusted to our care. But while we do so we do not set our hearts on these things, but on the kingdom of God. We do not seekthings that are below, but of the kingdom of God. 

Living a life of seeking the kingdom is not without fruit. Jesus, in the same passage in which He admonishes us to seek first the kingdom of heaven, tells us that by so doing “all these things shall be added unto you.” Christ is speaking about food, drink, and clothing, the things that the Gentiles seek, but we are exhorted not to seek God, you understand, created us; He knows what our bodies need. He has so ordained them that they are to be sustained by earthly bread, etc. Then we can conclude that as long as God has a purpose for us here on the earth He also will provide the means whereby we are sustained. Therefore, we may not worry about them, for they will be added unto you and me. This certainly is not a guarantee that because we seek the kingdom we are going to have an abundance of earthly goods—in other words, that it pays to be a Christian. That is not true and that is not our experience, for as a rule it does not pay to be a Christian. It does not take long for us to recognize that the vast bulk of the earthly treasures are in the hands of the ungodly. In fact the Bible teaches that the believer will have less because the world will hate him to the point where he will not be able to buy or to sell. But Christ gives us the assurance that we shall not want, as far as our temporal needs are concerned, because our Father in heaven knows we have need of them and will provide them. He will accomplish that through the means of your daily work; and if not, then He has other means. We may have to turn to the diaconate; if so, that is the way of God. Whatever the case may be, we will always have enough to carry us to the end of our pilgrimage. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Therefore, young people, do not worry about these things, but seek ye first the kingdom of heaven. Pray unto the Lord for your daily bread and be satisfied with that. Being content in the Lord is a fruit of seeking the kingdom; we will have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Trust in the Lord and He shall direct thy paths.