Matthew 3:2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals in this series can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
The kingdom of heaven is a marvelous thing. It is the manifestation of the purpose of Jesus Christ. In other words, the kingdom of God is the tangible result of what was accomplished by Jesus. Those who are in it, are in it because of Jesus. What happens in the kingdom, happens because of Jesus. Wherever the kingdom exists, it exists because of Jesus. Every “why?” question about the kingdom of heaven can be answered by examining the Person of Jesus Christ.
The kingdom of heaven… so far we have discovered:
- The kingdom of God belongs to those who repent. True repentance is a compilation of sorrow, remorse and contrition concerning personal sin followed by a change of heart, purpose, motivation and intention. In short, it is the authentic exchange of my way for God’s way after acknowledging that I have violated God’s way. God is right; I am wrong (where I do not agree with and conform to God).
- The kingdom of God belongs to the helpless in need of rescue; the “poor in spirit” (Matt 5.3). Repentance springs from the heart of those who are not only truly sorry for their sin, who realize the necessity of turning way from sin, but also realize that they are helpless to change their predicament unless God does it for them.
- The kingdom of God belongs to the persecuted, those who suffer solely because of their relationship with Christ (Matt 5.10). The world hates Jesus, and they will hate those follow Him. We don’t have to go looking for persecution, it will find us when we serve the Lord.
- You can be great in the kingdom of heaven by doing what God commands (Matt 5.19-20). True Christianity is not simply conforming externally but transforming internally. Hearing, teaching and doing God’s commandments are the indicators of true salvation.
- Religious activity or good works aren’t sufficient to gain entrance into the kingdom. (Matt 7.21-23) No matter how much we do for God, or how extraordinary those things may be, unless we have come to know Jesus Christ, God will not know us. The unsaved should realize that they can’t “work” their way into heaven; and Believers should evaluate their good works to make sure they are being done in obedience to God’s will, and not “self” motivated.
The kingdom of heaven will include “fakes” for the time being
Matthew 13:24-25 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. (NKJV)
Matt 13.24-30 gives us the parable of the “wheat and tares”. Tares were a type of weed that grow up in the midst of a wheat field. These tares look like wheat, but do not actually contain the wheat kernel – the outside is right, but the inside is not. They are useless fakes that compete for vital space and nutrients with the real wheat.
Jesus reveals to us that there will always be people among us who look like Christians, but in reality are not. They appear to be saved but are missing the “kernel” (Jesus Christ). We are told in the parable that it is not our place to attempt to pick out the counterfeits and remove them lest we make a mistake and uproot a true Christian.
Only God truly knows the heart of man. Any time we begin to judge the heart, we tread on ground that only God should traverse. We can judge behavior by measuring it against God’s Word but it is to be done with love and a motive of restoration, not condemnation. The Lord instructs us at times to deal with certain behavior of others when it brings shame to Christ (ex. 1Cor 5.11), but we are never to become the judge of the authenticity of a professing persons salvation.
God will take care of sorting out the real from the fake (Matt 12.47-50). We are commanded to leave it alone. Thank the Lord He has not placed this burden on us. How would you like to be the person who determines whether or not a person is truly saved and have to toss out those who you determine are not? Can you say “Inquisition”?
The kingdom of heaven is a priceless treasure worthy of any and all we have
Matthew 13:44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (NKJV)
Matthew 13:45-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (NKJV)
Would you give $10 to get $100,000,000? Of course you would. What if you could give far less, to get far more? What if you could give up something that in reality is harmful to you in order to get something which will be a great blessing?
Compared to the value of salvation… what we give, give up, or give away for it is insignificant. Actually, most of what we are called to “sell” (forsake, give up) is actually destructive to us (sin, pride, etc). And yet billions of people have and will turn down the offer of eternal life (the great treasure) from God.
Some don’t realize the value of the treasure.
Some over-estimate the value of what they must sell.
It’s a matter of either not realizing the value of the treasure (salvation), or over-estimating the value of what we have to sell (“self”) to get it (the treasure). In these two parables, the man and the merchant correctly understand the value of what they had found versus the value of what they had to give up to buy it. So they proceeded to sell everything they had to obtain the new-found treasure**.
At this point, some of you will be thinking “okay, so I just have to give up having any fun or being happy in this life and wait for eternity to have all the ‘good’ stuff that God promises?”. Sound silly? Do you think people couldn’t possibly respond that way? Think again. It’s a very common response. Many people including some professing Christians believe that if only we can “suffer” through this life and give up all our “fun”, then we will finally get what we want in heaven. This couldn’t be farther from the Truth. (there is so much wrong with that thinking, it would take several lessons to cover it)
In the parables, the man and merchant are giving up and selling “good” things – houses, property, possessions, savings, etc. The specific meaning (exposition) of the parables is that nothing we have is worth more than salvation (the treasure). But an application of these parables is to understand that we are called to give up FAR LESS to get FAR MORE than the man or merchant. It’s a given that salvation is worth infinitely more than any earthly treasure. So we are getting an eternally more valuable “treasure” than the men in the parables.
But consider this… are we giving up “valuables” in exchange for our treasure (salvation)? In a sense, no, quite the opposite. We have to give up our pride, our “self” control, our lust, our sin, our wickedness, our destructive behavior…. all things that are in harmful and painful to us.
We “sell” what destroys our life us in order
to gain the “treasure” of eternal life.
It is amazing that anyone turns down this free offer from God.
Again, the primary meaning of the parables is that when we discover the “treasure” (Jesus Christ – salvation) we must be willing to “give away” all we have (take up your cross – Matt 10.38; sacrifice your life – Rom 12.1; deny yourself – Matt 16.24) to secure the treasure**. This is not a “works” based salvation, but a proper response in light of God’s gift of eternal life, and the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
But I wanted to use the parable to get you to contemplate that while the man and merchant gave all that was valuable to them… God is asking us to give up what is in reality destructive to us – sin, pride, selfish ambition, condemnation, hopelessness, etc.
My point? God asks that we give up all that is eternally hurtful for that which is eternally priceless. Isn’t that INCREDIBLE? The gift of God (salvation – eternal life) is infinitely greater in scope and value than trading $1 for $100,000,000. And yet every single day, people turn down the offer of eternal life. And every day, Christians turn down eternal treasure for temporal riches. But that’s a whole other lesson.
Father, Help us follow Your Word and trust You to know the hearts of men. Thank you giving us eternal life and all we have to give up is that which is hurtful and destructive anyway. What a wondrous God! In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you think the Kingdom would be better off if we could kick out all the “fake” Christians? Do you understand why God says to “leave it alone”? What have you “sold” to get the “treasure”? Do you still “own” everything you owned (think deeper than material possessions) before you discovered the treasure? Have you ever contemplated what you gave up compared to what you got when you recieved the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ? Have you given up anything? What would you give up for the “treasure”?
Application: As part of the kingdom of God, we tread on forbidden ground when we attempt to determine the wheat from the tares. That’s God’s business. Take time to think about the “treasure” of salvation and what you “sold” to obtain it. It’s amazing and unfathomable that God asks us to forsake all that is eternally destructive in order to obtain eternal blessing. Amazing!
**Note: Let me be very clear: this is not to imply that salvation is earned or bought. These parables teach that salvation is worth everything to obtain, in other words, nothing in this life is worth more than the “treasure”. Salvation is never earned, bought or otherwise obtained by man’s effort. It is the free gift of God to all who believe (Rom 6.23)
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?