The Kingdom of Heaven is a Party

Grace Party square

My new book, Grace Party, comes out next week. Here’s a taste…

One of the best parties I have ever been to was a surprise party. It was a hot, humid Friday night in Hong Kong and Camilla and I were running late. We were supposed to be at church for our weekly prayer meeting, but one of us was taking her sweet time getting ready. No need to mention names.

When we finally arrived at church, the place was dark. I flipped on the lights and was greeted with a shout of “Surprise!” I was shocked to find a room full of people, all dressed in colorful sixties’ gear, waiting to celebrate my birthday.

A couple of things from that night endure in my memory. One was the dancing. I don’t dance much but that night there was such a happy, joyful vibe that everybody danced for hours. We almost missed the last train home.

Another memory: unexpected guests. Some of my friends ducked out to buy drinks and they came back with five German tourists. One of the Germans was having a birthday so we celebrated with him as well.

To appreciate the effect of this party you have to understand that the Hong Kong I lived in was all work, work, work. I worked seven days a week. Even church was work. This party was an unexpected break in the routine, a vacation, a breather that I sorely needed. It was one of those moments of frivolity and festivity, that C.S. Lewis said reveal heaven.

At least it felt like heaven to me.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is a party, and it is because Jesus is there and everywhere he goes there is joy.

The Son of God gave reasons to rejoice by turning thieves into givers and haters into lovers. He healed lepers (thank you, Jesus!), delivered the demonized (free at last!), and raised the dead (look who’s back!). He told stories that ended in unexpected parties for undeserving prodigals. When he rose from the grave his surprised disciples were filled with joy and wonder. And after he ascended into heaven they returned to Jerusalem “with great joy.”

Jesus said “I am the life,” and his is a life of righteousness, peace, and joy. It is a life of freedom and celebration. And it’s a life of fun that offends the religious.

The Pharisees were not impressed by all the joy that followed Jesus. “He’s out of order. He’s not observing the rules. Why is he healing on the Sabbath?” These party-poopers tried to rain on his parade but the parade of his grace just kept rolling.

I can’t imagine the Pharisees ever throwing a party, can you? And yet by law they were required to do so. According to Deuteronomy chapter 14, the Israelites were supposed to celebrate the harvest by spending their tithes on “whatever your heart desires” and throwing a party that included the poor widow and orphan. They sound like awesome parties, but by the time Jesus showed up they had come to an end. Instead of throwing parties for poor people, the law teachers were stealing widows’ homes (Luke 20:47).

To be fair, the Jews were in no mood for celebrating, not with the heavy Roman yoke upon their necks. Burdensome taxes and cruel oppression don’t make for a party vibe. But they do make Jesus’ preoccupation with joyful celebration all the more compelling, indeed, prophetic.

“The kingdom of heaven is not like this,” said Jesus pointing to the oppressive world in which they lived. “It’s like a wedding feast. It’s like a great banquet. And you guys are going to be surprised because many will come from the east and the west and take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

In other words, there will be Germans there.

Jesus spoke of parties because he was heaven-minded. There’s no oppression in heaven, no leprosy, no poverty. Knowing that God’s will for there is his will for here, Jesus shone in a dark world. He rebuked storms, drove out demons, and loved the loveless. He was good news on a bad news day. He was fun in an unfun world.

On that humid Friday night, I went to church expecting one thing and discovered another. It’s like that with Jesus. People come to him on account of some need and find themselves caught up in the joy of heaven.

Who knew that following Christ could be such fun? Certainly this is not the picture we get from boring religion, but it is the blessed reality of grace.

It is my conviction that followers of Christ ought to be celebrating constantly. We ought to be a happy people because we serve a happy God who has entrusted us with a happy gospel.

When we enjoy the Lord and his many good gifts, we are painting a prophetic picture of the kingdom come. We are saying, “Life is more than tears.” We are agreeing with Jesus who said, “Blessed are those who mourn for comfort is at hand.” Indeed, in his presence there is fullness of joy and pleasures forever more (Psalm 16:11).

Get your copy of Grace Party here.

21 Comments on The Kingdom of Heaven is a Party

  1. Rachelle // May 1, 2015 at 1:45 am // Reply

    This!
    Makes me love Jesus even more.
    He is so lovely.

  2. Thank you, I love your writings…..I need to read this one at least once a week!

  3. OK, I guess ill have to start buying books again

  4. I thank God for His holy party where ever God show up there’s party going on somewhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Leave a reply? Okay, as we partee here in Beijing, we’ll try again! Paul, write back sometime, please. We love the excerpt! Can’t wait! We’ll take a case in Mandarin! If Doc Solomon can do it with his Grace books, you can, too!
    Party on,
    Dan & Sherry

  6. Irine Lisa Moyo // May 1, 2015 at 5:25 am // Reply

    This is fantagorgeouos, am inspired most of all impressed,the world needs to know revelation.

  7. GRACE HAS SAVED MY LIFE 4EVER!!!!Gary AmazingGraceSalvationProject.Com
    Wonerful audio message on NO CONDEMNATION!! Romans 8:1 !!!!

    • I just listened to that message. I needed to hear that today. The enemy is so subtle when it comes to condemnation. So thanks for posting.

    • That’s a fabulous message Gary, one of the best I’ve ever heard. Thanks for posting this! God bless you.

  8. Ben Fetcher // May 1, 2015 at 5:43 pm // Reply

    Waaooow, thank you Paul. you are such a blessing. I had never seen it like this before…. woooh… this so so AMAAAAAZING

  9. paul the party just began and it’s till ‘kingdom come’. Amazing revelation bro….. God so bless ya’…… Let’s paaaaaaarttteeeeey!!!!!

  10. Dare abidoye // May 2, 2015 at 9:26 am // Reply

    Am in nigeria, obafemi awolowo university,(OAU) ile-ife, osun state, to be precise…how can i get the book please?

  11. Let’s continue to shake off all the stiffness of the law en loosen up for the grace parties and dance, dance, dance , yay!!!!!

  12. Philipyutzy // May 12, 2015 at 11:13 pm // Reply

    If God is everywhere in the world today won’t it be the same way in heaven?

  13. I see clearly that the time comes when only the message of grace will he heard. Can’t wait to see the end of religion! Paul, great work.

  14. Rogelio g. Fajardo jr. // May 16, 2015 at 10:50 pm // Reply

    Praise God there is no condemnation in the Kingdom of God

  15. Thank for an other gooooood message.

  16. I read this the wrong way I think. Looking and finding an embrace of that dangerous doctrine inclusionism (which is not grace). Then I read an earlier article on how grace does not confound us if we accept the simple. Humanity has been wrongly taught that hard decisions are complicated. Actually simple decisions have been our greatest need of grace. Thanks for freeing me from a nightmare.

  17. Paul, are ‘Kingdom of God”/ Kingdom of Heaven/ paradise – all the same (salvation,eternal life)? And why in gal 5:21 Pauls says : ……envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will NOT inherit the KINGDOM OF GOD.” – I understand that they are not gonna be saved according to their wrong doings (sins). Which implies that our behavior does have impact on our salvation! Am I wrong? Would be great if you could help to understand that passage! Be blessed!

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