Sabbath, April 6, 2019
Lesson 14 – Principles of the Kingdom
“It was Christ who, amid thunder and flame, had proclaimed the law upon Mount Sinai. The glory of God, like devouring fire, rested upon its summit, and the mountain quaked at the presence of the Lord. The hosts of Israel, lying prostrate upon the earth, had listened in awe to the sacred precepts of the law. What a contrast to the scene upon the mount of the Beatitudes! Under the summer sky, with no sound to break the stillness but the song of birds, Jesus unfolded the principles of His kingdom. Yet He who spoke to the people that day in accents of love, was opening to them the principles of the law proclaimed upon Sinai.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 45.
Understanding the principles
1. What fundamental principles of God’s government are more stable than earth and heaven in the kingdom of grace? Are they as certain in our decisions and lives as well?
Matthew 5:17, 18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
“The moral law was never a type or a shadow. It existed before man’s creation, and will endure as long as God’s throne remains. God could not change nor alter one precept of His law in order to save man; for the law is the foundation of His government. It is unchangeable, unalterable, infinite, and eternal. In order for man to be saved, and for the honor of the law to be maintained, it was necessary for the Son of God to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin. He who knew no sin became sin for us, He died for us on Calvary. His death shows the wonderful love of God for man, and the immutability of His law….” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 80.
“The law was given to convict them of sin, and reveal their need of a Saviour. It would do this as its principles were applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit. This work it is still to do. In the life of Christ the principles of the law are made plain; and as the Holy Spirit of God touches the heart, as the light of Christ reveals to men their need of His cleansing blood and His justifying righteousness, the law is still an agent in bringing us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.’ Psalm 19:7.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 308.
2. What will happen if we take lightly some teachings of the Lord, or just one commandment, and still hope to enter the kingdom of heaven? How will we be considered in God’s kingdom as we teach and faithfully practice His sacred commandments?
Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
“The followers of Christ are to become like Him–by the grace of God to form characters in harmony with the principles of His holy law. This is Bible sanctification.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 20.
“Whenever men choose their own way, they place themselves in controversy with God. They will have no place in the kingdom of heaven, for they are at war with the very principles of heaven. In disregarding the will of God, they are placing themselves on the side of Satan, the enemy of God and man. Not by one word, not by many words, but by every word that God has spoken, shall man live. We cannot disregard one word, however trifling it may seem to us, and be safe. There is not a commandment of the law that is not for the good and happiness of man, both in this life and in the life to come. In obedience to God’s law, man is surrounded as with a hedge and kept from the evil. He who breaks down this divinely erected barrier at one point has destroyed its power to protect him; for he has opened a way by which the enemy can enter to waste and ruin.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 52.
Looking beneath the surface
3. How do external actions compare with man’s thoughts? How far reaching are the principles on which the Ten Commandments are based?
Matthew 5:27-30 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29And 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. 30And 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.
“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.
“Jesus takes up the commandments separately, and explains the depth and breadth of their requirement. Instead of removing one jot of their force, He shows how far reaching their principles are, and exposes the fatal mistake of the Jews in their outward show of obedience. He declares that by the evil thought or the lustful look the law of God is transgressed. One who becomes a party to the least injustice is breaking the law and degrading his own moral nature. Murder first exists in the mind. He who gives hatred a place in his heart is setting his feet in the path of the murderer, and his offerings are abhorrent to God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 310.
4. What other holy principle characterizes the Lord’s kingdom and must be part of our lives?
Matthew 5:43-45 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
“The Saviour goes farther than this. He says, ‘If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.’ Matthew 5:24, 25. Many are zealous in religious services, while between them and their brethren are unhappy differences which they might reconcile. God requires them to do all in their power to restore harmony. Until they do this, He cannot accept their services. The Christian’s duty in this matter is clearly pointed out.
“God pours His blessings upon all. ‘He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.’ He is ‘kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.’ Luke 6:35. He bids us to be like Him. ‘Bless them that curse you,’ said Jesus; ‘do good to them that hate you,… that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.’ These are the principles of the law, and they are the wellsprings of life.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 310, 311.
From theory and words to fact
5. If we sound religious and often speak the Lord’s name, is this a guarantee of entrance into the heavenly kingdom? According to Jesus, what is critical in this matter?
Matthew 7:21 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.
“God has elected a character in harmony with His law, and anyone who shall reach the standard of His requirement will have an entrance into the kingdom of glory. Christ Himself said, ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life.’ John 3:36…. And in the Revelation He declares, ‘Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.’ Revelation 22:14. As regards man’s final salvation, this is the only election brought to view in the Word of God.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 350.
“True character is not shaped from without, and put on; it radiates from within. If we wish to direct others in the path of righteousness, the principles of righteousness must be enshrined in our own hearts. Our profession of faith may proclaim the theory of religion, but it is our practical piety that holds forth the word of truth. The consistent life, the holy conversation, the unswerving integrity, the active, benevolent spirit, the godly example–these are the mediums through which light is conveyed to the world.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 307.
6. How does a spirit of retaliation compare with the Lord’s character? How does the golden rule characterize the heavenly kingdom?
Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
“The Jews cultivated a spirit of retaliation…. But those who at any supposed provocation feel at liberty to indulge anger or resentment are opening the heart to Satan. Bitterness and animosity must be banished from the soul if we would be in harmony with heaven.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 310.
“The golden rule is the principle of true courtesy, and its truest illustration is seen in the life and character of Jesus. Oh, what rays of softness and beauty shone forth in the daily life of our Saviour! What sweetness flowed from His very presence! The same spirit will be revealed in His children. Those with whom Christ dwells will be surrounded with a divine atmosphere. Their white robes of purity will be fragrant with perfume from the garden of the Lord….
“No man who has the true ideal of what constitutes a perfect character will fail to manifest the sympathy and tenderness of Christ. The influence of grace is to soften the heart, to refine and purify the feelings, giving a heaven-born delicacy and sense of propriety.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 135.
God’s will and the coming of the kingdom
7. In the Lord’s prayer, what two requests reflect the spirit of heaven? What is the relationship between God’s will and the coming of the kingdom?
Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
“The first half of the prayer Jesus has taught us is in regard to the name and kingdom and will of God–that His name may be honored, His kingdom established, His will performed. When you have thus made God’s service your first interest, you may ask with confidence that your own needs may be supplied. If you have renounced self and given yourself to Christ, you are a member of the family of God, and everything in the Father’s house is for you. All the treasures of God are opened to you, both the world that now is and that which is to come. The ministry of angels, the gift of His Spirit, the labors of His servants–all are for you. The world, with everything in it, is yours so far as it can do you good. Even the enmity of the wicked will prove a blessing by disciplining you for heaven. If ‘ye are Christ’s,’ ‘all things are yours.’ 1 Corinthians 3:23, 21.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing,
For additional study
“Thus Christ set forth the principles of His kingdom, and showed them to be the great rule of life. To impress the lesson He adds an illustration. It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words. By obedience you must make them the foundation of your character. Self is but shifting sand. If you build upon human theories nd inventions, your house will fall. By the winds of temptation, the tempests of trial, it will be swept away. But these principles that I have given will endure. Receive Me; build on My words.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 314.