THE KINGDOM BEING
GOD’S REQUIREMENT TODAY
The kingdom is too great a subject. In the past, we thought that the kingdom is a matter of reward. It is true that the kingdom is a matter of reward. However, it is not simply a matter of future reward, but a matter of God’s requirement today. The reason we need to repent and be regenerated is that we need to enter into the kingdom. The kingdom puts a requirement on man. It requires him to do this and that. The Lord said, "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens" (Matt. 5:20). This speaks not only of the condition for entering the kingdom, but the requirement of the kingdom itself. In the Bible, we see a rich young ruler who had a lot of money. When the kingdom put a demand on him, he was unable to meet the demand, and he left in sorrow (Matt. 19:16-22). The Lord also said that unless a man turns and becomes like a little child, he shall by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 18:3). This is not only a condition, but a requirement.
GOD’S SALVATION MEETING
THE REQUIREMENT OF GOD’S KINGDOM
In preaching the gospel today, if we put heaven before men as the first thing, our gospel is too low. If a man believes in Christ and is forgiven of his sins merely for the sake of going to heaven, such a standard is too low. The opposite of sin is the law. If salvation is merely for the forgiveness of sins, at the most it is to bring a person up to the standard of the law. The New Testament salvation is not merely for the satisfaction of the law, but to answer a higher demand. God’s salvation is saving us to a point where we are higher than the law, the opposite of sin.
The Requirement of the Kingdom
Being Higher Than That of the Law
Suppose two brothers are engaged in a business together, and suppose the first brother has taken advantage of the second brother. Others may say that the first brother is not right. This is the human way of speaking, but a Christian should have a higher standard than this. A Christian should say that if the first brother does not return what he has taken, he is not behaving like a brother. Suppose the first one took the second one’s clothing. Humanly speaking, it would be right and just for the second brother to reason with the first. But a Christian should say that such behavior is not becoming to a brother or a Christian. However, even to do that does not meet the requirement of the kingdom. The kingdom requires that the second brother, in addition to giving up his reasoning, give another piece of clothing to the first one (Matt. 5:40). This is the requirement of the kingdom. What Christians have to come up to today is the standard of the kingdom. What they have to fulfill is the requirement of the kingdom. Most of the pulpits in Christianity today preach moral teachings. The purpose of such teachings is to turn lawless, evil, unjust people into good men. But the requirement of the kingdom is much higher than goodness and righteousness. The requirements of Matthew 5, 6, and 7 are much higher than the requirements of the law. According to the standard of the law, the goodness and righteousness of the young ruler were high enough. But as far as the requirement of the kingdom is concerned, they were still far too short.
The Requirement of the Kingdom Being
the Ruling of the Heavens
As far as the law goes, it is right to demand payment of debts. Humanly speaking, it is right to be just, and wrong to be unjust. But as far as the kingdom goes, it is wrong to demand payment for debts. The requirement of the kingdom is not that a person cannot demand payment, but that he will not demand payment; and to go one step further, the requirement of the kingdom tells him to sell all he has and give it to others. Many people only know to teach others to be a gentleman, to teach an evil person to become a good person, and to teach an arguing couple to become a harmonious couple. This kind of sermon is welcomed by people. Yet, even if you are the best gentleman in Shanghai, you are still far off in the eyes of the Lord. Even if a man has not sinned, he still cannot enter the kingdom of the heavens. Those Christians who are living under the sense of heaven are those who are controlled by heaven. Man’s view is to remove sin and to go to heaven, but the requirement of God’s word in the New Testament is much stricter than this. God’s requirement is not a question of morality, law, the conscience, or justice, but a question of the rule of the heavens. The kingdom is a matter of God’s rule. Those who have a high moral standard may be justified before the law, but they come far short of the requirements of God. In order to satisfy God’s requirement, a man cannot take the law as the standard, but he must take the kingdom as the standard.
If the standard of a Christian’s living is his conscience, he will not be able to sell everything and give to the poor. At most, he will be able to be a moral person. He will never live out the life of Matthew 5 to 7. Today’s civil law would never require a person to give his clothing to others. The requirement of the conscience at most asks that a man not argue with others, and that if one’s clothing is taken away, he will let it go and will not pursue after it. This is the most that the conscience will do.
If an unreasonable husband argues with his wife, the wife can very well reason with him. If she asks any elderly pastor, she may be exhorted to be patient and may be told that unwavering patience is more precious than good treasure. However, such kinds of exhortation do not come up to the requirement of the kingdom. If the pastor is to present to her the requirement of the kingdom, he would ask the wife to love the husband all the more and to honor him all the more.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 42, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)