The Answers to Heaven’s Entrance Exam
Matthew 5:3-12 June 28, 1998
How would you like to gain entrance into the most prestigious institution of higher learning in the universe? Many have tried to enter by their own wits and works. Many have tried to enter on their own terms. But the president of this university has a strict code of admission. Those who gain entrance have tenure for life. It is highly sought after but there weren’t many who ever made it. The president wanted his university filled so he sent his registrar to coach prospective applicants on the entrance exam. Mainly, the entrance exam was a physchological aptitude test of spiritual character qualities of those most likely to gain entrance. These qualities would be modeled by the registrar himself. In fact, he is the only one who could ever perfect these qualities since he already had tenure in the university. So he came to give mankind the answers to heaven’s entrance exam which he would model for them as the way, the truth, and the life.
He began his ministry among mankind by spreading out the exam in his first major message, giving us the answers, then living those answers among us. Since no one could ever pass the test with the required 100% score, anyone who wanted entrance into the university would have to come to him for personal approval. It was a situation of tasting what he had and wanting it bad enough to agree to a lifelong contract of service to his authority, recognizing that entrance to the university could only be obtained through him because only he could teach us to live the answers as he did. Basically, the entrance exam was to show prospective applicants that there was no way they could make it without him. He is the one who earned entrance for us as we follow in his train.
Such is the nature of the beatitudes, a series of 8 descriptions of the true disciple and his reward. These beatitudes are amplified in several verses which follow in the Sermon on the Mount.
In Mt. 5:20 we see that the true disciple must have a righteousness different from the righteousness of mankind. That righteousness would be the righteousness of Christ.
In Mt. 7:13-14 we see that this righteousness is described as a way of life which gains entrance, and that this way is an exclusive way.
In Mt. 7:21-22 we see that this righteousness is first a matter of the heart which results in a truly changed life and not the hypocrisy of just outward appearance.
In Mt. 7:24-27 we see the eternal preservation of this righteousness that assures us of a home in heaven built upon the rock of Christ.
We have seen that Christ has given us the answers to heaven’s entrance exam. All these answers relate to what he has done for us. But what are the questions?
Who is it that will obtain the kingdom of heaven? It is the one who realizes his true spiritual condition of poverty in comparison to the richness of God. We are spiritually bankrupt. Through Christ we can have all our debts paid in full.
Who is it that will be comforted? It is those who grieve over their bankrupt condition and want their debts paid. They cry over sin. They want things set right. Through Christ we have the assurance of forgiveness.
Who is it that will inherit the earth? The earth must be renewed and ruled in righteousness according to the promise of God. Eventually it too must go as the eternal state commences. But who will be a part of that kingdom? It is those who would not grab that power for themselves. It is those who trust in the power of God alone.
Who is it that will be filled? It is those whose lust is for righteousness. For this they are hungry and thirsty. Through Christ there is enough to go around. No one will be left out who comes to him.
Who is it that will be shown mercy? It is those who would recognize it if they saw it because they practice it. And they learned it from receiving the mercy of God by submitting to Christ.
Who is it that will see God? It is the one who can see with the heart because God is invisible to sinful mankind. Through Christ our eyes are opened to spiritual reality. Through his cleansing power we can know who God is because we have been made holy as he is.
Who is it that will be called a son of God? It is the one who has come into the family of God through the peace that Christ made with God for us through his shed blood on the cross as an eternal sacrifice for sin.
And finally, who is it once again who will possess the kingdom of heaven? It is the one who is enabled to endure because he has been able to see the end from the beginning. The rejoicing that we have because of what Christ has done for us enables us to rejoice along the way. We have been enabled to overcome the opposition of unrighteousness because Christ went before us, because we have a reward in heaven, and because we are not alone in our journey.