BEING BORN AGAIN AND THE KINGDOM
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I do not believe there is a greater promise in God’s Word than that of being born again. It is not used much in the New Testament, and never used by the Apostles in the Book of Acts. It is used today to indicate conversion to Christianity. It is infinitely more than that!
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:3-5)
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (I Peter 1:23)
And what does it have to do with the Kingdom of God?
Being born again is everything, as far as the Royal Priesthood is concerned. It may be true that only the members of the Royal Priesthood are born again; and the people of the nations who are saved to the new world of righteousness, the “sheep,” of Matthew 25, are saved by being washed in the blood of the Lamb but are not born again.
I do not like novelties and I don’t preach them. This means I think there is something practical and leads toward righteous behavior on the part of God’s people, or I would not suggest the being born again is restricted to the Royal Priesthood and distinguishes them from the remainder of the saved people (who are the majority, by the way).
Think about the new world of righteousness, for example. We have the Throne of God and of the Lamb in the new Jerusalem. Then we have the nations of saved people being governed by, and walking in the light of, the new Jerusalem.
Clear enough? If it is not, please reread Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22.
The is a great wall separating the new Jerusalem from the nations who are governed by it and who walk in its light. It is obvious that the new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church, and the nations who walk in its light are the inheritance of the royal priests, who compose the new Jerusalem.
Then, let us put two and two together. The new Jerusalem is the Wife of the Lamb, according to the Scripture, and the wall of the new Jerusalem separates the Wife of the Lamb from the remainder of saved mankind.
Okay so far?
Now what is true of the Wife of the Lamb? She is One with Jesus Christ. She is His body. She is an integral part of Him, according to John 17.
So the wall of the new Jerusalem is separating that which is an integral part of the Lord Jesus Christ from saved mankind, saved mankind being the inheritance of the Lord Jesus and His co-heirs.
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” (Psalms 2:7-9)
The Scripture declares that we of the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, are co-heirs with Christ. This means that we inherit, along with Him, the nations.
I have said that I do not deal in novelties. Everything I teach must lead God’s people toward a closer walk with Jesus, toward righteous behavior. Since most of God’s people do not realize what it means for them to be priests of God and heirs along with Jesus, I think this knowledge will lead them toward righteous behavior and a greater Presence of Christ in their lives.
Notice that the Apostle Paul never addressed His epistles to Christians. He wrote to the “saints,” that is, the “holy ones.”
Now, think about it. What does it mean to be born again? It means that Christ has been born in us. This is the distinguishing mark of the priesthood. Why is this? It is because the Lord Jesus Christ is the great High Priest of God. When He is born in us, the great High Priest of God is born in us.
“Christ” means “anointed with the Holy Spirit to do the work of the Servant of the Lord.” If we have Christ in us we have been anointed with the Spirit of God to do the work of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 42). The work of the Servant of the Lord is to bring justice to the nations; not to the nations of the lost, but the nations of the saved.
I realize I am presenting several concepts at once that may be new to you—not ordinarily a good idea but needed for the present essay: “Being Born Again and the Kingdom of God.”
I honestly believe that most Christian people do not realize what an awesome experience is implied in the phrase, “born again.” This is not referring to a conversion to the Christian religion but to an astounding transformation of the individual.
By being born again we become a brother of Christ; a son of God; a member of the Bride of the Lamb; a part of the Royal Priesthood. You can see at once this is far more than being saved from wrath through the blood atonement.
Nicodemus understood this. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” When the phrase “being born again” is used in Christian circles, it ordinarily means the individual has “accepted Christ.” We would not react, like Nicodemus, to the idea of actually being born again.
When we begin to think of what it means to be born again we see that it means our entire past life is over. We no longer merely were born of our mother and father. We were born of the Seed of God.
If after we are called by the Spirit of God we prove ourselves worthy by living as a disciple of Jesus should, and continue with the Lord Jesus until we are judged to be faithful, then that which has been conceived in us has become a significant part of our personality, If we keep on following Jesus, the day will come when the following statement is true:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (II Corinthians 5:17,18)
The above total transformation does not take place in us the moment we accept Christ as our Savior. It requires quite a period of time, and numerous tribulations, before we can say: “The old has gone. The new has come. All this is from God.”
Can you say this yet? I can somewhat but still have a ways to go. How about you?
The “old has gone.” The old is our first personality.
The “new has come.” The “new” is not the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The actual Person of Christ from Heaven does not enter us until the “new person,” the new creation, is formed in us. The new creation is neither us nor Christ but actually a “new person,” an individual who comes into being as Christ is formed in us. It is the new person in whom Jesus Christ comes to dwell, not our original personality. The indwelling of the Person of Christ through the Spirit is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)
It is the new creation, once it is indwelt by the Father and the Son, that is the Kingdom of God. It is the Royal Priesthood. This is why it is written: “and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” The role of the Royal Priesthood is to reconcile people to God.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 1:9)
The passage above is written to the Church. It is the Christian Church that is the royal priesthood, the holy nation, a people belonging to God. Our role is to declare the praises of God.
Notice how the new Jerusalem, the Royal Priesthood, blesses the people of the nations of the saved:
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27)
The passage above portrays clearly the relationship of the Church, of those who are “born again,” to the nations of saved people who will be brought over to live on the new earth.
The terms “saved,” and “lost,” refer to the Lake of Fire. To be “saved” is to be brought over to life on the new earth which, together with the new Jerusalem, composes the new world of righteousness.
To be “lost” is to not be permitted to be a citizen of the new earth. This means God has exhausted every effort to persuade the individual to accept the rulership of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has decided against ever granting to that person the gift of repentance.
Perhaps many Christian people who do not understand the extraordinary consequences of following the “born again” experience from conception all the way through to its fullness, which is the removal of our former personality such that we are crucified with Christ and now it is Christ who is living in us.
No wonder the Apostle Paul exhorts us to forget the past and press forward until we attain to the resurrection of our inner man, and finally the resurrection of our outer man!
Not nearly enough attention is paid today to attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Flesh and blood cannot attain to the resurrection. It is the new creation who will be made alive in a transformed body when Jesus comes. Having learned to live by the body and blood of Christ, the believer is ready for the final act of redemption, which is the transformation of the body from corruption to incorruption; from perishability to imperishability; from death to life.
The key to seeing and entering the Kingdom of God is the born-again experience. The flesh profits nothing, Jesus told us. It is His Word that brings eternal life. As His Word is formed in us, under the new covenant, we gain the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom begins as a seed in us. Of four kinds of ground in which the Divine Seed, the Word of God, is sown, only one kind—the honest and good heart—bears any lasting fruit. That fruit is Christ. It is the Kingdom of God.
Some reap the Kingdom to a thirtyfold extent. Some sixtyfold. Some an hundredfold.
Why the difference? I believe it has to do with the diligence with which the believer applies himself or herself to being crucified and made alive in Christ.
I believe also that the thirtyfold and sixtyfold members of the priesthood will be brought to full maturity during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Then the entire Royal Priesthood, having no blemish whatever, can descend to the new earth as the glorious new Jerusalem.
Perhaps it is the hundredfold who will help the less mature grow to full maturity in Christ.
Again, let me point out that the born-again experience has the potential to bring forth fully mature priests in the very image of Christ, who will serve to bring the Presence of God to every one of His creatures.
The purpose of the teaching in this present essay to encourage each person who names the name of Christ to apply himself or herself to diligently seeking to be worthy of the Kingdom of God, thus passing to the ranks of those who always will be with the great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, (Colossians 1:10)
They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:14)
(“Being Born Again and the Kingdom”, 3478-1)