The gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it
Luke 16:1-17 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. 2 And he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 And the manager said to himself, ‘What am I to do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4 I know what I will do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’ 5 And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 And he said, ‘A hundred jugs of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred kors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 And his master complimented the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. 9 And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it is all gone, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.
10 “The one who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and the one who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true wealth to you? 12 And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were ridiculing Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of people, but God knows your hearts; because that which is highly esteemed among people is detestable in the sight of God.
16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John came; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.
In today’s text Jesus says: “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John came; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.” What does it mean that people are forcing their way into the kingdom of God? The Law was very clear about what should and shouldn’t be done. Many people view the gospel of the kingdom of God as open to their own interpretation. They create their own doctrines built around their priorities and preferences, believing that they can force their way into the kingdom. Many believe that because Jesus forgave sin on the cross and that since we are saved by grace not works, that what we do doesn’t matter; that if Jesus forgave sins, past, present and future; then it does not matter what we do today or tomorrow. In Matthew 5:17-19 Jesus says: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” In John 14:15 Jesus says: “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” It’s God’s kingdom and He makes the rules. We cannot force our way into the kingdom by relaxing or changing the rule to suit our preferences. The problem with the Law is not that the Law was not right or good, it is that people are not right or good, so they could not keep the Law. In John 14:6 Jesus says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” No one can force their way into the kingdom of God by any other way. Only Jesus, through the cross, fulfilled the Law.
In the text Jesus says: “The one who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and the one who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true wealth to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Colossians 3:23-24 says: Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people, knowing that it is from the Lord that you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. It is okay that we work in the world system for wealth, but we should be faithful that we use the resources gained from the world in serving Christ and the kingdom. If we will be faithful in the attaining and use of unrighteous wealth, we will also be entrusted with the righteous wealth of the kingdom of God. In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus says: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We can spend and expend our lives attaining and storing up wealth from and for the world and it can be gone in an instant. A shift in the global economy can cost millions of dollars. A natural disaster can eliminate material possessions in minutes. Even if our resources last us a lifetime, death will take us from them. Our inheritance in the kingdom of God is both for now and forever.
We cannot force our way into God’s kingdom, but the way is there for whoever wants to go in. John 3:16 says: God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, may I not only enter the kingdom by the way of the cross, but may I also do all that I do for the benefit of the kingdom. May I use the resources of the world to store up treasure in heaven, because that is where my heart is. Amen.