• johned@aibi.ph

Eternity 108 - The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Accessible To The "Unspiritual."

Matthew 5:3 ASV Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 21:31-32 LITV Which of the two did the will of the father? They said to Him, The first. Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, The tax collectors and the harlots go before you into the kingdom of God. (32) For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax-collectors and the harlots believed him. And having seen, you did not repent afterwards to believe him.

The scribes and Pharisees, the "spiritual ones" failed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven while the tax-collectors (frequently corrupt and violent in Jesus' day) and prostitutes went into the Kingdom with gladness and joy. In fact Jesus says that the unreligious, the spiritual failures, the poor in spirit are blessed - for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Paul is even more bold when he writes in Romans: But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness. (Romans 4:5 ASV) God justifies the ungodly! Those who do no spiritual works at all and are completely without any form of piety. The Greek word of ungodly was "asebes" and meant "without piety or due and proper reverence for the gods, impious" and was the very worst category of person in Hellenistic society, doomed to be slaughtered by the wrath of God. (see the epistle Jude for the frequent use of this word). God justifies even the most impious person who decides to trust in Christ as Lord and Saviour.

What the New Testament emphasizes over and over again with such comments is that "Jacob's Ladder" of spiritual ascent is simply abolished. There is not a progressive getting better and better, becoming more and more disciplined, more and more spiritual and ever more particular and fussy until you are so good that you break through into Heaven. Human effort and religious works get us nowhere, the Kingdom is from grace to grace and from faith to faith. Works and spiritual exercises have no part in it. The cretins enter before the wise. "Lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:9) and Romans 3:27 BBE What reason, then, is there for pride? It is shut out. By what sort of law? of works? No, but by a law of faith.

Now most evangelicals know that salvation is by grace through faith and many can quote Ephesians 2:8,9 by heart. They are good verses. But they then transfer Jacob's Ladder to the process of sanctification and turn it into a laborious spiritual exercise, a treadmill of spirituality, a long list of do's and don'ts and works of all shapes and sizes. But what do the Scriptures say? Paul addresses this in Galatians:

Galatians 3:2-5 BBE Give me an answer to this one question, Did the Spirit come to you through the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (3) Are you so foolish? having made a start in the Spirit, will you now be made complete in the flesh? (4) Did you undergo such a number of things to no purpose? if it is in fact to no purpose. (5) He who gives you the Spirit, and does works of power among you, is it by the works of law, or by the hearing of faith?

We don't start out on the spiritual life by faith then improve it by running on a treadmill! We don't start with Jesus burden which is "easy and light" (Matthew 11:28-30) then improve it by making it difficult and heavy! We don't make a start in the Spirit then become complete in the flesh. 1 John even says: (1 John 5:3 NKJV) For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. And Paul says all the onerous human rules and regulations are useless and unprofitable:

(Colossians 2:20-23 NKJV) Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations; {21} "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," {22} which all concern things which perish with the using; according to the commandments and doctrines of men? {23} These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

The gospel is completely unreligious. It does away with temples and robes and sacrifices and offerings and laws and fulfills them all in Christ. Religion was fulfilled completely in Christ Jesus. Since 29 AD when Jesus died on the cross we have been in a post-religious era. An era of the Spirit and of faith. How then do we "make progress" if not by doing religious works and making sacrifices and giving offerings and going to temples? By "the hearing with faith"! (Romans 1:17 NKJV) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

From start to finish the Christian life is an unreligious journey of faith, where we hear the word of God and believe it and live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, are filled with the Spirit and dwell in love. Thus the whole of our "life in the flesh" is an active living by faith in the Son of God. (Galatians 2:20-21 NKJV) "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. {21} "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." Does this unreligious faith mean we can sin all we like? Not at all faith leads us into holiness. Grace is given to make us spotless. How can we who died to sin still live in it?

The unreligious faith we have in Christ Jesus, the faith without works and rituals, is still a holy and righteous faith - it is just a free faith. A faith uncluttered by pomp, religion and rules about eating pork or going to temples. A faith that unspiritual, unreligious people can enter into and live in love.