1 I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. 2 For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.” (Psalm 89:1–2, NKJV)
God is merciful, but He will not at all clear the guilty who reject His mercy by refusing to repent and obey Him (Exodus 34:7; Nahum 1:3). A distorted view of God’s mercy lulls souls into complacency toward sin. Convincing themselves that God is too loving to see any soul be punished in hell, they willingly deceive themselves with the illusion that everyone will go to heaven. (Well, at least, most people!) Jesus often spoke of hell, and said many who call on His name will depart into everlasting fire (Matthew 25:46). God is not only merciful, He is also faithful. We can depend on Him, as surely as the heavens show His fidelity. We trust what He says is the absolute truth. Let us tell others of His ageless mercy and call them to find it for themselves in the gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:16).
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21–23, NKJV)
Calling Jesus your Lord and Savior is not sufficient to assure your entrance into heaven (v. 21). Saying “Lord, Lord” but not doing what Jesus says does not please Him (Luke 6:46). We must do the Father’s will to enter heaven. This teaches us faith alone is not acceptable to Jesus. Well-intended religious activities are not sufficient to insure entrance into heaven, either (v. 22). Declaring to act in the name of Jesus does not make it so. Verse 23 explains that even well-meaning actions that are not approved in the word of God, are lawless (without law, not sanctioned by God’s law), and therefore, rejected. When religious practices are not revealed in the word of God they are lawless (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 John 3:4). Heaven is for those who are doers of the word. So, do the will of God and do not rest your hope of heaven on well-intended practices that are not approved by God’s word.
25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:25–28, NKJV)
Jesus Christ is reigning at the right hand of God, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21). He is King today, and will continue to reign until death – the “last enemy” – is destroyed at the resurrection of the dead. Only God the Father, who gave all authority to the Son, and to whom the kingdom will be delivered, is exempt from being under the Son’s powerful authority (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-23). Christ’s return will be the grand summation of God’s plan of human redemption. The delivery of the kingdom to God the Father will usher in the everlasting kingdom in which righteousness dwells and over which God will reign forever and ever (2 Peter 1:11; 3:13; Revelation 21:22-22:5). The gospel calls us to submit to the authority of Christ with full, obedient faith. By doing so we are preparing to live with Him forever when He returns (John 14:1-6).
Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20, NKJV)
We must remember to rejoice in the right things. Jesus had sent out seventy of His followers to the cities where He was about to go, giving them miraculous powers to accompany their preaching of the kingdom of God (Luke 10:1, 9). They returned with joy that “even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10:17). Jesus rejoiced with them in seeing the power of Satan being overwhelmed by the power of God as they did His work (Luke 10:18-19). Then, He quickly turned their attention to why they should rejoice. By doing so, He turned their joy away from the potential of pride in themselves (“subject to us,” Luke 10:17) to the humble faith needed to do heaven’s work (“your names are written in heaven”). As you do the work of God and rejoice in the gospel’s power, remember you are not the source of your joy, God is. He is the One who makes your victory over Satan and sin possible. You do not write your name in heaven, God does that when you faithfully do the work He gives you to do (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 20:12, 15).
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1–2, NKJV)
The psalmist exhorted Israel to lift her eyes heavenward when faced with hardship and calamity, and with the eyes of faith, see her Helper. The hills and mountains gave only temporary protection from their enemies. The idols, whose worshipers had erected shrines on the hilltops, could not see them or hear them when they cried out for help (1 Kings 18:24-29). The Lord, who made the hills (the heaven and the earth), is the ever-vigilant protector of His people (Psalm 121:3-6). The secular world looks to organizations of men, to lawmakers, and to philosophers in times of trial and trouble. They think these will solve their problems. People of faith keep our eyes fixed upon the Lord, who preserves our souls to the day of eternity. We live for heaven (not this earth); that’s where our treasure is (Matthew 6:19-21). The Lord is our Helper day and night. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. Do not be overwhelmed with discouragement and despair: “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23–26, NKJV)
It is not riches that will keep a person out of heaven, but how one views and uses his wealth. Just before Jesus said these words, a rich young man had turned away from following Him after Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor (Matt. 19:21-22). His love of money prevented him from following Jesus. When we love money and material things more than putting Jesus first and obeying Him, then we will not be saved (1 Tim. 6:10). You had just as soon try to pass a camel through a needle’s eye, as try to get to heaven serving riches. God has and will save rich people (Abraham, for example, Gen. 24:35). Jesus is not saying wealth is evil. But, it is evil to love money more than God. Godliness with contentment is the lesson we must all learn and live, whether we are rich or poor (1 Tim. 6:6-10).
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13, NKJV)
The basic meaning of the expression “heavens and the earth” is that of a dwelling place, a habitation. In Genesis 1:1, God created the physical world – “the heavens and the earth” – for humanity to inhabit (Gen. 1:26-28). We later find a similar expression used with a spiritual meaning (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). Isaiah spoke of God creating “new heavens and a new earth” in which people would come to worship before Him (Isa. 65:17; 66:23). Isaiah was speaking of the church – the habitation or dwelling place of God’s people (Isa. 2:1-4). God dwells with His people (the church), and they with Him (2 Cor. 6:16-18). Christians are raised out of the death of sin to sit “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6). We become citizens of a new kingdom when we are saved in Christ (Col. 1:13). Christians inhabit a new and spiritual realm, the church (Acts 2:47). Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). When Peter used the expression “new heavens and a new earth” in 2 Peter 3:13, he was looking forward to yet another dwelling place of God’s people – the eternal kingdom, our heavenly home (2 Pet. 1:11). In visionary form, John saw this “new heaven and a new earth” where righteousness dwells (Rev. 21:1). Entrance into it will be abundantly given to faithful Christians (2 Pet. 1:10-11).