Article 51

Home Directions

Contact Info

What we Believe






"The Kingdom of God"

John 3:3

"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

This chapter is probably one of the most well known chapters in the Bible because of the account with Nicodemus and, of course, because of John 3:16. Many able words have been said about the verse I have listed as a text and there is certainly nothing new to offer to the word of God. But I would like to deal with two parts of this verse, one with which I have never dealt before in print. These things I have to write can be put into two categories…

1. The necessity of the new birth.

2. The goal of the new birth.

Concerning the necessity of the new birth there has been disagreement, and likewise even concerning the goal of the new birth there has been disagreement. The most troubling thing for me concerning this disagreement about these two things is not that some acknowledge the necessity and the goal and others do not. There are these two totally different and opposing sides but it is no great wonder that these "others" deny the truth that a person must be born again to see the kingdom of God. These "others" of which I speak often deny the truth of God, mainly they are those of the free will, God loves everyone persuasion. When Christ said: "Except…" then He demanded necessity. But the most troubling thing for me is that among those who agree that a person must be born again to see the kingdom of God there are some disagreements based upon very wrong ideas. The problems are these:

1. How is a person born again?

2. Why is a person born again?

I have dealt with the "how" part on many occasions, and the often expressed objections, but I have never dealt with the "why" other than to state it so. Nevertheless, how a man is born again must be stated. A man is born again by the sovereign Spirit of God in an act of free, unwarranted, unearned, unmerited spiritual life being passively bestowed (as far as the recipient is concerned) upon a person of God’s own choosing. These things are true:

1. The necessity of the new birth and how it is accomplished shows man’s total inability or deadness in spiritual matters – he cannot even believe on Christ until first born again.

2. The necessity of the new birth and how it is accomplished indirectly shows God’s election of the people whom He purposed to give new birth.

3. The necessity of the new birth and how it is accomplished shows that God gives new birth where and when He pleases apart from all means, no matter how spiritual those means might be, including witnessing about or preaching the gospel of Christ (see #1).

4. The bestowal of the new birth results in a conscience and willing conversion to Christ in repentance and faith.

Now, let’s look at why a person is born again. Christ in no uncertain terms declared that a person must be born again to see (understand, perceive, comprehend) and to enter (to come into) the kingdom of God. There should be no question then that the new birth is bestowed for that very purpose. But what is the kingdom of God? On this subject there seems to be some very wrong ideas, which cause very much confusion, even among the people of God. Because confusion is so prevalent I feel it necessary to state a few of the misconceptions first and state why they are wrong. Some say the kingdom of God is soteriological (having to do with salvation) and is basically a present reality, but the kingdom of heaven is eschatological (having to do with things yet future) and they are thus different. When you run a simple reference of Matt. 13:11 with Lk. 8:10 and their related contexts then it is clear that the previously mentioned difference cannot always hold true and such a dogmatic separation can lead to error. Sometimes these terms imply a very similar thing, as in Matthew thirteen and Luke eight, and in other places they do not. Matthew’s use is sometimes specific and there is a reason for saying the kingdom of heaven rather than saying the kingdom of God. Matthew 13:24 & 41 is not the exact same thing as Jn 3:3 & 5. Nevertheless, the context and content of any passage determines the meaning and particular use of any particular word or phrase. Others say that any reference to the kingdom is soteriological and thus a present reality only. When a person looks at scripture then this all-inclusive explanation will not hold. Here are several New Testament passages to consider that clearly teach the kingdom to be yet future as well (Matt. 8:11; 13:43; 25:34; 26:29; I Cor. 6:9-10; 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; II Tim. 4:1,18). To say all the future references to the kingdom simply mean our going to heaven is to fall into a similar error as the afore mentioned one. It is also true that when the kingdom is mentioned some even automatically think of the millennium only. This cannot be (cf. Lk. 1:33 w/Rev. 20:5). Christ’s kingdom has no end but the 1000 years, of course, does have an end! These have been so brainwashed they automatically equate the kingdom as being the 1000 years. Some equate the 1000 years as being a symbol of the present church/kingdom age and the salvation provided in Christ, but they should give serious consideration to the fact that the 1000 years will end according to scripture and all the dead shall then be raised. Will Christ’s work of salvation end according to the context of Revelation chapter 20? Or will it bring spiritual resurrection life to all? Certainly not! Such an interpretation is not consistent with any sound hermeneutic principle. Some equate the kingdom to the rule of Christ on the earth presently through the Church, and thus the Church is to have, at least, some control over the civil affairs of this world. This clearly goes against New Testament scripture’s teaching that even believers are to "be subject unto the higher powers" (Rom. 13:1-7). Believers certainly do not reign over one another (I Cor. 4:8) nor is civil power and the Church said to be one but are indeed said to be now separate, with believers’ ruling determinations over the world and angels yet to take place in the future (I Cor. 6:1-8). I have even heard it said that salvation (thus seeing and entering the kingdom was implied) is based upon a person’s belief in the five points of Calvinism. This is the nonsense of a puffed up knowledge and is not true. There is even the idea that the kingdom equals God’s sovereignty itself. God’s sovereignty has always been but the kingdom has not, and one does not enter into God’s sovereignty by being born again. All are under God’s sovereign rule whether elect or reprobate, saved or lost, from the beginning to the end.

The over-simplification or the confounding of the subject of the kingdom seems all too prevalent. Just a little research will bring up even more ideas about the kingdom than even I have stated. Others think that by avoiding the subject altogether, whether for the sake of fellowship [or at least the facade of it] or to avoid conflict altogether, they have some superior stand. If we believe that the necessity of the new birth makes that part vital then the reason for or the goal of the new birth is just as vital. Since we are born again to both see and enter the kingdom of God then seeing it and entering it go hand in hand with the new birth. If one never comes to see and enter the kingdom of God then they have not been born again! There is no other alternative to Christ’s words here. Did Christ connect something so absolutely essential as being born again to a subject of little necessity as being its goal? I think not! The how and the why of being born again go together.

The word kingdom as an abstract noun denotes sovereign rule, royal or kingly power or dominion; as a concrete noun it denotes the people and/or the realm (territory) over which a sovereign king reigns. One thing is for sure about the kingdom of God – no man can see that God rules over the spiritual state and destiny of a man’s soul (here we see that spiritual life comes from God only), nor will he come into or enter that rule (here we see him becoming a particular subject in the king’s spiritual realm) apart from the new birth. But isn’t this salvation? Of course it is in the purpose of God overall. But it is far beyond what most think of as salvation therefore over simplification can and has lead to confusion. The millennium will also be a part of the deliverance of God’s people but to say that is the kingdom is far too limited a statement and thus wrong. Since there is clearly the kingdom present (Col. 1:13) and the kingdom future (Js. 2:5) for believers, and since the present is specific in that it is not here for the exaltation of our personal liberty in Christ at the expense of another fellow believer’s weak scruples (Rom. 14:17), and since we all have a rough road to walk before we enter the kingdom physically (Acts 14:22), then serious care should be taken on this subject. To say that none of the born again see or enter the kingdom of God in any way until that which is future comes clearly will not hold up to scriptural scrutiny. But neither is saying the kingdom is now only holding to the truth either. There is also a sense in which the kingdom of God became specific to the new covenant believers of this age, as opposed to believers of the Old Testament age, in that we have seen and entered into the kingdom [positional] with the New Covenant ratified by Christ and His blood (Heb. 9:16-23) thus taking away the figures and shadows of the old with which our brethren had to deal (Heb. 10:9-22). OT believers could thus see, but only in part or afar off, and they could enter, but only in prospect mentally (cf. Heb. 11:13-16). Yet, even they who have gone on before us will not fully experience the promise of that better country without us (Heb. 11:39-12:2). We all await that day!

It is sad but true that vast confusion exists about the truth of the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, those who have been born again do begin to "see" that Christ is their deliverer or their eternal life (Jn. 3:9-15) and they "enter into" that realm wherein Christ is acknowledged as the light (Jn. 3:18-21). This is the kingdom of God and it is that part of the kingdom with which men should be very concerned -- Christ the King and His chosen subjects -- for to be a subject of the kingdom now in Christ the King is to be assured of being a subject of His everlasting kingdom in the future as well (II Pet. 1:10-12). To avoid any part of this truth for any reason is, at best, to rob God’s subjects of a knowledge of their present blessing and their future inheritance, but at worst it may be rebellion against God in an attempt to promote one’s own opinions.

Back to Top