Bill Somers

1Co 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind. Bob Dylan, ancient American folksinger.

More and more, I'm coming to see that today's church has a tremendous diversity of opinion on the topic of the Kingdom of God. [This is a function of Heinz's Law of Eschatology. That says, for any given topic of eschatology, or the study of end time prophecy, there are 57 varieties of opinion.]

What exactly is the Kingdom of God? There are those who think the Kingdom of God commences when Jesus returns at the second advent, and establishes his capitol in Jerusalem, to rule for 1000 years. And there are those who think that it's up to the Church to establish the Kingdom, or to build the Kingdom or expand the Kingdom. Some are even at the point of claiming that the way to do this is by electing Christians to public office. And then there are those who think that the kingdom of God is present anywhere on the earth where there is a strong Christian witness or wherever revival breaks out. Still others think that the Kingdom of God is what you join when you become a Christian.

About a year ago I wrote a short essay on the topic. One definition I use is to say, The Kingdom of God is wherever God is King. It's kind of obvious when you put it that way. Lately on meditating on the question, I feel led to expound on an operational definition based on the Words of Jesus in John chapter 3.

John 3:

1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

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.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

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

8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Now here Jesus speaks about the kingdom is two different ways. In the first case, he talks about seeing the kingdom of God. [Verse 3] Then he talks about entering into the Kingdom of God. [Verse 5] The conditions for each are different too. I'm going to try to analyze what he is saying and what the difference is. Lets look again.

Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. What does it mean to see the Kingdom of God? In Luke 17 it says:

Lu 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

The Kingdom does not come with observation. The Greek word here is parateresis meaning, according to Strong's, inspection, i.e. ocular evidence, or proof based on sight.

What God is saying here is The Kingdom is not something you see with your eyes; it's something within. I don't think he was saying the Kingdom was within the Pharisees but that the Kingdom is something that comes to be within an individual. You can't look for it here and there, but within one.

The Greek word for see here is eido. It can mean to see, to know, to be aware, to behold, to consider, or to understand. So perhaps Jesus is saying here, unless you are born again, you cannot understand or know about the Kingdom.

Then he says:

Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

What does it mean to enter into the Kingdom of God, and how is that different from seeing, knowing or comprehending the Kingdom? The word here in Greek is eiserchomai.

By the way, it doesn't matter whether Jesus spoke Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin or the valley girl dialect. The Word of God is written in Greek [or Hebrew] and that's what we have to deal with. We trust that the Holy Spirit of God who inspired the writers of the New Testament knows what he is doing. He dictated it in Greek.

Eiserchomai is defined thusly ; to enter (literally or figuratively):--X arise, come (in, into), enter in(-to), go in (through). No surprises here, Jesus is saying you can know about the kingdom, but you won't belong to it, unless you meet the conditions. Just like people can know about a country, and even visit that country, but becoming a citizen is a little more complicated.

Supposing that Born Again means what we usually think of; that someone is saved by coming to know and acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he is able to know things somewhat more than what the bible calls a natural man. As in 1st Corinthians 2 where we read:

1Co 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

What we see here is that the natural man cannot know or understand any spiritual matters, such as the Kingdom of God. But those who have received the Spirit can. And we're assuming that someone born again, has at least a small portion of the Spirit to allow them this understanding.

But now we also see that to really become a part of that kingdom, to enter in, it takes something more. It requires being born of water and of the Spirit. What exactly does that mean?

Usually we think of born as in when were you born. This refers to the manner we come into this world. Nicodemus clearly had this in mind when he said "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born ?

Our good old American Heritage® Dictionary tells us that born is derived from the verb bear. The primary meanings of bear include: hold up, support, carry, relate or to have as a quality. So when a person enters the world, he is carried by his mother for a season and finally comes forth. The mother bears the child means the mother carries the child. The child is born means the child was carried, and the child came forth. It is passive voice, meaning it's not something that you do, it's something that is done or happens to you. Getting born, after the flesh is not something you initiate or control. Perhaps it's the same with being born of the spirit.

bear (bar) verb bore (bor, bor) borne (born, born) or born (born) bear-ing, bears verb, transitive

2. To carry on one's person; convey.

3. To carry in the mind; harbor: bear a grudge.

4. To transmit at large; relate: bearing glad tidings.

5. To have as a visible characteristic: bore a scar on the left arm.

6. To have as a quality; exhibit: "A thousand different shapes it bears" (Abraham Cowley).

7. To carry (oneself) in a specified way; conduct: She bore herself with dignity.

8. To be accountable for; assume: bearing heavy responsibilities.

9. To have a tolerance for; endure: couldn't bear his lying.

10. To call for; warrant: This case bears investigation.

11. To give birth to.

12. To produce; yield: plants bearing flowers.

13. To offer; render: I will bear witness to the deed.

14. To move by or as if by steady pressure; push: "boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" (F. Scott Fitzgerald).

verb, intransitive

1. To yield fruit; produce: peach trees that bear every summer.

2. To have relevance; apply: They studied the ways in which the relativity theory bears on the history of science.

3. To exert pressure, force, or influence.

4. a. To force oneself along; forge. b. To endure something with tolerance and patience: Bear with me while I explain matters.

5. To extend or proceed in a specified direction: The road bears to the right at the bottom of the hill.

Excerpted from The American Heritage® Dictionary

So being born of water and of the Spirit, is to be carried by water or by the Spirit; and also possibly to come forth from the water or from the Spirit.

Coming forth from water seems to refer to water baptism. It symbolizes one's death to the flesh, or death to self, and coming forth as a new creation in Christ. Notice how Jesus rebukes Nicodemus for thinking along fleshly, literal lines.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Then comes the clincher in verse 8. Notice that Jesus compares someone born of the Spirit with the seemingly random blowing of the wind.

8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Our dictionary tells me that the word spirit is derived from Middle English, from Old French espirit, from Latin spiritus, breath, from spirare, to breathe. The root meaning of spirit is breath.

The Greek word is pneuma: pneuma (pnyoo'-mah)

from 4154; a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit:--ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind.

And once again you see that the root meaning is breath, and by extension a current of air or a breeze. No wonder Jesus compares it to the wind. This wind is the very breath of God. Jesus is saying that being born of the spirit is like being carried by the wind. You don't know where it's coming from and you don't know where it's going. You just go along. That means you must have unquestioning obedience to the Spirit of God, the ultimate in faith and trust that comes with total yielding to His Spirit.

Now what did Jesus say about the kingdom of God?

Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Let's rephrase that in a positive sense. If a man is dead to self, and led by the Spirit, he can enter the Kingdom of God. So what is the Kingdom of God? The answer is blowing in the wind.

And this is just another way of saying exactly the same thing Jesus says in Mathew 7:21.

Mt 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.

It's those who are obedient to the word, that enter in. Those who enter the Kingdom of God are those for whom God is King, and not self. Our definition of the Kingdom still makes sense once we see that the Kingdom is within someone for whom God is King. The first commandment reads:

Ex 20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Isn't that saying the same thing? And Jesus refers to the first commandment thusly in Mathew22.

Mt 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

So if one is led of the Spirit and truly obeys the first commandment, he has entered the Kingdom of God. No wonder Jesus says in Mathew 6 to seek first the Kingdom.

Mt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Then when his men asked him how to pray, he mentioned the Kingdom again.

Lu 11:2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

If we look at the second half of this verse, we can find a case of parallel statements. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. I'm going to rephrase these slightly to bring out an interesting feature.

Thy kingdom come, as in heaven, so in earth. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

The point here is that these are not two different requests, they are the same request repeated in slightly differing language. Looking at it this way it's clear that the kingdom is where his will is done. Doing his will is entering his kingdom. And to the extent we do his will, that is the extent of his rule in our lives. Praying that it be as in heaven, is praying that it be done totally and absolutely.

There is a transition into his kingdom coming to us in these end times. Here and there people are reporting that they spend more and more time in his presence and in his perfect will. This will increase dramatically with the outpouring of the spirit that is beginning. We will shortly see his kingdom fully and clearly established in his people. It's what we see in Isaiah 52, where the people of God are proclaiming his Kingdom has come on earth as in heaven, with the words Our God Reigns.

Isa 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

This will be here on earth, as in heaven and before the second advent. Meanwhile the adversary's rule increases over the rest of the world. This can be seen in Isaiah 60.

Isa 60:1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

Let's look at some other aspects of what the kingdom means.

We hear a lot of talk saying the church is not under the law, but look at how it's phrased here in Galatians 5:

Ga 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

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