© 2023 Warren L. Johns. All Rights Reserved.
Keys to the Kingdom
“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths, and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies.
“Your New Moon festivals and appointed feasts, My soul hates. They have been a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.
“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; Even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood, Wash and make yourselves clean.”
Heaven’s gates swing open-wide, 24/7.
God is there, waiting always, to welcome all comers
who choose to accept His invitation.
He takes us all from where He finds us—
any person, any time, any place.
The Christian Church: You and God
Christianity is more-than fellowshipping with others who share intellectual assent to a menu of doctrines itemized by humans, participating in ceremonies and rituals or joining a brand-name organization. It’s something simple, beautiful to every human who has ever lived.
Repentant sinners, given a new ID by the Holy Spirit, obey the commandments by growing in grace while walking in Christ’s footsteps and living lives that radiate God’s perfect love and justice. Paul cites traits that dominate lives of commandment-keeping Christians.
“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22, 23 “Clothe your- selves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:12, 13
Christ Holds the Keys
A well-to-do young man, recognizing Christ’s divine power, asked, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Christ replied, “Keep the commandments.”
Looking for a form of ritualistic performance, the questioner wanted to know which one or the ten. Christ’s response encompassed all six duties to man: “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Misunderstanding the essence of the message and beginning to feel comfortable, the man boasted confidently, “All these things I have kept from my youth up” while asking what more he needed to do.
Christ’s answer stunned the questioner.
“ ‘Sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.’ But when the young man heard that…he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”
“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, ‘verily I say unto you, that a rich man will hardly enter the kingdom of heaven…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.’ ”
Descendants of Abraham, the “chosen” people, had produced the likes of Joseph, Ruth, David, Moses, and Daniel but had collectively lost sight of the fact that the Messiah’s Kingdom was “not of this world” but the Father’s “Everlasting Kingdom” of heaven.
The rich young man missed the point that keeping the commandments as a mandated ritual was rather than simply reflecting God’s perfect character intuitively by living sermons of heartfelt love for other humans of all cultures. Neither wearing a religious brand name or performing a lifetime or of ritualistic ceremonies or works provide the keys that open heaven’s gates.
Christ made it clear that the Everlasting Kingdom of Heaven had not been reserved exclusively for the “chosen” of Israel. “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10;16
Paul underscored the rich young questioner’s emotional dilemma. “…The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10
As Paul delivered the gospel to the gentiles, his First Corinthians 13 also made clear he understood Christianity as Christ explained in Mathews 25.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people, one from another, as a shepherd separated the sheep from the goats.”
Christianity is the only religion that worships the living God, the Creator, the source of all life on Earth, it is “the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6
Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Mathew 25 Christianity
When Jesus walked the earth, there was no such thing as a Christian Church to employ Him as pastor. Nor did He come brandishing military credentials promising to lead people from subservience to the Roman Empire. Without money, He launched a spiritual mission for the purpose of saving humanity from the bondage of sin with a promise of life eternal in God’s Eternal Kingdom of Heaven.
Paul underscored reality: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10
“He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance prepared for you since the creation of the world.’
“‘For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger, and you invited me in, I needed clothes, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him; ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger, and invited you in, or needed clothes, and clothed you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth whatever you did for one of the least of these brethren of mine, you did for me.’ ” Mathew 25:31-40
Since sin infected Earth, wicked hearts, awash in sin, sewed crops of hatred and reaped massive harvests of betrayal and death. Without God at the center of the human equation, sin’s wages opened a dead-end door to unimaginable violence, deceit and total depravity.
In the midst of Earth’s culture of corruption, our Creator put His own life on the line to transform the most broken-spirited, failed human into a new identity of victorious goodness. Our loving God will create “a clean heart and renew a right spirit” within even the most-vile, debauched, evildoer who repents and turns his heart and life to God.
Saul of Tarsus, a zealous Jew of Roman birth, lived in the midst of the rule of a tyrannical empire that massacred worshippers of Jesus Chris. To the shock of both Christians and Jews, the same, notorious Saul, chose to be “born again” and to follow Jesus, “the way, the truth and the life.” From that miraculous moment on the Damascus Road, the ID of the terrifying Saul, would be forever changed to Paul, the Christian Apostle.
It was Jesus himself, who intervened in the life of Paul, reversing the negative trajectory of a life bound for nowhere righteous. This same Jesus, invites all humans to experience the same, transforming, “born again” experience by asking the Holy Spirit to redirect and rebuild a shattered, gone-astray life. “For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:5
Salvation can’t be purchased or earned by performing ritualized religious works or ceremonies. This Mathew 25 transformation is God’s gift, by His grace, to all who choose to follow Christ. As long as as any human continues walking in Christ’s footsteps, guided by the Holy Spirit, he or she, will not be judged by the occasion good or bad deed, but by the direction taken.
A born-again Christian is always covered by Christ’s robe of perfect righteousness. It’s a win/win guarantee for any sinner who repents and surrenders to the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit.
Heaven’s gates swing open wide, 24/7. Once the “born again” convert repents, a trail of sin and asks God’s forgiveness, the seed of faith is planted in the heart and the transformation takes over. The reborn sinner senses a relief that all past sins have been scrubbed from the record. The new ID person begins a rewarding lifetime journey, growing in grace while walking in footprints leading to life eternal, carved by the perfect life and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit inspires the storyline, assuring a victorious life of righteous goodness. The new Christian experiences a radical personality transformation that intuitively reacts with a lifestyle awash with comfort, joy, and a “peace that passes all understanding.” The new Christian’s personality astounds family, friends, and neighbors with its like-ability and inspiring resume of goodness.
Paul, a living, walking, breathing example of a miraculously transformed human life, described the intuitive character traits being built into all born-again Christian lives, including his own.
“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22, 23 “Clothe your- selves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:12,13
Christ’s perfect life and sacrificial death paid the penalty price for the wages of the sins of all humankind from every race, nationality and era lived on Earth since creation. Thanks to this gift of love, all “born again” Christians have been awarded life eternal and the keys to the gates that open to the promised land waiting in God’s Everlasting Kingdom of Heaven.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” II Corinthians 5:17 “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” Revelation 14:12