A key step in understanding the idea of two realities is Jesus interaction with Nicodemus in John 3.
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:3-5 (NKJV)
When Jesus spoke of seeing the kingdom and then followed it up with referring to entering the kingdom was He just being casual in His speech or simply referring to conversion as seeing and death/translation as entering the kingdom? Prior to answering that, in the spirit of letting scripture interpret scripture, what did Paul say about the kingdom of God?
17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17 (NKJV)
In describing the kingdom Paul referred to a state of being rather than a place. When Jesus spoke of ‘seeing’ the meaning of the word in Greek in this context is that of perceiving or realizing something. Jesus was telling Nicodemus, and by extension us, that we need to be born again to perceive the activity of the kingdom in our lives. The word ‘enter’ means simply that, to enter or go into.
So why the distinction? I believe we can be born again and become aware of another reality. This is like the key to unlock the door. We have arrived at the door and opened it. We now look into this strange new building and become aware of activity that is new and wonderful. However, we now have a choice as to whether we continue through the doorway. How do we know if we have entered into the kingdom? We look at whether our lives are marked by what Paul described. Do kingdom realities pervade out thoughts and actions? Does His presence and purpose overshadow our life? Do we have a desire for His word and worship? Are our thoughts drawn to Jesus presence during the day? Do we look forward to just being with Him?
These things mark whether we have learned to live in these two realities that mark our lives once we have crossed the threshold through the new birth.
In my next post I will look at the eternal internal realm we are called to live from.