BY: DAVE GARNER
MAY 3, 2007
Matthew 3:2, “And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Mark 1:14-15, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
Luke 4:42-44, “And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them. And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.”
In the King James Version of the Bible the phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used in the gospel of Matthew a total of 32 times. The “kingdom of God” is used in the gospel of Luke 32 times. Most of the time when the phrases are used they are in reference to the same parable or message that Jesus was sharing with the people or with His disciples. The difference being that Matthew ended his phrase with “heaven” and Luke ended his with “God.” At least in these two gospels the “kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of heaven” were talking about the same thing. Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached that the kingdom of God or heaven was at hand, or was within reach. Prior to John the Baptist, the kingdom message had not been proclaimed. Prior to the ministry of Jesus the kingdom of heaven/God was not within mans reach. Jesus became, still is and always will be the way, the truth and life, the entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3, Luke 6:20) The “poor in spirit” are the key words to understanding what Jesus meant. He did not tell them that just because they were poor and did not have any money that they would get the kingdom of heaven. He was specific about what they had to be poor in when He added “spirit” after the words “poor in”. A prideful and haughty spirit that was not open to receive from what He was telling them would not receive membership into His kingdom. Jesus taught the multitudes that they who were persecuted for righteousness sake would possess the kingdom of heaven. He did not say that those who held on stubbornly to the traditions and doctrines of man for prides sake would possess the kingdom, no matter how well meaning they were. Neither did He say that those who were being persecuted by the government, bill collectors, ignorance, sicknesses, or suffering from poor decisions and ill advised actions would possess the kingdom. He did not say that they would receive the kingdom because they were physically poor financially, or were being persecuted for doing their own thing for the kingdom. The kingdom of God/heaven was theirs only if they were persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10-12, Luke 6:22-23). If a person is reviled, persecuted, and falsely accused for committing their life to following Jesus Christ, then great is his reward in heaven. We can be persecuted every day for doing our own thing and all that we will get in the end is more persecution.
Blessings to all,
BLESSINGS [Dave Garner] 5-3-07 1