Sabbath, March 23, 2019

Lesson 12 – Spirituality and Entrance into the Kingdom

“Jesus spoke positively that unless a man is born again he cannot discern the kingdom which Christ came upon earth to set up….
“There must be a new birth, a new mind through the operation of the Spirit of God, which purifies the life and ennobles the character. This connection with God fits man for the glorious kingdom of Heaven.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 132. 

Established in the heart

1. What did the Pharisees ask Jesus one day? What did His answer show?
Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.

“Some of the Pharisees had come to Jesus demanding ‘when the kingdom of God should come.’ More than three years had passed since John the Baptist gave the message that like a trumpet call had sounded through the land, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Matthew 3:2. And as yet these Pharisees saw no indication of the establishment of the kingdom. Many of those who rejected John, and at every step had opposed Jesus, were insinuating that His mission had failed.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 506.

2. Are the throne or headquarters of the heavenly kingdom established in Jerusalem or some other geographical place on earth, as the Jews imagined? Where is the kingdom of God?
Luke 17:21 The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo, there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

“Jesus answered, ‘The kingdom of God cometh not with outward show [margin]:  neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.’ Luke 17:21. The kingdom of God begins in the heart. Look not here or there for manifestations of earthly power to mark its coming….

“The kingdom of God comes not with outward show. The gospel of the grace of God, with its spirit of self-abnegation, can never be in harmony with the spirit of the world. The two principles are antagonistic. ‘The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’ 1 Corinthians 2:14.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 506, 509.

3. Can we imagine that the heavenly kingdom is reserved for some particular caste or aristocracy?
Galatians 3:26-29 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

“Thus Christ sought to teach the disciples the truth that in God’s kingdom there are no territorial lines, no caste, no aristocracy; that they must go to all nations, bearing to them the message of a Saviour’s love. But not until later did they realize in all its fullness that God ‘hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before
appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us.’ Acts 17:26, 27.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 20.

Divine righteousness

4. May we suppose that one will enter the Lord’s kingdom on the basis of his own goodness? What righteousness alone will enter there?
Matthew 5:20 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.

“Men may profess faith in the truth; but if it does not make them sincere, kind, patient, forbearing, heavenly-minded, it is a curse to its possessors, and through their influence it is a curse to the world.

“The righteousness which Christ taught is conformity of heart and life to the revealed will of God. Sinful men can become righteous only as they have faith in God and maintain a vital connection with Him. Then true godliness will elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life. Then the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity. Then the ceremonies required in the service of God are not meaningless rites, like those of the hypocritical Pharisees.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 310.

5. What else did the Lord teach regarding entrance into the heavenly kingdom? What deep experience will be made by all who are part of that holy place?
John 3:3, 5 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…. 5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 

“Have you at any time in your life been truly converted? Have you been born again? If you have not, then it is time for you to obtain the experience that Christ told one of the chief rulers that he must have. ‘Ye must be born again,’ He said. ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ That is, he cannot discern the requirements essential to having a part in that spiritual kingdom. ‘Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.’ John 3:3, 7. If you open your mind to the entrance of God’s word, with a determination to practice that word, light will come; for the word gives understanding to the simple.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 459.

Divine spirit

6. What will be the spirit of all who receive free entrance into the kingdom of heaven? What does that mean?
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

“Of the poor in spirit Jesus says, ‘Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ This kingdom is not, as Christ’s hearers had hoped, a temporal and earthly dominion. Christ was opening to men the spiritual kingdom of His love, His grace, His righteousness. The ensign of the Messiah’s reign is distinguished by the likeness of the Son of man. His subjects are the poor in spirit, the meek, the persecuted for righteousness’ sake. The kingdom of heaven is theirs. Though not yet fully accomplished, the work is begun in them which will make them ‘meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.’ Colossians 1:12.

“All who have a sense of their deep soul poverty, who feel that they have nothing good in themselves, may find righteousness and strength by looking unto Jesus…. We are not worthy of God’s love, but Christ, our surety, is worthy, and is abundantly able to save all who shall come unto Him. Whatever may have been your past experience, however discouraging your present circumstances, if you will come to Jesus just as you are, weak, helpless, and despairing, our compassionate Saviour will meet you a great way off, and will throw about you His arms of love and His robe of righteousness.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 8, 9.

7. How is this reality confirmed in the apostolic writings? When will the gates into the kingdom of salvation be opened wide?
2 Peter 1:5-11 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

“Here is the condition of the only saving election in the Word of God. We are to become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4. We are to add grace to grace, and the promise is, ‘If ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’” –(Manuscript 57, 1900) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1114.

“We point you to the ladder set up on earth, reaching to the city of God. Plant your feet on the ladder. Forsake your sins. Climb step by step and you will reach God above the ladder, and the Holy City of God…. “When the successive steps have all been mounted, when the graces have been added one after another, the crowning grace is the perfect love of God–supreme love to God and love to our fellow men. And then the abundant entrance into the kingdom of God.” –Our High Calling, p. 75.

For additional study

“In the Sermon on the Mount He [Christ] sought to undo the work that had been wrought by false education, and to give His hearers a right conception of His kingdom and of His own character. Yet He did not make a direct attack on the errors of the people…. He taught them of something infinitely better than they had known. Without combating their ideas of the kingdom of God, He told them the conditions of entrance therein, leaving them to draw their own conclusions as to its nature. The truths He taught are no less important to us than to the multitude that followed Him. We no less than they need to learn the foundation principles of the kingdom of God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 299.