Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God

15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Matthew 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

Matthew 18:2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Acts 14:22b …We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.


MEMORY VERSE: The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. —Luke 16:16


CENTRAL THOUGHT: The kingdom of heaven was at hand and available, but there were definitely some restrictions for entering that Jesus taught the people: repenting, believing the gospel, obtaining a righteousness that was greater than that of the Pharisees, doing God’s will, becoming as a little child, being converted and born again; and being willing to fight, press, lay down idols such as earthly wealth, and endure persecution and tribulation.




Mark 1:15 “At hand”: approaches; has come near.

Matthew 11:12 “Suffereth violence” and Luke 16:16 “Presseth”: to advance forcefully; to apply force.

Matthew 18:3 “Be converted”: to turn; to change direction; about-face.




“The kingdom of heaven is at hand!” was the cry of John the Baptist, and later, Jesus, as He began preaching after John was put in prison. When Jesus read the gospel, or good news, of the kingdom (Isaiah 61) in the synagogue, He announced that the Spirit was anointing Him to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, and preach deliverance to the captives. When He cast out devils by the Spirit, He said, “The kingdom of God is come unto you.” He was letting the people know that the kingdom was there, available, and whoever would repent, be converted, and believe His words would be able to enter.

Jesus taught definite prerequisites for entering the kingdom of God. The Pharisees had a certain kind of outward righteousness. But, Jesus said, “Ye neither go in [to the kingdom of heaven] yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 22:13). So the righteousness of the Pharisees wasn’t sufficient for entering God’s kingdom, since it was their own righteousness and not God’s; this was also Paul’s testimony in Romans 10:3. Jesus said that, “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Additionally, a man could not enter merely by saying, “Lord, Lord.” He had to DO God’s will and not just talk about it. This definitely takes in being converted, or changed, and becoming meek, humble, willing to learn, and as submissive as a little child.

In Matthew 19 a young man came running to Jesus. Jesus looked at him with great love, although He knew of the idols in this wealthy young man’s heart. When the young man confessed to something lacking in his life, although he had kept all the commandments, Jesus put him to the test. “Go and sell all you have, and give to the poor, and then come and follow me.” The young man hesitated. “You’ll have treasure in heaven,” Jesus promised. Sorrowfully, the man turned and walked away. Jesus made no bargains with him. Instead, He turned to His disciples and made the statement that it was nearly impossible for a wealthy man to enter the kingdom of heaven; only God could make it possible. A wealthy man would have to humble himself, change his direction and purpose, give up his idols, and surrender all to enter the kingdom.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee who came to Jesus at night, acknowledging that Jesus was a teacher come from God, as evidenced by the miracles He performed, but wanting to know more. Jesus responded by teaching him about being born again. The passage does not tell us that Nicodemus believed in Jesus at that time, but later he defended Jesus before his fellow Pharisees and assisted the disciples and Joseph of Arimathea with the care of Jesus’ body after His crucifixion.

The remainder of verses in our lesson have to do with dealing with the opposition we encounter when we desire to enter the kingdom. With the rich man, it was his desire for riches; with Nicodemus, it was his fear of man. Our own flesh opposes submission to God’s righteousness, humility, and the willingness to learn as a child and do God’s will instead of our own. The violence Jesus spoke of and the pressing we must do is against our flesh.

We also have an adversary, the devil, who seeks to devour us. He will “try his worst” to turn us back from entering the kingdom. Again, we must be violent and aggressive with our intention to repent and be converted. Persecution, tribulation, or temptation must not deter us from our purpose.

—Angela Gellenbeck



  1. What did it mean when John and Jesus preached, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand?”
  2. Name the conditions for entering the kingdom of heaven.
  3. For whom is it nearly impossible to enter the kingdom, and what is the remedy?
  4. What forms of opposition must we deal with to enter the kingdom?
  5. What did Jesus say we must do about the opposition?




Studying these verses definitely presents a clear picture of the challenge before every soul who desires to enter God’s kingdom. The contest is still the same as when Jesus spoke to the rich man and to Nicodemus. There is still a battle to be fought if we want to be saved, and definitely one to fight if we are to keep saved. The disciples encouraged the early church that it is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom. At that time in history, your life was in jeopardy if you became a follower of Jesus. In many places in our world today that is still the case.

We live in a prosperous society that puts nearly all of us in the position of the rich young man. For us to enter the kingdom and stay there, our wealth presents an almost impossible obstacle. We will have to be as aggressive and courageous against covetousness as the Christians were who faced the lions. Jesus spoke of surface conversions in the parable of the sower; those who get excited about the gospel message but lack a depth of desire and the willingness to follow through. To enter the kingdom, we must apply our will and trust His grace to withstand the opposition.

—Angela Gellenbeck




There are many great cities in the world, and all are quite different. It seems that each has its very own personality. As we enter them, we can immediately sense the atmosphere and get a feeling of the culture. The design of the buildings, the modes of transportation, the crowded streets, all set the tone of the city.

We get a glimpse of its wealth and an idea of how it is governed and what’s important to its citizenry. As we tour, we are drawn to the sights that make it unique, the monuments that keep its rich history alive. We are mesmerized by the lights, the sounds, the colors.

This is the city—a collage of people who have embraced the benefits of living in close proximity, under the authority of the same government.

Christians are the light of the world, cities that are set on hills and cannot be hidden. We are neither isolated nor alone. We are not self-governed but are under the authority and kingship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

No matter where one travels throughout the world and no matter the race, language, or culture, the spirit and atmosphere of the cities of God are the same because they are part of the same kingdom.

Their histories run parallel. They have like stories of battles fought and victories won. Stories of press, resistance, and triumph. We hear grand descriptions of their towers, bulwarks, and palaces. These are the stories that inspire us, and we determine to experience this kingdom for ourselves.

As we start the journey, we too, encounter strong oppositions and discouraging setbacks. But the richness of the kingdom, and the love of the King, propels us and draws us as it did the prior generations.

Then we enter! We arrive! And oh, what a city! What a kingdom! What a King!

—Darrell Johnson