Just What Do You Mean … BORN AGAIN?
Notice, briefly, first, what that astonishing NEW Message was!
The pre-announcement, in Malachi’s prophecy, says: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek [the Messiah], shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant … ” (Mal. 3:1).
Now notice the beginning of the Messenger’s proclamation of that Message.
It is recorded in Mark’s Gospel, chapter 1: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets….” Then follows the citation from Malachi, written above. That is followed by the account of John the Baptist, preparing the way for the Messenger.
Then, verses 14-15: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of god, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.'” That is, BELIEVE the Good News!
What IS the Kingdom of God?
What did He mean – the Kingdom of God?
Jesus’ whole Message – His Gospel – was about the KINGDOM OF GOD! Yet few know anything about it, today.
A Kingdom is a), a NATION composed of people, and b), the GOVERNMENT of the nation.
In some cases, the people of a nation are the descendants the children – of one man. The nation of Turkey is the descendants of the ancient Esau, twin brother of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, father of the nation Israel. Before the twins were born, God said to their mother, Rebekah, “Two nations are in thy womb …” (Gen. 25:23).
Now Jesus the Messiah was to come as the “Messenger of the COVENANT.” The “Old Covenant” had established the human children of Israel as a NATION or KINGDOM of humans, called the KINGDOM OF ISRAEL. Jesus came as the Messenger – heralding the Message of the NEW Covenant that shall set up the Spirit-composed children of GOD as the Kingdom of God!
As the ancient Kingdom of Israel was composed of the human FAMILY of the human man Israel, so the Kingdom of God will be composed of the divine family of the divine GOD!
And what does this have to do with “being BORN AGAIN”? It has everything to do with it!
DANIEL FORETOLD IT
The Prophet Daniel wrote of this Kingdom of God. In his second chapter, after foretelling of the Chaldean Empire (Babylon), the Persian Empire, the Graeco-Macedonian Empire with its four divisions, and the Roman Empire, stretching into the now-forming resurrected “Holy Roman Empire” in Europe, we read the following: “And in the days of these kings [the forthcoming United States of Europe] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed … but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44). To “stand forever” it will, of necessity, be a Kingdom of IMMORTALS, not mortals.
It will be a WORLD RULING Kingdom!
Daniel’s 7th chapter portrays it again – and shows the connection with being “born again”. The four world empires – Babylon through Rome and its coming resurrection in Europe – are pictured as four beasts – wild animals.
Saints Become Immortal
Verse 17: “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings [kingdoms], which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even for ever and ever.” To possess it FOR EVER, the saints have to be IMMORTAL!
Then the Babylonian religious power, now Roman, “made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days [Christ at second coming] came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the Kingdom” (verses 21-22). Read also verse 27.
The second coming of Christ is described thus: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever'” (Rev. 11:15).
Yet in spite of these and many more scriptures, m ]iiany deceived theologians today mislead the people saying that the CHURCH is the Kingdom of God! Or, that “the Kingdom” is some ethereal nothing “in men’s hearts.”
Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
What did He mean? WHY had this Message never been proclaimed before? The answer requires a pre-history background.
There Was Once PEACE on Earth
It isn’t popular, today, to mention the existence of a devil. But the Bible, again and again, puts great emphasis on the presence of a real, literal devil.
Biblical revelation shows that originally, this earth was a place of PEACE, happiness – a real utopia. It was then ruled by the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. That Government will be once again RESTORED (Acts 3:20-21) by Christ returning to earth in the supreme POWER and GLORY of God!
But what happened? WHY don’t we have that Government now? Why is there no PEACE on earth?
When the earth was originally created, the angels shouted for JOY! (Job 38:7). It was beautiful. It was PEACEFUL. It was populated by angels – not then by humans. It was governed by the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. There was a super arch-angel – a cherub named Lucifer (meaning bringer of LIGHT) – one of two cherubim whose wings stretched over the very throne of God in heaven. Lucifer was thoroughly trained in the administration of the GOVERNMENT OF GOD (Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:12-17).
God governs by His spiritual Law – a Law based on the principle of LOVE. Love, first, to God with submission and obedience, and secondly to His creatures – the way of outgoing concern for the good and welfare of others. But Lucifer’s heart was lifted up in vanity, because of his beauty and vast knowledge. He rebelled against God, mutinied, set out to organize his angels into an invading army and to conquer GOD – in order to rule the entire vast UNIVERSE. This disqualified him as earth’s ruler. However, the very principle of God’s Government requires that the ruler retains office until a successor qualifies and is inducted into office.
Lucifer’s name was changed to Satan, the devil. His angels became demons. As a result of this universal rebellion on earth, universal destruction and chaos struck the surface of the earth. In six days God re-shaped the earth’s surface (Genesis 1), creating fauna and flora – and MAN!
When Man Appeared
God formed MAN, not after any animal kind, but in God’s own likeness – not of spirit composition as is God, but of material flesh and blood. The first man, Adam, father of the human race, allowed Satan’s attitude of REBELLION to enter his heart, failing to qualify as Satan’s successor.
When Jesus was baptized by John (Mark 1:9-11), immediately He underwent the most titanic struggle ever, in His temptation by the devil (verses 12-13).
Jesus had come to qualify to replace Satan – to restore the Government of God on earth, and bring back WORLD PEACE! But, as the first Adam had undergone and succumbed to Satan’s temptation, Jesus had to face and overcome this disqualified Satan.
Jesus underwent this test under the most trying and difficult conditions possible. He had been almost totally depleted of physical strength by fasting 40 days and nights – no food and no water! Yet even in this physical weakness, He was made stronger SPIRITUALLY.
Few have ever realized the stupendous struggle that took place in the crucial temptation. Jesus resisted Satan’s supreme temptations. He did it by quoting Scriptures and OBEYING GOD. He proved under the maximum possible test that He would obey God’s Laws and administer God’s GOVERNMENT faithfully. Then, in utter physical weakness but supreme spiritual strength, He proved He was Satan’s Master, by giving Satan a crisp command to leave – and the defeated Satan slunk away!
Then (Mark 1:14), having qualified for the executive administration of the Government of God on Earth, Jesus came into Galilee, saying, as quoted above, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand”! (Verse 15).