How do we qualify for entrance into God's eternal kingdom? How do we gain possession of eternal life? The Bible tells us in Colossians 1:12 that the Father has qualified us to share in his loved Son's kingdom.
The word qualified means to be allowed entrance into an event or organization because a person met the standards necessary for entrance. It also means to be allowed possession of something because the necessary conditions were met by the person seeking the possession.
Because many people have never been told about the good news of God's grace, the very grace the Father provides that qualifies us entrance into his loved Son's kingdom, they spend their days trying to qualify themselves, leaving many feeling disqualified for entrance into eternal life in the kingdom. They feel disqualified because they know they fail to measure up to God's righteous standards necessary for entrance into his kingdom. They are so aware of the sin in their hearts and lives that they feel there is no way for them to ever possess eternal life in the kingdom of the Father's loved Son. Therefore, because they feel they have disqualified themselves, they feel discouraged, and for some, depression sets in, causing them to feel distant from God and go deeper into sin.
Then there are those, much like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law in Jesus' time, who are quite certain they have qualified themselves for entrance into the kingdom of God. They feel, because of their "righteous acts" and "moral behavior", they reached the standard and met the conditions necessary, gaining entrance for themselves into the eternal kingdom of God's loved Son. As a result, they are proud of their religious activity and morality and look down on those who are not qualified.
Jesus, during his days on earth, dealt daily with those who felt disqualified for entrance into his kingdom of eternal life, as well as with those who were confident they had gained for themselves entry into the kingdom by qualifying themselves. Yet, to those who were certain they had gained entry into the kingdom through their own qualifications, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, he said they would not enter his kingdom. Then, to those who felt certain they would NOT enter his kingdom, such as the tax collectors and prostitutes, he welcomed joyfully into his kingdom.
Why would Jesus welcome joyfully into his kingdom those who had sinned greatly, but reject entrance for those who were striving to gain entrance through religious activity and morality? Because the only way into his kingdom is by grace.
We all have sinned. Because of our sin, we have disqualified ourselves for entrance into God's eternal kingdom.The only way then to gain entry into his kingdom is by grace. Grace is everything the Father has freely done for us in Jesus to qualify us for entry into his loved Son's kingdom.
What has the Father freely done for us through his Son that qualifies us for entry into his Son's kingdom? To answer this questions, let's look at Colossians 1:13-14.
"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin."
We see in these verses that he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness. The dominion of darkness is living daily in the awareness of our sin, along with the guilt and shame it brings. Many people live daily in this dark dominion...this oppressive state of discouragement and depression, resulting from sin in their lives. They feel hopeless in their sins. They feel unloved by God and others. They hate themselves. And as for as having eternal life in God's kingdom, they feel there is no entrance for them. Their minds have been captured by Satan's lies, who just happens to be the ruler of this dark dominion. Satan shouts to them, "God doesn't love you. God does not care for you. God will not forgive you. You have ruined your life. There is no hope for you."
Into this dark dominion, a Rescuer comes, a Savior comes, with the Father's grace and truth. Full of the Father's grace...the Father's unconditional love, unmerited kindness, unlimited forgiveness, and unearned blessings, he comes to rescue us from this dark Satanic dominion. In grace, he comes gently whispering the Father's truth, "God loves you. God cares for you. God forgives you. God wants to restore your life. Their is hope for you!"
And who is this Savior? The Savior's name is Jesus, and he is the King of the Kingdom of Light...the Kingdom of Grace where unconditional love abounds, unlimited forgiveness abounds....unmerited kindness abounds...and unearned blessings abound for us all. And this King invites each of us into his kingdom because through his blood his Father has qualified us to share in the greatness of the Kingdom of Grace. Through the blood of the Son, the Father has paid for the sins of the world, freely providing forgiveness for all. Sin, once disqualifying us from entry into the kingdom of eternal life, no longer disqualifies us, for the King has become the Savior of the disqualified and brings us safely into his Kingdom where we enjoy all that his kingdom freely provides as stated in Colossians 1:12-14:
"...the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, where we have redemption [the full payment for all of our sins through the blood of Jesus], the forgiveness of sins."
To qualify for entrance into the kingdom of Jesus, our sins had to be paid for and forgiven. Good works will not qualify us because good works never make up for guilt. How many of our sins did Jesus die for? All of them! And how many of our sins did God forgive? All of them! Colossians 2:13 says:
"...God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all or sins."
If all of our sins were not paid for and forgiven, then we could not enter his kingdom. By faith, we believe that our sins have been paid for and forgiven through the blood of our Savior-King. We admit, as did the prostitutes and tax collectors did, that we are sinful and in need of grace...forgiveness. And by admitting our sin, we accept the Savior-King's grace...his eternal payment and forgiveness, and then we are freely allowed entrance into his eternal kingdom.
In this kingdom, there is no more shame, no more guilt, and no more condemnation because we have admitted our sin and by faith have accepted our Savior-King's grace freely provided for us. We have been declared by the Savior-King's Father to be innocent of all sin because his loved Son took our guilt. We have now become citizens in this wonderful kingdom of grace, of which we will be members forever in this family of grace!
What is our response to the Father who has qualified us to live in his dearly loved Son's kingdom? We joyfully give thanks to the Father from hearts overflowing with gratitude for his grace. Colossians 1:11-12 says:
"...joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."
Notice joy, produced by the Father's grace freely given us through his Son, has replaced the shame, guilt, and condemnation once occupying our minds in the dominion of darkness.
So what about those seeking entry into the Son's kingdom by trying to qualify themselves through religious activity and morality? They forfeit the grace that could have been theirs since they would not humble themselves, admit their sins, and accept the Savior-King's grace. Yet, like the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus' time, they remain boastful of their good works, and become enraged at the grace freely provided to the prostitutes and tax collectors of our time. This enraged madness is exemplified by the older brother's anger towards his father's grace freely given to his younger brother. There are many older brothers around us today, claiming to know God, but who demonstrate angrily the hatred for the grace the God they claim to know provides for the sinner. They hurl slanderous accusations at those who proclaim the good news of grace, as did the Pharisees towards Jesus, saying we are light on sin, easy on sinners, and water down the gospel.
But just as Jesus did, we do not let these modern day Pharisees silence us through their slanderous accusations. Rather, emboldened by the Spirit of Christ in us, our Savior-King, we invite whosoever will to admit their sin, accept his grace, and join with us as citizens in the the greatest kingdom there is and will ever be...the Eternal Kingdom of Grace!
And how much does the Father love us...as much as he loves his Son! (John 17:23).
For more articles on the good news of grace, please visit my website at simplygrace.info and also my Facebook page at Simply Grace Encouragement & Enrichment Center.