The eternal state when all servants of the Lord Jesus Christ will live together in the new Jerusalem will be preceded by the one thousand year Messianic kingdom on earth, also called the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. As addressed in the Overview, the NT teachings on the kingdom are extensive, yet they are poorly understood and rarely preached today; if you haven’t already, please study the Scriptures therein to have a firm foundation for this study.
In this study we will cover some preliminaries, then focus on many of Jesus’ teachings that not all servants* will be worthy of entering His kingdom. Of necessity, this study is quite long – allow the Lord to lead you through it in intervals so that the truths revealed herein may be apprehended and strongholds be demolished! May God grant you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation as you get your Bible, look to Christ as your Teacher, and make time to study this. (Scripture is NIV 1984 version unless provided via a link or otherwise noted.)
*Only persons indwelt by the Holy Spirit – believers – are led and empowered to serve the Lord and enter His kingdom; we are children of the devil until we are regenerated and God adopts us as His children.
Jesus Preached the Good News of the Millennial Kingdom which Precedes Eternity
The Gospel according to Matthew tells us that shortly after His temptations in the wilderness, Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven of near.” ….Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom (Matthew 4:17,23). This is also relayed in Mark 1:15 and Luke 4:43. He continues proclaiming proximity of the kingdom of heaven/God in Matt. 10:7 and Luke 10:9,11; He is also recorded continuing to proclaim the good news of the kingdom in Matt. 9:35 and Luke 8:1. Jesus also spoke of this gospel [being] preached in Mark 8:35; 10:29; 13:10; 14:9 (similar account in Matt. 26:13), and in His great commission in Mark 16:15.
In all cases, this gospel / good news He preached is of the Messianic kingdom, widely prophesied throughout the OT, and by Gabriel to the virgin Mary: The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. (Luke 1:32b-33). As covered last time, Scriptures including Daniel 2:35, Daniel 2:44, and Rev. Ch. 20:4- 21:2 make clear that the kingdom of heaven/God is Christ’s literal 1,000 year Messianic kingdom on earth that will begin at His second advent – it precedes the eternal state.
Although Luke 1:33 and some OT Scriptures including Psalm 45:6 indicate His kingdom will never end, the Holy Spirit later specifies first through Paul a new teaching that the Messianic kingdom referred to is not the eternal state with these words:
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:20-26a).
As covered in the Overview, The Revelation of Jesus Christ later specifies repeatedly that the kingdom lasts a thousand years, and that death will be destroyed on the last day of that kingdom. Since in the eternal state both the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple (Rev. 21:22), we understand that Scriptures such as Luke 1:33 and Psalm 45:6 which indicate that His kingdom will never end are also fulfilled, and not contradictory to the fuller revelation.
The Millennial Kingdom Was Near, Then Was Taken Away from Israel
The millennial kingdom was indeed near when Jesus declared the kingdom of heaven is near, because Messiah, the King, had come! Since, however, the Jews as a whole rejected their Messiah by the end of His ministry, Jesus asked them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. (Matt. 21:42-43 emphasis added). The gospel of the kingdom was turned over to the Gentiles, and so the millennial kingdom has been delayed ~2,000 years until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24). As the Holy Spirit explained through Paul, Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in; He then assures us …all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:25b-26). Hallelujah!
Jesus Used the Terms Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God Interchangeably
Our Lord’s terms kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God are synonymous, apparently drawn from Daniel 2:44. The former is used mainly in Matthew, and the latter is used mainly in Mark, Luke, John, The Acts of the Apostles, and multiple Pauline epistles. Their synonymity is proven by our Lord Himself, whom Matthew recorded using both terms together: Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 19:23-24 emphasis added). The Lord also did this in His address to Jews who rejected Him quoted in the paragraph above, calling it the kingdom of God in Matt. 21:43, and calling it the kingdom of heaven five verses later while still addressing them in 22:2.
Jesus Taught Entrance into the Millennial Kingdom Requires Regeneration AND Doing the Will of His Father
Jesus taught entrance into the kingdom requires salvation/regeneration:
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you certainly will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:20).
He explained this to the Pharisee Nicodemus: I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again, then He elaborated, I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:3,5 emphasis added).
But He also taught it is dependent on what we do: And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3) He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15; see also Luke 18:17).
He actually taught selectivity from the beginning. After writing that Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom in 4:23, Matthew moves along to Jesus preaching what is perhaps His best-known sermon. Note that per Matt. 5:1-2 and His multiple references to “your Father in heaven” in Chs. 6 and 7, our Lord preached His Sermon on the Mount to believers.
From the first beatitude to the climactic ending, this monumental teaching addresses qualifications for the millennial kingdom, and makes clear that not all believers will enter into it. Please make time to reread the entire sermon (Matt. 5:1 – 7:29) now that your eyes have been opened to this! The following examples illustrate this key matter:
- Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, …” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matt 7:21-23). Multiple teaching points lie herein!
- Only the regenerated call Jesus “Lord, Lord,” and only they will appear at His bema seat “on that day” for judgment before the Millennium begins with His second advent. Rev. Ch. 20 makes clear that God’s great white throne judgment of all persons who were not deemed worthy to enter His millennial kingdom occurs on “the last day” at the conclusion of the Millennium before the heavens and earth are destroyed and made new.
- The Greek word for “knew” in v. 23 indicates experiential knowledge, that is, spiritual intimacy with His servants.
- Regarding evildoers, all unregenerate persons do evil naturally, but the NT makes clear that believers, still having “flesh” (the old Adam), also do evil on occasion, and unless we repent of it, God chastens us for it in this lifetime and/or the next age, the Millennium (e.g. Ananais and Sapphira, the fornicator in the church in Corinth, those Corinthians who became sick or died because they had not judged themselves before partaking of the Lord’s supper, Hymenaeus and Alexander, etc.). Believers must habitually abide in Christ: it is only by God’s power that we deny self, pick up our cross, and follow Him by sharing in the fellowship of His righteous sufferings/persecutions!
- Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matt. 7:13-14). Realize Jesus is telling His disciples this: only a few believers find the small gate to the narrow… road that leads to life (Greek zoe, divine life) because that Way is narrow (cramped, constricting to the old Adam who was and must remain crucified with Christ).
- Jesus used even stronger language in this key sermon (5:22; 5:29; 5:30) and on multiple other occasions, some which we’ll study below, to describe the fate of believers in the Millennial Age or this one who do not do the will of His Father. This requires the critical understanding garnered from Rev. 20 which is rarely understood and taught today that hell is not eternal: like death, it will cease to exist on the last day (Rev. 20:14). (This has been addressed in detail differently than it will be here in Part 2 of the Bible study series Resurrection, Rapture, Judgment, and Millennium – you can bookmark that for future study if you haven’t already.)
The Resurrection of the Righteous – Children Found Worthy of Taking Part in That Age
Luke’s account of Jesus’ similar “sermon on the plain” also addressed qualifications for His Messianic kingdom, was given to believers, and also began with beatitudes. It is informative to read it now with this newfound understanding (Luke 6:17-49).
His account of our Lord’s teaching about the narrow door later on is more detailed than in Matthew’s account, and may be read in Luke 13:22-30.
Luke also records our Lord specifying when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:13-14 emphasis added).
On another occasion, when the Sadducees questioned Jesus about the resurrection, He specified that some people will be considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead (Luke 20:35) (that is, taking part in His Millennial kingdom as one of the holy and blessed saints of the first resurrection in Rev. 20:4-6). He continues in Luke’s account to say they are children of the resurrection. (v.36b).
This was Paul’s goal in Phil. 3:11, addressed in the Overview, that uses a unique Greek word: to attain to the ‘out-resurrection’ of the dead!
Escaping the Hour of Trial that Will Come on the Whole World
Jesus also taught believers, Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape what is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man [at His bema seat judgment immediately preceding the Millennial Age]. (Luke 21:36). This escape addresses persons alive at the time of His parousia.
Decades later, Christ also addressed this possibility of escape to a limited group of worthy believers in His epistle to the church in Philadelphia in Rev. 3:6-13. You may recall that although our Lord addressed seven churches in Rev. Chs. 2 and 3, only two received no rebuke from Him: Smyrna and Philadelphia. Here is His promise of escape to the enduring and patient church in Philadelphia which kept His word: Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from [Greek: “out of”] the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. (Rev. 3:10)
This hour of trial is the Tribulation which will end this age immediately preceding the Lord’s second advent. Although this escape of saints who are alive at the time is well-known as “the rapture,” that popular term is falsely taught to involve all living saints, but the Scriptures clearly reveal that this rapture which occurs pre-tribulation is as selective as the prized first resurrection of which it is a component.
The well-known passage in Paul’s first epistle to the obedient church in Thessalonica informs us that such watchful saints will be raptured with the deceased “children of the resurrection” at Christ’s parousia – see 1 Thess. 4:13-18. The Scriptures actually reveal there will be multiple raptures of saints in accordance with how quickly we mature in Christ: this pre-tribulation rapture of the firstfruits, the main wheat harvest pre-wrath at the seventh trumpet, and the gleanings later on. Sadly, because the believers in the last two groups avoid both self-denial and sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings before the Lord’s coming as a thief in the night (His parousia – the bema seat judgment), the fierce heat of the Tribulation is required to finally bring forth their maturation. (This may be studied in depth in The Prize of the First Resurrection.)
Prophetic Illustrations of Selective Admittance into Millennial Kingdom
Selectivity of entering the kingdom according to maturity was later illustrated prophetically when Christ chose only the three closest of His apostles (thus the most mature) to accompany Him up the mountain to witness His luminous transfiguration as two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus… about his departure (Luke 9:28-31). Moses and Elijah represent resurrected dead believers and raptured living believers, respectively, entering into glory at the onset of the Millennial Age. (They also represent the law and the prophets, which in vv. 34-35 God indicated are superseded by His Son, to whom His disciples henceforth must listen.)
Selectivity of disciples entering into Christ’s millennial kingdom was likewise demonstrated prophetically, albeit more subtly, on two more occasions: when Jesus chose only the same three disciples to accompany Him into Jairus’ home when He raised his daughter from the dead (Mark 5:35-42), and when He selected the same three disciples to accompany Him beyond the place He had left the others in Gethsemane, that they may keep watch with Him as He then prayed a little further beyond even them (Matt. 26:36-38).
The Parable of The Wedding Banquet
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.” (Matt. 22:1-2). In that Parable of the Wedding Banquet, Jesus prophesied the invited Jews not only refusing to come, but mistreating and killing the servants of the king; He then said, The king [the Father] was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city (v. 7), thereby prophesying the slaughter of the Jews and devastation of Jerusalem by the Roman army in 70 A.D. The parable of the wedding banquet then described believing Gentiles entering the kingdom instead of Abraham’s physical descendants. Shortly after teaching this parable, during His Olivet discourse Jesus then specified, This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world… (Matt. 24:14).
The remainder of the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matt. 22:1-14) describes a wedding guest found not to be wearing wedding clothes – Rev. 19:8 confirms that wedding clothes are righteous acts of the saints provided by our unity with Christ. In the parable, the king orders the shocked wedding guest be tied and thrown outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (v.13). Given that only believers are wedding guests, this correlates with many other NT teachings that He repays believers according to our acts/works, and that most believers won’t have sufficient Holy Spirit-led and empowered acts to win the prize of entrance into His millennial kingdom. Jesus concludes the parable saying, For many are invited [to His millennial kingdom], but few are chosen.
The Parable of the Talents
The Parable of the Talents (“Bags of Gold”) in His Olivet discourse describes the Lord (the master) entrusting His spiritual giftings (property) to believers (his servants) until His second advent. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Understand that only the regenerate serve the Lord, and that He gives His spiritual giftings to the entire spectrum of His believers, from those given five talents, to two talents, to one. (These are not only the First Cor. Ch. 12 charismata of the Spirit, but also the Romans Ch. 12 energema of the Father, and the Ephesians Ch. 4 diakonia of the Son per 1 Cor. 12:4-6; see The Lesser-Known Gifts of the Son and the Father.)
The parable makes clear that regardless of the quantity of talents our Lord entrusts us with, He expects us to apply them in full during this age, not bury them. Both the servant who applied all five of his talents and the servant who applied both of his two talents received the same commendation at the master’s return (signifying the bema seat during our Lord’s parousia): Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! (Matt. 25:21 & 23). This means that those believers who apply all their spiritual giftings – regardless of the amount with which God endows them – will be welcomed into Christ’s millennial kingdom.
Two verses are written describing the master’s exchange with each of the good and faithful servants, but seven verses are written describing the master’s exchange with the servant who hid his talent – Jesus emphasizes the negative possibilities so believers will avoid receiving such just punishment themselves in the coming Millennial Age! (This is also the main reason He has me writing this study!) Note the judgment this believer who buried his talent received: throw that worthless servant outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 25:30). These are exactly the same words Jesus spoke at the end of the Parable of the Wedding Banquet studied above, and they clearly mean exclusion from His kingdom!
Please pause to truly consider and apprehend this… strongholds of false teaching and traditions of men are demolished only by revelation from God’s omnipotent word!
More information is provided about what happens to believers whom Christ will exclude from His kingdom because they do not do the will of [Christ’s] Father (Matt. 7:21) in a parallel parable in Luke Ch.12. But first, let’s study some of Christ’s other…
Hard Teachings for Believers in Luke Ch. 12
Luke Ch. 12 is packed with difficult warnings that apply to believers! Subtle but immense strongholds keep most Christians today from apprehending them, but praise God, the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effectual, so we pray without ceasing that He give us ears to hear and eyes to see! Jesus’ dire warnings to His beloved followers in this chapter include:
I tell you my friends, do not be afraid of those who can kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you who you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you [His friends!] into hell. Yes I tell you, fear him. (Luke 12:4-5; see also the same warning to the twelve apostles in Matt. 10:28 when He sent them out.)
The Parable of the Rich Fool, which begins “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop…” and concludes: “But God said to him, ‘ You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone [includes believers] who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21 emphasis added)
and these strong words of Jesus that few pastors understand the importance of and preach: I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other… (Luke 12:48-52).
Understand the divisions He brings in the family are not just in natural families composed of believers and unbelievers! Christ brings divisions in the family of God – between the more mature believers who habitually respond to His call to deny self, take up our cross, and follow Him in His righteous sufferings (doing the will of the Father), and the more immature believers who more often than not choose to deny Him instead of self. Again, this division was illustrated in a section above addressing three occasions when the three disciples closest to Jesus (and therefore the most mature) were taken from the rest of the disciples when Jesus selected only them to accompany Him to events requiring spiritual maturity.
So now, here is the parable in Luke Ch. 12 that contains a severe warning parallel to that studied above in the Parable of the Talents…
The Parable of the Faithful and Wise Manager
Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns [this is Christ’s bema seat judgment of believers at His parousia, not His great white throne judgment on the last day]. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
But suppose the [the Greek is actually “that“] servant says to himself, “My master is taking a long time in coming,” and he then begins to beat the menservants and to eat and drink and get drunk [being carnal, the antithesis of applying our spiritual giftings]. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:42-48 emphasis added)
The cutting to pieces is what the word of God, which is sharper than a double-edged sword, does to us, penetrating even to dividing soul and spirit… Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Heb. 4:12-13). It is His fiery word which will flow forth from the Judge’s mouth on Judgment Day which will try each man’s works of gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw… If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Cor. 3:10-15, emphasis added).
So to where are unbelievers assigned? Our Lord Himself says it will be Gehenna, and that Greek word is translated “hell” in most Bible translations, as Hades and Tartarus often are as well.
Again, realize that hell is actually temporary, not eternal as is nearly universally falsely taught and believed today; The Revelation of Jesus Christ makes that clear in describing what occurs on the last day of both the Millennium and this earth:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. (Rev. 20:13-14 NIV 2011 emphasis added).
Neither death nor hell will exist in the eternal state.
Directing our attention back to the present and the Millennium, the fact that our Lord will assign habitually disobedient servants to hell outside the millennial kingdom in the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30) is made palpably clear in Mark Ch. 9…
Better to Enter the Kingdom with One Eye Than to Have Two Eyes and Be Thrown Into Hell
Mark describes Jesus teaching His disciples in the house in Capernaum (9:33) until he left that place (10:1). He had taken a little child in His arms (9:36). It is towards the end of this passage in 9:42-48 that He most emphatically and repeatedly stresses to His disciples that they must be disciplined to avoid the (temporary!) flames of hell and enter life, which the third time He calls the kingdom of God.
Again, apprehend that, except for the child among them, our Lord is inside a house speaking only to His disciples, warning them of the possibility of suffering this (temporary!) fate in hell:
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:42-48 NIV 2011)
Clearly the Lord is speaking figuratively about the millstone and removing sinful body parts (flesh) in order to illustrate the importance of disciplining ourselves to avoid doing the works of the flesh and being chastened temporarily in hell.
The words of Isaiah the prophet quoted in v.48 do not conflict with John the Revelator’s words many centuries later indicating that hell is not eternal, but, along with death, will cease to exist at the end of the Millennial Age (Rev. 2-:14) – the effects of the worm and the fire are obviously unrelenting until those so chastened are resurrected on the last day.
Now that you have eyes to see that our Lord is indeed warning disciples (His apostles, even!) of the possibility of chastisement in hell during the next age if we do not habitually receive His discipline and repent when graciously made aware that we have sinned, realize that Jesus gave essentially the same warning to disciples in the beginning of His ministry in His Sermon on the Mount:
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matt. 5:29-30).
Praise God for revealing His sanctifying glorious truth to us when we truly seek it! May He continue giving His people eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to turn and apprehend His transformative word, that Christ may be more fully expressed through us, His servants, for His glory! Hallelujah and amen.
Of course, our Lord had multiple other warnings for His disciples, such as the consequences of unforgiveness in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (see Matt. 18:21-35) that we will not cover herein; many of them may be found in the study Jesus’ Many Dire Warnings for Christians are Falsely Attributed To Unbelievers.
One last matter before we end this study…
Jesus Taught You Must be Born Again to See the Kingdom at Present Because in This Age it is Within You
Recall that early in John’s gospel Jesus explained to the Pharisee Nicodemus, I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again, then He elaborated, I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3,5 emphasis added). On another occasion He told the Pharisees, The kingdom of God does not come with your [Pharisees’] careful observation… because the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20-21), meaning we must be regenerated with God’s Spirit before we can see it with our spiritual eyes (and watch for it!) until it arrives with the King at His second advent.
Until the Messianic kingdom finally arrives, it is the believer’s hope to inherit it! As such, it is the kingdom in mystery and not physically present, for it’s King is present only in Spirit within us now, not physically.
As our Lord explained to His disciples: the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went away and sold all he had and bought it. (Matt. 13:45-46). We, like that man, are to release all that we have in this world and apprehend what God has for us spiritually; we are to seek first the kingdom (Matt. 6:33)! This was illustrated perfectly for us by Paul in Phil. Ch 3, so we will close with it:
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the [Greek: out] resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:7-14 NIV 2011)
May God grant all those studying this similar understanding, hope, zeal, and perseverance as His servant Paul!
God willing, we will address the kingdom in mystery in the next article.