There’s more to Kingdom life than being a person who refrains from certain acts and enters in to others. There’s being a living representation of Our Father. Jesus did it. And because of Christ in us we are able to represent life without limit as sons of God and as expressions of Jesus. Stephen Crosby laments,
“I have even heard some evangelicals say that we are saved by grace, but that we need the law to keep us walking in obedience. There is so much confusion and mixture on this topic. Paul said it plainly. The old covenant, and everything about it, is annulled, abolished.” And so it is – if we are part of His Body and not joined to the body of death that is the old covenant and the law. In this age of the incarnation we do not improve and become more like Christ by stiffening our back-bone with bits of law. We do it by ignoring old covenant revisionism and entering into the fullness of Christ our life – of Jesus indwelling our person and transfusing our flesh with His Spirit and life.
To be born again means to be born from the old covenant into the new. Unless we are born again we cannot recognise the Kingdom of God, let alone live in the spirit of sonship. But what is implied in being born again?” Fundamentally it means dying to religion, to who we are in Adam; to what we have attempted to be in Moses and to what we have tried to mould ourselves to as a ‘Christian life.” It means dying to all that is precious to us – our ideas, preconceptions and identities - and embracing all that is alive in our resurrected Jesus Life.
New birth is more than ‘coming to Christ.’ For the Christian of long standing it means transitioning from our life to His in a radical fashion. It’s the path from being separate from God in our attempted religious motions to union with God where our being is joined to God’s being. We made the transition to being in God.
This is the passage from religion to sonship and from living towards principals and being the expression of Christ. In this state not only are you and your Father one. You become a living word as an expression of The Word who is the Person of Christ.
The ultimate expression of life is never a list or a range of characteristics. It is a person. Having been made one with God we are the expression of our Father. We can choose this. We can believe in this or we can fumble on in our thing where we attempt to be whole by being an expression of the parts. Never mind that this is contradictory. It’s what some people do in order to maintain a life in an identity to which they have become so accustomed that they would rather die than move to any other. But if they did die in Christ they would be resurrected to a limitless life of continued intensity and expansion in the Spirit of Sonship. No longer blind-men fumbling for new ways to revive their derelict tradition. They gain eyes that see and ears that hear and become sons in spirit and in truth instead of shadows of themselves in the letter that kills.
‘I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead’ Phil 3.10 NLT
Life when attached to law is incompatible with life in the Spirit. It can only ever be a crippled rendition of it. When we live, move and have our being in Christ the whole is more than the sum of the parts. We are whole because we are sons of God and become actual manifestations of our Father.
Not a few Believers hide from fullness in Christ in a religious identity that serves them as a security blanket while maintaining them in spiritual infancy. Jesus was paving the way for our life in the Spirit which he referred to as the Kingdom of God. He knew about folks who were running from God by spending their lives attempting to promote and revive, their partisan version of God. He wanted to lift them out of being shadows of themselves to become genuine participants in the divine nature.
THE ONE SIGN THAT LIBERATES THEM ALL
Richard Rohr writes, “As a good Jew, Jesus knew the graphic story of Jonah the prophet, who was running from God and was used by God almost in spite of himself. Jonah was swallowed by the whale and taken where he would rather not go. This was Jesus’ metaphor for death and rebirth. Think of all the other signs, apparitions, and miracles that religion looks for and seeks and even tries to create. But Jesus says it is an evil and adulterous generation that looks for these things. That’s a pretty hard saying. He says instead we must go inside the belly of the whale for a while. Then and only then will we be spit upon a new shore and understand our call. That’s the only pattern Jesus promises us. Paul spoke of “reproducing the pattern” of his death and thus understanding resurrection (Phil. 3:11). That teaching will never fail. The soul is always freed and formed in such wisdom.” (1) ‘But what does Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son.’ Gal 4.30 NIV.
A theologian of some note took offence because she thought that some of her friends had implied that she was ‘not a son.’ Sadly they were right to some extent. She was a son but not a son of the free woman. She had not been in whale and had not been spat up on a new shore. She promoted a gospel – but not the gospel of the Kingdom. His was the gospel of the slave woman and her sons who spent their time as workers and slaves outside their inheritance. She expended much effort preaching. But what she preached came from a captive mindset – one in which she had not been born again and passed from death to life. ‘Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again’ John 3.3 NIV.
(1) Rohr, Richard. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (p. 44). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.