The definition of blessing is God’s favor and protection; a beneficial thing which God gives to His people. God’s favor and protection is what many of us want, and quite honestly, we need it. But how exactly do blessings come into our lives? By what channel do they flow?

This is an aspect of the works versus grace debate that often confuses people, because even among some grace circles you will hear people make the claim that we are saved by grace but blessed by our works. And this has the effect of shifting our focus off of Jesus and back onto ourselves and our own performance.

Want to be blessed? Well, you got to work for it! Maybe if you do well enough God will toss some scraps your way.

Of course they don’t say it like that, but that’s the idea that comes out of it.

So today we are going to discuss blessings in the New Covenant; do they come by works, or by grace? Let’s find out together!

Your Position in Christ and His Kingdom

For a discussion as this we must begin with the fundamental truth of our position in Christ. Our spiritual position is essential to receiving blessings in the New Covenant, because understanding our position in the Kingdom of God is an crucial pillar of our faith.

You see there a common idea among Christianity that we are striving towards the Kingdom of God. That by living a good life (which is just another way of saying works and performance), you earn your position in the Kingdom, along with blessings and crowns. Again, all this does is put the focus back on ourselves.

There’s a basic misunderstanding when it comes to the Kingdom of God, and that is that we are reaching towards it, or waiting for it. As with many aspects of scripture, we must factor in the finished work of Christ into this to truly understand it. Take a look at Luke 12:22-32:

22 And he said to his disciples, Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shall put on.

23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them: how much more are you better than the fowls?

25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?

26 If you then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take you thought for the rest?

27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say to you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith?

29 And seek not you what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, neither be you of doubtful mind.

30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knows that you have need of these things.

31 But rather seek you the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added to you.

32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”Luke 12:22-32

Many of us are familiar with these words of Jesus, but we often miss the details of what He said. Meditating on these words, the incredible care and provision of our Father God simply cannot be overlooked.

Jesus plainly says in verses 24 and 28 that, if God takes care of a little bird and the grass of a field, how much more will God take care if you! It’s a contrast designed to show you how much God cares for you.

Jesus then continues on to say in verse 29 to not worry about what you will eat or drink, or be of a doubtful mind. That just destroyed the behavior of most people right there! What Jesus says next is the reason why we can be so sure, and what many people still have yet to understand:

30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knows that you have need of these things.

31 But rather seek you the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added to you.

Seek you the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added until you. It’s interesting to note that in Matthew’s account recorded in Matthew 6:33, we get the added detail of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, which reminds us that it is the righteousness of God which is of importance here and not our own self-righteousness, for indeed we have no righteousness of our own.

In both accounts however, we are told to seek the kingdom of God, and that by doing so, provision would be made for us. All these things would be added to you! That’s a valuable promise! However, if we do not know what the Kingdom of God is, or what it looks like, it becomes very difficult (or even impossible) to seek for it, and this has been the struggle for many who have been honestly trying to seek the Kingdom of God as Jesus instructed, but it is a search for the unknown, because they have no real idea of what they are looking for. It’s at this point where works-righteousness can begin to creep in, and we can start looking to our strength to try and reach for the mysterious “kingdom of God.”

However, notice what the very next verse 32 says here: Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Uh-oh! That sentence just threw a spiritual monkey-wrench into the whole “reaching for the kingdom by works” idea. And this is something that we need to fully comprehend.

Your Father’s Good Pleasure

As I mentioned, this all revolves around our spiritual identity in Christ and our place in His family. Rather than earning our position as an employee would do in a corporation, we have our place by birth! We have been born again, reborn into Christ and His family. Jesus was very specific in verse 32 when He said your Father, not simply “the Father.” This is not a distant relationship, but a personal one. A relationship where there is love, closeness, and unity.

Ask yourself this question: How do you see God? Do you see Him as “your Father”, or simply as “God”?

If you see God as distant, cold, uncaring judge who needs to be impressed, appeased or pacified, then you will never be able to have a close unity with Him. However, if you see Him as your loving and generous Father who takes good pleasure in giving His kingdom to His children, then the doors of blessing and provision are suddenly wide open to you.

 

The Kingdom Comes to You

So where is the Kingdom of God today? Did our Father give it to us, or are we still waiting for it? This is the second thing that we must settle in our mind, because even if we believe that God wants to give us the Kingdom, if we think that we are still waiting for it, then we still have nothing right now.

This is a fundamental key to the Gospel, that we need to see. Jesus did not sacrifice Himself on the cross so that we could work our way to Heaven. Rather, Jesus sacrificed Himself so that Heaven could be restored to us. And indeed, the Kingdom of God goes wherever Jesus goes, because the Kingdom represents His authority and rule.

Jesus said this Himself several times in scripture. Let’s look at Mark 1:14-15:

14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.”

What we can see here is that after Jesus was done being tempted in the wilderness, He went to Galilee and was preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Now that is very interesting! And notice what He says in the following verse: Repent (change your thinking, change your mind) because the Kingdom of God is at hand.

To be “at hand” is to be near. And so Jesus is telling people, to change the way that they think, because things have changed, the Kingdom of God has now come near.

What did He mean by that? Well, let’s gather some more information by the interactions of Jesus with the Pharisees, as Jesus’ casts out a demon in Matthew 12:22-28:

22 Then was brought to him one possessed with a devil, blind, and mute: and he healed him, so that the blind and mute both spoke and saw.

23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow does not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.

28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come to you.”Matthew 12:22-28

This account here, gives us some very useful information regarding the Kingdom of God. A man was brought to Jesus, who was blind and unable to speak (due to a demon in this case). Jesus cast out the demon and healed the man. This should be a cause for rejoicing, however the Pharisees accuse Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebub the prince of demons.

And Jesus, perceiving their thoughts (a truly divine act) explains to them that a Kingdom divided against itself cannot stand – a statement which has since gone around the world, you heard it here first by Jesus.

What we are really interested in here though is the final statement made by Jesus in verse 28:

But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come to you.

So what we can see here is that the Kingdom of God is both connected with power (the ability to cast out demons, and to heal), and also connected with the Spirit of God, which we already know is a Spirit of power (2nd Timothy 1:7).

Receive the Kingdom of God Today

Knowing this also gives us some insight into why Jesus said from our original scripture in Matthew chapter 6, that we should seek the Kingdom of God first, and everything else would be added to us – because the Kingdom of God is connected with power, as we have just seen.

The Pharisees, of-course did not receive that insight, and continued to reject and despise Jesus, and eventually we see this in Matthew 21:42-43:

42 Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?

43 Therefore say I to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”Matthew 21:42-43

Here, Jesus cuts right to the heart of everything, and plainly says that by their continual rejection, the kingdom of God will be taken away from them, and given to a people that will bring forth its fruit.

Bringing forth fruit does not come by our strength or effort, but it comes, as we are abiding in Christ, and the Spirit of God manifests fruit in us. (John 15:4-5)

The reason that the Kingdom would be taken from the people in this verse, wasn’t because they didn’t “work enough”, but because they rejected Jesus!

In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus plainly tells them that the Kingdom of God doesn’t come by their observations, but that it is currently among them (referring to Himself). So we can plainly see that wherever Jesus is, so too is the Kingdom of God; His power, His authority, His rule.

His Kingdom is Yours

With this understanding, we can safely conclude through what we have seen today, that the Kingdom of God is not something that you work towards, or strive for, but rather the Kingdom comes to you, just as Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6:10: Your Kingdom come, You will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. And His will certainly has been done, through Jesus and His completed work.(Hebrews 10:9)

I encourage you today my friend, let this truth about the Kingdom which your Father freely gives to you, build you up in the faith of Christ and your status in Him.

Meditate on this reality this week, and I look forward to thriving with you again next week, as we continue with part two, of looking at receiving blessings in the Kingdom of God.

Be blessed.

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