12-Life in the Kingdom of God - Citizenship - Becoming a Citizen
By Colleen Donahue
CALLING ALL SINNERS
1. There are two kinds of people in this life. This story told by Jesus illustrates who they are.
There are those who are confident in their own goodness -- good people that are better than most men -- and therefore need little of God. Then, there are those who know they are sinners in need of God's mercy and help. So in short, one sees themselves a sinner in need of God and the other does not. In God's eyes this proverb sums up what He thinks of those who see themselves as "good people".
2. In truth, there is really only one kind of person.
Isaiah 64:6 / Romans 3:23
If we claim to be otherwise what are we doing to ourselves?
1 John 1:8
3. It should be a comfort to us that God is calling imperfect and sinful people to come into his family. For entering the Kingdom of God is all about being "part of the family". And when we come to Jesus what does he call us?
4. Jesus told another parable that tells us something about God's call to citizenship in his kingdom. First read the parable.
The King Father formed the Jewish nation from Abraham so that He could have a prototype nation to show the whole world what life in his kingdom was meant to be like and to bless the world through Israel. But when Jesus came to call his own, what was their response?
Luke 13:34 / John 1:11
Although it was a sad day for the Jewish nation that they rejected Jesus and the call to citizenship in his Kingdom, it was a happy day for the rest of us that weren't Jewish. Why?
Romans 10:12-13 / Galatians 3:28
Going back to the parable in Luke 14 -- who did the owner invite to his banquet when the original guests (the Jews) gave their excuses for not coming?
If you reflect a moment on this you'll see we all fall into at least one of these categories and that is truly good news. It means that the Father wants all of us as part of his family. The Kingdom of God is open to all of us because Israel rejected the King Son.
THE GATE TO GET IN
5. While the Kingdom of God is open to all of us, what does Jesus tell us about the doorway into the Kingdom of God?
Matthew 7:13a, 14
Then Jesus in parable form tells us where the gate is.
And finally, to make it as plain as possible, what does Jesus proclaim?
6. You will hear, if you haven't already, that there are many ways to God. Everyone can seek God on their own path and get there in the end. But this is opposite to what Jesus teaches us.
In other words, those who try to find God on their own terms, will never be part of His family. If this seems unfair consider this example. When there is a national disaster in a country, people are told the one agency to call. They are given one phone number or one website address or one land address to send their pleas to. If they phone or write to a different agency will they get the help they need? No. Now if man can set up one way to do something shouldn't God be able to?
7. The King Father sent the King Son to our world to get us back on track with himself so we could fulfill our purpose. What is his will for us?
HOW DO WE ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
8. John tells us in profound simplicity how we enter the Kingdom of God.
A. First, we believe in His name. The Greek word believe has the meaning of entrusting ourselves to someone. So in this case we are entrusting our life and spiritual well being to Jesus. It's not a matter of just saying, "I believe in Jesus." No, it's recognizing Christ's character and authority as the one whom we will trust and rely on.
B. Second, we receive Him. This has the meaning of taking Jesus to ourselves. It's opening the door to His knocking and letting him come in (Revelations 3:20). It's receiving His Spirit into your own spirit.
C. Third, we become children of God. God extends to us the rights and privileges of being part of his family.
9. This new birth has nothing to do with our physical life. It's man's spirit (the deepest part of us) that is dead in sin without the life of God filling it. It's about being born again spiritually. This is what Jesus tries to explain to Nicodemus (a pharisee seeking the Messiah).
10. Notice in verse 5 the requirements for entering the Kingdom of God.
A. First we are born of water. This refers to a baptism for the repentance of our sins. We recognize who we are by nature -- a sinner -- and we repent of what we have done because of who we are (i.e. we have a sin nature so we naturally sin). And when we repent what is the result?
1 John 1:9
B. Second, we are born of the Spirit when we accept and receive Christ's own Spirit into our own. Without His new Spirit within us to replace our old sinful nature, we are just forgiven sinners without the power we need to live our life in God's Kingdom.
Because many are teaching and preaching only half the gospel today, we have many believers who think they are saved because they have come to Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. But if we don't have Christ's Spirit filling our own what is the true reality?
Most of our restoration to the way God originally intended has come because of what Jesus has done for us on the Cross. And what was that?
A. His shed blood satisfied the wrath of God for our sins committed against Him and other men. This is why we can be forgiven.
Matthew 26:28 /Romans 5:9
B. God put our old sinful nature into Jesus on the cross (in a cosmic miracle) so that when He died our old nature was rendered inoperative.
C. This gives us a reprieve (or some time) to choose the life of God for our own.
So now it's our turn.
WHAT MUST WE DO?
11. Have the right attitude.
Jesus used the example of children to express what our attitude must be if we want to enter God's family.
It's having a child-like attitude (not childish but child-like) that Jesus wants us to have. What is this attitude? I suggest there are four main things about children that the Father loves.
A. Their humility. They know who they are and they "act their age". They don't try to be anything but children.
B. They are dependent upon their parents for just about everything. So too, God wants us dependent upon Him for everything. This is opposite to the badge of independence that most of us love to wear.
C. Children are trusting. They aren't all worked up as to whether the next meal will come, or if they'll have a bed to sleep in. They just know that their parents will take care of them. God wants us to be just like that.
D. Children are teachable. They don't know everything so that they can still learn and grow in the things of God. It's the attitude that allows us to grow and keep growing in the things of God.
12. With a child-like attitude we can come to Jesus as He asks of us.
We won't come to Him if we think we can handle it on our own.
13. Once we come, then Jesus asks that we follow him.
John 8:12 / John 10:27 / John 12:26
14. Finally, Jesus asks us to abide in Him. (Abide means to remain in or live in.) Why?
The logical question is how do we do this? Christ's own Spirit is the answer. When we receive His Spirit into our own He becomes the link for us to stay on the vine -- the conduit for Christ's life to flow into our own.
15. Christ's Holy Spirit replaces our old carnal nature and what do we become?
2 Corinthians 5:17
16. All of us like to feel the reward that our own efforts bring. We are all about "doing". But when it comes to our redemption and spiritual rebirth, it's all about honoring Jesus who was the one that did it all.
Don't miss the simplicity of these verses. Any of us who recognize and honor Jesus as the Son of God, who gave his life for us, and then came back to life from the dead will not miss getting their citizenship papers in the Kingdom of God.
17. And f you become a citizen in the Kingdom of God, where will your name be registered?