Trinity VIII Sunday

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Trinity VIII

Matthew 7: 15-21

 Many people think that they go to heaven when they die; that they have the passport that would give them access to the kingdom of God. They are even encouraged by the comforting words of many preachers, priests, and pastors. Their hope is also based on the idea that heaven is for all believers and that you just need to have faith and you will go to heaven.

In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave some important warnings:

  • Few, not many, would be saved – “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7: 13-14);
  • Many religious people, including some believers in Jesus, will be surprised that they are not among the chosen ones (Matthew 7: 21-23).

All well considered, one of the themes that Jesus developed in the Sermon on the Mount was: Who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

But before considering this question, I think it would be good to answer another one first: what is the Kingdom of heaven?

The term “Kingdom of Heaven” is the same with the term “Kingdom of God” (Cf. Matthew 4:17 with Matthew 1:14-15). It refers to God’s kingship or rule. It is spiritual in nature. It began when all authority was given to Jesus (Matthew 28: 18). Today, the Kingdom of heaven includes the Lord’s church on earth. In the future, it will involve the “new heavens and new earth”, where we will be with God and Jesus for eternity as mentioned in the book of Revelation. (Rev. 21: 1-22:5)

Now, who will enter that Kingdom?

Jesus himself answered that question saying: “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven”. Faith only can not save. It must be supported by some relevant works.  “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” says James (Jm 2: 24). The true disciple is the one who not only believes in Jesus, but does what he says. Only he who does the will of the Father will be saved.

I know that they are some people who after service would come out and shake my hand, telling me what a wonderful lesson I had presented. But they would never do anything to live what I preach to them. People come to worship expecting to hear good sermon. When the speaker is finished, they frequently go their way for another week having no intention whatsoever to step forward in obedience to the gospel which has been preached to them.

Beloved, you may be asking yourselves, “but what is the will of God? And how can I know that I am doing the will of God”

The will of God is revealed to us by Jesus through his words and deeds as recorded in the Bible. We can always be assured that we are doing what pleases God when we are following the life and the teaching of Jesus.

To make it short, I would just say that the will of God is to feed the hungry, to practice justice, to forgive those who hurt you, to pray for your enemies, to visit the prisoners and those who are sick. The will of God is also to give hope to those who live without hope, hope that tomorrow will not be like today, hope that their situation would change and become better. The will of God is also to establish the kingdom of heaven in the life of those around us.

Finally the will of God could be summed up in these three words: “I- love- you”.  Someone around you, your neighbor, could be expecting you to say those three words and his or her life will completely change.

That’s what the will of God is all about. As you focus on that, know that you will surely enter the kingdom of heaven.