Greetings and good morning brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we will ponder our lives as we seek to understand the ordeal of entering the kingdom of Heaven.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Ordeal of Entering the Kingdom of Heaven
"For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew, Chapter 5, Verse 20.
When we seek to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, in addition to exercising faith we must redirect our entire lives. This can be a difficult experience as we attempt to bring the old life into the new. If we could let go of the old life immediately, our faith would transport us into the spiritual Kingdominstantly. But seldom is this the case. It requires time to demolish the old self and resurrect the new self.
Because the ways of our old life and the ways of the new life in God are so fundamentally different, it becomes obvious that we must undergo a great metamorphic change. "There is a way which seemeth right unto man but the end thereof are the ways of death." Selfishness is the way of death. All evils, sins, and iniquities have their beginning in selfishness. Almost all of us have to get rid of some evil that is preventing us from enjoying the full delights of the Kingdom. But it is far better to enter the Kingdom of Heaven without these evils rather than stay out of the Kingdom and keep them. Said Jesus, "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it."
Giving up the things of the world does not so much refer to our actually giving them up in the material sense. It applies to shifting our supreme loyalty away from them, for where our supreme loyalty resides, there will be our hearts--either in the Kingdom of earth or the Kingdom of Heaven. We are material beings and we have to have material things in order to make our material lives meaningful. But we don't have to worship them. We don't have to put them above the truth of the Father's love, beauty or goodness. We don't have to let them interfere with the great commandment to "Love God with all your heart, your soul, your mind and love your neighbor as yourself."
Sometimes we are so deeply loyal to material worship that we don't realize it until the objects of our material worship are threatened by loss or are actually lost. How great is that darkness that seems like light! Because it is so difficult for most of us to make this transfer of supreme loyalty from the material to the spiritual, from the temporal to the eternal, it is often required that the object of our material loyalties be destroyed. Said Jesus, "If your eye offends you, pluck it out."
When our material loyalties are destroyed, the resulting dread and anguish are almost unbearable. We feel that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven with its joy and righteousness. And some of us even turn back. But the Father is all powerful and is able to do everything but fail. During this period of confusion, the Father is able to give us sublime hope and assurance that we will eventually overcome the evils of a materialistic existence.
Said Jesus, "I am the true vine and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." We are disciplined so that we will bear even more fruit of a spiritual harvest. These fruits are the result of striving to be like the Father and of the mercy of the Son: selfish reactions are abolished in our souls. These fruits are love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. This purging process is in effect the mercy of the Son. It is continuous, ever removing the stumbling blocks of evil from our paths. As we grow in the Kingdom, we
gradually come to understand that we only exist to bear the spiritual fruits, and these fruits can never stop growing, for were they to stop our spiritual life would stop. This is the eternal life that flows from the Father through the Son by the Spirit.
Somehow, someway, if we are sincere, we are able to withstand the ordeal of being born again. We gradually reach a point where we decide that our single and supreme purpose for living is doing the Father's will. We have accepted the truth that our material loyalties are deficient in spiritual value, even as our appetite for spiritual loyalties have increased. Now we begin that exhilarating period of spiritual conquest when we, sons and daughters, launch forth on the high sea of truth in exploration of eternal and spiritual realities.
Having entered the Kingdom of Heaven, we now find that we are far better equipped to master the facets of material existence. We find that we are far more effective in carrying out our duties. We find that living the spirit-filled life gives all of life a more refreshing meaning. Said Jesus, "Seek the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness first, and all other things needful will be supplied." Having entered the Kingdom of heaven, we find that occasions of dreading another monotonous day and the anxiety associated with life's never-ending uncertainties have vanished. Now we experience the joyful labor of love, mercy, and forgiveness. Now is the day of trust and joy in revealing the Father to our brothers and sisters. Gone are the days of regret, remorse, and evil doings. Now is the day of spiritual power and the Son's mercy which empowers us to treat our brothers and sisters the way that Jesus does. Gone are the days of trembling and fear. Now are the days of everlasting joy and love. Now are the days of thanksgiving and worship---oneness with the Father through Jesus.
This concludes today's message on understanding the ordeal of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day. Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.