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THE DEMANDS OF THE KINGDOM

When we examine the evangelical doctrine of salvation, which is preached as the "Gospel of Salvation", we may be amazed that someone even speaks about " THE DEMANDS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD". The reason is because the Gospel of Salvation is presented as the free gift of God's grace. Most all evangelicals believe that salvation is by faith and faith only, plus nothing. We are saved by faith, not by works, lest any man should boast. Throughout the book of Romans Paul is very precise about the fact that we are justified by faith and declared righteous before God by faith. Faith is counted as righteousness by God. Jesus Christ's sacrifice on Calvary has totally satisfied God's righteous demand for the forgiveness of our sins. 2CO 5:18 Now all {these} things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 2CO 5:19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2CO 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2CO 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin {to be} sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. To preach that there is anything that we can do as good works, that will forgive our sin or make us righteous before God, is an offence against Calvary. ROM 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; ROM 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. {This was} to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; ROM 3:26 for the demonstration, {I say,} of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. God does demand that we exercise faith in the whole work of Calvary, including the shed blood of Jesus, in return for our forgiveness of sin. Also for our being made righteous and for our redemption. God does require that we exercise living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be reconciled to God. Now holding firmly to all that, While salvation is free the Kingdom of God and discipleship will cost us everything. LUK 14:33 "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. How then can we reconcile a free salvation with discipleship that will cost us all that we have? If we preach a free salvation and ignore the cost of discipleship, we are just preaching half a gospel. This is also true if we preach a free salvation and ignore the demands of the Kingdom of God. In the book of Romans it appears that Paul preached the free gift of salvation through faith and said nothing about the cost of discipleship or the demands of the Kingdom. In chapter 12 Paul said ROM 12:1 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, {which is} your spiritual service of worship. ROM 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. However, Paul didn't emphasize that doing the will of God is the minimum requirement to enter the Kingdom of God. One interpretation of this is that these are two different things. Salvation is free while the Kingdom and doing the will of God only has to do with rewards. As long as we have participated in the faith part, our salvation is secure. If we die tonight, we immediately go to "heaven". Since "heaven" is just another way of saying "The Kingdom of heaven", salvation is synonymous with entering the Kingdom. This is a widely accepted "Truth" in the fundamental church. This is called " The Roman road to heaven". We in no wise deny these scriptures are true and was used to refute false doctrine that had entered the church at Rome. However, it is clear that neither discipleship or the Kingdom are in view here. If we think the book of Romans is the entire gospel of the Kingdom, we may miss the greater viewpoint and the logical demands of the Kingdom. It is clear that neither Paul nor the early church neglected the "gospel of the Kingdom". ACT 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. ACT 28:23 And when they had set a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. ACT 28:30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters, and was welcoming all who came to him, ACT 28:31 preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. From this it should be clear that the early church preached both the Kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. It should also be clear that this is not two messages but one. The "KING" and His "KINGDOM" is the good news of the gospel. The sacrifice and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to the gospel, but so is the Kingdom of God. To separate these into two is to cut the gospel in half. It is clear that God intended it all to be one gospel. When we view Calvary from the viewpoint of the Kingdom we see the fuller truth, but from the same author of the book of Romans. 2CO 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 2CO 5:15 and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. The Kingdom side of the gospel is that no one should continue to live for himself but to now live for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. If the believer receives the grace of God in forgiveness of sins and then continues to live for himself, he is denying Christ and the purpose of His sacrifice. One of the purposes of Calvary is to turn self-centered and self-serving man away from himself and give man a new dimension of living and serving the one who purchased him. This requires the Kingdom side of the gospel. If all man hears is grace, grace, he will unlikely discipline himself to obey the King and His Kingdom. ROM 14:7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; ROM 14:8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. ROM 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived {again}, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. ROM 14:10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. ROM 14:11 For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God." ROM 14:12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God. This is the Kingdom side of the gospel and is the result of the grace side of the gospel found earlier in the same epistle. It is just one message! If we have received His life and the grace of forgiveness of sins, we can no longer live for ourselves. Why? Because we all must stand before the judgement seat of Christ and answer for what we did while in this body. If we intend to receive the free gift of God's grace and then live for ourself, we deny the purpose of Calvary. The standard interpretation of the evangelical church is that we are saved by grace plus nothing. However, if we then live for the Lord and do His will there are certain rewards we will receive for that "unrequired" service. After we are "saved", we only stand before the judgement seat of Christ to receive our rewards and not for judgement. Forgiveness of sins causes us to escape judgement. Of course just a simple study of judgement will reveal the Kingdom requirements for believers. HEB 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, HEB 10:27 but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. HEB 10:28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on {the testimony of} two or three witnesses. HEB 10:29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? HEB 10:30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." HEB 10:31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The standard evangelical interpretation of these scriptures is that this is only speaking of unbelievers or those in the church that have never really been born again. The reason for this error is that they obviously have not seen the Kingdom side of the gospel. Or, of course, they may have seen it and rejected it. The Kingdom does place certain demands upon the believer. The branch that is attached to the vine( which is Jesus) must produce fruit or be cast into the fire. JOH 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. JOH 15:6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. The Kingdom parables are very clear about the demands of the Kingdom upon all who participate in the grace of God. The standard evangelical answer to the clear teaching of the parables is that you can't set doctrine from the parables. LUK 19:11 And while they were listening to these things, He went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. LUK 19:12 He said therefore, "A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and {then} return. LUK 19:13 "And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business {with this} until I come {back.}' LUK 19:14 "But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' LUK 19:15 "And it came about that when he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him in order that he might know what business they had done. LUK 19:16 "And the first appeared, saying, 'Master, your mina has made ten minas more.' LUK 19:17 "And he said to him, 'Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities.' LUK 19:18 "And the second came, saying, 'Your mina, master, has made five minas.' LUK 19:19 "And he said to him also, 'And you are to be over five cities.' LUK 19:20 "And another came, saying, 'Master, behold your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; LUK 19:21 for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow. ' LUK 19:22 "He *said to him, 'By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? LUK 19:23 'Then why did you not put the money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?' LUK 19:24 "And he said to the bystanders, 'Take the mina away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.' LUK 19:25 "And they said to him, 'Master, he has ten minas {already.}' LUK 19:26 "I tell you, that to everyone who has shall {more} be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. LUK 19:27 "But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence." This is a Kingdom parable that presents Kingdom demands upon the servants or slaves of the Master. In this parable 10 purchased slaves, who were to no longer live for themselves or according to their own plans, were given 10 minas. Each was given one mina. All were given equal amounts. Only two of the ten were faithful and multiplied what they were given. Each of the faithful were given a reward equal to the increase of what they were given. The one who made 10 more was rewarded with authority over 10 cities. The one who made 5 more was rewarded with authority over 5 cities. Now there were eight others who did not want to come under the authority of the Master and did not want Him telling them what to do. Even though He was their master and they were His slaves, they took the provision and did nothing with it. Because of their disobedience, the Master considered them to be His enemies, even though they were slaves in His own household. One of those eight, who was now considered an enemy, was called to give an account for what he was given. He knew the Master and was well aware of His requirements to use what he was given and multiply it. However, he did nothing with it and was willing to just give it back the same way he received it. His attitude was, at least I didn't lose it. But now comes the judgement when he must answer to the King of the Kingdom for what he didn't do with what he was given to do business with. The Master judged the slave by his own words. His own words confirmed that he knew the Master and knew the requirements. The man's problem was that he didn't want the master to rule over him and tell him what he must do. He didn't want to take any responsibility to obey the master. This was interpreted by the Master as being the Master's enemy. Even though this slave was bought and paid for by the Master, he just wanted to live for himself. The other 7 worthless slaves were included with this worthless slave because they had the same philosophy. It wasn't their fault. The Master was a greedy guy who wanted to reap where He didn't sow. If He wanted a return on His mina He should have taken care of it Himself! It is His fault for giving it to me in the first place. I didn't ask for it, therefore I am not responsible. This is the same philosophy of the gospel of the giveaways. A philosophy seeks to have an answer and explain everything but change nothing. The Kingdom offers few answers and explains little and yet seeks to change everything. Especially this problem of slaves just living for themselves and then giving excuses. What happens next just does not fit into the gospel of the half price sale and the gospel of the bargains. This gospel teaches that we can receive forgiveness of sins and then do your own thing. God's grace permits us to escape judgement. God loves you just like you are, even if you are worthless. Just ask forgiveness for your rebellion. Now the philosophers have to get their heads together to seek justice for this poor misunderstood slave. Even though he was worthless and disobedient, at least he must be treated with respect. It appears his human rights were violated and the A.C.L.U. should be notified. This must be taken to the Supreme Court to get a ruling on whether the Master acted in an unrighteous way. They conclude that no master has a right to mistreat His worthless slave. He should be reinstated with back pay. After a slave is purchased from the auction block he should have certain guaranteed rights and privileges. His opinion about his master is all part of his freedom of speech. Nothing should give a master the right to slay a slave in His presence. We agree he was a worthless slave but that does not give the master the right to violate his civil rights. He was certainly entitled to a second chance. The Master has publicly testified He was a man of mercy and willing to forgive. Then we must force the Master of this slave to show mercy and forgive. The question before the court of the Christian philosophy of cheap grace is this; Does the Master have the right to take away the life of eight slaves that He purchased with His own blood, just because those slaves don't want the Master to rule over them? While the Master was away on a long trip to receive a Kingdom, it appeared these eight slaves were getting away with their plan to ignore the Kingdom requirements. However, when the Master returned they were all called to give an account for themselves. They each had to stand before the judgement seat of the Master to give account for what they did with what they were given. This is the Supreme Court of heaven and the A.C.L.U. will not be around. The A.C.L.U. will be having their own problems and won't be any help. The problem with the "Judgement Seat Of Christ" is you must answer for yourself. No one will answer for you. It is just you and Jesus. Your attorney has become your judge. The real question is this; Does the God of all the earth have the right to judge the people of His creation whom He has bought with His own blood? The Christian philosophers will seriously question if that could ever happen. They will consider the mercy of God and will proclaim that the grace and forgiveness of God must be extended to all God's children. After all, isn't God supposed to be long suffering and put up with all kinds of rebellion and nastiness in His children? Even if they are perverted, they are still His children. He cannot deny His own children. If He has once given them life, He can't then take it away. The philosophers will argue that Jesus forgave the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery. Therefore, He must also forgive the worthless slave. They proclaim that God is not a respecter of persons. If He forgave one, He must forgive all! This is according to the Christian philosophers but not according to the King and His Kingdom. In the Kingdom slaves have no civil rights. They do have the right to obey the King. It is a fatal mistake to evaluate the woman caught in adultery with the worthless slave. These are two completely different situations. The woman needed redeemed but the worthless slave was already redeemed from the auction block. He was already a member of the Master's household and under His authority and subject to His commandments. To say the King does not have the power of life and death over His slaves is to misinterpret the Kingdom and the absolute sovereignty of the King. When it becomes clear that both the sheep and the goats are all part of His flock, the philosophers will question why the Master doesn't just forgive the goats? Maybe He could just take away some of their rewards. The worthless slave had the mina taken away so surely it is not necessary to also lose his life. They will argue that the Master should have traded his reward for his life. Why didn't the master accept a plea bargain? Because this is not the gospel of the half price sale or the gospel of the giveaways. This is the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is a tremendous treasure and a pearl of great price. Men must be willing to sell all that they have to buy that great value. If we don't recognize the exceeding great worth, then any cost may seem too high to pay. If we are assured that salvation is free, then any cost for the Kingdom will seem excessive. If we have never been confronted with the cost of the Kingdom we can easily reject it as strange doctrine. MAT 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. MAT 13:45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, MAT 13:46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it. MAT 25:14 "For {it is} just like a man {about} to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them. MAT 25:15 "And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. MAT 25:19 "Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them. MAT 25:30 "And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. MAT 22:11 "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, MAT 22:12 and he *said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And he was speechless. MAT 22:13 "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' MAT 22:14 "For many are called, but few {are} chosen." MAT 8:11 "And I say to you, that many shall come from east and west, and recline {at the table} with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; MAT 8:12 but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. " In these few scriptures it is clear, the Kingdom of God is not a sentimental place where everybody is accepted regardless of their worthlessness or laziness. Some have the impression that when God speaks, if we take our time about responding, God will soon forget He spoke to us and gave us a commandment to obey. Many have thought God is like we are with our children. If they ignore us we try to believe that maybe God will cause them to grow out of their disobedience. The Kingdom is reserved for those souls that have Kingdom character and do the whole will of God. MAT 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Crying or throwing a tantrum or feeling sorry we didn't respond to the Kingdom requirements, will not buy us anything in the Kingdom. God is not moved by emotion or tears. He is moved by quick obedience to the will of God and character of the Kingdom that we have experienced. The Kingdom of God is the basis of this parable. Many felt that as soon as the Messiah was revealed the Kingdom would immediately be established. Jesus revealed that He must first go away and receive the Kingdom and then someday return. In the meantime His slaves, or those who were His because He bought them with His own blood, were to do business with what they were given. What they were given was the sole property of the one who would be made King. The minas were not given to the slaves to become their possessions. They were only stewards of the money and were commanded to do business with it until He came back. First Jesus identified these stewards as His "slaves" (V13) and then as His "citizens". (V14) This tells us that in His thought His citizens are all His slaves. He doesn't now at this time have two groups. That is, one group are His slaves that must serve Him and then another group that are His citizens who just enjoy their freedom, sit in a pew and do as they please. It would not be acceptable for "the slaves" to send a delegation to the King and say we don't want you to rule over us. They just saw themselves as "citizens" who saw nothing wrong with sending a delegation to the King and reject His authority and rule over them. They thought all that was necessary was to inform the King that they were free from His Lordship. Nevertheless, God sees everybody who are citizens of His kingdom as His slaves. A slave could not proclaim his freedom until his dept was fully paid. The nature of our debt is that no one can sufficiently pay it. Our debt can only be paid with a perfect sacrifice. Only Jesus can and did pay our debt. At the same time He purchased us off the auction block so that we are no longer our own but we belong to Him. This is much more that accepting Jesus as personal savior. Even if we acknowledge Jesus as personal savior, we are still not our own. We belong to Him as His purchased slave. Then why don't we acknowledge that fact and then take our freedom and do our own thing? Because we can't release ourselves. We were bought with a price and therefore we are not our own, we belong to Him. The cheap gospel of grace has implied that we are friends of Jesus through redemption rather than slaves. That through redemption Jesus becomes our elder brother and we enjoy the freedom of the sons of the same Father. Multitudes today have accepted Jesus as personal savior. They even confess that He is Lord and coming King but they still don't want Him to rule over their lives in daily reality. The gospel of "personal savior" is quite different than the gospel of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is God's government, His laws, His authority and His absolute sovereignty. The Kingdom revolves around The King, who has power of life and death over His citizens. The Kingdom certainly speaks of blessing but in reference to responsibility, fruitfulness and increase. It also speaks of judgement upon those who are lazy and worthless and didn't use what they were given to increase the Kingdom goals. The "gospel of personal savior" presents Jesus as the Lamb who has died for us so we could be accepted as righteous before God. All this is true and scriptural but if we don't also present the gospel of the Kingdom, many assume that there is no longer any judgement regardless of how lazy or wicked we remain. We must not overlook the fact that not only was the mina taken away but the worthless slave was also slain in the King's presence. He not only lost the mina he was given but he lost the life he was given. This is a glimpse now into eternity. In eternity there is a great difference between the one who had made 10 minas and the one who had made 5 minas. Where we fit into the eternal Kingdom will depend upon what each of us did with what we were given. Both were blessed but one was blessed with leadership over 10 cities. The other was blessed with leadership over 5 cities. It should be obvious that both the 10 mina man and the 5 mina man wanted the King to rule over them. It is also obvious that the 1 mina man and the others didn't want the King to rule over them and sent a delegation to tell the King that. In effect they said" we will not submit to your authority or sovereignty. We want your salvation but we reject all obedience. We want your righteousness and we do believe that you are the savior. We will gladly accept you as our savior but we don't want to be bound by our performance and responsibility. One thing that has been nearly universally taught is that salvation and forgiveness of sins are one thing and rewards and crowns are another. You can have the first without bothering about the second. Crowns and rewards are something extra that we can work for if we want but are unrelated to our salvation or the "life" He has given us. Some say striving for crowns is foolish because we are just going to throw the crowns at Jesus feet anyway. The commandment of the King was to "do business with this until I return". Each was judged by the "business" they had done. Business has to do with profit and increase. Without profit and increase there is no business. The profit is essential to business. Then the Kingdom is about business, profit and increase. In business if you just take up what you laid down you didn't even break even because there are always expenses. In any business you must reap more than you sow. If a farmer sows a bushel of seed and only gets a bushel of harvest he has crop failure. Some might say he broke even but he lost all his labor and what other expense he incurred. In Ohio if you sow one seed of corn, you should reap two ears of corn. At least a 200% increase. If you were farming on the shares, you would keep one ear and the other would go to the land owner. The one who owns the land must also profit from the harvest. In this case the King owned everything and His purchased slaves owned nothing and had no right to anything. However, this King is quite generous and rewards His slaves with abundance above all they could ask or think. Some condemn the business man for insisting on a profit. These citizens also was ignorant of how business works. They were willing to condemn the King for insisting upon a profit. LUK 19:21 for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow. ' LUK 19:22 "He *said to him, 'By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Now the worthless slave had a certain respect for the mina he was given. He carefully wrapped it in a handkerchief put it away in a safe place. He didn't throw it away or let it be stolen. He just returned what he was given but without any increase. The gospel of personal savior might think that was good enough because nothing was lost and the man showed certain respect for what he was given. However, the King is not looking for "respect" of the gift, He is looking for increase. Even if the worthless slave had no ability in business he should at least have put it out to interest with someone who was business minded. The Kingdom is not about breaking even. This is not the gospel of prosperity either. This is not about the faithful slave multiplying his mina and then using the increase to buy summer homes and cadillacs. The increase was not given for this life but for the time the King returns. The one who had increased the most was given the worthless slave's mina and now he had 11. Now there are also a group of bystanders who have not participated but are watching how the King handled the situation. They thought it was strange that the one who had made the 10 minas was given another. Surely it would have been more democratic to give it to the one who had 5 minas and then he would have had 6 minas. A much better distribution of wealth. Now there were 16 minas total. If the King had taxed the one who had 10 minas, 2 minas and given the one mina to the one who had five, it would have made each have eight minas. That would have agreed more with our current system of democracy. However, in the Kingdom of God the one who works hard and prospers is also given what the others didn't use. God is committed to rewarding the one who works hard and letting him keep what he has earned. Some of those who preach a gospel of personal savior are infuriated by any thought that we are commanded to work in the Kingdom and to increase what we were given and that those who are worthless to the Kingdom are stripped of what they had and then slain. To lose your life because you didn't profit and increase is considered as heresy. The Kingdom of God is not a democracy but an absolute monarchy and theocracy. He owns it all but He permits us to work "on the shares" so that we may benefit from our labors and then benefit also from those who do nothing with what they were given. LUK 19:26 "I tell you, that to everyone who has shall {more} be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. LUK 19:27 "But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence." This is opposite to our current welfare system. In this system if you have it is taken away given to those who won't work. That is called "redistribution of wealth". It rewards the worthless slave for being worthless. Of course God always looked out for the widow and orphan and those who were helpless, but being lazy and worthless is another thing in God's eyes.