The kingdom of God, what is it like? Jesus taught that it is a rocky road to glory. It is filled with troubles, and yet we must not lose heart.
And our Lord Jesus in these parables is giving us a historical overview. He’s giving us what I like to call the big picture.
Brethren, sometimes we need to get the big picture. Do not, do we? In this big picture, a kingdom overview. And surprisingly, he forewarns us. He tells us in these parables that following him and being a true Christian and being associated with others who profess to follow him will not be a smooth ride to glory. In fact, it’s going to be lived out on a rocky road with many temptations, problems, disappointments.
There’ll be such temptations and trials that you never experienced, even when you were a lost worldling. If you can be shaken off, you will be. If you ain’t got enough force in you to hang it home, if you haven’t gotten enough violence (Matthew 11:12). if you’re not doggedly determined to get in. Someone is going to get you. These trials will cause many who, just like you, have professed faith in Christ. Who have confessed salvation to fall away and once again return to a life of sin. And this will be very discouraging to see. It is not encouraging is it, when you see people fall away?
There’ll be many experiences, encounters within the sphere of the church you’re going to have and meet with experiences that will be utterly inconsistent with the Spirit of Christ and the heart of his teachings. You’re going to run into things that, “Why is it this way?” Bad experiences with bad acting church members and bad behaving preachers, they will offend many to the point that they will be utterly disgusted with the church and with this whole business. The divisions, the splits, the hard feelings, confusion, misunderstanding and iniquities will abound in some lives to the extent that it will cause the love of many to grow cold.
You would think that the kingdom would be characterized solely by characteristics such as peace, love, joy, holiness, obedience, harmony, victory, progress, growth, unity, perfection in every one. And by the way, the program is perfection for those that are in the kingdom. God has no second or third classes of categories that He’s aiming at. He has from the very beginning, if he saves you at all, and if he continues to save you, he is moving you on to ultimate perfection. He will not be satisfied until you rise in His likeness. Perfect! to the full measure of the stature of Christ. You’re talking about a clean mind. You’re talking about corruption’s gone. There is a measure that believers we through our Lord, we do have peace with God. We do have the victory. We’re more than conquerors through him that loved us.
But in the church, in the visible kingdom and by the way, you are going to have to experience salvation in the kingdom with all the positive and negative things that are going on in the Kingdom. I found that really basically it’s tougher going in the church than anywhere else. Hey!? somebody say, Amen, There’s more trouble, more violence, tougher going in many ways in the Church of God than there is in worldly organizations filled with folks that are utterly unconcerned about their souls. And you know what Jesus said in the sixth chapter of Luke? If you read, he pronounced a great woe for everybody who’s sliding through life easy. Woe to those that laugh, woe to those that are full. In Matthew 11:12, Jesus said something about the kingdom. He said, The kingdom of Heaven suffers violence. It sure does. But it says the violent take it by force. With all this violence that’s going to go on in the kingdom, nobody going to be able to have salvation in heaven that doesn’t have some force in them. You’ve got to have a force in you. You’ve got to have a power in you to overcome the negatives, the violent take it by force…
The word violent is interesting. It means in essence, the violent are the ones there’s violence in the kingdom and the violent. That is strange language isn’t it? The violence take it by force (Matthew 11:12). The violent here means implacable, stubborn fierce listen in this issue of your eternal salvation, you’ve got to be stubborn. You’ve got to be, in a sense, meaner than a junkyard dog. You’ve got to get a hold of this thing tenaciously. I’m not talking about mean toward people, which you’ve got to be violent. I mean, you’re not passive about this thing. You’ve got to have it And you’re going to be fierce. There’s violence all around in this thing of the kingdom. Well you’ve got to be fierce. You’re going to take the kingdom. On the issue of salvation there can be no compromise.
He has told us in these parables, you know, this is the way it is Exactly what the kingdom of heaven is like. And by the way, if it’s not like this, if it’s not like what these parables say, God is not working. It’s not the true kingdom. Did you hear that? “Oh, I want an atmosphere where everybody always gets along and there’s no contentions and there’s no misunderstandings and there’s no falling out and there’s nothing but we just one great big, wonderful love being family. And we don’t get too technical with this doctrine.” Well that is NOT the kingdom!
Hear me: If you are in a situation where everything is rosy, and all the people are always perfectly at peace with one another. And all speaking well and complimenting everyone else and complete harmony of beliefs and total agreement on all issues know that you are not in the kingdom of God. You’re in a cult. You’re in a religious sorority A right proper social gathering. But God hadn’t got his hands on it. Where God is, where the real church is, where real truth is being proclaimed, who are the real work of the Holy Spirit is taking place where God Almighty is setting up His reign in the hearts of men! There will be troubles, tensions, divisions, setbacks, tremendous attacks, violence.
You know, we can understand it. You know, in this world, there are tremendous geological plates under the crust of the earth on which these geological plates, whole continents rest on these plates. And when these plates come together and move and touch each other, great upheavals happen on the surface—earthquakes, volcanoes shaking, violent cracks, eruptions, tsunamis,
Let me tell you this The kingdom of God is where God’s perfection is meeting, meeting the depravity of man. And where that happens, it’s not going to be silent, smooth, easy and unnoticed. Now what I want us to look at all of it, is to glean for the next few moments. a few of the main points from these parables, at least some of the parables that are helpful and encouraging to those of you tonight, Christians, some of you I know to be trodden down spiritually because of the troubles in the church, you’re just discouraged about the way things are going. So many problems. I hope that you will be able to drink and be refreshed tonight to see what our Lord taught in the kingdom.
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