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The Kingdom of God part 5


PLAN OF THE AGES KINGDOM OF GOD PRAISE & WORSHIP HISTORY MISCELLANEOUS


THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 Part 5

 BIRTHED INTO THE KINGDOM

             As I begin this message I acknowledge my indebtedness to Henry Drummond’s wonderful book NATURAL LAW IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD for some of the thoughts shared in the following pages.  May the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God seize upon our hearts and impress indelibly upon our minds the wonderful truth that all things that are seen in the Natural World are but pictures and images of the GREATER REALITIES in the Spiritual World.  And in the understanding of the impassable gulf that exists in the Natural World between the inanimate and the animate, the dead and the living, lies the revelation that in the Spiritual Realm there is also a great uncrossable gulf between the worlds of Spiritual Death and Spiritual Life, between the carnal mind and the spiritual mind.

             There is a wonderful law known to men of science that is called the Law of Biogenesis.  This Law demonstrates that during all of recorded history life has only come from pre-existing life.  No human power has ever been able to produce life out of inorganic chemical substances, nor has such a phenomenon ever been observed by human eye.  We know that life is not now being originated on earth and that all the life forms today spring from pre-existing life forms of some kind.  The inorganic world is staked off from the living world by barriers that have never yet been crossed from within.  No change of substance, no modification of environment, no chemistry, no electricity, nor any form of energy, nor any evolution can endow any single atom of the mineral world with the attribute of life.  Only by the bending down into this dead world of some living form can these dead atoms be gifted with the properties of life; without this direct contact with life they remain fixed in the inorganic sphere forever.  It is a very mysterious Law which guards in this way the portals of the living world.  And if there is one thing in nature worth pondering for its strangeness it is the spectacle of this vast helpless world of the dead cut off from the living by the Law of Biogenesis and denied forever the possibility of resurrection within itself.  Here we stand in the presence of the uncrossable gulf the gulf of all gulfs the gulf between DEATH and LIFE. 

            The Word of God contains an explicit and original statement of the Law of Biogenesis as it applies to the spiritual life.  In the vision of the spiritual world presented in the scriptures, the first thing that draws the attention is a great gulf fixed.  The passage from the natural world to the spiritual world is hermetically sealed on the natural side.  In the natural world the door from the inorganic to the organic is shut, no mineral can open it; so, the door from the natural to the spiritual is shut, and no man can open it; the door from the earthly to the heavenly is shut, and no power of earth can open it.  This world of natural men, of carnal minds and mortal bodies, is staked off from the spiritual world of God by barriers that have never been crossed from within.  No organic change, no modification of environment, no vitamin, hormone or chemical substance, no meditation or mental energy, no moral effort, no improvement of character, no religious exercise, no ritual or ceremony or tradition, can endow any single human soul with the attributes of spiritual life, immortality, or incorruption.  The spiritual world of God and His sons is guarded from the world next in order beneath it, the world of the carnal mind, by a Law of Biogenesis “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God...except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3-7).

            It is not said, in this statement of the Law, that if the condition be not fulfilled the natural man will not enter the Kingdom of God.  The word is, cannot.  It is not that God arbitrarily shuts out the spiritually dead from the kingdom of the spiritually living.  There is a great Law involved here.  Paul by inspiration pointed out this Law: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14).  It is not simply that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit, but he cannot.  It is as utterly impossible for the carnal mind to know spiritual things as it is for a stone to spontaneously generate life.  The entrance of the natural man into the world of the Spirit of God is simply a scientific impossibility! 

            The Law of nature is: Except a mineral be born “from above” from the kingdom just above it it cannot enter the kingdom just above it.  And except a man be born “from above,” he cannot enter the Kingdom just above him.  There being no passage from the lower kingdom to the higher, whether from inorganic or organic, or from natural to spiritual, the injection of a LIFE is a necessity if a stone or a plant or an animal or a man is to pass from a lower sphere to a higher sphere.  The earth will never possess (lay hold upon) the Kingdom of God so long as eternity shall endure.  It must be the other way about.  The Kingdom of God, the higher Kingdom, must possess the earth.  Though the Kingdom of God is within me, yet I cannot possess it.  It must possess me, or it will never be known.  If I try to possess Christ, I will be as barren in the future as I have been in the past, but if CHRIST POSSESSES ME, then I will be hid with Christ in God and God will raise me up to find my existence in the realm of His divine life and glory. 

            As we consider these thoughts may God Almighty grant us that His Spirit may instruct us in the way of truth and understanding.  Let us open wide our hearts and minds before the Lord that He may reveal the eternal truth of this subject to our hearts.  The principle by which, in nature, the inorganic is raised up into the organic, and, in like manner, in God’s economy, the natural man is raised up out of the death realm into the life of the Kingdom of God, is stated simply by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 13:31-32: “Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs.”  Let us UNDERSTAND!  How are the inorganic, non-living mineral elements of the earth raised up into the organic kingdom of living things?  Within the seed is a germ of life.  The seed containing the life is planted in the earth, in the lifeless mineral world, in the kingdom of the dead.   

            Once buried in the earth, with all the right amounts of water and air, and the right temperatures, the seed germinates and the life within the seed begins to grow.  Finally the shell of the seed bursts and there takes place a release of the life from the seed.  As the life is released it immediately SEIZES UPON the chemical elements in the earth, converts them into food, and then builds up living tissue out of matter that never lived!  The inorganic chemicals become organic tissue!  The dead is converted into the living!  The lifeless elements of the earth are transformed into the living substance of the plant.  This is one of the most amazing facts in nature, though it is happening every minute all around us!  Now we can see clearly what the Lord Jesus meant when He said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a mustard seed, which is the least of all seeds, but when it is sowed in the field, and becomes grown, it is the greatest of herbs.  The plant stretches down to the dead world beneath it, touches its minerals and gases with its mystery of life, and brings them up ennobled and transformed to the living sphere.  In like manner, the breath of God, blowing where it listeth, touches with its mystery of divine life the dead souls of men, bears them across the bridgeless gulf between the natural and the spiritual, endows them with its own holy and eternal and divine qualities, and produces within them these new and marvelous faculties, by which those who are born of the Spirit are said to SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD and ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD. 

            How futile in the face of such truth as this is any form of self reformation!  How worthless and unprofitable the empty rituals, the static creeds, and the vain and lifeless traditions of the carnal religious systems!  Place a lifeless rock in the dead earth and nothing will happen.  Administer lifeless ceremonies and dead doctrines to a man dead in trespasses and sins and likewise nothing will happen.  However thorough the self reformation may be, however beautiful the traditions and doctrines of religion, however impressive and inspiring to the soulish nature of man the pleasing platitudes of sermons, the harmony of music and the pageantry of programs, it leaves us without life and hopelessly dead to the glorious realities of the Spirit of God.  Well did faithful Paul bear witness  to the life-giving work of the Spirit in the lives of the Ephesians when he said, “You hath HE QUICKENED, who were dead in trespasses and sins...but GOD, who is rich in mercy, even when we were dead in sins, HATH QUICKENED US TOGETHER WITH CHRIST...and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:1-5). 

            With my poor and puny ability I cannot make the truth of Christ’s indwelling life to be a living, transforming reality to your heart.  None but the Spirit of God can perform this wonderful and divine act of illumination.  He alone can take the things of God and show them unto you.  Nevertheless, I can certainly assure you that, the moment the grand and glorious fact of His indwelling life grips your heart and fills your mind, the reality of His divine indwelling will immediately begin to transform your life.  Yea, and I shall further add that the quickening power of His abiding life will also begin to change your mind, transform your emotions, and renew your body as well.  It is the Law of Life.

             To bring a dead natural man with his carnal mind of death up into the higher Kingdom of divine life necessitates the implantation of the incorruptible seed of God into man’s earthiness.  The point I want to make very clear is that the New Creation is more than the eternal and incorruptible life of God from heaven.  The New Creation is that life planted in the earth, seizing upon the earth, changing and transforming the earth, raising it up to find its existence in the higher Kingdom of divine life.  Jesus is Himself the pattern.  We know how the Word, who had from eternity dwelt in the bosom of the Father, entered upon a new stage of existence when He became flesh.  When Jesus rose from the dead and ascended up into the Father from whence He had come, He was still the same only-begotten Son of God, and yet not altogether the same.  For He was now also, as Son of man, the first begotten from the dead, clothed with that glorified humanity which He had perfected and sanctified for Himself.  In His resurrection and ascension He was no longer only the Mighty God, but He was the Mighty God whose divine life and nature had laid hold upon the humanity of man and had raised it up into identification with Himself.  He is still a MAN, for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the MAN CHRIST JESUS.  The Son of man became the Son of God.  The whole wonderful work of Christ in redemption was not merely to deliver man from the law and its curse of death, but to BRING HUMAN NATURE ITSELF UP INTO THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE DIVINE LIFE, TO MAKE US PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE.  “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field.”

             Even now at this very moment the life that we live in this body of flesh we live by the faith of the Son of God; and that faith assures us fully that the incorruptible seed, sown by the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit, shall issue forth in incorruption, immortality and eternal life.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  Death is corruption and life is incorruption.  As the rush cannot grow without mire, as the seed cannot grow without water, as the mustard seed cannot grow without earth, so, in a manner wonderfully illustrated by these marvels, the incorruptible Christ seed, planted in the corruptible earth which we are, bears its fruit in immortality, incorruption and eternal life the New Creation.  The seed cannot become a tree without the earth, and the earth cannot become a tree without the seed.  The tree is neither the life in the seed nor the elements of the earth.  The tree is an entirely new creation, something that did not exist before, not life or earth, but life and earth! It is the commingling and restructuring of the two into a union, making of the twain one new thing.  The tree is the elements of the earth QUICKENED AND MADE ALIVE by the transforming power of the life in the seed!  Such is the New Creation.  The New Creation is neither the eternal God (pure spirit) nor is it man (physical).  The New Creation is CHRIST, the God-man, humanity admitted into the full glory of the Divine, human nature transformed and received up into union with the eternal Spirit.  The Kingdom of Heaven on earth is composed of redeemed men who are putting on the divine nature and the incorruptible life of God.  That is why we must have the redemption of the body as Paul has said, “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also QUICKEN YOUR MORTAL BODIES by His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom. 8:11).  Even now at this very moment the divine life of God is at work within the elect, changing, transforming, lifting us up into the higher Kingdom.

             I would say to you again that the life of Christ, the life of sonship, is not something outside ourselves.  The idea is not that Christ is in heaven and that we can stretch out some mysterious faculty and touch Him there.  This is the vague form in which many babes in Christ conceive the truth, but it is contrary to Christ’s teaching and to the analogy of nature.  Vegetable life is not contained in a reservoir somewhere in the skies, and measured out spasmodically at certain seasons.  Animal life is not bottled up somewhere in the blue beyond and dropped down to earth when it is time for an embryo to be formed.  The life is in every plant and tree, every beast and fish and fowl, inside its own tissue and substance, and works there as a mighty power to form even that which is contained within the life.  The life is permanently fixed and rooted in the organism.  Life is not one of the homeless forces which promiscuously inhabit space, or which can be gathered like electricity from the clouds and dissipated back again into space.  Life is definite and resident; the spiritual life is not a visit from a force, but a resident tenant of the being.  “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a...seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field.”  The life of sonship is not derived from the occasional touch of Jesus when He “passes this way,” nor from the weekly reviving or refreshing that comes to weary souls as they gather together in church meetings.  Thank God for the fellowship, encouragement and blessing of those of like precious faith, but I declare to you today that the life of sonship can only be known as we become sensitive to the reality of  the ABIDING CHRIST WITHIN, conscious of His speaking, guiding, governing, and His power continually transforming the spirit, the mind, and the body into the image of Him who created them.   

            As speaking in tongues and the gifts of the Spirit are the evidences of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, so the redemption of our bodies from the power of decay and death is the evidence of the manifestation of the sons of God.  “We ourselves too, who have and enjoy the firstfruits of the Spirit a foretaste of the blissful things to come groan inwardly as we wait for the redemption of our bodies from sensuality and the grave, which will reveal our adoption, our manifestation as God’s sons” (Rom. 8:23, Amplified Bible).  This change in our bodies shall not come by the mighty working of Christ crashing down through the clouds, but by the DIVINE INWORKING OF HIS INDWELLING LIFE as Paul by inspiration said, “He shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

 SEEING THE KINGDOM

             The Kingdom of God means many things to many different people, according to their understanding.  This is only natural, because of the many figures under which the idea was presented by Jesus, and also because people are at different stages in their progress along the way to the Kingdom, which means that they have attained different degrees of growth as children of God in the family of God.  Jesus said that one must be born again in order to “see” or “enter” the Kingdom.  Here we find Jesus laying down the preliminary requirement for an understanding of the Kingdom, as well as entrance into the Kingdom.  But He does not say that upon being born again one would immediately fully see or completely enter into the Kingdom.  But spiritual birth is the prerequisite.  Understanding the Kingdom spiritually and laying hold upon its reality can only follow the new birth not precede it.  Until you are born from above you have neither the ability to see nor the potential to enter into the Kingdom of God. 

             First of all, then, the Kingdom is not a natural state, for it must be entered following a new birth.  And a man can no more bring about his second birth the birth into the spiritual world than he could have brought about his first birth the birth into the physical world.  It comes to one from another world.  He is given birth from a higher realm.  It is the work of God alone.  It is a new order that one enters into under entirely new conditions.  It becomes accessible by the experience of a new life, a new identity, a new citizenship, a new spirit, a new nature, a new will, a new attitude, a new ability, a new objective.

             When men come into the world, they are born outside of the Kingdom of God, and they cannot see into it.  They may go round and round it, and examine it from the outside, and pass an opinion on it.  But they are no judges.  They are not seeing what they are speaking about.  For that which is born of spirit is spirit, and that which is born of flesh is flesh; and fleshly men can only give an uninformed and unenlightened criticism about something spiritual that they do not and cannot understand.  Therefore the critical value of a natural man’s opinion on spiritual matters is nothing.  His opinion is simply ludicrous he is talking about a thing that he has never seen.   

            So far as one’s experience of the Kingdom of God goes, regeneration makes all the difference.  It is as if someone had been standing outside some great cathedral.  He has heard that its windows are of stained glass and exceeding beautiful.  He walks all around it and sees nothing but dull, unimpressive and unintelligible colors.  There is nothing worth seeing there.  Its beauty must be highly exaggerated and over-rated, he concludes.  But let him go in.  Let him see things from the inside.  And his eye is dazzled with the gorgeous display of colors and detail.  The miracles and parables are glowing upon the glass; and the figure of Jesus is there, and the story of His love is told on every pane: and there are choirs of angels, and cherubim and seraphim and glory everywhere.

             So let a man enter the Kingdom of Heaven let a man be born again and enter and he will SEE the Kingdom of God.  He will see the glory of Christ and the King in His beauty, and beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord he is changed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.  Marvel not if it is necessary, to see all this, that he must be born again.  Within this great world there are a number of little worlds, to which entrance is only attainable by birth.  There is the intellectual world, for instance, which requires the birth of brains; and the artistic world, which requires the birth of taste; and the dramatic world, which requires the birth of talent; and the musical world, which requires the birth of harmony and ear.  A man cannot enter the intellectual world except he have brains, or the artistic world except he have taste.  And he cannot make or find brains or taste.  They must be born in him.  A man cannot make a poetical mind for himself.  It must be created  in him.  Hence “the poet is born not made.”

             “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3).  What does this word “see” mean here?  Everyone with spiritual understanding knows that the words “see” and “know” are identical in their spiritual meaning.  When I tell a friend something he did not see before, and I am trying to get him to see it, all at once there passes over his face the illumination that indicates understanding.  He says, “Preston, I see it.”  What does he mean?  He does not mean that he sees anything with the eye of flesh.  He means that he “understands” or “knows” it.  I talk to a blind man who has no eyes to see at all.  I explain something to him and presently he says, “I see it!”  Does he see anything?  Not with his physical eyes but he knows it.  How many times a day do you say, “I see!”  So Jesus is telling us that apart from the new birth a man cannot understand, comprehend, or know the Kingdom of God.  It is better to know the Kingdom of God by the spirit than to see with physical eyes any “age” or “external government” that might be called the Kingdom of God. 

             If the Kingdom is external then any drunkard, prostitute, rapist, murderer or atheist can see it.  There were many who saw Jesus with their physical eyes but they never once saw the Son of God.  They saw the Christ, but they knew not that He was the Christ.  They saw His miracles, but they did not know Him.  They even rejected Him, despised Him and hated Him, while they looked upon Him.  You could see Jesus Himself in bodily form today, but unless your eyes were opened as were the eyes of the men of Emmaus, you would not know Him to be the Christ.  Millions of people today see God’s Christ His many-membered body on earth and know Him not!  “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not” (I Jn. 3:1).  They see us but they don’t see us they do not know us by the Spirit.  But when you are born of the Spirit you see what other eyes cannot see.  You see the unseen and the eternal.  You know the things that are divine.  You see God and you see the Kingdom of God.

             I suppose if we could hear angleworms arguing, some learned angleworm might try to tell the illiterate ones about a race of beings called humans.  He would tell how they were divided into two sexes, men and women.  Now, that would be a strange thing to an angleworm, for angleworms have both sexes within the one individual.  Then this angleworm would tell how humans had legs to walk with, and arms and hands to use, how they had eyes to see with, a tongue to talk with, and lungs to breathe with.  All these things would be utterly beyond the ability of  an angleworm to comprehend, and I imagine the unlearned angleworms would say to the one who tried to tell them about the vast world of humanity, “Nuts!  Did you ever see a human?”  He, of course, would have to say that he never had, since angleworms have no eyes! 

            Almost all men are dreadfully devoid of the understanding of spiritual things.  They are as blind to the world of the Kingdom of Heaven as angleworms are to the world of humans.  The pulpits today are filled with preachers who are blind leaders of the blind.  Blind men do not see.  If you are blind I could talk to you about the beauties of the rainbow, about the spectrum of colors, about rays, reflections, optics, but such discussions as this would be utterly futile.  I could continue them for forty years and you still would know nothing more about sight.  You might roll your blinded orbs at that place from whence you have been told that light is coming, but all to no avail.  Though there be beauteous sights all around you, there is but one problem; there is but one thing that is lacking: sight.  You are blind.  Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, “Ye have eyes and see not.”  Blind!  Groping in darkness.  These cannot know the true nature of things.  And nothing has changed in the religious world in the past two thousand years.  They cannot see the Christ who walks in their midst nor can they see the glories of the Kingdom of God.

             You do not understand a thing by memorizing it.  You may memorize the whole Constitution of the United States or the whole Bible and not understand any of it.  You do not understand a thing by hearing it, by seeing it, by reading it, or by any representation that can be made of it.  You  only understand by knowing, the knowing that comes by experience.  Understanding is knowledge personal, real, conscious possession.  That insight into a thing that gives the true knowledge of it is what it means to “see.”  What depth this gives to the words of Jesus to His disciples: “And I’ll tell you something else and this is the truth, that there are some of you right here standing in front of me who will not die before you have had a dramatic insight into the Kingdom of God and how it comes with power” (Mat. 16:28; Mk. 1:9; Lk. 9:27).  It is not to see it outwardly with the eyes, it is to see it inwardly with the understanding.  It is not to hear it outwardly with the ears, but to hear it inwardly with the comprehension.  It is not merely to repeat, or be able to tell about it, but to know it.  If I know the Kingdom of God I see the Kingdom of God.

             “It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given” (Mat. 13:11).   “...I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery...which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:25-27).  Until you have experienced that mysterious transformation that we call the new birth, you cannot understand any of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.  The word “mystery” in scripture comes from the Greek root word MUO which means “a sacred secret.”  It was that which in the ancient mystery religions could be known only by the initiates those initiated into the mysteries.  Only members of the spiritual family of God, which is His body, can be initiated into and know and experience the sacred secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven. 

            The natural man is dead.  He is dumb, deaf, and blind to the spiritual world of God.  To be blind simply means to have no vision of what the Father desires.  The natural mind is very dark and without understanding.  Only the Holy Spirit can awaken it.  Human efforts to enlighten men to the deep spiritual things of God will always fail.  ONLY TO CHRIST IS POWER GIVEN TO OPEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND even as the scales fell from the vision of Saul of Tarsus when Jesus purged them away.  This explains why the Bible remains to a great degree a closed book to the most educated but unconverted or unanointed man, while it is an open book to many of the most simple and ignorant of believers. This explains why a man may be educated and trained to hold all the theological degrees that all the theological seminaries in the world can bestow upon him, and yet be utterly blind to the great spiritual revelations of infinite depths and eternal glory within the pages of this blessed Book of Books.  This explains why carnally minded men who have read the Bible and have studied it through and through, and know the Hebrew and Greek, will yet fail to find the living Christ or the transforming power of the Holy Spirit or the glories of the Kingdom of God or the wonderful hope of sonship or the ultimate restitution of all things within its pages.  It seems strange that with an open Bible before them they do not see these truths which to us are perfectly clear.  But, after all, it is not strange, for these things are mysteries known only to those who know the spiritual code and have been initiated into the fraternity of God’s family by the miracle of the new birth.  Jesus said that these things were hidden from the wise and the prudent and that they were revealed to babes.  A babe is one that is born, and so, until you are born from above into the Kingdom of God you cannot receive these things into your heart.  Spiritual truths are for spiritual people, and must be spiritually discerned.  If you have tried to share the wondrous things God is speaking to His elect in this Day with some carnal, unspiritual Christian, and have found them dense of understanding and disinterested, then know that you must first pray for their birth from above and then patiently wait for the Father to bring them to that birth, before you can hope that they will receive anything from your hand out of the treasure house of the Kingdom of Heaven.  At the same time, the most humble and unlearned saint who abandons all to God has no difficulty finding all these glorious truths, and a thousand more, as plain as the noonday sun in the Word of God.

             We are told in the wonderful parable of our Lord that in this, our day, the Kingdom of Heaven shall be likened unto ten virgins.  These ten virgins took their lamps (understanding-enlightenment) and went forth to meet the Bridegroom.  But five of these were foolish, and five were wise.  It is my determined conviction that these ten virgins, in one application, represent the senses of man the five foolish senses of the outer man, and the five wise senses of the inner man.  The five foolish virgins are the five soulical senses of the outer-man-body.  A mind that judges everything by the outward appearance as perceived by the external senses IS FOOLISH!  To every outer sense you have an inner spiritual counterpart. 

            Our mind is that part of us that thinks and is the seat of consciousness; it is our intellect and in it dwells our ability to reason.  When we are born of the flesh, we are born with a natural mind.  We enter this world with five senses: sight, hearing, smelling, taste and touch.  These are natural physiological and psychological senses, and feed information to our natural mind.  Paul writes about our new birth in I Peter 1:23.  “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”  This new birth is by an incorruptible seed,  by the Word of God, even that Word that was from the beginning which is Jesus Christ.  This incorruptible seed is the life of the Christ by which we are made alive unto God.  He is the author of eternal life.  When we are born of the Spirit, God gives us a corresponding set of these same senses which operate in our spiritual nature, in the inner-man body.   

            In the natural no one has ever been able to see in this world unless they have been born.  So it is in the spiritual realm.  Just as there are five natural senses in the natural realm, so  also there are five spiritual senses in the spiritual realm.  The five senses of the outer man are able to see, hear, taste, touch and smell natural things; but these same five senses in the world of the spirit are able to see, hear, taste, touch and smell all spiritual things which are invisible and incorruptible, as the apostle explains, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him but God HATH REVEALED THEM UNTO US BY THE SPIRIT; for the spirit searcheth (out) all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Cor. 2:9-14).  When we are born from above the FIVE SENSES OF THE SPIRIT WORLD become resident and operative within the inner-man body.  Gradually, as this inner man grows and we are quickened to become aware of these senses, the EYES of our understanding open wider and wider to the things not seen by the natural eye; by degrees the HEARING of faith increases until every good promise of God is established as truth within and we learn to know the voice of the Father, and to distinguish between His voice and all other voices “My sheep hear my voice, and a stranger they will not follow” and “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith”; in time we come into TOUCH with the Lord in His invisible presence and powers;  little by little we TASTE and see that the Lord is gracious, and we eat and drink heavenly food with Him at His table in the Kingdom; after a time we come to appreciate those sacrifices and incense-prayers and praises which are a SWEET ODOR to the Lord, and we are able to discern every spiritual fragrance that is or is not of Him, and the stench of the flesh.  As the natural senses can be cultivated, so can the spiritual; and the cultivation of these spiritual senses constitute marks indicating our growth in the Kingdom, our development as sons of God, to the completeness of our new selves in the glory, honor, and immortality of the divine nature. 

            The sons of God have eyes within that see on a level that is not seen by the eyes of the outer-man body.  You can have 20/20 vision with your physical eyes and never see what you see with the “eyes of your understanding” (Eph. 1:18).  It must forever be settled in our hearts that there is no true reality in any of the things that are SEEN, for how can we say that things that are always changing and passing away are realities?  The only eternal things in the whole universe are the things that are NOT SEEN by the outer eye, and yet it is not that they are really invisible, for they are merely invisible to the kinds of eyes we have in our outer-man body.  Eternal things are only inaudible to the ears of the natural and can be perceived only beyond the senses of the soulish man.  The Holy Spirit has faithfully recorded of Moses, that grand hero of faith and spiritual vision, that “by faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as SEEING HIM WHO IS INVISIBLE” (Heb. 11:27). 

            Here is the mighty power of the New Creation: it sees what others cannot see!  It sees, amid the thousand things natural men see and are guided by, something infinitely greater and more real it SEES GOD.  No wonder it leads a man to think and act differently from other men.  On everything it looks at, the bright light of eternity is shining.  The depths it perceives are infinite.  The heights it beholds are immeasurable.  The truth it understands is without flaw or error and is eternal.  No wonder that under the inspiration of that vision it can do mighty deeds, for it sees God its helper and strength.  Let me here say to every saint of God that just as, in any pursuit, the eye can be trained to see what others cannot see, so the spiritual eyes of the new creation inner-man body can be trained to see God everywhere and in all things.  Abide in His presence until the heart is filled with it.  You will begin to recognize HIM  in everything that happens, when to others there is only mystery, perplexity, or tragedy.  Seek to walk in the light of His countenance.  Seeing the INVISIBLE will make it easy to forsake this world and do the will of God!  The heavens are shut up from the natural man.  He cannot see eternal things.  He hears only the lower sounds of earth.  But you see beyond all this into the very heart of God, into the depths of His great plans and purposes, and the “whys” and “wherefores” of all things since the creation of the world and unto the consummation of all ages.  You see the Kingdom of God!

 ENTERING THE KINGDOM

             Far away in the depths of my spirit the perfumed breezes of the Kingdom of Heaven sweep over my being until my very soul weeps for joy and laughs for gladness.  I write to you today of a realm of reality that is wonderfully real, solid, and awesome.  It is called the Kingdom of God.  Jesus Christ intends for us to actually enter into the Kingdom of God here and now, and to begin exploring it in its height and depth and length and breadth.  “Get thee out of thy country...unto a land that I will show thee,” the Lord commanded Abraham.  Just as on any earthly adventure, we must be willing to be surprised.  And we will be, for “eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard,” what God has prepared for us.   

            We must expect to encounter some strange and exotic new realities.  We will also find ourselves faced with some rather confusing and sometimes upsetting situations.  We may at times be discouraged and hindered by unexpected storms and difficulties which are part of the processing of God and the necessary trial of our faith.  Some of our most cherished opinions and long-held beliefs will be upset, but we will fear no evil, for the Chief Shepherd will be with us all the way.  But unlike earthly adventures we have embarked upon the most essential and profound journey a person can ever take.  Our soul is blossoming in the light of His face, as His flower coming into its own, and the vast glory of God is flooding upon us like a breath of clear air.  There is a place that flesh and blood have never seen, nor even imagined.  This is an adventure that makes the word adventure sound profane, and yet that is exactly what it is.  It will pierce eternity and transcend time itself.  This is not a religious exercise it is an attainment in the Spirit. 

            To “enter into” the Kingdom is, as we should readily understand, more than to “see” it.  Moses stood on the heights of mount Nebo and saw the Promised Land, but he never got into it.  God kept him on the other side of Jordan, although he was the leader of God’s people, because of his disobedience.  We also make a great mistake in assuming that we are called upon to “build” the Kingdom of God.  That is a humanistic heresy.  We have thought that we were called to create a new order.  But this is not so.  The Kingdom of God is.  It is the way things are.  It is a realm of reality, of life, of activity, of power and glory.  We do not build it we enter it.  We become citizens and members of God’s government by a mighty birth into a new reality and our subsequent entrance into and appropriation of the reality.

             Some people think that the Kingdom cannot be entered until some future time called “the Kingdom Age” or “the Millennium.”  Nowhere does the Bible teach such an idea.  Jesus taught that entering into the Kingdom is a present reality.  He said, “The tax collectors and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you,” the rebellious priests and elders of Israel (Mat. 21:31).  To the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, “You shut the Kingdom of Heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in” (Mat. 23:13).  A similar saying is found in Luke 11:52, “Woe to you lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”  This same idea appears in the words of Jesus to a scribe who responded to Jesus’ teaching, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mk. 12:34).  And in Matthew 11:11 Jesus says that the one who is now in the Kingdom of Heaven, even the least of those now in the Kingdom, are greater than John the Baptist, the greatest of all the prophets. People were already entering the Kingdom in Jesus’ day, and we, too, have been “translated out of the kingdom of darkness, into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son” (Col. 1:13).  John the Revelator said that he was a brother and companion to the saints of his day in tribulation, and “in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:9). 

            Entering the Kingdom is directly related to the new birth, for in speaking to Nicodemus, Jesus said that unless one is born anew he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.  Jesus never said that in order to be saved one has to be born anew.  Neither did He ever say that the saved person is already in the Kingdom.  To the dying thief’s request, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom,” Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”  The Lord did not say, “Today you will be with me in my Kingdom.”  Admission to the Kingdom of God goes beyond one’s salvation experience.  Forgiveness of sins is not entrance into the Kingdom.  Justification is not entrance into the Kingdom.  Reconciliation is not entrance into the Kingdom.  Sanctification is not entrance into the Kingdom.  To enter the Kingdom one must first be born from above.  Alas, it is a sad fact that of the vast millions of believers claiming to be saved, very few see or enter into the Kingdom Realm of God.  The reason is that while they have received Jesus as their Saviour, they refuse to accept Him as their King.  It is only the born again person, quickened to Celestial Realities, who realizes that to share the glory of Christ he must surrender his rights to himself and place himself under the absolute lordship of Jesus.  He knows that to enter the Kingdom in the here and now, he must be governed from above and live on earth as a son of God, just as Jesus lived, doing always and only the Father’s will.  Throughout the entire time that Jesus was on this earth, He, as man, was the living personification of the Kingdom of God.  It is birth into that very realm of HIS SONSHIP that enables us to see and enter the Kingdom of God.  It has nothing to do with “salvation” and “going to heaven.”  It has everything to do with the nature, the wisdom, the knowledge, the power, and the glory of sonship

            “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me ye workers of lawlessness” (Mat. 7:21-23).  We do not enter the Kingdom by confessing with our mouth the Lord Jesus unto salvation; by prophesying in His name, by casting out devils and doing many wonderful works in His name.  No matter how righteous or capable a person may be, no matter how faithful in the church realm or gifted in the spirit; no matter how honorable or humble, it remains true that he or she cannot enter into the Kingdom of God on that basis.  The Kingdom of God is union with God in the fullness of His divine life and requires a “following on” to KNOW the Lord. 

            When the Lord says to all the healing and deliverance preachers, the miracle workers, the revival crowd, the faith and word people, “I never knew you,” He doesn’t mean that they weren’t saved, filled with the Holy Ghost, or that they were impostors and fakers, or that He was not acquainted with them.  To “know” a person in this way speaks of the most intimate association and union as when we read, “And Adam knew his wife, and she conceived.”  “I never knew you” means He did not know you in that intimacy of fellowship and vital union that characterizes the Kingdom Realm.  One can only become a partaker of the life of Christ, which is the life of sonship, which is the power and glory of the Kingdom of God, by virtue of coming to KNOW HIM.  This is why Jesus said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.”  Though Paul had been converted through his supernatural encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road; though he was forgiven,  reconciled, cleansed, justified, Spirit-filled, called to be an apostle, mighty in word and deed, yet  with what travail of soul did he cry out: “That I may KNOW HIM!”  And he associated this “knowing” of the Christ with his own apprehension of that unto which he was apprehended of Christ Jesus.  He did not count himself as already having apprehended.  He knew that he must still know Christ in the fullness of the power of His resurrection and in the complete fellowship of His sufferings that in that fuller and deeper experience of KNOWING CHRIST he might be CONFORMED UNTO HIS LIKENESS, and thus have an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God. 

            The eternal purpose of God for man has been that man would know Him.  God delights in man knowing Him and therefore declares, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD more than burnt offerings.  Then shall we know, if we FOLLOW ON TO KNOW THE LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain” (Hos. 6:6,3).  All that God has done and shall yet do in His redemptive purposes is in order that we may know Him.  “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: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for ALL SHALL KNOW ME, from the least to the greatest” (Heb. 8:10-11). 

            When we are regenerated the Spirit of God, containing God’s eternal and divine life, enters into us that we may have the capability of knowing Him from within.  Therefore the knowing of God constantly increases  with the inward growth of His life.  It is only because God has given us His life that we can know Him.  This can be understood by the fact that every creature in the universe can only fully relate to another being with the same kind of life.  What bird can understand the ways of a man?   What man can understand the language of a dog, or why he marks his territory and sniffs the way he does?  To man all dogs bark essentially alike and one dog’s bark is much the same as another dog’s bark.  However, animal behaviorists have demonstrated that dogs “talk” in their barks and growls, actually communicating with one another in definite patterns of dog “speech”.  This ability is inherent in their nature. 

            Man likes to think of himself as the only “social” being on earth.  However, every created life form in the whole world is what we call “social”.  “Social” means that there is definite relationship, understanding and communication between beings.  This social aspect is rooted in the ability of a being to “know” another being, thus sharing with that being a common inherent understanding, communication, and relationship, all of which is due to the oneness of their life and nature.  The social aspect is only realized within a species between beings of the same “kind”.  Why does a cat bow its back and “spit” when a strange dog passes by?  Why will a dog chase a cat but will “sniff” another dog?  This is because the cat fully relates as a social being to another cat and the dog relates to another dog as a social being. 

            The simplest aspect of social behavior among animals is seen in the “herding” of cattle, the “schooling” of fish, and the “flocking” of birds.  However, social animals do more than just stay together they do things together.  A family of ducklings in the park goes through a common rhythm.  Part of the day they will feed, keeping close together wherever they go.  On other occasions they will bathe together, and after a bath they swim to the shore together and spend half an hour or so preening, standing next to each other.  Then they fall asleep, side by side.  But notice!  These are all ducks, sharing a common life and nature.  There are no dogs with them following the same routine.  Why?  Because one can only understand, relate to, communicate with, fellowship and work together with beings of the same quality of life.  Therefore, one can only truly KNOW another being of the same kind! 

            Some animals express themselves to others of their kind through a simple posture, or a change of color, or by giving off a particular scent, and some, such as porpoises, are highly intelligent and lead extremely complex social lives.  But what bird can understand the language of a porpoise, or what duck would comprehend the intentions of a cichlid fish when it sets its fins in a certain position and changes its color pattern to say that it is protecting its territory?  What beast of the field can comprehend the actions or intentions, the desires or aspirations of men?  And what natural man, made a little lower than the angels, can perceive the things pertaining to the angelic realm; and what heavenly angel, marvelously created by the skillful hand of God, but not begotten of God’s own divine life, can understand those glorious things appointed to the sons of God who are born of God’s Spirit, the offspring of His divine life, and called to share even His throne and to inherit  all things?  I have cited these illustrations to point out the unmistakable truth that every being in the entire universe of God can only “know” those other beings that share their own common life and nature. 

            This explains the vast importance of our birth into the very Family of God.  God has given us HIS LIFE, and it is because we are “His kind” of creatures, that we are able to KNOW HIM!  If we were not of the God species there would be no possibility of ever knowing God, no matter how dramatic His efforts to convey Himself unto us.  When we are born of God, His Spirit, His seed, containing His life, enters into us that we may have the capability of knowing Him from within.  This knowing of God gradually increases as His life develops and matures within us.  The more His life grows within, the better we know Him.  The better we know Him, the more we will experience Him, enjoy Him, understand His ways, act according to His nature, express His ability, and allow Him to live out through us in  our whole being.  Thus we may say that all the growth of our spiritual life depends upon OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, and our knowledge of God depends upon the increase of His life within.  This gives us an accurate understanding of the absolute truth of Jesus’ declaration: “And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW THEE the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” 

            Those who teach that saints who die are dead like a dog, unconscious, and non-existent, obviously do not understand either the miracle or the mystery of the new birth.  Eternal life is here now, for “we know that we have passed from death unto life.”  “And you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and in sins.”  The Kingdom of God and of Heaven is here now, waiting to be possessed by those who esteem it of enough worth to lay aside all else and press into it.  No one can find true righteousness, absolute perfection, spiritual maturity, unshakable peace, infinite love, fullness of joy, eternal purpose, incorruptible life, unlimited power and heavenly glory until he or she obtains it in the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom call has gone forth, multitudes have heard the sounding of the trumpet.  God’s intention is to lift us out of the limitations of the flesh realm and the immaturity of our babyhood walk in God, and lift us up into His likeness and His incredible  wisdom, power and glory.  We not only cannot earn such treasure, we scarcely can believe it!  Yet the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.  The testimony is immutably confirmed in our deepest hearts and we are responding to the call in this our day of visitation.  Praise His name! 

            Along this line brother Paul Mueller has penned these challenging words.  “Jesus said, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’  And Jesus prefaced this remark by saying, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’  It is impossible just to see the Kingdom of God, to view that Promised Land of love, peace, life and blessings abundant, unless we have been born again.  Moses is an example of one who saw the Promised Land, which is typical of the Kingdom of God, but was not permitted to enter into that new land.  Just before his death, Moses went up ‘unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho.  And the Lord showed him all the land...and said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither’ (Deut. 34:1-4).  Moses was a godly man who served the Lord in strict obedience, except for one transgression that kept him from entering the promised land (Num. 20:7-13; Deut. 32:48-52). 

            “There is a vast difference between seeing the Kingdom of God, and entering into it.  Moses only saw the Promised Land, but Joshua and Caleb entered into that land and partook of the abundance it provided.  Jesus also made a clear distinction between seeing the Kingdom of God and entering into it.  Were it not for the fact that the realms of seeing and of entering the Kingdom are mentioned both in the experience of Moses, and in the words of Jesus, we might overlook the distinction.  However, the point is made in both instances and is worthy of our sincere and prayerful consideration.  I do not want to be one of those who merely sees the Kingdom of God, but who fails to enter into it.  To have the initial experience by which we may see the Kingdom of God is only the earnest of our salvation, the down payment on our full inheritance.  But to be saved in fullness is to enter the Kingdom of God, being active participants in the administration of that Kingdom.  It is my prayerful desire to partake of the glories of the abundant life of Christ that is freely provided all who will persevere and cross this mighty Jordan, even though it be at flood stage. 

            “Of course, it is not our choice that determines whether we will cross over, but is a calling given of the Father.  If we have been faithful to Him all through our wilderness journey, obediently receiving the corrective chastisements of His rod, we are then undoubtedly among that chosen remnant who shall cross this Jordan of death in triumphant and overcoming victory.  Multitudes of Christians will be content to climb Mt. Nebo  with Moses and view the Promised Land with longing hearts and wistful eyes.  They will dream on in their sleepy bewilderment, desiring the fruits of that new land.  However, many are unaware of the truth that the more glorious spiritual appearing of Christ is necessary to enable us to enter that new land of abundant life. 

            “The ministry of yesterday only brought us out of the world and took us into the wilderness of testing.  The leadership of yesterday, the best of them, could only lead us up to the Jordan.  Christ is here now, in a new and living way, to lead us beyond the Jordan and into the Promised Land.  Contrary to all outward appearances, the house of the Lord, which house we are, is not going to fall and go the way of all flesh, but we shall arise out of this realm of sin and death, by the glory of the incorruptible Son of God, to walk in the high places of His abundant life. 

            “The remnant the Lord has called unto Himself are the pioneers of the Kingdom of God.  They are walking out into uncharted spiritual territory very much like Israel of old on their march to that first promised land in Palestine.  This is a way no one has walked before.  Some of the principles of the past we thought were proper and right seem to have no relevance today.  The Lord is doing strange, new things with His chosen ones as He leads them by His Spirit.  Through the tests and trials of the wilderness of this worldly order, we are being prepared for another phase in our pioneering walk.  As we have been obedient to the Lord through the present ordeals, following the leading of His Spirit, we are then prepared for the next segment of our walk on this new path to the fullness of His Kingdom”   end quote. 

            To be continued...                                                                                           J. PRESTON EBY

 

                                                        

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