How To Enter the Kingdom Of God
Copyright © 1998 by Natalie Pappas
John 3:16--everyone knows it, few believe it.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that all who believe in Him will not perish, but shall have everlasting life.
Most people don't know that this often quoted verse takes place in a conversation Jesus was having with a man of the Pharisees, a member of the Jewish ruling council named Nicodemus. Before Jesus told Nicodemus of God's love, He had spoken to him about the importance of being born from above. It is an interesting conversation, one worth reading because Jesus emphasizes the importance of being born again in order to enter into the Kingdom of God. Every believer in the Kingdom of God will have fellowship with each other and with God, Himself. For this reason, anyone who wants to enter the Kingdom of God must be born again.
Christians have all things in common because Christians all reflect Christ. In fact, this is the current impact Christians have on the world today. Jesus says to his disciples at Passover in the Upper Room in John 13:34-35, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Do we love one another? The great love chapter of 1st Corinthians 13 defines the attributes of Love. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails".
Christians can only succeed in loving each other through dependence upon God. The fruit of love is produced inside every believer by the Holy Spirit who dwells inside every Christian. If you are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, born again, then you cannot truly love anyone as Scripture describes.
Love is not simply a title which labels the warm emotion of affection we feel for one another. Love is a word which describes specific verbs which together add up to love. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails". That one fruit of love is well rounded, is it not?
We can easily fool ourselves into thinking we have this type of love for one another. We can sit on one side of the fence and believe that the warm fuzzy we feel for our neighbor is love. Or we can sit on the other and forget that some of the attributes of love are patience and kindness, a willingness to protect others from harm, a certain trusting that God will have His way in a person's life regardless of the circumstance(s), and the hope which expects the best for others. Scripture says that it is God who is love--thus every attribute of love is also an attribute of God.
This is the standard God sets for every Christian. Like the Sermon on the Mount we can easily deceive ourselves into thinking we measure up...but we don't and we can't. This is the reason Christ says to Nicodemus in John chapter three, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
The WTB&TS publication Make Sure of All Things (page 56) under the topic of "Born Again, as Spiritual Sons of God" adds the word heavenly to Jesus' phrase of "Kingdom of God". I looked in the NIV Exhaustive Concordance and there isn't an entry for the word "heavenly". In the Reasoning book (also a WTB&TS publication), on page 77, it says Only persons who have been "born again," thus becoming God's sons, can share in the heavenly Kingdom, and referenced the following verses: John 1:12,13; Rom. 8:16,17; 1 Pet. 1:3,4. The word heavenly does not appear in these verses, nor does the surrounding context (a chapter ahead and below) discuss a heavenly Kingdom of God and contrast it with an earthly Kingdom of God. These verses simply discuss the importance of being born again and how a born again person acts, yet they do not limit these verses to a "heavenly hope" or an "earthly hope", but the WTB&TS publications certainly do!
The Reasoning book defines the Kingdom of God as "the expression of Jehovah's universal sovereignty toward his creatures, or the means used by him to express that sovereignty."
It then goes on to say "This term is used particularly to designate the manifestation of God's sovereignty through the royal government headed by his Son, Jesus Christ. "Kingdom" may refer to the rulership of the one anointed as King or to the earthly realm ruled by that heavenly government."
Even the Reasoning book shows that the Kingdom of God includes this earthly realm, does it not? The Bible, also, does not limit the Kingdom of God to a place in heaven. The Kingdom of God is not just made up of those who rule. Logically, rulers have subjects. Do they not also reside in this same Kingdom? If those with the "earthly hope" are not part of God's Kingdom, then whose Kingdom are they a part of? Shouldn't they also be born again to enter the Kingdom of God?
There are two phrases used in Scripture.
- Kingdom of God
- Kingdom of Heaven
There is no Kingdom of Earth, is there? Jesus did not say "You must be born again to enter the Kingdom of Heaven". Jesus tells us the truth when he says, "...no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.... Do you believe Jesus is telling the truth?
As the title of the WTB&TS book says, "Make Sure of All Things. Paul praised the people of the town of Berea (Acts 17) when they (already believing Christians) made sure what he taught was found in the Scriptures. Should we not continue to do this throughout our lives? Is there any point where we stop and trust others completely with our spiritual food? If you're reading WTB&TS publications regularly, shouldn't you be spending just as much time, if not more, in reading the Bible for God's approval instead of Watchtower magazines for mans' approval?
I challenge all Jehovah's Witnesses to ask their Elders for the official WTB&TS explaination of the Kingdom of God. Then open your Bible and do a study on the Kingdom of God. Look up every instance in Scripture this phrase appears--find out how the Bible defines this phrase and compare it to what you have been taught. Next, then ask the question: Can I enter into the Kingdom of God as I am today? Be a good Fort Worthian, or Dallasite, or Finlandian, or if you actually live in the town of Berea, a good Berean.