The Kingdom

There is a tremendous difference between the spiritual realm and the physical realm.  The physical realm is experienced by the five senses.  We see, touch, taste, hear, and smell and this gives us information about the physical realm.  The spiritual realm is the invisible realm around us.  It is the unseen world where God reigns supreme.  God is Spirit (John 4:24) and His Domain is in the spiritual realm and there He is King.  The Jews took Jesus to Pilate to have Him crucified.  Their accusation against Him was treason according to Roman law.  He says, “He is a King” and Pilate asks Jesus if He is a king and Jesus replies, “My Kingdom is not of this world.  If my kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:37)  God’s Kingdom is a Spiritual one.  The Kingdom of God is not currently a place that you can travel to.  It is not a physical destination in the physical realm and won’t be until the millennial reign.  Nevertheless, Jesus tells us He is King and that His Kingdom is not of this place, implying that it is of the spiritual or invisible realm around us.  This is where the Kingdom of God exist today.  In the unseen realms of the invisible supernatural spiritual place.

There is also a tremendous difference between religion and spirituality.  Religion is focused on the physical realm while spirituality is focused on the unseen invisible realm.  Religion tells us what we can and cannot do in the physical realm.  It tells us what to eat, what to wear, how to dress, how often to pray, and how often to read scripture.  Religion is very focused on behavior and not focused on faith or belief.  Spirituality is focused on the unseen realm of faith and belief and relationship with God.  Religion advocates that we can behave our way into stronger belief.  Spirituality teaches that we believe our way into better behavior.  Religion promises holiness but it can only produce death because it is focused on self-driven power which will ultimately fail.  Its works will only produce sin, and reveal sin, but the only promise of overcoming sin is in self power which will ultimately fail and lead into death.  Spirituality promises holiness as a work of grace (unmerited favor and the ability for God to do through me what I am incapable of doing myself) and faith (confidence toward God) when I trust in God to sanctify me and not myself.  It is based upon relationship with an inner dwelling God of my soul who guides and empowers me to overcome areas of sin by administering inner power greater than the sin.  In essence, God works in my heart to produce holiness through my relationship with Him.  Spiritual disciplines are driven out of a heart that desires to be obedient because of an experiential love through relationship.  When I experience God’s love for me and when I know that to sin would be to break God’s heart, I desire to not grieve Him who loves me so much.  Religion cannot teach it.  Relationship and experiencing the presence of God produces sanctification by the Spirit.  Jesus Christ never died to give us religion.  Religion existed long before the time of Jesus.  It was Judaism.  If Jesus only wanted religion, then we could have all become proselyte Jews or perished without it.  But, what Jesus accomplished is much greater than religion, it achieved the relationship that was lost on account of sin.

The barrier that separated us from God was sin.  The perfect fellowship with God was shattered in the garden by a man-made attempt at spiritual self-promotion.  Humans have been separated from God since that day.  Sin cannot be in the presence of God.  He is way to Holy.  Jesus removed the sin barrier and this has enabled us to again have fellowship with God.  How is this possible?  By removing the sin barrier from us, by our faith and trust in His accomplishments, our sins are forgiven through His Sacrifice (Lev 17:11).  The shedding of His blood is the giving of the life that is required for my sin.  The Bible says that the “the day that we sin we will surely die” (Genesis 2:17)  The penalty that we all deserve for sin is death.  Jesus has taken this penalty for us; thus, He has set us free from sin and death, and alive to God.  This allows the Holy Spirit to invade our hearts and awaken us to see and enter into the spiritual Kingdom of God.  This Holy Spirit invasion births us into spiritual beings connected to His Spiritual Kingdom.  Thus, I can now have a spiritual relationship with a Spiritual God and can move and operate in His Spiritual Kingdom.  This spiritual re-birth by the Spirit release the Kingdom of God into our lives.  Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is around you (Matthew 4:17) and inside of you (Luke 17:20-21).  With this spiritual invasion, God births us into His Kingdom.  The Presence of God lived behind the huge veil in the temple.  When Jesus died, removing the sin barrier, the Presence of God burst out of the Holy of Holies like a football team running through a banner on Friday night.  Thus releasing the Kingdom of God to be available for all people. (Matthew 27:51)

Jesus has  a discussion with a very religious man that solidifies all these points.  We read in the gospel of John, “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. (John 3:1).  Nicodemus was a very religious man.  One might say that he was the ultimate religious guy.  He was a Pharisee, and they were regarded as the most religious sect of Judaism at the time of Jesus.  Furthermore, he was on the ruling council.  Only 70 of the most religious men in the entire nation were appointed to this council and Nicodemus was one of them.  Nicodemus, therefore, represents the ultimate expression of religiosity at the time.  He comes to Jesus at night.  Why?  Because to be seen with Jesus during the day and be seen with the people Jesus hung out with, would not have been very religious.  Nevertheless, Nicodemus has some question for Jesus.  “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God for no one can do these sings that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) Nicodemus is really asking, “We don’t know how you are doing all these miraculous works because you are not as religious as us.”  Another way of saying it would be, “You are doing miracles being less religious than us and we want to know why.”  Nicodemus can’t see the spiritual because he is so focused on the religion of the physical realm.  Jesus begins to teach Nicodemus about His Kingdom.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that without a spiritual invasion of the God that births one into the spiritual realm one can’t see the kingdom of God (John 3:3)  This really freaks out the religious man.  He doesn’t understand.  He states, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (3:4)  Nicodemus is so focused on the physical realm that he can’t see the spiritual truth that Jesus is illustrating.  Jesus begins to explain the difference between the physical realm and the spiritual realm.  He states, “That which is born of 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.’  The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes,  So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6-8)  We can’t see the wind.  We can see the effects of the wind but not the wind. (Interesting side note: often time the word for “spirit” and the word for “air/wind” is the same word).   The same happens with the spiritual Kingdom.  People will see the effects of God in our lives; oftentimes,  before we will realize it.  People only focused on the physical realm can not see the spiritual kingdom at work around you, they see the effects that it causes and they wonder where it came from .  This is the quandary that Nicodemus was in.  He saw the effects of the Kingdom, but not the Kingdom itself.  Nicodemus still doesn’t understand, “How can these things be?”  Nicodemus is dumbfounded because it has nothing to do with religion and the physical realm.  Jesus counters, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?  Most assuredly, I say to you, we speak what we know and testify what we have seen and you do not receive our witness.  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  No one came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (John 3:10-13)  The only person on earth that was ever qualified to teach about Heaven or the Kingdom of God was Jesus.  He was the only one who had ever been there.  He relates a spiritual experience from the Old Testament to illustrate a Kingdom principle about how He would remove the sin barrier. (John 3:14-15).  Then, He gives us the motive behind the Divine Intervention.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)