The Kingdom of Heaven

From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He preached these words:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

~ Matthew 3:2 & 4:17

Throughout His teaching, He continued to speak about the kingdom of heaven at great lengths. Let’s take a closer look…

Jesus made it very clear that He is “the way” to heaven. Unlike some today who think there are “many paths to God,” Jesus taught that there is indeed only ONE WAY.

So what kind of person will get to be with God in heaven? Let’s explore a few passages of the Bible for insight.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

~ Matthew 5:3

Here, Jesus was beginning a message known as “The Beatitudes.” In it, He pronounced blessings upon the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, etc. In this verse, He was addressing a certain attitude of the heart. The poor in spirit refers to those devoid of spiritual arrogance, or ones who don’t hold themselves in higher regard than others.

A bit further, He adds…

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

~ Matthew 5:10

Here we note the indication early on in His ministry that doing the right thing won’t make us popular with the masses. Indeed, Jesus later told his Disciples that they would be persecuted, hated, and despised because of Him. Our faith is the butt of many jokes, and Christians are still persecuted to the point of death in parts of the world today. The more like Christ we become, the more this world will hate us.

One group of people who probably hated Jesus the most were the Pharisees. They were the pompous and self-righteous know-it-alls of their day. Yet these men were, for the most part, only good at looking down their noses at others. They knew the law, but they didn’t understand it, and Jesus shined a light on their arrogance and ignorance several times. No wonder they sought to seize Him and kill Him.

Speaking specifically of them later in this sermon, Jesus stated the following:

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

~ Matthew 5:20

Yet too many of those who profess to be Christians act more like the Pharisees. This is one reason why the church is often seen as a holier-than-thou club, full of hypocrites who look down on other sinners and think themselves somehow better than the world around them.

The truth is that, Christians are NOT better than anyone. We are not superior to others in any way. Still imperfect ourselves, we struggle with sin and selfish desires like anyone. Now, we DO have one thing going for us that unbelievers do not – by grace, we are forgiven. But we ought not think more highly of ourselves because it wasn’t something we earned – rather, it was granted to us through Christ’s sacrifice.

Our purpose as Disciples of Jesus is to help spread the Good News of this free gift of salvation. We’re here to bring more people to the saving knowledge of Christ. Rather than acting like the Pharisees, we should be acting as much like Jesus as possible, showing others how they can inherit the kingdom of heaven.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

~ Matthew 7:21-23

Clearly, Jesus drew a distinction between merely putting on an air of righteousness and actually living righteously in the light of His amazing grace. That grace is afforded to us by the blood, and it covers us when we stumble. But it’s not an excuse to live a life of sin. If we do that, we make a mockery of the concept of grace. It also shows that sin rules our lives rather than God’s word.

Getting into the kingdom of heaven requires us to walk a narrow path. Yet within that path, there is freedom in Christ. We know that if we make a mistake and genuinely repent, grace covers us. It’s all good. Jesus already took care of that. And our message to the world around us should be the same as His:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Author: stacemassengill

I'm just a nobody tryin' to tell ev'rybody all about Somebody who saved my soul! Well, I am a blood-bought saint of God - a sinner saved by His amazing Grace! God called me to start Great Commission Ministries online in June of 2011, and that began as a video series called "The GC." After 7 seasons of that web-series, I felt led to expand the ministry to blogs as well as a new video series I call "67 seconds of Encouragement." This site is home to my blogs, and my prayer is that it ministers to everyone who reads it. Please share this ministry with others and help spread the Good News of Christ!

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