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Who Can Enter the Kingdom of God?

The kingdom of God is not an earthly kingdom. It exists in a spiritual dimension that we cannot detect with our physical senses. It is the realm where God reigns, which He prepared for us even before the creation of the world. For every believer, the kingdom of God is the ultimate goal. We all know that to enter God's kingdom, we must be "born of water and the spirit" (Jn 3:5) and obey the Father's will (Mt 7:21). But as Jesus makes clear, we also must have the right attitude in our daily lives. What attitude do we need to enter the kingdom of God?

Jesus Contrasts the Attitude of Children and of the Pharisees

1) To Enter God's Kingdom, You Should Be Like a Child

Children are eager. All four Gospels bear the account of people bringing their young ones before the Lord Jesus so that He might touch them. When His disciples tried to stop them, Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it" (Lk 18:15-17).

Children are humble. At another time the disciples asked Jesus, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Jesus answered, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:1-4).

2) The Pharisees Won't Enter God's Kingdom

The Pharisees are arrogant. Jesus tells a parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector praying in the temple: "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess'" (Lk 18:11-12). They also loved to pray standing in the synagogues and on street corners. Their real intention was not to pray to God, but rather to be seen by men, to receive their praises. The scribes and Pharisees were not ignorant of righteous deeds; they were taught from the Books of the Law and they placed special emphasis on displaying their ardent devotion in observing the Law. But Jesus condemns their motivations: "all their works they do to be seen by men." (Mt 23:5). The Pharisees desire the glory of men on earth; and Jesus says that such earthly glory will be their only reward (Matt 6:2, 5). They will not receive the reward of God?
The Pharisees are hypocrites. Jesus taught His disciples, "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 5:20). The Scribes and Pharisees were adept at putting up pretences. For instance, although on the surface they seemed to regard Sabbath keeping highly, they actually did not understand the true significance of keeping the Sabbath. Therefore, the Lord Jesus rebuked them, calling them hypocrites and whitewashed tombs, which are beautiful on the outside but are full of dead man's bones (Mt 23:27-28). In whatever we do, our actions must be in accordance with our intentions. The Lord Jesus said, "First cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside may be clean also" (Mt 23:26). This is to teach us that we must first adorn our inner self, before a good image of truth without hypocrisy will naturally appear.

Not Everyone Will Enter the Kingdom

The Lord Jesus once said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Mt 7:21-23). The Lord Jesus will surely come one day. At that time, there will be many who are left outside the gates of Heaven, weeping and gnashing their teeth. Jesus clearly tells us what type of person will enter His kingdom. We must each decide how we will follow His teachings-like a child or like a Pharisee.

Publisher: True Jesus Church