- What are the spiritual “things” that happen, or are happening when a person enters the kingdom?
- Who is qualified to enter the kingdom?
- What is the promise of God to Abraham, that all people throughout history would be his children, and they are all qualified to enter (there is some qualification).
Faith – John 3, 5, 8 – Jesus words here focus on the necessity of believing that Jesus is the son of God. He is the source of life, he is the one who can deliver us from condemnation and death. It is only those who fear and believe that can experience eternal life. Those who do not believe will “die in their sins,” Jesus says.
Repentance – the turning of the mind and heart towards God, away from all of the “other things” that we’ve looked to and depended on in our lives up to this point. Matthew 3:1-2 – John the Baptist and Jesus both preached that people should “repent, and believe, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Acts 2:38, repent and be baptized. Repentance is tied to conversion and conversion is impossible without it. Repentance is impossible apart from humility.
Humility – The importance of humility is very evident in the story of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18. The publican shows us exactly what humility is, he couldn’t even bring himself to look up. “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” It is easy to imagine that we are very humble, but it is also easy at times to feel some great need to feel ourselves better than others and to put others down.
How does one get Faith, Repentance, and Humility? God has to be working in our lives.
Regeneration – Titus 3:5-8 – The word regeneration means literally, “born again.” It is the process of receiving a new and changed heart. This idea is touched on in many other places in the New Testament. This is the rebirth that Jesus was describing to Nicodemus. This is a work of God in our hearts, it is only possible through and in Him.
Preaching of the Word – Many passages in the New Testament talk about preaching more than we normally talk about. It is spoken of in the context in which faith in Jesus Christ is birthed. It is also the context in which regeneration happens. There may be exceptions, but this is generally how it happens. Luke 8 talks about the fact that the soil that the Word falls into, and how it is prepared, will make the difference for how affective the word can be as it is planted.
What did they preach? – Not only was repentance preached, but they also proclaimed that the promise that God made to Abraham (that in Abrahams seed the entire world would be blessed) was fulfilled in Jesus. Acts 3:19 – The Jewish reaction, in general to any suggestion that Jesus dead and resurrection fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham was vehemently denied.
The way to enter into the kingdom.
- Reception of the Holy Spirit
A major theme of the preaching in the early church was that Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham.
There was a resistance from a lot of the Jews that Gentiles could become a part of the family of God, without following the law of Moses.
In some respects, becoming a follower of believer isn’t as complicated as we some times make it seem. It isn’t a like a math problem that requires special knowledge. It isn’t a science that requires every step to be done perfectly correctly.
Jesus way to the kingdom could be summarized something like this – “I am the way, the truth, and the life, trust me to be what you can’t be for yourself.” Jesus is saying that He is what we need.
Jesus is the one who is “making people to be born again.” This is a miracle, something that we cannot explain.
The things that follow conversion cannot happen apart from God. God must be at work within us.
Ephesians 2 – The scripture is clear that the Kingdom of God is open to all people. It is made up of all kinds of people from all over the world.
We should celebrate, glorify and worship Jesus for dying, rising and working in us to bring us into an interactive relationship with him.