Reign of God / Reign of Humanity

Reign of God / Reign of Humanity

What, exactly, is the Reign of God?  Here’s what Jesus has to say about the Reign of God.  I’ve paraphrased it for you below, or you can click here to read it for yourself in the Young’s Literal Translation:

The Reign of God is not a human system of order being run by human decision-makers.  If it was, I would have allowed My disciples to defend Me from the leaders within that system who wanted to have Me crucified.  In God’s Reign, God is the decision-maker Who doesn’t use fear tactics and force to accomplish His purposes.  In this world, people who have popularity, wealth, or credentials are considered to the most important, but in the Reign of God, things are opposite.  (Jesus brings a child into the middle of the group.) Take this child, for instance.  You must be humble, like a child to enter into the Reign of God.  In contrast, a rich person whose sense of security is in wealth will find it very difficult to enter in.  But here’s what I can guarantee – whatever you lose for the sake of the Reign of God, it will be well worth your while, not only in this age, but also in the age to come.  You’ll be generously compensated with spiritual riches, which are far better than any popularity, wealth, or credentials you once had.

The Reign of God is such good news that I talk about it with anyone who will listen.  (Jesus tells his disciples something privately: Here’s the thing.  At this time, God is only giving the understanding of His Reign to you.  That’s why I speak in parables.  Not everyone is meant to understand His Reign at once.  Right now, I’ll tell them what they need to know most, that is…) the Reign of God is very near!  It is time to experience a change of thinking that is so radical that it will be evidenced in your life – the way you relate to God and others.  I’m traveling all around healing people so that what I do is evidence that I have been sent by God with this message.

Do you know what kind of people enter into the Reign of God?  People who don’t think too highly of themselves, who recognize that any talents, abilities, opportunities, or possessions they have are God-given.  Those who get mistreated for doing the right thing.  People who practice what they preach.  You’ve heard of John the Baptist, right?  That seemingly perfect prophet-type guy who probably makes you feel spiritually intimidated because of the authority he was given by God to introduce me to the world – Did you know that a person who is considered unpopular or unimportant by human standards is greater than John the Baptist in the Reign of God ?  The kind of people who enter into the Reign of God live a life of love that puts religious leaders or religious experts and their so-called righteousness to shame.  There are those who claim to act in my name, making an elaborate show of religion, but then they turn around and do and say things that I would never do or say.  Don’t be fooled into thinking this is how people enter into the Reign of God.

When you pray, tell God that you are watching and waiting to discover how He is turning things around, how eventually, it becomes obvious that His will is being accomplished after all.   The Reign of God on earth, as it is in Heaven – this is what really matters.  A lot of people try to impose their own ideas about the Reign of God on others, to bring the Reign of God about in their own time and their own forceful way.  There’s a long history of the human tendency to act this way about the Reign of God.  But, things are changing.  These people who use the Reign of God as a weapon are fighting among themselves, and eventually, the whole system will collapse.  As it is, they accuse me of having evil powers – but I am doing away with evil!  This is the beginning of the human race having their eyes opened to the Reign of God.  The Reign of God is happening, right now, within you.

Some people equate the Reign of God to religion or to a particular church.  Let’s compare the things that Jesus said about the Reign of God to the institutional church.  I substitute the words “your church” or “church member” (here I reference local church as a cog in the machine of man-made institutions and organized systems of religion, not the God-ordained “ecclesia“) for the words “Reign of God” in the form of true statements, using Christ’s ideas as a pattern  in the bullet points below.

  • Your church is not a human system of order being run by human decision-makers.  In your church, God is the decision-maker.
  • The church members who are leaders typically have the humble nature of a child.
  • A rich person will find it very difficult to be a member of your church.
  • Becoming a church member may result in loss of popularity, wealth, or credentials.
  • Your church is such good news that you want to (and do) talk about it all the time with anyone who will listen – coworkers, family, friends, strangers.
  • The people who go to your church get mistreated for doing the right thing. (Please don’t confuse this with the all-too-common being mistreated for being a judgmental religious snob.)
  • The leaders of your church practice what they preach.
  • President Obama and Richard Dawkins are considered greater than John the Baptist in your church.
  • The church members in your church live a life of love that puts religious leaders or religious experts and their so-called righteousness to shame.
  • When you pray, you tell God that you are watching and waiting to discover how He is turning things around, how eventually, it becomes obvious that His will is being accomplished after all, because your church on earth, as it is in Heaven – this is what really matters.
  • The human race is having their eyes opened to your church.  Your church is happening, right now.  Your church is within you.

Do you see the difference between the Reign of God and religion/church?  If you do, then whether you attend church or not, whether you affiliate with a certain religion or not, you are the *ecclesia.

*Ecclesia:

1577 ekklēsía(from 1537 /ek, “out from and to” and 2564 /kaléō, “to call”) – properly, people called out from the world and to God…

How do I know you are the ecclesia, just because you see the difference between the Reign of God and religion/church?  Because, “If any one may not be born from above, he is not able to see the Reign of God” (Jesus – John 3:21).  If you see it, you are born from above.  In contrast, if you read the bullet list and get all flustered, you may not yet be “out from” the reign of humanity.  Churchianity tends to create a dichotomy of church and “the world” (everything/everyone not church).  But in reality, the world is just as present in the church as the ecclesia is present in the world.

Comments
  • Lanny A. Eichert December 1, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Alice, your “born from above” concept is ALL wrong. The issue is your human sins and sinfulness for which Christ died. That you ignore and make anybody who believes your anti-institionalism born from above. You have “liberalized” a good Biblical term and teach confusion.

    as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. {John 1: 12, 13}
    Born “of God” is what “born from above” is. And it REMOVES sins.

    I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. {John 8: 24}

    If you die in your sins, you burn forever in the Lake of Fire. Jesus said so.

    End of Book. End of story.

    • admin December 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      I’m not saying that they are born from above because they see the Reign of God, I’m saying they see the Reign of God because they are born from above. What is wrong with that?

      Die in your sins ≠ burn forever in the Lake of Fire. Jesus never said this. You did. You were taught to believe this by ignorant people.

      • Lanny A. Eichert December 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

        Alice, you are still BACKWARD. You’ve got the cart BEFORE the horse. You said of yourself: I believe that the moment one sees God as a non-enemy Who redeems His creation, that one is “born from above.” Spiritual insight is a RESULT of being born again. First comes the new birth, AFTER which one sees. You make seeing before birth. How many children do you have? Did any of them see you before they were born? What, do you have your eyes glued backward in your head? Foolish women ought not to try to be theologians.

        You wrote: I’m not saying that they are born from above because they see the Reign of God, I’m saying they see the Reign of God because they are born from above. What is wrong with that? What’s wrong is that you deny what you actually said and even restated. That’s why I wrote: you haven’t a clue about what you’re writing.

        • admin December 2, 2012 at 11:52 pm

          How is this backward? God quickens a person and they “see” Him for Who He is. In other words, “seeing God” isn’t some kind of spiritual hoop one jumps through in order to attain this “born from above” perspective. God does the “born from above” thing in the person, that’s why they have the “born from above” perspective.

          Let me ask you this. Do you believe that a person can have spiritual insight without being born from above?

  • Lanny A. Eichert December 1, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Needless to say, Alice, since you cannot get “born from above” right you have ecclesia ALL wrong too. The first defines the second.

    If you’ve only been born once, you’ll die twice.
    But if you’ve been born twice, you’ll only die once.

    • Lanny A. Eichert December 1, 2012 at 7:43 am

      Alice, I’ve been thinking about that little ditty, particularly “you’ll die twice” in regard to the Second Death, which you have some time ago insisted was the actual act of being thrown INTO the Lake of Fire. Do you realize what that means? Not a one time act which actually happens, but the moment by moment remembering and reliving over and over again the very instant you were discarded by God as trash into the Lake of Fire, like we toss a used, now useless, paper wrapper into the fire in the fireplace as we walk past it. Over and over remembering entering the fire. And over and over again why? Because God saw you as useless trash to throw away. God actually threw you into the fire like trash, tumbling as you fell. It took seemingly no time from the Great White Throne until you were tossed tumbling into the flames. Remembering over and over the first sting of the fire’s heat as you fell into it. Remembering over and over no time between Judgment and the fire’s edge. Trash, trash is all you are. God threw you away as trash. Over and over, reliving tumbling through space into the flames, discarded as trash to be burned. That’s all you are to God goes through your mind time after time remembering. Never able to forget actually being thrown into the fire, the actual experience over and over. No other thoughts, but that. Useless, discarded, fire and destruction over and over without end. The memory of it doesn’t quit, but is repeated again and again without remedy. No good thoughts to replace the constant memory of actually being thrown from the Judgment into the flames. The memory is much too graphic and the current burning too real to allow a diversion of thought away from the event of the actual entry into this fire.

      What perfect torment, never ending torment !!!

      Don’t you see how totally extreme the torment is so as to exclude all thoughts of the cross of Christ and the love of God? Nobody can be saved in such a condition, dear Alice. The condition is eternal.

      • admin December 2, 2012 at 12:36 pm

        Thanks for sharing your views. I disagree completely, as you already know.

  • Mary Vanderplas December 1, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I like your paraphrase, and I agree that the reign of God is not the reign of Christians or the church, that it is not something we bring in, but only God brings in, and that it is ruled not by us but by Christ. I agree, too, that the reign of God was present in the earthly ministry of Jesus and that God’s will is still being done on earth, that the reign of God is a present reality – though, I would add, its full manifestation lies in the future. I think you’re right to point out how the church in its institutional forms is not the same as the rule of God and how, indeed, the church often falls short when it comes to embodying and enacting God’s vision for humanity – falls short, that is, of truly living in the reign of God. I would say, though, that I don’t think that any expression of the church does or can fully enact God’s vision, that, as long as the ecclesia is made up of sinful people, it will bear only imperfect witness to God’s reign of justice and love and freedom.

    I have trouble with your assertion that everyone who sees the distinction between the reign of God and the church/religion belongs to the “called-out ones.” It seems clear, in the context of Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, that what he is talking about here is not merely seeing the distinction between the reign of God and the church, but discerning and experiencing the saving presence of God revealed in Jesus and beginning a new life. Simply to see the church’s imperfections and to recognize that God’s purposes for humanity are justice and love doesn’t mean that one has entered into new life in relationship to God. I don’t dispute, though, your point that the reign of God isn’t present only in the lives of believers and the church. Neither do I dispute that it can’t legitimately be assumed that only religious “insiders” are in with God and part of the ecclesia.

    • Lanny A. Eichert December 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      See, Alice, Mary says the same thing differently, that you haven’t a clue about what you’re writing.

      • Mary Vanderplas December 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm

        I expressed my disagreement with one of Alice’s points related to her interpretation of John 3:3, while expressing my agreement with a number of other points. I did not say that she doesn’t have a clue about what she’s writing. I would appreciate it if you would stop putting words in my mouth.

    • admin December 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      I believe that the moment one sees God as a non-enemy Who redeems His creation, that one is “born from above.” The reason for this is that the natural person sees God as an enemy and is opposed to Him, sometimes even to the point of denying God exists. The spiritual person is able to see God and His purposes. Only if the the spiritual person has been awakened (Strongs #2227 “make alive”) can he or she recognize God in this way. I agree, that Jesus communicates to Nicodemus “discerning and experiencing the saving presence of God revealed in Jesus and beginning a new life,” but I disagree that “the context of Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, that what he is talking about here is not merely seeing the distinction between the reign of God and the church.” There are several reason I disagree.

      1. Nicodemus is “of the Pharisees” and a “member of the council.” Jesus emphasizes Nicodemus’ natural perspective including his church/religion-type thinking when He calls Nicodemus “teacher of Israel.”

      2. Nicodemus approaches Jesus as one “of the Pharisees” and a “member of the council” – as is evidenced by his use of the plural pronoun “we” instead of “I.”

      3. Jesus specifically identifies Nicodemus’ position in the church and the doctrinal position of the church itself as the reason for spiritual ignorance:

      Nicodemus, on understanding Who God is from a natural perspective – “we know” ABC because of XYZ…
      Jesus, on understanding Who God is from a spiritual perspective – “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

      Nicodemus, on understanding “born from above” from a natural perspective – “How can a man be born when he is old” etc.?
      Jesus, on understanding “born from above” from a spiritual perspective – “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

      Jesus further emphasizes the distinction between natural and spiritual: “What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

      Nicodemus is not able to understand/see: “How can these things be?”
      Jesus identifies Nicodemus’ position in the church and the doctrinal position of the church itself as the reason for spiritual ignorance: “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand these things? …you people do not accept our testimony. If I have told you people about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”

      4. Jesus named the reason for “you people [who] do not accept our testimony” (church/religion), who are “condemned already”: because they “loved darkness instead of light,” their “deeds were evil,” they “hate the light,” and they “will not come into the light” because they don’t want their “deeds to be exposed.” This is in agreement with several other instances in which Jesus singles out the organized religion of that time and the people who relied on that natural-perspective system as a means to spiritual life or understanding.

      This is especially meaningful, considering that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. Nicodemus is afraid to be identified with Christ, doesn’t understand the true message of Christ, and can’t see the Reign of God. Why? That’s the point of (or “context” of) this conversation. Nicodemus has plenty of religious credentials and expertise, but until he is born from above, he won’t recognize the difference between the natural (including its systems of religion and doctrine) and spiritual life/light in Christ.

      • Mary Vanderplas December 3, 2012 at 5:56 am

        I agree that conversion involves coming to see God for who he is in his saving love and, I would add, trusting in that love. And I agree that it is only by God’s Spirit acting to make alive spiritually that anyone is able to see and respond to God. I think you make a good point about Jesus pointing to Nicodemus’ religion as the source of his blindness, though I don’t think that it is religion as such that is the problem so much as a lack of receptiveness to Jesus’s person and message that characterized Israel’s religious elite. But I think you’re right to point out that for all of Nicodemus’ religious training and authority, he still could not see the things of God revealed in Jesus. I don’t think, though, that the text as a whole is an indictment of organized religion. As scholars point out – correctly, I think – already in verse 7, and in 11 and following, with the use of the plural “you” and also “we,” the dialogue modulates from a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus to the church to which John was writing as it bore witness to an unbelieving world. The issue, in my view, is being open and receptive to the revelation of God’s purposes in Jesus – and coming to see and live in the reality of God’s reign (being “born from above”). It is not being set free from the shackles of religion/church to discern the difference between the church and the reign of God.

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