The Kingdom of God is the sovereign, almighty, omniscient, omnipresent, active rule of God, all around us, all the time. The ever present God reigns over the affairs of men (Dan. 4:17-35). The fabric of reality is held together by the word of Christ (Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:3). Adam was created as part of that kingdom and as long as he was in fellowship with God everything worked in harmony as it should.
Then Adam sinned. A great disruption was the result, and Adam and his seed were alienated from God. The physical universe endured the explosion but the curse fell like a shroud over all of physical creation. That curse means that men come into mortal life with no concept of God’s reign and no appreciation for, or interest in, God’s participation in their lives.
Many human beings are born into this world, pass through their living existence, and never know the God in whom they live and move and have their being (Acts 17:28). Some of them hear something about Him. Most of them are subjected to a grotesque caricature of Him, but few of them ever have any consciousness of Him as a real Person.
Something beyond nature must happen to them in the inner most being. Before a person can know God, and consciously live under His gracious reign, he must be born again, born from above, regenerated. He must have God’s very life come in and fill that grave of lostness that is at the center of his natural human heart. Jeremiah and Paul called it a circumcised heart (Jer. 4:4; Col. 2:11). It is referred to as a resurrection and a new creation (Eph. 2:1-5; 2Cor. 5:17). When it happens, fellowship with God is established. The Father, Son and Spirit move into the innermost being of the converted and he begins to live in a realm of reality that he did not know existed before (John 14:23; 1Cor. 6:19).
The problem is that modern evangelicalism has forsaken these truths. We mouth the words but they seem to convey a wholly different meaning from that intended. Much of what passes for preaching on the new birth nowadays is either the recommendation of an emotional experience or a solicitation for mental assent concerning certain facts that are termed “the gospel.” One’s conversion may very well contain these elements but neither one alone, or both together, constitute what the Bible means when it speaks of the new birth.
The new birth is being born out of our deadness into God’s life (Col. 2:13). In the new birth one passes from the laws and customs of one kingdom into another kingdom with other laws and customs (Col. 1:13). To be born again is to pass from blindness to sight and from darkness to light. It is to move miraculously from chains to freedom, and from the dark dungeon into a green flowering meadow. To be born again is to receive eternal life, that is, “life into the ages.” This includes “heaven when you die” but it primarily denotes heaven in the heart while you live. It guarantees continued existence in that same heavenly life after you die, (into the ages) but that is not it’s focus. Its point is that the God-life (into the ages kind of life) begins in the believer now.
The kingdom of God is that realm where God rules, which is above us, below us and in every direction around us as far as, and farther than, the mind can imagine. When one is saved, born again, truly converted, he enters that kingdom as a servant and citizen and begins to live a supernatural life in personal fellowship with the King. It means a radical change in the innermost being of the person converted, and that is what is missing today. Millions profess Christ as savior who show no change at all in their daily lives. Someone might protest, “But I thought that the gospel was mainly about the imputed righteousness of Christ and that when we believe in Him we are then prepared for heaven.” That is true as far as it goes. It just doesn’t go far enough. The imputed righteousness of Christ so satisfies the justice of God that He is now able to own us and work inside of us. It puts the believer into the position of being changed from the inside out. And God’s work in us is relentless. Thus, any gospel that just commends the life and death and resurrection of Christ as a means to a satisfied after-life, and does not include the good news of the progressive nature of a heavenly inner life that spills over into, and eventually dominates, our outer life, is only half a gospel.
In a mad, western-cultured craving for ministry validation through numbers, we have settled for a gospel that at best leaves true converts without a knowledge of their birthright blessings now, and at worse deceives multitudes into a false security that virtually guarantees their entrance into hell.