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God is Sovereign, Part 4
Characteristics of God, God is Sovereign
God’s Kingdom is for His Followers
Welcome to week 4 of studying God’s sovereignty! If you are a believer, this week is for you! As I was studying about God as a King, I was struck by how many passages talk about followers of Christ inheriting God’s kingdom. So in this last lesson, we are going to look at this concept in more depth.
Kingdom of Heaven for Believers
Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve established that God is King and he has a kingdom. He rules over everything, but those who willingly choose to follow him have a special place in God’s kingdom. In fact, God says that his people will inherit his kingdom.
Daniel 7:18: But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.
Matthew 25:34: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’”
What are the characteristics of those who will inherit the kingdom of heaven? The answer might surprise you because it is opposite of what the world usually holds as a high standard.
First, those who will inherit the kingdom of God are those who recognize their need for God.
Matthew 5:3: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
James 2:5: Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
Next, those who will inherit the kingdom of God are those who produce fruit—those who follow God obediently, become more Christ-like each day, and tell others about the kingdom.
Matthew 21:43: “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you [chief priests and Pharisees] and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
Finally, those who will inherit the kingdom of God are those who continue to follow God even though they are persecuted for their beliefs.
Matthew 5:10: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
These verses tell us that the kingdom of heaven is not for those who are successful or rich or popular. It’s for those who recognize that they desperately need God, and they are willing to sacrifice their lives to follow him and to bring others to him.
How to Get into the Kingdom
The Bible clearly tells us that not everyone will get into God’s kingdom. To get into the kingdom, we must repent and believe the good news of what Jesus has done to pay the penalty for our sins. When we do this, the Bible says that we are “born again.” We’ve been cleansed of our sins and given new life through the Holy Spirit.
Mark 1:15: “The time has come,” he [Jesus] said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
John 3:3-5: 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
Once we take this first step of repentance and belief, we then must live a life that is honoring to God. We must be willing to be obedient and do God’s will. Although our salvation is dependent on Christ’s work and not our own works, if we refuse to live in obedience to Christ, then that is evidence that we have not truly repented of our sins.
Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:19-20: 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
As we live, we must continue to remain humble in life. We continually recognize that we are nothing and Christ is everything. Without Christ, we cannot be righteous.
Matthew 18:3-5: 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
The Bible also warns us that if we truly live out our faith, we will endure hardships. We will be persecuted. But we can find joy in those hardships because they are evidence that we are destined to join Christ in his kingdom.
Acts 14:21-22: 21 They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
The Bible also tells us about those who will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10: 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21: 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 5:5: For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
No matter how good you think you are, you fall somewhere on that list of people who cannot enter the kingdom of God. But the good news is that we are not the ones who have to do the work to enter the kingdom. God has already done the work through Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:13-14: 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Luke 18:24-27: 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-56: 50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 4:18: The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The Bible tells us clearly that anyone who enters the kingdom of God does so through Christ’s work, not anything we have done. Any change in our life to obey and follow him, to tell others about Christ, and to endure persecution happens only because of Christ.
Our Responsibility to Spread the Good News
When Jesus was on earth, his primary mission was to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.
Luke 4:43: But he [Jesus] said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
Luke 8:1: After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him.
Jesus expected his followers to do the same.
Luke 9:1-2: 1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Acts 8:12: But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 19:8: Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.
That mission to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God has been passed down not only to the original disciples and apostles but to all believers. We must continue to proclaim the kingdom until Christ returns.
Matthew 24:14: And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Luke 9:59-62: 59 He [Jesus] said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Regardless of what else we have going on in our lives, our first priority should be to proclaim the kingdom of God. This is the ultimate calling of all Christians.
The Bible tells us that those who repent and believe and live in obedience to Christ will inherit the kingdom of God. If this seems hard, it is. The Bible never promises that if we believe in Jesus, we will have an easy life. Instead, it promises the opposite. If we choose to follow Christ, we will face hardship. But the good news is that Jesus has already done the work to bring us into his kingdom. He has rescued us and he has done the impossible—he turns our unrighteousness into his righteousness and the perishable into imperishable. This is the only reason we can inherit the kingdom of God.
Each individual characteristic of God study will come with two resources: a word search just for fun (including an answer key), and a list of verses for if you want to investigate that individual characteristic of God more completely.
You can access these resources by clicking here: God Is Sovereign Resources
Or you can download them here: