On Seeing and Entering the Kingdom

So Nicodemus comes to see Jesus by night, to affirm Jesus’ ministry and declare his faith in Jesus as a God-sent teacher. Perhaps he came to hear in detail about Jesus’ teachings so he could determine for himself what to believe. I cannot tell. But I know he did come, and that he got no further on his mission than to approve of Jesus, based on the signs he saw. Jesus’ reply to him steered the rest of the discussion, in which Nicodemus’ speech was reduced to questions and his ignorance of spiritual things was clearly revealed by Jesus, who knew all things. Yet Nicodemus was a religious leader among his people. Thank God he was humble enough to come asking so he could hear the truth. And because of that, we now know those things which were spoken by the Lord Jesus in response to his inquisition.

Jesus’ first two statements revolved around his purpose for coming into the world – the kingdom of God. I call them “The Two Rules of Kingdom Exception

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”

While Nicodemus ponders on the meaning of the first statement, Jesus quickly releases another one, that perhaps confuses him the more. The man is wondering, ‘How will a man be born the second time?’ But Jesus states the second rule instead of answering Nicodemus’ question. And then he goes on to explain more about what he is saying. I would like to look briefly at these two rules and their significance to us in this present age, as the world is coming to a close, as proven by the fulfillment of historical predictions by Jesus himself.

So, what is the kingdom of God? It is that realm (or location) over which God reigns as a king. In that realm, the word of God is law and his will is supreme, above all others. Is it a physical location? No, because God is not a physical being. He is a Spirit. Therefore his kingdom is spiritual. For example, heaven, where God dwells, is part of the kingdom of God. And like the ancient kings we read of in history, God wants to extend his kingdom from heaven to the earth. That was his original plan in sending Adam to be his ambassador on earth. But Adam failed, and sold out the kingdom to Satan through disobedience to God. But Jesus, through his obedience to God, has come to re-establish that plan on the earth.

However, to even be able to ‘see’ the kingdom of God, one has to be ‘born again’. What does it mean to ‘see’ the kingdom? It means to know, become aware and conscious of the lifestyle, standard and manner of operation of the kingdom as well as the power and authority that its citizens possess. In other words, to ‘see’ the kingdom means to know kingdom rights and privileges as well as kingdom code of conduct. What does it mean to be born again? It means to be born a second time! Yes! But this time, not to be born by a woman, but to be born by the Spirit (to be born anew inside). Just think of birth as a transition from one realm of existence to another, and being born again becomes easier to imagine. The human spirit (the real man) is transferred from one realm to another. Hence, the man has just been ‘born’ into this new realm. So naturally, like Nicodemus, my thinking is, ‘how can this be possible?’

To be born again is a concept that cannot be easily explained naturally, but can be compared to certain natural phenomena, such as birth. But to experience it is much simpler than to understand it. Since it is not natural, it cannot be felt either, but can be proven through experience. However, it is not subject to the scientific method of proving things. It is an experience that is obained by faith but which manifests in the natural. The evidence of the transformation that takes place inside is manifested outside, so that people will eventually know that such a person has been ‘born again’.

Now to the second rule: what does it mean to ‘enter’ into the kingdom of God? To ‘enter’ the kingdom means to gain access into the kingdom, to be accepted into or become a part of the kingdom. The implication is that one is recognised as a citizen of the kingdom due to his way of living, kingdom power and authority demonstrated, kingdom rights and privileges received as well as kingdom responsibilities discharged, especially as compared to one who does not belong to the kingdom. What does it mean to be born of water and the Spirit? I explained that to be born again is to be born of the Spirit, into a new spiritual realm, other than the one in which one previously existed. But this experience, from the first rule, is only sufficient to make one ‘see’ the kingdom. To ‘enter’ the kingdom, one has to be born of water and the Spirit.

Water, in this context, signifies cleansing, which is a critical use of water in the time of Jesus (especially in religious rites of worship). And the manner of cleansing implied here is not outward (external), but inward (internal). Hence, the tool for cleansing here, is not physical water, but spiritual water, which refers to the word of God. The Bible severally alludes to the word of God as having a cleansing effect. So it is not possible to enter the kingdom except one is born anew (by the Spirit of God) and cleansed inwardly (by the word of God). The implication of this is that those who are born of the Spirit, but are not cleansed by the word will se the kingdom but will be unable to enter into it. They will neither be qualified (due to uncleanness) nor enabled (due to weakness) to access the kingdom of God.

What is the significance of all this to us?. As this age approaches a close, God is actualising the plan to fill the heavens and the earth with his kingdom, and destroy whatever contradicts his kingdom in all of heaven and earth. To cross to God’s side and escape his judgment, one must become a part of his kingdom. And belonging to His kingdom attracts other present-day benefits that outweighs the cost. Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the door for all men to be born-again. The power that raised him from the dead is available for anyone who desires to be born-again, only on one condition: you must repent and believe. Anyone who repents from his sins, believes in Jesus and accepts him as Saviour and Lord with confession in his mouth is born-again. Very simple!

Man is at once spirit, soul and body. His spirit must be born again and his soul must be renewed by the word of God in order for him to be able to belong to and enjoy the benefits of God’s kingdom. Then his spirit and soul will be in agreement with God and his body will have no option but to be conformed to the kingdom. Thus, the man is delivered from destruction and translated into salvation, in this world and in the world to come! Amen.

Manna (or Manner) Lessons

So the children of Israel started murmuring against Moses again. This time it wasn’t the Red Sea that hemmed them in, with Pharaoh on the other side. Neither was it thirst that parched their throats, with the bitter waters of Marah staring at them. It was hunger that inspired their cries. Sounds legitimate, huh? But instead of believing and asking God for what they needed, they chose to murmur and complain, comparing their ‘predicament’ to the former abundance of ‘flesh and bread’ in Egypt. God heard their cries, and promised to give them quails (flesh) in the evening and manna (bread) in the morning, with a view to testing them in the process. So he sent word to them through Moses, saying that he would give them food, to prove who he was to them. But there was an instruction: they were not to gather more than a certain amount per person, neither were they to gather more than they needed for a day, except on the sixth day. On the sixth day, they would get enough for two days so that they need not go out for food on the Sabbath day, the day of rest.

And the food came as was promised. In the evening, there were quails, and in the morning there was manna, just as the morning dew disappeared from the ground. The dew seemed to have hidden the manna from view. Perhaps they had descended together from the heavens. The people went out and gathered the manna. They could grind it or crush it, cook it or bake it. It tasted like wafers made with honey. It was indeed, bread from heaven! And as soon as the sun waxed hot, the remnant on the ground melted away and disappeared. However, some of the people disregarded the instruction of Moses not to leave any of the manna they gathered till the following morning. What they left till the day after began to breed worms and stink. What they gathered on the sixth day though, did not stink when they left it till the Sabbath day, for God did not send manna on the day of rest. But some people still went out to look for manna on the Sabbath day, and God became angry with them.

So what are the lessons? One: the Israelites, like many of us, failed to remember and keep a record of the good deeds of God in their lives. As a result, they started complaining, even lamenting, when hunger came knocking. Perhaps they just refused to remember. Whatever the case, they acted as if it wasn’t God who delivered them from Egypt or drowned Pharaoh in the Red Sea. They would have just asked Him – he would have done it. Two: in God’s kingdom, no matter the abundant supply of material provision available, you must learn to take what you need, not what you want. Anything outside of this simple rule is covetousness. Often times, we want God to give us what we want, re-defining our wants as needs in the process, to conform to the standards of the world. We must learn to be content with the simple provisions of God from day to day. God could even give you more than you need to test your heart and see what you would do. Don’t fail the test, take what you need! Three: God’s provision is regulated by God’s instruction and will remain intact and available for us as long as we are in the boundary of obedience. Once we disobey, however, God’s own provision can begin to breed maggots and even stink! God’s provision is preserved by God for us as long as we obey his commandment. Beyond obedience, we have no guarantees from Him. I could go on and on, but you had better check up Exodus chapter sixteen to read up the whole story and let the Holy Spirit speak to you from the abundance of heavenly treasures!

July 18, 2012

The Coming Wrath

The wrath of God is soon to be revealed. God, in an act of justice and righteousness, will unleash his wrath upon the nations of the earth for the evil and wickedness that has filled the surface of the earth. Just as in the days of Noah when God destroyed all the earth with water, God will once again destroy not only the earth, but the visible heavens (the skies and the clouds) as well. This time however, he will use fire. He will punish all those who have opposed or rejected him, as well as those who have promoted injustice and wickedness on the earth, either by doing them, or by rewarding those who do them. He will exact revenge on every cheat, punish every liar and condemn every immoral and perverse person to the punishment of eternal fire. No form of sin, no matter how little, will escape the watchful eyes of the Just Judge of the earth. He will prove himself to be righteous by doing this.

Every wicked action, ungodly speech or impure thought (or motive) will be punished by the Father of lights, in whose sight nothing is hidden. The blood of every righteous man slain will be demanded, and due punishment will given to everyone who has done one form of evil or the other. In the day of His wrath, God will not spare or have mercy. It will be a day of great trouble and grave judgment as the wicked will roll in the fires of God’s wrath, pleading mercy and finding none. He will abase the proud and expose their shame, having removed their source of pride and afflicted them with pain. Even the formerly righteous who compromised and went into sin will not be left out. They too will share in the suffering of those who were wicked all through their lives.

All extreme, moderate and minimal forms of unrighteousness and evil among men will be punished accordingly. Every vile person will receive his due reward from God for all his works. Flatterers, gossips and malicious speakers will have their tongue suffer the punishment of eternal pain. Every form of pleasure gained by sin will be rewarded with a much greater degree of pain by God himself, who will judge the nations of the earth. And every one who rejected the Son of God will be punished for rejecting the Ultimate Sacrifice for their sins, and will pay for all those sins by themselves. The indulgent, the homosexuals, the adulterers and fornicators as well as murderers will all have their place in the flaming fire that never ceases and never consumes, so that their pain will be eternal.

Knowing well that all have sinned and no man is worthy to escape the judgment, God in his mercy has provided Jesus, his Son, to die as a punishment for the sins of all men, so that whoever trusts and puts their hope in him will not perish but will have eternal life. Jesus took that punishment for your sins if you will believe in him. But if you do not, you will take the punishment for your own sins and explain to God why you came short of His standard. Remember that God will not overlook little sins. Little and great sins alike will be punished in His presence. The slightest stain will deter anyone from entering the kingdom of heaven. The blood of Jesus however, is sufficient to cover even the greatest sins, if only you will believe. That blood will keep us from the destruction that comes in the day of God’s judgment.

Today, God’s call to us all in this wicked and errant generation is to repent of all our sins and to return to his tender mercies and loving kindness. If we will trust in the blood of His Son and live by the words he commanded, if we will accept Him as our Saviour and allow Him to be our Lord, if we will obey Him and keep walking in His love, then we will escape the wrath of God on the last day and live with Him forever in the new heavens and the new earth which he will create. God’s love for us is so great, and it is a shield to us from His judgment. So let us embrace His love and avoid His terrible judgment, which is coming soon.

I have not written on this theme because it is my favourite in the Bible, or because I fancy these ideas. I have written because the judgment of God is emphasised all through the Scriptures, and this generation is neglecting the fear of God and embracing the pleasures of sin and unrighteousness unreservedly, thereby inviting the wrath of God, which will soon be poured out heavily. I have written this, not only because of those who have embraced one form of sin or another and who need to repent, but also because of those whose love and passion for God are waxing cold because of the abundance of sin, which makes it appear as if the judgment of God is merely a thematic discourse, and not a scary reality. I pray our hearts will clearly apprehend the reality of God’s coming wrath, and of his present love revealed in Jesus Christ, who rescues us from the coming wrath. Amen.