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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