Mysteries of the Kingdom

Join Our Email List

mysteries-of-the-kingdom

Jesus revealed the mysteries of the kingdom in parables

To many people, Matthew 13 is a mysterious chapter because it is full of parables commonly interpreted without a lot of confidence, certainty or convincing cross-references. The seven parables in this chapter illustrate spiritual realities and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. God wants His people to clearly understand these realities. Matthew’s gospel does not deal primarily with salvation. The theme John’s gospel is salvation, but the theme of Matthew is the dynamics and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. We must take care not to impose our own ideas or preconceived notions on any book chapter or reference of the Bible. These parables deal with the dynamics of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

Aspects of the kingdom

We can observe that the kingdom of heaven involves three aspects: the appearance, the reality and the physical and geopolitical manifestation of the kingdom of heaven. This final aspect corresponds to the 1000 year reign of Christ called the Millennium in which Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, will reign over the entire world from the city of Jerusalem, and Christians who overcome will reign with Him.

These seven parables, like many groups of seven in the Bible, are separated into two sub groups. The first four address the appearance of the kingdom of heaven, they begin with the phrase “the kingdom of heaven is like…” In these four parables, the intent is not to define explicitly every aspect of the mysteries of the kingdom, but to describe aspects of what appears to be the kingdom of heaven. The purpose of these parables is to warn against things that “appear” to be the kingdom of heaven but in reality, are not.

After Jesus told the parable of the sower recorded in Matthew chapter 13:3-8, His disciples asked Him why He spoke to the people in parables, He responded to their inquiry by giving them an explicit explanation of why He spoke through parables.

In verse 11, He explained that the reason he spoke in parables was because His disciples were privileged to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven but not everyone in the multitude had this privilege. Jesus used explicit terminology whenever He spoke to His disciples. He taught in parables because He only wanted to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven to His disciples. Scripture affirms that God’s will is that none perish, but that all repent. God’s will is that all men have the knowledge and revelation of His Word. However, because of the hardness of men’s hearts, he hasn’t given them the privilege of knowing the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”. In order to understand God’s will we must have an open and inquisitive heart and humbly receive it as fertile soil receives a seed. Jesus beautifully illustrated this principle in His first parable when He spoke of how each different type of soil receives seed.

The kingdom is something beyond salvation

We can be sure that Jesus did not want to prevent anyone from being saved and that the meaning of these parables was not hidden to prevent people from recognizing their need for salvation and coming to repentance. Such is clearly not God’s heart. It is easy to discern that the message concealed in these parables was not concerning salvation since there is no reference to the cross, to a savior, or was there any evangelistic appeal. Instead, the themes of these parables point to fruitfulness, true and false believers, things that appear to be the kingdom of heaven but are devoid of its true nature and different aspects of what happens in the kingdom of heaven. None of these parables made an evangelistic appeal and apparently Jesus spoke them to test the hearts of the hearers.

It is necessary to recognize that the term “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” is a highly distinct term that does not indicate a general knowledge of God or of His Word. Jesus did not tell His disciples that they had received the privilege of knowing the Word of God, or the will of God, or even about the kingdom of God. He made it clear, that the knowledge of the mysteries (from the Greek musterion: a hidden or secret thing or something not obvious to the understanding) were revealed only to them as His disciples after having been initiated to exclusive privileges, one of which, is the special knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

The Greek word translated as “mystery” refers to several different mysteries of God, His Word and His work. It refers to the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, to the grafting of the church into Israel, to marriage as a metaphor of Christ and the Church, to Babylon, and the woman and the great beast that carried her, to mention just a few. Therefore, we can easily conclude that the “mysteries” mentioned in the New Testament do not all refer to the same thing. For this reason, in order to discern which mystery each text is referring to, we must consider its context.

The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven that Christ was referring to were hidden in the parables of the kingdom of heaven most of which are recorded in Matthew 13. The kingdom of heaven is a term used exclusively in Matthew’s account and refers to the Millennial Reign of Christ subsequent to the rapture and great tribulation and before Armageddon and the eternal state of Heaven. This is not common knowledge among most Christians and continues to remain almost a universal mystery.

After Jesus explained to His disciples that they were the only ones who had been given the privilege of knowing the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, He reiterated and expanded upon the subject for what amounted to several more paragraphs. In verse 12 He taught that in relation to this knowledge, whoever had it would receive more and with abundance. However, whoever did not have the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven would lose the little that they did have. Even a small amount of knowledge concerning the kingdom that they managed to accumulate, would be taken from them.

In verse 13, Jesus taught that since the multitude that heard His words had not been granted this knowledge, He spoke in parables because even though they had eyes and ears, they had no spiritual sight or sense of hearing. Then He cited the prophet Isaiah who prophesied that since His people had such dull spiritual eyes, ears and hearts in relation to His message, the judgment pronounced over them would be that they would not understand and repent, and thus would lose the chance to receive His healing. Since they had no propensity to turn, they were also denied the chance to turn.

This is a very serious condition, and tragically common among God’s people. Note that Jesus related this to Isaiah’s prophecy to God’s people. God’s did not direct these words to another nation; He spoke them to Israel, His own people. In the same way, Jesus did not direct the words in these verses to lost people but to those who were “children of Abraham” God’s covenant people. Many Christians have ears but do not hear and eyes but do not see! Because of the dullness of their spiritual faculties, they lose any revelation that they might have previously had. This is a terrible indictment against God’s people!

Then Jesus reassured His disciples and affirmed that such was not the case with them. They would be blessed because they had both spiritual sight and hearing to receive the explanation that He gave them privately. Then before explaining the parable of the sower, He affirmed that many prophets and righteous men of old desired to see and hear the mysteries that they were witnessing but never had the chance, but they had the privilege of this opportunity, thus they were blessed. When we seek to understand these mysteries of the kingdom with the heart of a true disciple of God we will also be blessed with eyes that see and ears that hear.


Unequal Christian Rewards

Join Our Email List

Unequal Christian rewards for unequal Christian service

Unequal Christian rewards

Eternal life is equal for all, but in the kingdom, there will be different levels of reward and position among believers. In other words there will be unequal Christians rewards for unequal Christian service.  Each person will receive a reward according to his works.  Whoever has no works, will receive no reward.  Whoever has practiced evil works will suffer correction and discipline. In the kingdom, there are different levels of responsibility, authority and reward.  Some will receive ten cities, others five.

“And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’  And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’  Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’’ (Luke 19:17-19)

Some servants will receive a reward; others however will not.  Some will receive a rich entrance into the kingdom and some will enter without such an honor.

“. . . for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 1:11)

Unequal Christian rewards speak of the Kingdom but not of Heaven

While there will be varying levels and unequal Christian rewards during the kingdom age, in the eternal state of heaven there will be no different levels, everyone will receive equal treatment.  No one will receive ten more or less of anything in heaven, but this will be the case during the millennial reign of Christ.

The kingdom age and eternal life are two distinct dispensations. The condition for salvation and entrance into heaven is faith in the Lord.  Beyond faith, there is no other condition, because Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements for our salvation and our entrance into heaven. The death of His Son satisfied all the demands of God’s righteousness. However, entering into the kingdom of heaven is another matter; works are required.  Today man is saved by the justice of God, however we can’t enter into the kingdom of Heaven unless our righteousness is far superior to that of the scrupulous Pharisees and scribes (Matthew 5:20)  Salvation is a matter of knowing the Lord, but the kingdom is a matter of us being known of Him.

The matter of eternal life has as its only basis the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  However, the matter of the kingdom also depends on the works of God’s children.  Of course, God’s children do the works in dependence on the power of God, but the point is that God’s people must do them.

Even the kingdom, is in the end, a matter of grace.  After all, what works could we do for God in our own strength?  So if we do them in His strength, how can we not marvel that even so, He rewards us?  The bible teaches that God is not served by human hands, but even so we are called to be His servants and “workers together with Him” (Acts 7:25; 1 Cor. 3:9).  It is a privilege for God to call us His helpers.  Just think about it, what work could we possibly do at a level of sufficient excellency to be able to please the divine pattern of Him who created the heavens and the earth?  Only by grace, can this happen.

Unequal Christian rewards and the parable of the workers in the Vineyard

What about those who convert at an old age with little time to produce good works before God and store up treasures in heaven, how will God treat them?  Even if someone converts later, at an older age, he may have a reward equal to that of those who have converted at a young age and had more time to accumulate heavenly treasures, because God looks principally at the intent of the heart.  We can see this principle in the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20:

“So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius.  But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’  But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?  Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.  Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’  So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen”   (Matt. 20:8-16).

Here we can see that God does distribute unequal Christian rewards and differentiates the level of service from Christian to Christian however he gives each Christian equal opportunities to be faithful with what they have received from His hand.

Yes, friend, there will be unequal Christians rewards for unequal Christian service.

 


Christian suffering and sacrifice is not a path to salvation!

Salvation does not require Christian suffering

Christian suffering

Neither Christian suffering nor Christian sacrifice beyond that which Christ already suffered on the cross are required for salvation, but the kingdom requires sacrifice and sometimes Christian suffering.

Salvation does not require anyone to live in poverty.  No Christian really believes that in order to receive salvation he or she must sell all his or her material possessions, but Jesus said:

“And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). 

During the last few decades, many rich and famous people have come into the church but never has anyone said, finally, the camel went through the eye of the needle.  Salvation is a gift.  It is not necessary to give or donate anything whatsoever to receive salvation since salvation has no relation to Christian suffering or sacrifice.

However, the kingdom is different.  If as a saved and born again child of God, I still manifest an attitude of greed and love of money, I would be acting like a defeated Christian and I will disqualify myself from receiving any reward.  It is quite difficult for a rich person to become an overcomer, because of the great love that the rich have devoted to money.  It is rare to find a rich man who is completely faithful in paying his tithe.  They give great amounts that do not even correspond to a tenth of a tenth of their income, much less the surpassing righteousness demanded to inherit the kingdom. If a Christian is greedy he will indeed “suffer” until his greed is broken. But this type of Christian suffering is not required nor is the path to salvation!

Jesus taught:

“For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”  Matt.19:12

Salvation does not depend on one’s marital status nor is it necessary to make a vow of chastity, however to receive the reward, sometimes this is necessary.  For example, if you have never married, you should remain sexually pure until the day that you get married which can be considered Christian suffering for those who can’t imagine living a few days without sex.  Otherwise, to live in sexual impurity will indicate being a defeated Christian.

Revelation 20 shows us that the martyrs will receive the kingdom although it does not say that they will be the only ones who receive it (see verse 4).  The Bible, however, never teaches that a man must become a martyr in order to receive eternal life. Receiving the kingdom however, is different. In order to receive the kingdom, God demands that we put forth an effort, including possible martyrdom to receive it.

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  (Revelation 20:4)

On one occasion, the mother of James and John approached Jesus with a special request, she wanted the conquest of the kingdom to be given as the gift of salvation or in other words without having to pay the price of Christian suffering.

“And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.”  So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”  (Matthew 20:21-23)

The Lord did not grant this mother’s request because the kingdom is not something that is given as a gift or favor, it is something that is rewarded by works and performance both of which imply Christian suffering!  The kingdom is a reward earned by merit.  The two brothers even told the Lord that they would drink the cup; however, even so, He did not grant them their request.

Not all suffering is Christian suffering!

At the cross, just before death, one of the thieves crucified with Christ made the same request:

“Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”  (Luke 23:42-43)

The thief made a request concerning his status in the kingdom, but Jesus answered concerning his salvation. Concerning the kingdom, there was nothing more that he could have done at that point.  He had no chance to practice any works of righteousness since he waited until the time of his death to be born again.  He had no time to practice any works for which he could have received a reward. It was as if Jesus had said, “Today you will be saved, but as far as the kingdom is concerned, nothing more can be done, it is too late.  He would have the gift of salvation but not the conquest of the kingdom.

Many people in the church today are deceived concerning what happens at death.  They somehow imagine that death has the power to perfect them. The truth is that if we die ignorant of spiritual things here, we will be ignorant of spiritual things when God resurrects us there.  If we die without having practiced deeds of righteousness here, we will arrive there with no works.  In other words, death does not change our spiritual status.

“’Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”  (Revelation 14:13) 

If the works of those who have labored in the kingdom will follow them in death, it is only logical to conclude that those who have no works here will have no works to follow them there.

Death has no power to add anything to us.  Those who die as children in the faith here will arrive as children in the faith there.  No one will acquire knowledge in the blink of an eye just by leaving their mortal bodies behind and taking on a glorified spiritual body.  Nobody will suddenly, acquire works before the Lord just because they died when they had no opportunity, or didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that they had to work while they were still here.  If death had the power to add something to us or to transform us, the Lord would not have had to die on the cross.

The Millennium will be the time that Christ will complete the work that He began in the life of many Christians.  He will fulfill His promise.  We know that many people die without having completed the work that God has entrusted to them.

“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

The Day of Jesus Christ comes at the end of the Millennium at the battle of Armageddon when the Lord takes vengeance over His enemies.

The Lord looks for fruit, as we see in the passage of the true Vine in John chapter 15.  Jesus stated clearly:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:5, 6

Whoever bears no fruit in this life, will pass through the fire of God’s discipline during the Millennium.  If we sin here on earth and go into the Millennium in sin, we will appear before the Lord in the same way.  If there is any unrepentant sin in the life of a Christian in this age, there will be discipline in the next age and possibly even in this present age.

The Lord said:

“Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison…” (Matthew 5:25) 

This exhortation affirms that we must settle accounts with those who have legitimate grievances against us.  If we delay, the other party may die then there will be no way to correct the problem, he will take the matter up with the judge.  “The way”, in this text, refers to while we are still alive here on earth.  If you die with any unresolved matter, on judgment day, the Lord will demand an accounting and consequently, He may mete out discipline and punishment.  Make no mistake thinking that death will free you from the discipline of the Lord.  The Father disciplines His children at any time He wishes.

However, this matter is not limited only to offenses committed against others; we also need to be careful to hold no grudges against others.  Jesus said that if we do not forgive those who offend us or who are our debtors in this age, He would deliver us to the tormentors in that day.  We may still receive the gift of salvation but not the conquest of the kingdom.

“And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”  (Matthew 18:34-35)

Salvation is a gift but the kingdom is a reward

Salvation is free! It’s the reward that costs.

salvation is a gift

Salvation is a gift received by grace through faith but the kingdom is a reward received by works

Salvation is a gift, the Word of God never teaches that we can receive it by works. Nobody can buy salvation, Jesus already paid for it.  He bought and paid for it so that nobody else can buy what He has already purchased and paid for. We need to be firm concerning the fact that salvation is a gift received by grace and nothing else!  Salvation is a gift, it will not come with the confession of the name of the Lord plus deliverance, or confession accompanied with the attitude of giving up smoking, or changing your style of clothes, or any other way. Salvation is a gift that comes to us by grace, through faith.  It is by grace and only by grace.

The true invitation of the Lord is “Come as you are, but come!”  He does not tell anyone to “first purify yourself”, or “first change your habits”.  The Lord will change your life.  This is the gospel of grace: our salvation.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price.  (Isaiah 55:1)

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23) 

A gift is the same as a present.  Salvation is a gift given to us with no strings attached.  The only condition is that we believe.  If we believe, then we will be saved.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:8, 9) 

Salvation is a gift that no one deserves!

I know that it is hard to believe that it could be that simple, but here we have it in black and white.  We cannot honestly interpret it any other way.  Either Salvation is free, or it has a price that we must pay for it.  It did have a price, a high price, but Jesus paid it all!

Salvation happens in an instant. God regenerates our human spirit when we receive eternal life within us.  Salvation is the door, through which we enter to gain entrance to God’s presence.

. . . that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9, 10)

Salvation is a gift and deals with the problem of Hell, but becoming an overcomer points to the matter of reward and resolves the problem of lack of fruitfulness. Many Christians are only concerned about escaping Hell, but once we receive the gift of salvation, we should forget the matter of Hell because we have not only received salvation we have become God’s begotten children.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:” (John 1:12)

I have two sons, and no matter how many bad things they may do, they will never cease to be my sons.  The Lord also states that no one plucks any of those who come to Him out of His hand. (John 10:28)  I understand that not all believe in this way.  Arminianism and Calvinism are the two theological lines of thought that debate whether salvation can be lost or not.  The Arminian position teaches that salvation depends on us and that, if we are faithful until the end, we will be saved. The Calvinist, however, preaches that salvation does not depend on us but that it is a gift of God.  If I receive it, then God will never take it back.  Apparently, these two views appear to contradict one another, but there can be equilibrium between the two.

Both lines of thought have scriptural backing, but, even so, both cause some problems.  Generally the Armenian considers only the aspect of salvation, the Armenian almost never considers the matter of reward; normally, the Armenian will teach that, if you come to Jesus, you will receive a reward in heaven. Such teaching is incorrect however; Scripture has never taught that anyone will receive a reward for receiving Jesus as Savior. It is incorrect to interpret salvation as a reward. Salvation is one thing and reward is something distinctly separate. The Arminians are mistaken on this point. Many Arminians live in constant fear, because each time that they fall in sin they conclude that they are in danger of losing their salvation. I am speaking in general terms, because not all Christians of the Armenian persuasion think this way. Generally, however the Armenian position makes for a more zealous and committed believer because of the fear of being lost if not sufficiently faithful.

For the Calvinists however, there is no loss of salvation. They generally place more weight on God’s sovereignty than on man’s responsibility. Since for them there is no loss of salvation, many end up living lax spiritual lives. Since God is sovereign, they conclude that it is not necessary to pray, fast or serve the Lord with zeal. Many Calvinists become third rate Christians. They are believers, they have spiritual life, but in general, they do not live as overcomers. They think that because salvation is something that only God operates in the Christian that everything else in the Christian life is also exclusively His doing. However, scripture refutes this many times. We see examples in the Old Testament where God commanded men to do things and then turned around and said that He did them. It is because He works through the works of man. The New Testament teaches us that we are co-laborers together with Him.

I am seeking to emphasize the balance between the vision of grace and of works. On one hand, you are saved by grace, on the other; you are saved for good works. Thus, you will no longer be judged with respect to salvation; however, with respect to reward, you will be judged and deemed worthy on the basis of having practiced good works that deserve the approval of God or not.

The Calvinist position is useful because it teaches the truth that salvation is a gift received by grace. A gift cannot be lost. While the Arminianism position is useful because it preaches commitment, seriousness with respect to God’s commands and watching and praying, even if all this is for fear of going to Hell. However, we can harmonize these two lines of theology. We can balance the two. Salvation is a gift received by grace through faith, while the kingdom depends on works subsequent to having received salvation. Some preachers and teachers say that, if you come to Jesus, you will receive a crown in Heaven. This is definitely contrary to the Word of God. Nobody will receive a crown just because he or she has received salvation. It is necessary to have works. We receive salvation by faith and only by faith but for the works.  Jesus said:

“. . .and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.  And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”  (Revelation 2:23)

If we receive salvation entirely by grace through faith, how do we receive the kingdom?  The answer is by fulfilling the conditions of God connected to faithfulness, holiness, and perseverance.  Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

Is it necessary to be poor in spirit to enter Heaven?  We have already shown that salvation is by grace therefore we do not need any special virtues to receive salvation. Do you believe sinners possess any spiritual virtues? All sinners are miserable, arrogant and proud, as are many Christians unfortunately. However, if the sinner believes with his heart and confesses with his mouth, he will be saved. On the other hand, Jesus said, to inherit the kingdom, it is necessary to be poor in spirit and deny yourself.

In the same way, it is not necessary to suffer persecution in order to receive salvation. However, to receive the reward of reining with the Lord, there will be times when you will need to endure persecution because of righteousness, because Jesus said:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:10)

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:20) 

Fortunately salvation is a gift, otherwise we would be in big trouble!

If you think that in order to receive salvation you need to be holier than the Pharisees, then you have serious problems! Probably, very few of us would make it to heaven if this were true. From an external viewpoint, the Pharisees were blameless. Imagine someone who was so correct that they tithed on some mint or other kind of spice that someone handed to them. If someone gives you a stick of gum, do you tear off a tenth part to give back as a tithe? Careful, if you believe that the beatitudes are speaking of salvation you could go to hell for such an oversight! However to inherit the kingdom and be an overcomer, your righteousness must greatly exceed that of the Pharisees.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

To receive the gift of salvation, you don’t have to first do the will of God, rather you must confess with your mouth and believe in your heart as Romans 10:9 says. However to reign in the Kingdom of Heaven, we must do His will. How many Christians can honestly say that they are faithful in doing God’s will? We must recognize that there are Christians who have received the gift of salvation yet do not practice God’s will. However, such Christians cannot say that they are overcomers.

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12) 

Salvation is a gift, no need to fight for it!

It is not necessary to be violent, to fight and scratch to receive your salvation because it is a gift of grace. However, the people of God can only receive the kingdom by works, and frequently, the works require force and strength and a resolute perseverance that can be called violence. The Word of God, repetitively, shows us each Christian receives his rewarded according to his works.

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” (Revelation 22:12)

“Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” (1Corinthians 3:8)

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24)

“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.” (Romans 4:4)

All that we must do to receive the gift of salvation is to believe and sometimes we waver in our belief, not even that must be perfect. But in order to receive reward we must produce good works that proceed from pure and godly motives from the heart, anything else is called dead works which are useless in commending us to God and even less so to save us as if any work was needed to complete the saving work of Christ on the cross.

Heavenly Rewards for the Overcomers

heavenly rewards

Heavenly rewards are not heavenly gifts

If salvation is a gift it can’t also be part of our heavenly rewards.  By definition gifts can’t be earned . . . I know, I know. . . it happens all the time in the real world here on earth.  But with God, a gift is a gift and never a reward and God never rewards a gift to anyone.  God takes His words seriously, and we should also.

The kingdom of Heaven is the period when the overcoming believers will receive their heavenly rewards, this kingdom itself and its administration is the recompense or part of the heavenly rewards of those believers who enter into and grow in the experience of victory.  In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5-7, the Lord speaks of the kingdom of heaven.  The Lord’s teachings tell us how a Christian can enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew repetitively speaks of heavenly rewards.  The Lord Jesus mentioned the Kingdom of Heaven three times in the beatitudes.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  (Matthew 5:3, 10-12)

Heavenly rewards and the kingdom

We need to recognize that the kingdom of heaven itself is the heavenly reward.  These promises show us that the privilege of administrating the kingdom together with Christ is the reward of God.  There is no difference between the two.  In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord mentioned this matter many times, since He is talking about the kingdom.

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (Matthew 5:46)

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward from your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 6:1)

Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  (Matthew 6:2)

that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. (Matthew 6:4)

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  (Matthew 6:6)

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  (Matthew 6:17, 18)

The principal subject of the Sermon on the Mount is the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus brought up the matter of reward in these three chapters several times because the kingdom of heaven is the reward.

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.  Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27-28)

God will either reward or discipline a saved person according to his works.  There are two factors here.  First, each Christian will receive heavenly rewards according to his works, and second, Christ will distribute heavenly rewards when He comes in the glory of His Father with His angels.  This will happen at the time when He returns to establish His kingdom on the Earth. Therefore, the Lord will not begin to distribute heavenly rewards until the beginning of the kingdom of Heaven.

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”  (Revelation 11:15)

The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth.”  (Revelation 11:18)

When the Lord becomes the King and the kingdoms of the world becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, then that will be the time for giving heavenly rewards to the saints, to the small and great.  In other words, the time of the kingdom is the time of reward.  When the kingdom comes, the heavenly rewards will come also.

The reward will be the receiving of the crown and the throne.  What is a crown?  It is not merely a sculptured piece of gold with diamond inserts to wear on the head.  A crown is a symbol.  The crown represents a position in the kingdom and the glory of the kingdom.  When a ruler loses his crown, he loses power that it represents.  The crown and the throne are symbols of the kingdom.

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? (1 Thess. 2:19)

Paul said:

“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  (2 Timothy 4:8)

Paul was not looking to receive anything to put on his head.  He knew that the crown was a position in the kingdom.  To receive it, it is necessary that the believer receive God’s approval.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  (James 1:12)

. . . and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.  (1 Peter 5:4)

Jesus warned the members of the Church in Philadelphia against the risk of losing their crown.

Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.  (Revelation 3:11)

Just as the crown is a reward, the throne is also a reward for the overcomer.  The throne is not just a golden chair.  It is also a symbol of the kingdom representing position, authority and glory in the kingdom.  When we hear that a king of some country loses the throne, in reality he lost his kingdom.  The throne and the crown as objects are not significant; they only exist to symbolize the kingdom.  The bible clearly shows us that the heavenly rewards are simply the privileges of the kingdom.

 

Keeping power of God, or staying power of man

keeping-power-of-God

We are saved by the keeping power of God and not by our staying power no matter how righteous we may be.

God teaches us in His word that He keeps us unto salvation. Four dimensions of God keep us in His saving hand.  These are: the Son of God, the power of God, the promises of God and the Love of God.

The Son of God keeps us

The Lord Jesus is our High Priest

The Lord Jesus is not only our substitute sacrifice; He is also our high priest.  Without the Lord as savior, we would be lost and without hope, but without the Lord as intercessor we would never persevere.

Only the Lord Jesus as a high priest before God can maintain our salvation.  The only way we can maintain our salvation is because He is praying and interceding for us.

Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.   Hebrews 7:25

The power of God keeps us

God is the one that keeps and guards us.

The keeping of our salvation does not depend on our believing, but on the protecting and keeping power of God.  We do not keep ourselves; God keeps us.

It is by grace through faith that we receive the salvation of God but it is by grace through His power, not our faith, that we receive God’s keeping.

. . . who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5

Do you really think that you are the one that clings to God through your faith, or that it is God who clings to you by His power? To be kept by the power of God means that if it were possible for us to be lost it would not be our fault, but His.  Our faith may limit the manifestation of God’s power in many things subsequent to salvation but our faith never limits His power to keep us.  That is irreverent thinking because God keeps us; therefore, we cannot lose our salvation.

We can divide salvation into three stages.  The salvation mentioned here refers to the last stage, glorification.  Therefore, the Lord guards us until the end.  Salvation is something entirely attributed to God.

If the preservation of our salvation depended upon us, we would not be able to hold onto it even for a few hours, much less for the rest of our life.  However, if the Lord Jesus keeps us, then indeed we will be kept.

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.  2 Timothy 1:12

God will keep everything that Paul entrusted to Him until the return of Jesus. Therefore, we are saved at all times until that day. If someday I went to hell it would not be a huge loss in the eyes of the world, but for the glory of God, the loss would mean a lot.  This would damage His glory because it would mean that He had not kept me well.  Because of His glory, we can say that there is no way to lose the salvation of God.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.  Jude 1:24-25

Since the Word of God states that the Lord is powerful to keep us from stumbling and falling, we can safely affirm that He does keep us.  The big question is not if we are or are not capable of keeping our salvation.  The question is if the Lord is capable of preserving our salvation.  Scripture teaches that He is capable of preserving our salvation and He in fact does preserve it!

How does God keep us?  He keeps us by hiding our lives together with Christ.

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.   Colossians 3:3

For us the life of God can only be lost if God Himself were to be lost.  Thank God, He will never be lost.  As a result, the life that He placed within us also will never be lost.

The promises of God keep us

Once you and I are saved by grace, no one can cast us out of God’s hand, and so that we have assurance of this, God gave us promises that we would never be lost.

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.  John 5:24

God is eternal and everything He does is for eternity.  God would not save someone today, then turn around, and throw him or her in hell tomorrow.  He will not save them again on the next day and then cast them in Hell again.  If that were the case, the book of life would be full of eraser marks.  God does not change His purposes for someone who becomes one of His children.

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one.”   John 10:28-30

The Lord said, “No man is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand”.  In the original Greek, no man meant “no created thing”.  We are in the hands of God and no created thing can take us out of His hand.  Thank God, nothing is greater than He is.

Some say: “The truth is that others can’t pluck me out, but I myself can leave”.  Whoever says this is failing to consider all of the Word of God.  If after a person receives salvation he could later lose it, could it be because he wanted to, that he no longer valued heaven and rather chose hell?  Not even the sinner living in the world wants to go to hell.  Not even Satan wishes to go to Hell!  Those who act as if they do not care obviously do not have the slightest idea of what waits for them in Hell.

For a Christian to perish then, it must mean that the temptations of the world and the seduction of the enemy are able to deceive them and pluck them out of the hand of God. If demons and the world can do this, then we must conclude that they are more powerful than the Father of creation is.  No my friend, not even you can jump out of the hand of God because you were included in the “no created thing” who could pluck them from the Father’s hand referred to in John’s epistle.

The Love of God keeps us

Our Heavenly Father keeps our salvation for us; therefore, we can know that we are safe from eternal damnation now and always will be.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 8:31-39

Our salvation is not a matter of us loving the Lord, but of Him loving us.  Once He gave us His salvation, it is ours eternally.  Nobody can change or alter this fact.  We are saved eternally.

The Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace

Understanding the Gospel of the Kingdom

gospel-of-the-kingdom

In order to gain a correct understanding of what the bible calls “The gospel of the kingdom” it is important to understand some fundamental concepts.  First, it is useful to know that only in the gospel of Matthew is the term “The gospel of the kingdom” used.  No other part of the New Testament ever refers to the gospel as “The gospel of the kingdom“.  Mark refers to it one time as “the gospel of the kingdom of God.”  However, everywhere else the gospel writers used other names, the gospel of grace, the gospel of God, etc.  It is also useful to recognize that the Gospel according to Matthew portrays Christ as king.  It is a kingdom Gospel.  The Gospel according to Mark portrays Christ as a servant, in Luke’s account, as a true man, and in the Gospel of John, as God.

It is also significant that only in the gospel according to Matthew do we hear of the Kingdom of Heaven and the term gospel of the kingdom.  Matthew used the term thirty-two times in his Gospel and the other New Testament writers zero times in the remaining books of the bible.  What then does the Kingdom of Heaven mean?  Can we say that the Kingdom of Heaven is the same as heaven?  Can we say that the Kingdom of Heaven is the same as the Kingdom of God?  For now, let me offer the following explanation and then in future posts I will gather scripture to explain what I believe the Holy Spirit has always intended that we understand by this distinction.

The gospel of grace deals with heaven, the gospel of the kingdom with the millennium.

We can say that the difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and heaven is the difference between the rule of Christ on the earth during His millennial reign and the eternal state we call heaven. We can also affirm that the difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God is that the Kingdom of God extends all throughout eternity past present and future and the Kingdom of Heaven is that part of the Kingdom of God that will occur on the earth during Christ’s millennial reign.  In other words, the Kingdom of Heaven is to the Kingdom of God just as New York City is to the United States.  Conversely, the Kingdom of God is not the Kingdom of Heaven just as the United States is not New York City.  One is part of and contained in the other.  This may sound trivial, but unless we understand this distinction, needless confusion will isolate us from the truth and weaken our conviction and effectiveness as Christians.

The reason I make a point of this is that if every time Christ speaks of the His millennial reign we understand that He is speaking of heaven we will understandably become confused.  The two are part of completely different dispensations.

We can confidently conclude therefore that the gospel of the kingdom deals with what will happen during the millennial rule of Christ. It is not a gospel of grace because the reign of Christ during the millennium will not be based on grace but rather the law of Christ as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount.

Blood covenant and eternal security

 

The blood covenant is a guarantee of salvation.

blood_covenantSalvation or the new birth is a blood covenant, the last of a series of covenants that God has made with man often called the “New Covenant“. It is a blood covenant completely conceived and developed by God.  It is an agreement between two parties so serious, that it can never be broken, only under penalty of death.  Through this agreement, all possessions and debts become the property of both parties of the covenant.

The terms of a blood covenant

Satan knows the power of blood covenants and that is why he demands their use in his worship and rituals.  The Hebrews celebrated blood covenants with several symbols to affirm the terms of the covenant.  One of the symbols was that the two parties of the covenant exchanged coats or outer clothing.  This clothing symbolizes life, so the two parties exchanged their lives for one another.

Another symbol was the exchange of belts, which symbolizes protection, or the idea that whoever attacks one attacks the other and each would protect one another.  Another part of the covenant ceremony was walking among the divided blood sacrifice in a figure eight, which is a symbol of beginning a new life together.  In addition, those entering in to the blood covenant would cut their hand or wrist and mingle their blood one with another to signify that they were uniting as one. They also ate bread and drank wine symbolizing that the life of one was entering the body of the other.  New names were also given to each to signify that each had the right to the name of the other and finally trees were planted and the terms of the blood covenant were carved into the trunks symbolizing blessing in fulfilling the covenant and cursing for breaking the covenant.

Marriage as a blood covenant

Marriage is an example of a blood covenant.  The Word of God makes it clear that the marriage covenant ends only with the death of either the husband or the wife.  “What God hath joined let no man separate” are the words of our Lord.

God made a covenant with King David and established his throne forever.  Jesus the son of David is the fulfillment of the covenant, which is an example of an eternal covenant.  The new covenant is also an eternal covenant.  This means that nothing can destroy it.  No amount of sin, disobedience or unfaithfulness can make the covenant null or void. Since salvation is a blood covenant ratified through the blood of Christ, nothing can undo it.  God established this blood covenant with man on the basis of His grace and He will see it through eternity on the basis of His grace.  God does not base all His dealings with His people on grace, but He has based salvation through the new birth on grace from the beginning and lasting all throughout eternity.  There is no end to salvation; it is by grace and it is eternal.  Thank God for His unspeakable gift!

 

Unprofitable servant

The Unprofitable servant of Matthew 25

unprofitable servantWhat does it mean for a Christian to become an unprofitable servant? . . . and what does it take to become  a profitable servant?

Whatever the meaning of this or any of Christ’s parables may be, they all have  a definite and vital meaning.  The fact that Christians are all over the map about what Christ meant to teach through the parables is a clear indication that the enemy has been able to obscure important principles that prevent Christians from enjoying spiritual fruitfulness.

The emphasis of the entire parable is on the servant that buried his talent.  Why did he do this and what does his example reveal about someone who becomes an unprofitable servant?

The unprofitable servant feels his talent is insignificant.

In his thinking, his talent would neither help nor hinder the work as a whole.  Remember, he was a servant just like the others.  He did not just sit around twiddling his thumbs until his master returned, he was busy doing something, just not what he should have been doing.

Many Christians today have never even considered that someday they will have to give an account of the spiritual care of the “talents” (souls) for which they have been entrusted. Even if they do have a clue to the spiritual responsibility they have in caring for souls, they reason that their contribution will neither help nor hinder the church of which they are a part.  They reason, “What I do is so little, so insignificant next to all that is going on in this church.”

Those who accumulate more talents are usually the most faithful.  Permit me to use financial giving as an example.  Make no mistake; finances are not only material things.  Finances, riches, money, material wealth are all very spiritual matters that have eternal consequences.  It is a mistake to treat this subject as non-spiritual.  Some people think that the poorest members of the church are the most faithful in returning their tithes.  This is usually a mistake with the exception of the other extreme the richest, who often think their tithe is too big for the church’s needs.  Quite often those members who are less financially prosperous with smaller incomes and thus a smaller tithe, reason that since their part is so small (in monetary value), that it will make no difference in the income of the church.  They think that the quantity is so irrelevant that it will not be any help.  The mistaken vision in this example is that financial giving and the paying of tithes is to “help” the church.  For them the matter is the absolute monetary value.  God however does not consider the monetary value that each one returns, but the measure of faithfulness of each servant.

Hypothetically, the brother that earns $1,000 per week and pays a tithe of $100 is just as faithful as the brother that earns $10,000 per week and pays a tithe of $1,000.  That is what happened in the parable: the servant who received five talents produced another five, the servant who received two another two.  Both servants were faithful in doubling their initial amount, the proportional amount entrusted to each one.

The truth is that those servants who have just one talent run the greatest risk of being unfaithful, by being unwilling to pay the price of growing and developing in the work.  They imagine that merely attending church services on the weekends, singing some hymns, and paying their tithe is enough.  Many even go to the point of affirming that it is the pastor’s job to involve himself in the work of the Lord for the furtherance of the kingdom, since he has received more talents and takes a salary from the church to get the work done. This is a serious mistake because the Lord will require an accounting of each servant for the proportional measure of what He entrusted to them and not the quantitative amount that they received.

Many times those servants who receive more talents are those who seek more and strive to multiply their talents without regard to any title that they may receive in the body of Christ.  God will not only judge us by what we have done, but also by what we have not done.  The problem of the unprofitable servant that buried his talent was not what he did, but what he did not do.

God is interested in our faithfulness.  In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, we learn the criteria by which God will reward us.  The reward will not be according to how much we have done, but according to how faithful we have been.  There is a difference.  Some may do more than others and gain the same reward, because they showed the same degree of faithfulness.  In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, all the workers received the same salary irrespective of the duration of time they worked.  Some people, who read this parable, conclude that there is no difference in rewards and that there will be no distinction among the servants.  I believe however that the bible teaches that there will be.  One of the goals of this parable is to show that the reward of those workers will not be for how much they worked, but for how faithful they were.  In the same way, it shows that the reward does not depend upon the amount of time of conversion.  Some convert at twelve years of age, others at thirty and others just before death.  Does this suggest that those who come to the Lord first will have a greater reward?  No, not necessarily, it all depends on the degree of their faithfulness.

Suppose that I hire a laborer at five in the afternoon and he finishes his agreed upon task at six o’clock after just one hour.  We can say that he was faithful.  Now suppose that I had hired a person at eight o clock in the morning to do the same task and he stopped at noon and walked off the job without finishing his task.  Should he receive the same amount as the first?  Of course not!  Although he worked for three more hours than the first worker that I mentioned, he was not faithful.  Therefore, I will not reward him but will penalize him.  The point here is not the need to do something to gain a reward.  The main point here is if you were faithful with what I gave you to do or not.

The unprofitable servant has a wrong perception of things.

The servant whom the Lord called wicked and slothful thought that talents were for people, when, the truth is that they are for the Lord.  The heart’s desire of every faithful servant of God should be to do everything within his ability to multiply the talents that God entrusted to him to please the one who has called us.

The unprofitable servant is ashamed of the talent he has.

He felt embarrassed to use only that one talent.  How many people have received a talent from the Lord, but because of their reputation, they neglected to trade with it?  The Lord called the apostle Paul who wanted to minister among the religious Jews to a ministry to the pagan Gentiles.  This apparently was not Paul’s preference.  He felt he was uniquely qualified to reach the Pharisees and doctors of the Law.  Paul could have revolted against this but he perceived God’s purposes and remained faithful to God’s purposes through his ministry.  He could have buried his talent but he did not and God greatly used him as a result.

The unprofitable servant neglects to trade his talent because doing so  involves risk and hard work.

In the Bible to bury something, is symbolic.  The servant buried his talent in the earth: this speaks of the force of worldliness, of the power that the things of this life have to smother the talents that God has given us.  The love of the world has the power to bury our talent.  When we involve our heart in the things of this world, we stop developing and fulfilling the purpose for which we have been called.

The act of trading in this parable implies faithfulness in the use of our stewardship.  Each person receives at least one other person to spiritually care for as a steward of God.  We can only build up and multiply our stewardship when we practice it.  This is what the priesthood of the believer means.  Not only pastors and paid church staff must care for souls; every member of every church has this responsibility. God has called us to minister as kings and priests, ministers of God (minister simply means servant).  Every born again Christian should raise and develop at least one spiritual son or daughter. God did not compose the members of His church to make up a club or organization but constituted them as a body, each member having its specific role in multiplication for its continued growth.  If you have never done so before, stop and think who has God-given to you to develop in the church?

We must be careful not to confuse responsibility and function with position.  There are brothers who want to do things in the church as a function of a natural structure, with a title for their position like for example, leader of children’s ministry, or administrative pastor.  The position is not important, the talent is important.  The position should never determine or limit the talent.  There are people in the church who have a position and a title but who exercise no spiritual care in raising up God’s children.  Similarly, there are people in the church who faithfully exercise spiritual leadership but occupy no official position nor possess any title.  So just as there may be no talent to accompany any given position, there may be no position (in man’s eyes) to accompany any given talent.

Let us now consider how the Lord judged each one of His three servants.

But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  (Matthew 25:18-19)

The Lord Jesus is coming to reckon with His people, both the profitable and unprofitable servants.  Most churches do not often teach this truth. However, the Word shows that He is coming to reckon with each member of His body.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  (2 Corinthians 5:10)

We will all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ to receive the good or bad that we have done through the Body.  If our works are good, we will receive a reward.  If we have done evil, God will discipline us in that Day.  In light of these facts, we should live in the fear of the Lord as far as the works that we practice are concerned.

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.  (Rom. 14:12)

In case you are wondering about where the blood of Christ that covers all sin comes in concerning this matter consider this: God has forgiven and forgotten everything that the blood of Christ has washed.  However, whatever God’s people have not confessed before Him, or whatever sin they have not genuinely repented of, remains written down before God.  For the blood to work in our lives, it is necessary that there be confession and repentance of sinful acts and disobedience.  To confess a sin not only means that we acknowledge our sin but that we agree that it is offensive and unacceptable to God.  The danger for many Christians is spiritual oblivion and a seared conscience that otherwise would lead to repentance.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9)

He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.  (Proverbs 28:13)

How about you my friend, how is your life before God?  Many Christians, instead of recognizing the error of their sin, and repenting before the Lord for becoming an unprofitable servant,  justify their attitudes by coming up with all sorts of varied excuses for why it just is not practical for them to obey the whole Word of God literally in all situations.  It seems that most everybody imagines that their special circumstances excuse them from fulfilling the obligations that the rest of the body of Christ should fulfill.  In other words, they always seem to find an excuse for not repenting and practicing what God has called them to do.  God sees and records all of this, since the blood of Christ does not cover any sin whenever there is no confession and repentance. Scripture indicates that as Christians we must be open and transparent, placing every failing, sin and disobedience under the blood.  If this is not done then we will pass through the judgment seat of Christ and Instead of receiving rewards we will be disciplined and although we will still be saved, it will be a salvation as of by fire (1 Corinthians 3:15)

In the Word of God, there is a sequence in the Judgment of God for believers: the first step is the blood.  If we confess and believe on the Lord, His precious blood washes us.  If we keep falling, this shows slavery in our lives. From the blood then we will need to advance to the cross, which is the next step in the sequence.  God nailed our old man to the cross and freed us from slavery to sin.  However, God through the Judgment Seat of Christ will treat whatever sin or failure the blood and the cross have not resolved.  He will correct and deal with us in relation to sin in our lives.

So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Matthew 25:20, 21

The Lord said the same thing to each of the faithful servants.  Now the Lord is watching and looking for the level of faithfulness of each one of His servants.

I believe that what we do here is just a preparatory training for what we will be doing in the millennial reign of Christ.  What we do today is “the few things”, but as we are faithful in these “few things”, God will qualify us as profitable servants and place us over the “many things”, later.

 

Gods gift to the Son

Gods gift to the Son points to Eternal Security

Gods gift to the sonGods gift to the church is the Son, but Gods gift to the Son is the Church. God the Father gave those who He saved as a gift to His Son Jesus Christ.

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.  John 17:6

Gods gifts are irrevocable

If it were possible to lose our salvation the fact that God gave us to Jesus would mean that He was giving a gift that He might later take back: a prospect too far beneath God’s dignity and character.

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.  John 6:37

We are not a cheap present nor will the Lord Jesus toss us aside after having received us.

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  John 10:29

God did not save us for doing this or that, thus we do not lose our salvation by doing this or that, or by failing to do this or that.  If we were to fight and try our hardest to save ourselves, it would take just one small oversight or lack of care and we would be finished. However, God did not save us in this manner; He saved us entirely by His grace.

Gods gifts are determined by His sovereignty

We should not think that salvation comes from and begins with the Lord and the keeping of it and the finishing of it depends on us.  We could never preserve ourselves in perfection, not even for one day.  God called us to persevere in faith and to keep ourselves without spot from the world.  Yes, we have a responsibility to do our part in maintaining fellowship with God, but that is both distinct from and subsequent to salvation. Gods gift, the work of salvation is completely dependent upon his power and grace and has nothing to do with our performance. A gift, especially Gods gift is never determined by the gift itself but by the giver. If God gave saved people to his Son, how could his people effect that gift unless God had neither the right nor the power to give it. If you are saved today then you are saved forever.  If you can lose your salvation tomorrow, what worth is any salvation today?

No matter how you feel like you are performing, just remember that you are Gods gift to Jesus, and God does not give junk!


%d bloggers like this: