Entering the Kingdom of God

Yeshua taught his disciples: “Do God’s will, don’t just say you believe in me.”

Yeshua taught his disciples: “Do God’s will, don’t just say you believe in me.”

Matthew 7:21: ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

As Yeshua is concluding his sermon on the mount, he provides a clear qualifier for those who would be considered God’s children, those who would be populating the kingdom of God.

Two things can be understood here regarding Yeshua’s teaching on the kingdom. First, this is not just a teaching on who qualifies to enter heaven after this life. God‘s kingdom is something that is present now, a representative body of those who abide by the Torah, or instruction of God.

Secondly, as he is done repeatedly throughout his teaching, Yeshua condemns the hypocrisy of those who only give lip service without actually living by the standards they profess. Even in regard to his own disciples, he explains that many who would claim to be his disciples would be doing so in speech only, not with their actions.

Yeshua says only those who would be doing the will of God would enter the kingdom. What is the will of God so we can know what to do? He makes it abundantly clear in another teaching.

John 6:24,28-29: “So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. … Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.””

To more modern ears, doing the works or will of God sounds as if one simply needs to place their faith in Yeshua and they are automatically granted access to the kingdom.

However, what does it mean to believe in Yeshua? It means that one one must abide by the principles that Yeshua taught, not just have a heart feeling about following him in principle only.

So much of modern Christianity is based on points of belief only that are structured on specific doctrines and principles. If one believes the “right” things about baptism, communion, worship, etc., then one is “saved” and will be guaranteed entrance to heaven upon death.

But true biblical belief, and thereby participation in the kingdom of God here and now, comes from actually acting on the principles and doctrines of Yeshua, not just believing certain things in the heart. Certainly, belief in the heart is where the process begins, but it is only through the actions that the heart believes can be made now on it.

James famously teaches about this as well:

James 2:17-18: “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.”

True faith, and thereby participation in the kingdom, is evidenced by the works and actions that substantiate Yeshua as Messiah. To have Yeshua as lord and master means that one’s lifestyle is built around the principles that Yeshua taught, not just having certain feelings about what his teachings mean.

When believers actually live out their faith and demonstrate the principles that Yeshua taught: integrity, vigilance. holiness, trust, forgiveness, and compassion, the kingdom shines and others are drawn to its light. This is what entering the kingdom requires. This is our true calling, and that which honors Yahweh, the God of the kingdom.


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Praying for vigilance to stay on the right path

When we come to the end of ourselves, we can only find the necessary strength to do what’s right in God and in others whom we trust and know to be faithful.

Set a watch, Yahweh, before my mouth. Keep the door of my lips.

Psalm 141:3

One of the most typical ways for us to disobey God is with what we say. Many times we speak before fully evaluating a situation, or we pass judgment without understanding other perspectives. Worse still, we may actually share and then act on information that we know is not helpful or may not even be true. All of these frailties come to pass because of ignorance, pride, and vanity.

The apostle James believed wrongful speech was a wild and untameable source of false teaching and factionism in the early congregations.

James 3:6-12 And the tongue is a fire. The world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire by Gehinnom. For every kind of animal, bird, creeping thing, and thing in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by mankind. But nobody can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth comes forth blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send out from the same opening fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, yield olives, or a vine figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh water.

His conclusion is that a person who can control right speech will be in control of the rest of their life, as well.

James 3:2 For in many things we all stumble. If anyone doesn’t stumble in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.

In like fashion, the Psalmist here is praying for vigilance over the words of his mouth. He is asking God for strength in ensuring nothing destructive should come of his speech, or his actions.

Psalm 141:2-4 Let my prayer be set before you like incense; The lifting up of my hands like the evening sacrifice. Set a watch, LORD, before my mouth. Keep the door of my lips. Don’t incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice deeds of wickedness with men who work iniquity. Don’t let me eat of their delicacies.

He knows that what comes out of his mouth will be the revealing of what is in his heart, and that what is in his heart can lead to actions on a path to wickedness. Instead, he prefers to be brutally corrected, if necessary, by those who are righteous to keep him on the correct path. He is praying for resources outside of himself to ensure he does not sin.

Psalm 141:5 Let the righteous strike me, it is kindness; Let him reprove me, it is like oil on the head; Don’t let my head refuse it…

This poetic plea from the distant past is characteristic of those even today who struggle with the reality of their own weaknesses. The righteous are those who understand their own shortcomings, and yet still seek to stay on the path of life.

When we come to the end of ourselves, we can only find the necessary strength to do what’s right in God and in others whom we trust and know to be faithful. Unyielding vigilance over our speech and actions is a practical outworking of true humility, recognizing our propensity toward wrongdoing yet valiantly persevering in the right way at all cost.

For believers, our strength to accomplish what is right can be found in God. He can provide the resources through his Spirit and through the good counsel of those faithful whom he has placed around us.

Romans 8:13-14 For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore exhort one another, and build each other up, even as you also do.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

God evaluates the heart, but our deeds broadcast what’s in there

The deeds reveal what is truly in the heart.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but Yahweh weighs the hearts.

Proverbs 21:2

Most people in our Western culture who have any ideas about God will typically have the understanding that God knows everything about everybody, including internal thoughts. According to popular perception, the God of the Bible is all about judgment and motives.

This kind of understanding in Western culture is driven by the way God is depicted in the Bible, and Proverbs 21:2 is one of those that highlights that characteristic of God. A parallel passage in the Proverbs is consistent with this as well.

All a man’s ways are pure in his own eyes, but his motives are weighed out by the LORD.

Proverbs 16:2

But what is less recognized by the general population is the connection between the heart and actions. While most people are of the opinion that God is some sort of cosmic Santa Claus, just knowing good people from bad people, he really doesn’t have to go that far into an individual’s psyche to know what they think, because their actions bear out what’s in their heart.

For example, when Yeshua was confronting the Pharisees regarding their love of money and earthly wealth, he let them know how God’s perspective varied greatly from their own.

So He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is prized among men is detestable before God.

Luke 16:15

God (or anyone, for that matter) can know what’s in someone’s heart because of what they value. What the Pharisees prized (wealth) was detestable to God, especially in light of the fact that they were supposed to be the shepherds of his people. It’s not that God hates money, it’s just that he has revealed that when money is valued above one’s dedication to God, it has become an idol, and he detests idolatry in any form.

But the key takeaway was that their hearts were revealed by their actions.

If you say, “Behold, we did not know about this,” does not He who weighs hearts consider it? Does not the One who guards your life know? Will He not repay a man according to his deeds?

Proverbs 24:12

Even back here in Proverbs, we can see how the weighing of hearts is connected to an evaluation of someone’s deeds. The deeds reveal what is truly in the heart. This is also evident in the prophecies of Jeremiah.

I, Yahweh, search minds and test hearts. I will reward each person for what he has done. I will reward him for the results of his actions.

Jeremiah 17:10

While God can certainly know what’s in our hearts, he typically does not need to look much further than our actions to know what resides there. Unless what we believe lines up with what he teaches us through his Word, our lives will likely bear out the errors of our own thinking, what we think is “right in our own eyes.” Integrity is ensuring that our hearts and our actions are working together to fulfill the righteous purposes and will of God.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.