March 7, 2021 Who Enters the Kingdom? Part 9

Who Enters the Kingdom?

Part Nine

March 7, 2021

 

Read Matthew 6:1-15.

 

One thing that comes to people’s minds when they verse 1 is that it may seem to contradict what Jesus taught in 5:16:

 

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. [1]

 

Are we to do our good works so that others can see, or not?

 

There cannot be any contradictions in the Holy Scriptures. Since they are God-breathed and infallible, and truth cannot contradict itself (otherwise, at least one of the opposing claims cannot be true), there can be no contradictions in the Bible. There can only be what seems to be a contradiction. It usually only takes a little reflection or study to clear up apparent contrary statements.

 

In this instance, the Lord does not forbid the doing of good works in the presence of others. But they are not to be performed with the motive of desiring praise. Many good deeds that we can do are done in conjunction with others, so others will obviously know. Other good acts, though we may attempt to conceal them, will be learned by others anyway. Our Lord is concerned about our motives.

 

Again, our Lord brings in the principle of rewards as a motivator, as he does so often throughout his ministry. The words of Robert Govett are well suited here:

 

“The glory of God is the highest motive possible. But the desire to act prudently for ourselves, is a motive authorized and enforced by our Lord.”[2]

 

I have preached on rewards so many times that some may think, “Rewards again? Haven’t we heard enough about rewards?” Since we are examining our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, we must take notice that our Lord Himself brings up rewards time and time again in this sermon. He repeats himself! Since Jesus repeated himself, we must do the same on those subjects upon which he did. If we follow the Lord in this way, we can’t go wrong.

 

Rewards, and our seeking for them in the next age, are a good thing. Just as some Christians try to be nicer than God in their toleration of sin, others try to be holier than Jesus in rejecting rewards, as if it were something beneath them. Yet, Jesus Himself sought rewards.

 

let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. [3]

 

We are commanded to seek crowns and rewards many times throughout the New Testament. It is a theme that appears so often in the NT that it is incredible that so many have not seen it. The encouragement to seek rewards or crowns appears so often that it is just as bewildering why we don’t hear more about it. We need to emphasize what the Bible emphasizes and not emphasize what the Bible does not emphasize.

 

Let’s get away from any veiled thought that we know better than Jesus or Paul, who wrote a great deal about rewards and the seeking of them. The real problem, I think, with those who object to the doctrine of rewards is that they assess their own hearts as being better than they really are. Some think that their motives are so ultra pure that they do not need rewards as an incentive for godliness and obedience. But Jesus and Paul have a better understanding of how corrupt the human heart is. Thus, the desire for our own good turn and advancement is not wrong, but something to pursue…just not so much in the present but, rather, in the age to come. When we seek our rewards for the next age we display a trust in the Lord’s promises. Trust, or faith, always brings blessing.

 

Our Lord draws a great contrast with seeking rewards now to seeking rewards in the next age. It makes all the difference.

 

Reward is an alternative, or choice between two things. (1) You may either have it now, and from men; (2) or you may have it hereafter, and from God. But you cannot have both.

 

Jesus here affirms, that if we seek our reward from men now, we have here below all the reward we shall ever obtain. We must take heed then, that we do not live in such a way so as to lose our future reward!

 

Keep in mind that it is motive that Jesus is dealing with. We will receive some praise, and even rewards, for good done while we are here. We don’t deny others the blessing of blessing us. We may even enjoy any rewards that are given to us now. It is not the receiving of rewards now that excludes a reward in the next age; it is the seeking of rewards now.

 

2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.[4]

 

The Savior then gives an example of a good work – giving money to the needy. It is good for us to be reminded that giving money to those less blessed than we are is, indeed, a good work. It pleases the Father…if we are giving with the motive to please him rather than expecting to be well-thought-of by others. This is a comforting thought: when we give money to another, God is pleased.

 

The Lord says that those who give to receive praise from others, and then get it, will discover that that will be the only reward they will ever get. This makes one wonder about the practice of some Christian ministries to put the donor's names on bricks (if you give enough) so that all could know that they gave!

 

In verses 5 and 6 Jesus applies the same principle of giving money to prayer. Our motive must be right. We ought to be praying out of a sincere desire to please the Father and to see His will done, rather than to be thought well of by others. Then, says Jesus, our Father will reward us. Again, he holds out the divine motivation of rewards!

 

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. [5]

 

When we pray, especially if there seems to be a delay in receiving answers, we may think the Father either does not hear us or that he ignores us. This statement in the context of prayer shows that he both hears us and will do something about our prayers. “Sees” simply means that the Father is aware of what we are doing and of what we are asking. Seeing includes hearing. That we will be rewarded means that God will do something good about our prayer! It will make a difference! Therefore, do not grow weary in keeping your prayer times. (See the sermon, Prayer, 12/6/20, for help.)

 

Who will enter the kingdom? Those who are generous to those less fortunate than they are.

 

Who will be rewarded? Those who pray because they love to commune with the Father.

 

Then we come to the Lord’s prayer. Jesus is teaching his disciples how to pray. He teaches them to pray for five things. First, he teaches them to honor God’s name:

 

“Our Father[b] in heaven, may your name be honored,” (vs. 9, NET)

 

Since the very purpose of life is to glorify God, it is so appropriate to begin our prayers that way. I begin all my prayers by exalting the Father. You should also.

 

Second, he teaches them to have the kingdom in mind.

 

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.[6]

 

The kingdom was not here yet when Jesus taught this prayer. And, the kingdom still has not come. It came in a hidden way – in the sense of the king being present for a time - 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.

 

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!”

 

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.’[7]

 

From this parable, The Parable of the Minas, 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.

 

Third, he taught them to ask for their own needs. One need is food. But food is representative of any needs that we may have. From other examples of prayer, we may even ask for our desires in addition to our needs.

 

Fourth, he taught them to pray for the forgiveness of their sins. This part of the Lord’s prayer often causes evangelicals some confusion. Many of us have a clear understanding that we are justified – we have our sins forgiven – through simple faith in Christ. Christ paid the penalty for our forgiveness.

How then, is it that we still must ask for forgiveness?

 

The best way to understand the concept of forgiveness is to see it in two ways. There is judicial forgiveness. This is the forgiveness that the blood of Christ purchases through his sacrifice and also makes us children of the Father. By this forgiveness we will be able to stand before God on the final day of judgment, the Great White Throne, with a clear conscience!

 

But there is also family forgiveness. Things are not as they should be in our earthly families when our children do not confess their disobedience to us and ask for our forgiveness, so things are not as they should be when we do not confess our sins to the Father. We are still his children, but our fellowship with him can be broken.

 

God will forgive our “debts” if we forgive others. The debts to which Jesus refers are moral debts, that is, sins. 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. Jesus makes this explicit in what he says immediately following the Lord’s prayer:

 

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. [8]

 

I do not understand how a brother or sister can read these verses and still hold on to offenses! It blows my mind, to tell you the truth. If you still hold grudges against another brother or sister then you either don’t fear God enough or you don’t believe what Jesus said!

 

If you hold a grudge, if you hold on to your offense, then this means you have not forgiven someone. It’s that simple. And if you have not forgiven someone and you die in that condition, you will not enter the kingdom.

 

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

 

Fifth and last, he teaches his disciples to resist temptation and fight against sin in their lives. The first thing to do in this regard is to pray not to be tempted. When we are tempted we will, at times, succumb to the temptation (unless we have the strength of Jesus…does anyone here have the same strength as Jesus?). Thus, the best way to avoid sin is not to be tempted! We ask the Lord to keep us from temptation because we do not want to sin against him!

 

He teaches them to be delivered from evil. Some versions have “evil one,” referring to Satan. The word can be understood in either way: to be delivered from evil situations or to be delivered from the power of the devil. When one finds oneself in an evil circumstance – it could be almost anything – it doesn’t matter so much whether it is of men or of the devil. Evil is evil whether from our own foolish decisions (maybe being where we are not supposed to be or looking at something we are not supposed to see), or from the actions of others, or from the workings of demons. If we love the Lord, we want to be delivered out of evil. Ask before it happens!

 

If you do find yourself in temptation or in an evil predicament, then call upon the name of the Lord, out loud, audibly. And do it as soon as possible! My experience has been that, if I wait too long, I don’t call. If I don’t call then I don’t get deliverance.

 

Who will be rewarded? Those who are generous.

 

Who will be rewarded? Those who pray simply because they love the Father.

 

Who will enter the kingdom? Those who don’t hold grudges and forgive others.

 

Who will enter the kingdom? Those who resist temptation and flee evil.

 

How do we do these things? Do you know what? The answer is always the same. There are always three steps and I always give you the first one.

 

First, know what the Lord is asking of you. That’s why the word of God is expounded every Lord’s Day from pulpits across the world. Someone digs into the word and then shares what is revealed by the Spirit. This is why it is important not to miss the meeting of the church. God’s will is being revealed! Don’t just receive light one day per week, though, Search the Scriptures daily on your own, too. Come to know the will of God daily.

 

Second, when you perceive a lack in your walk with the Lord, do something! Do not be a hearer of the word only. Confess your lack and commit to do that which you fail to do. Or, cease to do that which the Lord forbids you to do. The Lord desires that you make a commitment to him. But never try to do these things by willpower. You will certainly fail. Rather …

 

Third, walk in the spirit. I cannot emphasize this enough. The reason even well-meaning Christians fail so often, and I include myself in what I am about to say, is because they try to live for the Lord out of their own human energy. We must walk in the spirit. This means to live by the life that God has supplied us with, not by our natural life.

 

One man of God has said it so well, that I wish to leave you with his words:

 

“This is not a common word given by the Lord Jesus; it is the constitution of the heavenly kingdom. Because we are His kingdom people, we can certainly fulfill these requirements. We have the kingdom life within us, and we can fulfill these laws, not in ourselves, but by the Father’s life and nature. Therefore, we must thank Him for sending so many contrary things into our environment in order to touch our being and to expose what we are so that we may be fully subdued, turn to Him, stay near to Him, trust in Him, and live by Him. Then we shall be the genuine kingdom people with the kingdom life for a proper kingdom living.”[9]

 

 

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 5:16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Robert Govett, The Sermon on the Mount (Schoettle Publishing Co., Miami Springs, FL; 1984) 133.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Heb 12:1–2). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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

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

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 6:10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 6:14–15). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] Witness Lee, Life-Study of Matthew, Message Nineteen (Living Stream Ministry, Anahein, CA)