The Keys to the Kingdom
Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom — the knowledge of how to enter the kingdom of God — to the Apostle Peter (Matt. 16:19). He said this particular kingdom was not coming with signs to be observed. That kingdom, with signs, is coming in the future. But the kingdom Christ was talking about was “at hand,” right now. It was within a person, or “within you” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Luke 17:21).
The Pharisees also had the key of knowledge and Jesus scolded them for not entering that kingdom within and for causing others who were trying to enter to stumble (Luke 11:52; Matt. 23:13). These Pharisees were not forcing their way into the kingdom and seizing it for themselves by being servants to others (Luke 16:16; Matt. 23:11). You must read the true translation of Matthew 11:12, which is in the margin. It says, “The kingdom of God is forcibly entered and you must seize it for yourself!” This is proof that there is not only a kingdom of God that must be entered within, but that you must force your way into that kingdom by doing good daily for God in order to seize it for yourself.
Our righteousness must come from our heart and surpass the hypocritical stage of the Pharisees or we won’t enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20). This kingdom is entered by doing God’s Will, which is practicing works of righteousness daily on earth, just as works of righteousness are daily being done in heaven by God (Matt. 7:21; 6:10). These are works of helping those in need and doing acts of kindness and charity continually for God’s glory (Acts 9:36).
We must have righteousness to enter this kingdom. Righteousness done for God is holiness when it comes from your heart daily (Eph. 6:6; Col. 1:10; Heb. 12:14 King James Version). Matthew 6:1 says that we must practice this righteousness, not to be seen of men like the Pharisees, but as happy slaves of God, doing His Will from the heart.
What is this righteousness, then, that we practice daily to please God? “Good works,” say Matthew 5:16 and Romans 2:6-7. We were created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10). All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for training in righteousness and for equipping us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Matt. 25:33-40; Luke 3:11; James 2:14, 17; 1 John 3:17-19).
Jesus is waiting for many to glorify the Father with good works so the Father can form and reveal His Son in them. Are you keeping God’s Ways of righteousness (Gal. 1:15-16; 4:19)? When Jesus Christ returns, will you be one of the peculiar persons He has made for Himself, and to whom He has given the keys of the kingdom — the truth of how to live the repentant life? Will you be one who is zealous for good works (Titus 2:14)? Remember, Jesus Christ himself said those who have good works are resurrected to eternal life (John 5:29)!