Now we come to the cross. The best place to keep your self is on the cross. Don’t claim that you have a good intention; that is merely an excuse to hide the self. Don’t say that you love the church—that is another excuse, another dwelling place, for the self. The proper place for you to keep your self is on the cross. Constantly, by the grace of the Lord, you need to tell yourself: "Little self, remember that your place is on the cross. Don’t go anywhere else. You were put on the cross 2000 years ago. Now go back to the cross and stay there. Don’t get off the cross. The cross is the place for you." This is the true meaning of the Lord’s word in Matthew 16:24. To bear the cross is to realize that you have been put on the cross already. Since the Lord has put you on the cross, you now need to bear it. One saint in the Lord said something that is very good: "If you will bear the cross, the cross eventually will bear you." Christ has put you on the cross; now you must bear the cross and keep your position on the cross. Don’t come off the cross, and don’t leave your position. Stay there. Eventually, the cross will bear you. The cross will not be a burden to you; you will become a burden to the cross. Don’t argue, don’t reason, and don’t make excuses—just keep yourself on the cross.
THE SELF AND THE SOULISH LIFE
Now we come to the last item, the self, including the soulish life. The soulish life is in our self and the self is in our mind. In Matthew 16:23-25 we find the mind, the self, and the soulish life. The Lord Jesus told Peter that his mind was not set on the things of God and that he needed to deny himself and follow the Lord. The mind, the self, and the soulish life are all related to the soul and in fact are in the soul. These things are absolutely different from the spirit. We all must learn to do one thing: turn to the spirit and stay on the cross. This is the way to grow, to be transformed, and to be fully occupied and possessed by the Lord Jesus. This is what it means to gain an extra portion of oil in the vessel, and this is also what it means to allow Christ to make His home in our hearts. This is the growth of the kingdom, the gradual coming of the kingdom. If we practice turning to the spirit and staying on the cross, we will be matured and the kingdom will come. After we have seen Christ, the church, and Satan as the power of Hades and as the subtle one, we need to see that the self must be kept on the cross. If we will turn to the spirit and keep the self on the cross, we will be in the kingdom. Eventually, we will experience the full coming of the kingdom.
In Matthew 16:27 the Lord Jesus spoke of coming in the glory of the Father with a reward for His people. This does not refer to salvation, because salvation is not a reward but a gift. A gift is free; a reward requires us to pay a price. When the Lord comes in the glory of the Father, He will reward us. What is this reward? It is the marriage feast mentioned in Matthew 25. The ones who are ready will be rewarded with the marriage feast. If you have the extra portion of oil, meaning that you are prepared, matured, possessed, and occupied by Christ, you will enter into the marriage feast as your reward. I am quite concerned that so many among us may miss this reward. They are saved, but they may miss the reward of the marriage feast. We have already considered the five foolish virgins who were truly saved, but who were not allowed to enter into the marriage feast. They could never lose their salvation, yet they were unable to enter the marriage feast. To be saved is one thing; to enter the marriage feast is another. To be saved is a matter of salvation; to be in the marriage feast is a matter of reward. How can we obtain this reward? It is by denying the soulish life, by denying the self, and by keeping the self on the cross.
Now we can see the bylaws of the two kingdoms. If you remain in your mind, you are for the kingdom of Satan. If you turn to your spirit, you are for the kingdom of God. If you stay in your mind, you are for the spreading of the kingdom of Satan. If you turn to your spirit, you are for the spreading of the kingdom of God. The spreading of the kingdom of God today is the growth of the church. If you stay in your mind, the growth of the church will be severely limited, even torn down, affording Satan an opportunity to increase his kingdom. So you must keep yourself on the cross. Then you must turn to the spirit. As you continue turning to the spirit, you will know the spreading of the kingdom until it reaches maturity. Once you have reached maturity, you will be in the full coming of the kingdom. Then not only the Lord Jesus, but you also, will be transfigured. You will be transfigured to be exactly like Christ. Then Philippians 3:20-21 will be completely fulfilled; our physical body will be changed into the likeness of the glorious body of Christ. That will be our transfiguration, and that will be the full coming of the kingdom of God.
In the kingdom there will be nothing except the Lord Jesus. There will be no more Moses and no more Elijah (Matt. 17:8). This means that there will be no more law and no more prophets. Neither will there be any more religion. Whenever the Lord Jesus brings in the kingdom, nothing remains except Him.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 26, by Witness Lee)