Rightly dividing "THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN"
"Perhaps no truth of the divine revelation has suffered more at the hands of interpreters than that concerning the kingdom. Protestant theology has very generally taught that all the kingdom promises, and even the great Davidic Covenant itself, are to be fulfilled in and through the Church. The confusion thus created has been still further darkened by the failure to distinguish the different phases of kingdom truth indicated by the expressions "kingdom of heaven," and "kingdom of God." In the light of plain Scripture all of these confusions are inexcusable, for at no point is the Biblical revelation more clear and explicit. Founded upon the covenant of Jehovah with David, a covenant subsequently confirmed by Jehovah's oath, the great theme of predictive prophecy is that kingdom. Even the order of the setting up of the kingdom, relatively to the great Gentile world empires, is declared. The events attending the setting up of the kingdom of the heavens on the earth are described.
The New Testament carries forward the Old Testament’s view of the kingdom into greater detail, but without change. The very first mention of Christ in the first verse of the first chapter in the New Testament identifies Him with the Davidic Covenant, and the promise of Gabriel to His virgin
Mother is a new confirmation in express terms of that covenant.
The New Testament reveals the present age as a parenthesis in the prophetic program during which the Church is called out from among the Gentiles, a stranger and pilgrim body, belonging to the kingdom of God, but in no sense identical with the kingdom of heaven."
Lewis Sperry Chafer
"It stands to reason, since five-sixths of the Bible is addressed to one nation to whom the kingdom promises are given, that any plan of study which avoids prophecy and ignores, or "spiritualizes," God's covenants with His chosen earthly people will be incomplete, misleading and subject to mere human assumptions."
Shadowhawk (who isn’t as smart as Lewis Sperry Chafer)
We read in Matthew, the gospel written (In the early part of AD 50’s) when the church was preaching the "gospel of the kingdom" to the Jews only (see Acts 11:19). "….preaching the word to none but unto the Jew only"
"And when He (Jesus) had called unto Him His twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." Matt 10:1
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying The kingdom of heaven is here" Matt 10:5-7
"I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel" Matt 15:24
Have you ever asked yourself why not the Gentiles? What’s the difference between the Gospel of Grace and the Gospel of the Kingdom? Did Jesus come to minister the same gospel to both the Jew and Gentile alike?
Go back for a second and look at the theme of Old Testament prophets. The Covenants and prophecies of the Old Testament guaranteed a throne, a king, a kingdom and the re-gathering of Israel to the land sworn to Abraham. This was the truth that was on the mind of every Jew. It was what they had been waiting for. It was the truth that was passed from father to son for generations. It was as foremost in their minds as the coming of the Lord is in ours today.
But the Old Testament closed with these great hopes unrealized, the great prophecies unfulfilled, but still Jehovah hath said "I myself, declared the Lord, will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in numbers. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing, declares the Lord."
"The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up from David’s line, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land,
In his day Judah will be saved and Israel will live safely.
This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.
"So then, the days are coming", declares the Lord, "when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land." Jeremiah 23:3-8
After 400 years of silence the New Testament opens with the message: "The kingdom of heaven that you have been waiting for is now at hand".
Think of the generations of Jewish believers that have been faithful to their God Jehovah. Those who had been waiting so long for the fulfillment of His promised Kingdom of heaven.
In Romans 15:8,9 Paul writes that Christ had two ministries, first "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:"
Then later that "the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy"
It could be said that before the Jews rejected Christ He was not sent to everyone but the Jewish people to confirm the promise made by His Father and to set up His kingdom. It would seem in scripture that He clearly limited His earthly ministry to them. "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Matt 15:24. He was the answer to the promises God made to the patriarchs, he came to be their king, and messiah. The covenant promises made to Abraham (Ge 12:1-3; 17:7; 18:19; 22:18), Isaac (Ge 26 :3-4) and Jacob (Ge 28:13-15; 46:2-4), the throne, the king, the kingdom and the re-gathering of Israel to their promised lands, all were coming in Jesus, but they would not.
It is evident when we read the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and also the opening chapters of the book of Acts, that the dominant subject is "the kingdom of heaven". The gospel that John the Baptist preached, and that the Lord Himself preached, and that the twelve apostles were commissioned to preach, was that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand".
"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is at hand." (Matt. 3:1 2)
"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and THE KINGDOM OF GOD is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:14 15)
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is at hand." (Matt. 10:5 7)
In the Sermon on the Mount, the blessed prospect of the kingdom of heaven" was repeatedly addressed by the Lord. For example,...
"And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN." (Matt. 5:2 3)
"For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN." (Matt. 5:20) "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. THY KINGDOM COME. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." (Matt 6:9 10)
Even following the Lord's death and resurrection from the dead, the theme of His instructions and charges to the apostles still pertained to the kingdom of God. Luke tells us in Acts 1:1 3 how that the Lord gave...
"...commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to THE KINGDOM OF GOD."
As the examples testify, the doctrine of "the kingdom of heaven" pervades the record of the Lord's earthly ministry, and is that in which the twelve apostles were both instructed and commissioned.
WHAT IS "THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN"?
Sometimes the "kingdom of heaven" is thought of as simply being a reference to heaven itself, and that what the Lord and the Twelve apostles were preaching about was simply the issue of heaven and how to get there. With others it is thought to be a reference to a spiritual reigning of God in the hearts of men which results in transformed lives and eventually in a transformation of society. What the Lord and the twelve apostles were therefore preaching about, it is said, was the issue of men needing to repent and let God and His will reign in their hearts. In so doing, God's will will be done on this earth.
Though these are commonly accepted ideas as to what the "kingdom of heaven" is, they are at dispute with what the Scriptures themselves declare it to be. The testimony of God's word is that the "kingdom of heaven" is not a reference to heaven itself, or to a spiritual reigning of God in men's hearts, but rather to the literal reigning of God Himself on and over this earth in fulfillment of the covenants God made with the nation of Israel.
ISRAEL'S COVENANTED KINGDOM
According to the covenant God made with Abraham and his seed, the nation of Israel is to be a "great nation" on this earth, and as such the means through which "all the families of the earth shall be blessed". (Gen. 12:1 3) They have land covenanted to them by God in which they are to dwell as this "great nation" and provide for the blessing of the world by God. (Gen. 13:14 18; 15:7 21; 17:1 8) As was later confirmed to them in the Law, they are designed by God to be "a peculiar treasure unto (Him) above all people"; a "kingdom of priests, and an holy nation". (Ex. 19:1 6)
God's plan and purpose with the nation of Israel is for them to be that "great nation" and "kingdom" in which they functioning as God's priests to the rest of the world will provide for the blessing of the world and the administering of God's dominion over it. Isaiah, therefore, prophesying about the fulfillment of God's plan and purpose with Israel, proclaimed...
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people:" (Isaiah 2:2- 4a)
Israel in her kingdom and in fulfillment of God's covenant with her will provide for the subjection of the world to God's ways and for the establishment of His paths for it to walk in. The will of heaven will reign and rule on this earth in Israel's covenanted kingdom.
But Israel rebelled against God and His plan and purpose for her, as her history testifies. And so with David, and in view of Israel's failures, God covenanted to enflesh Himself in the seed of David and to come to be their redeemer, deliverer, king and blesser. In so doing, He would provide for them to be what His plan and purpose is for them. Therefore, Isaiah also proclaimed to Israel...
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this". (Isaiah 9:6- 7)
And as Daniel also proclaimed when he saw the end of Gentile dominion over Israel and the fulfillment of God's promises to the nation,...
"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." (Daniel 2:44;.also 7:13,14)
Israel's covenanted kingdom of heaven's rule and dominion on this earth was to be established through her Messiah, the Son of David. The "God of heaven", enfleshing Himself in the seed of David in accordance with the Davidic covenant, would come and redeem His people and set up the kingdom of His dominion on this earth in Zion. This is what God's covenants with Israel called for. This is what the expression "the kingdom of heaven" refers to and is all about.
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AT HAND
When the Lord was born into this world, He came to fulfill that which was covenanted with David. Just as was announced to Mary...
"And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke 1:31 33)
In being born into this world, the "God of heaven" had enfleshed Himself in the seed of David so as to be given the throne of David and to establish His kingdom on this earth. The "kingdom of heaven", therefore, was "at hand".
Not only was the King here, but the time schedule given by the prophets for the establishing of the kingdom of heaven was almost completed. (cf. Dan. 9:24-27) For this reason, as the Lord preached the gospel of the kingdom, He said,...
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of god is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15)
This is what the program of God was all about when our Lord was here on this earth. Israel's long awaited and covenanted "kingdom of heaven" was "at hand". And with that being the case, as the Gospels describe, the Lord heralded beatitudes in view of it; taught the issue of entrance into it; declared who would be "least" and "great" in it; informed the twelve of their special positions in it; warned about the purging wrath that He would execute upon the nations and this world preliminary to establishing the kingdom, etc.
As God's kingdom program with His people Israel continued on following the Lord's resurrection and ascension back to heaven, the apostles eagerly looked for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. (Acts 1:6) They, therefore, proclaimed to Israel the arrival of her "last days", (Acts 2:1-36), as spoken of in the prophets, and exhorted the people to respond positively to the offer of the kingdom. (Acts 3:12-26)
WHY IS THERE NO KINGDOM OF HEAVEN YET?
It is clearly evident that "the kingdom of heaven" has not yet been established on this earth. None of the aforementioned prophetic declarations concerning its establishment have been fulfilled, yet when the Lord was here "the time" was "fulfilled" for it, and so it was preached to be "at hand". What has happened? Why hasn't "the God of heaven" set up that covenanted kingdom?
Though many explanations have been set forth, God's own explanation concerning what He has done is the one that needs to be understood and appreciated.
A NEW AND DIFFERENT DISPENSATION
God's explanation as to why He has not yet established Israel's "kingdom of heaven" has to do with the fact that He has temporarily set Israel and her program aside, and He has ushered in a new and different dispensation or program.
As the apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 11, when Israel "stumbled" at the testimony of Christ that was heralded unto her, God did something unexpected. He "blinded" the nation and turned unto the Gentiles.
"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." (vs 25)
God has "blinded" Israel and has put her program and His special dealings with her aside. In so doing, God has turned to the Gentiles and He is now administering a dispensation of His grace. As the apostle Paul declares in Ephesians 3,...
"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery;...which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." (vs 1, 3,5, 6)
The dispensation, or program, of the grace of God for the Gentiles is what God is now working out, and has been working out since He raised up Paul as a brand new apostle and committed to him the revelation of it. During this present dispensation of grace God's program and special dealings with the nation of Israel are set aside. Again, as Paul teaches in Romans 11, God has "not cast away His people". He is not through with Israel. But rather, her "fullness" is yet to come. Since her "blindness" is "in part", "until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in", Paul goes on to say,...
"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." (vs 26, 27)
Israel's "fullness" is yet to come, and when it does, as Zechariah 14:9 says, "...the LORD shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one."
Also, as Isaiah declares to the redeemed and the delivered of Israel in that day,...
"...ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God:...For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." (vs 6,11)
Israel's covenanted "kingdom of heaven" will yet be established on this earth, just as God's sure word states, and His covenants with her promises. But right now God's program with Israel is set aside. Right now God is working out "the mystery of Christ" in this dispensation of His grace and is forming the "new creation", the church, the body of Christ, for a purpose He has in the heavenly places.
Christians need to understand and appreciate this and so realize that God's program with Israel recorded and described in the Old Testament, the Gospel accounts, and the opening of the book of Acts, isn't what God is working out today. But rather, in accordance with "the revelation of the mystery" having been given to Paul, it is in his epistles to us that we have the testimony from God concerning what He is doing today, and what He is doing with us, the members of the "new creation".
The Apostle Paul was given the job of revealing God’s hidden mysteries. God revealed to him the sacred secrets that had been hidden from the Old Testament saints.
. The mystery of the indwelling Christ. (Col. 1:26,27)
. The mystery of the incarnate Christ. (Col. 2:2,3,9)
(I Tim. 3:16)
. The mystery of Israel’s unbelief. (Rom. 11:25)
. The mystery of Iniquity. (II Thess. 2:7)
. The mystery of the unity of believers. (Eph. 1:9,10)
. The mystery of the Rapture. (I Cor. 15:51,52)
. The mystery of the church as the body
of Christ. (Eph. 1:9,10; 3:3 – 6,9)
. The mystery of the Gospel (Eph. 6:19)
According to the scripture, God revealed through the pen of Paul that which had been "hid in God" from the beginning of the world, from all ages and all generations. The mysteries that God revealed through this Apostle was not contained in the Old Testament prophecies.
If you took Paul’s writings out of the New Testament, the Gospel of Grace, the truth about your salvation, your justification, your sanctification, your identity, your inheritance, your position, your righteousness, your preservation, and your standards for living the Christian life would all be completely different. These are not found in the Law or the Prophets, the Old Testament or even the Gospels, but must be searched out and found in the Epistles containing the truth about us, the Church, the mystery of God, "even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:26,27)
From no one else, and no where else is this written. This truth is not found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James or Jude. But yet is it the most basic fundamental truth of who and what a Christian is today. It’s no wonder that the church has so much trouble identifying the life of a Christian, they keep looking in the Law or the Prophets, the Kingdom Of heaven, the Old Testament or the Gospels and never get to the "all truth" that Jesus said the Spirit would guide them into. (John 16:12-13)
The Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven never spoke of the kind of relationship with the Messiah that the church enjoys with the Christ. The Jews were never taught about the concept of the Messiah indwelling them.
No Jew understood this because it was a unique character of the church.
In John 14:20, Jesus said, "at that day you shall know that I am in my father, and you in me, and I in you". The phrase, "at that day", indicated they did not know this yet, they couldn't conceive of it yet.
In John 14:1-3 when Jesus promised His disciples that He would return for them from heaven and take them back with him to the Father's house, he was speaking of the rapture. Now, this was completely foreign to the Jewish mind. They expected the messiah to come to earth, set up an earthly kingdom, and rule forever. They did not expect Him to leave and go to the Father's house. This concept was so new to them that they were dumbfounded. But really this was to be expected, no where in the Old Testament does God promise Israel, "I'm going to come and get you, and take you to the Father's house".
The promise given to Israel was that the messiah would come and reign on earth in the promised kingdom. John 14 introduces something completely different than the National hope of Israel.
The Body of the Christ concept is a unique, mysterious, a brand new truth for a "new age"( though I hate to use that term these days). We are the body in which the Christ manifests Himself to the world. The church is not an organization, nor is it something that can be diagrammed on a structure chart, with services and programs --it's an organism, alive and real, functioning not by structure, but by the Holy Spirit in each one of us, the Body of the Christ. You can’t "go to church", you are the church. Wherever you are, the church is there.
The Body of Christ is not under any Law but under Grace, scriptures, any scripture, those concerning the Kingdom Law or those concerning the Mosaic Law are not meant to instruct the church on how it is to operate. The Church operates by the power of the Holy Spirit and is controlled by the same. We are not spiritual Jews, we are the Church, not just followers of the Christ but rather one with Him, His body. We are not what the New Testament saints will be or what the Old Testament saints where we are something different, something brand new, something hid in God from the ages, we are the Body of Christ.
There is a dangerous and entirely baseless belief which assumes that every teaching of Christ must be binding during this age simply because Christ said it. The fact is forgotten that Christ, while living under, keeping, and applying the law of Moses, also taught the principles of His yet future kingdom, and at the end of His ministry and in relation to the cross, He also anticipated the teachings of grace. If this three-fold division of the teachings of Christ is not recognized, there can be nothing but confusion and contradiction of the truth.
If Christians would come to understand that the Church in completely under the dispensation and Covenant of grace they would also understand that they could not be any part of the "Kingdom of Heaven". Every teaching of the kingdom, which contemplates the responsibility of the individual, is based on a covenant of human works, and is purely legal in character. In this age God is dealing with men on the bases of His grace as it is in Christ. His dealings with men in the Kingdom age are based on a very different relationship. At that time, the King will rule with a rod of iron. There is no word of the cross or of grace in the kingdom teaching.
The kingdom teachings, like the law of Moses, are based on a covenant of works. The teachings of grace, on the other hand, are based on a covenant of faith. In the one case, righteousness is demanded; in the other it is provided. One is of a blessing to be bestowed because of a perfect life, the other is of a life to be lived because of a perfect blessing already received.
The kingdom message opens with the record of the nine-fold blessings which is promised to the faithful child of the kingdom. These blessings are all won through merit. This is in sharp contrast to the blessings instantly attained through Christ at the moment a person believes.
THE BEATITUDES (Mt. 5: 1-12)
"Blessed are the poor in spirit (humble) : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
To the Christians it is said: "put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind" (Col. 3:12).
These virtues are not put on by the Christian to gain heaven; much less the kingdom of heaven. They are put on because these elements of character belong to the one who is already "the elect of God, holy and beloved"
"Blessed are they that mourn : for they shall be comforted."
Mourning does not belong to the Body of Christ. To the Church a different message has been given : "Rejoice, and again I say, Rejoice" Mourning is the portion of Israel until her King comes, and when He comes, it will be " to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God: to comfort all that mourn ; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (Isa. 61:2,3 ; Isa. 51:3, 66:13; 35:10; 51:11; Zech. 1:17)
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth"
Under grace, meekness is brought about in the believer by the Holy Spirit, and is never rewarded. Those who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, have an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven. But to the church no earthly promise is ever made.
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled".
The Christian may crave a closer walk with God; but he is already "made the righteousness of God in Him". In contrast, righteousness is a quality which must be attained in the kingdom (Mt. 5:20).
"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."
This passage is pure law, for the mercy from God is made to depend wholly on the exercise of mercy a person show toward others. Under grace the Christian is besought to be merciful, as one who has already obtained mercy by the grace of God. (Eph. 2:4,5 Titus 3:5)
"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."
Under grace it is written: "but we see Jesus," and "God, who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ". (Heb. 2:9; II Cor. 4:6)
In Christ, God now is revealed to the believer, while in the kingdom, the promise is to the pure in heart that they shall see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Peace is one of the two great words in the kingdom. The King who is "the Prince of Peace" shall reign that righteousness and peace shall cover the earth as water cover the face of the deep. In the kingdom there will be a special distinction given to the one who promotes peace. "They shall be called the children of God." Under grace, no one is constituted a child of God by any works whatsoever. " for ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus." (Gal. 3:26)
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Again, the issue is righteousness. The Christian, on the contrary, suffers with Christ and for His sake, and his reward is in heaven. "But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake" ( John 15:21). "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Tim. 3:12).
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad : for great is your reward in heaven : for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you".
The believer is called to suffer for Christ’s sake : " for unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Phil 1:29). If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him" ( II Tim. 2:12).
A careful comparison of the nine-fold blessings which is promised under the kingdom, with the nine-fold blessings which are prepared under grace would show that what is demanded under the law of the kingdom as a condition of blessing, is, under grace, divinely provided for the believer.
"I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 5:20).
This is the foundation of all the demands for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. It should in no way be confused with the believer’s entrance into heaven through the finished work of Christ : " not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (Tit. 3:5)
" Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them : for this is the law and the prophets" (Mt. 7:12).
This passage stands as a conclusion of the whole appeal of the kingdom teaching. It is as a key to all that has gone before. The legal principle, restated in this passage, is not said to be any part of the teaching of grace : it is rather "the law and the prophets."
IN CONCLUSION: (well kind of)
You will never experience the New Creation life without rightly divide the Word of truth. If people are still talking about " we need to get closer to God" (you can’t get any closer than in), or "you need to do this or that to make God love you more" (God loves you as much as He loves Christ, and He sees you and Jesus as the same person). They are not "rightly dividing the Word of Truth". Pray for your spiritual leaders and ask God to open their eyes and hearts to understand the fullness of what God has given us in Christ.
A quick note to help you discern scriptures that are of law from those that are of grace. These two systems are opposites in reference to the ‘order’ between divine blessing and human obligation. Under law the order is, human obligation then divine blessing. Under grace the order is, divine blessing then human obligation. No matter where the scripture is located between the covers of your Bible, if the human obligation comes before the divine blessing, its law. It might be Kingdom law (the Sermon on the Mount) or it might be Mosaic Law, but it’s law and not of grace. So if you want to rightly divide the Word of Truth, look for the order between divine blessing and human obligation.
Sample: Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things (food, drink, clothes) shall be added unto you."
What comes first, divine blessing or human obligation? Right, it’s Old Covenant, it’s law.
The New Covenant equivalent. Philippians 4:19 " But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
In Paul’s writings his first few chapters tell the people about their divine blessing, then his last few chapters tells them about their human obligation. To the Corinthians, first chapters "you are the righteousness of God in Christ", last chapters " now act like it". But you can only be the righteousness of God when you stop trying to satisfy an obligation by human merit and turn it over to Christ, who has already satisfied all of Gods requirement. Every obligation, every requirement in the New Covenant has already been satisfied in Christ Jesus.
The greatest advantage of being a part of this new creation is that all of this is accomplished by faith in Jesus Christ, by trusting in what He says He has already done, and is continuing to do. It is the same with all Christian growth and obligations. It is God who is doing the work. Just as a True Christian is not trying to earn his way into Heaven, because he knows there is only one way - through faith in Christ. So a True Christian knows that his works and growth must come the same way - through faith in Christ. The will of God is to be fulfilled ‘in’ the believer, never ‘by’ the believer.
Look at what Paul wrote to the Philippians, (Philippians 2:13) "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure", and in Second Thessalonians 1:11, "That our God will make you the kind of children He wants to have - will make you as good as you wish you could be! Rewarding your faith (not works)with His power". (LB)
You see it is His work, His ability, His power, we are His workmanship as we put our trust and faith in Him and rightly divide the Word of Truth.
So let God’s truth stand, don’t take from Israel that which God has promised her; her King, her Kingdom and the re-gathering of Israel to the land sworn to Abraham.
We are not part of the Kingdom of heaven, which operates under Kingdom law, we are under grace. To rightly divide the Word of God is to understand that the Kingdom teachings being addressed in the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles of Peter, James, John and Jude are not about the Church and are not meant to govern it.
We are something else, something brand new, hide in God from the beginning of the world. We are the Church, the body of Christ operating by the Holy Spirit under the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus, and not of any law, Mosaic or Kingdom.
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