THE REALITY OF THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS
The reality of the kingdom of the heavens, as the reality of the church life (Rom. 14:17), is revealed in Matthew 5 through 7. John 3:5 reveals that regeneration is our entrance into the kingdom of God. To enter into the kingdom of God requires regeneration as a new beginning of our life (John 3:3, 5), but to "enter into the kingdom of the heavens" demands surpassing righteousness in our living after we have been regenerated (Matt. 5:20). Matthew 5 through 7 shows us the reality of the kingdom of the heavens.
OF THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS
The appearance of the kingdom of the heavens is revealed in the parables of the tares, of the mustard seed, and of the leaven in Matthew 13:24-42. The appearance of the kingdom of the heavens is Christendom, which is filled with false things. The tares are the nominal, false believers. There are many such "believers" in Christendom.
Leaven in the Scripture signifies evil things (1 Cor. 5:6. 8) and evil doctrines (Matt. 16:6, 11-12). Pagan practices, heretical doctrines, and evil matters have been mixed with the teachings concerning Christ to leaven the whole of Christendom.
Christmas is an example of this leaven. Originally December 25 was the day the ancient Romans celebrated the birth of the sun. With the spread of the Catholic Church, she assimilated this ancient festival because she had taken in thousands of unbelievers who still wanted to celebrate the birthday of their god. To accommodate them, the Catholic Church took December 25 to be the birthday of Christ. This is the source of the leaven of Christmas.
Christmas actually has nothing to do with Christ or the church. In the Lord’s recovery we have only Christ. We do not have "endom." The "endom" is something added to Christ. In the word Christmas, the word "mas" is the "endom," the appearance of the kingdom of the heavens.
Easter is another example of leaven. As Christians we thank the Lord for His resurrection, but Easter, a "Christian holiday" of pagan origin and filled with pagan practices, is leaven.
With the pope and the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church we can also see Christendom, the appearance of the kingdom of the heavens. We do not want to be in the appearance; we want to be in the reality. If we live in the reality of the kingdom of the heavens today, we will enjoy its manifestation in the future.
(The Basic Revelation in the Holy Scriptures, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)