Theirs Is the Kingdom

Who are the children of God? Who will dwell eternally with Him? Am I one of these blessed souls? Are you?

We’ve been asking this question for millennia (Ps 15:1), and God’s been answering (2), but it’s easy to miss Him if we aren’t seeking. (Ro 10:16)

As Christ begins His public ministry, He gives us a window into this precious company of eternal souls, telling us what we’re like, how to begin to identify us. He doesn’t describe those with a particular theology or doctrine; rather, Christ shows us what we believe by describing our behavior, how we live. (Mt 7:20)

He begins with the poor in spirit (Mt 5:2): we who, finding ourselves entirely insufficient to meet God’s righteous standard on our own merit (Ro 7:18), to please Him in any way in our own strength (2Co 2:16), to even think clearly without Him – find God Himself to be our sufficiency. (2Co 3:5) We enter into His rest by faith. (He 4:10)

Note this well: these blessed souls, the poor in spirit, comprise the kingdom of God: in other words, all in God’s kingdom are poor in spirit, and no one else is – the kingdom is ours. (Mt 5:2b)

He continues to describe these precious souls – God calls us saints (Ep 1:1) – as those who mourn (Mt 5:4), who grieve as God’s law is broken (Ps 119:158), especially within the church. (1Co 5:2) Saints find no ease in the midst of sin (1Co 13:6); we’re afflicted in it, we mourn and weep over sin, both within and without. (Ja 4:9) As we do, we’re comforted: Christ is our sin, and He’s making us righteous. (2Co 5:21) He’s also restraining sin in the wicked according to His perfect will and plan (Ps 76:10), so we thank Him in and for everything. (Ep 5:20)

Christ continues to describe the blessed: we’re meek (Mt 5:5), submitted to God and obedient to Him (1Pe 1:2); we hunger and thirst after righteousness (Mt 5:6), continually pursuing the living God and wanting to be more like Him (Ro 2:7); we’re merciful (Mt 5:7), rejoicing when others repent and turn from their sin. (Lk 15:10); we’re pure in heart (Mt 5:8), cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2Co 7:1); we’re peacemakers (Mt 5:9), encouraging every soul around us to align with the eternal God. Consequently, we’re also persecuted (Mt 5:10), we don’t fit in with the world because we’re no longer of it. (Jn 15:19)

When we find God at work in our souls like this, conforming us to the image of His beloved Son, we confirm we’re blessed, bound for eternity with God: ours is the kingdom – it belongs to us, and no one else. (Ep 5:5-6)

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As Bound With Them

A week ago I stood at the entrance of Stutthoff Concentration Camp near Gdansk Poland, where countless souls passed to humiliation, torture and death during WWII at the hands of Hitler’s ruthless minions. As I read the accounts of their pain, and stood where they were actually brutalized, I realized again that I know very little of suffering.

Many of these dear souls were doubtless my brothers and sisters in the faith, who couldn’t just turn a blind eye to the malice against their Jewish neighbors, and others in Hitler’s sadistic disfavor. I wondered if I’d have been strong enough to stand with them. What an evil day that was!

In He 13:3 we are commanded to remember those who are suffering as if we are suffering with them. This high calling of God is not for the faint of heart; it takes supernatural strength to live like this. It is where God Himself dwells, suffering with His people. It seems to me an inevitable cure for all selfishness, arrogance, self-sufficiency, lukewarmness and hardness of heart.

Such evil days are upon us again, as many suffer under the brutal onslaughts of Islam. I ask for grace to connect with this suffering as if it were upon me, and if I live to see the same myself, that God will give me grace to suffer well, to walk worthy of Him, Whose goodness I cannot deserve.

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