The Secrets of the Kingdom are Not Merely Understood, but Obeyed in One’s Life

What are the secrets of the kingdom? Douglas Hare cites four kinds of kingdom secrets in the NT. First, the secrets of the kingdom refer to God’s plan since the foundation of the world.

All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world’ (Matt. 13:34-35).

Second, the secrets of the kingdom refer to the dawn of the kingdom with the acts of Jesus. The kingdom of God is upon you, Jesus says. The kingdom secrets therefore refer to the revelation that Jesus has inaugurated the Kingdom with his miracles and signs and wonders.

Third, the secrets of the kingdom refer to the ethics of the kingdom as taught by Jesus. It refers to the teachings of Jesus about right and wrong in the kingdom. It refers to a kingdom lifestyle.

Fourth, the secrets of the kingdom include also the revelation of the hardening of the hearts of Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles shall come (Rom. 11:25).

The question now is—What does it mean to understand the secrets of the kingdom?

Three boys were talking about their father’s excellence. One of them said, “My father is a great professor. When he is talking about a subject, only 10 people in the world can understand him!”

The second boy said, “My father is a great brain surgeon. When he is talking about his surgery, only 5 people in the whole world can realize what he is saying.”

The third boy said, “My father is a Pastor. When he is preaching, nobody can understand what he is saying.”[1]

And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive” (Matt. 13:14). Isaiah uses the word, “understand,” differently. It is used in the context of covenant relationship with Yahweh. In the covenant, the rule of God is central. Thus, to understand in Isaiah implies an acknowledgment of the rule of God.[2]

Ps. 119:34 says, “Give me understanding, that I may keep your law  and observe it with my whole heart.” Here, “understanding” leads to obedience to God’s law with all our heart, mind, and soul. To understand the kingdom, then, is to obey its principles wholeheartedly. To understand the kingdom is to live a kingdom lifestyle. To live a kingdom lifestyle is to put yourself under the rule of God.

You cannot understand the kingdom merely by head-knowledge. You only understand the kingdom if God gives its secrets to you. Understanding, then, is a gift from God. That is why Jesus says that the people who understand the kingdom are those to whom the kingdom secrets are given.

Since it is given as a gift from God, it is given by divine grace. It is by divine grace, not by our human effort, that we can live out the kingdom of God with all our being.[3] We should ask God, then, for the gift of understanding the kingdom, so that we can live a kingdom lifestyle.

[1] Paul Fritz, “Let the Lord Help You Receive and Give Forgiveness.” Cited June 21, 2013. Online: http://www.sermoncentral. com/sermons/let-the-lord-help-you-receive-and-give-forgiveness-paul-fritz-sermon-on-forgiveness-for-others-64407.asp.

[2] Hare, Matthew, 154.

[3] Hare, Matthew, 154.


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