Week #2 of Kay Arthur’s Sermon on the Mount Bible study continues her examination of the kingdom of heaven, focusing on the coming glory of His kingdom, the realm of Christ’s rulership, and the fact that as believers we possess this kingdom as our very own.
As we read in the parable of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27, this young man was desperately searching for the “secret” to possessing the kingdom and inheriting eternal life. He basically kept asking Jesus the same question but not hearing Jesus’ answer: you cannot earn your way into the kingdom of heaven. The key to entering the kingdom is a fundamental change of heart and this is not easy…but all things are possible with God. As Arthur says in Day 3 of this week’s study, “Salvation comes only through a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.” (pg 33)
The difficulty we face as Christians living in the “not yet” before the physical kingdom of heaven comes to earth, is that we are living amongst nonbelievers in a fallen world. These people are depicted as the “tares” in the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13. As we grow up amongst each other in the “field” that is the world, there really appears to be no difference among us. That is, until harvest time comes. Then, as the true kingdom of heaven is ushered into this world, the wheat (believers in Christ) will be gathered into the kingdom while the tares (nonbelievers) will be gathered up and burned by fire.
Arthur has designed this study to not immediately delve into the Sermon on the Mount, but to instead focus on the larger theme of the kingdom of heaven to prepare readers for the intense description of the lifestyle required by believers as described by Jesus in Matthew 5-7. I appreciate this approach, and really feel that this preface to the actual Sermon will prepare our minds and hearts for the challenging teaching ahead.
Yes, the Sermon on the Mount contains vital and valuable teaching for how Christians should live their lives in this fallen world. But ultimately we are being — and will be — reminded that we are to live the righteous lifestyle exemplified by Christ because the God who has saved us is Holy. We are being prepared to someday hear these words: “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)