Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

Kingdom of Heaven Series-Lesson #6

Title: Who Can Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

 June 23, 2013
Kingdom of Heaven Series-Lesson #6

Title: Who Can Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?
Text: Matthew 7:15-29

For six weeks now we have been discussing a wonderful place called the Kingdom of God.
But, as we have discovered, this Kingdom is more than just a place; it is a lifestyle, a mindset, and a way of living.
Being a citizen of the Kingdom of God is the most important decision anyone will ever make in their life.
However, along with citizenship comes responsibility.
For example, we are all citizens of the United States, and as such we are expected to obey the laws, and pay our taxes.
As citizens of the Kingdom of God, God expects us to do certain things, too; things like—Embody Christ’s name, Embrace His mission, and Obey His Word.
I have talked about these three before, and I said for a person to be truly happy and in the right relationship with the Father we must accept these responsibilities.
The Kingdom of Heaven is a wonderful place.
It is a place where we can experience the full riches of God’s grace and mercy.
It is a place where we hope to live eternally someday.
But may I suggest to you that the Kingdom of heaven is also a place in which we may reside today.
I know there’s a kingdom of God coming in the future, but there is also a kingdom of God in the present.
It is a kingdom in which I can participate, right here and right now.
The Kingdom of God is present in the hearts of those who will be true believers in Jesus Christ.
But, the Kingdom of God is not something that everyone has access to at any time.
Instead, it is reserved for those who have made the intentional decision to follow in the steps of Jesus.
Those who enter the Kingdom of Heaven will be those who “do the will of God.”
This is an extremely challenging thought for those of us who have been in the church for decades.
It causes us to ask, “Have I been faithful to the calling that I received?”
Was my decision to follow Christ more than a intellectual or emotional decision?
Did you know that it’s possible to receive the blessings of God and not enter the Kingdom of Heaven? 
And it is possible to perform miracles in God’s name and not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
It is also possible to work in the name of God and not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Friends, we must be cautious when dealing with the fate of our eternal souls.
We take it for granted that God will overlook our lack of commitment and our lack of work for Him.
But God is evaluating all our work and testing it to see whether it is pure or flawed.
The Kingdom of Heaven is not for everyone who states, “I belong to a certain church.”
There are many people who are on the roles of a church, who are not residents of the Kingdom of Heaven.
This begs the question- “How do I know if I am a resident of the Kingdom of Heaven?” And “Who is it that can enter the Kingdom of Heaven?”
The question we are going to answer today is “How do you know if you have entered the Kingdom of God?”

I believe there are 8 characteristics that are present in a Kingdom of God person.
1. As a Kingdom of God person, you have confessed your sin. (1 John 1:8-10)
The scripture says—
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”
The word “confession” is a combination of two Greek words that mean “same,” and “to say.”
The word confession as it’s used here, means, “to say the same thing” or “to agree.”
Believers are called upon to say the same thing about sin that God says, and to see sin as God sees it.
When the believer confesses his or her sins and professes faith in Christ, then God will faithfully and justly forgive those sins and cleanse them of all unrighteousness.
But, doesn’t God know everything we do anyway?
So, why not acknowledge our sins, and ask for His forgiveness.
Confession is essential to any believer’s relationship with God and to having fellowship with other people.
And confession of sin goes hand-in-hand with the faith that saves us; a person who believes in Jesus and is truly sorry for their sins and confesses those sins immediately becomes a citizen of God’s Kingdom.

2. You know that you’ve entered the Kingdom of God when you decided to obey Jesus’ commands.
1 John 2:3-6 tells us, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”
Here, John gives another true mark of those who are in the Christian fellowship.
This time it’s obedience.
We can have assurance about our relationship with God if our life is characterized by a loving desire to do His will.
John describes the believer’s obedience in a threefold way—keeping His commandments, keeping His word, and walking as He walked.
There’s a definite progression in thought in these verses that goes like this.
To keep His commandments is to obey the teachings of the Lord Jesus as found in the New Testament.
To keep His word means not only obedience to what is written, but a desire to do what we know would please Him.
To walk as He walked is the full expression of God’s standard for His people; it means to live as Jesus lived.
John doesn’t imply that the Christian life consists of faultless obedience to the will of God, but rather that the Christian usually desires to keep His commandments and to do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
John is looking at the over-all manner of a person’s life.
If someone says he knows God but doesn’t keep His commandments, then it is clear that he is not telling the truth.
On the other hand, when we keep His word, then the love of God can be seen in us.
The love of God does not refer to our love for God, but rather to His love for us.
The thought is that God’s love toward us has been brought to its goal when we keep His word.
Therefore, whoever says he abides in Him should live just as the Lord Jesus lived.
His life, as we read about it in the Gospels, is our pattern and guide for living in the world..
It’s not a life which we can live in our own strength or energy, but it is possible to live it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our responsibility is to turn our lives over to Him unreservedly, and allow Him to live His life in and through us.

3. You know you’ve entered the Kingdom of God when you have no hatred toward others.
The next two verses say that—
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”
Here we have the contrast between love that is false and love that is true.
If anyone claims to be a Christian and yet hates those who are truly Christians, it is a sure sign that they are still living in darkness.
It’s not a case of backsliding; instead the man continues to be what he always was, namely, unsaved.
On the other hand, the one who naturally loves his brother abides in the light.
It’s true that if a Christian is really living in touch with the Lord, he is in the Kingdom of God and he will love other Christians.

4. You know you’ve entered the Kingdom of God when you have a desire to be obedient to God. (v. 2:15-17)
John wrote, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
There’s a strong warning here against the world and all its false ways, and it applies to all of the Lord’s people.
The world here is not the planet earth on which we live, or the natural creation that’s all about us.
Rather it is the world system which man has built up in an effort to make himself happy without Christ.
It may include the world of culture, the world of entertainment, art, sports, and education—in short, it’s any area of life in which the Lord Jesus is not loved and welcomed.
We are plainly warned not to love the world or the things that are in the world, for the simple reason that love for the world is not compatible with love for God.
Just as the devil is opposed to Christ, and the flesh is hostile to the Spirit, so the world is antagonistic to God.
Desire, covetousness, and ambition are not of God, but of the world.
That is, they do not come from the Father, but instead, they find their source in the world.
Worldliness is the love for temporary things like money and the things money can buy.
However the human heart can never find satisfaction with things.
Friends, I believe that the world is passing away like the verse says, and Jesus is preparing to return.
When a bank is going under, smart people do not deposit in it.
When the foundation of a building is shaky, intelligent builders don’t proceed.
Concentrating on this world is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
So, wise people do not live for a world that is passing away.
But the promise is that those who do the will of God will live forever.
It is the will of God that delivers us from the temptation of temporary things.
This, incidentally, was the favorite verse of D. L. Moody, the great evangelist, and it’s inscribed on his tombstone: “He who does the will of God abides forever.”

5. You know you have entered the Kingdom of God when you have a longing to fellowship with other believers in Christ (v. 2:19)
It says in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
This verse is talking about professing Christians who once associated with the apostles, but after awhile they left.
However, in the heart they were not really one with true believers, and they showed this by leaving the fellowship.
They didn’t have that longing for fellowship that real believers have, so they left.
The teaching that we’re given here is that true faith always has the quality of permanence.
If a man has really been born again, he will go on for the Lord.
That does not mean that we are saved by enduring to the end, but rather that those who endure to the end are really saved.

6. You know you have entered the Kingdom of God when you have an unconditional love for the family of God. (v. 3:14-15)
The Bible tells us that “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love other Christians.
It is a remarkable fact that when a person is saved, he has an entirely different attitude toward Christians.
This is one of the ways he receives assurance of his salvation.
A person who does not love a true child of God may profess to be a Christian, but the Scripture says he abides in death.
He always was dead spiritually, and that is what he still is.
Love is not optional.
We are commanded to love one another.
There’s a characteristic of love; it’s that love requires an expression.
And we express our love for God by showing love to others.
     Love is active, and it’s an act of the will.
We are commanded to do the acts of love.
However, if we shut our eyes to the needs of others, our love for God is called into question.
There is another characteristic about love; Love is also responsive.
We are able to love because we have been, and are loved by God.
This love is what causes us to respond lovingly to others.

7. You know you have entered the Kingdom of God when you are generous and give to others (v. 3:16-18).
We’re told in verses 16-18: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
Our Lord Jesus gave us the ultimate example of love when He laid down His life for us.
In one sense, love is invisible, but we can see the expressions of love.
It’s in the cross of Calvary that we can see the love that God has for us.
John draws the lesson from this that we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
This means that our lives should be a continual giving-out on behalf of other believers, and that we should be ready to die for them, if necessary.
Most of us will never be required to die on behalf of others, but every one of us can show brotherly love by sharing our material things with those in need.
John distinctly says that a man is not a Christian who sees his brother in need and yet withholds from him what is necessary to satisfy that need.
This doesn’t justify indiscriminate giving to everyone, because it is possible to harm a man by giving him money that he can use to buy something that’s not good for him like drugs and alcohol.
However, these verses do raise some very disturbing questions concerning the accumulation of wealth by Christians.
But we will talk about that another time.
Remember, we should not love in word only, but rather in deed and in truth.
In other words, we should express our love for others in actual deeds of kindness.

8. You know you have entered the Kingdom of God when you have a positive prayer life. (v. 3:21-22)
That’s what it’s talking about in these verses: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”
When your life is pleasing to God, you can expect Him to hear and answer your prayer.
Remember the early church for a moment.
Do you remember the time when persecution first broke out and the apostles were warned to stop preaching the name of Jesus?
They went back and reported on the persecution to the other Christians, and the group went to God in prayer.
They didn’t pray that the persecution would stop—they didn’t pray anything like that.
They began their prayer by saying, “Lord, thou art God.”
This is the thing which seems to be absent in most churches today.
Folk are not sure that our heavenly Father is God, that He does run this universe, and that He is in charge.
John says, “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
I hope that all eight of these characteristics are present in your life, because, if they are, you can be sure that you are in the Kingdom of God.



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