THOSE WHO WILL INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS A NARROW GATE
The 3 great components in the Christian life are tribulation, kingdom and patient endurance.
TRIBULATION (an experience that tests one's endurance, patience, or faith) literally means to pressure and distress the soul. If the joy in the Lord is the fruit of the Christian character, then this external distress is the skin of the fruit; distress on the outside but joy on the inside; outside is the shell but inside is the almond. This is very important because without its shell, the almond or any other fruit cannot survive.
Consider the oxymoron (contradictory terms are combined; cruel kindness ); external distress protects inner joy. This is only possible in the Christian world. If we do not live and experience these states, we need to doubt our Christian identity. In other words it is not possible to develop and maintain joy and spirituality in the absence of distress. To be distressed in the Lord is not something that comes from within, since it is the exterior covering of the fruit of joy. The faithful find themselves in this state because of the external reactions of the world and the devil. The Lord warns us about this, but how many of us remember it? He says, “they will deliver you up to tribulation (an experience to test one's faith)” (Matthew 24:9).
This distress can amount to persecution, jail, suffering, death and martyrdom. The Lord has named this state ‘the narrow gate’ and in this world you will have distress. Nevertheless, this distress brings forth indescribable and overflowing joy – so much so that Saint Paul writes, “I am filled with consolation (comfort in sorrow, misfortune, or distress). With all our affliction, I am overjoyed. How can Saint Paul, overflow with joy in the face of great distress? He experiences the fruit of joy enclosed in the shell of distress.
If we eliminate this distress by introducing comfort and “prosperity gospels,” we will lose this inner joy. If we remove the shell, we will harm the fruit.
Furthermore, distress is an inalienable (incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred to another) characteristic of those who will inherit the Kingdom of God. Saint Paul once again says, “we must go through much distress before we can enter the kingdom of Heaven. This ‘must’ is the connecting link of the inner with the outer, and these two cannot be separated. Actually, he says not just distress but many distresses in the plural. We need many distresses to enter the kingdom of God.
However, various Christian philosophies of our trouble times are attempting to create (and we must be very careful because we are all infected by this trend) a Christianity with no distress, a Christianity full of compromises and comforts. This is one of the two great dangers that threaten our Church today. These two great dangers threaten the contemporary Christian as we speak;
Secularization; The act of rendering secular; worldly (of this world) rather than spiritual. Secularization compromises the gospel to fit the formulas of this world. It allows the mindset of the world to enter the gospel.
Ecumenism; A movement promoting unity among Christian churches or denominations. Ecumenism favors peace at the expense of TRUTH!
Today’s lukewarm Christin is leaning towards a Christianity that does not cost anything, spirituality at the expense of the cross, a spirituality that shuns sacrifice. This sprituality ceases to be holy spirituality because it lacks the presence of the Holy Spirit, so it simply becomes a cheap substitute, a bankrupt form of Christian spirituality and ends up as a humanistic spirituality, the one used by psychologists. The term spirituality used loosely by modern psychologists, artists, soloists, poets, and opera singers has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit of God which flees from this sort of spirituality.
To this end, Revelation forewarns, the beast was allowed to do battle with the saints and defeat the faithful, the Christians. This will become evident when no one will be able to buy and sell without having the mark. There will be a financial boycott (to abstain from or act together in abstaining from using, buying, dealing with, or participating in as an expression of protest or disfavor or as a means of coercion). People will not be able to do business, to buy, sell, or trade, unless they possess the mark of the Masons, Lions, or Rotary Club. Incidentally, every anti-Christian philosophy or activity includes a mark. Let’s not think a mark is only limited to the last 3 ½ years of history; the mark de-Christianizes people and always has. Those who go along with these anti-Christian allies of the beast will be helped financially. Those who don’t have the mark of the beast or the number of his name won’t be able to buy or sell.
At this point, the faith and the patience of the saints will be tested – all those who will refuse to compromise regardless of hardship. This will, of course cause a fierce battle and persecution to force the faithful into extinction. The Antichrist will seek to destroy the true believers of Christ. All these things fall into the area of distress, which is the shell of the fruit of joy and the prerequisite of the Kingdom of God. Holy Scripture does not talk about comfort or compromises here; it emphasizes the faith and patience of the saints.
REVELATION, Volume 1, The Seven Golden Lampstands
Excerpt from REVELATION (5 volume set explaining the Revelation section of the bible, paragraph by paragraph). These books can be purchased online or at the Monastery in Lachute (1 hour away from Montreal)
Greek Orthodox monastery of the Virgin Mary of Consolation
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