Christ's Kingdom and the Law

Christ's Kingdom and the Law

Scripture: Jeremiah 31:33, Matthew 4:8-9, 1 Peter 2:11
Date: 06/28/2014  Lesson: 13
"This week we'll look at the question of God's eternal kingdom and the role of the law in relation to it."
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Welcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church coming to you from Sacramento, the capital city of California. And we are just glad that you are tuning in whether you are watching live on our web site at 'saccentral.org', listening on the radio or joining us on various television networks, we are just so excited to have you. We know that you love to sing with us and you also love to open up God's Word and study with us as well. Today is no exception. I hope you are ready to sing because we are.

We've been warming up our voices and we are ready to praise the Lord with our first request, ''tis so sweet to trust in Jesus' - #524 - so if you have a hymnal at home, pull it out and join with us. This is a request from kurt in dominica, emily rose in germany, and prethy in india - and there was a long list of more people wanting to sing this song with us. So we're going to sing the first, second and fourth stanzas. Join with us - 'tis so sweet to trust in Jesus'. We have a couple more minutes so we're going to jump down to #108, which is an absolute favorite and the requests that come in - I can't tell you how many hundreds of people have requested #108 over the years.

So let's sing 'amazing grace' - darco in iceland - we don't get many requests from iceland, that's exciting, eric in guatemala and susan in saudi arabia and about a hundred other people. We are going to do this - we are going to do the first, second, fourth, and fifth stanzas because this is a quick one. #108 - Here we go - 'amazing grace'. Father in Heaven, it is because of your amazing grace that we are here. And we praise you and we thank you for the assurance that we have eternal life because of your gift - coming to this world as a sacrifice and your grace.

I pray that you'll be with us as we open up Your Word and we study together. Be with our extended family around the world and those here and we just thank you so much for each one and we look forward to the day when we can have a big central study hour reunion on the streets of gold and sing about your amazing grace. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by pastor chris buttery. He is the senior pastor here at Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church.

What a blessing to be together to study God's Word and we want to certainly welcome those who are joining us online and viewing us on tv wherever you might be. And this morning we want to let you know - those that are viewing within u.s. Territories - we have a free offer and it's the little booklet written by doug Batchelor, 'assurance: justification made simple' - a very important topic that a lot of people misunderstand and it's easily explained right here in this little book. It is offer #727 and what you want to do is call in to -866-788-3966 or -866-study-more. Well, we have come to the close of our quarter - this is it, isn't it? Really.

This is the last lesson and it has been a good, good quarter. They've all been good, haven't they? This one, about God's law, has been terrific, especially - it's needed - especially in an age of lawlessness we need to know about God's law and we need to know about its role - its function in our lives and what purpose it serves and we've been learning that throughout the last 13 weeks together and today is lesson #13, of course, 'Christ's kingdom and the law'. And so we trust that you're there and you have opened up your lesson with me as we are going to study together. We want to look at the memory verse here, this is a very pertinent and important verse and - because it has to do with the new covenant and we are new covenant Christians and so this promise is then for us today and this is what it says - it says - this is Jeremiah 31, verse 33, "but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." That's right. Powerful promise, isn't it? That's one we ought to memorize.

It is a memory text, after all. God says he'll put his law in our minds and write them in our hearts. That's the new covenant promise. We're going to talk a little bit more about that here toward the end of our class here this morning as we review our lesson. I'm going to borrow the illustration that was used here as a start of the lesson regarding steve jobs.

Of course, he was the founder of apple. He died in 2011 and years earlier, after a bout with cancer, he was said to have said that death was the single best invention of life. I beg to differ and I think most of you, if not all of you here this morning would beg to differ as well. He considered it to be the best invention because death's inevitability forced people to achieve the best they can here. Now, I'm not sure that that would be the best motivator for giving our best and doing the best we possibly could.

The very thing that probably should - the very thing that causes a person to review their mortality - the very thing that causes a person to recognize that life is brief ought not be the thing that motivates us, per se, to give this short span of life the very best we can. For all that steve jobs did, and I'm a big apple fan - I like my apples - sorry for those who use pcs, but I like my apples - steve jobs did a good thing. All the things that he invented and his team invented though, what are they in light of eternity? In light of endless years of exploration and discovery? And these things are big, don't get me wrong, but there's an eternity beyond so these things pale into insignificance, really. Not too long ago I read an interesting article and the article was about dr. Stephen hawking - he's the world-renown theoretical physicist - and in an article, hawking said that - in this article he said that there was no room for heaven in his vision of the cosmos.

He didn't believe in heaven - didn't believe in an eternity - life beyond the grave - he just didn't believe any of that. In the same article, it was hawking that said, interestingly, he bemoaned - this is what he said, he said, "I'm in no hurry to die." Here's the reason why - "I'm in no hurry to die" - he says - "I have so much I want to do first." "I'm in no hurry to die." Stephen hawking - no life beyond the grave. No eternity. This is all you get. I'm in no hurry to die because there's so much that I want to do.

Dr. Hawking's desire to live longer - to accomplish more - brings to light a great truth that no one really wants to die - that we desire to live for eternity if we could and that's what the Bible presents to us. It was c.s. Lewis who said that for every human desire there is a corresponding reality in nature. For example, we get thirsty because there is a such a thing as water.

He said we crave physical intimacy because there's such a thing as sex. He said the reason we desire immortality - eternity - might just be because it actually exists and certainly it does. If we have faith in the Scriptures and the holy word of God, we've got every good reason to believe that there is a heaven. There is an eternity. God's kingdom will be established here on the earth.

There is more than this life has to offer, amen? There is much more than this life has to offer. There is eternity. Christ is going to establish his kingdom and the question that we want to discover here this morning is what role does the law have with regard to Christ's kingdom? That's really the question we'll be asking here this morning. The key thought, probably, to this study would be God will establish a new and eternal world where 1) his law written in the minds and hearts of the saved will govern their lives, govern their interactions and 2) the results of the violation of the law of God will no longer exist - that is death - hallelujah. Each of us are called to accept this offer of citizenship into God's eternal kingdom.

And so let's go over to Sunday's lesson here and let's launch in. And we're going to be taking a look at the Kingdom of God. Let's talk about this here for just a few moments - the Kingdom of God. What has been the prayer of God's people for centuries? It's the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, is it not? Thy kingdom what? Come - that's been the prayer of God's people - thy kingdom come - and we reiterate the words that the dying thief said on the cross to his Lord - to our Lord - 'remember me when you come in your kingdom.' Isn't that our desire? Isn't that our prayer? It has been our prayer and continues to be. What we realize when we pray this prayer and when we're asking God to remember us when he comes in his kingdom, is that God's kingdom hasn't yet come.

It is still yet to come. This is not - there's no kingdom here. God doesn't have a kingdom on earth yet. Now, in a special sense, the church is his kingdom if we could say it that way, but as far as God's eternal everlasting kingdom being established, it hasn't come. And we're reminded of that every time we pray 'thy kingdom come.

' So in the meantime, we now - we live, really, in enemy territory. We're born and raised in a land - in a world - in a country that is the enemy's. What happened? We remember back there in Genesis, adam had dominion. God gave him that. It was a gift.

'Subdue the land - you have dominion over the land, the animals, the fish, the birds, etc. You have dominion. You are the ruler of this world. I'm entrusting all that I've made - all that's mine - into your hands.' Adam was given dominion and it was lost. Why was it lost? Because of sin.

That's right. Because of disobedience - that's exactly right. They disobeyed God's express command. They ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And so, because of disobedience, their dominion, their rulership, was lost and, in essence, satan, the master deceiver, beguiled the pair - ended up claiming rulership of this world.

You remember reading there in job chapter 1, The Sons of God come to meet with God, the Bible says, and satan shows up and the Lord asks him, 'well, where are you coming from?' It's not as though the Lord doesn't know, but he's questioning his right to be there. And he says, 'I've come from roaming to and fro on the earth.' A statement of defiance - 'I'm the owner. I'm the ruler. I'm the one who has everyone under my control' and, of course, God says, 'have you considered my servant job? It's not all yours. There are some that still don't serve you.

' But there satan appears to God - appears before God - appears as a representative of this earth. A couple of verses we want to look at here, just to talk about being in enemy territory here for just a little bit here. Someone has got John 12:31 for me here this morning. John 12:31 - okay, thank you. And let's take a look at a couple other verses here: 2 Corinthians chapter 4 and verse - I'm going to look at a few verses here before we read John :31.

Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 4 - notice what the Bible says - talking about the devil - talking about the enemy of this world. Corinthians 4, verse 4 - it says, "in whom the" - what friends? - "The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." The Bible writer calls the devil the what? The God of what? The God of this world - God of this world in the sense that he wants dominion. God in the sense that he rules in the hearts of many. God of this world in the sense that he has limited control over earth's elements - fire and wind storm, etc. Now, it's limited.

God only permits him to have so much access - so much power. God is, ultimately, the ruler of all, but he's given these things, you see - the God of this world, in the sense that he wants dominion, that he rules in the hearts of individuals and that he has limited control over earth's elements. Ephesians chapter 2, and verse 2 - just jump over there with me real quick - Ephesians 2 and verse 2 - it tells us, again talking about the enemy - it says, "wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air." Alright, and we want to look at John 12:31 at this time. "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out." Okay. So Jesus called - Jesus called the devil 'the ruler of this world' - in the King James he is the 'prince of this world.

' Now, understand, that he's merely a prince. He's not a crown prince. You know what a crown prince is? A crown prince is one who is heir - rightful heir to the throne when the King or the queen die, the crown prince has the right to that throne. The devil is just a prince. He's not the crown prince.

He is not heir to the throne, instead he wants to usurp and take God's throne by force - by coercion - by deception. He is not the crown prince. He is not heir to the throne. He is prince in this world, not by right. He rules as a usurper.

He is, in essence, a de facto ruler. That's really what the devil is here in this world. Now, the devil claims rulership, but what did Jesus do? Jesus came to do what? Claim the Kingdom back. Take the Kingdom back as rightfully his. Matthew chapter 4 - just jump over there with me, as well - Matthew chapter 4 - we're going to flip around the Scriptures here a little bit - Matthew chapter 4, verses 8 and 9.

We remember the story - Jesus has been fasting in the wilderness for 40 days. That's a long time. I remember doing 40-hour famines back in australia. I understand you do 30-hour famines - we do 30-hour famines here in America, is that right? 40 Hours in australia, 30 hours here in America - I'm not sure what that means but some of us can't fast for four hours or 40 minutes, but Jesus fasted for 40 days and at the end of those 40 days the devil came to him tempting him - three massive temptations. The third one, notice what he said - "again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the Kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, 'all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

'" So the devil shows - we don't know how exactly he did this - takes him to a high place - Christ to a high place - he gives him a panorama of the Kingdoms of the world and no doubt what Jesus saw was bright and brilliant and beautiful - alluring - and very, very inviting and the devil says, 'all these things I'm going to give you. All these things' - as if the devil owned them. That's stolen property. They were stolen property and - because Christ is really the true ruler. But you can - if you just pause for a moment and consider the challenge - the massive temptation that Jesus must have gone through.

Here he had come to redeem - reclaim - the Kingdom back from the hand of the usurper. And in order to do that Jesus needed to do what? Needed to die for the sins of the world. He needed to do that. He needed to live a life of perfect obedience to The Father. And if he had succumbed to this temptation - to this allurement - then all would have been lost.

He would have disobeyed the father's will, worshiped someone other than the true God and all would have been lost. The plan of salvation would have been dissolved right there and then. We would be dead in our sins. That was it. And that didn't happen.

Thank the Lord for that. Jesus was victorious and is forever, amen? Yeah, he certainly is. The devil said, 'here are all the things I want to give you.' - Stolen property - but Jesus said, 'no, no, no. Worship only God. Him only shall thou serve.

' And it was strike three and the devil certainly was out of there. So here we are in enemy territory and yet Christ has reclaimed the Kingdom and he offers it and he invites us to be citizens of that kingdom. Can we be sure that Christ's kingdom will come? Can we be sure? The prayer is 'your kingdom come' - when we say that we're expressing faith in the promise and the assurance that the kingdom will be established. You remember over there in Daniel chapter 2 and verse 7, Nebuchadnezzar, in Daniel 2, had this dream of this great image - couldn't remember it. Prophet of God revealed the dream to the pagan monarch - Babylonian monarch - and gave him the interpretation and the interpretation, of course, was that that massive statue with all the different metals represented a delineation of nations starting with Babylon, moving through medo-persia, greece, rome, and then the break-up of the roman empire.

And when you consider that prophecy - when you consider Daniel 7, it's a parallel prophecy. It's a repeating of Daniel chapter 2. You've got the lion, the bear, the four-headed leopard, this non-discript beast, ten horns, little horn power, that happened exactly like God had said - history unfolded - Babylon, medo-persia, greece, rome, the break-up of the roman empire, the rise of the little horn power, the papacy. All of these things happened in succession just as God said. What's the next thing to happen? Go over to Daniel chapter 2 and we'll look at verses 44 and 45, Daniel 2:44 and 45.

I think Daniel 2 - I mean, certainly there's a foundational prophecy in it and it helps you understand all the great prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, but the prophecy of Daniel 2 - if a person is doubting the Word of God or isn't sure they can trust the Word of God, Daniel 2 - the prophecy of Daniel 2 - should encourage a person to reconsider the authenticity, the authority of the Word of God - that the Word of God is truly inspired, amen. I mean, it's an amazing prophecy. Now, we probably know it too well to be impressed by it sometimes. But we ought to be impressed by it. Here, back in the sixth century bc, God delineated over ,000 years of history has happened exactly as he said.

Consider in Daniel 2 the feet of iron and clay and they were - they were not to adhere to one another. They weren't to stick or cleave to one another. All the effort that despots and diplomats have made to try to reunite europe - the old - to bring it back to the old roman - the holy roman empire have failed. Hitler and napoleon and charles the v and others have tried and failed. Diplomats - some have suggested it was george Washington that suggested - he looked at europe and he said it should become the United States of europe.

And there are people still today trying to make it happen. But all the unrest and the disunity speaks to the fulfillment of the very prophecy here in Daniel chapter 2. It continues to be fulfilled right before our very eyes. I mean, it was massive - massive stuff. We should have confidence in the Word of God.

As those things took place, what's the next great event to happen according to Daniel chapter 2 and verses 44 and 45? It says, "and in the days of these Kings shall the God of heaven" - what? - "Set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for" - how long? - "It shall stand forever." We can be sure that Christ's kingdom will come as he said Babylon will be the world power, then medo-persia will conquer and be the next one and greece and rome will be divided and in the days of those Kings God will set up his kingdom. You can believe that as surely as the previous has been fulfilled, amen? This is wonderful, exciting stuff. So we can be sure that Christ's kingdom will come. Let's go over to Monday's lesson. Let's talk about being citizens of that kingdom.

Citizens - being a citizen is a privilege, is it not? Yeah, being a citizen of a country is a privilege and if you want to - if you're a citizen of a certain country and you want to become a citizen of another country, it's unlikely that you can have dual citizenship. But there are a lot of countries that you can be part of whereby you can have dual citizenship. My children - we lived in Canada for seven years and they were all born in toronto, Canada and so by that virtue they all became canadian. So they have canadian birth certificates. And their mother is American and I'm australian and we're a mess.

There's no doubt about it, but they were born there and they have - and their mother's American so they are, by virtue of that fact, they are American citizens. So they have dual citizenship. And I know you're wondering, 'do they have australian citizenship?' Not by virtue of me being father. We've got to apply for them to have australian citizenship. You can even have tri-citizenship - carry only two passports, but you can have several citizenships.

I think that's an advantage for some - having dual citizenship, but when it comes to being a citizen of God's kingdom, there's no such thing as dual citizenship. It doesn't happen - it can't happen in this Great Controversy. You can only either belong to the Kingdom of God or you can choose to belong to the Kingdom of the world. It's an either/or proposition, you understand. Let's look at a few verses here.

Someone's got Matthew 12:30 for us this morning - Matthew 12:30 - okay, over there. Very good. Let's look at a couple of verses. Peter chapter 2, verse 11 - Peter chapter 2, verse 11. It says, "dearly beloved, I beseech you as" - two words there - "strangers and" - what? Pilgrims - "I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims" - strangers - that word could be interpreted as 'alien' - I beseech you as alien - what is an alien? Yeah, a non-citizen.

I may - I personally am a resident alien. Don't be scared. Don't be frightened. I don't look strange or weird, but I'm a resident alien, you see. And because I don't - I'm not a citizen yet here, of the United States, you see.

And if you went to australia or you went to any other country and you lived there - you became a resident - you'd be an alien as well because you're not a citizen there. So stranger, alien - one who doesn't enjoy the rights of citizenship and pilgrims. They are sojourners or they are exiles. They're just there temporarily. So Peter says here in 1 Peter 2, verse 11, "I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;" we can compare that with Hebrews 11, verse 13 - Paul writing to the Hebrew Christians - basically he says the same thing.

He's suggesting there that folk wander through this world as pilgrims and strangers. They were looking for the better country. They didn't receive the promise but they anticipated it. They reached out by faith to receive it. But they were pilgrims and they were strangers, you see.

And then Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 12. Let's look at that one. Ephesians 2 and verse 12 - Paul says, "that at that time ye were without Christ," - now he's - we're looking at it from another perspective. As Christians - as followers of Christ - we're pilgrims and strangers in this world passing through, is what he - is what the writer is saying. We are not citizens of this world, per se, if we are citizens of the Kingdom of God.

But he's talking, now, about something else, "that at that time" - verse 12 - "ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." So a person who is without Christ, who has not expressed faith in Christ, doesn't have Christ living in their heart or their lives is considered by God an alien - an alien - someone without - outside of Christ. Now, don't get me wrong, I mean, God loves all. We are all his children whether you have faith in him or not. He loves us all the same, but you are considered an alien, not part of the commonwealth of Israel or of the Kingdom of heaven. Very interesting.

Okay, Matthew 12, verse 30 - Matthew 12, verse 30. "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." So Jesus said he that is not with me is what? Against me. This is an either/or proposition. There's no other way to describe that. You remember in Deuteronomy, God outlined the blessings and the curses for his people.

'If you obey me, here are the blessings. If you disobey me there's going to be curses. Things aren't going to go well for you at all.' It's an either/or proposition. We are either, friends, we are either a patriot for the Kingdom of heaven or we are a traitor. That's what Jesus is saying.

We're either a patriot or we are a traitor. Think about the revolutionary war and all the issues going on - the patriots. The patriots wanted freedom. They wanted to come out from that - the yoke of that taxation without representation. They wanted to be outside of that.

They were patriots. They wanted freedom here in this country, you see. Some turned traitor. Some turned traitor. Someone wrote, 'to be almost but not wholly with Christ is to be not almost, but wholly against him.

' And that's what Jesus is suggesting here. Now, when you're a citizen of God's kingdom - when you're a citizen of a country you've got to obey their laws, right? Even if you're a resident alien you've got to obey their laws but when you're a citizen you've got to obey their laws. When I came from australia here to America I - you all drive on the wrong side of the road, which is the left side. No, the right side, we drove on the left side and - which was the right side, as a matter of fact, and so you've got to obey the laws. If you don't, you're going to get yourself into trouble.

I could get myself into trouble if I decided I was going to drive on the other side of the road. We've got to obey. There are laws - there are laws within a country that need to be obeyed and it's the same with God's kingdom. There are laws that govern the kingdom that also need to be obeyed by grace through faith, you see. As citizens of God's kingdom, living in the world, there is the possibility - the very strong possibility that we could look different and not fit in to the citizenship of the world.

Christianity is a culture in and of itself, is it not? Yeah, it truly is. If we are citizens of the kingdom of God, we're not going to look the same as others, per se. Tourists always stand out. When I came here, you know, and I opened my mouth for the first time, I mean, everyone wanted to know, 'where are you from? What country do you reside?' As soon as I opened my mouth. What I said, how I said things, how I - my colloquialisms and different things were different when I came here.

You travel to another country and, you know, you don't speak the language, you're going to stand out, you know? You spot the tourists as well. They've got their cameras around - taking a camera around their neck - taking the photos and so on. We are foreigners, so to speak, are we not? In enemy territory - we're foreigners here in this world and how do we - how should we - how do we stand out as foreigners, as strangers and pilgrims in this world? How do we stand out? I think it has a lot to do with God's law, does it not? Revelation 14, verse 12 - just turn over there with me - Revelation 14 and verse 12. Certainly - certainly, you know, when I came here, opened my mouth, 'okay, you're from another country.' Would people be able to tell a Christian by the way we talk? And the language we use - or the language we don't use? Sure, they ought to, right? Yeah. Yeah, I mean, God's people aren't walking around with cameras around their necks either, but we are passing through.

This is not our - bear with me - this is not our final destination. There is heaven, of course, there for a thousand years. Ultimately we come back here recreated - new earth. God's going to purge the earth with fire, recreate it before our very eyes, and the meek shall inherit the earth. So, yes, this will become our final destination.

We're passing through here, though, at this point. How do pilgrims and strangers look different in the world? Revelation 14, verse 12 - it says, "here is the patience of the saints: here are they that" - what? - "Keep the commandments of God," - that's right - "and the faith of Jesus." You can't keep the commandments without faith in Jesus. You've got the cart before the horse. You express faith in Christ, Christ comes into your heart, and through the miracle working power of the Holy Spirit, he writes his law in your heart and in your mind. So God's people - pilgrims and strangers wandering through this land as citizens of God's kingdom, keep God's law.

And that's - by doing so, you're going to stand out. Isn't that true? We live in a - we live in a lawless society and if we kept the law - not just the letter, but the very spirit, as well, of the law - and every detail, Jesus said, 'look, if you - you've heard it said of old that if you kill someone you've broken the commandment. But I say that if you hate someone in your heart you're a murderer. You've heard it of old about the seventh commandment - 'thou shalt not commit adultery,' but if you lust after the opposite sex you've committed adultery already in your heart. So the very extent - if we're keeping it in our hearts and practically in our lives, are we going to stand out? Sure.

Out of the Ten Commandments, what's the commandment that is a - is the hallmark of the commandments - not the most important, but the one that signifies that you - that you are - that I am - a part of God's kingdom? Which one do you suppose? The fourth, yeah. Ezekiel 20:12 and 20:20 tell us that it is a sign that - between us and God - that he is our God - that he sanctifies us - that he makes us holy. So the Sabbath - keeping the Sabbath certainly causes you to stand out. Walking out of your home all dressed up Saturday morning - your neighbors are wondering, 'where on earth are they going? A black book under their arm, yes, the black book - the Bible - under their arm. You're going to stand out a little bit.

Keeping God's law in every respect. It's going to cause you to stand out in this world. Let's move over to Tuesday's lesson and let's talk about faith and law. Because while God offers an eternity - offers individuals to accept his offers into his kingdom - to be citizens of his kingdom, there are going to be many, many individuals that refuse that offer. They're not going to be citizens of God's kingdom.

And in a couple of verses we're going to look at - 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verses 9 through 11, we discover those who will be left out of God's kingdom. Those who won't make it into eternity versus those who do. Now, we know that God's kingdom is based on love, is it not? And obedience to God is motivated by what? By the same. By love. That's exactly right.

Love rules in God's kingdom and in order to love you've got to be able to freely choose to love, isn't that right? Yes, that's right. And we choose to love and we respond to the love of God. The Bible says that we love God because he first loved us. And he loves us - we respond to that love and we open our hearts to that love and we let that love transform and change us and then the eternal kingdom is promised us, you see. But there are those who don't respond to that love who either ignore it or they push it away or they refuse it or reject it.

And can God take them into his kingdom? Those who do not accept that law of love - the law of unselfish sacrifice. That's really what love is, is it not? Love is unselfish sacrifice. Oftentimes you hear folks say that the opposite of love is hate. That's not true. The opposite of love is selfishness.

True love is unselfish: John :16, "for God so loved the world that he" - what? "Gave." He gave his son, that's right. It's unselfish - that's what love is, unselfish sacrifice, you see. And those who refuse to accept that self-sacrificing love into their lives will not be fitted for heaven - for God's kingdom - which is ruled by self-sacrificing love. It would be a little awkward, would it not? If you've lived a selfish life here and God were to take you there and you just wouldn't fit in if you weren't used to serving - if you weren't used to sacrificing and you weren't used to living for Jesus when everyone around you is. So perhaps in God's mercy he shuts people out because it would be more like hell to them than heaven.

Let's talk a little bit about that - that's love and justice. Love rules God's kingdom, justice is seen in - love is seen and justice is seen in refusing certain individuals into the Kingdom of heaven for the reasons I've stated. Corinthians 6:9 through 11 - it says, "know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God?" - That's opposed to the righteous. The righteous are those who obey and keep God's law through grace, by faith, of course. But "the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Be not deceived:" - and that's a very important statement to remember for each one of us. Don't be deceived by this. Don't think that God is too loving to prevent people into his kingdom. Don't be deceived by that. There are people who will not be allowed in.

"Neither fornicators, idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate," - that would mean delicate or tender which, in this context of idolatry and adultery and fornication would refer to homosexuality - "nor abusers of themselves with mankind," - the same thing - "nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers," - that would be slanderers - "nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." So Paul is very clear who will be shut out of the Kingdom of heaven. Why? Why? Because they refused to give those things up, did they not? They refused to embrace God's law and his love and his will and his way. So would it be a good thing - a just - would it be good for a just God to take people to heaven, bring them into his eternal kingdom, if they would never fit in because they refuse to give these lifestyle practices - thought processes up? It wouldn't be very fair for God to do that, would it? It goes on to say, in verse 11, "and such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." That's interesting. Here are folk who are going to be in heaven who are justified. Now in Romans 3:28, Paul said that you are justified apart from the deeds of the law.

So here are folk who are there - are justified - but they're also keeping God's law. So justification and obedience are not two diametrically opposed ideas here, not at all. Justification leads us to - sanctification leads us to obedience, you see. Then in Revelation chapter 22, verses 14 and 15 - I'll just read this for us. It says, "blessed are they that do his commandments," - although they're justified, they do his commandments - "that they may have right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

" Now, in verse 15 it goes on to say those that won't be in - they - "for without are dogs." Now that's just a way of saying, 'a vile or a shameless person. "Sorcerers, and whoremongers," fornicators or harlots, "and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." They're going to be shut out. Why? Is it that God is being arbitrary? No, it's because God is being loving and fair and saying, 'okay, I presented to you what my kingdom would be like. I presented to you my grace. I gave to you my son and all you needed to do was open your heart and receive him and let him transform you from the inside out.

That's all you needed to do. And I will usher you in to my eternal kingdom, but you refused or you neglected the work or whatever. You put if off and because you're not ready to enter in to that holy, unselfish atmosphere, out of loving kindness I'm going to give you what you asked for. Because God's a gentleman and he gives people what they want. He gives people what they ask for.

In the powerful little book 'steps to Christ' - that little devotional about how to come and stay with Christ that's been translated in over a hundred different languages. On page 18 it says, 'the sinner could not be happy in God's presence. He would shrink from the companionship of holy beings. Could he be permitted to enter heaven, it would have no joy for him. the Spirit of unselfish love that reigns there - every heart responding to the heart of infinite love would touch no answering chord in his soul.

His thoughts, his interests, his motives would be alien to those that actuate the sinless dwellers there." So God keeps them out for their own sake and their own sanity. Let's go over to Wednesday's lesson. Let's talk about the everlasting kingdom. The everlasting kingdom - the everlasting kingdom. We understand that God created a perfect world.

Sin, of course, marred God's perfect plan and Jesus, thank the Lord, that Jesus came to restore the perfection - the original perfection of this world and of mankind and establish his kingdom where love reigns supreme. Now for love to reign, one must choose to love and to choose, one must be a free moral agent to do so, isn't that right? Sure. So freedom. The Bible says that God's kingdom is going to be an everlasting kingdom, which begs the question: 'could evil rise again? Maybe it doesn't even beg the question - if it's an everlasting kingdom the answer's already there. Will sin ever rise? Will evil ever rise again? No, if it's everlasting then obviously not.

But if we are taking our brains with us to heaven and we are going to remain free moral agents, isn't there a chance, isn't there a risk that sin might rise - raise its ugly head again? There is that chance. But will it happen? No. The Bible talks about an everlasting kingdom - John 3:16, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have what? Everlasting life, that's right. Revelation 21:4 talks about the end of pain, sorrow and death. Death is a consequence, a result of sin, which says sin won't be there.

Daniel 7:27 talks about an everlasting kingdom - we read that in Daniel 2 as well. This kingdom is everlasting. You can't wrap your mind around everlasting - it's quite hard. Here are some synonyms: eternal; endless; never-ending; perpetual; undying; abiding; enduring; infinite; boundless; timeless. That's everlasting.

How is it possible that sin will never rise - raise its ugly head again? Jeremiah 31:33 - who's got that for us? Okay, right over here. Jeremiah 31:33. I think the answer is here. This goes back to our memory text here for our lesson. Jeremiah 31 and verse 33.

I'd like to submit to us here this morning that love has removed all possibilities that sin would rise again. Love. "'But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' says the Lord: 'I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.'" So the law is in the mind and in the heart, right? You see, love has removed all possibilities that sin will rise again. The Gospel - the Gospel of grace - the Gospel of Jesus Christ - has been so effective to the extent that in the believer's life, they would rather die than to sin against their God. That's the extent to which the Gospel gets ahold of a person.

It causes us to hate the things we used to love and love the things we used to hate. That's the miracle of grace right there that was read for us in Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 33. God says he will write his law in our minds and in our hearts insomuch that doing God's will just becomes a natural thing for us and we don't want to sin again and we don't want to go back to the way it has been because of the great cost of sin. And what was the cost of sin? Calvary. Jesus Christ.

Exactly. And if we've spent time looking at calvary and looking at Jesus, we'll recognize that sin is nothing to play with. It crucified The Son of God, our best friend. And so the Gospel has worked to the extent that we are willing to do God's will and we'd do it even - we'd rather die than to not do God's will. That's how far-reaching the Gospel is.

The Gospel must penetrate our lives in order to be fitted for the Kingdom of heaven. The last day - we made it - Thursday - here it is. Thursday's lesson: 'the law in the Kingdom' - the law in the Kingdom. Someone said, 'have the courage to live - anyone can die.' Have the courage to live - anyone can die. Speaking to the fact of the inevitability of death.

Death has been the most persistent out of all the harsh consequences of sin. Satan can be resisted. Sin can be overcome. But who, apart from Enoch and Elijah, can escape the possibility of death? We're all subject to it, aren't we? The good news is that death will be destroyed. Who's got 1 Corinthians 15:26 for us? Right down here.

Corinthians 15:26. Let me read Revelation chapter and verse 14 - one day death is going to be destroyed. And there should be an 'amen' for that here this morning - a bigger 'amen' than that. Revelation 20, verse 14. The Bible calls death an enemy.

Is it not an enemy? Sure it is. It separates loved ones. It causes pain and grief and heartache and some people here today, their life has never been the same since someone they loved passed away. Death is an enemy. And one day, though, the Bible says that death is going to be destroyed.

That is good news. Yeah, Revelation 20, verse 14, "and death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." That's it. Going to be all said and done. Corinthians 15 and verse 26.

"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Amen. The enemy, death, is going to be destroyed. So here's the question: 'will God's law be needed in his kingdom? Here's the rationale: death comes because of sin and sin exists because there's a law. Sin exists because there's a law. If death is destroyed will there be any use for the law of God in heaven? It's not a trick question - yes! Where is the law? In our hearts and minds.

That's exactly right. It's written there. It is written there. The law existed in heaven even before sin entered in heaven. And the fact that sin entered heaven tells us that there was a law in heaven.

You know there's sin - you know it's sin because the law tells you that that thing is wrong. So when lucifer rebelled in heaven he rebelled - we know he rebelled - we know there was a law because he rebelled and because he sinned. So there was a law that existed in heaven even before. As a matter of fact in that beautiful little book 'thoughts from the mount of blessing' on page 108 it says, 'but in heaven service is not rendered in the spirit of legality. When satan rebelled against the law of jehovah the thought that there was a law came to the angels almost as an awakening to something unthought of.

In their ministry the angels are not his servants but his sons. There's perfect unity between them and their creator. Obedience is not, to them, drudgery, love for God makes their service a joy. And so, you know, you love your wife. You love your husband, you just do what they ask you to do.

Your children - they love you - they do what you ask them to do. I'm not treating my children well because there's a law in the state that says 'don't do harm to your children or we're going to come after you and get you and throw you in the slammer.' I'm doing the best by my children why? Because there's a law written in my heart that's a law of love. That's exactly right. And so when we get to heaven - when we enter God's kingdom - before we get to God's kingdom we're going to be doing his will. We're going to love to do his will and it will just continue on throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.

And what's the purpose of the law? What is the purpose of the law in God's kingdom? To govern the life of the saved as it is written in the mind and in the heart. That's all - as it does for us now. That's the Gospel. That's the good news. Christ's transforming grace, you see.

Friends, there's nothing wrong with God's law. Nothing whatsoever. The problem is with you and with me - with you and with me. So let's allow God to work the miracle of inscribing that precious, powerful, holy, perfect, just law -in our hearts and in our minds so that with king David, we can say as he said in psalm 40, verse 8, "I delight to do thy will, o my God, yea, thy law is within my heart." Man, may that be our experience, amen? Amen. Well, for those tuning in, I want to remind you to call in and get your free offer.

It's offer #727 - 'assurance: justification made simple'. Call in to 1-866-788-3966 or -866-study-more. We're so glad you joined us today and God bless you. Have you ever wished you could do more to lead someone to Jesus? Have you ever felt the need for revival in your own life? Well afcoe is the place for you. The Amazing Facts center of evangelism has incredible training opportunities for anyone who wants to become a dynamic and effective soul winner.

This coming fall, Amazing Facts will be conducting an industrial-strength afcoe evangelism training program in albuquerque, New Mexico. From August 14th to November rd we're going to cover a broad range of topics including personal evangelism, public evangelism, preaching, Bible doctrines, prophetic studies and much more. Students will also receive hands-on experience in giving Bible studies, health ministry training and doing community outreach in conducting a city- wide net evangelistic seminar. Go to our website - 'afcoe.com' - or call us at (916) 209-7249. Did you know that Noah was present at the birth of Abraham? Okay, maybe he wasn't in the room, but he was alive and probably telling stories about his floating zoo.

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