Entering the Kingdom Part 1
We are currently taking a look at the topic of the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God is the primary topic that Jesus spoke about
All throughout the Gospels we see passages that talk about Jesus “preaching the good news of the Kingdom” or saying things like “the Kingdom of God is like this …”
Even though the Kingdom of God it talked about a lot in Scripture, it’s still a pretty confusing topic
There is hardly any agreement among Bible scholars about what it actually means
Sadly I think this might be more common than we care to admit
When I read that quote I had to ask myself if I was approaching this series on the Kingdom of God with any sort of agenda
I don’t know that it would be possible to approach ANY topic, especially a Biblical topic, with no agenda
That being said I do not think that my agendas would be at all inappropriate
I want to see people grow in their relationship with God
I want to make people think – challenge them to question their assumptions and biases
I want to see people get saved, find their calling, and succeed in it
I want to see the Church worldwide, as well as our local church here, grow
Outside of these things I am not sure that I have a specific agenda, but if anyone notices something please let me know!
So, what exactly IS the Kingdom of God?
I read two very good definitions
Graeme Goldsworthy has summarized a definition of the Kingdom of God as "God's people in God's place under God's rule."
DA Carson said “The Kingdom of God concerns the restoration of God's explicit reign among a people who have rebelled against Him”
So, the Kingdom of God is basically us surrendering ourselves totally and completely to God’s rule
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
In Matthew 6:33 we are told to “seek first” the Kingdom of God
Even if we do not totally understand what it is, we are still to seek it
This begs the question of “why?”
Why is it so important that we seek God’s kingdom first – above everything else?
The simple reason we must seek God’s Kingdom is that the thousands of years of history show that we humans cannot effectively rule ourselves;
We can give it our absolute best shot, but in the end, all human governments will fail.
Why is that?
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Jeremiah added Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.
As a race we have tried every form of government, yet all have eventually come to an end.
No matter how good an earthly government is, it is still run by flawed, sinful, selfish humans
You’ve heard me say this many times and I will continue to say it until the day I die – the answer to our problems does not lie in the government
The answer to this world’s problems is in Jesus
If everyone loved God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and loved their neighbor as themselves we would not have the vast majority of problems that we currently have in this world
THIS is why we need to seek God’s kingdom
We will never see the fullness of God’s Kingdom until Jesus returns, but we still should do our best to bring as much of the Kingdom here as we can
How do we do this?
How do we make sure we see as much of the Kingdom as we can while here on this earth?
That’s a complicated question to answer, but I’d like to start answering it by looking at the most famous chapter in the Bible
This is a chapter that all of you are probably quite familiar with – John 3
John 3:1-18 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
So here we are introduced to a man named Nicodemus
We do not know a ton about him, but what we do know is that he was a Pharisee, so he was quite religious and knew the Scriptures very well
We are also told that he was a member of the Jewish ruling council, also known as the Sanhedrin
So Nicodemus was also a very influential and well known person
We really do not know much else about him, but there is some speculation that Nicodemus may have been the rich young ruler that came to Jesus
I do not have the time to get into it today, but Pastor Robert Morris from Gateway Church in Texas gave a pretty convincing argument that this is a distinct possibility
Anyway – Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night and admits that the Pharisees know that He has come from God because of the miracles they had all witnessed
I do not know for sure if Nicodemus came to Jesus on his own, or if he came as a representative of the Sanhedrin
My guess is that he came on his own because he chose to come to Jesus at night
Although it is not directly stated I think we can imply that Nicodemus was wondering if Jesus were the long awaited Messiah who would usher in the Kingdom of God
Jesus then goes on to make and interesting statement
3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." 4 "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!"
Verse 3 gives the key focus of my message today – you cannot see the Kingdom of God unless you are born again
This comment totally confused Nicodemus
He was a Pharisee – if you remember my message from last week the Pharisees believed that to enter the Kingdom you needed to follow the Law
Their faith was a rule based faith, but here Jesus is saying you must be “born again”
Nicodemus takes Jesus literally
Just as Nicodemus was confused so are a lot of people today
We hear the phrase “born again Christian” and that conjures up a lot of different things and not all of them are good
Everything from Bible thumpers who scream and shout to Dana Carvey’s SNL character “The Church Lady”
(Back to John 3 Slide)
There is a lot of confusion on this whole “born again” thing
What exactly does it mean?
Jesus continues His explanation
5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." 9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked. 10 "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things?
“Born of water and of Spirit” = physical birth and spiritual birth
We understand the whole physical birth thing, but what is this spiritual birth all about?
Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Born again – a total transformation
Like a caterpillar into a butterfly
Your old self has died, a new person has come alive in Christ
How do we get this spiritual rebirth?
(“show me the salvation prayer in the Bible please”)
It’s not the repetition of some “magic words”
So what is it?
Let’s keep reading
Skipping ahead a few verses
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
You cannot see the Kingdom unless you are born again
This is the entry point into the Kingdom of God
One final verse
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.