Kingdom Truth - What is the Kingdom of Heaven in the Bible?
Chapter 1, Introduction
Why the Kingdom is Important
The primary reason why churches do not thrive and grow today is that the believers do not have a hope for the future! Because there is no hope, many brothers and sisters cannot love the Lord deeper and serve Him more diligently. We all know that 'hope' can encourage people to press on forward because it can give people a bright future and expectation. It enables people to press on towards their goal with endurance and joy; and not regard difficulties, hardships and burdens with bitterness. A poet once said, "Hope can make you young because hope and youth are twin brothers!" Hope enables a mother to endure hardship, swallow bitterness, and even sacrifice herself to raise up her children. Hope enables a teacher to willingly live on a low salary and work long hours in teaching students so that they can become somebody one day. Hope enables a missionary to look beyond life and death, pain and suffering to save lost souls. (Certainly those 'missionaries' who go out because of mere curiosity and to enjoy life are excluded.) Hope can move believers to "no longer live for themselves but for their Lord who died and rose from the dead"! Because hope can impart such values, it enables people to sacrifice everything and press on forward towards the goal. And this is exactly what our gracious Lord did: "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame".
There is an overseas Chinese pastor in the United States who married a woman from a non-Christian family. After she married him, she also came to believe in the Lord. Because of his love for the Lord, he served the Lord day and night when he was a student at the seminary. He was rarely home. In the beginning, she was able to tolerate it, but finally she had had enough! One day, she asked him, "Honey, didn't we believe in Jesus?" The husband responded, "Yes! By God's grace, we have accepted Him as our Savior." She asked again, "Then, can we go to heaven?" The husband answered, "Certainly! By God's grace, we are His children and heaven is our home. We can go home anytime!" She then exploded, getting on her high horse and demanding, "Why then do you serve day and night? Serve...! If you serve, all you get is to go to heaven. The others do not serve but they also go to heaven! Why are you so stupid?" So this brother went to the senior pastor in tears. The senior pastor told him, "Brother, don't feel badly. It's not bad that your wife can verbalize her feelings about serving! As a matter of fact, most people in the Chinese churches today think just like that! They often think that they have accepted Jesus, they have the born-again experience, they have already obtained the ticket to go to heaven, what else is left to do? You go to heaven whether you serve the Lord or not! Therefore, be smart. In this world, live like the rich man and in the next world, be like Lazarus!" Dear readers, if this were possible, it would not be too bad. Unfortunately, no such thing exists in this world! You cannot have your cake and eat it too. This is exactly what the Lord said, "You cannot serve two masters". We should know better than to deceive ourselves and others! Therefore, it can be said that the importance of the Kingdom is developed to counteract exactly this kind of fatal attitude!