Murray Article

from The Standard

March 1953

Meditations on the Kingdom

by Frank S. Murray

People often write for an explanation of this movement: what it teaches and how it is made up. These thoughts, taken from a letter to one such inquirer, may prove helpful.

MY DEAR sir, let me emphasize this--the Kingdom is not this man or that or the other. It is a movement--a God-ordained crusade that is far more than the sum of the human personalities associated with it. It is, so to speak, an entity that would survive and be vigorous if all of us now in it should suddenly die. This seems like a preposterous supposition, and so it is, but it is simply a way of emphasizing what is as real to me as my physical existence.

The Kingdom is an earthly projection of the reign of God in heaven, which fact is continually attested by His marvelous workings in our midst, independent of human planning. When the Spirit said to Mr. Sandford in 1902, "Renew the Kingdom," He was starting to lay the foundation for a structure that would not tremble or shake with the changing human personalities that might be at its head.

For half a century, of course, this movement was charged with the spirit of Mr. Sandford, the God-commissioned prophet who led its forces from the beginning, and at the time of his death there were those who felt that his work would perish with him. But as the months passed and the very opposite took place, we began to see that it was God's work, not man's, as Mr. Sandford himself so often used to tell us.

Not long after his death, I was stirred of God to preach a sermon on this theme: "The Reign of the Holy Ghost." He revealed to me at that time that even though the man on whom we had all leaned had suddenly been taken from us, it was impossible for the Kingdom to hesitate or falter, least of all to go down. He showed me that this movement was in fact what the Bible says--"a kingdom which cannot be shaken," "a kingdom which shall never be destroyed." He showed me that even though some of the leaders made mistakes, the Holy Ghost would not suffer those mistakes to endure, that His integrity was involved, and that He was committed to extend the Kingdom until it filled the earth and made it fit for the King. He further showed me that the countless good and sincere Christians now on earth must have a rallying point around which they could unite, and that He had elected to use Elijah the prophet to provide that rallying point--though the person of the prophet would be taken away lest people mistake the human agency for the Kingdom.

Alas! there are so many independent young Christian leaders! Zealous, fiery, magnetic, resourceful, willing to suffer persecution -- they can find no organized religious body that matches their spirit, so they strike out alone. They feel the thrill of pioneering, they thrive on opposition, and disciples gather around them almost automatically. Then middle age draws on, and they begin to do more reflecting. The question marks appear. Where am I headed? What is going to be the upshot of all this? Am I building for the future? Is any lasting good coming from my life work?

"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire." Sooner or later that dread fire attacks every leader's work, and what seemed a fair and comely structure will end up in ashes to the degree it was not wholly of God. Some of the saddest spectacles in Christendom are those movements that were gutted, so to speak, long ago, but make shift to carry on a lifeless existence within the burnt-out walls.

Mr. Sandford faced all this as a young man. Many times he declared he was not going to start another denomination. Yet converts should not be left to drift aimlessly. He prayed much over the problem. But not until God spoke and said, "Renew the Kingdom," did he catch the eternal significance of his work. From that time on he devoted himself increasingly to establishing for men the standard of God's millennial Kingdom, rather than simply proclaiming a mission gospel.

He did not cease Gospel work, not for a week, but he no longer confined himself to it.

There is much more in the Bible than telling people how to get saved. That is but the beginning. Afterwards comes the long and patient process of turning them to righteousness. He found that even among confirmed Christians much of the standard of right living had been lost and had to be restored. Things like simple honesty with other people's mail, honor to parents, proper care of our bodies, holy marriage relationships, rearing of godly children, separation from labor unions and all worldly societies, true patriotism, propriety between the sexes, and a thousand other matters where the Bible gives the only correct answers--these had fallen into the realm of every man doing what was right in his own eyes.

This current had to be met in prayer and by different application of the Bible to his life and the lives of his associates.

Then there was the matter of the fulfillment of prophecy. God had said that He would "be inquired of "concerning these things, so all that has been foretold concerning the Holy Land and Jerusalem, concerning the restoration of Israel to God's favor, and concerning the final enactment of the solemn scenes of Revelation had to be prayed over at length. This was done: day after day, year after year, decade after decade. The blossoming of the sacred Land in recent years is directly traceable to the seven years of prayer that the restorer's people spent in Jerusalem from 1902 to 1909, culminating in his voyage around the world to strike the shackles of hell from all the nations by faith.

Mr. Sandford's job was to apply the Word to all the problems of life, and to set an example that would merit imitation (in the scriptural sense) by every person of every race on earth. As a result, when his life came to an end the stature of his work was tremendous. People who are unacquainted with it can have no idea how tremendous. His followers were not numerous, but the quality of their souls was profound. They had learned to speak of "holiness" not as an experience or an acquisition, which a person either has or has not, but rather as a line upon line development that comes through long years of "patient continuance in well doing." There has been many a movement since the days of Luther that has stood bravely for certain parts of truth, and God worked through them to the extent they did so; but I declare without hesitation that none of them has stood or is now standing like the Kingdom for all truth. They were all more or less man begotten, man-organized, and man-directed; and simply because God backed them in part, leaders leaped to the conclusion that He would back them in everything. There is no deeper lesson for men to learn than this: that divine endorsement once does not mean divine endorsement always. The Kingdom was born of God, named by God, and disciplined by God; it has been perpetuated by God in spite of fearful persecutions and preserved by God without any rupture when its human founder and leader passed on. It is in every sense a supernatural movement that would as I say continue without disintegration if all its present members should die. Its foundations are not on earth but in heaven.

To many this will l seem like spiritual conceit. I know it. The real thing in religion is always so unbelievable to the natural mind that its claims sound like presumption. Think of that tired Jew by the well of Samaria looking a woman in the eye when she mentioned the Messiah and saying, "I that speak unto you am He"! It is with the same authority and with the same disregard for natural appearances that I declare these things to you. This ridiculed movement, whose very name has been a newspaper jest for fifty years, and whose leader has suffered the most shameful calumnies in return for Christian kindness, has the hand of God upon it, and represents Him to the human race.

In a sense shared by no other Christian work, and by virtue of God's spoken word in 1902, this movement is "THE KINGDOM."


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