QUALIFICATIONS FOR ENTRANCE INTO MESSIAHS MILLENNIAL KINGDOM*
[* Edited from writings by Gary T. Whipple,
Contrary to what
some teach today, the Sermon on the Mount was not written to Israel alone, but
to all regenerate believers, whether Jews or Gentiles. Though it is true that all scripture is not
written to the church, it is, nonetheless, written for the church. The book of Matthew is a good example of this
truth, for while most of its message was given by Jesus to
Consider this verse of scripture: Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner (stone) (Eph. 2: 19, 20). The foundation of the apostles and prophets speaks of the doctrine that was taught by them and became the foundation on which the church is built. Summarily, the Bible is our foundation, which is made up of the writings of the apostles to us and the writings of all Gods prophets for us.
To further prove this, we need to look closely at what Jesus said to His apostles before He ascended into heaven: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, (even) unto the end of the world [till the end of the age (Gk.)].
According to this scripture, the Sermon on the Mount must be counted as part of the all things that Jesus taught and commanded His disciples to observe. Consequently, they were to go and teach all nations (the future church) these same commandments (including the Sermon on the Mount) after they had, first, been saved (verse 19) and, then, baptised (verse 20).
THE DUAL DISPENSATION
In view of this, someone may ask, But what about those Jews who believed Johns message and
repented; were they not of
Still another question that should be asked is, What happened to those obedient saints of God before the
crucifixion who died before the reaching the dispensation of grace? The same thing that happens to all Old
Testament saints of the church; immediately after they died, their souls went
down to the paradise section of Sheol,
which is located in the heart of the earth. The Jews
called this place Abrahams bosom (Luke 16:
22). After His death, the soul of
Jesus Christ went down to this same place; and remained there for three days and three nights (Luke 23: 43) to claim those whom He had purchased with
His own blood. The souls of the righteous dead must remain in
The souls of all the righteous saints who have died since the time of the cross have gone directly to the same paradise - in the heart of the earth or underneath the altar (Rev. 6: 9). That is, underneath them that dwell on the earth (verse 10); they are not now in the third heaven, as some would have us believe, because all their sins were paid for by Christ on the cross before they died!
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, it was not directed to those who were lost, but to those who were eternally saved; it was not a plan of initial salvation, but a plan by which they could inherit the coming kingdom. This sermon, then, tells a regenerate person during this dispensation of grace what he/she must do to enter the coming kingdom of the heavens to rule with Christ over the earth (Matt. 5: 20). Contrary to this, some have thought that this sermon is a constitution of the kingdom; that its commandments will make up the laws and by laws that will govern those who live in the kingdom. However, this is not true. The Sermon on the Mount is not for the millennium, but for the present. It is not a constitution for those living in the kingdom, but a set of commandments to be kept to enter the coming kingdom.
As we begin to analyse the Sermon on the Mount, it is not the intention of the writer to present an entire exposition of it. To do so would cover many volumes of work, which others have already adequately done. Instead, we will briefly survey the Sermon and then major only on what is considered the keys to its message. To help the reader more easily understand the Sermons message, the writer will take license to divide its three chapters into five major points: the beatitudes, the similitudes, the commandments, the keys, and the warning.
(1) THE BEATITUDES
As the reader has already discovered, the Christian must have his SOUL saved when he reaches the Judgment Seat of Christ to enter (inherit) the coming kingdom of Christ/Messiah; and the measure of that salvation is seen in the first twelve verses of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5: 1-12). They are known as the Beatitudes. They act as a mirror to reflect the continuous and changing attitudes of a Christian in his/her spiritual growth. Hence, when a Christian is saved by trusting Jesus as his/her Saviour (Gk. perfect tense), he/she begins to take on the spiritual character and attitudes of Christ. As he/she grows spiritually through the Word, he/she continues to change by growing into the likeness of Christ. This continuing change reflects the continuing salvation of the soul, or life, of the Christian (Gk. present tense), which can only end at the Judgment Seat of Christ. At this future time and place, the Christian will receive a just recompense of reward (Heb. 2: 2) in accordance with how he/she has lived life in the body (2 Cor. 5: 10). Christians will either receive a reward or suffer loss for one thousand years during the kingdom age (1 Cor. 3: 11-15).
The Poor in Spirit
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The first Beatitude shows the attitude of growing baby Christians, i.e., their first realization after receiving initial salvation. This realization shows how poor they are in spirit; how inadequate these Christian are when compared to what they thought before they trusted Christ; how spiritually emptied they are; emptied of self-importance, self-righteousness and self-assurance. To be poor in spirit is to realize that one has nothing and has need of all things. With this awakening, they can see that their own best efforts are totally unacceptable to God and they need to let Christ reign in their lives. The first Beatitude, then, is foundational for every newborn regenerate Christian. Everyone who is poor in spirit has the evidence that he/she is eternally saved; that the Holy Spirit has sealed them within. Because of this, the Lord Jesus calls them blessed. However, not every regenerate Christian has this attitude prevailing in his/her life. This attitude can be lost when Christians get out of fellowship with God and leaves the Word for the world and the flesh. When this happens, they are falling away from this blessed newborn attitude and are seeking once again their own self-importance. For those regenerate Christians who do not confess their sins and turn back to God, theirs is not the kingdom of the heavens (Gk.)
They that mourn:
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. The second Beatitude is the next experience of spiritual growth for the born again Christian. It is the next rung on the ladder of a maturing faith.
The world would ask, If they are blessed, why do they mourn? If they mourn, why are they called blessed? Only the growing regenerate Christian men or woman understand this paradox, for their mourning is spiritual and continual. Our Lord Jesus did not say blessed are they who have mourned, but they that mourn (Gk. present continuous tense). Until the day of the Judgment Seat of Christ when we find out if our souls are saved, we will spiritually mourn if we have been spiritually growing. Mourning is an experience that springs from a sense of sin, a sensitive conscience and a heart broken over our rebellion against God. The closer we grow to the Lord, the more we are aware of our fallen state and the more we will mourn. The more we grow into experiencing the remaining Beatitudes, the more we will mourn. It will be an ever deepening discovery of the depravity of our old sin nature that corrupts all that we attempt to do for Christ; our lack of faith, our coldness of love and pride in our own self-righteous works.
But they shall be comforted. Those who mourn are closely associated with those who are poor in spirit. Christians cannot come to mourn until they are conscious of their spiritual poverty. As the Holy Spirit shows them their sins and worthlessness, He does not leave them there, but causes them to look away to Christ their Saviour. It is only then that the sensitive, humble and broken-hearted Christians are comforted. For 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). Victoriously then, as growing, repenting Christians continually mourn for their sins, they are continually being comforted and forgiven of those sins that they confess.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. The third step in the spiritual maturing process of Christians is the Beatitude of meekness. Meekness is the sum total of many spiritual attributes gained by regenerate Christians who are growing in Christ through the Word of God. It is, first, associated with lowliness (Matt. 11: 29; Eph. 4: 1-2), then gentleness (2 Cor. 10: 1; Titus 3: 2). It is teachable (Psa. 25: 9) and opposite to wrath (James 1: 20-21). But the main attitude of meekness is the patience and perseverance of Christians who suffer unjustly. We see the fulness of this manifested in our Lord Jesus Christ when He was unjustly accused and put on a cross. Yet, He did not utter one word of defence or threat, even though He had the power to avenge Himself. He was meek.
In His meekness of suffering on the cross, Jesus was
teaching His disciples the principle of the cross. This principle
is not defending ourselves, resulting in suffering though we may be
innocent, is the only course of
action that is acceptable to God (1 Peter 2:
it is given in
the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but
also to suffer for his sake
29). [Again, as the Apostle Paul, when exhorting the disciples to continue in the faith says:
that through many tribulations we must enter the
Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness:
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled. Righteousness is a term denoting all spiritual blessings; and the hungering and thirsting reveals a deep yearning of those who seek Gods favour and image in their lives. Righteousness is both an imputed righteousness and an imparted one; an initial righteousness of Christ accredited to the regenerate believer and a continuing righteousness. It begins the moment he/she trusts Jesus Christ as Saviour (initial and eternal salvation) and continues throughout the Christians life as long as they hunger and thirst for it (the future salvation of the soul,* [1 Pet. 1: 5, 9; Jas. 1: 21]) and continues throughout the Christians lives as long as they hunger and thirst for it (the salvation of their souls). However, not all regenerate believers who have hungered and thirsted after righteousness will necessarily continue to receive it. It is one thing to receive the imputed righteousness of Christ when we were saved initially; but it is quite another thing to continue to receive imparted righteousness after we were initially saved. To do this, regenerate believers must continue to hunger and thirst after it.
This future salvation of souls (verse 9, Lit. Gk.),
looks forward to the time of the First Resurrection,
4-6). See scriptural teachings on The
Intermediate Place and State of Disembodied Souls. See Langs
Firstfruits and Harvest; Govetts Hades;
God uses His
Word to fill hungering and thirsting
Christians. Through His Word, He
continuously reveals Himself and the
truths of the higher wisdom; the
wisdom that teaches of the coming messianic
While it is true that worldly Christians cannot understand these truths, because they have no spiritual hungering and thirsting, it is equally true that they who have experienced these truths had first to hunger and thirst after righteousness before they could be filled. Nevertheless, while in the world, Christians cannot reach total fulfilment of righteousness, because they still have the old nature.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. This is the first of the Beatitudes that speaks of the fruit of Christians and not just the exercises of the heart. Mercifulness is a gracious characterization toward others. It is the spirit of kindness and favour that exhibits sympathy for the sufferings of others. This sympathy is a spiritual fruit and is not rooted in the old nature. It is the operation of the Holy Spirit through Christians who render help to those in need. It is not limited to the material needs of people, but also applies to their spiritual needs.
For they shall obtain mercy. Christians who share this spiritual fruit with others will reap happiness (Prov. 14: 21), will be dealt with in mercy by others and will receive mercy from God (Psa. 18: 25).
The Pure in Heart:
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. This Beatitude speaks of truth in the inward parts of believers, and is attained three ways: first, by the imputed nature of Christ at their new birth; second, by their continuous sprinkling by the precious blood of Christ to purge their conscience (Heb. 10: 19-22a); third, by a continuous and protracted spiritual growth, so that through His power, they can mortify the sins of the flesh and live unto God. As a result of this, they can grow to become the pure in heart who have a sincere desire and resolve not to sin [wilfully] against God. For only the pure in heart will ascend into the hill of the Lord (the government of Christ/Messiah in the millennial kingdom) and stand in His holy place (Psa. 24: 3-6).
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children [Gk. sons] of God. Christians do not automatically become peacemakers when they become children of God as the KJV would suggest; rather (as the Greek bears out), they become peacemakers when they become sons of God. The term son of God in the scripture is always used by God to identify mature Christians; those who will be manifested at the Judgment Seat of Christ as the church of the firstborn, who will gain the reward (Heb. 12: 23). Who are the sons of God? The peacemakers; those who bring waring factors, or parties who are offended at one another, together. This is not the task of the children of God; but of those who have spiritually grown to sonship through the preceding levels of Beatitudes. This Beatitude, then, has more to do with conduct than character; conduct that was forged through many levels of spiritual growth; conduct that not only strives to heal the wounds of others, but also strives to live peacefully with all others (Rom. 12: 18).
Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom heaven. If Christians were satisfied to live just and merciful lives in this world, but not Godly lives with Christ, they could gain all the plaudits of this world and still have their salvation. However, Christ is not speaking in this Beatitude of eternal life in a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21: 1), but of millennial life in the coming kingdom of the heavens (Lit. Gk.).
Therefore, this Beatitude informs us that it takes more than just initial salvation to become joint-heirs with Christ and to share His glory in His kingdom. To become joint-heirs with Christ, Christians must suffer with Him by living a righteous life (Rom. 8: 17). Christians, according to the scriptures, have the choice of suffering with Him here and gaining their lives there, or denying Him here and losing their lives there. If they suffer here, they will reign with Him there. If they deny Him here, Christ will deny them at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Tim. 2: 12). It follows that to enter the kingdom of heaven, Christians must live a Godly life, which automatically brings persecution from the world (2 Tim. 3: 12). If the world hated Christ, the Head, so will they hate the manifested, Christ-like body of Christ.
The Reviled and Persecuted:
Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (12) Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. This is the first of the Beatitudes that is spoken directly to and for the disciples. Notice the words blessed are ye as opposed to blessed are they which are written in the other Beatitudes. Also notice that the persecution described here that the disciples were to suffer is compared to the persecutions of the Old Testament prophets of God. It follows that Christ is speaking to all who have been personally called of God into the ministry of the Word [or message N.I.V.] of the Kingdom (Matt. 13: 18-21, R.V.). Their lot will be to suffer while doing Gods will; for all who wish to live for Christ will suffer persecution from mens tongues and mens hands (1 Pet. 2: 21; 2 Tim. 3: 12).
The reward that will be given to the faithful teachers [and their followers] for their suffering is described as a great reward; a reward far above that mentioned in the other Beatitudes. There, only the promise of the kingdom was given, but here, the kingdom, plus a great reward, is promised. This Beatitude compares to the faithful and wise servant of Luke 12: 42, who gives meat (teaches kingdom truths) in due season (last days of the apostasy of the church) and, as a result, is made ruler over all that Christ has (the great reward). Looking forward to the great reward, the faithful and wise teachers in these last days of apostasy should rejoice and be exceeding glad when they are persecuted for their faithfulness to the Word.
(2) THE SIMILITUDES
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men (Matt. 5: 13).
The similitudes of salt and light speak specifically to the regenerate ministers of God. Notice again that this section begins with the word ye; a word which shows a connection to the last Beatitude given by Christ and directed to His disciples. Thus, ministers (servants) of the Word are to be like salt in their preaching of the Word. Salt is incorruptible and is opposite to leaven, which corrupts easily and arouses fermentation. Salt is a figure of the truth, which sanctifies the soul. As salt stops natural corruption, so the Word of God works against moral corruption. Thus, the servants of Christ are an anti-corruptionist to this world as salt is to meat. Only when the first rapture of those accounted worthy of the church occurs (Luke 21: 36) will the salt of the earth disappear into heaven. After the removal of this section of the church (the salt), the world will be totally corrupted in sin for the great tribulation period. At the end of this period, the Lord will return to judge them that are alive, that are left at His coming (1 Thess. 4: 17).*
[* Compare Luke 21: 36 with Rev. 3: 10, R.V.).]
Salt is also used medically to heal wounds. This speaks of ministers (servants) of the Word whose lives, testimonies and teachings from the Word can heal sick souls. Again, salt tastes good on food and it makes one thirsty. In like manner, the Word of God is pleasant to men and women and makes them thirsty for the water of life.
The apostles were called the salt of the earth. This leads us to believe that those who have been set apart for the ministry are called the salt of the earth. However, they are not literal salt, but only resemble salt and though they are the primary salt source of the earth, they are not the only source. All regenerate believers should be dispensing salt by living (i.e., putting into daily practise) the truth of Gods Word.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. (15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matt. 5: 14-16).
The second emblem used for ministers of the Word is light. Those who are called and who preach the Word are like a city set on a hill. Their ministry is not a secret one, but a ministry that everyone should see; for being set on a hill not only draws men and women to the truth, but also draws the persecution of the world. (That is, from those outside of Gods redeemed family, and also from some who are within His redeemed family.) Christians who are called to this glorious task are like a light that cannot be hid. Yet many are placing their ministry under a bushel in these last days of apostasy from the truth, and allowing darkness - (in the form of false teachings) - to fill the whole house (church). Since they are not preaching the conditional passages and responsibility truths from the Word of God, they rely upon the word of man to tickle the ears of their hearers.
The order of the salt and the light used in these similitudes is significant. Salt speaks of humbleness and is common, inexpensive and trivial to the world. Light, on the other hand, speaks of illumination, obviousness and elevation. Where the first speaks of the servants who are called, the second speaks of their message.
However, there is a warning to those who resemble salt and light. If the salt loses its savour, it is no good except to be cast out to be trodden by men. This casting out as worthless will occur at the time of the Judgment Seat of Christ, when they will be judged. Its meaning is clear. Those who are called and hide their light in this life, lose their savour. Hence, at the Judgment Seat, they will be cast out of the coming millennial kingdom until the thousand years should be finished (Rev. 20: 5, R.V.).*
[* Compare with Matt. 5: 20; 7: 21; Luke 22: 28-30; Gal. 5: 21; Eph. 5: 5; 2 Tim. 2: 12; 2 Thess. 1: 6; Rev. 3: 18-21, R.V.]
We find in Luke 14: 33-35, these words, So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (34) Salt [is] good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? (35) It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; [but] men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Here, the use of salt is a similitude of the disciple of Christ. What does it take to be a disciple, i.e., a learner, of Christ? Verse 33 tells us it takes all; all that we have and all that we own; or we cannot be His disciple. One may ask, Does this passage of scripture speak of salvation and eternal life? No, for that is by grace plus nothing. It speaks, rather, of the salvation of the soul and millennial life. For all regenerate believers who, as salt, lose their savour (their usefulness to Christ) in this life will be cast out (of the coming kingdom) at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
(3) THE COMMANDMENTS
The third section of the Sermon on the Mount is the longest of the four sections (chapters 5 through 7. Its purpose is to give to all believers the commandments of Christ, so that by keeping them, they may enter the coming kingdom of heaven. These commandments are also known as the law of Christ (Gal. 6: 2, R.V.).
To rightly understand this section, the reader must know the difference between the law of God and the law of Christ. In the opening verse of this section (verse 17), our Lord tells us that He came to fulfil the law of God. This was accomplished on the cross when He died; for in His death, He fulfilled the claims of the law and paid its penalty of eternal death for all who would believe on Him. Hence, this eternal salvation was completed in the past in a finished state (Gk. perfect tense), saving everyone who believes on Him from the penalty of sin; i.e., the penalty of breaking the law.
Once a Christian has experienced this salvation, he/she is placed under the law of Christ. These commandments are personally given by our Lord Jesus Himself in this third section of the Sermon on the Mount. The believers who keep them, and teach others to keep them, will be called great (have great reward) in the kingdom of heaven. The believers who break only the least of these commandments, and teach others to do so, will be called the least in the kingdom (loss of all reward). It follows that those who keep them will have their souls saved. Those who fail to keep them will suffer ruin and destruction outside the glory of the kingdom for one thousand years.
After reading the commandments in this section, a believer may ask, How can this be? How can I keep a new set of laws? You cannot; only Christ can. How does He accomplish this? While He was on the cross, He fulfilled the demands of the law for you by taking its penalty upon Himself. Then, when you trusted in Christ, two things happened. First, you were declared by the law itself as being judicially dead in Christ and outside of its power to condemn. Second, Christ took up His personal residence in your life (the sealing of the Holy Spirit), where He now stands ready to personally fulfil His own laws in and through your life (Eph. 1: 13).
The fulfilment of His commandments will become automatic for believers as they yield their lives to Him through a continuing faith; a faith that comes from a daily growth by studying and obeying the Word of God (Rom. 10: 17). When Christians first believed in Christ, righteousness was imputed. Then, when they yield their lives through a continuing belief, righteousness is imparted. The first is judicial; the second is experiential. The first is objective; the second is subjective. The first is eternal salvation by grace through faith alone; the second is the salvation of their souls (James 1: 18-21). The first (eternal salvation) gives eternal life; the second gives millennial life.
Christ gave all believers a warning in verse 20 when He said, ... for 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. In view of this, only the imparted righteousness of Christ, as He lives through us, can exceed the righteousness of self. In New Testament theology, this is called the Lordship of Christ; it is the believer allowing Christ to have continuous rule over his life. The Lordship of Christ in regenerate believers lives results in the salvation of their souls at the Judgment Seat of Christ and gives them a position of rulership in the kingdom of heaven.
The commandments of Christ that Christians must keep to enter the kingdom of heaven are listed in the remaining portion of chapters five, six and seven of Matthew. Since most are self-explanatory, the writer will not expound upon them. A few of these include relationships with others, such as: do not kill, do not get angry without a cause, do not commit adultery, do not take revenge, do not hate your enemies, do not take oaths, do not act self-righteously, do not seek for riches in this life, do not worry over or seek the necessities of life, do not judge others (with the exception of those acting immorally within the church, 1 Cor. 6: 4), do not give spiritual truths to those who will trample them, and beware of false prophets. While many of these commandments are given in the negative, still others are in the positive, such as give to him that asketh thee, love your enemies and pray to your Father in secret.
The Mystery Commandment:
In view of the kingdom, readers would do well to continually study these commandments for their own lives. Generally speaking, there should be no confusion about what they are saying. However, the meaning of one of these commandments may be complicated and perplexing to the reader. This commandment is found in verses 29-30, and is part of the section that deals with adultery and immorality (see verse 28): and if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell. (30) And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell [Gehenna] (Matt. 5: 29-30). The warning of the consequence of being cast into Gehenna by our Lord to those Christians who practice the sin of adultery and immorality has been an enigma for Bible teachers and preachers for centuries. This is particularly true in light of the scripture that teaches eternal security for believers, as well as the fact that His disciples whom He was addressing were, at that time, eternally saved.
The answer to this enigma will become increasingly
clear as the reader begins to understand the consequences of losing the coming
kingdom. Many parables teach of the loss of the kingdom and of the places where
the non-overcoming believers of the church period will spend the millennial
age. Contrary to what others have
taught, Gehenna, one of those places, is not
the lake of fire (although it is translated hell
here and in other places in the KJV), but is
the place of the severest judgment of God upon His own redeemed people. This can first be seen in the Old Testament
(4) THE KEYS TO THE SERMON
The following two verses comprise the keys to understanding the Sermon on the Mount. They give the secret of happiness for the Christian while here on earth, and the secret of how to rule and reign with Christ in the coming kingdom of heaven.
The First Key
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matt. 7: 21).
Contrary to the teaching of many, not all regenerate believers will automatically inherit the kingdom of heaven. This spiritual truth is revealed in our above text, which teaches that it will be given only to those Christians who do His will. This verse speaks to the Lords redeemed people concerning reward, not eternal life.
Many Christians in that day (at the Judgment Seat of Christ) will attempt to prove that they are worthy of the kingdom. They will cry, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out devils in your name, and do many wonderful works in your name? But the Lord will say, Depart from me, ye that work iniquity, I never knew you (verses 22 and 23). As the reader ponders this indictment, he will see that those whom Jesus will address in that day are not the lost, but the saved (members of the body of Christ). Consider this clear scriptural evidence: first, those of this verse will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ where no lost man or woman will appear; second, they will call Him Lord, thus showing that they possess the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12: 3); third, they will have done what they will consider as many wonderful works. However, these works will not be the works of Christ through them, but the religious efforts of the flesh, symbolized in 1 Cor. 3: 12 as wood, hay, and stubble. Consequently, since this group will be of the body of Christ, the indictment of Jesus upon them will not be to depart into hell, i.e., everlasting hell fire (as it will be to the lost nations in Matt. 25: 41, 46), but to depart from His presence (outside of the kingdom).
There will also be a favoured group of regenerate believers at the Judgment Seat whom He will choose out of the body of Christ; they will be privileged to go into the marriage. They will be made up of the wedding guests (Matt. 22: 10) and the Bride of Christ, (Matt. 25: 10). Consequently, those who are saved and are not members of the bride or the wedding guests will not be allowed to enter the wedding (inherit the kingdom). Hence, the word know, or knew, as it is connected to the Judgment Seat of Christ, means that He will not recognize this group as being a part of the Bride of Christ. To know, here, means intimate knowledge, as in marriage (Matt. 1: 25). Therefore, the Bride of Christ will be those who are known by Christ as a special and submissive people who allowed the Holy Spirit to rule over their lives and to produce spiritual fruit through them. This will be accomplished by obedience to the Word of God and by doing His commandments.
THE STRIVING OF THE BRIDE
A companion passage of scripture that will direct more light on this teaching is found in Luke 13: 23-28, where we read:
Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, (24) Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (25) When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: (26) Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. (27) But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all [ye] workers of iniquity. (28) There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you [yourselves] thrust out.
Like our main text, this section of scripture is not referring to the eternal salvation which we presently have, but to the salvation of the soul and millennial life (the kingdom). We see this in Jesus answer to the one who asked if there would only be a few saved (into the kingdom). His answer was to strive to enter in at the strait gate (entrance to the kingdom). The word strive, in the Greek, means to agonize as an athlete would in his attempt to win an athletic contest. It means to work unreservably in accomplishing a task. The lost (unregenerate) do not strive by works to be saved; for eternal salvation is not of works lest any man should boast (Eph. 2: 9). Perceptively, then, our Lord in this passage is speaking to every [regenerate] Christian who has a desire to enter the coming kingdom. To do this, he must strive to do the will of the Father and to keep the faith and to finish the race (2 Tim. 4: 7-8).
Paul used strive in 1 Cor. 9: 25 to describe his own spiritual race when he said, And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. In 2 Tim. 2: 5, he said, And if a man also strive for masteries, [yet] is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. Lawful striving (striving against the flesh) causes one to submit to the rulership of Christ over his life.
This passage (Luke 13: 26-28) also discloses what will happen at the Judgment Seat of Christ to those Christians who failed to strive in this lifetime for spiritual masteries; those who did not allow the Holy Spirit to rule over their lives to produce spiritual fruit through them; those who were not concerned in doing the will of the Father; those whose only interest was in this world, seeking the pleasures of money, power, popularity and accolades of this world system. They, too, will knock at the door (to the kingdom) at the Judgment Seat and say, Lord, Lord, open auto us. But Jesus will answer, I know you not whence you are (I do not recognize you as being a part of this group - the Bride). Then they will try to prove that they should be allowed to enter the kingdom by saying We have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets (We are saved members of the church). But the Lord will say in that day that He does not recognize them as members of the Bride, and to depart because of their works of iniquity (religious works of the flesh). There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The expression weeping and gnashing of teeth is never found in the Word of God describing those who will be in eternal hell; instead, it is always found in the context of the Judgment Seat of Christ or the outer darkness (obscurity outside of the kingdom for one thousand years) (Matt. 22: 13; 24: 51; 25: 30).
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: (25) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. (26) And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. (27) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Matt. 7: 24-27).
Our Lord, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, will liken every Christian to one who has chosen either a rock foundation or a sand foundation on which to build his life. If Christians hear the sayings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and do them, they will have a life founded upon the doctrines of the rock. If they hear these sayings and do them not, their foundation will be as sand.
The rock in this passage is a Biblical emblem of Christ. It comprises the smitten rock (typified in Ex. 17: 1-6 as Jesus being crucified), the stumbling stone of the Jews (1 Cor. 1: 23), the foundation stone of the church (Eph. 2: 20), and the smiting stone of His coming judgment on the world (Dan. 2: 34-35). This passage does not teach the contrast between the lost and the saved; it teaches the contrast in the foundation of Christians who hear the sayings of the Sermon on the Mount and obey them, as opposed to those Christians who hear and obey them not. It is work (doing the will of the Father) that is taught here, not eternal salvation, which is by grace through faith (Eph. 2: 8-9). Hence, those Christians who hear and do its sayings will have lives founded upon Bible doctrines of the rock, which teach the Saviourship of Jesus (the smitten stone), the Lordship of Christ over the life (the foundation stone), and the coming Kingship of Christ to set up His kingdom (the smiting stone).
Rock Christians are those who believe in the kingdom truths; truths that teach that to enter the coming millennial kingdom, one must have works; i.e., doing the will of the Father by keeping the commandments of Jesus Christ. Sand Christians are those who build their lives on sand, which stands for legalism (works of self). They see nothing beyond their initial salvation; they believe that since they are eternally saved and cannot lose that salvation, they can live in any way they choose (no Lordship of Christ in their lives). These two different Christian lives are characterized as lives that the storms of life will either destroy or not destroy. The rain, floods and winds are emblems of the trials of this world. Those lives built upon the legalism of sand (efforts of self) will utterly fail when trials and tribulations occur. Those lives built upon the rock (the full doctrine of Christ) will survive all the trials and temptations of this world. Those whose lives are built upon the rock of Christ will be the wedding guests or the Bride of Christ; the ones chosen out of all the saved at the Judgment Seat of Christ to enter the kingdom. Those lives built upon the sand will not only fall in this lifetime, but also at the Judgment Seat of Christ. And great will be that fall.
In its historical setting, the Sermon on the Mount spoke to the disciples of Jesus of that day. They could either continue in their efforts to anchor their lives in the shifting sands of Judaism (works of self), or anchor their lives in the rock of Jesus Christ; they could futilely try to enter the kingdom by their own works, or they could strive to allow Christ to produce the needed works through them. In its contemporary setting, it speaks the same truth to the church. Those Christians who have founded their lives upon the rock of Jesus Christ are likened unto wise men; those who have founded their lives upon the sands of the religious works of self are likened unto foolish men.
To understand the Biblical meaning of a wise man versus a foolish man, the reader should study the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25: 1-13). This parable teaches that the five foolish virgins had only one portion of oil in their lamps (oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit), thus revealing that they possessed salvation. The five wise virgins had two portions of oil; the first, which is an emblem of the sealing of the Holy Spirit that every believer receives the moment he is saved (Eph. 1: 13), and a second, which is emblematic of the Holy Spirit in our learning and applying the higher knowledge of the kingdom. It was this second portion that the five wise virgins carried with them in vessels, thus showing that they were not only saved, but also had a double portion of the Spirit of God that gives knowledge of the kingdom, i.e., the above knowledge (Gr. epignosis) of the kingdom. Hence, their lives were founded upon a rock.
This parable informs us that at the judgment seat, the wise will go into the marriage, while the foolish will try in vain to obtain the extra oil that will be needed to enter. The door will be shut to the heavenly marriage and they will be left outside crying for the Lord to open the door to them. The foolish in this parable represent most of Christendom, who will fail to inherit the kingdom. The wise represent a very small portion of Christendom, who, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, will enter the kingdom. These two groups are the same as those characterized in Matt. 7: 21-23. To understand this is to understand the first key to the Sermon on the Mount.
The Second Key:
But seek ye first the
The second key to understanding the Sermon on the
Mount teaches that the believer is to seek first the
THE HEAVENLY BLESSING:
What truths does this text hold for us who are
Christians? It speaks of excitement; the
excitement of something new! A new place
for the heart to be; a new understanding and excitement for His Word; a new
outlook on life; a new commitment to the Lord; a new rest and peace; a new
focus for living; a new hope for the glorious future. All this can be ours if we meet one condition:
Seek ye first the
What is the
What is hope? The word hope, for a regenerate believer, means to live his life in anticipation of the coming kingdom. As used in the scriptures, it conveys the idea that one may, or may not, attain what is hoped for. Hope does not mean the same as faith. Faith claims something that God says is already ours. Hope, on the other hand, shows us what can be ours if we can achieve it. We see this in Pauls prayer for the Ephesian church, when he prayed that they might receive the hope of Gods calling, which was an invitation to the riches of the glory of His inheritance* [the coming millennial kingdom] (Eph. 1: 17-18).
[* See Psalm 2: 8. cf. Psalm 78 & 110.]
In light of this, our hope is for the inheritance laid up in heaven (Col. 1: 5). However, it does not automatically become ours when we die (Heb. 9: 27); for we must first be presented at the Judgment Seat of Christ as holy and unblameable to inherit these millennial riches. For this to happen, we must continue (Gr. present indicative active) to live now in a grounded and settled faith and not be moved away from the hope (anticipation) of the good news of the inheritance (Col. 1: 21-23). This blessed hope (anticipation) is the looking for the glorious appearing (not the rapture, but the revelation) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ to set up His kingdom (Tit. 2: 13). Hope becomes the helmet of our spiritual armour, which protects us from the forces of Satan, the flesh and the world (1 Thess. 5: 8). Christians who have the helmet of hope will purify themselves (1 John 3: 3).
Seek ye first the
At the Judgment Seat of Christ, every Christian will have his works tested in the fires of God. If he has works of gold, silver and precious stones (the righteous works of Christ through him), his works will not burn up and he will receive a reward (will inherit and enter the kingdom). If he has works of wood, hay and stubble (the unrighteous works of the flesh), they will burn up and he will suffer loss (of the kingdom); yet, he shall be saved (1 Cor. 3: 11-15). For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad (2 Cor. 5: 10).
THE EARTHLY BLESSING:
The Bible speaks of the two kinds of Christians in our text as the spiritual Christian and the carnal Christian (1 Cor. 2: 15-33). It is the spiritual Christian whose life is anchored on the rock, and who can assimilate spiritual meat (the kingdom truths) of the Word. It is the carnal Christian whose life is built upon the shifting sands of self effort, and who can only assimilate the milk of the Word. The spiritual Christians hope is in the coming kingdom; the carnal Christians hope is in his success in this present world. Spiritual Christians have a reverential fear of God, and they know He will judge all their works at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5: 10). Because of this fear, they are able to receive wisdom, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9: 10; 15: 33); thus, as they receive wisdom (the double portion of the oil), they become wise. The carnal Christians have no fear of God. They correctly believe that they are saved and cannot lose their eternal salvation; but they incorrectly believe that since they are saved by grace, they will automatically gain all rewards in heaven, no matter how they live here on earth.
Our text tells us that there is an earthly promise (in addition to the coming kingdom), which is given by God to every spiritual rock Christian seeking after the kingdom. He promises us that He will add (Gr. prostithemi, meaning to add additionally) all of the necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing, etc.). Because of this, Christians are told not to worry (take no thought for the morrow), but to live each day one at a time (Matt. 6: 31, 34). They are to continue in steadfastness to hope for the coming glory, believing that God will super-supply all of their needs. With this truth in mind, it is no wonder that the rain, floods, and winds of this world will have no effect upon their life. For while their hope is anchored in heaven beyond the veil (Heb. 6: 19), all the needs of this life are being super-added to them.
(5) The Warning:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (14) Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matt. 7: 13- 14).
In this warning passage, our Lord is showing us the two paths that can be walked by Christians. The strait gate and narrow path speak of the life choice of the spiritual rock Christians, who anticipates the kingdom. The wide gate and broad way speak of the life choice of the carnal sand Christians, who hope for the success of this world.
The strait (narrow) gate to this narrow path is restrictive, showing that the Christians must enter empty handed and yielded. Along the narrow path itself, they must learn the spiritual disciplines of tribulation, patience, hope and love (Rom. 5: 2-5). Those who enter its gate and walk its path to the end will find life (millennial life). Those who choose the wide gate and the unrestrictive broad way of popularity, power and money of the world will find at the end (the Judgment Seat of Christ) destruction (loss of the kingdom in the outer darkness or the blackness of darkness) for one thousand years.
For hundreds of years, the popular pulpit has
erroneously taught at least four different interpretations of the Sermon on the
Mount: that (1) it is the way of salvation for the lost world; (2) it was the
way of salvation for lost
We have shown that the exclusive commandments of Christ are specific rules of conduct for those who aspire to be in the coming kingdom. Each of these commandments must be seriously considered, because the ignorant or wilful violation of any one could disqualify the Christian for his/her inheritance in the Lords millennial kingdom.
Finally, we have shown that the wise Christians should
be impressed with the truth of the Sermon; a truth which verifiably teaches
that it is utterly impossible for any believer, in his own strength and
self-effort, to keep any one of these
commandments. Only as we become mature
and spiritual rock Christians by feeding on the Word can we trust Christ to
perform these commandments through him (Phil. 2: 12-13). The foremost of His commandments is, seek ye first the