|Matthew 6:31-33 |
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or, 'What shall we drink?' or, 'With what shall we be clothed?'
32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need these.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.3 [Notice! To pursue the righteousness of God and His Kingdom is supposed to be the highest priority of your life — more than your efforts to provide food and clothing. Seek first the kingdom, which is peace, righteousness, and joy in the Spirit. Rom 14:17. To do so, in many scriptures, he told us, "Come to me;" come — not to sect services that claim He is in their building, not to prayer meetings, not to altar calls, not to read the Bible; Jesus even said that studying the scriptures is not coming to Him. John 5:39-40. We must go directly to Him; he told us us how to seek Him, the one thing that is needed: to sit at His feet and listen to His words that he speaks to us, Luke 10:39-42. We sit by waiting in humble silence, listening, and watching while thinking of the name of Jesus; when we hear Him speak to us and then obey, we are following Jesus. From the Word of the Lord within: "You can live in heaven and still walk the earth. Seek first the kingdom, and all else will be provided — provided you stay on course. He told us it was not enough to seek God, we must seek with all our heart and soul. Come to me, and I will guide the meek and lowly. God is not found going to services or reading about him. There is only one thing needful. Hear me, my children. Come to me, and I will speak to your souls. O seek the Lord you mighty, while you still have strength."]
3 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you. This is the commanded first priority of life, to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. Therefore take no thought, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or, 'What shall we drink?' or, 'With what shall we be clothed?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need these. Further Jesus said: Do not labor for food that perishes, but for the food that endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give to you; for God the Father has authorized and certified him with his seal... It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing... Truly, truly, I say to you, He who believes [depends on, trusts, obeys] on me has everlasting life. I am that bread of life...The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life-giving. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, Mat 4:4. From the Word of the Lord within: "Seek first the kingdom, and all else will be provided — provided you stay on course." If you don't make seeking the kingdom your life's highest priority, you will never see salvation in your life on earth.
In his sermon early Quaker Stephen Crisp, who dwelled in the kingdom, testified that in one day under the government of Christ, (in the kingdom), one has more joy, pleasure, and delight than a thousand days outside it.
Jesus tells us how: it is not by reading the Bible, it is not by going to a building and listening to someone talk, it is not by asking God for what you want. You must persistently and patiently go to him by sitting in humble silence, thinking on the name of Jesus, and then waiting on Him. You must wait on him as you listen silently, with the humility of a sinner in need of his changing power — grace. Wait, watch, listen, hear, obey... wait, watch, listen, hear, obey..... seek, listen, obey. You must listen, hear, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21. You must endure to the end, when Christ brings salvation. Seek the LORD your God, and you will find him, if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deut 4:29
There is only one thing needed, and Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:39-42. To hear Him speak to us, we must sit in humble silence and wait — as we listen to hear and then obey; when we obey Him, we are following Jesus.
From the Word of the Lord within:
seek first the kingdom of God
Where is this Kingdom you are commanded to seek? Now when he was questioned by the Pharisees, as to when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with outward signs to be observed. Nor will they say, 'Look here!' or, 'Look over there!' For behold, the kingdom of God is within you and around you." Luke 17:20-21. And God is in you too: One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Eph 4:6. God .. is not far from every one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being, (Acts 17:27-28) - but we are not aware of his presence until we seek and find him, because we are in a lower physical dimension. And Christ is in you too: Christ in you, the hope of Glory. Col 1:27...Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you— unless you are reprobates [tested, rejected]? 2 Cor 13:5.
From his Journal the following is George Fox's wonderfully inspiring, unparalleled Christian testimony of being translated into paradise and then the Kingdom:
"I saw also the mountains burning up, and the rubbish, and the rough, and crooked ways and places made smooth and plain,* that the Lord might come into his tabernacle. These things are to be found in man's heart; but to speak of these things being within, seemed strange to the rough, crooked, and mountainous ones. Yet the Lord said, ‘0h earth, hear the word of the Lord!'"
*Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth. Luke 3:5
"Now I came up in spirit, through the flaming sword,* into the paradise of God. All things were new, and all the creation gave another smell unto me than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, innocence, and righteousness, being renewed up into the image of God by Christ Jesus; so that I came up to the state of Adam, which he was in before he fell. The creation was open to me; and it was showed me how all things had their names given them, according to their nature and virtue. I was at a stand in my mind, whether I should practice medicine for the good of mankind, seeing the nature and virtues of the creatures were so opened to me by the Lord. But I was immediately taken up in spirit, to see into another or more steadfast state than Adam's in innocence, even into a state in Christ Jesus, that should never fall.** And the Lord showed me, that such as were faithful to him, in the power and light of Christ, should come up into that state in which Adam was before he fell; in which the admirable works of the creation, and the virtues of that may be known, through the openings of that divine word of wisdom and power by which they were made. Great things did the Lord lead me into, and wonderful depths were opened unto me, beyond what can by words be declared; but as people come into subjection to the spirit of God, and grow up in the image and power of the Almighty, they may receive the word of wisdom that opens all things, and come to know the hidden unity in the Eternal Being."
*So [God] drove out the man [Adam and Eve out of paradise, the Garden of Eden]; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep and guard the way to the tree of life. Gen 3:24
**There are two steps in perfection through the grace of Christ: 1st) to be raised up to the perfection of Adam and Eve in paradise, but still capable of falling to temptation, and 2nd) to be raised up to union with Christ Jesus, an everlasting perfection, which is incapable of falling to sin or temptation. Stephen Crisp, another eminent early Quaker, writes further of this two-step perfection:
For you know while the vessel is filled with wrath, envy, or with unrighteousness of any kind, such are not yet fit for the glory of God to shine forth in. When that is removed out by judgment; and Zion is set free from oppression, then the creature returns to God a pure vessel in the righteousness that was before the fall. So a man or woman may come to Adam's state that he was in before he fell, which was without sin. Against such the judgment of God does not go forth, but they have peace with God, and fellowship in what is pure, before sin and transgression were. Those who come to this state, may be entangled again; as was Eve, and if they do not watch, they may be entangled again; but if such are faithful to the power that redeemed them from the sin, and in the power resist the temptation, then such receive the seal of eternal life in Christ Jesus, who never fell, though he was tempted, and so come to an establishment in Him who never changes.
"Moreover, the Lord God let me see, when I was brought up into his image in righteousness and holiness, and into the state of the paradise of God how Adam was made a living soul; and also to the stature of Christ, the mystery that had been hid from ages and generations: which things are hard to be uttered, and cannot be borne by many. For of all the sects in Christendom (so called) that I discussed with, I found none that could bear to be told that anyone could spiritually grow to Adam's perfection, (that is into that image of God, and righteousness and holiness that Adam was in before he fell), to be clean, pure, and without sin as he was. Therefore, how would they be able to bear being told that any should spiritually grow up to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; when it threatens them to hear that any shall come, while upon earth, into the same power and spirit that the prophets and apostles were in? Though it is an absolute truth, that none can understand the Apostle’s writings correctly without the same spirit by which they were written.
The Lord God opened to me by his invisible power, how that ‘every man was enlightened by the divine light of Christ.’ I saw it shine through all, and that they that believed in it came out of condemnation to the light of life, and became the children of it; but they that hated it and did not believe in it, were condemned by it, though they made a profession of Christ. This I saw in the pure openings of the light without the help of any man; neither did I then know where to find it in the scriptures; though afterwards, searching the scriptures, I found it. For I saw in that light and spirit which was before the scriptures were given forth, and which led the holy men of God to give them forth, that all must come to that spirit, if they would know God or Christ, or the scriptures correctly, which they that gave them forth were led and taught by."
seek first His [God's] righteousness
What righteousness are you commanded to seek? His righteousness! See the definition of righteousness in Footnote 3 of 1 John 3:7. This is not strange because: we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, Mat 5:48; we must be merciful as He is merciful, Luke 6:36; we must become pure as He is pure, 1 John 3:2-3; as he who has called you is holy, so you be holy in all manner of conduct because it is written, 'be holy for I am holy.' 1 Pet 1:15-16; so that we walk as he walked, 1 John 2:6, and as he is, so are we in this present world. 1 John 4:17. There is no flexibility and no equivocation in any of these stated requirements. Jesus would not tell us that our first priority in life is to seek His righteousness if it were not possible; nor would he tell us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect and merciful as He is merciful, nor to be holy, unless it were possible.
Today's so-called Christians think they are righteous because they "believe in Jesus" or have been water baptized; in so doing, Christianity has made a mockery of the Lord's highest priority command in the New Testament. When contemplating those who think they have the righteousness of Christ because they believe that Jesus is the son of God, the Word of the Lord within said: "They throw the word 'righteousness' around without any understanding of what it means. They are filthy dreamers." All are filthy because their hearts are defiled with all manner of sins they still commit with disregard to the Lord's many warnings and requirements, and they are dreaming that they are righteous. There is an imputed righteousness that comes with the measure of faith received with the fruit of the Spirit, which is rewarded to those who have crucified their selfish, evil spirit on the inward cross of self-denial, but not before. Believing in Jesus is not the faith that imputes righteousness; see Footnote 2 of Romans 3 for the detail of imputed righteousness.
John warns us: Little children, let no man deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. 1 John 3:7. Jesus only spoke, judged, and did as He was prompted and ordered by God; to practice righteousness we also must be able to only speak what we hear Him order us to say and only do what we are ordered to do by God. This ability only comes after we have crucified our selfish spirit and sin has been destroyed by the Spirit through bearing the inward cross of self-denial; then we are walking the same way He walked and in the world as He was with perfection, purity, and holiness. So we must become righteous, like God is righteous. And Paul warns us: Do you not know that to whom you yield yourselves as slaves to obey, you are the slaves of whom you obey; whether of sin that leads to death, or of obedience that leads to righteousness? Rom 6:16. Man doesn't even know what righteousness is, until he is shown by God what sin and righteousness are: The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, Rom 1:17; faith, revelation, more faith, revelation, more faith...etc. No man knows the Son but the Father, neither does any man know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal him. Mat 11:27. Because what may be known of God is revealed in them. Rom 1:19. Learning about God is not reading about God, not hearing someone talk about God, for God is known by revelation in your heart, where you hear him and see him teach you about sin, righteousness, and himself. See Footnote 3 to 1 John 3:7 for the definition of righteousness.
Righteousness cannot be obtained until the Lord has cleansed your defiled heart of all lusts and anger: Flee youthful lusts; but aim at and pursue righteousness, 2 Tim 2:22; for the anger of man does not lead to the righteousness of God. James 1:20.
William Penn addressed the righteousness that we must obtain:
Christ clothes them with his righteousness, who receive his grace in their hearts, and deny themselves, and take up their cross daily, and follow him. Christ's righteousness makes men inwardly holy, of holy minds, wills, and practices. Although we have righteousness, it is Christ's; for it is ours, not by nature, but by faith and adoption. It is the gift of God. But still, it is not ours as from ourselves, for it is Christ's, being of and from him. Yet it is ours, and must be ours in possession, power, and enjoyment, to do us any good; or Christ's righteousness will profit us nothing. In this way was he made righteousness, sanctification, justification, and redemption to the primitive Christians; and if ever you will have the comfort, kernel, and marrow of the Christian religion, in like manner you must come to learn and obtain it.
"The Father is in you all, Christ is in you, and the Kingdom of Heaven is in you; there, in your hearts, is where you will find them all. Know him there searching your hearts, and find him there trying your minds and hearts; incline your ears, and give ear to him there, who will render to everyone of you according to your words and works whether they are good or evil," (by George Fox). BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. Psalm 46:10
In Luke, Jesus stresses hearing and obeying: Whoever comes to me, and listens to my words and does [practices, obeys] them, I will show you whom he is like.
He is like a man who built a house, and dug deep and laid the foundation securely built on a rock;
and when the flood arose, the torrent beat violently upon that house, but could not shake it because it was founded upon a rock.
But the person who hears and does not put my words into practice is like a man who built a house upon the earth without a foundation;
against which the torrent struck violently, and immediately it collapsed; and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:46-49.
From the Word of the Lord within: "We go to him, and he rains help on us; well does this exercise of God purify those who do. Come to me with the hope of speaking and acting righteously."
As you walk in paradise, you must be watchful against temptation until you advance the next stage: being born again and protected from ever sinning again as you sit down in Christ at rest in the heavens; then you possess the substance, Christ, with His righteousness, which is the end of imputation and end of belief.
As you wait and listen to the Lord, you obey what he commands you to do; thus, from the word of the Lord within: "little by little the will of God is progressed." You keep obeying his commands until he finally frees your from all sin, and then you are righteous; your obedience has then led you to become righteous by his grace.