The boss was complaining in our staff meeting the other day that he wasn’t getting any respect.
The next day, he brought a small sign that read:
“I’m the Boss!”
He then taped it to his office door.
Later that day when he returned from lunch, he found that someone had taped a note to the sign that said:
“Your wife called, she wants her sign back!”
If a string with a knot in it were stretched from earth to the most distant star, the size of the knot would represent the length of our time on this earth in contrast with eternity. We live in the realm of time for a few short years. Eternity stretches ahead in Heaven or Hell. Are you prepared for Heaven? Have you put your trust in Christ? Are you living for temporal (time) values or for eternal values.
All of us have values. Our values are revealed by the choices we make: by how we spend our time and money, by the friends we choose and the spouse we eventually marry. Our values also determine the church we attend and our involvement in that church, as well as the school we choose for our family. These choices we make will have eternal consequences. Whether we are the most popular student, or the most brilliant, or the best athlete, or voted the most likely to succeed; will in the light of eternity not really matter. What will matter will be our relationship with God and our desire to live for His glory.
For King Solomon money was no object. He tried everything life had to offer: including the search for knowledge, the pursuit of fun, wine, women. homes, gardens, orchards, and fabulous treasures he gathered from all over the known world. No doubt, he was a billionaire by today’s standards. As he neared old age, he concluded that his life had been vain and empty, a total waste.
How sad! Solomon had started out so well in humble dependence on God; but he blew it all by living for temporal values and ignoring God’s will for his life.
Jesus asks us a penetrating question recorded in Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
A typical day in the life and ministry of Jesus included teaching and healing as He journeyed to His ultimate appointment with the cross where He would give His life as a sacrifice for our sins and then be raised from the dead three days later for our justification. Romans 4:25
What was Jesus teaching throughout His ministry? Repeatedly you will see that Jesus was teaching truths concerning the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. Compare Luke 13:18-22 with Matthew 13: 31-33 and you will see there is no difference. The Kingdom of Heaven is the Kingdom of
Perhaps you are wondering why Jesus almost never mentions the Church. Was not the Church precious to Him? Yes, He loved the Church from before the foundation of the world, but the church was a mystery that had not yet been revealed. To Paul was given the great privilege of revealing the mystery of the Church which was born at Pentecost after Jesus had ascended back to Heaven. Read the Book of Acts to learn of the founding and early history of the Church.
To go back to God’s eternal plan for the Church, read Ephesians 3:1-11. To learn of the love relationship that Christ has for His Church read Ephesians 5:21-33 and see how Christ compares the love relationship of a husband and wife with the love relationship He has with His Church as His Bride.
Jesus had referred to the coming Church at least once in Matthew 18:17; but the most important truth He taught concerning the Church was the announcement He made to Peter that He would build His Church on Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, (the Messiah), the Son of the living God. That story is found in Matthew 16:13-30
That the Church is linked to the Kingdom of Christ is made clear in Colossians 1:13-19. In a kingdom there is a king and there are subjects. Christ is our King. We are His subjects. But the story gets better. Though He rules us, He does not rule as a tyrant, but as a loving husband. Read again the Ephesians 5 passage concerning the love relationship of a husband and wife. Desiring to obey God’s Word as His Bride is a far cry from “legalism”, a label of scorn that is often pinned on Christians who love the Lord enough to turn from their sins and seek to obey Him.
So if the Church is likened to the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God, then everything we read in the four Gospels is truth for the edification of the Church. In fact it is foundational truth for the Church as Paul teaches in Ephesians 2:20. Those preachers who withhold the truths of the Kingdom from their congregations are robbing them of their very foundation. We miss out on so much that God has for us when we relegate the four Gospels for Israel only, as hyper-Dispensationalists would teach.
Have you ever stopped to think how blessed you and I are as Christians in this Church Age? We have the completed inspired, infallible Word of God. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach us and apply to us the truths of Scripture. I believe we have it even better than the Old Testament prophets! We have it better than the Apostles and the other people who had the privilege of seeing and hearing Jesus! We have it better than the angels! Why do I say that? We are the most privileged because we have the full Word of God and we have the constant presence of Christ through His Holy Spirit living within us. I believe Peter agrees with me as he teaches basically the same thing in his first Epistle. Read I Peter 1 with special attention to verses 9-12.
Let me encourage you with Peter in that same first chapter, verse 13-16 to gird up the loins of your mind. That is, prepare yourself to think when you come to church. Get the rest you need the night before. Be mentally sharp when you come to church. Pay attention. What’s church all about? It’s certainly not to seek for an exciting emotional experience. It’s not to get a good feeling about yourself. We come to church to listen carefully to the Word of God taught by a preacher who has devoted much prayer and study to the preparation of his sermon. We come to church to hear what God would say to us about our lives. We come to turn from our former lusts and ignorance to learn how to live a holy life that brings glory to God. Anything less than that is just “playing church.” As far as I’m concerned, to go to church to play church is one of the most stupid games a Christian can play. I can think of a lot more interesting ways to spend a Sunday.
For more on the Kingdom of Christ go to the PROPHECY series.
Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry He taught what it meant to be in His Kingdom. Luke 16:14-17, deals with one of those occasions. Here Jesus is once again confronting His enemies, the Pharisees, with their self justification and abominable pride.
What was true of the Pharisees is actually true of every natural man or woman. All of us, whether religious or irreligious, think quite highly of ourselves and in our pride we are quick to justify ourselves.
All false religion has a system of ceremony, works and self righteousness by which worshippers justify themselves. Though the outward appearance may be impressive and seek man’s approval, the heart and motives are wicked. God who sees our hearts of pride and self-righteousness, says in Isaiah 64: “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”
Even those who claim to be atheists and reject the God of the Bible, have their own conception of God and feel quite good about themselves and their chances beyond the grave.
In Psalm 39:6 we are confronted with the fact that “every man walks in a vain show”. Isaiah 53:6 says that “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way.”
Thank God, Isaiah 53:6 doesn’t stop there. It goes on to say, “And the Lord hath laid on Him, (on His Son Jesus) the iniquity of us all.” That’s the Gospel (the Good News) that we preach.
How sad that the average religious person is quite proud of himself, his church attendance and his good works and believes that if there is a Heaven he will surely make it. He is totally unaware of the fact that in his pride and self-righteousness and rejection of his need of a Saviour, he is separated from God. Hell awaits religious people who reject the fact that they are sinners and who reject their need to trust Christ for salvation.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ Day
In the passage before us we see the religious leaders of Israel, the Pharisees, rejecting and scorning Jesus. They continually mocked Him openly and publicly, turning the crowds against Him and eventually pressuring Pilate to crucify Him. The religious people about whom Paul wrote In Romans 1:18-32, attempt to suppress the Truth and replace it with their own religious ideas; worshipping nature rather than God the Creator, as revealed in the Bible. These Christ rejecters descend to the depths of depravity, as described in this passage.
False religious leaders see religion as an easy way to make money. Peter prophesied in II Peter 2:1-3, they make merchandise of their gullible followers. False teachers are antagonistic to everything Jesus said. They reject the Bible as the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God. John 12:48 declares that those who reject Jesus also reject His Word and that one day those Christ rejecters will be condemned by the very Word they rejected. Spiritually blinded and deafened; their hearts are hardened to the Gospel. They cannot understand the Truth because they WILL NOT understand it. That’s the way it was in Jesus’ day and that’s the way it is even to this day according to John 5:40.
The Sinful Compromise of this Age
The only way you can get along with false religionists is to hold back the Truth. That’s exactly what has been going on in America over the past fifty years. In general, each succeeding generation of Christians have softened their stand against false religion and have compromised the Truth in order to form sinful, compromising spiritual alliances with them. See my series on SEPARATION for a history and explanation of this compromise.
This has resulted in the growth of the modern seeker-sensitive churches today with their emphasis on crowd-pleasing, superficial, highly emotional worship experiences while at the same time rejecting Bible preaching that exposes their sin. The Old Testament prophets faced the same thing. Jeremiah writes about it in Jeremiah 6:10-20.
A preacher’s responsibility is not to consider public opinion and give people what he thinks they would like to hear. His responsibility before God is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and to give people what God wants them to hear. I don’t question the salvation or the sincerity of many who attend these churches. They may be sincere. God knows. But I am concerned that most modern Christians turn away from churches where sin is dealt with and where Biblical standards are upheld and label those churches as being too negative and legalistic. Read and study the other articles in this series on LEGALISM and my series of messages on FREEDOM, a study of Galatians, for a Biblical understanding of legalism.
The Kingdom Age
There was no New Testament during the time when Jesus ministered on this earth. Thus there is no reference to the “Old Testament”; rather it was referred to as “the law and the prophets”. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ. He stands between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus introduced His public ministry by preaching truths of the Kingdom. To what was He referring? The present life of the believer under the Lordship of Christ and also Israel‘s future earthly millennial Kingdom under Christ. For much more information on the future Kingdom, I encourage you to go to my series on PROPHECY on this site. But for now, consider this present kingdom age for Christians under the Lordship of King Jesus. This is a much more urgent issue than understanding all the details of prophecy.
The Lordship of Christ
Salvation is simple and free for the asking. ” Ho, every one that thirsteth. Come ye to the waters and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat, yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1
You and I are sinners. Christ died for our sins. Come to Him, trusting in His blood sacrifice as the full atonement for your sins. Those who come to Him in brokenness over their sins, are forgiven and cleansed and given the gift of eternal life. They are, as the Bible repeatedly states it, saved! It cost us nothing! It cost Jesus His life!
Each of us who trust Him are challenged in Romans 12:1-2 to present our lives to Christ in total surrender, bowing to Him as Lord. In the light of all Jesus has done for us, He has a right to be Lord of our lives. To surrender to Him as Lord is going to cost us everything. Read these passages in Luke on surrender. Luke 9:23-24 14:25-28 Are you ready to make that total commitment. I challenge you to make that commitment and prove for yourself that His will is perfect and best for you.
Luke 16:16 states that taking this step of commitment involves “pressing into it”. The Greek word translated “pressing into it” is biazomai. The same word is found in Matthew 11:12 and is translated “suffereth violence”. The idea is that making this commitment involves a passionate response bordering on desperation or violence.
Coming to Christ for salvation, surrendering to Him and living in His Kingdom under His lordship, is not an apathetic event. It is not merely intellectual assent. It is such a passionate, almost violent event that nothing can stop us from a total surrender to Christ. We could liken it to the story in Genesis 32 of Jacob wrestling with a heavenly being. I believe it was a Christophany, an Old Testament manifestation of Christ Himself. As he wrestled with Him, Jacob cried out, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Salvation is like being pulled from a flaming race car that has crashed; or being rescued by a helicopter crew from a capsized boat in a stormy sea.
Surrendering to Christ results in a radical change in our lives. II Corinthians 5:17 describes this surrender as being a new creation and bringing us into warfare with Satan, the god of this world system. The direction of our life is totally reversed. We are motivated by new values.
Saul of Tarsus, who became the flaming Apostle Paul is probably the best example in Scripture of the radical change that takes place in the life of one who has come to Christ and is totally surrendered to Him. As he had violently opposed Christ and persecuted Christians before his conversion, so now he lived a changed life with the same degree of passion for Christ that he had shown against Christ before his conversion.
Two Amazing Superlatives
In Luke 16:17 Jesus contrasts two superlatives. Our universe is the largest and most powerful and the most eternal entity we can imagine. The Word of God is the surest entity we can imagine. Jesus contrasts this unfathomable universe with the Word of God. He concludes that this universe will evaporate and disappear before one jot and tittle of the Bible will fail. Jots and tittles are the smallest marking of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.
What a privilege it is for us to have a copy of the eternal, certain Word of God translated into our language! What an awesome privilege God has given me to know Christ as my Saviour and Lord and to spend my life teaching and proclaiming His eternal Word! The heaviest burden of my heart and my constant prayer is that God will raise up the next generation to carry the torch for Christ. How about you? What are you going to do with your life that will matter throughout eternity?
Whenever we repeat the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for Christ’s Kingdom to come and for Christ’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Is that really our heart’s request or do we just mutter those words thoughtlessly?
We will desire His Kingdom to come only if God is truly our Father through trusting the merits of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. We will desire His Kingdom only if we truly hallow and reverence His name. We will desire His kingdom only if we are living today in the light of eternity.
His present Kingdom and the Future Kingdom
When we pray “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done” we are praying about two aspects of His Kingdom. His present Kingdom in our hearts and His future Kingdom over the whole earth.
His present Kingdom in our hearts
In Luke 17:21 Jesus explained the internal nature of His Kingdom. He reminds us we do not seek for an external political kingdom; rather He explains, “The Kingdom of God is within us.” Christ reigns in our hearts. Paul in Romans 14:17 teaches us that Christianity is synonymous with Christ’s Kingdom. This Kingdom begins the moment we receive Christ as our Saviour from sin and surrender to Him as our Lord. When we trust Christ as our Saviour, God our Father “delivers us from the Kingdom of darkness and translates us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.” Colossians 1:13 If you are a Christian, God has already translated you into the Kingdom of Christ.
Christian, don’t fight Christ’s Lordship!
For you to insist on having your own way and doing your own thing and ignoring God’s will for your life will insure a life of misery and failure for you. If you are a Christian and living in Christ’s Kingdom, the right thing to do is to surrender to His Lordship and to seek first His Kingdom. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus promises us that God will see to your happiness and fulfillment and to the supply of all your needs. That’s His business. Our business is to live only for His purpose and glory.
What are the practical implications of living in His Kingdom?
Peter explains in I Peter 2:9 the purpose of living in Christ’s Kingdom. “We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession that we should show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Beginning with verse 11 of this same chapter, Peter reminds us that as we live in the midst of Satan’s Kingdom of darkness on this earth, we are pilgrims and strangers. As citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, we are to be personally pure and submitted to the laws of our nation, for we have a dual citizenship. Verse 16 reminds us that as Christians we are free, but we must not misuse our freedom, presuming on the patience and grace of God by continuing to live in sin.
First things first
The truths of prophecy, including Christ’s coming Millenial Kingdom, are secondary in importance. If you go to my series of studies in prophecy you will learn prophetic truths concerning Christ’s Millennial Kingdom that will bless you; but first and foremost, make sure Christ is your King right now. According to II Timothy 2:12, your surrender to His Lordship now will determine your position in the Millenial Kingdom.
The Kingdom Truths of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount are not only for Jews during the Millennium. They are, I believe, even more pertinent to Christians today as we live under the dominion of our Lord Jesus Christ. To learn more about Christ’s present Kingdom on earth, go to the BEATITUDES link.
Matthew 6:33 teaches Christians to seek first the establishing of Christ’s Kingdom in our hearts and in our conduct, then God will provide all that we need for this life. Christ’s Kingdom concerns must become our concerns. That’s why we pray, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.”