Are We Prepared
Are we prepared to enter into the kingdom of heaven? The world is our dressing room and we have to get prepared to enter into the kingdom of heaven down here! This sermon focuses on what preparation must be done for us to enter the kingdom of heaven.
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.
Matthew 13:47-48 NKJV
A prepared people
My dad once preached a sermon titled, “Heaven: A Prepared Place for a Prepared People”. That sermon was preached many years ago, but no matter how long ago it was, that sermon still sticks with me to this day. One reason that it sticks with me is because of my love for heaven. I have a great love for heaven and I have a great desire to one day be in heaven with my Lord. Heaven is always on my mind! I used to sing in the men’s choir at church (really it was a boys choir) and I used to pick the songs we would sing and teach the songs to the other 2 guys in the choir, along with my brother. One song, in particular, sung by Luther Barnes, “Heaven on My Mind”, we would sing just about every Sunday it would be our turn to sing. My brother would sing lead on the song, I know he was tired of singing the song, but it was a song that I loved for us to sing because it always spoke to my heart and uplifted my spirit.
That sermon, I tell you, really stuck with me because it touched that same chord. At the very same time, it made me wonder whether or not I was one of those prepared people. Dad said that you had to get prepared down here if you wanted to be able to step into the Father’s house. So, I ask this question today, are you prepared to enter the Lord’s house? Everybody wants to go to heaven, but few want to walk the road to get there! Few want to keep the way that is required to get there! Are you prepared for the heavenly kingdom? Are we prepared?
Heaven was known of in the Old Testament. The Old Testament believers knew, though they didn’t quite understand all that well, that the Lord resided in a heavenly kingdom. However, in the New Testament, heaven was truly revealed through the only begotten Son of God. Jesus came into this world teaching and preaching about His Father’s House – heaven. It is because of the teachings of Christ that we have such a clear understanding of where heaven is and what heaven is today.
In my responsive reading for today (Matthew 13:36-48), you will see that Jesus talks about heaven in three parables. In the first parable (Matthew 13:44), Jesus likens heaven to a hidden treasure found in the field by a man. Let’s focus on this treasure for just a brief moment. The man finds this treasure, and you will notice that this man quickly realizes the treasure’s worth. So what does this man go and do? He hides this treasure in another field until he is able to purchase the new field with the hidden treasure! Keep this in mind because I am going to come back to this man and his hidden treasure.
Jesus then likens heaven to a pearl (fine jewelry). This pearl was not just any old kind of pearl but a pearl of unique quality to this one merchant (Matthew 13:45-46). Notice that this merchant was so infatuated with this one pearl that he, like the other man, sells all that he has just so that he can purchase the unique pearl that nobody else had purchased. Jesus tells three parables about heaven in this passage of scripture, but I find the first two parables to be very interesting and so we must dig into these two parables.
Let’s first notice that both the parable of the hidden treasure and the unique pearl lets us know the worth of heaven. The hidden treasure and the pearl was worth so much that these two men had sold all that they possessed so that they can either purchase a field where the treasure was re-hidden or purchase the pearl. Since heaven is being likened to the two, then clearly heaven is of great worth. Heaven must also be very unique! These two men, when they both found either the hidden treasure or the pearl were filled with great joy and moved with great haste to get it before somebody else did. However, there’s a couple of things wrong with this picture that I want to point out.
The first very big problem that I want to point out is the two men’s selfishness. In the parable of the hidden treasure, notice that the man does not tell anybody else that he has found treasure. Why do you suppose he didn’t tell anybody about the treasure he had found? I tell you that I believe it’s because he did not want to share the treasure he had just found with anybody else. My proof for this is the fact that he went and hid the treasure in another field. You hide things when you don’t want somebody else to find whatever it is you’re hiding. When some people like to argue that the bible only speaks of “white man’s heaven” my rebuttal is that everybody knows about heaven, even when some tried and still trys to hide it from others.
You see, we, mankind, have a problem with sharing what’s good with others. As I preached last Sunday, we live in a present age where we would rather be selfish than share with others – that’s applauded and appreciated nowadays. The man with the hidden treasure found the treasure, took the treasure to another field and hid it again all so he could buy that field and keep the treasure to himself! I feel like, if it was up to him, this man would dictate who could come into his field and who be unable to enjoy the riches of that treasure.
The merchant that bought the unique pearl is not all that different from the man that found the hidden treasure. He did not buy that pearl to give to a special lady or share with anybody else. No, this merchant saw the worth of that unique pearl and bought that pearl solely for himself. I believe that this man was going to hold on to that pearl all for himself and shout about how he had this unique pearl. There are many people, who find great joy in believing that they have heaven and nobody else is worthy of getting in! These people walk around and shout about how they are saved and condemn the ways of others.
The next big problem that we must also talk about is the fact that these men were seeking to purchase these two items that were likened to the kingdom of heaven. The man with the hidden treasure sought to buy the field where he had hid the treasure that was likened to the kingdom of heaven. The merchant sought to purchase the pearl that was likened to the kingdom of heaven. The problem is that the kingdom of heaven is not for purchase! You cannot buy your way into heaven! There is no ticket to getting into heaven and I thank the Lord for that. Rich men would buy up all of the tickets and gauge the prices on the tickets! You better believe that people that look like me would not be allowed to enter into heaven – just look at all the mess that’s being kept up now at the southern border (no mention of what happens at the other borders). Only a certain crowd would be allowed to enter into heaven if rich men were able to buy up all of the tickets.
Are you prepared to let go?
I believe Jesus told these two parables first solely to illustrate the worth of heaven. Notice, again, that the two men both were willing to sell all they had for the purpose of getting heaven. While we cannot buy our way into heaven, Jesus is also illustrating the fact that you will have to let things go in order for you to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Are you willing to let go of all of what you have so that you can enter into the kingdom of heaven? Are you prepared?
You see, there was this rich young ruler that thought himself to be perfect. So, this young ruler came to Jesus (Luke 18:18-23) and asked, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” I believe this man thought himself to be a really good man because he had not committed adultery, murder, nor theft. This young man did not bear false witness against the Lord and he also honored his father and his mother. In other words, the young ruler would say that he was keeping to the Mosaic Law – a good man. Yet, I want you to see what Jesus says to this man in Luke 18:22:
So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Luke 18:22 NKJV
Jesus says to the younger to sell all that he had and give the profits to the poor! I believe we can cross-reference this over to the two parables we have been speaking about from Matthew 13:44-46. The man that had found the hidden treasure should have taken his profits and given to the poor and he should have told others about his treasure. The merchant should have given his profits to the poor and should have also told others about his treasure.
Jesus tells the young man to sell all that he has, give the profits to those in need, and then follow Him! Let’s apply this example to our lives so that we can better understand our preparation process. When you sell something you are essentially getting rid of that something. In order for us to follow Jesus, we must be willing to give up the things that would hold us back from following Him. So, our preparation for the kingdom of heaven requires us to give up old man (our old ways) and to also give up this world. Old man (our old ways) and the riches of this world has become a great hurdle (struggle) for many people. However, if you want to enter into the kingdom of heaven, the only way to get there is to follow in the way of Christ – you must let go and follow Him. Are you prepared to let go of old man (old ways) and this world to follow after Christ and enter into the kingdom of heaven?
Notice, in our next parable (Matthew 13:47-48) that Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a dragnet – those large nets used to catch fish. In Forest Gump, Forest and Lieutenant Dan were using large nets to catch all of their shrimp. When they first started out they weren’t able to pull anything but a bunch of junk. Jesus illustrates that heaven is like those large nets used to catch fish/sea life. This view, you will quickly notice, is not as glamorous as the hidden treasure and the pearl. We all have this glamorous idea of heaven, in fact, the book of Revelation actually speaks of how beautiful New Heaven will be (Revelation 21). So, why does Jesus, in this passage of scripture, compare heaven to a dragnet?
Let’s notice what Jesus says about this dragnet. Jesus says that this dragnet was “cast out into the sea”, and when it was cast out, notice, that it pulls in “some of every kind”. There are many different types of fish in the sea along with all the other sea life. The fishermen in this parable were going to pull in all types of fish from the sea – that couldn’t be helped. However, let’s notice that Jesus tells us the fishermen would go on to filter out the “good” fish from the “bad” fish. The sea is a metaphorical representation of the entire world. The fish represents all of mankind that has ever walked in this world. Heaven is going to come calling one day for all of mankind, and Jesus is going to be the one filtering out the different types of fish. Jesus is going to hold on to all of the good fish (those who became godly people) and He is going to cast (throw) away all of the bad fish (those who were wicked and ungodly). Are you prepared for this filter?
Let me make this very clear: heaven is not a discriminatory place in the sense of how we discriminate against one another in this world today. Where one is discriminated because of his/her skin color, bank account (wealth), social classification, and whatever other discrimination that we come up with – heaven is not that way. Heaven is meant for everybody, whether you are black, white, yellow, red, or another color of the color spectrum. There will be no segregation laws in heaven. There will be no jim crow laws in heaven. The only thing that will be filtered out of heaven is the ungodly and wicked sinner that did not believe in the only begotten Son. We must prepare ourselves so that we do not be filtered out of the kingdom of heaven because all of us should want to be in that heavenly kingdom.
Heaven is a place that does not accept the wicked and all of those that are filled with hate that seems to be “ruling” the world nowadays. If you are filled with wickedness, you are not prepared to enter into the heavenly kingdom. If hate is what drives you, you are not prepared to enter into the kingdom of heaven! It’s time for you to get yourself right with the Lord because He will not allow you to enter into His kingdom with a soul like that! All of you who are ungodly – keeping up strife, contentions, and envying – you are not prepared nor are you fit for the heavenly kingdom. I tell you today that I do not want to inherit an eternal kingdom with those types of souls!
Heaven is, however, fit for the wicked and the ungodly that have sought the Lord and become a new creature! Heaven is fit for the wicked and the ungodly that have sought the Lord’s forgiveness! You see, at one point in time, all of us were wicked and ungodly but a wonderful change came over all of us who sought the Lord! I tell you that heaven is fit for the one that society continually beats on and won’t allow to live in peace – just put your faith in God. Heaven is fit for the one that society treats worse than animals – just put your faith in God. Heaven is fit for the one that society does not want – trust me, God wants you – put your faith in Him! Heaven is fit for all who have put their faith in the Lord and have believed in His only begotten Son.
If you want to enter the kingdom of heaven, now is the time to get yourself prepared! Christ has gone to prepare a place for us and will come again to receive us unto Himself (John 14). You prepare yourself today through faith in Him and by living a genuinely godly life. Repent and turn to the Lord. Get your house in order.