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The Two Manifestations of God’s Kingdom

The Two Manifestations of God’s Kingdom

Jesus does not postpone heaven until after we die; He extends heaven into the world where we live. The “kingdom of heaven” belongs to the poor in spirit. God’s kingdom has two manifestations: what is partially revealed now in our hearts’ attitudes and what is consummate in the eternal life to come. Jesus says that access to heaven is present for the poor in spirit.

If this is so, it behooves us to know what sort of poorness or “poverty” leads to heaven. Certainly, a blessing rests on those who, though poor, are “rich in faith” (James. 2:5). Yet poverty itself is not a blessing. No. The Holy Spirit has a larger, more relevant answer to our question about the poor in spirit.

Remember, Jesus is talking to His disciples. He sees multitudes and nations eventually coming into the kingdom, but His quest is to prepare His disciples to represent Him. Thus, His conversation on the mountain is not with vast multitudes but with the small crowd of His disciples.

When Jesus speaks of the “poor in spirit,” it refers to a certain spiritual condition He seeks to establish in His disciples’ hearts. He is saying, “Blessed are they who know their spiritual need.”

The beginning, or entrance, into the realm of heaven comes with the self-discovery of our need for God. In truth everyone in heaven knows their need. In the world without God, self-discovery is often devastating. Yet with the Almighty it is the beginning of all transformation. It is the first blessing the Son of God pronounces to His followers.

The Word is living, active, sharper than a sword, piercing and judging even the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Yes, the Word comforts and encourages us, but if we are even slightly honest, the Word has made us aware that we are often motivated by vain and selfish impulses. We instinctively act more out of fear than faith. Do we believe our hearts’ intentions are always pure and Jesus does not need to confront us? Have you truly never been pierced in the heart by the sword of the Word?

Jesus could have warned that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we wouldn’t be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yet of Himself, He said, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

How could Jesus say none were good? Christ models the way of righteousness; He is the face of all goodness on earth. Yet even Christ’s goodness is appropriated from God. It is a righteousness that gains access to our hearts through partnership with the Almighty. The beginning of all transformation is knowing what needs to change within us. We cannot be set free from anything we cannot see and identify as sin.

The past cannot be forgotten; it can only be redeemed. We sin and think that in time the penalty of sin will fade. However, sin has burrowed into us, establishing itself as a living part of our soul.

The greatest fulfillment of our lives is after we die and go to be with Jesus. But we receive a certain first installment of that here. We are a colony of heaven on earth.

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