Who Can Enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
It’s in the cross of Calvary that we can see the love that God has for us.
4. You know you’ve entered the Kingdom of God when you have a desire to be obedient to God. (v. 2:15-17)
John wrote, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
There’s a strong warning here against the world and all its false ways, and it applies to all of the Lord’s people.
The world here is not the planet earth on which we live or the natural creation that’s all about us.
Rather it is the world system which man has built up in an effort to make himself happy without Christ.
It may include the world of culture, the world of entertainment, art, sports, and education—in short, it’s any area of life in which the Lord Jesus is not loved and welcomed.
We are plainly warned not to love the world or the things that are in the world, for the simple reason that love for the world is not compatible with love for God.
Just as the devil is opposed to Christ, and the flesh is hostile to the Spirit, so the world is antagonistic to God.
Desire, covetousness, and ambition are not of God, but of the world.
That is, they do not come from the Father, but instead, they find their source in the world.
Worldliness is the love for temporary things like money and the things money can buy.
However, the human heart can never find satisfaction with things.
Friends, I believe that the world is passing away like the verse says, and Jesus is preparing to return.
When a bank is going under, smart people do not deposit in it.
When the foundation of a building is shaky, intelligent builders don’t proceed.
Concentrating on this world is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
So, wise people do not live for a world that is passing away.
But the promise is that those who do the will of God will live forever.
It is the will of God that delivers us from the temptation of temporary things.
This, incidentally, was the favorite verse of D. L. Moody, the great evangelist, and it’s inscribed on his tombstone: “He who does the will of God abides forever.”
5. You know you have entered the Kingdom of God when you have a longing to fellowship with other believers in Christ (v. 2:19)
It says in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
This verse is talking about professing Christians who once associated with the apostles, but after awhile they left.
However, in the heart, they were not really one with true believers, and they showed this by leaving the fellowship.
They didn’t have that longing for fellowship that real believers have, so they left.
The teaching that we’re given here is that true faith always has the quality of permanence.
If a man has really been born again, he will go on for the Lord.
That does not mean that we are saved by enduring to the end, but rather that those who endure to the end are really saved.
6. You know you have entered the Kingdom of God when you have an unconditional love for the family of God. (v. 3:14-15)
The Bible tells us that “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love other Christians.
It is a remarkable fact that when a person is saved, he has an entirely different attitude toward Christians.
This is one of the ways he receives assurance of his salvation.
A person who does not love a true child of God may profess to be a Christian, but the Scripture says he abides in death.
He always was dead spiritually, and that is what he still is.
Love is not optional.
We are commanded to love one another.
There’s a characteristic of love; it’s that love requires an expression.
And we express our love for God by showing love to others.
Love is active, and it’s an act of the will.
We are commanded to do the acts of love.
However, if we shut our eyes to the needs of others, our love for God is called into question.
There is another characteristic of love; Love is also responsive.
We are able to love because we have been, and are loved by God.
This love is what causes us to respond lovingly to others.
7. You know you have entered the Kingdom of God when you are generous and give to others (v. 3:16-18).
We’re told in verses 16-18: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
Our Lord Jesus gave us the ultimate example of love when He laid down His life for us.
In one sense, love is invisible, but we can see the expressions of love.
It’s in the cross of Calvary that we can see the love that God has for us.
John draws the lesson from this that we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
This means that our lives should be a continual giving-out on behalf of other believers and that we should be ready to die for them, if necessary.
Most of us will never be required to die on behalf of others, but every one of us can show brotherly love by sharing our material things with those in need.
John distinctly says that a man is not a Christian who sees his brother in need and yet withholds from him what is necessary to satisfy that need.
This doesn’t justify indiscriminate giving to everyone because it is possible to harm a man by giving him money that he can use to buy something that’s not good for him like drugs and alcohol.
However, these verses do raise some very disturbing questions concerning the accumulation of wealth by Christians.
But we will talk about that another time.
Remember, we should not love in word only, but rather in deed and in truth.
In other words, we should express our love for others in actual deeds of kindness.
8. You know you have entered the Kingdom of God when you have a positive prayer life. (v. 3:21-22)
That’s what it’s talking about in these verses: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”
When your life is pleasing to God, you can expect Him to hear and answer your prayer.
Remember the early church for a moment.
Do you remember the time when persecution first broke out and the apostles were warned to stop preaching the name of Jesus?
They went back and reported on the persecution to the other Christians, and the group went to God in prayer.
They didn’t pray that the persecution would stop—they didn’t pray anything like that.
They began their prayer by saying, “Lord, thou art God.”
This is the thing which seems to be absent in most churches today.
Folks are not sure that our heavenly Father is God, that He does run this universe, and that He is in charge.
John says, “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
I hope that all eight of these characteristics are present in your life, because, if they are, you can be sure that you are in the Kingdom of God.