January 24, 2021 Who Enters the Kingdom? Part 3

Who Enters the Kingdom?

Part Three

January 24, 2021

 

We have been considering our Lord’s famous Sermon on the Mount. In order to properly understand our Lord’s sermon we took note of a few things.

 

First, we saw that this sermon is for his disciples. It is not for the general crowd, although they will follow the disciples up the mountain and they will hear what he has to say. Because it is for his disciples, it is for us. Because we are also the Lord’s disciples.

 

Second, we saw that the theme of the sermon is entering the kingdom. Our Lord’s great message is how we need to think and live in order to enter the kingdom.

 

Third, we learned that the “kingdom of heaven” is not heaven. Rather, it is the earthly kingdom that the Lord will establish when he returns to the earth.

 

Fourth, we learned that not all genuine Christians will enter the kingdom that is coming. Only those who are poor in spirit will enter. And, only those who live by God’s will as revealed in this sermon, will enter. (Those followers of the Lord who fail to live by Christ’s words will be excluded from the kingdom and must wait until the New Heavens and the New Earth to be united with the Lord.)

 

If we keep these four truths in mind, we will better understand this marvelous and glorious sermon of our Lord.

 

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. [1]

 

Only those disciples of Jesus who are merciful themselves, will receive mercy. If we do not receive mercy then we will not enter the kingdom. To enter the kingdom age is to receive mercy and it is also to inherit the earth. Our Lord uses a variety of expressions to convey the manifold blessings of God upon those who enter the kingdom or possess the kingdom (the same thing).

 

It is an obvious truth, is it not, that some Christians are merciful and some are not? Some forgive easily and some do not.

 

What does it mean to be merciful and what are the consequences if we are not? The Lord addresses this in chapter six.

 

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,

12 and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. [2]

 

The famous Lord’s prayer has, as it’s second request, the coming of the Lord’s kingdom. It still has not come. It came in a hidden way when Jesus came the first time. But, since he is praying for it still to come while he was here, it is clear that there is another, glorious phase of the kingdom yet to come.

 

Not only was it yet to come when Jesus was here, it would not come for a long while:

 

11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’[3]

 

From this parable, The Parable of the Nobleman, the kingdom would not come until the Nobleman returns. The Nobleman is Jesus. He has not returned, so the kingdom has not yet been fully established.

 

We are to pray that his kingdom comes! “Lord, establish your kingdom on this earth! Do away with the rebellion, the sin, and the cheating that abounds here now! May your will be done! Amen!”

 

We are to pray for our daily food. We live in a nation of abundance. It is easy to take our food for granted. Don’t. One day we may experience famine in the land again as we did in the great depression 100 years ago. Or, as some nations do even now. Thank the Lord for your food!

 

Verse 12 in the prayer deals with our being merciful. God will forgive our “debts” if we forgive others. The debts to which Jesus refers are moral debts, that is, offenses. For, when Luke records this same prayer he substitutes the word sins for debts.

 

If we do not forgive other people’s sins against us then the Father will not forgive us our sins against him. If our sins are not forgiven upon our death then we will not enter the kingdom of the next age.

 

Do you see how important it is to be merciful?

 

Who will enter the kingdom? Only those who forgive others.

 

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [4]

 

None of us have pure hearts. This is why we need Christ to cleanse us. Like righteousness, this short truth by our Lord refers not to the pureness of heart that we receive upon faith, but rather, to a pureness of heart that some people have and others do not - even among God’s children. Like righteousness, it is a pureness that is developed within the individual and is possessed as a trait.

 

Jesus is not speaking of pureness by imputation. He refers to a purity of heart that characterizes who we are.

 

What characterizes a pure heart? It is motive. What are the motives for the things that we do? An impure heart is one which has self-interest as the main motive for choosing an action. (What can I get out of this?) A pure heart is one that has God’s interest and other’s interest above our own.

 

What if we recognize that our hearts are not pure? Can we change our hearts? We cannot, but God can. We need to ask him to do so.

 

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me. [5]

 

This short but beautiful prayer of David we can make our own. The Lord can work upon our hearts and make them pure. For us, a practical consideration is checking our motives by God’s word:

How can a young man keep his way pure?

By guarding it according to your word. [6]

 

Because we have a fallen nature we need to check our motives often. Through reliance upon God’s word and the indwelling Spirit working upon us, our hearts can be changed from impure to pure.

 

Who will enter the kingdom? Only those who have pure hearts.

 

We have only considered five verses these past three Sundays from our Lord’s sermon and they were all short verses. We learned that:

 

  • Only the poor in spirit will possess the kingdom.
  • Only the meek will enter the kingdom.
  • Only those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will find satisfaction in the kingdom.
  • Only those who are merciful will find mercy in the kingdom.
  • And, only the pure in heart will see God in his kingdom.

 

Remember, too, that not all Christians are poor in spirit. Not all are meek. Not all pursue after righteousness. Not all forgive others. Not all are pure in heart. Therefore, not all will enter the kingdom.

 

You may have noticed something else in these short verses. They are demanding. They are short, but they cut you to the heart. So much so, that it is easy to become discouraged. If you are feeling discouraged, you are not alone. The teachings of our Lord had this effect upon people, even his own disciples. When he taught on the permanency of the marriage covenant in chapter 19, this was the reaction of the twelve”

 

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”[7]

 

When Jesus taught the high standards of God for marriage, his disciples wanted to give up on the whole institution!

 

It is true that God’s standards are high. Does he really expect us to follow them?

 

The answer is yes. If so, how do we overcome discouragement? For we will discover that we will fall short. Let us go back to the beginning. Not the very beginning. But close to it. Let us consider only the second generation of man: the children of Adam and Eve.

 

READ Genesis 4:1-7.

 

This passage does not tell us why God accepted Abel’s offering and did not accept Cain’s offering. Without taking the time to understand the why, we can see that it was so.

 

Verse 7 reveals God’s will even for fallen man:

 

7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” [8]

 

Think about this. Man is fallen. Yet, God reveals to him that sin is ever present and has a desire that is “contrary to you.” The New Living Translation does well to communicate the meaning of the Lord’s words:

 

7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” [9]

 

God tells Cain that sin seeks to control him. But that he is responsible to subdue it and master it! I find this directive by God kind of amazing because man is fallen. His nature is corrupt to the core. Yet, he is told to master sin in his life! With the greater revelation that we have received in the New Testament, we know that this is impossible. But, people are still responsible to seek it. Even fallen man is to fight against sin!

 

Consider this: if fallen man is to subdue sin, how much more the one who has been born again?

 

Whereas the unregenerate will fail to subdue sin (but even they can have a measure of success – consider those who overcome drug and alcohol addiction even though they may not be Christians), the child of God is promised victory over sin!

 

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. [10]

 

God himself – Paul’s inspired words – will sanctify us! He will surely do it!! Therefore, we do not need to be discouraged. Yes, the standards of the Mount are high! But God is able!

 

Our duty, especially if we belong to Christ, is to master sin in our lives. Don’t ignore it! Do you see what is at stake? The kingdom is at stake!

 

Today we saw that we must be merciful if we would receive mercy. We must be pure at heart if we would enter the kingdom. Pray along with King David:

 

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me. [11]

 

Press into the kingdom!

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 5:7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 6:7–15). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 19:11–13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 5:8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 51:10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:9). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 19:10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 4:7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ge 4:7). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Th 5:23–24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[11] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 51:10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.