2Peter 1:10-11 Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure
(to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election…
Thus there will be richly and abundantly provided for you
entry into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In this week’s teaching, Dr. Don G. Pickney addresses a very obscure aspect of the Christian relationship with God – The criteria for “entrance” into Christ’s Kingdom (the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven).
He proposes in this teaching that the New Birth and immersion into the Body of Christ does not automatically give the believer “entrance” into the Kingdom of God to serve in that realm of privilege, authority and power. Jesus’ teachings, as well as those of the Apostles Paul and Peter, give a uniquely different scenario for entrance into the “Kingdom of God.” The qualifications or criteria regarding the Kingdom is totally different than that for the New Birth and subsequent immersion into the body of Christ (the Church). Notice the contrast in scripture for each:
Romans 10:9-13 If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved. (10) For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved. (11) The scripture says, "Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed." (12) This includes everyone, because there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles; God is the same Lord of all and richly blesses all who call to him. (13) As the scripture says, "Everyone who calls out to the Lord for help will be saved."
Entrance into the kingdom of God:
Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of God, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do.
It is interesting that the grace given for entering the Family of God through salvation and the New Birth is stated quite differently from those who are granted the privilege of a position in the Kingdom of God.
Imagine, as a Christian believer, being granted entrance into Heaven and being a part of God’s eternal family, yet not being rewarded with a position in Christ’s eternal kingdom. One appears from scripture to be the result of God’s free gift of grace, granting all who call upon Him entrance, whereas the other appears to require a decision of obedience and willing service. The first is a free gift, while the other offers a reward for which one has to qualify one’s self.
I am certain that those who are majoring on God’s grace for salvation would prefer to extend that gift to include all of our relationship with God and the Lord Jesus, however, the scriptures are abundantly filled with the above shown contrast over and over again, as you will see in this week’s teaching.
When we accept Christ there is no “exchange,” something we give up for Him to accept us into the Family of God. There is NOTHING we can do in exchange for the blessings of the great covenant ratified by Jesus blood. Righteousness, peace and joy become our inheritance, along with every promise ever proclaimed in in scripture:
2Corinthians 1:19-22 MSG When Silas and Timothy and I proclaimed the Son of God among you, did you pick up on any yes-and-no, on-again, off-again waffling? Wasn't it a clean, strong Yes? (20) Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God's Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. (21) God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. (22) By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge--a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.
Praise God! The gospel of Christ’s salvation for all who call upon Him is so wonderful, filled with the splendor and awe of God’s grace!
Yet, as we begin looking into positions “granted” us into God’s kingdom, we read a completely different message. We begin seeing the need of an exchange from us for a reward from Him:
Matthew 13:44-46 "The Kingdom of God is like this. A man happens to find a treasure hidden in a field. He covers it up again, and is so happy that he goes and sells everything he has, and then goes back and buys that field. (45) "Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man is looking for fine pearls, (46) and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has, and buys that pearl.
In no sense can this be speaking of salvation. The “treasure” and the “pearl” found in this scripture is not speaking of Jesus (scholars would have capitalized those words if that was the connotation). In each of these illustrations there is a clear exchange, and interestingly, the only exchange that would give these men their reward is that “they sell ALL they have IN EXCHANGE” for their prize.