The Kingdom of Heaven
KKH, 114-115, CFP white covers only
The kingdom of heaven is the manifestation on the earth of the authority of God from heaven. What is difficult to determine is the difference in time between the kingdom of heaven to come (its public manifestation) and the kingdom of heaven today (its spiritual reality).
Without engaging in any comparison we usually are unable to know accurately. Comparison gives us exact knowledge.
The scope of the church today is as big as the scope of the kingdom of God today. The scope of the kingdom of heaven is smaller than the scope of the kingdom of God and the scope of the church.
The province in which God dispenses grace is the church. It is a matter of position.
The kingdom of God is the sovereignty of God. All who believe in the Lord are under God’s sovereign authority. This is true both now and in the future. Hence the church (all who believe in the Lord) and the kingdom of God are like the two sides of a coin. The kingdom of heaven refers to those who will reign during the millennium. Not all who are today in the church and in the kingdom of God can enter the kingdom of heaven. Only the faithful in the church may enter.
“Violent” means “desperate”; “take” is “seize” [see Matt. 11.11-13]—that is to say, to take for one’s possession. Since the Pharisees use force to prevent men from entering the kingdom of heaven, those who would enter need to seize it by force.
Matt. 7.15-20 What kind of people are the “false prophets”? Let us see that those who were used of God to write the Bible were called prophets. According to 2 Peter 1 they were men who “spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (v.21). They were moved to speak the words of another Person. Similarly, these false prophets speak the words of another person (only they do not speak the words of God) as they are moved by the spirit (yet not by the Holy Spirit).
Being false prophets, they are directly involved in teaching. Sheep are rather innocent, but these sheepskins (“sheep’s clothing”) are stolen. Ravening wolves probably point to evil spirits. Neither the outside nor the inside really belong to these false prophets.
v.16 “Fruits” here refer to teachings, for the fruits of false prophets are teachings and not modes of conduct. By our hearing their teachings they shall be recognized as false prophets.
“Grapes” and “figs” are considered excellent fruits among the Jews. How can the true preaching of God be heard from the mouths of these false prophets?
v.19 These must definitely be people of eternal perdition.
v.21 This verse tells us positively that in calling Jesus Christ as Lord we shall enter the kingdom of heaven, though not everyone who so calls will enter in. The emphasis is laid on the words, “not every one”—“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord,” says Paul in Romans 10.9, “thou shalt be saved”; thus indicating that the first condition for entering the kingdom of heaven is being saved. However, not everyone who is saved enters the kingdom automatically; for not all Christians have part in the kingdom. There is a second condition; namely, that “he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven” shall enter in.
Consequently, the general conditions for entering the kingdom of heaven are (1) a being saved, and (2) doing the will of God.
7.21 lays down the general conditions for entering the kingdom of heaven. 7.22 illustrates the special exclusion from the kingdom. And 7.23 tells of the special consequence thereof for such people.
The word “knew” in verse 23 is the past tense for the same Greek word translated “know” in Romans 7.15. In the original it means to recognize or to understand. “I never knew you” may therefore be translated as “I never recognized you”—which means “I never recognized what you did as right.”
Now the people in question here are definitely Christians, for the following reasons:
(1) The context in which these words of Jesus are found is the so-called Sermon on the Mount, which, as we have continually seen, is primarily spoken to believers.
(2) The teaching of the mount from beginning to end never instructs us as to how we can be saved since it is obviously addressed to those who are already saved.
(3) This small section from verse 21 to verse 23 does not deal with the question of faith; rather, it treats of the matter of conduct. We know we are saved through faith and not by work. Hence what is said here has nothing do with eternal perdition of the unsaved.
(4) “In that day” (v.22)—What day is “that day”? These words refer to the day of judgment at the judgment-seat of Christ before which the saved alone will appear. This is not the judgment before the Great White Throne.
(5) The people in question here have called on the name of the Lord; therefore they are the Lord’s.
(6) Notice the works they perform: they prophesy by the name of the Lord, and by the same Name they cast out demons and do many mighty works.
“That day” is a specific term in the Bible. As today is the day of man (see 1 Cor. 4.3: “or of man’s judgment” which in the original is “of man’s day”) when man judges, so “that day” is the day of the judgment-seat of Christ when all the saved—and no one but the saved—shall be judged (see 2 Tim. 1.12,18; 4.8).
v.22 “Many” shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Lord, Lord . . .”—They call on His name once again.
“Prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works”—All these are considered to be great gifts in the church: to prophesy is to do the work of a prophet; to cast out demons is to bring in the kingdom of heaven; and to do mighty works is to exercise the power of the age to come. Those who perform such acts specifically cite these things because they think by these things they are most qualified to enter the kingdom.
v.23 The word “confess” in Matthew 10.32-33 points to the saved ones. If we do not confess the Lord before men now we will be denied the glory of the kingdom of heaven. Similarly, the passage here rendered as “then will I profess unto them, I never knew you” is better to be translated as “I never recognized or approved of you”; and the reason for His disapproval is given in the words “ye that work iniquity”—wherein “iniquity” in Greek actually means “lawlessness” and means not working according to the rules of the kingdom of heaven.
“Depart from me” simply denotes that they have no part in the glory, a glory which is very different from what is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 1.9.
Hence the general conditions for entering the kingdom of heaven are a being saved plus doing the will of God.
The Holy Spirit who dwells in man is the Person of the Holy Spirit, and therefore He is there to rule over man. But the Holy Spirit that falls upon man is without personality, and hence it obeys man: “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. 14.32). The Holy Spirit dwells only in the saved ones, but His power may fall upon the unsaved such as Balaam.
It is possible to be lawless even in prophesying, in casting out demons, and in doing mighty works. There is the danger of not doing the will of God in all these things. We need to ask the Lord to deliver us from the iniquity of the sanctuary (see Num. 18.1). Let us realize that in the last days these same things shall be greatly