“Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Those words must have felt like a ton of bricks being dropped on the ears of Nicodemus. The Lord Jesus was telling him “Nicodemus, a man cannot even perceive of the kingdom of God unless a renewing of the inner man has occurred.” The question is, how well do we understand the gravity of what the Lord Jesus spoke? Do we even understand what a kingdom is? Most people are taught that being born again is a religious experience, a moment of spiritual exhilaration achieved by deciding that they either believe in Jesus or have decided to make Him their Lord and Savior. In other words, being born again is their choice. But does that really make sense? After all, if we had no choice of being brought into this world, which is a temporal world, why would we think that we can ultimately decide if we will be citizens in God’s kingdom? Perhaps it is time for us to examine this idea of the kingdom of God more closely.
A GOVERNMENT, NOT A RELIGION
First and foremost, a kingdom is a form of government. It consists of a ruler, the king, a people, and a territory. While many people today think of a kingdom in terms of land, the word kingdom is a much broader concept. In the English language, we have only one word to describe this broad range of ideas. So the word kingdom can be used to define the rule or authority of the king, the era during which the king rules, the king himself, the nation of people ruled or governed by the king, and even the emblems owned by the king. The emblems include the king’s crown, his scepter, his throne, his robe, his signet, and any other instruments or items owned by the king that designate his authority. All of these attributes of a kingdom are governmental, not religious. A citizen that lives in a kingdom has the rights and protections afforded to him in exchange for his loyalty to the king. Just as your rights, duties, and responsibilities in the country that you live in aren’t religious, the same holds true for those citizens living in a kingdom.
A TOP PRIORITY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The kingdom is so important, in the book of Matthew we hear about it from John the Baptist before we see the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. In the book of Mark, the kingdom is the first utterance we see quoted from Christ Jesus. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus stresses that His very purpose for coming was to proclaim the kingdom. And in John, Jesus states that being born again is a prerequisite in order to even perceive the kingdom. In Acts, it is so important that the resurrected Christ spent 40 days teaching His disciples about the things of the kingdom prior to His ascension. Paul, at the end of the book of Acts, spent two years preaching the kingdom out of his apartment. And if you recite the Lord’s Prayer, do you realize you are asking that God’s kingdom come?
If the kingdom is a concept of such great importance to God, why do we hear so little about it today? One reason is that in the country we live in, we are taught to despise kingdoms. Our country is a democracy, founded upon the principle that all men are created equal. This message is in our foundational document, the Declaration of Independence. The drafters of this document made it clear to the king of England that he was no better than they were, and they were going to separate themselves from the king’s rule and form their own government. In short, they were rebelling against the king. This attitude has been embedded in our culture. We have no desire for anyone to hold sway over us. Ironically, this is the very thing that the Lord Jesus told His disciples they were to seek first; a kingdom where the Great King would rule over them as a people.
RENEWING OUR MINDS
Now, it is time for us to renew our minds to this concept of a kingdom. But how do we do that? Fortunately, the Lord Jesus provided us some direction to help us begin our journey. First, we must approach this idea of the kingdom as if we were little children. Children are fascinated when they see something new. You see the sparkle in their eyes and the smiles on their faces as they are completely captivated by this new thing in front of them. The kingdom of God has to fascinate us in that manner. There should be a desire within us to learn all we can about kings and kingdoms. Next, like children, we have to completely trust what God is doing. When little children obey their parents, they don’t do so for the sake of reward. They obey because they feel safe in the presence of their parents, and they will do what is necessary to maintain that security. This is the way we are to seek the kingdom. We submit ourselves to the rule of Christ by obeying the Holy Spirit, which is the voice of Christ in the earth today. By submitting to Christ, we are proving to Him that we trust in Him completely, regardless of the outcome of a situation. This submission is an attribute of our renewed mind. Finally, we realize that when we are called out of the world, we are called into a nation of people. We are no longer independent, as we learned in our society; instead, we are now interdependent. We need one another. When we are called into the kingdom, we are called into community.
Now that we know we must pursue this kingdom more fervently, where do we begin? I would recommend purchasing the book A Glimpse of the Kingdom. The book consists of five chapters, explaining in simple language how the kingdom of God is expressed in the Bible. You can purchase the book at Amazon, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to order a copy. This book will help you see the kingdom of God as you haven’t seen it before, and open your mind to the beauty and wonder of God’s kingdom as it is revealed in the Bible. Finally, it will help you see that the Bible is not a religious book, but a governmental book.
By: Elder Ron Mosby