THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN US
Copyright © 2013 by Trumpet Ministries, Inc. 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.
The Lord Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within us. What does that mean?
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20,21)
How is it that the Kingdom of God is within us? The Kingdom of God is the rule of God, the doing of God’s will. How is it that this rule is in us? The Bible says the children of Adam cannot keep God’s laws.
The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (Roman 8:7)
The sinful mind that we inherited from Adam will never submit to God’s eternal moral Law. How, then, is the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, within us?
The answer is, we must be born again. Today, the expression “born again” refers to a conversion to the Christian religion. Being born again does not mean we have been converted to the Christian religion. Being born again means to be born again. We were born once of Adam through the sons of Noah and have inherited a sinful, rebellious nature. If we are to enter the Kingdom of God, we must be born again, this time not of Adam but of God. If we are to have God-Nature, if we are to always be obedient to God’s eternal moral Law, we must be born of God Himself.
The Kingdom of God is the inner rule of God. The person in whom the Kingdom of God resides always does God’s will; he or she always is obedient to God.
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (I John 3:9)
The natural, adamic man simply cannot obey God. He must be born again if he is to enter the Kingdom of God.
It is conventional to regard the new covenant as the forgiveness of our sins so we can go to Heaven when we die. Being elderly, I am looking forward with the greatest joy to going to Heaven to be with Jesus and the saints. But the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with Heaven. The Kingdom of God is stern obedience to God so we may have fellowship with Him. Fellowship with God does not depend on our being in Heaven or on the earth.
that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)
How then does God form His Kingdom, His rule, in us? God forms His rule, His Kingdom, in us by writing His eternal moral law in our mind and heart. This is the new covenant. God has issued a new covenant because it is not possible for the adamic natural man to obey God, and God demands strict obedience to His Law.
The writing of God’s eternal moral law in our mind and heart is the same as Christ being formed in us. Christ Himself is the Word of God, the eternal moral law of God.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: (Hebrews 8:10)
The new covenant, which is the only Christian covenant, includes forgiveness. But its main work is to create God’s eternal moral law in us.
The parable of the sower tells us about the planting of the Seed of God in our personality. The sower, the preacher, sows the Seed of God, which is Christ. Some people are accustomed to many philosophies and religions, and so the ground is hard. The Seed lies on top of the ground until a bird comes and eats it. In some people, the Seed enters and germinates. But the concerns of this world choke out the Seed and it bears no lasting fruit. The American culture does this. It is like King Herod murdering whom he thought would take his place on the throne. In other people, the Seed enters and germinates, but its roots are too shallow. As soon as a severe temptation occurs, the believer forsakes his or her discipleship and again, no lasting fruit is borne.
Then there is a fourth kind of ground, referred to as an honest and good heart.
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15)
The fourth kind of ground bears the lasting fruit of the Kingdom of God. Some bear Christ, the Kingdom of God, to a thirtyfold extent. Some, to a sixtyfold extent. Some, to a hundredfold extent.
How can we account for this difference in the amount of the Kingdom of God that is borne, when it is the same Divine Seed? Obviously, there are differences in the manner in which people react to the new Life that has been sown in them.
And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. (Ezekiel 47:3-5—NKJV)
Referring to the above allegorical river in Ezekiel chapter 47, some stay at water to the ankles. Some press forward in the Holy Spirit until they are in water to the knees. These have prayed and sought the Lord, obeying Him in everything, until the Seed has had a greater development.
Then there are those, perhaps very few in number, who passionately deal with Christ, moment by moment, day after day, night after night, until they are filled with all the fullness of God. They have attained to the full stature of Christ. Daniel speaks of the hundredfold:
Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:3)
Not only are the hundredfold mature in the righteous behavior of the Kingdom of God, but they have influenced a multitude of others. In the ages to come, they will be towers of light and Glory as the Divine Seed has come to fullness in them.
Every believer is invited to become a hundredfold Christian. But setting aside our own life that we might learn to live in continual communion with Jesus does not appeal to the majority of Christian people. It frightens them, and so they remain in their little cubbyhole, afraid to venture out in God.
These hundredfold Christians are royal priests. In the future, they will represent God to people and people to God. Their rulership shall be absolute. Their personality is iron righteousness, like that of the Lord.
It is clear, isn’t it, that God is making man in two stages:
- The first stage is that of the intelligent animal.
- The second stage is that of the life-giving spirit.
The first man is of the earth, earthy. The second man is in the image of the Lord from Heaven.
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9,10)
Any of us can labor to enter the fullness of God. But so few seem to have this passion!
As in the case of Ezekiel’s river, the three levels bring us to maturity in Christ. Then there is the fourth level of service, waters to swim in, where we serve mankind as a tree of life on the banks of the River of Divine Life.
Mankind is as a dead sea. Together with the Spirit of God, we invite people to come and drink of God’s eternal Life without cost. This is the destiny of the hundredfold Christian.
So the end of the matter is not how wonderful we have become. It is the wonderful opportunity to serve God’s children that is of supreme importance.
We understand, therefore, that flesh and blood cannot possibly enter the Kingdom of God. Rather it is the second stage, the Divine humanity, that is of the Kingdom and is the Kingdom.
Our Lord Jesus is Son of man and Son of God. It is His desire that each of us become a son of man and son of God, that we be filled with the Divine Nature. In this manner, we can become a genuine brother and a genuine Wife of the Lamb. We always will be human beings. There are earthly human beings. Then there are heavenly human beings.
So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
The most important aspect of our transformation concerns obedience to God. When we are thirtyfold, water to the ankles, we behave righteously. There is no Kingdom of God apart from righteous behavior. However, as we grow toward the sixtyfold level, our righteousness becomes stronger.
When God sees that we are growing in righteous behavior, He tests us to see whether we will continue in righteous behavior when faced with painful circumstances. Rank in the Kingdom of God depends largely upon the severity of the tests that we can pass.
If we go beyond that which is generally experienced, as did Abraham in his level of faith and communion with God, we may have our “Isaac experience.” Not many of us are as forged in obedience as was Abraham. God gambled on Abraham’s faithfulness by requesting he offer Isaac as a burnt offering. To become “the father of all who believe” requires more than the average level of consecration of Christian people.
Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul declared himself to be dead and living by the Life of Christ. The result is, today, in the age of computers, we still are looking to Paul for direction. Extreme consecration results in extreme fruitfulness.
Is the day past when Christians can aspire to the level of fruit-bearing of Abraham or Paul? I do not believe so. God is not a respecter of persons. If any Christian person comes to God and declares himself or herself a candidate for hundredfold fruitbearing, do you think God will respond by saying, “That level of fellowship with God is denied to you; you simply are not worthy. You are being presumptuous! Just who do you think you are?”
Not so! Rather God will laugh exultantly and inform those who surround Him that there is another candidate for His highest and best. Then God will take that “presumptuous” individual by the hand and lead him along as far as he is willing to go—unless the believer cries, “Enough! I can’t give You my Isaac! You are being cruel!” Then God relents. But He thinks about what could have been—a towering figure of light, like Abraham, and like the Apostle Paul who serves as a guide for those who want to have fellowship with God. After all, such are sons of almighty God! Their influence for righteousness is limitless.
I do not know how many “towers of light” there have been throughout the history of mankind. They will not be revealed until the Day of Resurrection. This sort of individual usually does not seek to become some great minister who is widely acclaimed. His delight, rather, is to be hidden away with Jesus.
Each of us is invited bear the fruit of the Kingdom to a hundredfold extent. Will you be one of those who delight God’s heart by being a person who will be content with nothing less than the fullness of Christ, whose obedience to God is without limits? If so, you will be for eternity an unimaginable source of joy and blessing to God and mankind.
Such a destiny is well worth seeking.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
(“The Kingdom of God is Within Us”, 3572-1, proofed 20210830)