Vineyard International

Vineyard International


Bless you woman of God.
What Does It Mean To Seek First The Kingdom of God?

Jesus says that we must seek the Kingdom of God first? What does He mean? What is this Kingdom of God and how do we seek it first?
The Kingdom of God
The gospel of Mark says that the first thing that Jesus said was “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). What was this kingdom all about? For one thing, Jesus is the King of this kingdom. Jesus spoke a lot about the kingdom of God in parables in Mark chapter 3. Jesus said that “there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mark 9:1). Who can enter this kingdom? When some tried to bring children to Jesus to have them blessed, the disciples prevented them but Jesus was upset with them saying “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:14-15). So apparently, we must be like a child to enter into the kingdom meaning that like a child, we must be humble, contrite, and teachable. God will resist the proud but will give His grace only to those who are humble (James 4:6). When someone said that the greatest commandments were to love God and our neighbors as ourselves, Jesus said “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34).
The Necessity for Repentance
John the Baptist came preaching the kingdom of God saying “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:1) so John the Baptist and Jesus associated repentance as a necessary condition for entering the kingdom of God or as it’s sometimes called, the kingdom of heaven. This is clear because as in the Gospel of Mark, Matthew makes clear that the first thing that Jesus said, as did John the Baptist did, was to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). In fact Jesus “went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matt 4:23). The idea of being humble is sometimes referred to as being poor in spirit which is why Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3). He went on to say “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10) so if you are being persecuted for “righteousness’ sake” then yours is the kingdom of heaven too. What is very sobering is the place where Jesus says that “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20). Everyone understood what Jesus was saying. The Scribes and the Pharisees (which means the “separated ones”) tithed on everything, they fasted twice a week, they kept the commandments but those who will enter the kingdom must have a righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees and Scribes. How is this possible?
Entering the Kingdom
Jesus, in giving the disciples the pattern on which they should pray, told them to pray for the kingdom to come (Matt 6:10a) so believers should be praying for that kingdom to come as soon as possible so that God’s will can be done on earth as it is already being done in heaven (Matt 6:10b). Entering this kingdom has conditions though. We have already seen that repentance is necessary to enter that kingdom. We also know that Jesus said that only those who are child-like can enter the kingdom, meaning that they must humble themselves and be teachable in nature but He goes on to says “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33). To seek the kingdom of God first and foremost means that we must also seek God’s righteousness. Only if we do this will “all these things” “be added to” us. The “these things” Jesus is speaking about are all the necessities of life like clothing, food, and shelter (Matt 6:25-31). That’s why we should “not be anxious about tomorrow” and the things that we will need (Matt 6:34). Our focus should be on seeking the kingdom and His righteousness.
How to Enter the Kingdom
If you are to enter the kingdom of God or heaven you must seek that kingdom first and foremost in your life, you must repent and this repentance is not just being sorry for your sins. No, it is a repentance that bears the fruit of true conversion (John 15). John the Baptist said we are to “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:8). We are also to be child-like in humility and being teachable. Then, we are to seek God’s righteousness which means that we are to live as holy of a life as possible but our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees. How is this even humanly possible? It isn’t. Here’s how we must exceed that kind of righteousness. We must repent or turn away from our sins. As Solomon wrote “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov 28:13) so repentance means we are to confess our sins but it also means we are to forsake them or turn away from them and only then will we “obtain mercy.” If a person does that and puts their trust in Christ, only then can we enter the kingdom. This is why Paul wrote to the church at Corinth “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:20-21). That’s it! We must repent, confess our sins, turn away from them, be teachable and humble before God and then put our trust in Christ as our Savior. If we do all of these things then God will see us, not as sinners or enemies of God (Rom 5:8, 10) but as having the same righteousness as Christ does. That’s the only way that you can enter into the kingdom of heaven. That is why Jesus said that we must seek first this kingdom and the righteousness of God to enter it. Jesus said “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Have you repented of your sins? Have you turned away from them? Have you forsaken them? Have you apologized to God for your sinfulness? Has there been a time in your life when you trusted in the Savior? Have you truly sought the kingdom above all things? Have you sought and are still seeking to live a more holy life and His righteousness? If you have answered no to any of these things, then you must remember that the prophet Daniel wrote down some predictions for those who both have been born again and those who have rejected Christ as Savior in Daniel 12:2-3 “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Remember that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Thursday April 24, 2014 8:00 p.m.
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