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 Works versus Faith (Part 17) – The Kingdom of Heaven (Part 6)

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PostSubject: Works versus Faith (Part 17) – The Kingdom of Heaven (Part 6)   Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:27 pm

Works versus Faith (Part 17) –The Kingdom of Heaven (Part 6)

Revelation 21:27 says, “Nothing impure will ever enter it [the New Jerusalem Holy City], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”  Each clause is important.  Let’s start with the last: “...only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” will be able to enter the city.  This clause, in mathematical terms, is not an inclusion statement.  An “inclusion” according to Wikipedia, is the concept that all the contents of one object are also contained within the second object.  It is not saying that all who are able to enter the New Jerusalem City includes all Christians.  We will see that many Christians will not be able to enter the Holy City, while there will be others with the right to enter and exit the City.  What this clause is saying is that all who enter the New Jerusalem City are only Christians.  To have access to the Holy City requires one to be a Christian (or a saved Jew in Christ).  In fact, to have the right to live on any part of the New Earth also requires one to be a Christian.  There will be no unsaved people roaming the New Earth at all.  All of the dead outside of Christ were thrown into the Lake of Fire in chapter 20 of Revelation.  

Now let’s deal with the first clause, which says, “Nothing impure will ever enter it...”  Some may argue that the blood of Christ purifies the believer without regard to their lifestyle because through faith, Jesus imputes His righteousness to us, making us pure.  That assertion is correct, but not the application to this verse in Revelation.  It is true that the Christian is a new creation in Christ and is holy and pure.  What happens is that when one becomes saved through faith in Christ, at that moment, their spirit that was prior to that dead in sin, is now transformed, or changed into a perfect entity without sin.  But that happens to just the person’s spirit.  A person is made up of body, soul, and spirit.  An unsaved person has sin in all three parts.  The moment a person becomes saved, that person still has sin harboring in his or her body (that is, their flesh), but their spirit is now changed into the righteousness of Christ, and their soul (or personality) is perpetually becoming saved; that is, their soul is becoming more and more like Christ through spiritual growth and maturity and God’s discipline and instruction.  No one’s personality is sinless.  Our personalities will be perfected when we exit these bodies of flesh; and, we will fully be perfected when we receive our new glorified bodies in Christ at the Rapture when the Resurrection of the Dead occurs.  In the meantime, our personalities (that is, our souls) are constantly being torn between wanting to obey the flesh and to obey God’s Word.  But none of these things apply to this clause in Revelation.  I am sure of this because of the next clause, which reads, “...nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful...”  That clause has nothing to do with our new nature.  It is explicit and says, “nor will anyone who DOES what is shameful or deceitful.” Sorry, I’m not yelling, just emphasizing.  So this clause adds information to what we found out from the other clauses: that not only does the person have to be a saved Christian, but they must also do good and not evil.  

Only people who are not ashamed of Christ will be able to enter His Holy City.  Only Christians who avoid the guilt of Galatians 5:19-21 will be able to enter the New Jerusalem.  That passage warns, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”  The Kingdom City is an inheritance for only those who live opposite to the things on this list will be rewarded access to.  Please note the words “and the like,” which means: “and etcetera;” so this is not an exhaustive list, and God knows that we innately know the kinds of things that are similar to these that would bar us from the Kingdom.  The things on this list are all opposite of the Fruits of the Spirit and are all evil in God’s eyes.  These are not minor infractions to Him.  God does have scales to the weight of different sins.  Not all sins are the same to Him, for the Bible even tells us that there is particular sin that does not lead to death (1 John 5:17) even though all sin is unrighteous and falls short of His glory.  There exists minor sin that does not remove us from fellowship with God and thus does not bar us from the Kingdom.  John wants us to know that we don’t have to fret if we don’t cross all of the T’s or dot all of the I’s to everything that God commands us.  That’s why he told us that in 1 John 5:17, so that we won’t live this life in fear that God is always angry with us.  We can remain in fellowship with God (which is John’s theme in his epistles) by simply committing to a righteous lifestyle through Christ and Jesus covers our minor mishaps.  

What most Christians get confused with is that they conclude from this list in Galatians chapter 5 that such things will keep a person from getting saved.  Salvation is by faith in Jesus’ finished work and payment on the Cross alone and His Resurrection from the dead; not by us refraining from sin.  If we could refrain from sin, Jesus would not have had to die on the Cross.  This list in Galatians 5:19-21 is specifically telling us that any Christian who lives like this, which is shameful or deceitful will be barred from the Kingdom of Heaven—not Heaven itself, which is the rest of the New Earth outside of the Kingdom City.  And as I pointed out in an earlier lesson, all of us are guilty of some of the things on this list in some fashion.  But God is not referring to any particular infraction of the things on this list—rather, He is referring to the bend of our lifestyle.  Are any of the things on this list an everyday occurrence for you or a common theme in your life?  Do you pray for forgiveness while having in mind committing the same tomorrow?  Do you perpetually have fits of rage or are always a drunkard?  If any of these things identify who you typically are, then you would be in danger of being barred from the Kingdom City for an eternity.  It is not enough to just get to Heaven.  Imagine getting to Heaven but not being able to participate for an eternity in the best that Heaven has to offer.  Imagine getting to the New Earth and only being able to view the awesome spectacle of the Kingdom City from the outside and not being able to see inside aside from peeking through the open gates.  That’s tough that the gates will be opened so that you can see inside but then you can only view what you cannot experience.  And moreover, Jesus mostly hangs out inside His Kingdom City.  Revelation 21:22-23 told us that the Lamb is in the City.  We are told again in Revelation 22:3 that the Lamb is in the City.  I’m sure Jesus comes out every now and then for He would not be confined to His Kingdom City.

I want to emphasize this more because it is important that we see the importance of submitting our will and life to Jesus in this lifetime, and not be merely resting on the fact that we have been saved by grace alone.  Faith in Christ and grace alone gets us to Heaven (it saves us from Hell), but it is not a free pass to enter the gates of the Kingdom City.  Only those who live by Truth, and not by the ideologies of this world order are able to enter the Kingdom.  Truth is simply whatever God says.  It is His viewpoint on a matter devoid of our opinions.  Satan is the father of lies; he is the opposite of Truth.  This world lives by Satan’s ideologies.  They try to keep God out of school; they don’t want to mention Christ on the job during lunchtime.  The conversations are all about sports, politics, and the weather, and everyone is ashamed to utter a word about Jesus.  Those who are willing to carry their cross for Jesus, and who are not afraid of persecution will be the only ones who will be able to enter this City.  Whenever you are not afraid to mention Christ and the Kingdom of God’s Truth and His world order, there will be persecution because Jesus promised it.  All in this City will know what it is like to be persecuted for the Name of Christ.  It will be populated with Christians who championed Jesus publicly.  If we live our lives looking like the sinners, and live like Secret-Agent Christians, we will not be persecuted, but we will also not have access to this beautiful Holy City for an eternity.  And beware of pride because that is the root of all of the higher level sins that would bar us from the Kingdom.  Satan is also the father of pride, for he was the first; and his pride got him kicked out of Heaven.  Pride is most dangerous because it leads to all other sins.  Remember, Jesus warned us in Matthew 5:5 that only the meek will inherit the Earth (that is, the New Earth He’s referring to in that passage—refer to verse 3.  Matthew 5:3-12 is an eschatological passage.)  

Not only will those who are banned from the Kingdom not have access to where Jesus mostly hangs out, but they will also have to rely on receiving glory from the kings of the New Earth who got their glory from being in direct presence with Jesus and also they carry with them the leaves of the Tree of Life which we are told gives healing to the nations.  The Millennium Kingdom has many similar aspects to the eternal New Earth Kingdom.  Only warriors for Christ will be able to stay in the Millennium Kingdom.  One main difference is that for the Eternal Kingdom, those who don’t live right will never even enter it.  But for the Millennium Kingdom, those who don’t live right, but who are saved, will enter it, but will be kicked out just after they have tasted how good it is.  Matthew 8:10 says, “When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following Him, ‘I tell you the truth, I have not found any in Israel with such great faith.  I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven.  But the subjects of the Kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”  Note that these people are called, “the subjects of the Kingdom.”  These are saved folks He’s talking about.  These are sons of God, not sinners who don’t know God.  They belong to the Kingdom.  Note that it says, “they take their place at the feast.”  They were invited.  They were supposed to be there.  Their names were initially on the invitation tickets.  But they disqualified themselves.  Please note that they were extremely upset.  They were weeping and gnashing their teeth and thrown into darkness.  Darkness means they were thrown outside the presence of God’s glory, which in this passage, refers to Jesus who is residing in the Kingdom City on this current Earth since this passage is referring to the Millennial Kingdom 1,000 year rule.  This occurs just after the Tribulation, but just prior to the New Earth.  

It is important to be reminded of the similar passages to Galatians 5:19-21 that was quoted above, which we covered in an earlier lesson.  God helps us with our word “etcetera” by restating similar passages two more times.  I’ll simply list them without commentary:

Ephesians 5:5, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God.”  

1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God.”  

Please do not disqualify yourselves from the Kingdom of God.  The Reader is now in the minority of Christians who understand the precise interpretation of these verses.  Salvation is by faith alone.  The Kingdom is by works after you have been saved by faith.  This understanding clears up a lot of confusing passages that Christians mistakenly interpret to mean that works is also needed for salvation.  Grace alone saves without our effort.  Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”  The Kingdom is not all of Heaven.  The person who is saved by faith alone, but still lives a rebellious lifestyle is saved from the Lake of Fire, but will forever be banned from the Kingdom of Heaven.  The good news is that God’s name is “I Am.”  God is eternally in the present tense.  He is not “I Was” or “I Will Be.”  God always regards the present and not the past.  Regardless of your past lifestyle, you can at any time make it right as long as you are still breathing.  All you have to do is to repent through the Cross of Jesus of your past sins and change your lifestyle through His Grace (grace is God’s power that comes by faith).  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  The Holy Spirit helps you live the Godly lifestyle when your mind agrees to submit to Jesus.  If you are currently not qualified to enter the Kingdom City for an eternity, you can, as long as you are still breathing, change that and become qualified.  In that day, you will be most grateful that you decided to make that change.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:20, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Another passage found in Matthew 7:21-23 would fit here, except this passage is referring to people who were never saved.  We will come back to this passage later, but we’ll look at it quickly here.  Verse 21 says, “Not everyone 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.”  This agrees what we have been studying in Revelation.  Access to the Kingdom will not be available to all believers.  Many Christians will be disappointed in that Day.  Verse 22 continues, “‘Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’”  Verse 23 gives us insight into who Jesus is speaking to.  It says, “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me you evil doers!’” Jesus is not speaking here to people who were once saved, but lost their salvation.  He is not speaking to people who once had faith in Him but because of their wicked lifestyle are now going to Hell.  Jesus is speaking to people who were NEVER saved.  Jesus said, “I never knew you.”  If they were saved, but lost their salvation, He would have said something like, “Depart from me, for I once knew you, but now I don’t.”  Remember, Jesus cannot tell a lie.    

The Kingdom of God is not for perfect people; it is for redeemed people whose pattern of life is godly.  The Kingdom of God is not for people who have never sinned; it is for initially guilty people who have truly repented of their sins.  In Matthew 21:31, Jesus says to his listeners, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you.”  Wow, prostitutes will be in the Kingdom of God.  So where Revelation 21:27 says, “Nothing impure will ever enter the [Holy City]...” it is not saying that the Holy City will consist of people who have never sinned.  If being sinless was the criterion for having access to the Holy City, the Holy City would consist only of Jesus.  And good news is that prostitution fits on our Galatians list of “and the like” or “etcetera.”  God is willing to forgive our infractions on His list of egregious sins if we renounce our sins and repent in Christ and He will grant us access to His Kingdom City.  

The Bible makes it clear that the New Jerusalem City will be a discriminatory city.  On the inside will only be allowed people who have washed their robes through faith in Christ and godly living.  Revelation 22:14 says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life and may go through the gates into the City.”  That statement should clear up the misinterpretation of those who believe that Hell is outside the gates.  These people are outside the gates, but they also have access to go through the gates and enter the City.  They are not coming from Hell.  And note that only those who have access to the Holy City are able to eat from the Tree of Life because the Tree of Life sits inside the City.  Those confined to outside the gates can have only its leaves that are brought to them.  Revelation 22:15 continues, “Outside (the gates of the City) are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”  Everyone in “Heaven” will not be equal or have equal status.  I’ll remind the reader of Matthew 5:19, where Jesus says, “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Some in “Heaven” will be called “least.”  Others will be “great.”  Jesus told James and John that in order to be great in His Kingdom we must be servants to Him and to each other and be humbled in this life.  The proud will be last in His Kingdom.  The really proud saved will be barred from His Kingdom.  The esteemed today will be last.  The abased today will be first.  This state of lack of greatness that we are referring to here is not a curse.  We are told in Revelation 22:3, “No longer will there be any curse.”  God’s judgements are right and just; they are not a curse.  A curse is something meant to bring us harm.  The Kingdom City is a reward to the overcomer and faithful.  A reward is earned.  We will be eternally locked into the state that reflects the lifestyle we chose to live while on this Earth, but it won’t be considered a curse.  

I’ll close with a peculiar passage in Revelation 22:2, which reads, “...On each side of the river stood the Tree of Life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”  What’s that about?  Remember where the Tree of Life sits: it sits inside the New Jerusalem City that not everyone will have access to.  Verse 14 seems to give the reason why many will be banned from entering the Great City.  It reads, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life and may go through the gates into the City.”  This verse seems to imply that one of the reasons why one will be banned from entering the City is to keep that person away from the Tree of Life, which not so incidentally, was the reason why Adam and Eve were banned from reentering the Garden of Eden.  The people who are restricted to live only outside of the City will not be allowed to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life, however, they will be able to enjoy the benefits that come from the Tree’s leaves.  Since they cannot enter the New Jerusalem City, they will have to rely on the Rulers of the New Earth to bring the leaves to them.  The Rulers of the New Earth will have access to enter and leave the New Jerusalem City, and one of their jobs is to bring the leaves of the Tree of Life to people, which serves as some type of healing component.  One might protest, “We are talking about Heaven, and I thought there will be no more pain and suffering.  Why would anyone need to be healed at all?”  Remember Revelation 21:4 says, “There will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  And at the same time we have Revelation 22:2, which says that the leaves of the Tree of Life will be used to heal the nations.  Seems like a contradiction.  Recall that Isaiah 65 told us that there will be people dying even throughout eternity because Isaiah describes things that will happen after he saw the new heavens and the New Earth and he depicts people dying still.  Revelation 21:4 said that there will be no more dying.  Recall, as we explained earlier, that not everyone received their resurrected bodies.  These people still have to die off their earthly bodies.  The Church received their resurrected, perfected bodies, but there are those saved Christians who are there from the Tribulation period, and many more still who are born during the Millennium period who will be in eternity with their original earthly bodies.  So we can only assume that when a person does “die” and drop their fleshly body that they immediately get up as if they didn’t die at all and receive their eternal, resurrected body.  A caterpillar has to die in order for a butterfly to form.  The death of the caterpillar is a physical death, but at the same time, it is not really death at all.  I think a similar thing is going on regarding the healing from the leaves of the Tree of Life where Death and pain and suffering no longer abounds.  

So if someone asks, “Do we get to Heaven by faith alone?”  The precise answer to that is yes and no.  If you don’t care about being banned from the Kingdom of Heaven for an eternity, then the answer is yes: faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ is sufficient to save you from the Lake of Fire; however, if you want to have access to the Kingdom of Heaven, then the answer is you must have faith and works.  This is not the end of the Works versus Faith series, but this might be the end of the Kingdom of Heaven part of it.  I just want to leave a final point to consider; sort of off topic.  I’ve heard preachers try to separate time from eternity.  They say that clocks will no longer be necessary in eternity because time will no longer exist.  They argue that God is an Eternal Being and there will be no more sun or moon, so therefore time will no longer exist in eternity.  But I would argue that time will persist throughout eternity on the basis of Revelation 22:2, which says that the Tree of Life will bear its fruit every month.  That’s a specific time reference.  Time is still being counted here and we are well into “eternity.”  At a precise moment, every 29.5 days (that’s based on a Jewish calendar) the Tree of Life will produce its fruit for those within the Kingdom to enjoy.  So there are still 24 hours in a day, 60 seconds to a minute, and the clock will still tick on forever.  There will be no distinction between the night and day because there is no more night there, but that is the only difference.  

My next post will be on the Sheep and the Goats of Matthew 25.

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Works versus Faith (Part 17) – The Kingdom of Heaven (Part 6)
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