A Rich Welcome into the Kingdom of God
On Wednesday evening, this writer attended my sonˇ¦s high school graduation ceremony. I had a sense of joy for them when I saw those two hundred and more scholars consummating one of the stages of their lives. College spaces in BC are truly inadequate. Presently, graduating high school seniors face daunting challenges if they wish to enter Greater Vancouver area universities. For example, UBC may be considered a top-ranked Canadian institution. In order to raise their academic standards and attract the crème-de-la-crème from around the world, some faculties require a grade point average of over 85% on all subjects for their entrance qualification. So provincial high-schoolers must work extra hard on every subject if they aspire to enter UBC.
Today, when we are preaching the Gospel of the Heavenly Kingdom, we should also exhort people to work hard to enter the Kingdom of God. I donˇ¦t mean to say people must perform many good deeds before they are fit to enter the Divine Kingdom. Rather, I wish to remind people to try their utmost to discard those things that hinder their receiving everlasting life, and remove those obstacles preventing their entrance into the Heavenly realm. As Christ said when discoursing on admission to the Kingdom of God, ˇ§From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.ˇ¨ (Matthew 10:11) The word ˇ§forcefulˇ¨ that He used implies ˇ§violenceˇ¨, meaning to bear any cost to gain the everlasting life bestowed by God. In a different setting, when Christ was asked, ˇ§Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?ˇ¨ His reply was, ˇ§Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.ˇ¨ (Luke 13:23-24) From the preceding and following texts, we perceive Christ telling us to seize the ˇ§narrowˇ¨ opportunities to repent and believe in the Lord. Making every effort to enter the narrow door means applying full will and exhausting all capacity, taking the same attitude as going into battle, in order to gain the everlasting life granted by God. Even if means making sacrifices, strive hard to enter the Heavenly Kingdom, lest the opportunity be lost. For small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and few can be found who are willing to pay the price. (Matthew 7:14) Christ did not tell us that it would be easy to enter the Kingdom of God. Rather, He urged those who are His disciples to estimate the cost (Luke 14:27-28), have the determination to confront sin, and be willing without hesitation to cut off a hand, an eye or a leg that causes you to relinquish everlasting life, rather than be thrown wholly into the fire of hell (Matthew 18:8-9).
To my knowledge, students still face great challenges after admission to college. They must continuously strive to achieve good grades in every discipline, otherwise they will be disqualified from the competitive faculties. After we have come to know the one true God, repented our sins and became believers, we must continue to work hard for improvement. It is not a question of whether our souls have achieved salvation, but a question of whether we can hold firm and live the lives that have been granted to us by God through Jesus Christ. Even more so, it is a question how we would account for ourselves when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ in the future (2 Corinthians 5:10). If we desire a rich welcome into the Kingdom of God, we must try our best to pursue growth in every way. Peter admonishes us that since we have knowledge of God, we must remove the corrupted way of living caused by the evil desires of our old selves. We should make every effort to work hard on the eight spiritual disciplines. These eight disciplines are goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7). If we constantly take note of the development of these spiritual disciplines, we will certainly bear much fruit so that God will be glorified, and we will have a rich welcome into the Kingdom of God.
ˇ§Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.ˇ¨ (2 Peter 1:10-11)
By: Daniel To
Peace Evangelical Church of Richmond Vancouver
June 11, 2006