When we read Paul’s words: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7-8), we believed that we would be taken into the kingdom of God in the future if we worked hard and sacrificed everything for the Lord. But is that true?
The Lord said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). From the words of the Lord, we can see that only through Christ can we enter the kingdom of God, and thus we should judge whether we can enter the kingdom of heaven based upon God’s words. And Paul’s idea that man can enter the kingdom of God through hard work, sacrifices and expenditures only stands for Paul’s personal opinion, not the will of God toward man.
The Lord Jesus said: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23). The Lord’s words clearly tell us many of those who preach, cast out devils and work wonders in the Lord’s name and many of those who work hard and sacrifice a lot for the Lord are not worthy of the Lord’s praise to enter the kingdom of God.
Then what is the measure of whether we can enter the kingdom of God? I saw a passage of God’s words on a gospel website: “Whether or not man can be saved does not depend on how much work he does, or how much he devotes, but is instead determined by whether or not he knows the work of the Holy Spirit, whether or not he can put the truth into practice, and whether or not his views toward pursuit are in conformity with the truth.” This passage of God’s words tells us the standards for measuring whether one can be saved, which are the keys to entering the kingdom of God. That is to say, whether or not we can enter the kingdom of God depends on whether we know the work of the Holy Spirit, whether we can follow God’s teachings, and whether our views toward pursuit are in accordance with the truth. Let’s fellowship about these three standards in detail.
The first standard is whether or not man knows the work of the Holy Spirit.
What does the knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit represent? It represents our knowledge of God. If we barely know the work of the Holy Spirit, then we know nothing of God. That’s because the Holy Spirit is God and God is the Holy Spirit. Whether we have the knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit is very important for us, for it determines whether we can enter into the kingdom of God. Just when the Lord Jesus did His work, Peter didn’t truly know that the Lord Jesus is God Himself in the beginning. But through listening to the words of the Lord, he sensed that the Lord’ words are full of authority and couldn’t be uttered by any man. Besides, he also saw many wonderful deeds of the Lord, such as feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, and rebuking the wind and sea, which were totally beyond man’s ability. In addition, during the course of following the Lord Jesus, Peter obtained a further knowledge of what the Lord has and is from the Lord’s words and work because of his pursuit and love for the Lord Jesus. Based on this, the Holy Spirit enlightened Pether so that he recognized the Lord Jesus as God Himself. Just as it is recorded in the Bible: “He said to them, But whom say you that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-19). From the words of the Lord Jesus, we can see the blessings God gave to Peter. Firstly, the Holy Spirit gave exceptional enlightenment to Peter, which made him gain the true knowledge of the identity of the Lord Jesus. Secondly, the Lord Jesus took Peter as the rock of His church and gave him the key to the kingdom of God, which was the greatest blessing to a believer of God. Peter could gain such blessings of God, because he, on the one hand, was a man who pursued to love God, and on the other hand, that he had the true knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s work, that is, the true knowledge of God. As for those who don’t know the work of the Holy Spirit, though they have worked hard and sacrificed a lot, they cannot receive God’s approval, and even can become the evil ones who resist God and are cursed by God. For instance, those Jewish chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees had served God in the temple for years, and some of them walked throughout sea and land spreading the gospel and had sacrificed a lot. But when the Lord Jesus became flesh to work on earth, they not only had no knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit or the new work of God, but also didn’t seek or investigate it. They defined God’s work according to their own notions and imaginations, and colluded with the Roman government to nail the Lord Jesus on the cross, committing heinous crimes of resisting God and condemning God’s work, and in the end were subjected to the righteous punishment of God. It shows that the knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit is vital for our entering into the kingdom of God.
The second standard is whether or not man can follow God’s teachings.
The Lord Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The Lord’s words tell us that God is the way, the truth, and the life. Only by knowing the truth and acting according to the Lord’s words can we gain the truth and life, have a path to follow, and enter the kingdom of God. If we act in conformity with the Lord’s words and God’s will and demands in all matters, instead of acting on our own intentions and notions, God will be satisfied then. God doesn’t look at how much knowledge we can talk about; rather, He looks at whether or not we put His words into practice. If we truly practice His words, then we are the ones who accept God’s words as our lives and who gain the approval of God. Just as Abraham recorded in the Old Testament. He was a person who unconditionally practiced God’s words and was approved by God. When he was one hundred years old, God gave him a son, and later ordered him to make his only son a burnt offering to God. Abraham couldn’t bear to do so, but he still suffered great pains to return his beloved son—his only son, Isaac—to God. God saw that Abraham could comply with His words and obey Him without any conditions, so He even more accepted Abraham and gave him greater blessings. The Lord Jesus once said: “Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Here the words “he that does the will of my Father” refer to the one who unconditionally keeps the way of the Lord and practices God’s words in everything. The Lord said only such people could enter into the God’s kingdom. Obviously, whether or not we can follow God’s teachings is another standard for measuring whether we can enter the kingdom of God.
The third standard is whether or not man’s views toward pursuit are in conformity with the truth.
God says: “If what you seek is the truth, what you put into practice is the truth, and what you attain is a change in your disposition, then the path that you tread is the right one. If what you seek is the blessings of the flesh, and what you put into practice is the truth of your own conceptions, and if there is no change in your disposition, and you are not at all obedient to God in the flesh, and you still live in vagueness, then what you seek will surely take you to hell, for the path that you walk is the path of failure. Whether you will be made perfect or eliminated depends on your own pursuit, which is also to say that success or failure depends on the path that man walks.” It shows that whether we take the right path in believing in God determines whether or not we can be saved and enter into the kingdom of God. Then how can we measure if we have walked on the right path? We should measure it based on our views toward pursuit. If our views toward pursuit are right and conform to God’s words and will, then the way we walk upon will also be right and conform to God’s will, and our belief in God will definitely be successful. Take Job as an example. He praised God without conditions, trade or transaction. Even in the trials, he complained nothing about God and still kept God’s way, taking the way of fearing God and shunning evil. His true faith was approved by God. Peter is another example. When he followed the Lord Jesus, he longed for God’s way, pursued a pure love of God, and led and shepherded God’s churches with his real experiences. At last, he was perfected by God because of his resounding testimony of being obedient unto death and loving God to the utmost. Both Job and Peter entered into the kingdom of God, for their views toward pursuit were right and after God’s heart.
But if our viewpoints toward pursuit aren’t in line with God’s will and demands, then they are definitely wrong. Even if we follow God to the end of the road, we will not gain God’s approval, but could even be condemned by God. When first believing in God, all of us were dominated by the intention to be blessed. Some people believed in God for having their diseases cured, some for gaining family peace, some for avoiding the suffering of the calamity in the future, and some for gaining the blessings of heaven. … If we carefully dissect our viewpoints toward pursuit, we will find none of them is for satisfying God or fulfilling the duty as a created being; instead, they are all for the interests of our own flesh, and all come from Satan. If we always adopt these kinds of views in believing in God, unable to turn around them, even if we cast aside our families and give up our livelihoods, we still cannot gain God’s approval. This is because this kind of faith is full of personal intentions, purposes, impurities and selfish desires, and is not worshiping God in essence, and that we’re just paying a small price to gain great blessings of God. Just as Paul said: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). These words reveal that the purpose of Paul’s believing in God isn’t to fulfill his duty as a created being to satisfy God, but to get the crown of righteousness in the future and to hold power in the God’s kingdom. Pondering over these words, we will find the implication of this statement is: “If God bestows a crown upon me for my deeds, then it shows that God is the righteous God; otherwise, God isn’t the righteous God.” Saying these words, Paul was denying the righteousness of God in a disguised form and threatening God to bestow a crown upon him. Wasn’t he actually resisting God? Could he ultimately stand a chance of entering into the kingdom of heaven? This exactly fulfills the Lord Jesus’ words: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23). We can see from these words that different views toward pursuit will cause different ends for us, so whether or not our views toward pursuit are in conformity with the truth is also a standard for measuring whether we can be saved and enter into the kingdom of God.
The three standards for measuring whether we can enter into the kingdom of God not only have turned around our former wrong views toward pursuit, but also make us find the right way to practice and know how we should pursue to be able to enter into the kingdom of God. We hope the fellowship could bring some help to the Christian who are expecting to be raptured into the kingdom of God by the Lord.
From: Testify God – The Gospel of Jesus Christ