Kingdom Excerpts from the
Writings of Peter Ridemann
Peter Ridemann writes: “You promised to give the heathen to your Son, so he would win mercy for their souls. For them he despised the shame, took up his cross, and carried it willingly. Christians, let us remember! Let us remember how he left his father’s kingdom, took on the form of a servant, and suffered great poverty. Who can measure such love? The King of Glory became the servant of man, setting for us an example, and calling us to follow him.
“Unequalled love—love that compelled him to die so we might live—bought us from the house of hell with his blood. Love freed us from death and set us into his father’s Kingdom. It turned us from enemies into friends. It opened the windows of mercy upon us and made us children of God.
“Let us walk in love, therefore, with our whole lives. Controlled by love we stay in God and God in us. Let us not take this lightly! Through love he caused the sun of grace to shine in our hearts and through love he gave us the Word. The one that loves God keeps his Word and obeys it in every detail. The pleasure of his heart is to know God’s laws and in serving God and his brothers he finds never-ending joy.
“God will not forsake those that love him with all their heart and mind—those that grasp his Word in faith. He will honor those that let absolutely nothing diminish their love for him. – Peter Ridemann
Peter Ridemann: Unity in the Kingdom of Christ
Unlike any earthly government, Christ’s Kingdom holds itself together through the miracle of heavenly love. Christ leads, not forces, all believers into the blessings of his reign, and keeps them there in perfect unity — as long as they love one another, loving him as he loved and gave himself for them:
“I will praise my Father and sing with joy! My heart compels me. Thankfulness for his com-fort and grace wells up within me, and floating on clear waves of pleasure, I simply cannot be sad.
“Neither can I be silent! I will tell everyone what my Father has done. Take it to heart and listen to what I say: My Father made the world and everything in it with the power of his Word. Sin spoiled it. Adam and Eve fell, but my Father gave them the promise of his grace. He sent Christ to tread on the serpent’s head, to tear the ropes that held us, and free us from sin. Christ erased our criminal record and showed us the way to life. He gave us pow-er, so let us keep his commands.
“Friends, seek Christ while he may be found! Do not defy the Father by continuing in sin. Struggle against it! Lead a holy life as branches of Christ, the true vine. Staying in Christ you will bear much fruit. Your light will shine, and you will show the world that you are children of God.
“Christ will testify before the Father in favor of all that testify of him before men. He will take all believers for his bride, lead them into his Kingdom, and his name written on them will never be removed. Therefore confess him, not with your mouth alone, but with works of purifying love.
“Love, more than anything else, will move you to work the will of God. The one that has no love believes in vain. His work is useless to God, and he will reject it no matter how good it looks or sounds. Take hold on love! Love is the food of the soul. It is our motivation. With love burning inside, we will never turn cold. Let it crackle and roar. Let it shoot up in light and flames to consume what is wicked in us! Then, thanks to love, we may please God and reach our goal. With the elect we may claim the promise of eternal life and joy!
“No eye has seen, nor ear heard, the wonders our Father prepared. So let us not pass them by! Not all that say, “Lord, Lord,” will be saved, but those that lovingly do the Father’s will. God lives in them and will let them inherit the treasure of heaven. With Christ they will rejoice, united in his Kingdom forever.” – Peter Ridemann
The Kingdom Way
Peter Ridemann believed that citizens of Jesus’ Kingdom demonstrate with all they have and are which King they serve, and for what cause they would give their lives. Christ walked the Kingdom Way ahead of us for one reason, that we should follow him in it.
“The Father showed us how to walk the right way, not like men would walk, but with love, in faith, like Christ. No hypocrisy, or vain “showing off” will do. God hates it. The religious show-off may fool himself and others. But he will not fool God. If he has faith it will produce good works.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God, but faith would not be complete without love. The two must stay together. Losing one means losing the other as well. And where the two do not result in works of obedience—works according to the will of God—they are dead. Simply dead.
“The Lord cursed the tree that did not bear fruit, and cuts every barren branch from the vine. So prove your faith with your works. Let godly love compel you and you will inherit life. This is the way to the Kingdom! This is the middle and safe way. Let no man teach you otherwise!” by Peter Ridemann.
Christ's Visible Reign
No such farce as an inner “invisible” Christianity appealed to Peter Ridemann. Loyalty to Christ’s Kingdom, he believed, would make itself evident in all we say or do. Even in what we wear:
“First, we say with Peter that the Christians’ adornment is not in outward things, putting on gold or fancy clothes. Rather it lies in the inner man of the heart, in a peaceful quiet spirit, beautiful, honored before God. With this the saints that trusted in God have always adorned themselves.
“ Christians do not focus on looking gorgeous, according to the world’s way of thinking. They do not follow the fads, provoke others to it, or take pleasure in them (Romans 12, Isaiah 3). For they know that by involving themselves in the world of fashion they would forget God. They would entangle themselves and get trapped once more in the kingdom of Satan.
“For this reason Paul says the Christians should not conform themselves to the world, but walk with renewed minds so they might discern what God likes and what he does not. The one that conforms himself to God and loves what God wants, puts off what is worldly and of the flesh to occupy himself entirely with pleasing God.
“To dress oneself up, to follow the fashions, is not a mark of the true Christian. To the contrary, it is the distinguishing brand of the non-Christian. All those that follow Christ lay off fashion. They avoid, detest and flee from it so they can adorn themselves with godly virtues. (1 Peter 3). Their citizenship is in heaven (Ephesians 2), so they must look and act accordingly. In fact, they can learn in this from the children of the world.
“Every worldly person wants to look like the rest, in the country where he or she is from -- desiring nothing but to please those around them and fit into the world. How much more should citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven seek to conform themselves to the land to which they belong! How much more should they adorn themselves to the utmost with the fashions of heaven, with the styles and customs of God to whom the hand of Christ has led them!” -- Peter Ridemann
Christ’s Community – The Father’s Kingdom
Real community (Gemeinschaft) with Christ and with one another, Peter Ridemann believed, naturally springs from the transforming miracle of Christian love. Where else, or in what else, would Jesus' brothers and sisters want to find themselves? In loving Christian communities, Peter Ridemann found the reality of the Father’s Kingdom come to earth:
“God lives with the pious. He likes to be among them so they may spend their free time with him, paying no attention to anyone else, and finding security in his love.
“Would you like to take part in this too? Bravely seize love! Dare to die with Christ. Do not let your possessions, your money, your wife, your children, or anything else hold you back. Give everything up. Surrender yourself to his will. Give your life to him and let him do with it what he wants from this point onward. Do not worry what will happen to you but find your peace in him. He will take care of it all.
“Your time and goal are already fixed. No matter how the godless may rage against you, they can do nothing to change it. Only take care you stand fast and they will not pull so much as a hair from your head. Just wait, and God will lead you through the sea on dry land, while Pharaoh and his hosts drown behind you. Anyone that hurts God’s chosen ones will pay for it seven times. For spilling the blood of the innocent, God will destroy them. But those that do right will receive their due reward.
“Let us go on with joy, not looking back like Lot’s wife! Let us not complain in the wilderness like the children of Israel, or take the plough in our hands and look back. Though all may despise us, let us press on! Let us count our suffering joy until the eternal Kingdom is ours!
“We know God loves and helps us. He showed his love for us in sending Christ. Let us not forget this but love one another in turn. With love in our hearts we will never grow cold. Loving God our names appear with Christ in his book of life, and made fellow citizens with Christ we will step into his community, the Father’s Kingdom, forever.” -- Peter Ridemann
The Kingdom Prize
Throughout Peter Ridemann's many years in prison for the cause of Christ's Kingdom communities, he eagerly looked forward to the outcome of his struggle -- God’s reward to the faithful who, according to Christ, should reign with him on a new earth, forever. He writes:
“Although my enemies try to starve me, God keeps on feeding me. Therefore I will trust him. He is my shield, my helper, the foundation on which I build. I hope in him. He gives me his hand and the grace of his protection hovers over me.
“Lead me, Lord, fountain of my spirit’s strength, light of my heart, into your house where I may forever praise your name. I cannot thank you enough for your grace. Let your love grow hot in me! Let it cleanse my heart and adorn my spirit with courage to fulfill your law.
“How could you forget me Lord? I am your child and I know you watch diligently over me. They burn, behead, or drown me, I know you will stay with me through it all. Of this I testify boldly to the world, not worrying what will happen to me.
“I rejoice Lord, to be included in your community! To obey your will is my desire. Your yoke is easy and your burden light to me. I give myself completely into your hands, so do with me what you want. If you let my enemies kill me, that is fine. I have given my possessions, my body, my spirit and life to you, and I believe that after death you will give me the Kingdom in exchange.
“I am very happy with what you do to me. Your faithfulness knows no end. Everything turns out well for those that hold fast to their hope in you.” -- Peter Ridemann
Kingdom of Grace
The grace of Jesus’ heavenly Kingdom, glorious and eternal, holy and free, shone above the imprisoned Anabaptists with never-ending assurance and mounting joy. A prize well worth living or dying for, as Peter Ridemann writes in this poetic selection -- one of many he wrote during his nine years in jail:
“We stand in sorrow and great need, Lord, not knowing which way to turn. The joy you gave us threatens to leave, and we are deeply concerned. What should become of us in this world if your grace departed from us? We would already be in hell.
“Renew us therefore with your power! Pour the glad blessing of your grace into our hearts so we may stand firm—so we may not go under in tribulation but overcome all things with your Word. Do not wait, Lord. Have mercy on us for we long with overwhelming desire for your grace. Arise and help! Now is the time! Do not let our enemies rejoice over us.
“Our enemies stalk us like lions, thirsting blood. Goliath stands before us. Prepare us like David so we may take aim, fire, and kill him with your Spirit’s strength! Ignite in us the fire of love for your Word, the flame and light of Truth. Then joy will overcome the flesh and the world.
“Be the helper of the fatherless. Come to us with your grace and lead us out of all temptation. Comfort us with the grace we need. Keep us in the hollow of your hand and show us salvation in your name. You are our God, and we your children. We cry to you because we trust you and expect to live in the pleasure of your goodwill and in your Kingdom forever.” -- Peter Ridemann
Christ—the Donkey-riding King
With a later English hymn-writer, Peter Ridemann would have known that “not with swords loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums, but in deeds of love and mercy Christ’s heavenly kingdom comes.” No earthly boundaries, no human politics, he believed, could possibly limit the extent of Jesus’ reign. To the contrary, wherever Jesus finds contrite spirits, submissive wills, hearts surrendered in faith and obedience to him, his Kingdom comes. His will gets done on earth as it is in heaven.
“You can have me, Lord! I hate everything but you. Here is my heart—I lay it at your feet and wait on your mercy at the door of grace. I want to walk in your way Lord, but will you not send me your Comforter so I may hold out to the end?
“I received you the moment you turned to me,” the Lord Almighty answers. “I have taken you for my own and will never reject you again. Turn now to the one that died out of love for you, obtaining grace for your soul. Take up your cross and follow him—then, rest assured, the Comforter will come!”
“Believe and hold fast,” the Lord says. “Persevere and you will be saved! Seal the covenant of your belief with the water of baptism, and the Comforter will wash your sins away. Of course, you must pass through the wilderness of temptation. You must fast and pray and resist the devil, before angels will come to you. Like Christ, riding on a donkey, you must learn humility and patience. If you want to break bread and drink wine with him, you must let go of vengeance and forgive, loving your neighbour from the heart, and holding Christ’s life as a pattern constantly before you. Into the garden you must go with him, saying, ‘Your will, not mine, be done.’ With him you must suffer violence and if they lead you into Pilate’s hall, be patient, unafraid, doing what is right unto the end. Do not worry what to say for the Comforter will stand with you. If they spill your blood, simply forgive them. It is a small pain. Commit yourself like Christ into my hands. Then, on the day of your resurrection, you will rejoice! You will be free from the devil’s bands! All sorrow will have ended and you will receive a hundred times what you surrender now.”
“On that day Christ himself will say, “Come to me blessed ones! Receive the Father’s eternal Kingdom I have prepared for you. It is yours forever because you confessed me, and trusted in me when the going was rough!” -- Peter Ridemann
Only those that get born again, Jesus said, will see the Kingdom of God. Knowing this, Pe-ter Ridemann held to one Way, one Truth, one Life in Christ that leads to eternal life with him. To inherit the Kingdom, he believed, was worth unspeakably more than whatever it might cost of earthly benefits in our time:
To follow Christ and reach the heavenly goal you must leave the world. You must renounce the devil and hate your own will.
“Repent!” cries the voice from the desert. “Repent and be converted, and you will find grace with God.” The axe already cuts into the tree that does not bear fruit. Soon it will fall. Fire will consume it and extinguish its life forever. But Christ says, “Come to me, you thirsty ones, and I will give you to drink from the fountain of truth. I will give you the water of everlasting life!”
The one that drinks from this fountain will never thirst for earthly possessions again. To please the Lord becomes his highest joy because the love of God has come into his heart. God’s Spirit leads him and he no longer walks on the path of sin.
The way is narrow and the gate small, that leads to blessedness. Few find it. But if we take up the cross and follow Christ, he will show us clearly where to go. Though the world hate us, the Father will hear our cries and crown us with eternal life.
May we inherit the Kingdom, Lord Christ, through faith in you!