SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS *
[* This tract is based on some of the writings by Robert Govett, M. A.. The New International Version is used throughout; and The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English - (a Greek Interlinear) - is quoted for literal translations from the Greek.]
Kingdom are Disciples of Christ to Seek? Is it the
Furthermore, our Lord, in the Sermon on the Mount, is primarily addressing His own ‘Disciples’ (Matt. 5: 1, 2): not the unregenerate. He is addressing regenerate members of His kingdom now in mystery (Luke 17: 20,21); and not the unconverted; He is addressing those who have responded to the message of salvation by grace through faith in Him as Saviour and Lord, (Eph.2: 8, 9).
Then, what Kingdom is it, that DISCIPLES of Christ
are commanded by their Lord to Seek? (Matt. 6: 33.)
1. Disciples are commanded to seek an entrance into an earthly Kingdom; one which has not as yet been established by our God, (Matt. 5: 20; Luke 19: 11); it is this kingdom, which every regenerate believer should be praying for:- "Your kingdom come, Your will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6: 9, 10). Therefore, it is not a kingdom which will be established ‘in heaven’, as the expression is frequently misinterpreted to mean; but the near future, will be established upon this earth, when 'the God of heaven will set up a kingdom,” (Dan. 2: 44).' Jesus, immediately after His Second Advent, shall rule upon this earth in righteousness and peace, for it is written: “… With righteousness He will judge the needy, with Justice He will give decisions for the poor of the earth…”(Isa. 11: 4); and again: “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.” … “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne,” (Psa. 97: 1, 2). See also, ( Psalm 2: 8; 97: 1, 2; Rev. 11: 15; Joel 3: 17, 21 etc,).
2. Disciples are commanded to seek a Kingdom
into which only obedient Disciples will enter:-
"Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord," - [the
hallmark of every regenerate believer (Rom. 10: 9)]
- "will enter the kingdom of heaven" -
(Lit. 'the kingdom of the heavens' (Greek): a time on earth when the God of heaven
establishes His kingdom, as foretold by His prophets: Isa. 11; Jer. 33: 9: Zech. 9: 10 etc.) -
he who does the will of the Father" (Matt. 7: 21). That is, only those who have Christ's
righteousness imputed to them, and have reached the required standard of active,
personal, righteousness will be allowed to enter into this Kingdom (Matt. 5: 20). For this is
3. Disciples are commanded to seek a Kingdom,
which their Lord Jesus Christ has described as an "Age" (singular):-
"The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those
who are considered worthy of taking part in THAT AGE" (Luke 20: 35a). The expression"That Age,"
cannot possibly refer to an eternal
Every redeemed soul will enter the eternal Kingdom of God, on the basis of the merits of Christ (John 3: 16); but not every redeemed soul will enter the “Age” to come, which will follow after this evil age - the 1,000 year reign of Christ (Messiah) upon earth: also described literally in Hebrews as : "a Sabbath-rest to the people of God" (Rev. 20: 4-6; Heb. 4: 9, 11).
4. Disciples are commanded to seek a Kingdom which is described as a Reward:
a Reward for those whom our Lord will ‘counted worthy’:-
"We boast about your perseverance and faith in all the
persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this – [your
perseverance in suffering for righteousness sake] - is
evidence that God's judgement is right, and as a result you will be
counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you are suffering ... "(2 Thess. 1: 4, 5). This was part of the ‘good news’ which Paul
preached to ‘a large number of disciples’, “Encouraging them to
remain true to the faith. ‘We must go
through many hardships to enter the
5. Disciples are commanded to seek a Kingdom, which is described as a ‘Prize’. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit” it, but “flesh and bones,” most certainly can - through a Select “Resurrection of the Dead”:-
"I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection” - [Christ’s resurrection was a selective resurrection, leaving the souls of the dead in Hades, the place of all the dead] – “and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain - [that is, 'to gain by effort'] – “to the resurrection from the dead." - [Lit. 'the out resurrection, out from the dead,' (See the Greek, and take note of the prepositions not used in the English text.): this is a select resurrection of regenerate believers.] – “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win THE PRIZE for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3: 10-14).
Could it be possible for a regenerate person to imagine the Apostle Paul is teaching in this passage, that eternal salvation is a prize to be won through self-sacrifice for Christ? I sincerely hope not! Paul is teaching a select resurrection OUT FROM THE DEAD for overcomers. (cf. Rev. 2: 26; 3: 21). In fact his words here are like those of his Lord as quoted above: "Those who are considered worthy of taking part in ... the resurrection from the dead, - [Lit. Greek, - 'The resurrection out from the dead'.]. This can only be a reference to the "First Resurrection" of Rev. 20: 4-6; and the "Better Resurrection" of Heb. 11: 35 or "the Resurrection of the righteous" in Luke 14: 14.
is a select resurrection of Reward; and
through this Resurrection, God’s
promises to Abraham of an earthly inheritance
Now, the apostle Paul says: “This mystery is that through the gospel the GENTILES are HEIRS TOGETHER WITH ISRAEL, members together of ONE body, and SHARERS TOGETHER IN THE PROMISE IN CHRIST JESUS:” (Eph. 3: 6). What does that mean? That regenerate believers can also, if obedient to Christ and deemed worthy by Him, “inherit the Kingdom” with Abraham the friend of God, (Eph. 5: 1-20).
[Note.* That is, ‘everlasting’ in this sense - for as long as this present earth will last after Abraham’s resurrection.]
Paul was concerned and fearful of losing the “Prize’. He always occupied himself in making certain of winning it. His life was characterised as one of obedience, self-sacrifice, and total devotion to his Lord. In this passage, he is encouraging us to forget our past failures and 'press on' toward the ‘Goal’ to win the ‘Prize’.
6. Disciples are commanded to seek a Kingdom,
which the Holy Spirit has described as an Inheritance.
all true Christians are children of God, and are presently in possession of 'eternal life': therefore,
they already have an eternal inheritance in “a
New Heaven and a New Earth” (Rev. 21: 1):
this eternal kingdom cannot be lost: “.. Writing
to the saints in
But, in another letter, the same Apostle, writing to those whom he describes as: "holy and faithful brothers," we read of another inheritance which can be lost through wilfil sin and disobedience in His redeemed children: "Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive AN INHERITANCE from the Lord AS A REWARD" (Col. 3: 23, 24)” and this inheritance the Apostle calls, "THE KINGDOM OF GOD": -
"Do you not know that the wicked,"
- [(Greek) - 'unrighteous men of God.'] - "will not inherit
Writing to "the churches in
"For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure or greedy person - such a man is an idolater - has
any INHERITANCE in the
understand from these warnings to "brothers"
in the Churches, that Paul is reminding Disciples
that entrance into our Lord's
7. Disciples are commanded to seek a Kingdom,
for those who are rich in faith and love:-
"Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him" (James 2: 5).
we imagine that regenerate believers, who doggedly refuse to believe in a
In this context, What is the meaning of the words, “His Righteousness”?
What righteousness are Disciples of Christ commanded to seek? Is it 'the righteousness of God' - the imputed righteousness of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? No! Most certainly it is not! If we are genuine Christians we already have that! (Rom. 4: 11). The righteousness that every regenerate believer is commanded to seek is, -
(1) Active obedience and strict compliance to His commands, and the principles which He taught His Disciples in this Sermon on the Mount, (Matt. 7: 24-27).
(2) It is to learn the practical, difficult lessons of holiness in progressive sanctification: what God looks for each day of our lives, (Acts 20: 32).
(3) It is a righteousness, made possible only by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives: something the disobedient disciple cannot possibly achieve without repentance, (Acts 5: 32; 1 Cor. 4: 20. cf. Acts 5: 1-10.).
(4) it is a righteousness, which will distinguish all who practice it from the ungodly, and the carnal Christian, (1 Cor. 3: 3).
(5) It is righteousness, that will be judged by a Righteous Judge, as meeting His required standard for entrance into the "Age" to come. (Matt. 5: 20; Luke 20: 35).
(6) It is righteousness, that will enable the regenerate believers to receive “the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1: 9). That is, a future ‘salvation’ after Resurrection, (Phil. 3: 11. cf. Gen. 22: 15-18; Dan. 12: 13).
(7) It is righteousness, that will enable some who are alive at the time, to escape the Great Tribulation (Luke 21: 36; Rev. 3: 10);
finally, (8) it is an active personal righteousness that will enable a
regenerate believers to inherit the
Christian! Do you believe what the Holy Scriptures teach? I am not asking if you to believe me, or anyone else. I am asking you to believe the Word of God. Here are some of His words:
"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer, I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will Give YOU the crown of life" (Rev. 2: 10).
I was once told by another Christian that this "crown of life" was guaranteed to every believer! But that is not what the text teaches us, it is only the ‘faithful, even to the point of death,’ who are guaranteed as having qualified themselves for this ‘life’! Therefore it is not synonymous with “eternal life” – “the gift of God,” (Rom. 6: 23).
Again, - "To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations", (Rev. 2: 26).
Finally, - "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to THE CHURCHES", (Rev. 3: 21).
It has been said that “the Lord names overcomers in every one of His seven letters to the Churches,” (Panton). What a remarkable encouragement and revelation this is, especially for those of us who, in times past, have been overcome! If we repent, and honestly and genuinely seek His help, and the strength to obey His word, we also can be amongst the overcomers! Let's not allow ourselves “to be side-tracked by those who consider reward to be beneath the notice of a CHRISTIAN.” Let's be like Paul and, "Press on toward the goal to win the Prize ...".(Phil. 3: 14)