EXERCISE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Many verses in the New Testament show the need of exercise for the kingdom. Acts 14:22 says, "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." By comparing this verse with John 3:5, we can see a great difference. John 3:5 simply says that by being born of water and of the Spirit we can enter into the kingdom of God. According to John, entering the kingdom is a matter of another birth. But Acts 14 says that we must suffer much tribulation to enter into the kingdom of God. These two verses show two aspects. To enter into the kingdom of God is one thing, and to enter into it in the way of inheritance is another. If we would inherit the kingdom of God, we must suffer the tribulation. We must be tested and exercised.
We can see the same principle in 1 Corinthians 5 and 6. Chapter five indicates that a brother who committed a terrible fornication will still be saved. Even such a sinful, defeated believer will still be saved. But in chapter six we are told that fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God. This means that such a fornicator cannot enjoy or inherit the kingdom of the heavens as a reward.
Now let us read Ephesians 5:3-5: "But fornication and all uncleanness or unbridled greedy lust, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; and filthiness and foolish talking or coarse jesting, which are not becoming, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, knowing that every fornicator or unclean person or person of unbridled greedy lust, who is an idolater, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." The kingdom of Christ and of God is the part of the kingdom of God which is the kingdom of the heavens. As a whole, it is the kingdom of God, but particularly it is the kingdom of the heavens. In the kingdom of God and of Christ there is no inheritance for the sinful one. If you are still in the filthiness and sinfulness, although you are a saint, a saved one, you will have no inheritance in the kingdom of God and of Christ.
Galatians 5:19-21 says, "And the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, angers, faction, divisions, parties, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and things like these of which I tell you beforehand, even as I said before, that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Thus, three portions of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 6, Ephesians 5, and Galatians 5 tell us basically the same thing: you may be a saved person, but if you are still living in sin and filthiness you will not inherit the kingdom of God. You will have no share in the manifestation of the kingdom of the heavens because you are not qualified.
Second Thessalonians 1:5 says, "Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer." This verse indicates that to suffer persecution causes one to be worthy of the kingdom of God. This can enable one to inherit the kingdom of God.
Let us also read 2 Timothy 4:18, 7-8, 1: "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen...I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing...I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom." These verses, written near the end of Paul’s life, indicate that he was sure of being in the heavenly kingdom because he had fought a good fight, he had run the course well, and he had kept the faith.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 49, by Witness Lee)