The Kingdom of God now, on earth
The Kingdom of God is not a castle in the sky but, as Jesus said, “the Kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17:21 NASB. In other words, “you are looking at it.”
The Gospel announcement is that the Kingdom of God has arrived on earth as it is in Heaven through Jesus the Messiah and King. Already, Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth, as He said, with “all authority and in Heaven and on Earth, given to me.” Matthew 28:18. The Kingdom of God is not another place or dimension within or without the solar system but a new reality on earth. As Revelation testifies:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever.”
Revelation 11:15 NASB
The transfer of the ownership or lordship of the world already took place. Jesus is King, and this is the good news.
The Lordship of Jesus is Not Optional
Whether or not you pray a sinner's prayer, go to church, or live a holy life, Jesus is still King, and the Gospel remains a fact on planet Earth. Nevertheless, many people do not inherit the kingdom of God.
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit the life of the age to come?”
Luke 18:18 NTE
This passage is usually rendered: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” But such a translation is unhelpful because the phrase “eternal life” has become a cemented notion, in the minds of many, of an eternal other world that is made up of spiritual bliss and separated from the earth. The young Jew who asked Jesus this question was not concerned with going to a place called Heaven when he died; he was worried about benefiting from the coming reign of the Messiah as every good Jew should.
Jesus is not a Calvinist
Jesus’ response to this young jew is not what we expect. First, Jesus answers with a fact-establishing question: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Luke 18:19. Jesus isn't giving the Calvinist answer that man cannot be good enough for God (though it is true that man cannot put God in his debt through any amount of moral uprightness.) Jesus establishes that this young man already knows he is about to hear the Truth
of God, thus preparing him to accept the answer. Next, Jesus affirms what this man already believes, that one must be faithful to the covenant through the Torah to be vindicated on the final day. So far, so good. But then Jesus points out the one thing this young man lacks: the surrender of his finances. The man walks away sad, and Jesus remarks on the difficulty of entering the Kingdom of God.
And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
Luke 18:24 NASB
Despite the good news, it was hard for this wealthy man to enter God’s Kingdom.
I live in the United States. I don't speak of entering the United States because I am already here. If the Kingdom of God is already present and Jesus is King, why does Jesus speak of “entering” the Kingdom of God? Let me answer that question with a question, and you shall know the answer: Can you choose to live in a false reality? Can you choose to live a lie? The call to “enter” the Kingdom is an appeal to accept reality, God’s truth, which is the only reality. Jesus’ Kingdom-of-God campaign was all about revealing the true nature of God as opposed to what God’s people assumed and anticipated. If we accept the Truth, we will “enter” the Kingdom. If we do not accept the Truth, we will remain in bondage in the kingdom of darkness.
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 NASB
Those Who Will Not Enter
Despite the glorious Gospel, which is reality and not an option, it is possible to fail to enter God’s Kingdom.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor thegreedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NASB
Those who “fail to enter” do not fail because they aren't good enough or because God rejects them. They fail to enter because they don't want to. Paul clarifies that the Church comprises people who werethose things (adulterers, homosexuals, prostitutes, liars, thieves, etc.), but they aren't anymore. They were baptized into Jesus and changed their identity, which changed their legal status from “alien” to “citizen” in the Kingdom of God. They entered God’s Kingdom.
Entering Life in the Real World
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 NASB
When I was Homeschooled, I heard people ask my parents countless times, “What will happen to him when he enters the real world?” My Dad always replied, “At what point of ‘normal life’ do a bunch of adolescents get thrown together for eight hours at a time?” What we believe to be “normal life” is often highly dysfunctional.
Jesus said that you must be “born again” because accepting the Truth above perceived reality is like entering an entirely different world, like traveling from the womb into life on Earth.
The Old Has Passed Away
If the Gospel is good news, why isn't everyone excited about it? Why don't some people want it? We justly celebrate the birthdays of humans. Birth is worthy of celebration. But every child born had to go through a kind of death to get here. The old world of the womb has passed away, and the new world has come. Being born again requires ending our old life, habits, surroundings, and identity.
Lies Resist Life
We might be grateful that nobody gave us the choice to leave the womb; it is the gift of God. Nevertheless, even a baby in the womb can resist the life of the age to come. Having prayed with many people over the last few years, I have heard the stories of several different women who were traumatized when they conceived or had lies hanging over them so that they didn't want the baby they were birthing. When the time for transition from
womb to world came, the baby simply
wouldn't come out until the lies were broken. The baby refused to enter a world of rejection and only came when there was hope for love.
The Gospel Requires Faith
The Gospel requires faith, not because God is some fairy who likes make-believe-land, but because God must be trusted if we are to enter and exit the birth canal. You will not surrender to God if you do not trust Him. If you believe God isn't merciful, gracious, kind, patient, gentle, self-controlled, wise, generous, loving, devoted, faithful, just, etc. You will not come to Him. You must repent, that is, change your mind about your perceptions of God to enter God’s Kingdom. And the change of mind will transfer you from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom
Changing Your Mind Won't Kill You, but a death will occur.
Changing your mind won't kill you, but it will feel like it. I have prayed with several people who had become so used to their demons that they were afraid to let them go. They said, “I don't know who I would be without them.” This state is a perilous place because it means that satan has stolen your identity. But the solution is simple: you must be born again. A death will occur, but it will not be you dying but that life-sucking leech called the devil and the false identity he weaved into you. The real you will emerge out of the water as a new creation.
“Thus, if anyone is in the Messiah, there is new creation! Old things have gone, and look—everything has become new!”
2 Corinthians 5:17
God will not exclude anyone from the benefit of His Kingdom. Those who will
not enter are only those who refuse to enter. So, what do you choose today?