Jesus is God and there is none else besides Him. For the Spirit of the God Almighty has declared saying, “But of the Son He says, ‘YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM’” (Heb. 1:8). A prophet of God once said of Him that His going forth is from everlasting to everlasting. Even if one does not accept this, His position does not change. For it was not because of man He is God. On the contrary, it is because of Him that man comes into being. Men separated themselves from this fact. And, it appears that many churches have become torpid concerning Him. They have not understood His nature. They did not know Him; much less engage with Him. If the Son is not God, His throne is not everlasting. Then, His scepter or staff too is not justified. But, if He is God, He lives on and leads people in righteousness. He makes righteous judgments for them; He clothes them with His righteousness.
God owns the righteous scepter. The Son possesses it in His hands. It leads people in life. To demonstrate the scepter, God in the former days gave a type of it into the hands of Moses. Moses was strengthened by it. It gave him immense confidence, the fearlessness of a horse prepared for battle. With it Moses led Israel out of bondage. The staff was of phenomenal worth. It liberated the sons of Israel in many occasions. It did not fail. God placed the staff in the hands of Moses that His power is demonstrated through it in righteousness. Therefore, Moses also did not fall back from prophesying that God will raise up a prophet like him from Israel in the days to come. He who does not listen to this prophet would be utterly punished. How natural! If this prophet, who later is the Son, is with the sole authority of leading believers into righteousness, it is not unnatural for Him to destroy those who disobey Him. Jesus with the righteous scepter leads His kingdom, i.e. the church, with power. For the righteous scepter of God has the power to prepare for Him a Kingdom.
The fact that the scepter is righteous seriously denotes that it is full of God’s power. It does not tolerate sin; neither is it powerless toward those that come to Him. It cannot deny them, because the God who holds it has loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. The staff of Moses that liberated Israel in the flesh came as a type to the scepter of Jesus that liberates the spirit of men from lawlessness. Men who are of righteousness are led by its power. When they believed, this power conquered their sin, weakness, and the fear that constantly enslaved them. Irrespective of what men say, His righteous scepter is able to lead us in His kingdom, since God through it does every work toward us. Had not God proved through the staff of Moses the power in His righteousness, we would not have the knowledge to hope in the unassailable scepter of Jesus.
Similarly, God chose John the Baptist and put His word in his mouth as a scepter that leads. “And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). What John insisted through His preaching was that forgiveness of sins is possible only through repentance that is by faith. He baptized those repented of their sins to confirm their forgiveness. For it was not baptism that gave them forgiveness, but repenting by faith in God’s call. Or else, the Spirit’s saying that a man is justified by faith apart from works is nullified. On the contrary, if baptism is faith, repentance is of no need. But, God who knew beforehand that works appointed by Him cannot cause repentance, called for man’s conscience to believe Him for forgiveness. For the works He appointed are to persevere in faith.
As John was baptizing, he was preparing a people with repentance for Jesus, who is to come with a baptism that is unlike his. By this God established through him that repentance by faith is needed for the baptism that belongs to Jesus. Hence, John became the forerunner or the one sent to prepare the way for Jesus. Through his preaching John accomplished two things. Firstly, prepared a distinct people for Jesus or the work of an evangelist; secondly, familiarizing baptism to men. The baptism of John became a type for the baptism that is to come through Jesus. It was a type, because the baptism of Jesus is for the Holy Spirit and fire. This is true, because John himself said that he must decrease and Jesus must increase. For this reason, the twelve, who were baptized under John, did not have to undergo a similar baptism under Jesus.
Great is the disparity between the baptism of John and of Jesus. While the former gave it with reference to forgiveness of sins, the latter gave it without reference to forgiveness of sins. Truly, by promising to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire God no longer associated baptism with the forgiveness of sins. Rather forgiveness is made available to us by faith in Christ. Was not Abraham justified by faith in God? And, Paul at one place in the Spirit also said that God wanting to justify the gentiles by faith preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham. At no point did God break the plan of a person being justified by faith. Now, had not God demonstrated through John the power in His righteousness, they would not have hoped in the unassailable power that comes from Jesus; and so would we! The power comes by the baptism He gives. This is Jesus leading His people with the righteous scepter. “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).
Look what great triumph did this baptism bring forth! There was much that happened since the time of their baptism into Jesus. They were led in power; received blessings and incredible joy. Hence, though they were persecuted, in the end, nothing was able to overcome them. The word of God was victorious and therefore, they were victorious. The great assurance that comes from baptism of Jesus is that there will be no defeat. We might run from foes and into dangers, but the power that works ceaselessly in us shall not defraud us. We might fall by the evil deeds of Satan, but we will not fail. For when the faith that provides forgiveness of sins works in us, we are once again prepared for the power of Jesus to work in us. He leads us with the righteous scepter. His scepter is for us, the Kingdom that believes in Him. It was concerning this type of believers that Paul joyously said, “For this reason we have been comforted. And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all” (2 Cor. 7:13).
What did he mean when he said that Titus’ spirit was refreshed by them? He did not mean refreshments to his body or deeds done to satisfy him. But, he was refreshed by the reappearing of Jesus’ power in them by faith. By this the power in God’s righteousness toward the believing was revealed. The baptism they received into Jesus once again took precedence. They were brought into life. They will be led by the scepter of Jesus. When they became weak toward Christ, it became necessary that they be made sorrowful for the sake of their salvation. Faith in Jesus provided them forgiveness. What I am saying to the churches is this: that when God said the scepter belonging to righteousness is the scepter belonging to Jesus’ kingdom, God has called us with a perfect plan. His righteousness has no weaknesses, defects or failures, but power. It is His righteousness that availed us the Son so that we are led, provided, and in times of failure raised up by Him for His glory. Those that have failed to understand the Son are the ones without power. “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Pet. 3:17).
Always be able to mark through faith the unprincipled men. For it is only through faith in Christ that truth about His kingdom is known. Truth is powerless without faith. And, a faith that does not reveal the power in God’s righteousness does not lead to justification. Without justification there is no power from Jesus. Many are the errors of unprincipled men. These men are like the men of circumcision who try to make a good display in the flesh so that they will not be persecuted for Christ. They teach the things they are comfortable with. They do not essentially bring forth the faith that justifies you before God. For the lack of such justification many churches are still in the dark kept under blame. The power of Jesus has not clothed them. If righteousness is not yet revealed in them, where is the opportunity for them to secure the power from Jesus? Now, they cannot even recognize God’s deeds in those who believe. Like the unruly Israel that persecuted their brethren, they persecute the believers. However, the power in God’s righteousness will not be weak in the persecuted. The word of God will spread much more rapidly. Whether under persecution or not, the justification that brings power from Jesus carries in them a righteous testimony. “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11).
For this purpose Jesus holds the righteous scepter in His hands – that we should possess eternal life from God. He who is led by the scepter has life in him. The power in God’s righteousness is at work in him. He has seen that His power is matchless. To such a one there is no disappointment. He is past torpidity. “Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves” (Luke 12:38).