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.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

How to truly identify God’s people

Could we pass the test?

Luke 6:31 – “Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.

This saying, which has become known as the “Golden Rule,” has appeared in many other cultures in some form or another, even other religious traditions.

Christianity: “Do for others what you want them to do for you: This is the meaning of the Law and the teaching of the Prophets” (Matthew 7/12)
Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not to you fellowman. That is the entire law: All the rest is commentary”. (Talmud, Shabbat 3id)
Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself” (Sunnah)
Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful: (Udana-Verga 5/18)
Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty! Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. (Mahabharata 5/1517)
Confucianism: Is there one maxim which ought to be acted upon throughout ones life? Surely it is the maxim of loving kindness. Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you? (Analects 15/23).
Taoism: “Regard your neighbours gain as you own gain and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss” (Tai Shang Kan Ying P’en)
Zoroastrism: “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto others whatsoever is not good for itself”. (Dadistendinik 94/5)

Yet, if we really desire to understand how Yeshua interpreted and intended it to be applied, we would do well to keep it within the context of the rest of the passage of his teaching. Each bullet point provides its own convicting refinement of this principle.

Luke 6:27-31 – “But I say to you who listen:

Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you,

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also.

And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either.

Give to everyone who asks you, and from someone who takes your things, don’t ask for them back.

Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.”

But what if, instead of being written as admonitions to believers, these maxims were instead originally directed at those who reject God? What if Yeshua wanted to teach non-believers how to be able to truly identify God’s own people? Perhaps Yeshua might have phrased this teaching a little differently.

“Because I have instructed my disciples to follow me, they are obligated to act only in ways that I would act; in ways that honor God and bring glory to his name.
“Even though you consider them your enemies, they will have to demonstrate genuine love to you.
“Even though you may hate them, they will only be able to do what is good for you.
“If you curse them out, they will be forced to pronounce blessings on you.
“If you mistreat them, they will stop to pray for your needs.
“If you hit them, they will still stand by you to absorb your anger.
“If you take their coat, they will offer you additional clothing you may want. Whatever you ask, they will give. If you take from them, they won’t ask for it back, because God provides for all of their needs.
“They will only be able to respond in a way they would want to be treated themselves.
“These are my people, these are the ones who truly believe in me.”

Perhaps if Yeshua’s people acted more like this, the kingdom would be growing even faster than it is.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Why would we ever withhold forgiveness?

We need to always be mindful of how important the role of forgiveness plays in our interactions with others.

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

John 20:23

The context of this passage is the day of Yeshua’s resurrection, in the evening of that very day. The disciples were still trying to understand what had happened since their Teacher had been crucified a few days before. A strange report of Messiah’s appearance had come from Mary, and Peter and John had both been to the tomb and found it was empty.

Suddenly, Yeshua is among them all, proclaiming peace and wholeness (shalom), and providing an admonition to remain receptive to the holy Spirit of God and to exercise the privilege of forgiveness with others.

Most commentators view this as a special privilege, anointing, or commissioning of the twelve disciples (or, in this case, the ten disciples, since Thomas and Judas were not among them). However, there is no indication this admonition was just to Yeshua’s closest circle, but it was conveyed to all of those present.

The significance of this cannot be minimized: the first collective teaching Yeshua provides his followers after being resurrected is to remain receptive to God’s Spirit and to be mindful of how they exercise forgiveness, because to whomever forgiveness is not extended, then the state of unforgiveness remains.

In reality, this should not be surprising to us, since Messiah consistently taught of the importance of forgiving others, and how the believer’s use of forgiveness with others will be an indicator of God’s forgiveness with them.

Matthew 6:12, 14-15 – “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. “But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.

Mark 11:25 – “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.”

Luke 17:4 – “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

If we can cautiously peel back the prejudice of our religious orthodoxy regarding the historical commentary of this passage and simply consider the Messiah’s words for what they say, the importance of forgiveness in the teaching of Yeshua cannot be understated.

If we are allowing the Spirit of God to guide our lives, then we need to always be mindful of how important the role of forgiveness plays in our interactions with others. For to whomever forgiveness is not extended, then a state of unforgiveness remains. And if we are to maintain a consistent view within the larger context of Yeshua’s teaching during his life and ministry, that state of unforgiveness can be measured against our own standing with God.

The fact that the operation of the Spirit and forgiveness are knit together so closely should cause us to evaluate how receptive we are to the influence of the God’s Spirit in our lives. A life guided by the Spirit is, by default, a life of forgiveness.