His Kingdom and His Righteousness

Q. I have the following questions:
1. Mt 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. What are His kingdom and His righteousness?
2. What is the meaning of “If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.”

A. The kingdom of God means His rule on earth, His domain or realm:
Lk 17:21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (among you, inside you)
• Rom 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

In other words, it is God ruling in your heart. For the person who repents and believes in the gospel (Mk 1:15), God gives him Christ’s righteousness. He has peace with God (reconciliation) and joy in the Holy Spirit. His relationship with the triune God is restored and he becomes a subject of God’s kingdom.

His righteousness means God’s righteousness made available to us through faith in Christ:
Rom 3:22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
• 1 Co 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
• Php 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

So, seeking His kingdom and righteousness should be the most important thing in anyone’s life, because without that you are lost and alienated from God.

“My way, My statutes and My commandments” appears twice in the Bible, both times God speaking to Solomon:
• The first was when Solomon became king and God appeared to him in a dream, in 1 Kings 3:14 If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.”
• The second was when Solomon turned from God, and God warned him in 1 Kings 11:38 Then it will be, that if you listen to all that I command you and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight by observing My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.

The meaning is clear. God has His ways, statutes, and commandments (Deut 26:17, 30:16; 1 Kings 2:3, 8:58; 2 Kings 17:13). If we keep them, we will live and multiply, the LORD will bless us, and we will succeed in all that we do and wherever we turn. If we don’t, we will be chastised and disciplined.

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Least in the Kingdom of Heaven?

matthew-5-19-b

Q. Are Mt 5:19 & 11:11 talking about different kinds of people? Who is the least in the Kingdom? What are these least commandments?

A. The kingdom of God or heaven is not a physical kingdom, but the rule of God on earth:
Lk 17:21 the kingdom of God is in your midst.
Those in the kingdom are the kingdom’s subjects.

Both Mt 5:19 & 11:11 refer to the least in the kingdom i.e. the lowest rank within the kingdom, and are talking about the same kind of people:
Mt 5:19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
• Mt 11:11 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Also Lk 7:28)

The least in the kingdom of heaven are those who:
• annuls one of the least of the commandments, &
• teaches others to do the same.
“Annuls” translates the Greek verb “lyo” and literally means “loosens” or “relaxes”. It does not mean “breaks”, in which case the perpetrator would be transgressing the law and become a “sinner”, which would disqualify him from the kingdom. It means he complies with the commandment, but not fully, barely meeting the minimum requirements.

Which are the least commandments? The Bible did not say, but note:
Mt 23:23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
The weightier provisions of the law, or the more important commandments, are justice, mercy, and faithfulness. In comparison, tithing, ceremonial cleansing (Mt 23:25-26), outward appearance (Mt 23:27-28) are lesser matters of the law. Whether they are the least, the Bible did not specify.

Lastly, we can also get some clues from the converse:
Mt 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
• Mt 18:4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The opposite of “the least” is “the greatest” in the kingdom. Who are the greatest? They are the ones who humble themselves like a child:
Mt 23:12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
• Lk 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Also Lk 18:14)
• Jas 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

They are greatest because God exalts them. The value system in God’s kingdom is upside-down from the world’s!

Biblical Economics (1 of 2)

biblical economics 1

Q. Does the Bible have anything to say about economics? I don’t find the word “economy” in my Bible.

A. The Bible has a lot to say about economics, only that you won’t find that word in modern translations. The English word “economy” comes from the Greek word “oikonomia“, oikos means house, while nomos means law. Together it means the rules governing a household, which is translated “stewardship” in contemporary versions. Aside from its usage in narratives, passages bringing out the underlying meaning include:

1. A steward does not own the property, his master does. He is simply put in charge to look after whatever the master entrusted to him for the master’s benefit:
Lk 12:42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?
• 1 Co 9:17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.

Therefore a Christian should not seek physical assets for himself first and forget his responsibility before God.

2. Ultimately the stewardship is from God and centered on His grace:
Eph 3:2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;
• Col 1:25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,
• 1 Pet 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

That’s where our priorities should be:
Mt 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
• Col 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

3. The prerequisites for God’s stewards or servants, in particular elders and overseers, consist of:
1 Co 4:1-2 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.
• Tit 1:7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, (See Tit 1:6-9, 1 Tim 3:2-7)

The requirements are not that you have to be smart, which the world looks for, but loyal, reliable and have integrity.

Volumes have been written on biblical principles of economics. I will list only a few key principles due to limitations of space and time.

(To be continued)

Homosexual Sin

Lev 20 13 a

Q. What if there were two homosexuals who love each other live together, but out of obedience to God never act on their desire or have any type of sexual activity with each other. Is that still a sin? Where is the line between what is acceptable and not ?

A. First, let’s review what the Bible says about homosexuality:

Lev 20:13 If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.
• Rom 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
• 1 Co 6:9-10 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
• 1 Tim 1:9-10 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,

Notice that:
• The homosexual act is detestable to God, who considers it degrading, unnatural, and indecent, punishable by death.
• Homosexuality is just as guilty as other sins, including fornication, idolatry, adultery, theft, covetousness, alcoholism, verbal abuse, swindling, patricide, matricide, murder, immorality, kidnapping, lying, perjury. There is no need to single it out as the worst of sins.
• All of the above sins, including homosexuality, would disqualify the sinner from the kingdom of God.

Now, back to the question. If two gays or lesbians never act on their desire, technically they have not committed any homosexual act. But why live together and put themselves under temptation all the time? Being tempted is not a sin, but the flesh is weak and sooner or later the individual might fall for the temptation. It is a bad idea for an unmarried heterosexual man and woman to live together. And just as you don’t put a pedophile near children, it is setting a trap for yourself when homosexuals live together.

The Bible teaches us to watch and pray so that we do not enter temptation. The proper course of action is to flee immorality, which homosexuality is. So if they are obedient to God they should live apart to avoid the temptation:

Mt 6:13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Also Lk 11:4)
• Mt 26:41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Also Mk 14:38)
• Lk 22:40 Pray that you may not enter into temptation. (Also Lk 22:46)
• 1 Co 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.