“Woe to you lawyers! For you took away the key of knowledge. For you yourselves did not enter in and those coming you hindered” (Luke 11:52).
This rebuke was directed at the scribes, those ordained in Judaism as learned in the Law, the holy scriptures of God. By insisting on possessing authority in relation to all scriptural matters, they took away the key of knowledge from those seeking to learn more of God and His Word. They not only did not enter in to the deeper things that come from intimacy with God, but they hindered those who sought such an intimate relationship.
This warning is not unlike that contained in Jesus dialogue with Nicodemus in the third chapter of John, in which Jesus pointed out that, for those begotten again, it is possible to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3) without entering in (John 3:5). So there is a warning in the Nicodemus dialogue; a warning not to stop at seeing the kingdom of God, but to press in and enter. It is a warning that is seen throughout the New Testament for those with eyes to see and a heart to obey. Seeing and entering in are two separate steps; and there are always two steps.
For example, “Enter by the narrow gate; because wide is the gate and broad the way leading to destruction and many are those entering through it. Narrow is the gate and restricted the way leading to life and few there are finding it” (Matthew 7:14). So here are two steps; the broad way, which can be characterised as seeing the kingdom of God; and the narrow way, which is entering therein. Luke 13:24 directs that we should strive – the Greek word is agonizomai, or “agonize” in English – to enter in, which itself gives some indication that the way of truth that leads to life is not all beer and skittles, as some false prophets in today’s apostate churches would have us believe. In fact, in the very next verse Jesus says to “beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15), another warning that is mostly ignored in modern orthodox Christianity. In this example the broad way may be characterised as religious Christianity, the narrow way as following Christ. In the former, faith is generally passive, and searching out the scriptures is left to the ecclesiastically appointed religious hirelings; in the latter, the true believer earnestly and continuously seeks to dwell in the presence of Christ, and Christ Himself is the Teacher and Leader (Matthew 23:10).
Another example of the two steps is that we are called to “come!” (Matthew 11:28), but in John 15 we are also commanded to “abide”. Further, Jesus warns; “If anyone does not abide in Me, in the same way as the branch he is cast outside and is dried up; and they gather them, and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). “He is dried up”; this is a passive verb; we don’t dry ourselves up, it is done to us. This is because life is only in Jesus (John 1:4): outside of Him there is no life at all, just biological existence, and we are dried up by the absence of spiritual life. If we are born again and not abiding in Christ we are only seeing the kingdom, not entering it. This is a terrible warning that most Christians seem to ignore, being satisfied with being born again, regarding this experience as “being saved”, a latter day heresy that is responsible for the low spiritual condition of the modern Church, and its lack of any power whatsoever.
Yet again, Jesus said; “Many are called but few are chosen” (Greek eklektos, meaning choice, elect, Matthew 22:14). Isn’t another way of saying this; “many see the kingdom but few enter it”? This is a further declaration by Jesus of the principle that being born again is a beginning, not an end. One can be called and not chosen; indeed, Jesus said that this happens to many! In the Book of Revelation, we get a picture of those who are with the Lamb in the heavenlies; “and those with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful;” (Revelation 17:14). So the distinguishing characteristic of the chosen, or elect, is that they are faithful; i.e. obedient, as was Abraham, the father of faith.
This pattern is repeated through out the scriptures; there are two lights, the True Light (John 1:9) and the light that is darkness (Matthew 6:23); there are two gospels, “this gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14) and a different gospel (Galatians 1:6); there are two spirits, the Holy Spirit and a “different spirit” (2 Corinthians 11:4); two men, the first Adam and the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45); two covenants, Old and New; and so it goes. And, most important of all, there is a “coming out” and a “going in”.
“The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and for ever” (Psalm 121:8).
When one is begotten again, it is meant to be a “coming out” and a “going in”; we are “delivered from the authority of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of His Beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). But “coming out” and “going in” are two separate and distinct functions. In the “coming out”, it is God that performs the act; we are called and we have come; it is all God’s doing. But we do not yet abide, nor are we necessarily chosen, nor have we entered on the narrow path; we have just come out, but we are yet to enter in. It is a place where many who are called remain, never entering in to gain the inheritance intended for them; for as long as the heir is a child, he cannot gain the inheritance (Galatians 4:1).
“Entering in” does not mean going to Church; churches are vehicles established by men to propagate the teachings of the New Covenant, in the same way that synagogues were and are vehicles established by Judaism to propagate the teachings of the Old Covenant. Thus, because different men have different views and interpretations on the teachings of Christ, there are many different churches, whereas, of course, the ecclesia, the Greek word translated as “church”, is meant to be one mystical Body under the inspiration, direction and control of one Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Entering in” requires choices from those “coming out”; for example, we are to choose the narrow path if we want to find eternal life; if we don’t choose the narrow path we remain on the broad path that leads to destruction. The broad path is obviously that path which most of those coming out follow and it points to religious Christianity as propagated by the churches, of which men are the heads exercising direction and control. In “coming out”, the natural thing to do is to join that path being followed by the vast bulk of people calling themselves Christians; but while it is a natural enough thing to start off on that path and follow like minded people, it is not where we should remain. It is filled with those who have come out, but who have not entered in, who have “come” but do not “abide”. It is just one of many manifestations of the “broad way” and, those desiring to enter into intimacy with Christ will inevitably find it impossible within the religious environment. “Therefore, we should go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). His reproach, of course, was to be rejected and betrayed by His brethren.
Again, if we are to enter in, we are obliged to choose God over Mammon, for we cannot serve both (Matthew 6:24). Mammon is the world and its desires and affections, attitudes and opinions, values and lifestyles; it is the pursuit of those things that satisfy the “self”, and which Jesus described as “the deceitfulness of riches, the cares of this world, the pleasures of this life and the desire for ‘other’ things” (Parable of the Sower Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8). Many Christians seek to have a foot in both camps, to stand astride both the world and the kingdom of God; but this is impossible, there is a great gulf set between them and, as long as you have a foot in the world, in the sense of standing upon its values attitudes and affections, you belong to the world.
“Entering in” requires sacrifice; that was always the way under the Old Covenant; God could not be approached without sacrifice. So it is under the New; in Psalm 50, a prophetic psalm of the end times, God declares; “Gather My saints together unto Me, those making a covenant with Me by sacrifice” (Psalm 5:5). The sacrifice the Psalmist speaks of is ours, not that of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice is nothing less that the death of the ego, the self nature, and the crucifixion of the flesh; “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its impulses and desires” (Galatians 5:24).
In the story of Jacob, we have another example of two steps. In Genesis 28, Jacob had a dream in which the angels of God were ascending and descending a ladder reaching into heaven. Jacob awoke and said; “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it” (Genesis 28:17). This is Jacob seeing the kingdom. And he named the place Bethel, meaning House of God. Much later, after Jacob had gone his own way, he wrestled throughout the night with God (Genesis 32:25-32). He would not let God go until he had received a blessing. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, meaning “strived with God” and Jacob named the place Peniel, meaning “face of God”. This is a picture of Jacob entering into the kingdom. This too, was a second step taken by Jacob, firstly meeting God and then striving to become God’s own man; he journeyed from being Jacob to becoming Israel. “Strive to enter by the narrow way” Jesus said (Luke 13:24). That’s what Jacob did.
“He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel” (Psalm 103:7).
“When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and they saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘They do always err in their heart; and they did not know my ways’. So I swore in my wrath, ‘they shall not enter into my rest.’” ((Hebrews 3:9-11).
He showed His ways to Moses, but the children of Israel only saw His acts. You could say that Moses entered into the kingdom, but Israel only saw it. There is clearly a qualitative difference here between knowing His acts and knowing His ways. And God was angry with that generation of the children of Israel because they saw His acts but did not know His ways; and they perished in the wilderness.
Here is yet another example of those coming out but not going in. God’s judgement of them was that they were not allowed to enter into His rest.
There are two Greek words for “Word”; logos and rhema. At the temptation of Jesus, He said to Satan; “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3).
The Greek word that is translated here as “word” is rhema, not logos, and means the word that is being spoken now, the “proceeding” word, not the whole body of scripture which is the logos. The rhema is not inconsistent with the logos and indeed derives from the logos. The distinction is that the logos is what God has said whereas the rhema is what God is saying, being that part of the logos that God is bringing under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In the presence of God, what you hear when He speaks will be the rhema, the “word proceeding from the mouth of God”.
There are many who know the logos and who never receive a rhema; Satan knows the logos; he quoted it to Jesus in the temptation; but he can never receive a rhema because he is not subject to the Holy Spirit. When God speaks to us by the Spirit, He does so in a rhema and it is only as you are in His presence and submitted to the Holy Spirit that you will receive a rhema. That is part of God’s security system over His Word. W.E. Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, put it this way; “The significance of rhema as distinct from logos is exemplified in the injunction to take “the sword of the Spirit which is the word (rhema) of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with scripture”.
Peter said to Jesus “Where would we go; you have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68); the Greek translated as “words” here is rhema.
The logos is for those who have come out; the rhema is for those who have gone in.
Finally, there is yet another example of the two steps; when we become believers, we believe what the scriptures tell us about Jesus; we learn of the One Who was. But there is yet more to learn; knowing Him as the One Who was is not enough; we must know Him as the One Who is; the One in Whom we dwell and have our being. Sadly, too many are content to know Jesus only as the One Who was, without ever going into that place of deeper intimacy where He is. The knowledge of Jesus as the One Who was is not saving knowledge; plenty of unbelievers know Him as the One Who was; we must know Him in the present and experience His continual presence in our lives. That’s what it means to “abide in Me”.