Recently, my wife and I were out of town celebrating a special occasion. We had a nice room, in a nice hotel, in a nice location, with a nice view. So I was anticipating a very nice time. Imagine my chagrin when I put the key card to the sensor and the red light kept coming on. The door wouldn’t open. I checked and had the right door, but there was a problem with the key. My thoughts weren’t too nice as I returned to the lobby to seek to discover the problem with the key. In an effort to save my fellow travelers frustration, desperation, or worse I’d like to offer some suggestions as a spiritual concierge.

Assuming that you desire to enter Jesus’ kingdom, you need to make sure that you have the right key. Preliminarily, this is a destination that you want to check into immediately and plan to stay there forever. Of all the destinations that I could recommend there is none that offers the amenities, the sense of pleasure and contentment, nor the glory of this location. Furthermore, although it is presently being remodeled the artist’s renderings on the eternal plan are majestic to say the least.

Jesus reveals the true and false keys in the conclusion to His kingdom manifesto, the Sermon on the Mount:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! [Matt. 7:21-23]

Some keys that won’t get you in:

Lifeless words: [21, 22] Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Calling Jesus “Lord” is not the same as making Jesus Lord. When Jesus is Lord of your life, you choose to submit to Him in every realm of life: personal, marriage, family, career, calling, and community. The term “Lord” speaks of the nature of the relationship of a submitted follower, not merely a title. Unfortunately, there are many who call Jesus “Lord” but their life seems to indicate the words are empty. Their declarations don’t align with their actions. That key simply doesn’t work to enter Christ’s kingdom.

Lifeless works: [22] Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?  Works to advance Christ’s kingdom can provide evidence of salvation, but in and of themselves they will not provide salvation. God can certainly do mighty works through someone even though his or her heart is not yielded to Him. As you consider Judas, the betrayer of Christ, the other disciples considered him to be exemplary. He was the treasurer for the group [Jn. 12:5-6]. Also, when Jesus revealed that one of the disciples would betray Him the other disciples did not apparently suspect that it was Judas. Suffice it to say that you can be very active in works to advance Christ’s kingdom, and still discover that key will not in and of itself give you access to the kingdom.

The Master’s key [the key that gets you into the kingdom]:

Life-giving relationship: [22] And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ The key to the kingdom is to know the Lord, and to do His will. This life-giving relationship is characterized by an attitude of dependence upon Christ and acts of obedience to Christ.

This life-giving relationship is characterized by an attitude of dependence upon Christ and acts of obedience to Christ.

Here are some practical actions to ensure that you have the right key:

Read the Bible: The best way to know Christ and His will is to read (learn) the Bible. As you learn the word of God you meet Christ, and by His Spirit can know Him. The word reveals God’s standard as well as revealing your obedience (or rebellion). A general hunger for the Bible is a good indicator that you have the right key, but only if there is a desire to obey.

Relate through prayer: Prayer is undoubtedly the most-challenging spiritual discipline, but it also tends to be the most purely spiritual activity that a follower of Jesus engages in. Spending time alone, or with others, cultivating intimacy with Christ is a great way to ensure that you have the right key, and of course to grow in Christ.

Reflect on experience: It has been said that, “We learn from experience.” Nevertheless, I believe it is more accurate to conclude that we learn from reflecting upon our experience(s). In our fast-paced and highly distracted culture it seems that people are finding it increasingly difficult to find time for reflection. Creating time to reflect upon Christ, and your life, and where you might be misaligned can be extremely valuable to ensure that you have the right key.

Repent and obey: Reflection and the discovery of misalignment will ensure that you have the right key if it is joined with repentance and obedience. Repentance involves changing our thinking about God and our sin. Obedience involves aligning our behavior to be consistent with Christ.

When these four actions are taking place in your life, you are very likely to receive a green light when you seek to enter Christ’s eternal kingdom.

What do you think are some practical ways to ensure that you have the right key to enter Christ’s kingdom? Share your thoughts below.

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