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Summary: When the time runs out in the life of an individual, “coming close” to the kingdom of God leads to far more than disappointment...it ends in eternal separation from God.

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“NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD”

"Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?"

Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: ’Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.

’And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.

"And the second, like it, is this: ’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these."

So the scribe said to Him, "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.

"And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."

Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." But after that no one dared question Him.

Mark 12:28-34 (NKJV)

Almost everyone who follows any type of sports, whether as a participant or a spectator, has witnessed the disappointment of "coming close" to winning. We have witnessed time running out in the football game with the ball on the one yard line. Or perhaps it was the final out of the baseball game with the tying and winning runs is scoring position. In any situation where "coming close" equates to "coming short", a sense of disappointment prevails.

On an infinitely more important note, when the time clock of life runs out in the life of an individual, “coming close” to the kingdom of God leads to far more than disappointment...it ends in eternal separation from God.

Consider these important truths.

I. BELIEF IN GOD BRINGS A PERSON CLOSE TO SALVATION: …but not close enough! To come close is to come short!

Consider our text from Mark, chapter 12.

1. The question the scribe put to Jesus was:

"Then one of the scribes came and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, ’Which is the first commandment of all?’

"Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: ’Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.

"And the second, like it, is this: ’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:28-31 (NKJV)

2. The response of the scribe to Jesus was an expression of profound scriptural knowledge and insight. As we read:

“So the scribe said to Him, "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." Mark 12:32-33 (NKJV)

3. Jesus acknowledged that the scribe had answered Him wisely regarding which is the greater commandment. Jesus then stated that his answer brought him to a point "not far from the kingdom of God." We read:

"Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." Mark 12:34 (NKJV)

Believing in the existence of God is good; yes, very good...but by itself it is not good enough. James 2:19 makes this truth very clear: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!”

II. BELIEF IN THE ONE TRUE GOD IS THE STARTING POINT TOWARD THE KINGDOM

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

A firm faith in the existence of a personal, eternal, immortal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God brings a person to the very door of the kingdom of God.

Not to just a “door” but to “the Door”.

And one must not just come near “the Door” but one must enter the Door! Jesus said: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9 (NKJV)

III. LET US SEE HOW GOD MAKES POSSIBLE THIS ENTRANCE:

First we see the love of the Father that sent the Son:

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