The Kingdom, by Witness Lee

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The transfer of the reality of the kingdom into the manifestation of the kingdom will be accomplished by the rapture of the saints. Most Christians realize that at the end of this age the Lord Jesus will come back, and the believers will be raptured. At the time of the completion of the age there will be two categories of Christians. There will be the real ones, the regenerated ones, and there will be the false ones, the tares. The false ones are the nominal Christians, those who are Christian in name only. These might be called the unbelieving "believers." Not only have they done much damage to the Lord’s kingdom, they also have become an insult and blasphemy to the Lord Himself. These false Christians comprise the appearance of the kingdom which will be burned up at the Lord’s coming back.


Among the real and genuine Christians there will be a further classification. Some among these will be overcoming Christians, and others will be defeated Christians. They are real Christians, but they are defeated. They are real Christians, but their Christian life is a failure. However, the fact that it is a failure does not mean they are not real Christians. Surely they are real Christians. Thus, when the Lord comes back, we may be either overcoming ones or defeated ones.

All of the overcoming Christians are in the reality of the kingdom, and they are the reality of the kingdom. The defeated ones, although they are the church, the called ones, are not the chosen ones. Remember the Lord’s word in Matthew 22:14: "For many are called but few are chosen." All those who are in the church have been called, but only those who are living in the reality of the kingdom will be chosen. When the Lord Jesus comes back there will be these three kinds of Christians: the false Christians, the real and overcoming Christians, and the real but defeated Christians. May the Lord have mercy upon us so that we would be neither the false Christians nor the defeated Christians, but the overcoming ones.

When the Lord Jesus returns, all of the real Christians, both the overcoming ones and the defeated ones, will be gathered to the Lord. The Lord has a way to gather all of them, or in the words of the parable, a way to reap His crop. To reap, or gather, the wheat is to catch it away from the field. The Lord Jesus will take us away from the field which is the world. This signifies that all of those who are real believers will be taken away from the earth.

Matthew 13:30 reads: "Allow both to grow together until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather first the tares and bind them into bundles to burn them up, but the wheat bring together into My barn." In this verse the Lord says He will take the wheat into the barn. What and where is the barn? The Lord Jesus was really wise to use such a simple thing as farming to illustrate the mystery of the kingdom. We all know the farmer does not live in the barn, but in the house. The barn is neither in the field, nor is it the farmer’s home. Rather, the barn is somewhere between the field and the home. It may be close to the home, but it is not the home. In this parable, the world is signified by the field, and the third heavens are signified by the farmer’s home. The home of the Lord Jesus is in the third heavens. What then is between the heavens and the world? The air is between them. First Thessalonians 4:17 says that those who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. It does not say that they will meet the Lord on the earth or in the heavens, but rather in the air. The air here corresponds to the barn in Matthew 13. When we come to these matters, we must exercise our discernment, and we must be alert. Do not be careless, thinking that to go into the third heavens is the same as to go into the air. There is a great difference between the two, just as there is a great difference between the barn and the home of the farmer. The barn may be close to the home, but it is somewhere between the field and the farmer’s home.

One day the Lord Jesus will come to the air sitting upon a cloud. Surely in the third heavens, where God dwells, there are no clouds. But in the air surrounding the earth, there are many clouds. "And I saw, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud One sitting like the Son of Man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him Who sat on the cloud, Send forth Your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe" (Rev. 14:14-15). Who is the one sitting upon the cloud? Surely it is the Lord Jesus Himself! And what is the sickle? This refers to the angels. The Lord Jesus will send forth His angels to bind the tares to be thrown into the fire and to gather all the wheat into the barn. Matthew 13 says the wheat will be gathered into the barn, and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says we all will meet the Lord in the air.

(The Kingdom, Chapter 39, by Witness Lee)