Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

“Entering Christ's Kingdom”

Categories: Iron sharpens iron

For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 2.11)

Taking this verse alone, what would you expect to be hiding behind the phrase, “in this way”?  To answer that, we must consider what followed—“an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  What, exactly, is that kingdom?  When Jesus spoke of his kingdom, he repeatedly stated that it was “at hand” (cf. Mt 4.17, 10.7, Mk 1.15).  On one occasion, he even said,

“there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

(Mark 9.1) 

Armed with this information, we are primed to equate Jesus’ kingdom with the church—which, indeed, was established and began to flourish, within the lifetime and in full view of many who heard him make this prediction. 

Now, let’s interpret Peter’s statement in light of what we just concluded based on Jesus’ own words.  “For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into” Christ’s kingdom.  We should expect, then, that Peter must have just related, or is just about to relate, how a person becomes part of the church or, to put it another way, how one becomes a Christian.  Yet, that simply doesn’t square with the letter Peter is writing!  Who are his audience?

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

(2 Peter 1.1-2)

He’s writing to those whose faith is comparable to his own—to Christians.  Yet, he’s explaining to them how they will become Christians?  That doesn’t make any sense!  Perhaps it will become clearer, when we examine the discourse summarized by the phrase, “in this way.”

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

(2 Peter 1.5-10)

That’s a lot to take in.  Peter provides a list of qualities which Christians ought to cultivate; and says that lacking them undermines one’s faith and cleansing—in other words, it undermines one’s very salvation!  On the other hand, to practice these qualities brings great stability and spiritual prosperity.  That’s noteworthy in and of itself, but why were we looking at this passage?  Because Peter followed it by saying,

For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 2.11)

So, Peter told Christians—who are already citizens of Christ’s heavenly, eternal kingdom—to practice these qualities, and thus secure an entrance into Christ’s heavenly, eternal kingdom.  Is it making sense, yet?

We need to consider another passage.

“You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.

(Hebrews 2.7-8)

The unnamed recipient of glory and honor is, of course, Jesus.  He has been crowned; he is king; he has a kingdom.  And yet, the author makes his own observation—that Christ is clearly not yet the undisputed sovereign of all creation.  In fact, most of humanity—not to mention “the cosmic powers over this present darkness” and “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ep 6.12)—continue to rebel against God’s Anointed King.  Paul, likewise referring to Psalm 8, put it thus: “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1Co 15.25). 

The question in mind was not how to become a citizen of Christ’s kingdom.  For that, Peter would have a different answer, echoed by the author of Hebrews, as well as Paul, involving faith in Jesus and obedience to his instruction to “Repent and be baptized” in his name (Ac 2.38).  But while Christians can already state with certainty that God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Co 1.13), we must also “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2Pe 3.18), in order to be granted entry to the final and complete manifestation of his kingdom.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,

what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

(1 Peter 4.17-18)

Do not take your own promised crown for granted.  Diligently pursue it, and do not lose heart.

Jeremy Nettles