If you were to ask most evangelicals as to why they must be born again they would respond with the need to be forgiven and salvation. But that is not what the Holy Spirit said at all.
- John 3:3 ESV – 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
The purpose of the being born again is to see “the kingdom of God.” The kingdom of God looks sort of like this:
There is an overlap between living on earth and entering eternity known as the Kingdom of God. It was best summed up by the theologian George Eldon Ladd as the “Now but Not Yet.”
Most evangelicals think of the Cross as the central message of Jesus. But it was not so. The cross is the entry point to the Kingdom. When Jesus first started preaching, he taught the Kingdom of God. His last message after the ressurection was the Kingdom of God. He did not mention dying on the cross until halfway through his three year ministry hear on earth.
- Matthew 3:2 ESV – 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- Mark 1:15 ESV – 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
- Luke 4:43 ESV – 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
- Acts 1:3 ESV – 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
According to the Blue Letter Bible search engine on the net:
- The phrase “The Kingdom” occurs 399 times in 130 verses from Matthew through Acts in the ESV.
- The phrase “The Cross” occurs 76 times in 23 verses from Matthew through Acts in the ESV.
The unspoken theology is that the cross is the central message of the Gospel, the reality is the Kingdom is the central message of the Gospel.
It is amazing how something so simple could be hidden in plain sight.
The cross is like the doors to a church. Suppose I invited you to church. You traveled hours to come visit the church. You then arrive at the doors and fall down and start weeping, “I made it!” But then turn around, get in the car and drive home. This begs the question, did you come to church? On one level yes. On another you missed out by not entering in. I fear that is how most Christians will look at their lives. Having arrived faith but never entered into faith.
I am no cessationist, but neither am I sensationalist. There is no need to suppose healing, prophesy, and miracles have ceased. But neither are they an everyday occurrences. As mentioned in a earlier blog, healing is but a temporary pause in the decaying of the flesh, but in the end, unless Jesus returns we are still appointed to die. But I am grateful when those events do occur.
I like to think of it as the onset of a rainstorm. Just as it is beginning to rain, you may have a rain drop here and a rain drop there. Has the rain arrived? Yes. But it is not until the full downpour begins has the deluge begun. It is like that with the Kingdom of God. But unless your eyes are open through being born again, the Kingdom can be happening all around you and but you will miss out.
So as always, love much my friends.