“The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;”
Recently my wife and I found it necessary to update our will. We are quite a bit older than when we first made a will and our present reality is quite a bit different from that time. In fact, I was surprised to see just how out of date our old documents were. Having clarity regarding an inheritance is important…I’m sure that our pets will be happy for the changes.
Clearing the Confusion
The last post of this series, “What’s in a Name?”, concluded with the following question: “If we are not in the Kingdom now, then why are believers called children of the kingdom in Matthew 13:38?”
Even more confusing; why are ‘the children of the kingdom’ cast into outer darkness in Matthew 8:12? If the children of the kingdom can be cast into outer darkness (a euphemism for Hell), can I really be sure of my salvation? How do we reconcile these passages? What does it mean to be a child of the kingdom?
My prayer is that this post can clarify and not muddy the waters concerning these questions.
I believe that it is helpful to understand the term ‘children of the kingdom’ as a legal term that confers an inheritance on to a person or group of persons. A legal will should specify terms by which the benefactors may inherit whatever is left in the estate.
That will becomes a legal declaration recorded and placed into the care of a trustee. Whenever questions arise about the inheritance, the trustee can refer to the will in response to those questions. Sometimes it may be specified in the will that unless certain conditions are met, the inheritance distribution may be deferred or in extreme cases, denied altogether.
For instance, the will may specify that before a person receives an inheritance that they have to be a certain age and/or have completed a certain level of education or vocational training. Further, it may be stipulated that if conditions are not met by the persons specified, the inheritance would be passed on to a later generation in the family.
In such a case, the inheritance is never cancelled but it is postponed or deferred until the conditions are met. This means that the promised inheritance remains in the family but there may be some children who will be counted as outside of that promise.
With this understanding it is perhaps easier to understand that Matthew 8:12 is referring to some of the children of Israel who would not be allowed to receive the promises given to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Even though they are physical descendants and rightful inheritors of the promise, if they have not met the condition of receiving their Messiah, the promised inheritance will be deferred to a distant generation and they themselves will be cast out.
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.”
Matthew 21:43 NKJV
The Greek word translated nation here is ‘ethnos’. It literally means a multitude of like mind, however it is most often translated as ‘gentiles’. Nevertheless there are instances in which it refers specifically to the Jewish nation: Luke 7:5; Luke 23:2; John 11:48-52; John 18:35.
So, ‘children of the kingdom’ is a reference to those who possess a legal inheritance. In this case, Israel’s receipt of that inheritance is contingent upon the one condition to recognize that Jesus is Jehovah and the Messiah of Israel. Having failed of that, the inheritance awaits a different generation of Israelites.
The mistake that most of the church has made is in applying Matthew 21:43 to themselves. That is the teaching that the church is that nation that has received the inheritance that Israel has rejected. From this comes the teaching that the church is now the kingdom promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is often called ‘replacement theology’.
To be sure, the church (composed of both Jew and Gentile from every tribe, tongue and nation throughout the earth) has become benefactors of the promised inheritance as ‘partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light’ (Colossians 1:12). Those whom the Holy Spirit has placed into the church are now legally designated ‘children of the kingdom’. That is, they are legally entitled to receive the promised inheritance, yet the church has not replaced Israel.
The Holy Spirit has delegated the mass of humanity into only three major groups of people. The apostle Paul revealed these to be the Jew, the Gentile and the church of God (1 Corinthians 10:32). In this day of grace it is only those that have acknowledged that Jesus is Jehovah are in the church of God. (1 Corinthians 1:2)
Both unbelieving Jews and unbelieving Gentiles are outside of the covenant of promise. Unbelieving Jews are those children of the kingdom who are cast out unless and until they receive Jesus as Lord. Yet, when Jews and Gentiles become believers in Christ Jesus, they become one in Him. (Ephesians 2:12-18)
This brings us to ask if it is possible then for the believer once sanctified by faith to likewise be ‘cast out into outer darkness’? While there are many who teach that this is possible, the scripture reveals that this is impossible. God has made it impossible for one very important reason:
The Present Session of Christ
“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,”
Hebrews 8:1 NKJV
As a result of the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, He is given all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18). He exercises that authority in three offices of Prophet, Priest and King. The Holy Spirit reveals in ‘the volume of the book’ (the Holy Scriptures) that Messiah must be all of these things.
In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses told the people of Israel that there is was coming another prophet like unto himself that they must hear. When the Lord Jesus came on the scene, He did so acting in the role of prophet to call Israel back to God. He brought clarity to the Word of God by revealing Himself to be the Word of God in human flesh. (John 1:14)
This present session of Christ assures us that we are kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:3-5) through the intercession of Christ (Romans 8:34). This is because Christ is now the mediator of a new and better covenant than what was under the law of Moses:
“And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
Hebrews 9:15 NKJV
We have an inheritance that cannot be taken away because it is based on God’s faithfulness and not our own faithfulness. Every believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. (Ephesians 1:13). When we are unfaithful to our calling, He will deny us our reward (2 Corinthians 5:10) but He is always faithful to what He has promised regarding our inheritance (2 Timothy 2:11-13).
So, to summarize, the Lord was incarnated to fulfill His office as ‘that Prophet’ that Moses spoke of. Now that He is risen and ascended back to the Father’s throne (Revelation 3:21). He is at present and forevermore fulfilling His office as our Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 7:24-28)
A previous post made the point that while we recognize that Jesus is Lord and King, He is never called ‘King of the Church’ because He has not yet entered into His Kingdom on earth. To the nation of Israel, He functions as their ‘Prince of Peace’ but not yet King of kings. When He returns to earth as promised as a descendant of King David (2 Samuel 7:16). He will fully exercise that authority from the throne of David in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 9:7)
This cannot happen until Israel’s leadership recognizes that Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah:
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Luke 13:35 KJV
Where is the Inheritance of the Church?
When we in the church consider what lies beyond the grave for us, we love to sing the words of Albert E Brumley:
“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through, My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue, The Angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore”Albert E Brumley
We often set our expectations that “Somewhere beyond the blue” minimizes the reality that we will have new bodies in order to serve in our Lord’s thousand year reign on the earth. Having heaven as our home means that it is a place from which we will receive our inheritance as the wife of Christ. (1 Peter 1:4; Revelation 19:7 KJV)
While heaven is our home, our inheritance involves priestly service as co-regent with our King Jesus (Revelation 20:6). It appears that this service will primarily take place on the earth. For some reason we seem to have a harder time conceiving of this promised reality than we have conceiving of ourselves in some ethereal disembodied state of eternal rest that frankly sounds a bit boring. Lord willing, in future posts, we can look at the inheritance of the church in a bit more depth.
As we continue to look at what’s in a name, we have recognized that Jesus is the King Eternal; The Lord of All; Messiah the Prince and A Priest Forever. Yet with all of these majestic titles, He remains the lowly Lamb of God who alone is worthy to receive the title deed of the earth (Revelation 5). This name deserves our future attention as well.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I have included Blue Letter Bible links to the scriptures cited. When you click on them, it will open a new window to that reference.
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Thank you and may the Lord richly bless you today.