“The Kingdom Of Heaven”-part 2
Greetings in the precious Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ everyone on this wonderful Thursday afternoon, and what a beautiful day the Lord has given us. As promised on Monday we are going to start part 2 of our study with “Our Need For Grace” Websters says grace is A : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification B : a virtue coming from God C : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance, Just think on that-how Blessed we are to be given “Divine Assistance” And with that lets begin our study.
2. OUR NEED FOR GRACE
Grace is derived from the Greek word charis. The value of this word may be assessed by the fact that it appears 156 times in the New Testament and was used at least 91 times in Paul’s epistles. In simple terms it means “the unmerited favor of God toward man.”
How hard it is for us to fully grasp what Christ has done for us on Calvary! How difficult it is at times to realize the abundance of love Jesus poured out when He died for us on the cross! Though perhaps on this side of eternity we have no more than a glimpse of what God has done to redeem us, just that glimpse can change our entire lives.
Through the ages of eternity no doubt we will be revelling in the wonders of redemptive grace (Ephesians 2:7). The picture will be much clearer to us then. Finally, the mists will have rolled away. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (I Corinthians 13:12).
A. Difficulty in Meeting the Law’s Requirements
How hard is it to be vindicated, that is, to be found blameless, before the Lord by keeping the law of Moses? It is impossible. Paul wrote, “No man is justified by the law in the sight of God” (Galatians 3:11).
The basic problem with the Law was that it demanded perfection Those who claimed to keep the Law were often the greatest violators of it. Thus the Jews, after Jesus had healed a man at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath day, persecuted and tried to kill Him (contrary to the sixth commandment). These extremists would have tried to restore one of their own cattle on the Sabbath, but they had no compassion for a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. They had made what was intended to be a blessing into a burden.
Even though Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees a brood of vipers, He taught His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount to obey the instructions of Moses (Matthew 5:17–19). Those writings, He was affirming, were inspired by God. They were perfect in what they were designed to do, but they were to be superseded by a higher law. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” Paul would later state, “hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
The Holy Ghost sets us free from the dominating control of sin. Try to live an overcoming life without the Spirit if you will, but just before His ascension, Christ told His disciples to “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). That is, they were to be clothed with—they were to enter into—the kingdom of God. This was not just a set of rules or a series of rituals. This did not include just religious customs or pious ceremonials. This was Christ living within His followers, empowering them to take the gospel into all the world.
B. Increased Difficulty in Meeting the Heightened Standards of the New Covenant
Without question the requirements Jesus gave on the mountainside went beyond those of the old system. Indeed, Christ demanded that His subjects must be totally committed and completely loyal to the cause of the Kingdom—even to the point of death. If His followers lived by His precepts, they would not just be marked as being different; they would become the offscouring of the world. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). Obviously the Lord expected that many believers would be falsely accused and would face terrible persecution. They could all expect to suffer for His name’s sake. Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33).
If those who gathered to hear the Master expected an easy life by following Christ’s teachings, that notion was soon swept away. The gate to eternal life was “strait”; the way was narrow. (See Matthew 7:14.) Everything in life was to be committed to the Lord, and He was to be trusted in everything.
From Jesus’ teachings we understand that in every situation, in every case where we are maligned or mistreated, in every trial we can possibly face, our confidence is to be wholly in a loving God. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body” (Matthew 6:25).
On our own initiative, we are unable to meet the standards of the New Covenant. The teachings are too restrictive; the requirements are too lofty.
Everywhere we look, it seems, there are evidences of individuals who have drifted from the Christian values they once esteemed. Some who were brought up in Christian homes have become entangled in the pursuit of wealth or worldly pleasures. Some have dated unsaved persons and then married outside the faith. Still others have simply grown discouraged because of trials and temptations.
“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them” (Psalm 103:17–18).
C. The Need for Grace Since We Are Insufficient to Meet This Standard
It is all too easy to forget that the God whom we serve inhabits eternity in unparalleled majesty and glory. There is none other like our Lord God. He is the mighty One, and by His breathtaking power He shakes kingdoms (Isaiah 23:11). He rules the raging seas and commands the wildest winds. The vast number of angels who praise Him (Psalm 148:1–2) stand ready to attend to His commands (I Kings 22:19). David proclaimed, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). The throne of this God is in the heavens, and He is sovereign over all (Psalm 103:19). He is a righteous monarch who will not tolerate iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13). He is the Almighty of whom the seraphims continually cry to one another, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3).
How, then, can we who have been sinful enter into the kingdom of this incredible God? By what means can we who have been rebellious become part of His glorious domain? Is it by our own good works? Never! Is it by religious ceremony? Certainly not!
It is by a sovereign work of grace that we are called “out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Peter 2:9). It is in the blackest of nights that God’s love shines the brightest. When we “were without Christ . . . having no hope” (Ephesians 2:12), He called us to Himself. Grace is God doing for us, empowering us to do what we could never do without Him. Paul declared we have nothing of which we can boast; we are saved by God’s grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Who among us does not need an abundance of this grace? We have all sinned and fallen short of the Lord’s requirements—from the little bully who pushes others in the schoolyard to the prostitute who sells her body on the street corner. And, yes, even after we are born again, we may discover we still have a propensity to sin. To have lasting victory we must continually long to be cleansed by the blood of our wonderful Savior and to be filled with “the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29).
Internalizing the Message
How would we have reacted if we had been on the mountainside as Jesus taught His followers the tenets of Christian discipleship? As we listened along with the multitude of Jewish people on that day, would we have believed the promises of a better life as given in the eight beatitudes? Would we have shaken our heads in disbelief at what Christ expected? Would we have trusted that the kingdom of Heaven could actually be ours? Could we have understood what value the Lord places upon each of His people? Would we, like many others, have failed to commit our lives to the Lord, even though we sensed the power of the statements that were being spoken? Or would we have opened our hearts to the Master and unreservedly embraced the message Jesus presented?
What does the kingdom of Heaven mean to us? It was the central theme of Matthew’s Gospel; that writer using the term thirty-three times. Obviously Jesus placed extreme importance upon His listeners’ entering into the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21; 19:23). According to the Lord, we are to “strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24). Without question He wanted people to know His dominion was not of this world (John 18:36) but that His kingdom was of God. Christ, indeed, is the mighty King; if we submit to His authority, we will enjoy wonderful Kingdom privileges.
When asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). The kingdom of Heaven is wherever Jesus lives. Wherever the Lord is invited to stay, there is peace and there is gladness. There is hope and there is healing. In a heartfelt expression of confidence David exclaimed, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Nothing can compare to the presence of Christ’s Spirit within our lives. Nothing can give us such assurance of divine love and mercy. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).
So I’m thinking what we should be taking away from our study here is that what ever we do, what ever we are going through, that it is God’s Grace that is bringing us through that situation. So we need to be “PRAISING GOD FOR HIS MERCY AND GRACE”
That will conclude our study for this week, when we return on Monday we will begin our new study “Samuel: Stabilizer Of The Kingdom”, until then have a great weekend.