Faith versus Works

In reading the Orthodox study bible, I came across the commentary on Romans 5.  It states, “In Western Europe during the sixteenth century and before, justifiable concern arose among the Reformers over a prevailing understanding that salvation depended on human works of merit, and not on the grace and mercy of God.  Their rediscovery of Romans 5 lead to the slogan sola fides:  justification by faith alone.  This Reformation debate in the West raised the questions for the Orthodox East:  Why this new polarization of faith and works?  It had been settled since the apostolic era that salvation was granted by the mercy of God to righteous men and woman.  Those baptized into Christ were called to believe in Him and do good works.  An opposition of faith versus works was unprecedented in Orthodox thought…..Rather than justification as a legal acquittal before God, Orthodox believers see justification by faith as a covenant relationship with Him centered in union with Christ.”  And, if I may springboard of that, works will then automatically follow.  It must.  Works are the natural outgoing of a covenental relationship with God that is based on love, faith, and hope.  God’s role in that is justification of our sin and our role in that is to believe it because we didn’t earn it.  Works comes when these two points connect in covenant.  I think this is James’ point (James 2:18).  This also seems to reflect first century Jewish/Christian thought on the covenental relationship between God and His people.

The Kingdom: Sanctification and Faith

“He who began a good work I you will complete it…”(Phil 1:6)

The Holy Spirit comes inside the believer at the point of salvation.  He then begins a work of making us holy, this is sanctification.  It’s a process that is filled with events. (These events we will describe later as the need for reconciliation, the process of sanctification, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the anointing, on the other blog where the book is being written)   Oftentimes, this process of sanctification comes over time.  As the Holy Spirit leads us into holiness, we become conformed to the image of God.  This is our identity, the image of Christ.  Faith, once it is inside the soul, has a transforming effect.  This is a kingdom principle and Jesus gave us a series of parables to explain.  He states:

“Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like?  And to what shall I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and ti grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19)

According to this parable, man and God are co-laboring to produce the Kingdom.  First, the man places one of the smallest seeds in the plant family and plants it in his garden.  The Garden is symbolic of the man’s soul.  The mustard seed is symbolic of faith.  By faith, the man waits for the seed to grow.   When faith is birthed in our hearts it begins to change things in the inner man.  It may not be apparent, but eventually everything is going to change.  Faith grows until it becomes the largest tree in the garden of the soul.  This is like the Kingdom.  A certain measure of faith is always present within us.  This faith begins a process of growth within our inner man.  It is a slow process of change but it yields huge results.  Rapid growth in the kingdom can be dangerous.  Growing in the Kingdom is a process, but if we continue in faith, we will become a tree.  A tree is symbolic of an anointed and gifted leader. (Psalm 52:8, psalm 92:12)  An live tree is one that produces the anointing in lives of others.

Jesus continues,”  And again He said, ‘To what shall I liken the Kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal til lit was all leavened.” (Luke 13:20-21)

The woman takes the leaven. (Generally in scripture, leaven is symbolic of sin, but in this parable it is symbolic of faith)  Faith has a similar action as leaven.  It is placed inside the lump of the soul and it is undetectable to the naked eye.  When left alone, it causes everything around it to grow to twice its size.  The woman takes the leaven (faith) and implant it into the bread (soul) .  Then, the leaven (faith) changes the entire make-up of the bread (soul and life) and causes a transformation over time.  This is how faith and the Kingdom work and how growth in the Kingdom is achieved.

The Kingdom of God: Repentance

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent…‘” (Acts 2:38)

Jesus emphatically states that one must be “born again” if he is to see the Kingdom of God.  God is Spirit (John 4:24) and His Kingdom is of the spiritual realm.  Jesus describes His Kingdom as not “being of this world” (John 18:36).  This tells us that the kingdom of God is not a physical place in the physical realm.  It is not a place that one can travel to, not a destination, it doesn’t have a current address.  The Kingdom is of the spiritual realm or the invisible realm around us.  The physical realm we experience with our five senses but the spiritual realm requires a spiritual re-birth in order to experience.

Humans are born into a natural fallen selfish and sinful condition that is generally incapable of spiritual insight.  Paul writes, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” ( I Corinthians 2:14)  In order to see into the spiritual realm, one needs the Sprit of God living inside of them.  The only way to receive the Spirit of God is through the remission of sin.   God is Holy and cannot live in the presence of sin.  Therefore, sin must be atoned for in order for the presence of God to take up residence and remain.  The only way to atone for sin is through the shedding of blood. (Leviticus 17:11)  Hence, a sacrifice is required.  A sacrifice that is powerful enough to change the inner man to allow humans to become the dwelling place of God.  There is no greater love for a human than for one person to lay down their life for another.  Consequently, the willful sacrifice of Jesus qualifies to minister the Spirit of God unto us.   Upon the belief that Jesus was fully God and fully man, that he died for ones sins and that He has risen from the grave, a person may begin to sow into the spiritual Kingdom.  With this faith, in the person and work of Jesus, confession of sin can be made and the supernatural work of repentance begin inside of the soul.  The Spirit of God invades the persons heart and takes up residence making them a “new creation”.  Once this happens, we have entered into and can now see, the Kingdom of God.  The invasion of the Holy Spirit causes this “born again” experience.  We have become sons and daughters of the Royal Family and our now heirs with Christ.

The pre-requisite to receiving the Holy Spirit, is a conviction of sin that leads to a heart change with a subsequent impact on lifestyle.  This change is called repentance.  The word repent, in Greek, is actually a combination of words that mean “after” and “to think”.  Repentance is a decision that results in a change of mind which in turn leads to a change of purpose and action.(1).  Repentance is the ultimate act of humility.  It is admitting to oneself and God that my thinking and my lifestyle have been in error and I recognize this and desire to change it.  It’s the admission that my mind, thoughts and opinions are not great sources of edification but actually are a source of stumbling.  It is both a supernatural act (One that is driven by the Spirit) and an act of the will.  .  Benny Hinn writes, “Repentance is a daily experience.  And it‘s supernatural experience, not something you can humanly accomplish by yourself.  It‘s a gift of the Holy Spirit…That‘s the true meaning–not only confessing, but also forsaking.  Have nothing to do with it anymore.  You get on you knees and you say, ‘Lord, never again‘ and you don‘t walk out until the thing is dealt with.” (2)  Having a repentant heart is essential for growth in the kingdom.  Jesus says, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17)

The degree to which we have a repentant heart, is the degree that we move into the deeper things of God.  Frank Bartleman of the Azusa Street revival writes, “the depth of revival will be determined exactly by the depth of the spirit of repentance.” (3)  Christians will continue to go deeper into the kingdom so long as we are willing to have the Spirit show us and remove areas of sin from our character.  Any revival, either corporate or individual, will cease growth when the repentance of the heart ceases.


1.  Hayford, Jack, The Spirit-filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN page 1407.

2.  Hinn, Benny, “The Anointing”, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1992, page 130.

3.  Bartlemann, Frank, “Azusa Street”, Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA, 1982,  page 19.

The Keys of the Kingdom

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven.”    (Matthew 16:19 the Amplified Bible)

It is important to note that it is the keys “of” the kingdom and not the keys “to” the kingdom.  There is a difference.  The key to something gets you inside of it.  The keys “of” something, allow you to operate freely and move around as one desires within a place once the individual is on the inside.  For example, if I give someone the keys to a school, they can get inside the school but there may be doors that are inaccessible to them.  But, if I give you the keys “to” the school, you could open any door and move freely at will.  This is the point that Jesus is making.  He is giving us the keys to move freely at will within the Kingdom of God and to exercise the authority of that Kingdom.

The giving of keys symbolizes the ability to move freely at will is a biblical concept.  We read in Isaiah, “The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open.” (Isaiah 22:22) Eliakhim in this chapter replaces Shebna who was over the house (22:13)  Shebna’s conduct has been selfish and he has taken advantage of his position and is being replaced.  On the contrary Eliakhim is called “My servant” (22:20) and because of his humility and heart for God, he is awarded the keys.  He becomes an authority. (It is important to remember that God requires a human co-laborer to bring about His Will on earth)  God has appointed Himself a man He could trust with rulership of His House.  This also pre-shadows Jesus.  Jesus was a man anointed with the Holy Spirit and He was completely submitted to and obedient to the Father.  Therefore, He was given authority (Matthew 28:18) and Keys (Revelation 1:3)

Jesus tells us how we can operate and bring the Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.  He tells us that what we “bind” will be bound.  Meaning that it will be forbidden or prohibited from operating.  Basically, He is telling us that if something around us is operating that is not in heaven, then we are obliged as God’s representatives and co-laborers  to bind or prohibit it by the power/authority given to us by God.  (Please see the blog entitled,  A Word about Words).  Conversely, once we have prohibited the operation of darkness, we now “loose” or allowor release what is free to operate in heaven. Therefore, through our spoken words, we release the realms of the Kingdom around us.  If it is free to operate in heaven , then it is free to operate around us and into our lives.

This is the keys to the Kingdom.  What we open is open and what we close is closed and the gates of hell will not prevail against us.  Charles Capps writes, “Someone might ask, ’What good would that do if it is already bound up there?’  Jesus is saying, ‘I will give believers authority and power to loose things on earth that are allowed in heaven and to bind things on earth that are not allowed in heaven.’  Just ask yourself, ’What things are not allowed in heaven?’  There is no sickness or disease in heaven, nor is there poverty.  There is no evil, no lack of any kind.  Heaven is a healthy, happy place.  Jesus said, “You have authority to bind evil forces upon earth that cause sickness, disease, poverty, and sin.’  What is loosed in heaven?  Life, health, abundance, happiness, joy, and peace.  Now you can understand why Jesus called the power of binding and loosing the keys of the Kingdom! (1)

In essence, we must understand authority in order to use the keys of the kingdom.  Our authority is twofold.  First, as a man on the earth (see previous two post called The Kingdom and the Kingdom and the Spirit man).  As God’s representative in the physical realm we have authority over all the earth. This was God’s original intention.  Secondly, our authority rests on what Christ has done for us.  We read in Ephesians, “according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the which is to come.  And He put all things under His feet…(Ephesians 1:17-22)  Shortly thereafter we read, “and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:6)  We have been seated above all principalities and power with Christ.  Therefore, we have the God ordained authority to prohibit the works of the devil on our lives and the lives of those around us and in any circumstance where we encounter the enemy.

In summation, we must use our God given authority, by faith, to bind the spiritual forces of darkness and loose the kingdom of heaven over those same circumstances to yield an increase for the kingdom.  We should accept and dominate the earth until He returns.  This is the kingdom business.  Kenneth Hagin writes the concluding statements. “All authority that was given to Christ belongs to us through Him, and we may exercise it.  We help Him by carrying out His work upon the earth,  And one aspect of His work that the Word of God tells us to do is to conquer the devil!  In fact, Christ can’t do His work on the earth without us!  He can‘t get along without you any more than you can get along without Him.” (2)


1.  Capps, Charles, Your Spiritual Authority,  Harrison House, Tulsa, OK, 1994 page, 138-139.

2.  Hagin, Kenneth, The Believer’s Authority, Faith Library Publications, Tulsa OK, page, 27-28.

The Kingdom Rulers Require Water and Spirit

“Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

There are two requirements that Jesus has set before us.  They are being “born of water” and being “born of the Spirit.”  The latter (being born of the Spirit) we have already covered in the two post entitled, “The Kingdom” and “The Kingdom and the Spirit Man.”  The reader is encouraged to read these two before continuing here.  In this post, we will focus on the water portion of the verse and the role that Jesus played in opening this door for us.

Generally, there are two standard arguments for the meaning of being “born of water.”  The first is water baptism by immersion and the second is the actual physical birth.  In essence, being birthed on the earth as a human being created in the image of God.  (Again, See “The Kingdom and the Spirit man” for details).  When both arguments are considered, we will find that the answer lies in both positions.

Water baptism is a symbolic/prophetic act in the physical realm that expresses a spiritual reality.  FF Bruce summarizes, “Christian baptism even more emphatically symbolizes the new beginning for every one who by faith-union with Christ shares His death and burial in a spiritual sense and rises with Him to newness of life.” (1)  Baptism is an outward physical manifestation of a spiritual reality.  Thus, in order for one to demonstrate to the world his being “born of the spirit” one would declare it through water baptism.  Contextually, Jesus is speaking with Nicodemus, in the third chapter of John, and He uses language that would have been familiar to Nicodemus.  “Converts to Judaism were said to become ‘as newborn children’ when they were baptized to remove Gentile impurity.  ‘Born of water’ thus clarifies for Nicodemus that  ‘born from above’ means conversion, not a second physical birth.” (2)   Nicodemus became confused that he needed to be converted because, in his mind, he was already converted. (see also the Kingdom post).  Hence, it seems relevant that “born of water” in this context can be-speak of water baptism as it is the only expression in the physical realm of the spiritual reality of the Christian entering the Kingdom.  David Stern explains further the position on water baptism, “Immersion in water is connected with ritual cleansing of the body….while the Holy Spirit gives power for turning from sin and living a holy life; both bespeak of aspects of purification.  This is why being born of water does not mean ordinary human birth; moreover, since everyone is born of water in that sense, it would be silly for Yeshua to make a condition out of it with the word ‘unless.’” (3)

Agreed, the interpretation of water baptism is most applicable for this verse. However, there is the argument of being “born of water” as being born a human that may have a deeper spiritual reality than Mr. Stern’s will allow.  To reiterate, water baptism is a physical act of a spiritual reality.  It is what we do in the physical realm to demonstrate being “born of the Spirit” in the spiritual realm.  If this is the only application then Jesus is being extremely redundant.  To paraphrase, Jesus would be saying that “unless one performs the physical act of the spiritual reality and is born-again which is the aforementioned spiritual reality, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  It would appear to be a redundant statement.  Perhaps the physical birth itself has some application here as well.

To understand this we must look at what man was created to be and to do in the beginning.  “Then God said, Let us make man in our image and according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, overall the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26) Man was created to have authority over all the earth.  The bible says that “The heavens, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the sons of men.” (Psalm 115:16)  God designed that dominion over the earth is in the hands of men.  Hence, it takes a human to become the image bearing representative of God on earth, to usher in the Kingdom of God.  God has limited Himself to utilize His Creation in order to have dominion on the earth.  The spiritual Kingdom of Heaven cannot invade the physical  realm of earth without the utilization of God’s representative on earth.  This is why it is necessary to be a person, a human being, born of water, to enter the kingdom.  One must first be a human before one can demonstrate heavenly power on earth.  It is a prerequisite that one must be a person in order to enter the kingdom by the blood of Jesus.

God, because of His character, will not revoke the authority that he gave to men.  God must redeem and use men to display and destroy the works of the devil because He doesn’t take back what he has given.  Therefore, God had to become a man sot that a man could save that which was lost.  Adam gave away the authority over the earth to the devil at the fall of humankind.  A man had to come and retrieve that which was given away.  Hence, it was essential that Jesus be “born of water” to qualify in the physical realm to be the image-bearer and representative of God.  Hence, the requirements are exactly the same for the Christian.  Jesus called Himself, “The Son of Man” which identified Him more with His Humanity than with His Divinity.  He came as a man, anointed by the Holy Spirit, go get back what man had lost.  This could only be accomplished by a man, a human being.  Charles Capps concludes, “Jesus came by the legal entry, through birth.  He had all the authority of a man.  He lived as a man and was anointed with the Holy Ghost.  He went before us and destroyed the devil’s works.  He went to the cross, gave up His life, and became the supreme sacrifice…The fleshy birth is the legal entry into the earth.  But because Jesus is the Head of the Church and the firstborn from the dead, He became the door, or legal entry, into the Kingdom of God.  There is no other way.  You can’t get there by the church door.  You can’t get there by being baptized.  You can’t get there by paying your tithes or by being good.  You must be born again, and Jesus is the door of that new birth.  Just as physical birth is the legal entry into earth, the spiritual birth though Jesus Christ is the only legal way into heaven.” (4)

Hence, when we, as Christians, exercise our God-given authority as His Image bearers, and our rights as “citizens of heaven” having been born again, then the Kingdom of God comes to earth through us.  Indeed, one must be born of water and Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God.

1.  Bruce, F.F.  The Gospel and Epistles of John, Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1983, page 84.

2.  Keener, Craig, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1993, page270.

3.  Stern, David, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament publications, Clarksville, MA, 1992, page 267.

4.  Capps, Charles, Your Spiritual Authority, Harrison House, Tulsa, OK, 1994, page 147-148.

The Great Kingdom Sell-Out

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had an bought it.”  (Matthew 13:44-46)

These parables identify Kingdom principles people experience that bring about radical fulfillment and radical change in each of their individual lives.  The essence of these parables is value.  Both are seeking something that they greatly value and when they find it, it comes with such a fulfillment, that everything else must be sacrificed in order to obtain it.
The purpose of the parables are described in the prefacing statement, “The kingdom of heaven is like…”  Jesus is here giving us divine spiritual principles that demonstrate what happens in the kingdom.  What happens both with us and with God.  What happens in our response to God and in His response toward us.  Remember that value is the underlining theme.

The man in the first parable could represent Jesus.  The field could represent the world (Mathew 3:38).  Hence, Jesus has come into the world.  He is seeking something.  He is seeking something of great value to Him and He is willing to sacrifice all in order to obtain it.  The treasure that he finds in the field is you.  It is the human soul that would receive Him and fellowship with Him for all eternity.  I am absolutely convinced that if only one person would have ever gotten saved as a result of the ministry of Jesus, He would have still endured the cross for the sake of the one.  It is the value that He places upon humanity.  He values it and it is worth sacrificing for.  When it is found, it brings about radical changes is His life and the life of the believer. If we measure the value of something by what someone else will pay for it; then; you are the greatest treasure that God has ever created as He has sacrificed everything in order to have fellowship and relationship with you.  God is completely “sold-out” and He has taken radical steps to enter into convenental relationships with us.  He has given all that He has to all of us.  He purchased the world that is filled with human treasure by the price of His life and blood.  For Him, it was the only way to live.

The merchant could represent the Christian.  He, too, is seeking something of great value.  In his pre-salvation state, he may have shopped various religions seeking the one that brought about the most fulfillment.  We are hard-wired for relationship with God.  When it is lacking, we are unfulfilled individuals seeking the ultimate forms of fulfillment.  Oftentimes, they come through sinful experiences.  When we attempt to put sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll in the place of our soul that is built for God, we ultimately end up dissatisfied.  Hence, these actions require extreme repetition. (see my other blog: for the blog entitled, “The works of the flesh.”)  If we could take that one pill, that one drink, that one experience that would bring the eternal buzz and fulfillment, that would be amazing!  However, no such substance or action exist.  The works of the flesh require repetition.  The basis of all sin is fulfillment and these two statements are the foundation and basis of all addictions.  I can remember a time right after I had my first intoxicating effect of alcohol.  It brought about a sense of fulfillment in my soul that I had been seeking for years.  I was “sold-out” to drinking, and spent all that I had on “prodigal” living.  It became my identity and every activity in my life revolved around drinking and drugging.   We will sacrifice for what we value and for what we believe will bring fulfillment.  This was my life before I found the “Pearl of great price.”  Because my addiction required repetition and required more of the substance over time, I continued to seek the ultimate expression of fulfillment.  On May the 7th of 2000, I had a radical encounter with God that changed my life.  Suddenly, Jesus became so real to me.  He was not just doctrine and an unknowable God.  I was having an intense encounter with Him.  He was, in fact, alive and I now knew why He was called the “Living God.”  The Holy Spirit invaded my soul and I understood that everything that I was seeking from drugs and alcohol I could get from God.  It was the invasion of His love into my soul that made radical changes in my life.  I had found the “Pearl of Great Price.”

It was at this time that I became “sold-out” to God.  I knew that what I had been looking for in fifteen years worth of drug and alcohol addiction I had found.  Hence, I have sold all that I had for the purpose of the Kingdom of God.  I’m a radical!  For me, anything less than a complete “sell-out” for Jesus is to exalt this cursed and fallen world with its fleshly pleasures and pursuits against the “Pearl of Great Price.”  The Great Kingdom sell-out is the only option and it’s the only way to live.  This Kingdom dynamic applies for me, for you, and for Jesus.

The Kingdom and the Spirit-man

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.”    (Romans 1:20)

God created man from “the dust of the earth.” (Genesis 2:7)  This implies that God took something in the physical realm and created a life with it.  This was the created “likeness” of a physical body. Scripture states that God said, “Let us make man in our image; according to our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26).  God said that He would create man “according to His likeness.”  The Hebrew word for likeness is the word “demut.”  It is best translated “resemblance.” (1)  It is the word that Ezekiel most often used to describe the theophonic appearances of God. (Ezekiel 1:26)  The implication here is that we look like our Daddy.  He formed us into a physical being in the physical realm.  This likeness is the physical body.  God created the earth as a physical realm and He created the physical body of man to function in this realm as being representational of Him and His actual appearance. (That being the pre-incarnate appearances of Messiah).

The Bible also says that “God is Spirit.” (John 4:24)  He operates in the invisible realm of the spirit.  God desired that a representative of Him be placed in the physical realm to “have authority over it.” (Genesis 1:28)  However, only a physical body is not enough to be representational of God.  In Genesis we read, “He blew into his nostrils the ‘breath of life’ and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)  When God said that He would create man, “in His Image”, He was creating a spiritual being with a physical body.  The Hebrew word for image, is the word “zelem.”  It is most often translated “idol”, and it means “the image as a representation of diety.” (2) This means that man bears a physical and spiritual representation of God.  In fact, Romans 1:20 declares that, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.”  His invisible attributes are clearly seen the physical realm by the creation of human beings as His image-bearers representing Him, in the physical realm, as He is, is the spiritual realm.  As it is written, “As He is, so are we in this world.” (I John 4:17)

The spirit man inside of us influences us toward holiness.  The spirit man is in contact with the Holy Spirit and then communicates to the soul the mind and will of God.  The soul is the center of emotion, will, desire, thought, and the free will.  The soul is capable of exercising the free will toward obedience toward God.  The Apostle Paul prays that we would be “strengthened with might through His Spirit in our inner man” (Ephesians 3:16) because Paul knew that a strong spirit man would move the soul and the physical body towards holiness.  John G. Lake wrote, “The real Christian, whose being is attuned with God and in whose consciousness the Christ-life is a divine reality, knows that the life of the spirit of man in contact with the Spirit of God supersedes every other endeavor to harmonize the nature of man and God…” (3)


1.  Harris, Laird; Archer, Gleason; Waltke, Bruce; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.  Chicago, IL, Moody Publishers, 1980.  Page 192.

2.  Ibid, page 1923.

3.  Liardon, Roberts, John G. Lake, The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings, Albury Publishing Co, Tulsa, OK 1999, page 870.

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)