When we read the Bible, we find lots of words that have multiple definitions; for example, when we see the word love, it can mean brotherly love, Godly love, or something much more intimate; and the same thing is true of knowing others; for example, we might say “I don’t know the man,” implying that we’ve never met him, or we might say “I know him well; in fact, he happens to be my closest friend.” One definition is somewhat casual, while the other is much more intimate. Well such is the case of knowing God. For those that believe in Jesus Christ may know him as their savior, but at the same time they may not know him very well; so let’s look at what Jesus meant when he said, “I never knew you, or I know you not;” (Mat 7:23; Mat 25:12; Luke 13:25-27) for the way we interpret these verses affects our understanding of the kingdom in a very dramatic way.
“If any man love God, the same is known of him.” 1 Corinthians 8:3
In other words, when we love the Lord, we are known by him. So surely you say, everyone that believes in Jesus Christ loves God and they are known by him. Well that may be true in one sense of the word, but not true of the other; for those that love him are known as his friends; (John 15:12-14) and Jesus promises to come to them with his father, and make his abode with them; and he promises to manifest himself to those that love him in a very personal way; (John 14:21-23) So we must love the Lord, if we want to be known like this; but the real test of loving God is not determined by what we say or believe, but it’s measured by our love for others:
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” 1 John 4:20-21
So you see, we might say that we love Jesus Christ and know him as our savior, but on the other hand we may not “know him” very well. For God is love, and those that know him intimately, know his love, and they manifest his love to others:
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
So in other words, this is not talking about our faith, but love: and love is the litmus test; for when we love our neighbor we know that we know God, but when we don’t love others the way he commanded, we do not know him, no matter what we may say: for God is love; and those that know him intimately keep his commandments and they do all the things he says:
“Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that says I know him, and keeps not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:3-4
So if we say we “know” God, we must do the things that he says; for when we don’t, we don’t really know him, and we are deceived if we say we do:
“And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” 1 John 3:2-3
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings.” John 14:21-24
When we truly love Jesus Christ we keep his sayings, and we keep his commandments, for we do the things he says; not just the ones we feel like keeping, or the easy ones, for we are commanded to keep them all; but what exactly does that mean? Well the Bible takes all the commandments and summarizes them like this: “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandments, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:8-10
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." (Mat 7:12)
When we love our neighbor, we don’t lie, steal, cheat, or covet what they have; we don’t commit adultery, seek vengeance, or do anything evil or malicious: “for all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;” (Gal 5:14) So who is my neighbor? And what does it mean to love my neighbor as myself? Well let's take a look at a parable that Jesus used to answer both these questions; for when we do, He taught us to show mercy and compassion when we see our neighbor in need- for that is when we love others like we love ourselves; and that is when we are treating others just like we want to be treated:
“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, an took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” Luke 10:25-37
Not only did Jesus show mercy and compassion to those he met along the way, but he commands that we do the same; (if we want to inherit the kingdom) not closing our eyes to those in need, or looking the other way; but going out of our way to help others, no matter their race or creed: for we are commanded to love others just like Christ loved us!
A NEW COMMANDMENT
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” John 13:34-35
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:9-14
Do you say that you love God? If so, you must love your neighbor just like Christ loved us! For when you don’t, you don’t really love him, nor are you doing the things he said. Well surely you say, I know him, for I don’t smoke or drink, and I avoid all the “big sins;” maybe you do, but until you learn to forgive the way “Christ forgave you,” (Col 3:13) you are not really keeping his commandments, and you don’t know him very well.
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
Do you say that you love God? If so, your actions must confirm it. For when we love God, we must lay down our life for others. So put yourself to the test: Husbands, do you love your wife just like Christ loved his church and gave himself for it? (Ephesians 5:25) “For he that loveth his wife loveth himself.” (Eph 5:28) Are you willing to forgive any brother that sins against you (lies, steals, cheats, defrauds etc) and then go into the hard places to tell him his fault and try to gain him back? (Matthew 18:12-14) If not, you are not loving the way you should. Are you willing to leave your gift at the altar and go reconcile with any brother that is mad or holding something against you? (Matthew 5:21-26) Or are you just going to write him off??
You see, it’s easy to love those that love us, even the non believers love like that; but we are called to a love that is far beyond our comprehension; a love that blesses those that curse us, and a love that shows compassion to our enemies, and a love that turns the other cheek and goes the extra mile; For we are commanded to love with a perfect love, (1 John 4:17) or with a love that never fails: (1 Cor 13:8)
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:46-48
You see, we all need to get to know our heavenly Father and learn about his love; not just as his servants, but as children that spend time with him in his word. For our heavenly Father wants us to take in strangers, to visit his brethren in prison, to clothe the naked, and give food and drink to those in need. (Matthew 25:35) But even if we do all those things and we show respect of persons, we are still committing sin; for there are no big sins or little sins, for when we fail to love the way we are commanded, we are guilty of them all:
“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and that come in also a man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial of yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well. But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors, For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet it thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? (his soul, not his spirit) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so, faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:1-17
Do you love your neighbor as yourself? If so, you can’t respect some while you despise others. (Mat 18:9-10; to regard as nothing or make of little or no account) For when we despise the poor, or we despise those that don’t live as “righteously” as we do, we are not despising men, “but God;”(1 Thes 4:8; Luke 10:16)) Not only are our hearts are full of pride, (Luke 18:9-14) but we are as blind as blind can be. So we must ask ourselves: Why do we judge our brother? “Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?” (Romans 14:10; regard with contempt or disdain) For when we don’t think our brother has much value, or we tell him how worthless he is, (Matthew 5:22) we are not loving the way we should. For Jesus commands us to love without preference, just like he loved us.
SINNERS ALSO LOVE THOSE THAT LOVE THEM
“But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same....And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:27-33,46)
So why do we call him our Lord, when we don’t do the things he says? For a servant knows his master, and he serves his Lord, and he does all the things he says: (Luke 17:10) Not just part of his will, or most of it, for he does what he’s told to do. So put yourself to the test. Do you do good to those that mistreat you? Or just to those that do good to you? Do you love those that are rude and self centered, or do you only love those that are loving and kind to you? If so, you may know him as your savior, but you don’t really know him as your Lord. For those that truly “know him” keep his commandments and they do the things he says; for they love their enemies, and they love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart and soul, just like he told us to do.
“Any why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock.” Luke 6:46-48
"He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings." (John 14:24; and the essence of his sayings are found in the Sermon on the Mt: Mat 5-7) )
So why do we call him Lord, Lord, without loving the way he says? For when we hear his sayings without doing them, we only deceive ourselves; not only are we likened unto a man that builds his house on the sand, (Matthew 7:49) but we are likened unto a man that sees his face in a mirror and then goes his way without remembering just what it was he saw:
“Blessed is the man that endures temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.... Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive the engrafted word which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:12, 21-25
Do you feel confident that you know him? Are you absolutely sure that you have done his will? If not, I urge you to look into his word. For Jesus knows those that love him, and they know him through his words; and they are the ones that love each and every member of his body- just like he loved us. (1 Cor 12:14-25)
So if you want to know the Lord Jesus Christ in a more intimate way, you must get to know him through his word; as you do, you will find many sophisticated promises other than heaven or hell; for not only does the Bible promise eternal life for those that believe in him, but it promises an entrance into New Jerusalem (the kingdom of heaven) for those that do his will; for they are the ones that know him, and love him; and the ones that are going to inherit all that he has to give. (Rev 21:7)
So when we look at our next scripture, we see that many believers are told to depart; but just because they do, it doesn’t mean they’re cast into the lake of fire, or that they’re going to burn in hell; for they will simply inhabit one of the many other cities found outside his kingdom gates. (Revelation 20:9; Luke 19:17-19)
DEPART FROM ME, I NEVER KNEW YOU
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23
In other words, not every Christian that says, Lord, Lord, will enter one of the twelve kingdom gates; (Luke 13:24-29) for an entrance into the kingdom of heaven is based on love, and not just our confession of faith. So in that day, many will say, Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name? And did we not cast out devils in your name? And do many wonderful works? And then he will turn and say to them, I never knew you: for you didn’t love me like I said; for my kingdom belongs to those that love me with all their heart, soul, and mind; and my kingdom belongs to those that loved their neighbors, just like I loved you:
“Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him.” (James 2:5)
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." (Rev 22:14)
Now it's important to understand: there are only two commandments. The first is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and the second is to love our neighbor just like we love ourselves. "For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Rom 13:9) Without this kind of love, we are not keeping his commandments, and we will find ourselves outside the kingdom gates.
So not every believer that prophesies, or does wonderful works, will enter his kingdom gates; for that is reserved for those that know their God in a very intimate way; for not only do they know him as their savior, but they know him as their Lord; and because they love him with all of their heart, they will rule and reign with him as his bride through out eternity. (Mat 25:1-13; Eph 5:25)
So if you don’t want to hear Jesus say, “I never knew you, or depart from me, I know you not,” (Matthew 7:23; Matthew 25:12; Luke 13:27) then you must love him with all of your heart, soul, and strength: for those that truly know him and love him, are the ones that are “known by him.” (1 Cor 8:3) But you can’t just say you love him without doing the things he said: for those that know him keep his commandments and they do all the things he says; (John 14:24) for when we say we know him, without loving the way he said, the Bible call us liars, and tells us that the truth is not in us. (1 John 2:4) For those that know him, know his truth, (John 8:31-32) and they love their neighbors, just like he loved us; and those that know him, know his word, (John 17:17) and his word abides in them; and because it does, they are filled with mercy and compassion, and they love without respect: for they no longer judge their neighbor, hold grudges, or despise those that sin; while on the other hand, those Christians that know him nonchalantly, or those that love selectively, are in for a big surprise, for not only will they hear him say, “I never knew you” but they are going to hear him say, “depart from me:” for you worked iniquity. (lawless; not keeping his commandments; which shows that we don’t know him or love him; 1 John 2:3-4; John 14:21) (See James 2:1-13; for it clearly tells us that we work iniquity are the ones that love with respect of persons, or love with predjudice or partiality.)
“For he that loveth not knoweth not God.” 1 John 4:8
For you see, you can’t say you know him without knowing his word; and you can’t say you love him without loving the truth: for Jesus Christ is the word, (John 1:1) and he is the truth (John 14:6) and they’re all one and the same. So yes, you may have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and know him as our savior, but until you know the truth and love the truth, and keep the truth, you really don’t know him at all:
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:31-32
And that’s what this study is all about: the kingdom of heaven and the love that is required to enter in; but in order to understand this entrance more clearly, we need to separate our salvation into three separate parts; body, soul, and spirit. (1 Thes 5:23) for not only is there a saving of our spirit that takes place when we put our faith in Christ; (John 3:6) but there is a saving of our soul that is completely works related, that allows us to enter his kingdom gates. (Mat 16:26-27; James 1:21-22) So let’s look at a couple scriptures that demonstrate this, and see how the two compare:
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house.” (Acts 16:30-31)
When we look at this question, we see an answer that is both clear and precise: for the moment we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we are saved by faith, and saved by faith alone; in fact, this scripture is totally consistent with many Bible scriptures that teach the very same thing: we are justified by faith without any works involved:
“Where is boasting then: it is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.” (Rom 3:28)
When we look at another scripture though, we can start to get confused; for even though the questions appear to be very similar, the answers certainly are not; for here we see a reply that is not only works related, but an answer that is all about keeping the deeds of the law.
“Good master, What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? (Mark 10:17) To which Jesus replied: “If thou will enter into life, keep the commandments. He said unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do not murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 19:17-19)
Now once again, the answer is very clear; but this time, it’s not about believing in Jesus Christ, or putting our faith in him, but it’s all about keeping the keeping the commandments and loving the way he said. So how can this be? Are we saved by faith, or saved by works? For Jesus answered both ways. Well, in order to understand this, we need to take a closer look; for once we do, we find that they’re really not the same. For in the first question, they asked about our great salvation, and they were told it was obtained by faith; but in the second question, they asked about inheriting eternal life, and they were told to obtain it by love; so in order to understand what this is saying, we need to look a bit further; for when we do, we see that Jesus went on to correlate inheriting eternal life with an entrance into his kingdom:
“The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, if thou will be perfect; go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me: But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:20-25)
When we put the scriptures together, we see that inheriting eternal life, entering into life, and entering into the visible kingdom of heaven are all one and the same. So when the young man asked his question, he wasn’t told how to be saved by faith; for he was simply taught how to have treasure in heaven, or receive an inheritance of life inside the kingdom gates; and the answer that Jesus gave is completely consistent with everything we’ve seen; for if we want to enter into his heavenly kingdom, we must love the way he said; for it’s not those that hear his commandments and those that hear his sayings, but it’s those that keep them, for they are the ones that love him and the ones that save their souls. (James 1:21-22; James 5:19-20; Luke 13;23-30; Matthew 16:26-28; Mark 8:35-36; 1 John 3:14) (Our spirit is saved by faith; John 3:6)
So let’s take a closer look at some scriptures that support what this says. For inheriting everlasting life, inheriting the kingdom, or entering into the kingdom of heaven are all synonymous terms that are promised to those that love him, and not just to those that believe:
“Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” James 2:5
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” John 14:21
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:12
“But as it is written, Eye hath not see, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Cor 2:9
“Blessed is the man that endures temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12)
“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, sayings, master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. (Luke 10:25-28)
“And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have (inherit) eternal life? (See Mark 10:17) And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God; but if thou will enter into life, keep the commandments. He said unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man said unto him, All these things I have kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, if thou will be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possession. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God....“And every one that hath forsake houses, or brethren, or sisters, of father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Mat 19:16-24,29
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperence patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (love) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-11)
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks, For this ye know that no whoremongers, nor unclean persons, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of God.” Ephesians 5:1-5
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Mat 25:34-36
“But brother goeth to law with his brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous (or those that do not love their brother) shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived.” 1 Cor 5:6-9
“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offering and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any questions.” Mark 12:28-34
So if we want to inherit his kingdom, or walk through one of the many kingdom gates, (Rev 21:10-13) we must have faith in Jesus Christ; but our faith enough; for we must add to our faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, and patience; and we must add to patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love; for without love, we do not know him, or love him, and we are not going to inherit the kingdom of heaven.
INHERITING THE KINGDOM OF GOD
So what does it mean to enter into his kingdom, or to inherit the kingdom of God? Well, in order to understand this, let’s look in the book of Ezekiel (chapters 40-48;) and see what it has to say. For not only did Ezekiel see a vision of a gated city just like New Jerusalem, (with twelve gates; named the Lord is there; Ezek 48:35) but he saw a holy temple with a river of life, and a tree of life growing on both sides, (Ezekiel 47:1-12):
“And the Lord said to me, “Son of man, take careful notice; use your eyes and ears. Listen to everything I tell you about the regulations concerning the Lord’s Temple. Take careful note of who may be admitted to the Temple and who is to be excluded from it. And give these rebels, the people of Israel, this message from the Sovereign Lord: O people of Israel, enough of your disgusting sins! You have brought uncircumcised foreigners into my sanctuary- people who have no heart for God. In this way, you profaned my Temple even as you offered me my food, the fat and blood of sacrifices. Thus, in addition to all your other disgusting sins, you have broken my covenant. You have not kept the laws I gave you concerning these sacred rituals, for you have hired foreigners to take charge of my sanctuary. So this is what the Sovereign Lord says. No foreigner, including those who live among the people of Israel, will enter into my sanctuary if they have not been circumcised and do not love the Lord.” Ezekiel 44:5-9 NLT
So not only did Ezekiel receive instructions about the temple, but he was told how to divide the promised land into sections for the children of Israel to inherit; now some of the tribes inherited land to the north, and others to the south. (Ezekiel 47:13) but only a few inherited the temple and the holy ground it rested on: and they were the only ones that were allowed to enter into the sanctuary to minister to their God:
“The holy portion of the land shall be for the priest the ministers of the sanctuary, which shall come near to minister unto the Lord: and it shall be a place for their houses, and an holy place for the sanctuary.” (Ezekiel 45:4)
Now most of the tribes of Israel inherited land; but there was also a small portion of the Levites (sons of Zadok) that were allowed to enter into the sanctuary and receive the greatest inheritance of all: (Ezekiel 44:15-16) For not only did they inherit the holy land that held the sanctuary, but they inherited the Lord himself:
“And it shall be unto them for an inheritance: I am their inheritance: and ye shall give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession.” (Ezekiel 44:28)
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever received an inheritance, but I did when my father died. For he left all of his possessions to his children, because he loved us very much. But it was possible that when he wrote his will, anyone of us could have been excluded; for if our father didn’t think that we loved him, or loved each other the way he said, he could have decided not to include us and give us the things he did. So in other words, when the Levites received their inheritance, it wasn’t something they received just for being his children, for this was their reward for serving Him faithfully when the rest of Israel went astray! (Ezekiel 44:15) And so we must understand: this was no ordinary temple that was promised just to the Levites way back then, but this is type and symbol, and the place of God’s throne for all eternity:
“So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house. And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me. And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever.” Ezekiel 43:5-7
So not all the children of Israel inherited the temple, and not all were allowed to enter in. (Ezekiel 44:9-16) For just like our inheritance of the kingdom, it’s determined by our works, rather than given because we’re sons; and that’s what the Bible means when it says that we won’t inherit the kingdom, or enter his kingdom gates; for that is reserved for those love the Lord with all their heart and soul, and for his children that love one another, just like he commanded us to do:
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (New Jerusalem; Rev 22:14)
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out in a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whether he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10; This city, New Jerusalem is the kingdom of heaven; for not only do we see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob inside the kingdom gates, but we see Jesus rising from his throne; the same exact throne that’s inside the gates of New Jerusalem; Rev 22:3; Luke 13:24-29)
So just because we believe in Jesus Christ, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to inherit all that he has to give; For that is reserved for those that know him and love him in the most intimate way. (John 14:24) Oh, we might inherit land or something else outside his kingdom gates; but without love, we are not going to inherit his holy city, or inherit the Lord himself:
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Revelation 21:7
HE THAT BELIEVES ON THE SON HAS EVERLASTING LIFE
So if we don’t inherit his kingdom, or enter into life, (Matthew 19:17) just because we’re sons, what precisely do we as believers receive? Well let’s look at a couple scriptures that address this and see what our faith in Christ brings:
“He that believes on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of his only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
The moment we believe in Jesus Christ, we have eternal life; not only are our names recorded in the book of life, but we pass from death to life. (John 5:24) For without faith in Christ, we are dead in our trespasses and sins: (Col 2:13) and the wages of sin is death; so not only are the unbelievers going to perish (eternal separation from God) in the lake of fire, which is called the second death, but they’re going to stand before the Lord to be judged by their works; for without faith to save them from his wrath, they are already condemned.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.... and death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev 20:12-15
So just because we’re saved by faith, and miss the lake of fire, there's no assurance we’ll inherit the kingdom of heaven; for it’s faith that saves us from wrath and condemnation, but it’s love that allows us to enter into his kingdom gates to rule and reign with him; So just because we are born into his earthy kingdom that doesn’t mean that we’ll inherit his heavenly one; for when his kingdom appears (Luke 19:11) the parables speak of separation that is entirely based on works; (Mat 20:1; Mat 25:10; Mat 25:23-27) A separation that is basically determined by whether or not we loved!
So yes, we need to believe in Jesus Christ, and confess him with our mouth; but faith is just the beginning and not the end of our Christian walk; for we must get to know him through his word. (Mat 11:29) As we abide in him, and his words abide in us, our hearts will begin to change; for without him we can do nothing as “the branch cannot bear fruit of itself.” (Gal 5:22; John 15:3-4) But when we don’t bother to know him or love him like he said, all of our works amount to nothing, and they’re not going to profit us a thing:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Cor 13:1-3)
“And so faith, hope, love abide: (faith, conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things: hope, joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love, true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us), these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 Amp
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And everyman that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 1 John 3:2-3
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Love does not demand its own way.
Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices when the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance
For love never fails!
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.... and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and the names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; on the west three gates.” Rev 21:2,12-13; And “ the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it.” Rev 22:3)
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, (from his throne) and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and ye shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know ye not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.” Luke 13:24-30
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