being born again, church, deception, discerning the spirits, dying to self, exhortation, experience, eyes of the heart, Jesus Christ, joy, peace, Righteousness, T.A. Sparks, the Kingdom of God, the new self, the old self
We know what Jesus said about the Kingdom of God. So, just in case someone wants to convince us of already living IN the kingdom (although we do not really know what that might mean) or tells us that he himself lives there, we should remember Jesus’ words on how we can get there and on how the kingdom of God is NOT. We read,
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (Jn 3:5-7 ESV)
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Lk 17:21-22 ESV)
We need to be genuinely born again by God’s Spirit so that we can first SEE and later ENTER the kingdom of God as Jesus affirmed when He had been asked about this very issue by Nicodemus (John 3:1-7). Once again, T. Austin Sparks had some interesting ideas about how Christians sometimes wrongly believe that they might already live in the kingdom and are thus being deceived. I (Susanne) can tell you, dear reader, that most of the people I have come to know had no clue what the kingdom of God really is about. Actually, it is not about doing good or impressive things for God. It is not about preaching the gospel so that unbelievers might be saved. And it is not about anything that is still visible to our natural eyes. In fact, only if our eyes of the heart have been enlightened, they will start to see God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who is in everything and everyone that was ever created. The Kingdom of God is all about the inner life as the new creation in Christ and it is NOT about what others might perceive when they look at us. Maybe, that is a different explanation as you might have heard in churches. Nonetheless, it has been my experience for years now. The kingdom of God is not about reading books or about going to church. Neither is it about writing a blog post or about commenting on the internet. 😉 Furthermore, it is not about caring for our bodies since, above all, it is a spiritual matter. The Bible offers us the following definition:
[T]he kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. (Rom 14:17-18 ESV)
Do we have a righteousness of our own? Well, if we think of our old nature, we must deny this. Also, peace and joy IN the Holy Spirit are not natural to us, either. Indeed, we must be IN Christ so that we can serve Him as it should be. In this case, it is not our doing if we then do works ‘for’ God. Instead, it is God working through our enlightened spirits just as He wills as soon as our old nature with its rebellious self-willed schemes that oppose God’s plan for our life has finally died. Eventually, here is this excerpt from one of TAS articles which I announced further above.
That natural birth, even though it might be into surroundings where the kingdom of God is the one interest, never brings into it. No one can come into the kingdom of God by natural birth. One may be born into a Christian family, and into the midst of Christianity as a religious system, or what is called the Christian Church, but no one is in the kingdom of God on account of such birth. […]
[I]nterest and activity in Christianity is one thing, but being in the kingdom is quite another. Multitudes of good-meaning people are interested in Christianity, and are active in Christianity. They see the value of the Christian standard of life, and Christian teaching, and have thought, if only it could be applied, how different the world would be. So they have become busy in Christianity, and have thought they were in the kingdom of God. Not at all! You can have all the interest in Christianity without being in the kingdom. […]
Between the natural-life kingdom and the Divine-life kingdom there is a gap which cannot be bridged. For the vegetable to become an animal it must become a new creation, with a new life in it. For the animal to become a man, despite what evolutionists may say, it must become another creation, with another life in it. And for a man to become a child of God, an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, he has to become a new creation, possessed of an entirely different and other life. It is another kingdom.
So that the natural man is totally incapable of having intercourse with the things of the Spirit of God; the two things belong to two different kingdoms. Divine life is essential, and that is the thing upon which Christ is placing His finger of emphasis all the time, as recorded in the third chapter of John, in His dealings with Nicodemus. […]
We have neither to produce Divine things, nor the result of Divine things, in ourselves. We have not to work ourselves up to be what we think we ought to be, as though we could produce it. We have not to seek to draw upon ourselves for the Christian life, for the things of God in life and in service. It is not so, and it is fatal to try to produce it as out from ourselves. It is not effort of any kind that is required in relation to God. Listen to that, and underline it. It is not effort of any kind that is required in relation to God and His things, but positive faith in the Lord Jesus as within us. […]
The Lord’s desire for His own, and the Lord’s need in His own, is that they should have spiritual understanding, and a mind quickened, energized, illumined as to Himself, His ways, His things.
If this were recognized, there would be fewer tragedies of deception, delusion, error, and misleading. All such things are the result of judging according to the natural mind, and coming to a conclusion that certain things are quite good and right because they appear to be so. The language of certain persons may seem to be quite sound, their arguments to be quite right, their ways to be the proper ways, and to the natural mind everything appears all right; there is no capacity for seeing beyond, and into, and through. Then those concerned are carried away into deception. They are deceptions because they are so closely counterfeiting the things of God, and the enemy knows quite well that, if he can put up a close counterfeit, an imitation, there are enough Christians without spiritual understanding to fall into his trap.
So many Christians are being deceived by believing in a mere social gospel, that is, they are busily trying to change this world into a better place to be according to their own ideas of what God might want them to do. Dear brothers and sisters, this is such a big deception in which countless Christians might find themselves captured that I do not really know how to point this out as an evocative wake-up call… 😦