Strength to Strength welcomed John D. Martin to discuss his favorite topic, the Kingdom of God.

God’s kingdom here on earth is to be a colony of heaven that demonstrates how God intends the whole world to be. However, as humans there are times that we fail in being ambassadors that represent our nation well. After laying the groundwork for this marvelous kingdom, John will then look at three challenges we face in making this a credible present reality: two kingdom confusion, two kingdom clarification, and two kingdom caution.

An interactive question-and-answer period follows.

Credit: In this Talk, John D. Martin shares the “Eight Powerful Effects of the Kingdom” by John Piper.

John D Martin pic

John D. Martin is an itinerant Bible teacher with interests in a diversity of Christian topics including church history, economics, music, and church as community. He compiled the hymnbook Hymns of the Church.

One of John’s passions is to help people see that the main theme of Scripture is not the “scarlet thread” of Jesus’ atonement, but rather the Kingdom of God; our salvation is a means to and end, the end being the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is intended to demonstrate the excellence of God’s character and his manifold wisdom, and this theme runs through the entire Bible.

He lives in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and is a part of Shippensburg Christian Fellowship.

This presentation is part of a series called “Thy Kingdom Come.” Be sure to follow the entire series:


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Transcription

Introduction by Sam Baer

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us again this morning for another episode of Strength to Strength.
Our goal here at Strength to Strength is to offer resources that will help strengthen your love-faith relationship with Jesus Christ
and give you a solid footing in a shaky world.

And part of that, as some of you know, we do have a bookstore at https://strengthtostrength.org/, and we’re offering new titles there all the time. And our latest would be an author interview that we did with Gary Miller on the book Sidetracked, which is “How power and politics distract us from our mission.” I found this book extremely helpful in refocusing, or removing any doubt in my mind about, where our loyalties lie and what the effective means of bringing about change in the world is, and that is in the kingdom of God. So if you’re interested in any of the titles that we have, go over to https://strengthtostrength.org/. We’re putting new ones up there all the time. Also, if you’re a call-in listener, you can email us at contact@strengthtostrength.org, and we’ll send you a flyer with all our books.

And we can also provide you a flyer with all the art-recorded talks that we have here on Strength to Strength.
And it’s just another means of providing resources that will help you in your walk with Christ.

So this morning we have Brother John D. sharing with us on the kingdom of God. And this is the first talk of a four-part series. We will have a talk this afternoon at 3 o’clock. Brother Paul Garber will actually be bringing that. And the series is called “Thy Kingdom Come.”

We’re launching into a new year. And I don’t think there’s any other worthy topic but to talk about our King Jesus Christ and his kingdom to get this year started. We’re excited to have Brother John D join us again with a message that I know that he’s very passionate about. I’m sure many of you have heard him speak on the kingdom of God before. And I’m excited to hear what he has to say for us this morning. But before we get started, let’s bow our heads for a word of prayer.

Eternal Father in Heaven, we come to you this morning with joy and gratitude that you have reached down in love and shown us your will through your written word, and through the life of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We are so grateful for salvation. We are so grateful for the way that we can enter into your kingdom and that we can live in peace and harmony with you and with one another. Father, we want to do this more perfectly every day so that the world can know that you love them and that you’ve sent your only begotten Son to redeem them. And that we, as humans, we can know you and love you and live in harmony with you.

Be with Brother John as he shares this message this morning. Lord, I pray that he would have an anointing and that the Holy Spirit would move his heart and mind to share this message that is so impactful.

And Lord, fill us with zeal to bring your kingdom in the communities that we live and then work alongside the Holy Spirit in showing people that there’s a better way, that there is a way that we were created to live.

Father, I just pray for each soul that is listening. May their hearts rejoice at the message of the kingdom.

We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Go ahead, Brother John.

Topic by John D. Martin

Well, good morning.

The title of the message is “God’s Kingdom Vision for the World.”

And it is interesting when I was preparing this message to give at CAM Day a few months ago, somebody reacted to an article that was published, an article of mine on the kingdom. And they really reacted to my statement that our personal salvation is a means to the end, and the end is the kingdom of God, and we should not make our personal salvation an end in itself.

I still stand by that statement, but that really troubled them because they felt that there should be a primary emphasis on our own personal salvation and holiness. And they felt that my message would cause people to veer into what they knew as the social gospel.

And so that really piqued my interest in finally researching what is the social gospel that people talk about. What was it? So I want to speak this morning about the difference between the social gospel movement and the kingdom of God as Jesus taught it.

Now Jesus always called his message “The Kingdom of God.” I don’t think he ever called it anything else. And so like I said, I will stand by my insistence that that is finally the result of our personal salvation.

So I want to give three points this morning.

  1. Two Kingdom Confusion.
  2. And then we’ll talk about a Two Kingdom Clarification.
  3. And then we’ll finally talk about Two Kingdom Cautions.

The Two Kingdom Confusion is because Jesus made a statement that involves two aspects.

He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength and thy neighbors thyself.” There has been a tendency to create a polarization. There have been people that said we really should not be focusing on the practical needs of the world, because those people we maybe can help them live a few more years, but they’re going to go to hell if we don’t get them saved. And so we’re not really going to spend much time helping people with their physical problems. We want to make sure that they’re ready to go to heaven. And so we’re just going to focus on that pretty exclusively.

And that’s not an exaggeration. I actually attended a conference in Belgium when I was in Europe back in 1967. And I won’t name the institution. It would be one familiar probably to some of you. And they had an evening message on that very point. They said, “We don’t have any clinics. We don’t have any practical help that we give to anybody. We don’t feed the hungry. We don’t do any of those things. We’re out there just passionately trying to get people ready to go to heaven when they die. And that’s really what we need to focus on.”

And so before the Civil War, that was a pretty common emphasis. People were not really so much concerned about the poor and the needy around them as they should have been. I mean obviously, the true Christians have always been interested in humanitarian issues. But before the Civil War, the emphasis of most churches was on loving God, almost to the exclusion of the second half of Jesus’ statement. They were focused on personal salvation, getting people ready to go to heaven.

And so after the Civil War then, we had the industrialization of society. And then people began to see some real problems. You had unprecedented prosperity. You had massive wealth to investors like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. They were known as the robber barons. And the reason they were known for that is because of the way people got treated.
You had Vanderbilt. You had these very, very wealthy people. And you had people working in factories that were practically slaves.

In fact, during the Civil War, that was the accusation of the South. They said, “Well, you’re blaming us for having slaves, but you buy our cotton and you want to buy it cheap. So we have to have slaves to give you the cheap cotton you want. And you have factories where people actually are treated worse than we treat our slaves. Your employees are working in dangerous conditions, unregulated work hours.”

And many churches were pretty detached from the suffering that was involved. And so if you talk to them, they would give you this justification. They would say, “Well, Jesus said the poor you always have with you.” And so that’s just the way society is.

But there were some sensitive, compassionate Christians that insisted that along with Jesus’ message on the kingdom was a tremendous ministry to the suffering and the needs of humanity. And so they started to focus on that, that Jesus’ ministry was to the suffering, the sick, the disabled and the poor. They saw clear commands in Scripture that said that our emphasis should finally rest there. And they would have quoted Scriptures like this one from Isaiah 58.

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen to lose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, that you break every yoke. Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house, when thou seeest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh.”

That’s pretty strong language. And so the emphasis began to shift. These people, they were well-meaning people. They were the Christians, so-called at least, and they wanted to obey this command of Christ. And so they worked hard with political means and other means of influence and pressure to abolish child labor, to abolish alcoholism, to challenge corrupt politics and business practices, to challenge racism, extreme poverty, establish an eight-hour workday, good education and health care for everybody.

These were good things, and they really did accomplish a lot of things. In fact, we benefit today tremendously from the changes in the areas which I just mentioned, because of these people. These were genuine Christians who were trying to make as many positive changes in society, and we enjoy those changes to this day. It was an inspiring vision that they had.

They had a vision of turning all society into Christ’s kingdom on Earth. And that’s what I did not realize, is when you use the term “kingdom of God,” that was the term they constantly used. And so when you use the term “kingdom of God,” you’re going to cause a red flag to a lot of people who know about the social gospel movement, because that was their mantra. They wanted to see Christ’s kingdom come on Earth.

And we sing this song.

We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on Earth,
The kingdom of truth and right.”

That was a social gospel song. Now, the interesting thing is we had those songs in our hymns. “Oh, Master, let me walk with thee.”
That’s a social gospel song. In fact, I want to read it to you. It doesn’t say anything about people getting ready to meet God. It’s all about influencing people to live better and being kind to people. Where is this here?

“Oh, Master, let me walk with thee in lowly paths of service, free,
Tell me thy secret, help me bear the strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move by some clear winning word of love…”

It was all about being a positive influence. I mean, you don’t talk about sin. You don’t talk about the devil. You don’t talk about hell. You don’t talk about people getting saved and going to heaven when they die. You’re trying to just be a positive influence in society.

“Help me the slow of heart to move by some clear winning word of love.
Teach me the wayward feet to stay and guide them in the homework way.

Teach me thy patience still with thee in closer dear company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong in trust that triumphs over wrong.

In hope that sends a shining ray far down the future’s broadening way,
In peace that only thou canst give with me, with thee, oh, Master, let me live.”


(12:36 to 39:40 missing )

And I’m going to talk about the
tragedy of the past.
I’m going to talk about the tragic shift of the past.


(resuming at 39:40)

“Joy is the infallible evidence of the grace of God within.”

And I said it on one of my other talks, “The root word for grace is caris. The root word for joy is char.” So those two are related. And the kingdom overcomes sadness and brings joy. I think one of the greatest witnesses is our joy.

Number seven, the kingdom overcomes aimless futility and brings purposeful living.

Some will be saved. I take great courage with the parable of the soils. Yes, there were three soils that didn’t bring forth any fruit, but there’s a promise in that parable that one soil does. There will be some seed that will fall on good ground. Some will be saved, but the war is not over. And our ministry will bring us into the suffering and brokenness of our society and we will suffer along with them.

Jesus said,

In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

So now the Two Kingdom Cautions, this is very short.

We should not emphasize loving God to the exclusion of loving our neighbor. I hear that a little bit in some of our Mennonite circles that we’re not here to give humanitarian aid. We’re here basically to emphasize the gospel of personal salvation. These two must be kept together. We’re constantly creating these false dichotomies that you go off one side and you go off the other. These two are very difficult to keep together. There’s a tendency to go off one side or the other, but God intended for them to be together.

So the first one is,

  • Do not emphasize loving God to the exclusion of loving your neighbor.
  • And the second one is do not emphasize loving your neighbor to the exclusion of loving God. Those two must be kept together.

And so my message to CAM was people are looking at CAM and they are, I hear some criticism, “They’re so involved in humanitarian aid. They’re not establishing churches. They’re not calling people to salvation.”

Well, I think CAM is, but that’s a warning that I gave at the CAM meeting. And that is, “Let’s be careful that we keep these two together. And there’s just as much emphasis on the means to all this, which is a resolution of the sin problem, which is selfishness. That has to be the solution. Christ bringing an end to the domination of self. Self is on the cross and Christ is on the throne.”

Do not create a false dichotomy like that Bible Institute that I attended in Europe. I remember sitting there horrified at what that man was saying. I was saying to myself, this is not the gospel that Jesus taught.

We should take inspiration from John Wesley, who focused on changing society by changing people. To our knowledge, John Wesley never got involved in politics. He never got up any marches or any pressure movements like people do today. He simply went out there in the open air and preached the gospel, preached his heart out and got people to begin to respond to Christ
and experience changed lives.

18th century England, historians will tell you this, was rescued from a bloody revolution like France had just had by the teaching of John Wesley. They will say it was the preaching of the Wesleys that changed that society. But it was not emphasizing only imitating Christ. It was emphasizing a changed heart. Holiness was one of the passions of the Wesleys.

In fact, John Wesley did not talk about the social gospel. He talked about social holiness. That was the term he used social holiness to explain his ministry. And if you ever visit England, you can forget everything else in England, but go to the Wesley Museum. When we went there, there weren’t very many people. They don’t think most people were even aware of Wesley or care much what he did, the significant influence he had on his society. But I was so impressed at that museum. There was nobody that missed his attention person to person, whether the person was poor, whether the person was headed for the gallows, whether the person was a slave, if somebody needed John Wesley’s attention, they got it. He had a real heart for people who were suffering, but also had a concern for people who were suffering because of sin. And so I think he had a pretty balanced message.

His life was one of amazing self-sacrifice. He published, I think, 200 books in his lifetime. Many of them were small, but somebody said that his income in our money would have been about $140,000 a year. The salary he took in our money was about $14,000 a year. And if you read his journal, he had a significant amount of that small salary away. But somebody said when John Wesley died, he left a battered hat, a shabby coat, a tattered Bible, and a society of converted people committed to social holiness instead of the social gospel.

And so I just want to encourage us, let’s keep these two kingdoms clear. And let’s focus on demonstrating what a society of redeemed people looks like. But let’s not veer off into leaving out the message that makes that possible, which is dealing with real sin and selfishness by the cross of Christ. Shall we pray, and then we can have some discussion.

Father, I thank you this morning that we can experience that vibrant, powerful, supernatural motivation and change working in our very hearts. And oh God, help us never just want to see the effects of that by imitation in our society, but help us to always keep it in mind there will be no change until people are changed from within. So just help us Lord to keep this message together.
Help us not to veer off one side of the other because it is a powerful message when the two are combined.

In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Response by Sam Baer

Amen.

Thank you, Brother John. I found that extremely helpful and clarifying. There is a tension, I guess, that we face, especially coming here to Calgary. You see a lot of needs. We were down at the drop-in center and it’s really cold up here. So we’re thinking about the 2000+ homeless people in this city. And it’s a tension that you walk because your compassion wants you to pour a lot of time and energy into meeting their physical needs. But that’s not the point, is it? I mean, we are supposed to have compassion on our fellow man. But, say you did get him set up in a nice house and it was nice and warm, and they got an income and all of those things.
You wouldn’t have changed that much for them really as far as their eternal souls goes.

But anyway, we’ll open it up for questions or comments or anything you might have to say after hearing that.

The question I had in listening to this and it came to me, comes to me numerous times in discussing, you know, people that, with people that I know that are pushing to bring about change through political means or through activism, I guess, “Is where do we look to bring about real change?” That’s the question that it seems to boil down to in my mind is, “Where does real change come from?”

Response by John D. Martin

Well, it comes from within, and those efforts to change society ultimately fail. Lyndon Johnson set out to create the great society.
He addressed education, he addressed poverty, and I forget there was a third one that he addressed. And he instituted all these programs politically enforced programs.

But we still have – Racism was another one. Racism is still here. Poverty is still here. Education systems are failing. The change was just superficial and there were some good changes made. I’m not saying that these people never do any good, but society just keeps going down. Society does not move upward like they say, it keeps going down, despite the fact that there are some some good things happening as a result of their efforts.

Response by Sam Baer

Right. Yeah.

I think it was Watchman Nee that said you could have a perfectly moral man. And if he hasn’t dealt with the the ademic nature, if he hasn’t dealt with the sin issue, he’s just as lost as, you know, as anyone. And I think that’s a good thing to keep in mind is we’re not here just to improve their lives for the sake of improving their lives. They have to come to the cross.

I feel like it’s, we sometimes seek what’s in the kingdom for the people around us without bringing them through the door to the kingdom, which is (unintelligible).

Yeah.

Response by John D. Martin

And Christians end up giving a horrible testimony. I mean, in our in our world, the conservative Christian right is looked at as a very harsh, cruel, unfeeling, unsympathetic group of people who want to just constantly go to war and kill everybody in the world that’s bad, and put down homosexuals with with abusive language. That’s how they see Christians, because the worst compromise that was ever made in the history of the church was the compromise on nonresistance. And I try to remind people that for two centuries, almost three, the Christians were totally opposed to coercion. They did not permit people in the church who were involved in any kind of violence or killing. And then that was compromised, just like everything in Jesus gospel has been compromised.

I think it was, was it E. Stanley Jones that said, “It isn’t that the gospel has been tried and found wanting. It has been seen as impossible and not even tried.” And so so marriage goes by the board because it’s difficult to live a Christian life in a difficult marriage. So the church made a way out. It’s difficult to tell the truth when it gets you in hot water. So then we swear oaths will tell the truth now. But otherwise, I might have a little leeway. It’s difficult not to put any hurt back on someone who has hurt you. It’s difficult to live without any financial resources piled up to give you a nicely feathered nest. Those things are all totally against human nature. And Christians now justify all of that.

But the worst compromise was the compromise on resistance. And it has brought a huge black mark on the church. I mean, because they opened that Pandora’s box, we had the crusades where Christians march off to kill Muslims. We had the Inquisition where people were torturing and burning other Christians at the stake. We have the conquest of the Native Americans in the name of Christ. We have the enslavement of blacks preached from the pulpits. We have the war to end that slavery where tens of thousands of Christians killed each other in both sides.We have the conquest of Latin America under the sign of the cross. We have all the Western wars of Western Europe for centuries where Catholics and Protestants and even Protestants fought it out with each other. These are horrible things that have happened in the church because of the confusion of these two kingdoms.

One of the things we need to have clear is Christians are always gentle and kind. They are not abusive. They are not coercive. They win by love. And I say to people, if you have to say something to people that’s going to hurt, and we will say things that hurt,
we have to tell that couple that’s living together, “If they’re gonna follow Jesus, they’re going to have to separate.” That’s a hard word to say. But let’s make sure that we say it kindly. If we have to say something hard, let’s make sure it’s not the way we said it that makes it hurt. But it’s just the words themselves, the truth itself that causes whatever pain is experienced.

Christians are gentle. Be gentle with all men. That should be our mantra as Christians.

Response by Sam Baer

Amen.

Does anyone on here have something to ask Brother John or a comment?

Response by Paul Garber

Brother John, thank you for that message. Yeah, I really appreciated everything you shared this morning.

So you had a list of things about the kingdom towards the end there. And you talked about we are not in the absolute kingdom yet, but we’re in a mediatorial kingdom. So we look forward to that final consummation of the kingdom. When the King comes back and gathers his own and renews creation and that glorious end where we’ll live in eternity in the new creation, we’re not there yet.
But we are in an, we could say an intermediate state, and I think you said it, a mediatorial kingdom, where heaven’s laws are here.
And we are to live as embassies of that final kingdom.

You had a list of things. We have a foretaste of that final kingdom. The kingdom brings joy and then the kingdom brings overcomes aimless futility and brings purpose and so on. Could that list be be posted or published on the final video
where it’s where it’s recorded on YouTube?

Response by Sam Baer

Yeah, we could probably do, we could probably put that up. Yeah.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: See description above for credit.)

Response by Dan Weeks

Sir, would you be able to name some names? Who were the great lights of the social gospel movement? Would you consider William Booth one of those?

Response by John D. Martin

No, William Booth was was preaching against sin and he was preaching the cross. But that is an interesting movement. When you think Salvation Army, you think of humanitarian health. It was a long time before I was aware that the social, that Salvation Army actually had a church. You could actually go to Salvation Army Church. So even though I think William Booth tried to keep those two together and I’m not going to criticize him for what happened, the Salvation Army has sort of tended to veer off with a little more emphasis on the humanitarian solution to the sin problem.

What do you think on that, Dan? Give us your own opinion.

Response by Dan Weeks

I’m ignorant. I don’t know. I’m trying to find my way through this. What are, could you name some of the other great lights of the social gospel movement?

Response by John D. Martin

William Russell Bowie wrote, “Oh, Holy City, Seen of John.” Frank Mason North, Washington Gladden.

Response by Dan Weeks

Thank you. That helps.

Response by Patrick Matthews

John, how would you mentor young people who are coming into service through the social gospel of today’s church? There’s a lot of young people that are arming themselves and getting ready to go into service, but they’re going with a heart that wants to convert people with kindness. So what is your, how do you, how do you mentor them into the next stage of the kingdom? Kingdom message.

Response by John D. Martin

Well, I learned this from G. Campbell Morgan. He said the way we attract, the way we get our message across is first of all demonstrating supernatural phenomena. When we are kind to our enemies, when we do things that make no sense to people like Nickel Mines shooting, the world then sits up and they’re ready to hear what we have to say.

So I think we should take the gospel with our kind humanitarian concerns, but we should help people see that the reason why they’re experiencing this kindness is because of what God has done in our hearts. And they can, they can enjoy the kindness, but they will never truly experience it until they let Jesus deal with the problem in their own hearts. So they can be people of genuine humanitarian concerns. So I think the sin question – I think we constantly have to trumpet the message that man is intensely selfish. And that’s another thing of saying he’s intensely sinful. And until that problem is dealt with, he will not make any progress living like the way it should be lived. Or, let’s say it this way, he won’t make much genuine progress in living like the way it should be lived.

Response by Patrick Matthews

My one I’m referring to is if you take a group of young church members that come to a specific place to learn about urban ministry,
they have two days and you focus on the social end. But how do you define or how do you really reinforce? Because unless you go up and hit somebody, and I know we’re non-resistant, we’re not able to practice loving our enemy because we created our enemy. So what do you do in a situation where you have 48-hours to teach somebody? What are the important things?

I’ll talk to you later about this. I’ll back out because…

Response by John D. Martin

No, it’s an important question. I think we go right to the Sermon on the Mount. The dynamic for all of the good things you read in chapter five, dealing with anger, dealing with lust, dealing with greed, dealing with dishonesty. The secret to that is in chapter six.
And that’s the spiritual dynamic behind the kingdom morality in chapter five.

And the interesting thing to me is the teaching against accumulating wealth is not in chapter five. It’s not listed with the kingdom morality. It’s listed with the kingdom piety in chapter six.

And I could preach all the Sermon on this. But Jesus starts out in chapter six reinforcing the three pillars of Judaism, which was almsgiving, which that’s translated in the Septuagint, sometimes almsgiving and sometimes righteousness. Setakah is the word. And I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but they say that that word is variously translated righteousness or almsgiving. In the Jewish mind, that was the real key to your spirituality, what you did with your stuff, and how you were responding to the people around you.

So Jesus reinforced almsgiving, prayer and fasting. And then he elaborated on almsgiving in the longest discussion we have in the Sermon on the Mount, which has to do with our resources. So we take them right to chapter six. Those have to be established in every heart, a genuine piety, a self-finally resolved. Does that answer your question, Patrick?

Response by Patrick Matthews

No, it just creates more, but we’ll talk later.

Response by John D. Martin

You need to put him on for the next talk.

Response by Patrick Matthews

I think I’ll just send you a Zoom link. We’ll have a couple of hour discussion. Thank you.

Response by Sam Baer

That’s good.

Response by John D. Martin

My message is we must never forget that sin and selfishness is the problem.

Response by Sam Baer

I think there’s a tendency sometimes, well not sometimes, knowing our own weakness is that when you become hyper-focused on meeting people’s needs, there’s a lot of attention given to you because you’re making a difference in someone’s life in a very physical, visible way, and it takes humility and grace to keep pointing to Christ.

The only means of providing this service is because of Christ, and I know there’s ungodly people who are providing services as well. And if we keep pointing to Christ, then that’s the answer for the sin, and that’s where the real change can come about. But to make sure that we’re out of the picture, in Christ’s address as well, you see the Pharisees, they blow a trumpet before their prayer, or they make sure that people know how much they’re giving and things like that. Remove us out of that picture and make sure that it’s only Christ that is seen in the social endeavors that we have to meet the needs of the people around us.

Response by John D. Martin

Yeah.

Going back to chapter 6 of Matthew, you have the Lord’s Prayer there, and if you analyze that prayer, it’s all there. Everything is in that prayer of this inter-dynamic that we’re talking about. Speaking of our witness, somebody said that after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, that the people in New Orleans observed that the people who came to help them were the Christians. It was not the atheists, it was the Christians. And that’s what we’re talking about. So I thought that was an interesting observation.

Response by Sam Baer

That’s amazing.

Is there anyone else that would like to make a comment before we close?

Response by Zackery Sensenig

I really appreciate your message, John, this morning. One thing I appreciate is how you said about the gospel is not just imitating Christ. It’s more about living in Christ with a changed heart.

Maybe you have more to say about that, but I really appreciate it.

Response by Sam Baer

Do you have anything more to add to that?

Response by John D. Martin

No. If you read “In His Steps,” it was about imitating Christ. And that WWJD, that was a big motto for a long time, but that’s what it was.

It was just imitating Christ and it has no permanent lasting effect in the end.

Response by Sam Baer

Yeah, there was a couple of phrases that I wrote down. I love the “heaven away from heaven.” It puts a lot of our interactions with each other into perspective and with the world around us.

How do we show our brethren what fellowship in heaven looks like? Well, there’s a lot of forgiveness and peace and I know it’s going to be different in heaven because our brothers will be perfect and as will we. But it does help with the perspective on how we live out our lives here.

And also, the church is not a perfect representation of the kingdom, but it’s a credible one. And I believe that is because of the seal of the Holy Spirit. And I think that is evident. It should be very clear where the power and where the glory is from in the church.

Response by John D. Martin

That credibility, I would say, grows out of our readiness to repent when we fail. There should be a real attitude of repentance.

Somebody said, “The litmus test for any church is this. Would Jesus actually feel at home in your church?”

Response by Sam Baer

Sobering question.

Thank you, Brother John, for sharing with us again.

I really appreciate it when you come on here and share your inspiration and are used in this way by God to help clear up some of these things that can be. We do so well at muddying issues that are quite clear in the scripture. And you talked about how we fall into one ditch or the other. I thought about how sometimes it seems like we’re trying to balance a magnet with opposite poles and they want to slip either way. And we need that hand, I believe it’s the hand of God, to keep us centered so that we’re not slipping to the one side or to the left. That we go to the world loving our Father with our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves. And balancing those two. And it is by the grace of God that we do that.

Response by Patrick Matthews

Can I ask one more thing?

John, so what you’re proposing is a non-commerce-based ministry. Meaning, and I’ve talked to you about this before, most churches that I know, they have to get one out for every two or they need to get two out for every one they put in.

So that magnet that Sam’s talking about is if you put in and put in and put in and expect none to come out. Is that the defining? I’m hoping that I’m getting this across correctly.

If we’re worried about receiving for what we did, then we’re really never going to meet what Christ called us to do.

Response by John D. Martin

You’re saying the focus is often on how many people got saved. I think that should take care of itself if we focus on our responsibility.

And I’ll be very honest with you. I’ve watched various ministries and their efforts in our society. And the fruit is pretty meager for people who are really trying to preach the gospel. I don’t want to discourage us, but I do believe we’re living in the days of Noah, and Noah basically didn’t have much to show for all his preaching. But he left a tremendous testimony.

And I think that’s, I think we need to quit beating ourselves up that we’re not getting more response than we are. I don’t think that should discourage us. I don’t think we should say, oh, well, we’re living in an end time society. We might as well just not bother.

No, I think we should redouble our efforts to get the message out. I would like to see us spread our witness better all across this country. And then whether anybody responds or not is really up to the Lord. Let’s try to perfect our methods as much as we can and be as out there as we possibly can. But I think it’s time for us to quit saying, “Well, I think if we compromise a little bit over here, maybe we’ll have better success. If we do this, if we have this technique or this gimmick,” I think we need to quit that and quit making apologies for the pure gospel of Jesus expressed with both of these in balance, and go out there and be our witness to the world.

But I do think we’re living in a very, very hardened society. They can go half a block down the street and they can hear a message about the tremendous rewards of Christianity without any of the disciplines that Jesus taught. And that is a tremendous hindrance to the gospel. And that’s what we’re up against.

Response by Patrick Matthews

Noah did save his own family.

Response by John D. Martin

That’s right.

Response by Patrick Matthews

Mission is: number one is family.

Response by John D. Martin

I know some people don’t like to hear that. But that is true.

Response by Sam Baer

The question that comes to my mind is, “How do you define success?” Is it by the numbers or the bellies filled or, you know, the people in the pews? Or is it the people who have been inspired to live an obedient love, faith relationship with Jesus Christ. And Christ stated, I should say, that few there would be that find it.

Response by Dan Weeks

There’s a woman by the name of Jackie Pullinger, whose testimony I find quite arresting. And she said, “If I can say this correctly, God, if I could spend my whole life and just say one of these people, it would be it would be worth it. And I don’t even have to know which one.”

Now, for a little deep background, she was she was deployed to the walled city, which was a cube of compacted squalor in Hong Kong. But she said, “If I devote my whole life and I convert one, that’s just fine. And I don’t know who it was.”

I found her, I got to her by way of Leonard Ravenhill. That’s how I got boosted into that. And so I find that her testimony is quite inspiring and challenging.

Response by John D. Martin

Thank you, brother Dan. That’s good.

Response by Sam Baer

Was it – I think it was John Whitfield that said, “Let me die and let my name die with me.” It’s this removal of my own need to be something or to have done something. And a pure focus on, “Are we are people getting to know Jesus Christ?”

Response by Patrick Matthews

I’m defining my exit plan that if I can, excuse me, I’ll use two terms influence or irritate. If I can influence or irritate somebody to do something to change their their life, then I feel like I’m successful if I leave with nothing and I give everything away. That’s good.

Response by John D. Martin

You’re good at doing both.

Response by Patrick Matthews

Irritating.

Response by Sam Baer

Amen. All right. I think we’ll wrap this up. I really appreciate the discussion.
I’ve been inspired and I hope that all of you have been as well.
We do need the help of God and our brethren to do this in a better way in a credible way. So let’s press toward that end.

Maybe we’ll have a prayer to close us and I’ll make some announcements after the prayer.
Let’s bow our heads for prayer.

Father in heaven, thank you for this message that we heard this morning a reminder to seek first the kingdom.
And to love our fellow man. Father, we have so much to learn in this and there’s so much bad teaching.
Around what it means to be a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ.
And not only are we working at being a light to a lost and dying world, but we’re also trying to teach others who have received bad doctrine what it means to truly follow Christ.

Help us to do it with humility and in no way seeking our own exaltation or seeking to be noticed. Father, help us to remove ourselves out of the picture so that people can only see Christ in the things that we do.

Thank you for each brother that joined us this morning. I hope their hearts have been moved by this message and that they wouldn’t be hearers only but doers as well.

Thank you for Brother John and his willingness to share this and to be used in this way to preach the word of God.

Go with each one of us. We want to humbly exalt you in our lives today and to reach out and show the love of Christ in whatever way you call us to. And if it is feeding and dressing and visiting and all of those things that humans need, that it would be done in the name of Jesus Christ, and to his name with the glory be.

We pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.

Thank you all for joining us this morning.

We actually have another meeting this afternoon at three o’clock Eastern time. Brother Paul Garber is going to be joining us to share on “Who Is Israel?” And again, just a reminder, this is a series called “Thy Kingdom Come” and there’s a four part series.

  • This was Part One.
  • The next three parts will be, so the first one is this afternoon, “Who is Israel?”
  • And then part three is on January 27th in the morning at six o’clock Eastern. And that’s “Kingdom Promises to Israel.”
  • And there’s another one on three o’clock in the afternoon on January 27th. “Kingdom Promises to Israel Fulfilled.”

And the thrust of the last few parts of this series are to clear up any ambiguity there might be around the kingdom of God in relation to Israel.

So join us again this afternoon at three o’clock at the same Zoom link. And that’s three o’clock Eastern time. And Brother Paul Garber will share on “Who Is Israel?”

Thank you again for joining us. I hope you have been inspired to pray that the kingdom would come and God’s will would be done in your community.

Go with God. Blessings on your day.