Tag Archives: kingdom of heaven

God, The Deliverer

O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; 
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, 
(Psalm 7:1 ESV)

There is only One God.

In the beginning of time, before there was anything, there was God. He is uncreated, existing eternally. God is not constrained by time or anything created which is bound by time. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2 ESV). 

Theology finds a reasonable doctrine of the Trinity within Scripture. God is Three in One yet exists as One God in three persons. God, the Father, who created all things through His Word, God the Son, who brought all things into existence, and God the Spirit, who breathes into creation making it alive. Creation points to God. 

Man, created in the image of God, is the greatest evidence for the truth of God. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). There is only One God and all of creation points to Him. Man’s image, with all of the intricacies of the image, both spiritual and physical, is ageless evidence of the truth of the reality of God.

David begins Psalm 7 with a declaration of God. “O LORD, my God.” He declares God’s name, YHWH, first used 11 times in Genesis 2. His name is known from the beginning of time. David uses a combination of two words to describe God. YHWH means existing one. God alone existed before anything else. He adds the word elohiym, which means divine one, God, ruler and judge, but may also be used for the lesser gods and idols worshipped by people who hate God. Thus, God, the Existing One is given as a name and proper title of the only true God.

Only One God has the power and ability to deliver from sin and from the enemies of those who are citizens of His kingdom. To deliver means to tear away, strip off, snatch off, recover, rescue. Those who pursue with the intent of overtaking and destroying are relentless in their goal to hound and capture those who are their enemies. For the enemies of God are God’s enemies and are enslaved by sin. [T]he wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5 ESV). They can do nothing but sin. Like Cain, sin captures people. “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7 ESV). Sin’s desire is to totally possess every person. God cannot abide sin in His presence. “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4 ESV). There is a war between those who are God’s and those who are not God’s. On one side all die, for sin takes no prisoners. The other side is filled with those rescued and delivered from sin.

We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, not of the dark, worldly, rebellious kingdom ruled by sin. We are chosen by God, set apart by the Spirit of God, covered with the blood of Christ. As citizens of His kingdom, our allegiance and commitment is to follow and obey Him. Peter writes to all Christians in the known world. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV). As citizens of God’s kingdom, we are at war with our own flesh, with the world and with the Deceiver, who wars to separate everyone from God.

Eternity is our home. God will finally deliver us from the world that continually attacks and pursues us to do us harm. Still, God has left us in the world for two reasons. We are to witness about Him and His wonder and power. He is also preparing us for eternity with Him. As citizens of His kingdom our every action shows we are His. “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV). God created us for Himself. He will not leave us or abandon us but will rescue and deliver us from the assaults and relentless pursuit of our enemies.

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COVERED

For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12 ESV)

God blesses the righteous. In Psalm 1, God blesses a righteous man. “Blessed is the man who walks not …”  (Psalm 1:1 ESV). This opening statement of the Psalms points to the One Man who has never done anything wicked or sinful. There is only One. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If anyone else is righteous before God it is because they are found in Christ. They take refuge in Him. God blesses those in Christ because He blessed Christ and what happens to the Son of God happens to those in Him. “Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6 ESV).

How does God bless the Righteous One and those found righteous in Him? He will cover Him, which means to surround and to give a crown. Not only does God protect Him, spreading His “protection over them” (Psalm 5:11), those in Christ, but He gives Him a crown, seating Him in Zion. “As for men, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill”  (Psalm 2:6 ESV).Where God’s King is, so are His citizens.

Favor  is goodwill, acceptance, delight and pleasure. A shield  is a buckler and can also mean something piercing, a hook or barb. A shield is a defensive weapon designed to stop any attack without qualification. God does not even allow an attack to occur but hooks those who hate Him and leads them away from His presence.

God will allow nothing into eternity that conflicts with His ultimate will and purpose. His presence is enough to keep all protected from sin, from the Deceiver, and the world that draws people away from Him. There is no danger in His presence. There is peace and rest given to all whom he draws to Himself. Those found in Christ are protected and secure in their being and place before Him.

Throughout Jesus’ last week, after He entered the Temple and violently drove out those who desecrated His Father’s house, He challenged and was challenged by the religious leaders. They questioned Him, His authority, and His reason for acting violently against them. He challenged them, telling them parables meant to convict and draw out their sin so they might see their sin and repent. Just before launching into a long, multi-pronged accusation of them, Jesus asks them a simple question. Whose son is the Christ? “Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?  They said to him, ‘The son of David’” (Matthew 22:41-42 ESV). They rightly answered. Messiah, the anointed One, the Son of God, known as Christ, is a descendant from the lineage of King David. He is a Man, as God originally created Man, without sin and with the character and personality of a servant, as Adam was created. 

Jesus then asks them other questions. “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him, Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matthew 22:43-45; see Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:34-35, Hebrews 1:13). How can Messiah be a son of a sinful man? How can Messiah be a man at all?

They were confounded. “And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions”(Matthew 22:46 ESV). They challenged God to debate. They sought to impose their traditions and will upon Him whom they are designed to serve. They refused to accept the words and works of the Man standing before them aware of the miracles He had performed, doing that which only God could do. Messiah was standing before them and they rejected Him.

David wrote the Psalms as prophecies of Messiah, of Christ. David’s heart reflected the thinking of the heart of Jesus. Though they hated Him and put Him to death, He fulfilled God’s ultimate, eternal purpose, and lives, reigning in eternity over His kingdom. His citizens are with Him. God’s blessings are on them because of Jesus. His blood covers them with His righteousness, protecting them. Christ’s blood is the only defense against sin, stronger than any fortress, impenetrable, a shield of God’s favor and protection.

The Narrow and Straight

Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.(Psalm 5:8 ESV)

There is a spiritual pathway that leads to God’s Kingdom. It is narrow, sometimes meandering, straight in other places, steep in some, and impossible to traverse without the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. People start their journey along this route carrying everything they deem valuable. As they walk, they lose stuff that has no eternal value. At the end of the path is a gate, small and narrow which allows only the traveller called by God to enter. They may carry nothing through that gate which belongs in the world. Their old self cannot enter, either. 

“Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24 ESV; see Mark 10:24-25, Luke 18:24-25)

In the world is a highway leading away from God. It is fast and wide, and accommodating to all. As people move along this freeway they pickup stuff, adding to their burden, refusing to abandon anything they deem valuable and necessary to their life. Surrounded by many, who jostle and fight for position, they move en mass toward anything that is not God. At the end of the road is a gate, wide and inviting, going to a place where God cannot be known by any who enter. 

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”(Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

Jesus cleared the Temple at the beginning of His ministry and then again just before His crucifixion and resurrection. He made Himself known, angering the Jewish religious leaders because of His brazen actions and outrageous claims. They were His enemies, foes and rivals, opponents and antagonists. They were against Him in everything He did. It was common knowledge among the people of Jerusalem that the religious leaders wanted to murder Jesus. “Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, ‘Is not this the man whom they seek to kill?’”  (John 7:25 ESV). Everything Jesus did rankled and irritated those who hated Him. Even when Jesus healed sick and maimed people, they became enraged.

Surrounded by such malevolence, Jesus sought God’s will. He prayed for God’s righteousness. This Psalm speaks to Jesus’ desire to know God under the harshest circumstance. “Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me” (Psalm 5:8 ESV). To lead, or to be led, means to be guided, to bring to a place with purposeful intent. Righteousness is the rule of law of the King and Sovereign, God’s decrees founded on God’s eternally pure character. Straight means level and smooth, to be perfectly right according to law, directed without mistake or purposeful deceit. Before me means face, presence, person, in front of, as in leading by the hand someone who cannot lead themselves. Jesus is praying that God prepare the way, clear the obstacles which would trip or hinder, and direct His words, actions and motivations, to ultimately bring Him before God, the destination of every spiritual journey.

One of the major themes of the Psalms is the confrontation of those who are righteous against those who are unrighteous. God blesses the man, Jesus Christ, and all who take refuge in Him, because He, and they, do not walk “in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers”   (Psalm 1:1 ESV). His enemies conspire against Him, teaching and training those under their authority to actively rebel against God. They surround Him. But He is not afraid, even when the intent of His enemies is His murder. “I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (Psalm 3:6 ESV). He challenges them in the thinking of their hearts. “O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?” (Psalm 4:2 ESV). His resurrection is the ultimate victory over their rebellion. “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled” (Psalm 2:11-12 ESV).

Jesus does not just pray this for Himself but for all who are identified with Him. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12 ESV). Those who trust Him, that He will deliver what He has promised, are hidden in Him. What happens to Him happens to them. Where He goes they are. God’s house is in eternity. As Jesus walks toward God’s house, a spiritual path, those who are in Him go with Him into God’s presence. God gave Jesus the purpose and task of drawing those who love Him into His life-giving presence. We carry nothing with us but, for a short time, His cross, which is our cross.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?  (Luke 9:23-25 ESV)

Alien Immigrants

Studies in First Peter

To those who are elect exiles (immigrants) of the Dispersion (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Our true home is not in this world but in eternity with God. Those who are citizens of His kingdom think differently about God, about themselves and about the world in which they live, than those who are citizens of the world. Peter uses the word exiles, people who are foreigners or aliens (parepidemos), to show the focus of the Christian remaining on God the Father.

In the first section of his letter, 1:1-12, Peter affirms it is God the Father who determines to provide and assure salvation for each citizen of His kingdom. He guarantees their place with Him in eternity and gives protection while they His live in a corrupt world.

When most people think of the word exilesthey imagine persons displaced by war or natural disaster, whose home or country is so violently attacked or destroyed they can no longer safely live there. Or, they think of someone who, for political or criminal reasons, has been forcibly removed from their home country as a punishment. For those displaced by war the exile flees for their own safety. Those punished are forcibly removed from their country. But this is not what the Greek word (parepidemos) means. A better translation is either alien or immigrantor both. An immigrant may have had to flee their country because of persecution or war. But immigrants usually want to come to a new country to live and to become a citizen of that country. They purposefully move from one country and culture, which was theirs, to another country and culture they make theirs.

According to Thayer’s exile (immigrant) (parapedimos) means one who comes from a foreign country to live side by side with those who are natives of the host country. They are foreigners who live in a strange place. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles(read immigrants) of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1Peter 1:1 ESV). In the context of 1 Peter 1:1, Christians are those who hold citizenship in heaven while living their lives on earth. Peter is writing to all Christians, but especially the Jews, who are part of the dispersion, the Diaspora. They are Jews scattered throughout the nations of the known world. Currently, the term Disapoa may also refer to Christians scattered throughout the world. Christians have dual citizenship. While living on earth the Christian lives according to the customs and culture of the nation in which they reside while remaining constantly aware of their citizenship in heaven.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews couples the word alien immigrant with the word xenos. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers (xenos) and exiles (parapidemos) on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13 ESV). Xenosmeans foreigner or stranger, or someone who is not familiar with the country in which they find themselves. They are not immigrants, though they are alien. Thus, the writer of Hebrews describes those who wait patiently and faithfully for God to act and consider themselves strangers even while they are living in the culture of a host country.

Jesus describes the citizen of the kingdom of heaven as both salt and light.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)

God does not physically separate out those who are His from the world though He does separate them out as His. He disperses them throughout the world as witnesses of the Gospel. Christians live in the world as full citizens of the kingdom of God, temporarily removed from their true home, which is in eternity with God.

Peter, an Apostle

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Jesus is a real person and real people encountered Him. The full humanity of those who live in far-away places or long-ago times is often lost on those currently living. Most people are so involved in their lives they do not think or visualize that the names they read in Scripture are attached to a person who lived and breathed, who ate and slept, who felt emotions like love and happiness. Real people saw Jesus and walked with Him, ate with Him, listened to Him. They were His friends and enemies. They watched Him work and heal. They heard Him teach, rebuke and lead. Many either loved Him deeply or hated Him passionately. Many went about their business, seemingly unaffected by His presence. Yet, everyone was and has been affected by Him.

Jesus taught pointed lessons, through word and action, building into the lives of those who are His, qualities and characteristics God’s children throughout history could see and emulate.  Jesus confronted people who fought against him, those who rejected and finally murdered Him.

Peter, one of the apostles, and the author of two epistles in the New Testament, was taught and disciplined by Jesus. Trials and testing are the most effective means God uses to build into Christians the character of the citizen of His kingdom. Peter had a wild and aggressive personality God tamed before his death. He was impulsive, jumping into circumstances without understanding the consequences of his actions. God changed Peter, building discipline and Godliness into his life.  The words in his epistles come from the indwelling of the Spirit and personal experience with the Son of God.

What do we know about Peter? We know he was married. Before Peter was called by Jesus and began following Him, He healed Peter’s mother-in-law (see Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:29-30; Luke 4:38).His wife was with him during his ministry years after Jesus’ ascension (1 Corinthians 9:5). We know he was a fisherman who worked the Sea of Galilee and partnered with his brother Andrew, and James and John Zebedee, who also would become apostles (see Matthew 4:18; Luke 5:1-7; John 21:3). He was called by various names including Simon Barjona and Cephas (see Matthew 16:16-19; Mark 3:16; John 1:42, 1 Corinthians 9:5

Peter was a disciple of Jesus, someone who followed Him and learned from Him. He became and apostle, chosen by Jesus after a night of prayer.  Apostle means delegate, messenger, one chosen and sent out with a specific message. Many people followed Christ during His earthly ministry. Jesus chose twelve men to receive specific instruction and direction in preaching the gospel.

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-16 ESV; see also Matthew 10:2; 16:18-19; Mark 3:16; Acts 1:13.)

As a disciple and apostle of Christ he Peter was commissioned to take the gospel to his own people, the Jews, while Paul carried the gospel to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8). During Peter’s ministry, after Jesus’, ascension, he faced hostility and persecution by the Jews and those opposed to the message of Jesus. He was imprisoned and beaten after his encounter with the same high priest who had Jesus murdered (see Acts 5:17-42). He had a vision which disrupted the traditional Jewish understanding of clean and unclean, learning that God had also chosen the Gentiles for citizenship in His kingdom (see Acts 10:1-48). Again, he was imprisoned and scheduled for execution by Herod, who had already killed James, the brother of John (see Acts 12:1-19). But, he was miraculously released from prison by an angel without the knowledge of any of the guards.

He was martyred, probably with Paul, in Rome during the time of Nero. There is no Biblical evidence showing the deaths of either man. Extrabiblical evidence, specifically Origen, suggests Peter was crucified upside down at his own request because he felt himself unworthy of dying like Jesus.

The Gospel of Mark, though written by John Mark, who was not an eye witness of the life of Christ, used Peter as his source of information. As a man who followed, helped and even interpreted for Peter, an eye-witness of Jesus and one of the inner circle of disciples, Mark’s gospel carries both the integrity of an eyewitness and the teachings of one of Jesus’ Apostles. In addition, Peter penned two epistles, entitled First and Second Peter. As an eye witness Peter is an important and critical observer of the teachings of Christ for those who are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Worship

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12:1-2 ESV]

God uses a specific word to describe our relationship with Him.

“Worship.”

Worship is an act of sacrifice designed and implemented to show honor and respect for God. I do not believe this is what God originally intended. God created man in His image so all might naturally serve Him showing their respect and adoration. Enter sin and with it is corruption, like a drop of poison in a gallon of water, every molecule is affected.

In the Hebrew Scripture, in the Mosaic Law, worship was regulated. Acceptable worship was well defined by God when He brought His people out of Egypt, a symbol of the world, into the Promised Land, Israel, a symbol of His kingdom. He gave the Law, the written code, to teach those who claimed to be His about sin and the need for His grace. They were given severe restrictions on appropriate and inappropriate acts of service and sacrifice. Nothing about the Law was designed it give any a means of earning God’s love and affection. Nothing any could do in following the Law would absolve them of the affects sin had upon their complete nature and person.

God looks at the thinking of the heart. Our actions and motivations are revealed in our worship of Him, or lack of worship of Him. Now worship requires sacrifice.

Yet, it was not through the blood of bulls and goats (see Hebrews 10:4) any would be justified or declared righteous in His presence. Only by His grace, His action, His will, would any be freed from the sentence of death demanded as judgment for sin. Only the sacrifice of His Son in our place would payment for the penalty demanded by God’s judgment by satisfied. His sacrifice is an example for us of the type of sacrifice God seeks from those who are His. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” [1 Peter 2:21 ESV].

Jesus gave everything for us, setting aside His glory and position to become a servant as we are meant to be as a citizen of His kingdom. He demands nothing less than everything from us. This is not a demand issued by a malevolent dictator God upon a subservient, dehumanized people. This is an expectation of a benevolent God for a people made whole and loved by Him who, in turn, loves Him.

Sacrifice given in love defeats the worldly attributes of sin and its demands filled with unreasonable expectations for some assumed return.

We love Him because He loved us first, showing His love through the total giving of Jesus with no demand for payment or earned merit. Our sacrifice for Him, a total giving of self, is done because of the absolute intimacy shared and had with Him.

Intimacy grows the closer two come to each other. We are to test the world around us and ourselves so we might know ourselves, created in His image and remade in the likeness of Christ at rebirth. He changes us as we seek Him out. Our point of view changes as we change, as we confront and reject the lie of sin which surrounds us in the world, which tempts us though those we encounter, which tugs and pulls our very flesh. He changes the thinking of our hearts giving us His truth, driving us away from the world and drawing us toward Him, the source of eternal life.

Here is the downfall of many who think they know God by following perceived rules devoid of grace. They know the rules intellectually but do not know Him intimately, the One who is the rules, the eternal Law. Following the rules steadfastly, or at least a worldly understanding of the rules, gives a sense of control which is a subconscious manipulation of God, with the assumption God will tangibly reward those who keep them. Instead of sacrificing themselves to God, an act of loving worship and service, which results in freedom from the sentence of sin and intimacy with Him, they sacrifice a relationship with Him for control. How easy it is to lose sight of Him by seeing only the words.

 

Teaching Children

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! [Matthew 18:1-7 ESV]

We are all teachers, by what we do, say, think and feel. Everything we do teaches others about what we think and feel regarding God and His Son. Nothing is hidden from God. Though we are the finest actor who has ever lived, able to fool crowds, even to the point of convincing ourselves we are what we are not, God knows who we truly are.

We want to control God, our world, our relationships our own lives. Anyone who thinks they do not want control is either lying to themselves and others, a self-righteous dishonesty, or deluded. Not only do we want to control God, or at least wrench control from Him, but we want those around us to think well of us, respect us, or fear us.

One of the hazards of teaching is allowing others to put us on a pedestal. Every teachers faces this hazard sometimes succumbing to its subtle influences, which tugs and pulls them into thinking more highly of themselves than they ought. This is a form of control. Remember, everyone is a teacher even if they do not think they are. We teach more by actions and motivations than words.

In Matthew 5:19 Jesus states flatly, without pretense, everyone who teaches about God’s will is either thought of by God as great in the kingdom or is placed as the least in the kingdom. His criteria for judgment is profound.

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. i [Matthew 5:19 ESV]

“Relaxes” means to loose, melt, or put off. Those who live according to the will of God, to whom they belong, teach others by example how to live with and for Him. Jesus’ words almost imply there are levels in heaven where some can earn greater prestige in this life. We know nothing we do carries merit in God’s eyes. We cannot earn our citizenship or place in eternity. This does not mean God will not lift up those who live righteously. He is preparing us for eternity. This does mean our obedience to Him is important for the here and now and for eternity. We are commanded to live according to truth given to us in nature, the evidence of God’s work, through His Word, Jesus Christ, and through the teaching and direction of the Holy Spirit. We are not partners with Him but obedient servants of His, seen as adopted children.

In order to teach truth the person must be filled with truth, understand how truth works and how it affects every facet of life. Learning to recognize truth is more important than recognizing sin, or a lie or ungodliness. This means learning to test all things against truth, even the motivations and attitudes of the heart.

We cannot judge greatness in the kingdom by the standards of the world. Being great in the kingdom of heaven means sacrificing the world’s standards and living according to God’s, even when it brings persecution.

Jesus’ disciples wanted to know who was the greatest in the kingdom, obviously wondering which one of them would fill the spot. How arrogant. They were standing in the presence of God, the King of the kingdom, and they had the audacity to ask such a question. But, Jesus did not come to exalt Himself but to take upon Himself the sentence of death for all. He placed a child in front of them and told them who the greatest was. All who enter the kingdom are the greatest.

Then He warned them. Since all you do, all you think, all you feel, all which motivates you, is taught to all around you, especially children, who by their very innocence (though they are the greatest of sinners) love God, be mindful and aware of how you are living. They will copy you. You will be held accountable. You’re best practice is to know God, not just intellectually but intimately, with your whole person. We are not citizens of the kingdom of the world but of heaven. As His servants we do and by doing teach others to do His will.