Salvation and Rejection
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
In reply to a student who asked him how to study, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote a wonderful booklet. In one passage he distinguished between “curiosity” and “studiosity.”
No doubt curiosity is a good thing; cattle sheep and pigs have hardly any. It makes us different from them, open somehow. But we limit ourselves if we are never more than curious about anything, if we try to keep everything “out there”, not affecting ourselves in any practical way. Then it is a refusal of “studiosity”: depth and wisdom. It is better to curb it then: not in order to close that gap that separates us from the beasts, but in order to open our spirit in a still deeper way. Jesus ignored questions that came from mere curiosity.
He responded to the question by saying what we should do to be saved. He said it is a narrow door. If he had said, “It’s dead easy, don’t worry, relax,” no one, or very few, would consider it worth lifting a finger for. Anything that comes cheap, or for nothing, must be worthless. Anything of real value requires everything of us.
We might also ask ourselves, like the man in today’s gospel, if many or few will be saved. Jesus Christ did not give any definite answer. But he did say, “Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.” (Claritian 2004)
Submitting to authority may at times go against the grain. Jesus became one of us in order to render it possible. If our first parents failed by disobedience, Jesus willed to save us by obedience. “he became obedient, even unto death.” In life, as in his shameful death, he showed us that the greatest freedom is obedience. “Behold I come to do your will, o God.”
To cling always to God and to the things of God must be the major concern of every Christian. This must be the road that our heart must follow at all costs. This unremitting focus on God in a world of empty promises equips us to enter the narrow gate. For those whose courage and strength comes from their full trust in God, the narrow gate leads to eternal life. (SSpSAP Bible Diary 2002)
Beating a red traffic light at the corner of E. Rodriguez and Morato, I found myself being flagged down by a policeman. I pulled over and opened the window. The policeman came over, but instead of demanding for the driver’s license, he asked me two questions. First, “Where do you live?” I pointed at the seminary building nearby. Second question, “What do you do for a living?” Answer: “I am a priest.” With this he broke into a big smile and proudly announce, “I was an altar boy in Samar!” he continued. “Okay, Father, go; be careful.”
I was saved because I am a priest. Unfortunately, this will not be so in heaven. In today’s gospel those who were refused admission in the kingdom of heaven demanded that they be admitted because “we ate and drank with you.”
The first lesson of the gospel is that being baptized Christians does not mean automatic salvation. Being first in this world does not mean being first in the kingdom. The second lesson follows immediately the first: “Do your best….” Keep on striving. Keep on keeping on. St. Paul to the Ephesians says, “Become servants…who do God’s will with all your heart.” To the Galatians he would encourage with the words: “Let us not go weary in doing good.”
I am tempted to believe that Christian life is like riding on an escalator that runs the opposite direction. We cannot stand still. We have to move on, for stopping means moving back. (Fr. Atilano Corcuera, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
October 26, 2016 Wednesday
The same message in two different gospels. I also received almost the same gospel reflection from The Word in Other Words last year. It was August 19 and it was taken from Matthew 20:1-16, so when I read today’s gospel, I was a bit shocked and reflected, what is the Lord telling me? “The first will be the last, and the last will be first.” How mysterious indeed!
The call to strive for the kingdom of God is a call to enter the narrow gate. Doing so is a difficult process. It entails lots of pain and many sacrifices to pass through to the other side. When I was young, I was told to enter the narrow opening, my head must fit first and my body can follow, but now I realize that this is not the case. Why? Because I have grown a big belly! So don’t eat too much!
But the point is, do we really know which way to go? Most of us easily enter the doors of life without even considering what is out there, without reflecting on the choices we make. In the end, we feel regretful as if God was not present in the decisions we made. Let us open our eyes and look outside; there is poverty, misery, and suffering. But Jesus is inspiring us today to be disciples on the road, and to face these realities of life. (Sem. Mark Daniel M. Nicasio | CKMS, Quezon City Bible Diary 2016)
Wrong Questions. Many of our problems in life come from our bad practice of asking the wrong questions. We ask the wrong questions. Therefore, we also get the wrong answers. The first wring question that the Lord wants to correct is “How many will be saved?” That is a wrong question because the correct question is “How will we be saved?” the Lord does not give us numbers. The Lord shows us the way. We will be saved by entering the through the narrow gate.
The next wrong question is “Where is the gate?” It is wrong to ask this because the question is not “where is the gate”. It is like asking “Where is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” There is NO GATE. The proper question to ask is not “Where is the gate?” but rather “Who is the gate?” the gate is not a place. The gate cannot be found in the map. The gate is a person – Jesus Christ.
Another wrong question is “What must I do?” It is wrong because what the Lord wants us to ask is “What must I continue doing?” we are a people who are good with the first act but sometimes fail to sustain it through the one hundredth act. We are a people who are good with ribbon cutting and inauguration. But when it comes to sustaining our commitment that is where we falter.
There are many more wrong questions that have led us to the wrong answers that lead us to frustration. Do not ask how many, rather ask how will we be saved. Do not ask where is the gate; ask who is the gate. Do not ask what must I do; ask rather what must I continue doing.
Let us look into our hearts ask ourselves, “What are the questions in my heart right now that remain unanswered?” maybe the source of our pain is the mistake of asking the wrong questions in life. (Bp Socrates Villegaas, DD, Love Like Jesus, p. 23)
How to Get Into Heaven With a Simple Prayer!
The Native Americans have a saying, that; that man is not a human being; he is a spiritual being who is having a human experience. Most of us, from time to time, become aware of this nature in ourselves and we may have uncertain feelings our spiritual condition, our worth and our eternal destiny.
It has been is said that we all have a God-shaped vacuum within us that only He can fill. When we have these uncomfortable realizations, we can find satisfaction by appreciating that the one who made us has the remedy. He has designed us to seek and find him.
God, our maker, has promised us that if we sincerely seek Him, we will always find Him and all comes to Him will never cast out. Jesus, (God in the flesh), said; I have gone to prepare a place for you that where I am, you will be also,”
We are aware that we have done bad things in our lives. We are not unique or alone. ..all (people) have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”; Romans 3:22-23.
We have grown up with a vision of a powerful father figure who will punish us because of the bad things that we have done. Instinctively, we know that God is just and holy. We can take real comfort in knowing that He, also, very loves us very much. His holy nature demands satisfaction, but his love pays the price. As the God/Man, Jesus, He became one of us to suffer and die in order to satisfy His requirement of atonement. He paid the price Himself so that He can freely give His eternal rewards to us imperfect people. Our part is, simply, to accept this gift, which is free to us but was very expensive to God when became Jesus and suffered and died by taking the punishment that we deserved in the body of His blameless presence as Jesus .
Anyone can accept this gift, regardless of their past behavior, by simply telling God, in our hearts. (He knows our every thought,) that we are truly sorry for our past foolishness and that we accept His gift to us of eternity with Him. Acknowledging our inability to correct ourselves to His standards, we ask Him to come into our lives and make things right. When he places His Spirit within us, the direction of our life is changed. This event is often called being “born again.”
Is there anyone who has not heard the following scripture? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal. For; God has not sent his Son into the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him.” – John 3: 16-17
“If with all your heart, you truly seek me, you will always, surely, find me.” Deuteronomy 4:29
Your eternity is entirely in your own hands. You may accept or reject this offer. You don’t have to be eloquent. You don’t even have to speak aloud. If your commitment is sincere, God will answer and grant to you the fulfillment of His promise; “… all who come to me, I will never cast out.” John: 6-3.
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10; John 3:17
Prayer of Salvation
“Dear Lord Jesus,
You died for my sins and iniquities about 2000 years ago. You were pierced for my transgressions, crushed for my sins and the punishment that brought us peace was upon You. Therefore, I approach the Throne of Grace with confidence, so that I may receive Your grace and mercies whenever I am in times of need.
The Scripture says that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. My eyes are upon You this hour. Father God, please forgive and forget all the sins that I have committed against You. I offer my body as a living sacrifice to You Lord. Enable me, not to be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind.
Pour out Your Spirit upon me in an abounding measure and purge off the undesirable things in me, which are not pleasing to Your sight.
The Living Word says that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is the Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, then we will be saved. Accordingly, I rely totally on Your word Lord. Create in me a clean heart and restore to me, the joy of Your salvation.
Save and justify me by Your divine grace because it is by Your grace that we are saved through faith and not from ourselves, and it is a gift from You alone. Thank You Father for redeeming me with Your most precious blood which You shed for me on the cross of Calvary.
I thank You a million times Father, for transforming my life according to Your Word that “if anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!” I thank You and praise You Lord.
Salvation and the Kingdom of Heaven
by Chad A. Woodburn
There are a number of passages which say that to get into the Kingdom of Heaven one must do some things other than just believe. These passages are used by some people to argue that salvation is not by faith alone. Their explanation of these passages has caused a serious problem for believers who seek to have a clear understanding of the gospel.
The solution to this problem is found in the fact that those passages are not talking about the salvation of the soul, but about physical entrance into the Millennial Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven (also called the Kingdom of God) always refers in the Bible to the Millennial Kingdom, the period of time when Jesus will rule the earth from Jerusalem.
The Bible teaches that being able to go into the Millennial Kingdom in one’s physical body is a reward for godly living. On the other hand, salvation is not a reward for good works, but a gift of grace given in response to faith. Thus, to use verses which speak of the requirements for entering into the kingdom of heaven to explain what one must do in order to be saved is a distortion of the gospel.
The nature of the Kingdom of Heaven
God created the earth to be inhabited. His original intention was for the Edenic purity of the world to continue unabated. But because of man’s sin, his rule over the earth was partially surrendered to Satan. God’s intention since the fall has been to crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15, Rom. 16:20) and to restore the rule of creation to man.
Thus, from the time of Adam, God began to unfold to His people through the prophets that He will restore all things when He brings His kingdom to earth, and that He will use Christ to accomplish it:
“As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” — 1 Peter 1:10-11 (NASB)
In Daniel 7:27 (NASB) we find an explicit prophecy of the Kingdom of Heaven: “Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest one; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.” There are those, however, who say that such a literal, physical kingdom is no longer in the plan of God. They agree that the original readers of those Old Testament prophecies would have understood the Kingdom promises to be referring to a future, physical kingdom. But they argue that the New Testament reinterprets those prophecies, and that the Kingdom promises have been transformed into promises of a present, spiritual kingdom. While our purpose here is not to delve into the different views of prophecy, we may quickly dismiss the post-millennial and a-millennial viewpoints with the simple observation that the New Testament cannot alter the meaning of the Old Testament. It can expand on and clarify the meaning of the Old Testament, but it cannot change it. The example of the Bereans is instructive for us. Acts 17:11 (NASB) says, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.” The Scriptures it is referring to are the Old Testament Scriptures exclusively. They were more noble because they evaluated the accuracy of the New Testament message Paul was preaching in the light of the Old Testament text, not the other way around. Yet, if the Old Testament message were changed in its meaning by the New Testament, then the Bereans would not have been more noble minded, but more simple minded. All views other than the pre-millennial rest on and depend on a basic hermeneutic flaw.
Hebrews 6:17-18 (NASB) shows that not even God Himself can change His Word:
“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.”
The requirements for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke we find explicit statements of how one may qualify to enter the kingdom of heaven. These statements are in direct contrast to what the rest of the New Testament says one must do to qualify for entering into heaven.
In Matthew 7:21 we are told that merely calling on the name of the Lord is not enough for entering the kingdom of heaven. It says, “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.” This is explicitly contrary to what Acts 2:21 says about how to be saved: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” These verses, however, do not contradict each other since they are talking about two entirely different things. Salvation is a free gift given in response to faith; entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven is a reward given in response to doing the will of the Father.
Again, in Matthew 18:3-4 [NASB] we are told that humility is necessary for getting into the kingdom of heaven:
“Unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Some people have tried to use these verses as a proof text that one must have a so-called child-like faith in order to be saved. Whether faith must be child-like might be an important issue to discuss, but in this passage in Matthew 18 faith is not the issue; humility is. Faith is not even mentioned or suggested in this passage. Furthermore, salvation is not the issue; entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven is. How totally different is the message of salvation of the soul! Ephesians 2:8-9 [NASB] gives the message simply: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”
Again, in Matthew 5:20 [NASB] Jesus made it clear that personal work-righteousness is necessary for getting into the Kingdom of Heaven: “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is the exact opposite of how one receives eternal salvation. Paul said in Titus 3:5 [NASB], “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”
The message of the Kingdom of Heaven and the message of eternal salvation are two entirely different messages. One demands works; the other demands faith alone. Thus, if someone uses Kingdom verse to explain salvation, he will either pervert the gospel, or he will grossly misinterpret the passages and give an errant explanation of the Kingdom. The following is a sample of verses about the Kingdom of Heaven, which many erroneously use as though they were referring to heaven. Though some of the verses do not explicitly mention the Kingdom of Heaven (which is synonymous with the Kingdom of God), the context makes clear that the Kingdom is in view.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:3 (NASB)
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:10 (NASB)
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” — Matthew 6:33 (NASB)
“13 Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. 14 For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.“ — Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)
“32 Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 10:32-33 (NASB)
“33 He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” — Matthew 25:33-36 (NASB)
The relevance of the Kingdom of Heaven to the Church
While many people are aware of the distinction between entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven and the salvation of the soul, they are usually not aware that the message of the Kingdom of Heaven as found in the Gospels is continued in the Epistles. As a result, they keep trying to explain the Kingdom of Heaven passages in the Epistles in terms of salvation of the soul. The result of this is that they either end up putting works into salvation or else they end up greatly misinterpreting those passages and allegorizing the Kingdom.
The message of the Kingdom and the promises of entering into the Kingdom in one’s physical body sometime in the future as a reward for godly living are certainly given to the Church. Initially, the promise of entrance into the Kingdom was given to Israel through God’s promise to Abraham. Before the death of Christ, Gentiles were excluded from those promises: “Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, … 12 were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:11-12 [NASB]). However, through the death of Christ, Gentiles become fellow-heirs and fellow-citizens of Israel:
“13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. … 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow-citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household. … 3:6 … to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” — Ephesians 2:13, 19; 3:6 (NASB)
That the Church is able to receive the promises that God gave to Abraham (which include the future, physical blessings of the Kingdom) is clearly taught in the New Testament. Paul repeatedly warned the believers that they could forfeit entrance into the kingdom through evil deeds:
“19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strifes, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissentions, factions, 21 envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” — Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB)
In Romans 4:13-16 Paul makes it clear that the Church shares in the promise to Abraham that his descendants would inherit the world. This promise is said to be certain to all the descendants, both physically (the believing Israelites) and spiritually (the believing Gentiles).
Many will object to all of this on the grounds that (so they say) there can be no connection between the promises of God to Israel and the promises of God to the Church. They say that the two institutions are totally distinct. However, this is not what the Bible teaches. In Romans 11, Paul declares that the unbelieving of Israel were cut off from Israel, and that believing Gentiles were grafted into Israel (Romans 11:17-24). The Church is an expansion of Israel in that it now includes believing Gentiles as fellow-citizens of Israel and fellow-heirs of the promises to Israel. Yet at the same time, it excludes all who are in unbelief, whether Jew or Gentile. If Israel is ever to fulfill the prophecies about it in both the Old and the New Testaments, it must do so in its position in the Church.
Now then, because the message of the Kingdom continues for the Church, we would expect that, if the verses referring to it are interpreted incorrectly (as though they were referring to eternal salvation), there would be frequent difficulties in understanding those passages as well as occasional distortions of the gospel. This is exactly what many Bible students encounter. We would also expect to find many exhortations throughout the Epistles of the need to live godly lives so that we might be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is what we find:
“9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” — 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NASB)
“19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissentions, factions, 21 envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” — Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB)
“3 But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” — Ephesians 5:3-5 (NASB)
The Old Testament makes many prophecies to Israel about the Millennial Kingdom. The New Testament makes frequent references to these Old Testament prophecies and applies them to the Church. However, we find that those pre-millennialists (those who believe that Jesus is coming back before the millennium) who do not accept this explanation of the Kingdom of Heaven (that it is the Millennial Kingdom) will take those prophecies literally in the Old Testament, but, when those same prophecies are repeated in the New Testament and applied to the Church, they will allegorize them. Though this is terribly inconsistent, it is at least one step better than what the post- and a-millennialists do: they allegorize those prophecies in both the Old and the New Testaments (although, at least they are consistent). In contrast to all these other systems, the proper approach is to take the prophecies literally (at face value) in both Testaments.
Hopefully, these few comments have alerted you to the dangers of misinterpreting references to the Kingdom of Heaven. How to get into heaven and how to get into the Kingdom of Heaven are two entirely different issues. While works are necessary for entering the Kingdom of Heaven, faith alone is necessary for entering heaven.
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
THE PROFESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SON OF GOD
“HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER”
659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”531 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.532 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.533 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.534 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.535
660 The veiled character of the glory of the Risen One during this time is intimated in his mysterious words to Mary Magdalene: “I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”536 This indicates a difference in manifestation between the glory of the risen Christ and that of the Christ exalted to the Father’s right hand, a transition marked by the historical and transcendent event of the Ascension.
661 This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who “came from the Father” can return to the Father: Christ Jesus.537 “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.”538 Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness.539 Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.540
662 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”541 The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”542 There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he “always lives to make intercession” for “those who draw near to God through him”.543 As “high priest of the good things to come” he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven.544
663 Henceforth Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father: “By ‘the Father’s right hand’ we understand the glory and honor of divinity, where he who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the Father, is seated bodily after he became incarnate and his flesh was glorified.”545
664 Being seated at the Father’s right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah’s kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniel’s vision concerning the Son of man: “To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”546 After this event the apostles became witnesses of the “kingdom [that] will have no end”.547
665 Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf. Col 3:3).
666 Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him for ever.
667 Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
531 Mk 16:19.
532 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.
533 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.
534 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.
535 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.
536 Jn 20:17.
537 Cf. Jn 16:28.
538 Jn 3:13; cf. Eph 4:8-10.
539 Jn 14:2.
540 Missale Romanum, Preface of the Ascension: sed ut illuc confideremus, sua membra, nos subsequi quo ipse, caput nostrum principiumque, praecessit.
541 Jn 12:32.
542 Heb 9:24.
543 Heb 7:25.
544 Heb 9:11; cf. Rev 4:6-11.
545 St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 4, 2: PG 94, 1104C.
546 Dan 7:14.
547 Nicene Creed.
God’s Kingdom: is it here… now?
Jesus often spoke in parables about a Kingdom. Was he refer ring to a real Kingdom, or were these merely stories to keep his audience amused? If he was talking about a real Kingdom – then where is it? Did it exist in his time? Does it exist today …or is it still future?
John Morton: Some of the Old Testament prophets foretold that God would establish a Kingdom and the Israelite looked forward to a time when this would occur. When Daniel for instance, interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream he spoke of a prophetic Kingdom whose ruler would be given dominion over all nation and peoples. Daniel said that an everlasting Kingdom would be se up by the God of Heaven (Daniel 2:44, 7:13-14). Isaiah spoke of the Prince of Peace who would rule Kingdom and “of the increase of his government and peace there would be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
From the beginning of his earthly ministry Christ preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The word gospel means `good news’. He came from God the Father with good news about the Kingdom that Isaiah and Daniel had spoken about. He travelled around the nation of Judah preaching the good news to all who would listen and he sent his followers out to preach the same message (Matthew 10:7, Luke 4:43, 8:1, 9:1-2, 11, 60). Men like Philip and Paul constantly risked their lives to spread the good news about God’s Kingdom to both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 8:12, 19:8, 20:25, 28:23 & 31).
So where is this Kingdom that the prophets, Christ and his followers preached about? Is it just a figment of the imagination in the minds of these enthusiastic believers? Is it in Heaven, here on earth, or is it some ethereal Kingdom in the hearts of men? Has it been and gone, or is it yet to come? When will the Kingdom of God they spoke of be established?
Not From Hence
At first many of Christ’s followers expected the Kingdom to be established while he was still with them. They knew he was the prophesied Messiah destined to rule in God’s Kingdom, but they did not realize that the Kingdom was for a time in the future.
Christ’s disciples once asked him about the future and he gave them a brief synopsis of events that would take place toward the end of this age and immediately prior to his return when the Kingdom of God will be established on this earth (Matthew 24:1-31, Mark 13:1-37, Luke 25:5-36). He told them that he would return with power and great glory to introduce a world government to bring peace, prosperity and great happiness, such as we have never seen before. A small glimpse of what is in store can be gleaned from Chapters 21 and 22 of the Book of Revelation. This is the event that Isaiah and Daniel had spoken about.
Just before his death Jesus again confirmed that the Kingdom was for a later time. He told Pilate “My Kingdom is not of this world – my Kingdom is not from hence” (John 18:36). Even after his resurrection, when he appeared to his followers, Christ still spoke to them about “things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). It was to be a Kingdom of the future.
At one time the Pharisees asked Christ when the Kingdom would appear and he told them that they were not very observant because in effect the Kingdom was already among them in the personage of Christ himself, who was the emissary and future ruler in the Kingdom. He said “the Kingdom of God does not come with observation: nor will they say `See here!’ or `See there!’ For indeed the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
A more accurate translation of what he said was “the Kingdom of God is among you” as shown in the margin notes of King James version of the Bible. Meaning that he (Christ) the future ruler of the Kingdom was standing there among them at that time. Unfortunately, many have mistakenly interpreted this single statement to mean that Christ was saying that the Kingdom is `within’ the hearts or minds of human beings. Those who believe this claim have been misled by a poor translation as the margin note confirms and as other passages of the Bible clearly show.
Christ was addressing these comments to the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day. It is inconceivable that he would be telling these same Pharisees, who sought to kill him, that the Kingdom of God existed `within’ them (Mark 3:6). He rebuked them because they “shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men”. He said “for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). The religious leaders of the day were a stumbling block, to those who were being given the opportunity to learn about God’s Kingdom.
Born of Water
When explaining the Kingdom to Nicodemus, who was obviously not of the same mind as the other Pharisees, Jesus said “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God” – “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” and “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3-6). This clearly indicates that the Kingdom of God is to be composed of spirit beings and that man must become spirit to enter it.
Entering the Kingdom of God requires a process of conversion that begins when God calls a person to repentance. It is through the process of conversion that He provides a way for individuals to loosen the hold Satan has on their lives and to put themselves in God’s hands.
Repentance is followed by baptism, and the immersion of the believer in water symbolizes the burying of the “old man” and the old ways they have repented of and turned away from (Romans 6:3-6). The reemergence from the water symbolizes the birth of the ‘new man’ to begin a new life (Acts 2:38, Ephesians 2:18-22, 4:22-32, Colossians 3:9-10). That is what Christ meant when he told Nicodemus that a man must be born of water (John 3:5). It is a physical, symbolic ceremony representing a birth to a new way of life in preparation for the Kingdom, which is yet to come.
Born of spirit
The spiritual birth Christ spoke about is the eventual resurrection to spirit life. Only those born both of water and of spirit can enter God’s Kingdom. The Apostle Paul said “flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God” – he also talked of resurrection when he said “the dead shall be raised incorruptible” “and this mortal shall put on immortality”.
Continuing on the same subject of the “resurrection of the dead” he said “it is sown a natural body: it is raised a spiritual body …as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (I Corinthians 15:50, 5153, 42-44). The spiritual birth is when physical human beings are resurrected as immortal spirit beings. The time between the birth by water and the spiritual birth is a critical period of learning and development where the individual establishes a close relationship with God, learns to live His way of life and to rely on Him for their every need. It is a time of great change in which the very mind of God is developed within the individual. Paul said “Let this mind be in you which is also in Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:5).
For all of Mankind
While the Bible lists many types of sinners who will not be in the Kingdom, it does not mean to say that anyone who has sinned is excluded (Revelation 21:8, 27 & 22:15). We have all sinned (Romans 3:23). It is through the process of conversion that even the worst sinner can change and become acceptable in God’s eyes. Some are called to repentance and conversion at this time, others will be called later on. Eventually all who have ever lived on this earth will have been given the opportunity to enter into the process of conversion.
Those who have not been called and have not repented, nor been baptized and received God’s Holy Spirit in their lifetime, are not lost as some churches teach. It would be grossly unfair if the many millions who lived before Christ was born, or who never heard of Christ, were condemned to eternal death. God has a plan that provides a way for all who have ever lived to repent and go through the process of conversion so they too have the opportunity to enter into His Kingdom (A future article entitled “The Plan” will develop this theme).
This is the Kingdom the prophets like Isaiah and Daniel anticipated It is the good news Christ and his disciple preached, and it is the message that is still being preached today by the people of God. It is a message about the Kingdom that God will establish on earth when Christ returns. It is indeed a very real Kingdom and Jesus instructed us to pray for it to come (Matthew 6:10). Those who are called and respond in this life have a commission to continue preaching about the Kingdom to those who will listen.
The truth about the Kingdom of God is being presented to you right now! Are you prepared to listen – and to respond – to God’s call?
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 5 Issue 4, July/August 2001. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
The Kingdom of Heaven: Who Will Enter It, and How Will They Get There?
Sun Myung Moon
January 29, 2001
This is Closing Banquet Address at the 7th World Culture and Sports Festival, January 29, 2001, The New York Hilton, New York City.
I would like to give you world leaders a precious gift in words this evening. I speak from the truth found through immense suffering on a journey begun in my youth. This journey has brought me to the boundless world of Heaven. Tonight I will speak about the principles of the spirit world that we enter after death, a world no one can ignore. I would also like to introduce some aspects of life in the Kingdom of Heaven, the realm everyone desperately wants to enter. As a result of the Fall, the first human ancestors could not wed each other with God’s blessing. They fell while they were still growing up, by disobeying God and committing adultery with Satan. Satan became an adulterer, and our problem lies in the fact that they inherited Satan’s blood lineage.
According to the principles of creation, man is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven after he lives the life of the Kingdom of God on Earth. We live the Kingdom life on Earth through establishing the unity of mind and body, the unity of husband and wife and the unity of children. By inheriting God’s lineage, we were supposed to connect this directly to the spirit world. How?
The very moment a true bridegroom makes love with his true bride for the first time is the moment that the perfection of husband and wife is achieved. The palace of love on Earth, that is the center of Heaven and Earth, begins in that first moment of making love. Through this love, the original place (palace?) of love is created for the first time. The life and blood lineage of humankind begin from that point of love. From the same point, a nation is born. The veritable Kingdom of God in Heaven and on Earth too begins with the opening of that door of first love.
When a man and a woman become one through love and create children, they substantiate the invisible God in visible form. Love is the power that can combine and commingle blood. Then what is the axis for this mixing of blood? It is the place in which the love organs of husband and wife meet and make the first love. That is a power station, the very plant for the generation of the power of true love, the power of true life, the power of true lineage, the power for the Kingdom of God on Earth through the true family, and the power for the Kingdom of God in Heaven. Thus, the wedding of Adam and Eve, who were in the position of God’s substantial object partners, would have been God’s wedding. They would have brought God’s liberation and freedom, and God Himself would have sung and danced.
Knowing this should fill us with awe and terror over the holiness of the first love. When the first love is corrupted, we destroy the palace of love, the palace of life, the palace of lineage and everything that was to have blossomed forth. This is the dreadful reality of the Fall. Through it we lost the Kingdom of God in Heaven and on Earth. Heaven and Earth turned into Hell. Throughout history, man’s love organ has symbolized the worst of slander and curses, because it destroyed Heaven and Earth. God’s ideal of love was to have settled perfectly beginning at the place of first love, through the marriage of the man’s love organ and the woman’s love organ. That point, centering on man-woman love, establishes the perfected object partner of God. That point is the nucleus of the universe. If the axis connecting God with the love organs of man and woman is broken, the entire universe shatters.
Since the marriage of man and woman is the original spring of love, it becomes the original palace of love, the original palace of life and the original palace of lineage. Our longing for freedom and happiness springs from there. What’s more, all individuals, families, tribes and peoples originate there. The foundation for peace and the Kingdom of God in Heaven and on Earth take root in love. Through the union the love organs, man and woman are blended completely. This love relationship produces the fruit of good or of evil. We must comprehend the infinite value of our love organs. The way of Heaven teaches us that whether we are a man or a woman, we must never misuse them.
Incited by Satan’s false love, Adam and Eve committed adultery and became a false couple. As false parents they formed a false family and transmitted sin to their children. The providence of salvation is a providence of restoration. We have to root out that very mistake of misusing love and restore true love. Through God’s true love, the restored Adam should take the true parents’ position and engraft humankind to himself. A man and woman perfected through true love shall establish a true family with God’s blessing.
Man is to build an ideal family and perfect his spirit self while living on Earth. We then enter Heaven in the spirit world. Our original hometown is the Kingdom of God in Heaven, where our spirit lives in God’s love for eternity. The Fall closed our spiritual senses. This is why we do not know about our spirit self or about Heaven in the spirit world. Unlike animals, we possess a spirit self. We should know about the world of Heaven that we inevitably will enter. The family is the school, the training center in which we can perfect our heart. Family life guides us to master ourselves for the sake of sharing love with others. Thus, the family is the base upon which we can build the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of Heaven is where we are intoxicated in the service of God as our King and Master. We can enter there, but only as families.
The ultimate ideal of all living beings is to become the object partner of God’s true love and live with God. To ascend to a higher place in Heaven, live as God lives, investing your life for the sake of others. The one who sacrifices himself for the sake of his family, his family for the sake of his tribe, his tribe for his nation, his nation for the world, the world for Heaven and Earth, and Heaven and Earth for the sake of God, is the closest one to God. He or she will stand as the object partner of God’s true love. God, the Creator of the universe, has been sacrificing Himself for the sake of the universe more than anyone. Thus, to encounter Him and live with Him, we need training through a true love life, a life lived for the sake of others. Although God is the King of knowledge, the King of power and the King of wealth, He does not ask us to bring Him those things. God is waiting for the one who lives for the sake others in the spirit of true love here on Earth!
Many people rattle off words about God’s absoluteness, omnipotence and glory. Nonetheless, through my lifelong search for truth, I have found that to be way off the mark. God lost His loving children as a result of the first ancestors’ Fall. If your children are imprisoned, can you live in glory? God’s heart is in the deepest pain. What’s more, God had to give Satan the beautiful creation that He made for His children. From the moment He lost His object partner of love, the God of true love became the God of loneliness. God was never in the position to exercise His power as the Lord of the universe. God never had the chance to display His authority as the Creator of all things. Meanwhile, fallen people often boast of themselves for nothing. Even though He is the owner of all that has breath, God was never able to reveal His pride. Being the author of the principles that guide the universe, how can God move freely in the fallen world, the world of non-principle? Humankind, living with all degrees of distrust and disobedience, even ignore God and mock God as non-existent and dead. God has endured this long history in a heart of agony. Truly, His waiting has seemed endless.
This tragedy transpired because Adam and Eve fell while they were growing up, and became false parents. Out of profound respect for their freedom and responsibility, God did not intervene directly to rectify their mistake. For that reason, we find in history that the Lord has appeared as the second Adam and the third Adam, in order to indemnify the mistake of the first Adam and perfect the ideal of true parentship. In this way, everything should be restored. Until then, God waits anxiously. This is the real story behind history: it was a providence of restoration to liberate God’s aching heart.
I have done my absolute best to fulfill the mission of True Parents. I paid no attention whatsoever to my welfare or status. To build a church was not even my goal. I had but one goal: to walk all the way to liberate God’s heart from pain and help Him realize His wish. In other words, I have invested myself totally to set God free from agony, to establish Him as the Lord of the universe, and to set the foundation for humankind to serve Him as the King of the cosmos.
Do you think that this task is easy? I had to make Satan surrender both in Heaven and on Earth. I had to tear down all the walls and even bring Hell to an end. We cannot liberate God’s heart through true love unless we prepare all people on Earth and in the spirit world to receive God’s blessing in freedom. Satan has to recognize this work officially, and it has to accord with the law of the universe. Satan has enjoyed his ruling power over nations in this world. Therefore, we are challenged to set conditions through victories that transcend nations and the world itself.
This is a day to rejoice. I have set these conditions and on the 13th day of January this year, I held the coronation ceremony for the Kingship of God in Korea. That was the greatest day of celebration in all human history. We liberated God’s heart for the first time. He could start His new history based on the might and power of true love. This is the dawn of the new age, in which humankind in Heaven and on Earth can attend the liberated God in gratitude. From now we will easily witness the living God and often notice helping hands from the spirit world.
I urge you to study about the spirit world with greater eagerness and to receive the God-centered blessing so that you can build a true family. I also encourage you to prepare for your eternal life through living unselfishly. The time has come that people who work hard will feel the hand of Heavenly fortune, with which the limited power of human beings cannot compare. Those who live the life of a filial child, a patriot, a saint and a divine son or daughter before the living God, with a humble and self-effacing attitude, are the most fortunate. At the advent of the era of God’s Kingship, I pray that you will promote God’s Kingship. May we work in partnership to build the world of heart and culture transcending nations.
WRONG QUESTIONS: Many of our problems in life come from our bad practice of asking the wrong questions. We ask the wrong questions. Therefore, we also get the wrong answers. The first wrong question that the Lord wants to correct is, “How many will be saved?” that is a wrong question because the correct question is, “How will we be saved?” The Lord does not give us numbers. The Lord shows us the way. We will be saved by entering through the narrow gate.
The next wrong question is, “Where is the gate?” it is wrong to ask this because the question is not ‘where is the gate.’ It is like asking, ‘where is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There is no gate. The proper question to ask is not, “Where is the gate?” but rather, “Who is the gate?” the gate is not a place. The gate cannot be found in the map. The gate is a person, Jesus Christ.
Another wrong question is, “What must I do?” It is wrong because what the Lord wants us to ask is, “What must I continue doing?” We are a people who are good with the first act but sometimes fail to sustain it through the one hundredth act. We are a people who are good with ribbon cutting and inauguration. But when it comes to sustaining our commitment that is where we falter.
There are many more wrong questions that have led us to the wrong answers that lead us to frustration. Do not ask how many, rather ask how will we be saved. Do not ask where is the gate, ask who is the gate. Do not ask what must I do; ask rather what must I continue doing.
Let us look into our hearts and ask ourselves, “What are the questions in my heart right now that remain unanswered?” maybe the source of our pain is the mistake we make of asking the wrong questions in life. (Socrates Villegas, Love Like Jesus, p. 23)
Reflection for Wednesday October 29, Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time; Luke 13:22-30
Reflection: How are we living our lives today? Do we live it in pursuit of the many pleasures of this world which more often than not only brings us closer to the doorway of hell? There are many stories of destroyed lives for the simple reason that they immersed their lives in this world. Not knowing that they were actually being brought little by little by the devil to his kingdom.
The door to hell is wide, it’s full of revolting pleasures, for example, let us try going to a night club or a disco house in the dead of night. What would we find there? People who loves worldly pleasures, people who would readily commit sin if the opportunity presents itself most especially when they are already intoxicated.
Jesus in our gospel talks about the narrow door, this is the door that leads to Himself. Indeed the door going to Jesus is narrow for this will require us to sacrifice and even leave behind many things that brings us nothing but fleeting pleasures.
We need to reflect and ponder at some point in our lives and ask ourselves this question, is my life all about pleasures? Is there something more deeply meaningful than this pleasures that I am presently going through? Yes there is something deeply more profound and meaningful than any other pleasure/s in this world. And this is the narrow door that leads to Jesus Himself.
Are we now willing to take the steps going to that narrow door? – Marino J. Dasmarinas
WEDNESDAY OF THE 30TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A)
LUKAS 13:22-30. Diyotay ra ba ang maluwas? Imbis tubagon ang maong pangutana, si Kristo miingon, “Paningkamot kamo nga makasulod sa hip-ot nga pultahan. Daghan ang gustong mosulod apan diyotay lamang ang makahimo.” Unsa man ang gipasabot sa “hip-ot nga pultahan”? Sa ebanghelyo ni San Juan, si Hesus nag-ingon, “Ako ang pultahan. Ang tanan nga mosulod agi kanako makaangkon og kaluwasan” (10:9). Ang pag-agi diha kang Kristo malisod tungod kay nagpasabot kini og pagkalimot sa kaugalingon ug pagpas-an sa krus. Apan kini ang dalan nga magdala kanato sa kaluwasan. Sakto ang giingon ni C.S. Lewis: “Ang dalan sa kaparotan luag ug sayon, walay tulubagon ug walay balaod nga sundon. Apan ang dalan sa kinabuhi hip-ot ug lisod, adunay obligasyon ug mga balaod nga dili pwede lapason. Asa man ning duha ang atong pili-on? Posted by Abet Uy
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
WEDNESDAY OF THE 30TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME – LUKAS 13:22-30. DIYOTAY RA BA ANG MALUWAS? Imbis tubagon ang maong pangutana, si Kristo miingon, “Paningkamot kamo nga makasulod sa hip-ot nga pultahan.” Unsa man ang gipasabot sa “hip-ot nga pultahan”? Sa ebanghelyo ni San Juan, si Hesus nag-ingon, “Ako ang pultahan. Ang tanan nga mosulod agi kanako makaangkon og kaluwasan” (10:9). Si C.S. Lewis nag-ingon: “One road leads home and a thousand roads leads into the wilderness.” Ang dalan sa kaparotan daghan kaayo; luag ug sayon, walay tulubagon ug balaod nga sundon. Apan ang dalan sa kinabuhi usa ra – ang dalan ni Kristo. Ang pagsubay sa maong dalan malisod tungod kay nagpasabot kini og paghikalimot sa kaugalingon ug pagpas-an sa krus. Apan kini ang dalan nga magdala kanato sa kaluwasan. Posted by Abet Uy
HANDBAG PURGE – Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. – Luke 13:24
I used to bring big handbags. I was a staunch believer of the Boy Scout motto, “Laging Handa” (Always Prepared), so I made sure I always had everything I might need — just in case.
But Pope Francis’ visit, with his call to simple living, inspired me to rethink my heavy bag, which I had unsuccessfully purged in the past. If the poor could do with hardly anything, then surely I could survive on much less. I realized I didn’t need a huge wallet to hold my bills and cards. (A plastic slipcase does the job.) I didn’t need to bring four lipsticks every day. And the two tape measures I have in there? I’ll survive without them.
That seemingly insignificant exercise of migrating to a tiny purse has taught me that I don’t need as many things as I thought I did. We tend to acquire things that later become excess baggage. They can come even in the form of past resentments that we knowingly or unknowingly lug around wherever we go.
If we want to enter the narrow door, we won’t get through with all our excess luggage in tow. As we shed the trappings of materialism, pride and conceit, we realize that the journey is easier and lighter without all that baggage. Rissa Singson Kawpeng (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reflection: What spiritual excess weight do you carry? Don’t let them weigh you down. Leave them now at the foot of the Cross.
Jesus, strip me of the things that slow me down in my faith walk.
October 26, 2016
Today’s first reading, despite contrary appearances, is very relevant to contemporary Christians because now, in contrast with the past of just a few generations ago, about as many Christian women are found in the workplace as Christian men. And so, Paul’s teaching has a more universal application than ever before. Of course Paul couches his teaching in reference to the conditions of his day, and that is to be expected. But we can easily adapt it to our present situation simply by substituting to the pair master-slave the pair boss-employee.
And so, this is as good an occasion as any to examine ourselves in our role as bosses or employees. If I am an employee, do I work only when I am watched by my boss or only to impress my co-workers and earn Brownie points? Or do I work to please the Lord Jesus, who was himself a worker and certainly did his best at all times? On the other hand, if I am the boss, do I bully my employees, humiliate them at every turn, ridicule them? Do I remember that they are my brothers and sisters in Christ? If I were an employee, how would I like to be treated?