WORTHY OF THE KINGDOM

by Thomas W. Finley


Chapter One

THE RICH YOUNG RULER

Recently, while studying the story of the rich young ruler in the Gospels, this writer had an important realization. In that short narrative lay several of the key truths concerning the coming Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Like tiny flower seeds that need only to be nurtured in order to produce mature plants with a variety of shapes, colors, textures and scents, these key truths are awaiting development in order to become clearly seen and appreciated for their richness. The desire to develop and share these truths with others has resulted in this writing. Although these truths, which are also contained in so many other passages of Scripture, could be presented in a topical, systematic way, I have felt to use this story in the Gospels as a means to introduce these significant truths.

Because much of this teaching will seem new to most readers, a word of caution is in order. Please resist the temptation to discard new ideas out of hand that do not seem to fit with previously learned theological perspectives. Admittedly, this is hard for all of us to do. However, if we are truly seeking the truth of the Scriptures, we will not be afraid of examining new ideas to see if they may be sound. This was the noble attitude of the Bereans (Acts 17:10-12). Further, if you will read the entire book with an open mind, leaving unanswered questions temporarily aside, you will begin to see a complete harmonious picture of the truth emerge as you near the end of the work. And, most importantly, the Biblical ideas covered will leave you with two important things. Firstly, you will have an understanding of the Bible that harmonizes many passages that were previously difficult to harmonize. Secondly, you should have a renewed desire to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in full obedience, along with a fresh hunger for His Word.

Here are some of the key truths we will be looking at in this book:

The Coming Kingdom of God

There will be a literal 1,000 year Kingdom where Christ openly reigns. We will see that this future form of God’s Kingdom includes a renewed earth where righteousness dwells. It will be proven that it was this Kingdom, as a future life, that the Jews in Jesus’ day sought to qualify for as a result of righteous living. Much of Jesus’ teaching about the future must be understood with this background in mind. This future 1,000 year Kingdom, called the millennium, will precede the eternal state. It is here that the overcoming believer in Christ will receive positive rewards for obedience to Christ during the believer’s lifetime. The foretaste of God’s life that we enjoy now (Eph. 1:13-14) can be enjoyed in its rich fullness during that age, prior to eternity.

The Overcoming Christian Life

No Christian wants to live in recurring failure, lukewarmness or a backslidden state. Although the will of the believer is of great importance in the Christian life, this life is not lived by the effort of the believer’s will. We will explore the practice of the genuine Christian life, which life is the experience of the Spirit of God being supplied to the believer by faith, thus enabling him to carry out all of the severe demands of discipleship. We shall also see that the overcoming life is tied to the matter of future reward in the coming millennium.

Salvation by Grace and Reward According to Works

There are two great principles that govern our relationship with God and His righteous dealings with us. One principle is salvation by grace through faith, and the other principle is reward according to works. These principles are distinct and their respective elements should not be confused. Scores of Bible passages must be properly related to only one of these two principles or else theological confusion will result. (A comprehensive categorization of such passages will be included in this work.) The principle of salvation by grace through faith gives us the wonderful good news that God saves us from eternal perdition by His gift of grace in Christ, which we simply receive by faith (Jn. 3:16). Works are not involved. On the other hand, works are altogether integral to the other principle. All believers will be recompensed (rewarded) according to their works. This recompense, as we shall see from the Bible, can take on either a positive or a negative nature.

The Salvation of the Soul

All Christians have their human spirits saved for eternity at the moment of the new birth. The Bible, however, also speaks specifically of the salvation (preservation from loss) of a believer’s soul, which is indicated in Scripture to be a future matter connected with Jesus’ return. The future salvation of a believer’s soul has to do with the enjoyment of positive reward in the millennial Kingdom. On the other hand, Scripture reveals the possibility of loss of enjoyment by the believer’s soul during that coming age. The salvation of the soul is related to the principle of reward according to works.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

All believers will give an account to God of the lives they have lived as a Christian. We will explore in this book the many aspects and details of this judgment that will piece together the full picture of this future momentous event. Included in this examination is the complex issue of the forgiveness of sins. We will learn that all sins committed before we became Christians will not be dealt with at this judgment. Post conversion sins that have been confessed will also not be subject to Christ’s judgment at His Judgment Seat. Unconfessed sins , however, will be subject to a certain temporal condemnation there. Christ’s righteous judgment upon His believers will be according to our works and will impact us primarily during the coming millennium. Therefore, we can now see how all of these key truths are linked together. We Christians should be serious about living an overcoming life, because there will be a future judgment upon us according to the principle of reward (recompense) according to works (how we have lived our lives). This judgment will determine to what degree we will experience an enjoyment in our soul, or loss of enjoyment, during Jesus’ future 1,000 year reign.

For ease of reference Matthew’s account of the rich young ruler is presented below. Reference will be made to the other accounts in Mark and Luke at times because of variance in details. This story is recorded in Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31 and Luke 18:18-30.

And behold, one came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.

And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" And looking upon them Jesus said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?" And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first." (Matt. 19:16-30).



Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)