Teaching graduating medical students at a University Anatomy Dissection Lab who chose their path towards a specialty in Surgery or its subspecialty, provides me with a depth of perspective, complexity and marvel of the structures of human anatomy that I never had before. It was in this environment that it came to mind the Pharisees’ confrontation with Jesus in Luke 17:20-21:
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Question and Answer?
Notice the question about the time “when the kingdom of God should come“. Yet, the circular and specific answer given was not about when in the future. And, he was actually and directly defining what and where it is. That, it does “not come with observation, not here or there“, not in external environment, i.e., we cannot see it, being invisible. Moreover, he was not referring to the physical structure like the Roman governmental institution of that period nor the material brain in our Anatomy. In other words and strictly speaking, Jesus was referring to the intangible and where it is. Also, in answering the question as to when, Jesus pointed us towards the beginning and origin of the kingdom of God, it is “within you“. Interesting, it is.
Commonly, we understood the kingdom of God as a place or government of God in heaven or way into the future here on earth. While this teaching from childhood has truth in it, what is being introduced here for the first time by Jesus is awesome and seminal. This goes conceptually to the deepest root of what and where it is. Meaning, that the basic element or attribute of the God-kingdom, much like the brick-and-mortar in building a house, is already in us to start with. Really?
Pharisees and “us”, what we share in common?
How could the “kingdom of God” be “within you“, i.e., in the Pharisees, when they were actually against Jesus? Hardly, can they have this, so we can all wrongly assume. Yet, Jesus was clear as daylight that it is in them. Arguably, this answer to them can only be taken in a general sense, i.e., as it relates to humans, including all of us.
Since what we share with the Pharisees is this flesh-body anatomy that is visible and external, not internal and not “within“, what is that invisible aspect that is also common to all humans? Jesus was specifically stating a matter of fact: that the “kingdom of God is within” us, referring to where it is in our common human anatomy, our human body. He was in fact referring to where the “kingdom of God” is, i.e., in our human composition.
Within you, what?
What then is “within you“, in our human anatomy, that is related to the “kingdom of God”? What is “within” the Pharisees that is also “within” every human anatomy? If one analyzes the composition of man at creation it was composed of “dust“, matter, from earth. All ingredients necessary for life are composed of matter, whether gross, microscopic, enzymatic, immunological, electron transfer, etc. But, the matter-composed body was not yet “living“(no life), until God “breathe into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7), aka, the spirit of man. This was the spirit-component that “quickened” or “energized” all physical elements of the human body to be alive. It initiated all life processes, i.e., metabolic, humoral, cerebrovascular-spinal, cardiovascular, endocrine, and other life systems. It is this “spirit of man” (energizing power) given to human to “quicken” him to life. Unlike the matter-composition from earth, and therefore “earthy“, this “breath of life” is from heaven, and therefore heavenly, from spirit-God and therefore spirit-composed. Man at creation in the garden of Eden was earthy, matter-composed and did not have life until the “spirit of man” was given by breathing through his nostrils the “breath of life”. Then and only then did man become a “nephesh” or “living soul/person”, a live creature. This “spirit” in humans could only be the thing referred to as “within you” since this is the “only part” of man that came directly from spirit-composed God, heavenly not earthy. Hence, the “kingdom of God is within you”.
From Potential to Kinetic Energy.
Notice, that this “spirit of man” started the life of the person. It is a life-giving energy, spirit-energy, (much like mechanical, electrical, nuclear, solar, gravitational) that can be infused into humans. By analogy, the home will be pitch-dark without an electric energy and no mechanical device can function without mechanical energy. Nor will there be any manifestation coming from fossil-fuel, wind or solar power. Notice that all these powers from our material body are “potential energies” that are hidden and intrinsic but can be activated/”quickened” or harnessed to become “kinetic energies“. One has to flip an electric switch to have light from an energy source and turn on an ignition to activate electrical-mechanical energy to start a car. No gizmo like cell phone or iPad, even when fully charged, will function without being turned on. Our Creator was very precise in describing that all components of our material body have “potential energy” sans life when it was created from “dust“. It took God to “breath into” Adam, this life-activating energy, a spirit-power that he did not have at his creation, before life begins.
Human Anatomy and Physiology.
Anatomically, man is a sensory-motor system. Learning comes through our sensory system, viz., by seeing, hearing, feeling, etc. Action is through motor system via central or peripheral nervous system. All our experiences are captured by the material components of our brain through complex neuronal connectivity of cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, thalamus, hypothalamus, midbrain, pons, medulla, etc. Decision-making as to what to do, draws from what was learned and manifests into action, voluntary or involuntary, through our motor system.We are a composite of our unique growth and development. Where we draw from our past experiences has to be from where the memory is stored. Storage has to be in some kind of “cloud” that is separate from the brain. Could memory be embedded in the “spirit of man“?
Where is Memory Stored?
When a person dies, the matter-composed body in “hades” or grave, with all of its material components, decays or rots. A dead person no longer thinks, as in, his “thoughts perished” (Ps. 146:4). Whereas, the “spirit of man” goes back to the Creator (Eccl. 12:7; Job 33:18,30). The dead body “knows nothing” (Eccl. 9:5;James 2:26) and stays on earth, not heaven (Acts 2:29, 34). No one ascended to heaven except the Son of man(John 3:13). As regards the “spirit of man”, nowhere does it say it is dead; only that it “goes back” to the Creator. This spirit has been in the person through his/her lifetime and for what? Also, for those who are blessed to participate in the “first resurrection“, e.g., Paul, Peter, the apostles, how do they keep their unique identity? How do they know who they actually are when resurrected to life? It has to be from memory. And, there is only one logical place for memory to be stored. Not in a dead body but in the “spirit of man“. By analogy, much like a “thumb drive” where everything from the computer can be stored, the computer itself like our body can be destroyed. and the thumb drive like the “spirit of man” with stored memories can be expressed or “downloaded” into a new computer or body. The same mechanism may happen when the “spirit of man“, with stored memory, gets into a new and immortal body at resurrection. Moreover, much like a “memory chip“, this “spirit of man” imprints all that were learned throughout our life, even in-utero, and keeps our unique identity.
God knows precisely what, where and when to start the building-block of the God-kingdom. He already created celestial and terrestrial, a plant-kingdom, animal kingdom; all of them matter-composed. Only angels are spirit-composed, not matter-composed; invisible, although they have the capability of being visible (Gen. 18:1-3; Heb. 1:7,14). But, when it came to man, the goal was not to create a human kingdom. Instead, notice Genesis 1:26-27,
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image..”
Nothing in the creation of anything, whether planets, plants nor animals, is in the image or likeness of Him, unlike that of man. Man has been created in the “image and likeness” of the Creator YHVH(Gen. 1:27). But, eventually, this “image” will become a “new creation” different from others. Man started as an “image“. But, from an “image“, the final future of man is to be in the “God-kingdom“, not plant, animal nor human kingdom. We did not evolve from an “animal kingdom“. We will be different, even from spirit-composed angels, a third of which (Heb. 12:22), went with Lucifer (Rev. 9:1; Isa. 14:12) and against their Creator. In fact, humans will even be higher in category than angels; see Ps. 8:4-6; Heb. 2:5-18 and be like the “Son/Firstborn” within the hierarchy of the “God-kingdom“. We were created “in the image of” YHVH/Creator/Logos who incarnated to man-Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). By being human himself, he is showing the path towards how humans, from an “image“, can be in the “God-Kingdom” as “sons/daughters“; like, but unique, not the same as, YHVH/Creator God. The key attribute or element of a God-kingdom is already “within us”, that “spirit of man”, which serves as a template, a temple, a starting point, for this “new creation“(2Cor. 5:17).
Before taking up how this “template/spirit of man” becomes the “kingdom of God”, let us consider first the historical and prequel “transient abode” of YHVH.
From the beginning when YHVH/God wanted to show himself to Israel, it was through a “transient abode“. It was a tent (I Chr. 15:,16:1; 2 Sam.7:2), then tabernacle (Ex. 25:8-9) and subsequently in a temple (Deut. 12:2-27) in Jerusalem. See also, Heb. 11:9-10. But, notice Acts 17:24:(NIV)
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.”
Similarly, the nation of Israel was to stay in a temporary dwelling (Jer. 35:7). All of these to signify that our current physical body is temporary abode for the “spirit of man” and that the latter will have in the future an immortal body that will clothe or House it. Notice 2 Cor 5:1-4
“Our bodies are like tents that we live in here on earth. But when these tents are destroyed, we know that God will give each of us a place to live. These homes will not be buildings that someone has made, but they are (made) in heaven and will last forever. While we are here on earth, we sigh because we want to live in that heavenly home. We want to put it on like clothes and not be naked. These tents we now live in are like a heavy burden, and we groan. But we don’t do this just because we want to leave these bodies that will die. It is because we want to change them for bodies that will never die.”
2 Peter 1:13-14 “I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling”
Clearly, the preceding intimated that tents, tabernacles and Jerusalem temples are only temporary abodes for God. Long term, he will dwell, not in the body which is earthy but in the “spirit of man” which is heavenly. Not even in the “flesh-composed body” that he created with his own hands. The location for him to get into our body is specifically in the “spirit of man”, the anti-type of the precursor/type signified by the “holy of holies”, the most sacred of 3 divisions of the Temple (I Chron. 22:14; 29:4; 2 Chron. 3:1; 6:27; 6-7; I Kings 5,8, 7:48; Heb. 9:3; etc). This, to fulfill the promise in Jer. 31:32-34, 2 Cor 3:3, that through his Spirit, he will dwell in the “spirit of man”, the element that is not earthy, but heavenly. He will take abode in the “breath of life”, in the “spirit of man” not made even by his own hands, but directly came from him and delivered through human’s nostril.
As the preceding has noted, God’s abode was transient and He does not “live” in temples or buildings built by humans, not even in anything made “by hands“. The matter-composed body of Adam was “made by God’s hands using earthy elements”. In contrast, the “spirit of man” came from spirit-composed God and was expressed through Adam’s nostrils. But, as planned, God wanted to immerse in the “spirit of man” through “spirit-baptism”. Spirit of God interacts and binds with the spirit of man, which was not made by hands from earth but came from God and breathed into us. This appears to be “how” the creation of God-kingdom is to start…by baptism with the Holy Spirit, the bonding of God’s spirit and the spirit of man. Specificity is the hallmark of bonding in the science of Chemistry.
Baptism with the Holy Spirit, Who, When, How and Why?
As to who will baptize, was identified by the Father through John the Baptist, in John 1:25-34. None other than the Lamb of God, Jesus. Because of the “faith of Jesus” (Rom. 3:21-22; Gal. 2:16,20; Phil. 3:9) in the plan of the Father as promised to him before the foundation of the world, He became the first human immersed with the Holy Spirit after he came out of water baptism (Matt. 3:16). This spirit-power helped him overcome Satan’s temptation (Luke 4:3-13). Miracles were performed by man-Jesus since spirit-baptism because of this spirit-power in him. Prior to this and as an adult human, he did not perform any of the miracles although with perfect understanding of the Torah and Tanach. While Jesus as a human still had his own “will“, he did not follow himself but followed the “will of the Father”(Luke 22:42). Likewise, the apostles did not have spirit-power until Pentecost when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit of power (Luke 24:49;Acts 1:4-5). In fact prior to Jesus’ death, as they were “weak“(Matt.26:41; Mk. 14:38), they abandoned him. This Pentecost spirit-baptism became possible for Jesus to do because after resurrection he went to the Father to get the “Comforter” as promised to him (John 14:16,26;16:7). Subsequently, the Holy Spirit has come to humans to reside in the “spirit of man“.
Why Start in the “Spirit of Man”?
Remember that humans learn from in-utero and throughout his/her lifetime. How the person responds, what the beliefs are, mental processes, judgment, etc., come through years of learning and getting experience. What is learned is innately human understanding and thoughts. Education makes one a composite of who he/she is, good or bad. Like in the Broadway musical South Pacific the message behind the song “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” supports what comes to the mind at an early age. Similarly, Proverbs 22:6 advances early education:
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”
But even in our very ultimate best, “our righteousness are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, not human thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).Without this re-education of the spirit of man by the Holy Spirit, all that we are doing are “works of the flesh”(Gal. 5:19-21).The Father wanted humans to be “one” with him (John 17:21) as Jesus is one with him (John 10:30). And for him to do that, God’s Spirit has to be in the specific place in humans, in the “spirit of man”, where learned memories are stored and to be re-educated. As the human “spirit is willing and the flesh is weak“(Matt.26:41; Mk. 14:38), God’s Spirit has to dwell in and empower/quicken it, for the “will” to turn into action. Human spirit can then choose to follow his own will or God’s direction and wisdom. Jesus showed us what decision to make, “not my will but yours” (Luke 22:44), not human-will but God’s. We have to follow his way to develop his wisdom, not ours. And all of these occur through the Holy Spirit in us. Also, the Holy Spirit fulfills its other functions, viz., as a seal of ownership or identity (2 Cor. 1:22;Rom. 8:9,14;Eph. 1:13-14), leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4;Jn. 16:8), to truth (John. 16:13), bear fruits(Gal.5:22-23), resurrection(Rom.8:11), etc. These are works of the Holy Spirit, with us following its will, not ours, in much the same way man-Jesus followed.
The man-Jesus, with the “spirit of man” baptized with the Holy Spirit coming out of river Jordan and followed the “will of the Father“(Luke 22:42), was then declared or became the Son of God through resurrection (Rom. 1:4) by being the “firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:15,18) of many brethren. Yes, “born again” means “born from the dead“, Jesus, being the the”first of the firstborn” or “first of the firstfruits“(Eze.44:30; I Cor. 15:20-23; James 1:18), the “wave-sheaf offering” (Lev. 23:10-14). This is the same path for us, the “image“, to become ” like him“. After becoming “one” with the Father and the Son, through following the Holy Spirit and developing wisdom through this mechanism, eventually we will have an immortal body like them as in:
2 Corinthians 5:1
″For we know that if the earthly tent (mortal-body) which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house (immortal-body)not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
1 Corinthians 15:23
“But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”
Salvation is a process for humans to be in the God-kingdom, a position much higher than plant or animal kingdom or angelic species, starting with man-Jesus (Ps.8:4;Heb.2:6), the captain, trailblazer, author and beginner. And no one can achieve this goal until “born of water (by natural birth) and of Spirit” by resurrection(John 3:3-7), i.e., to be born as human first as a “begotten son of God”, then born as “son of God”. Much like being born as a human being, it takes time for growth/development and maturity in the uterus of a woman as it is in becoming a “begotten son of God” through nurturing in the church(Woman) with guidance of the Holy Spirit. And becoming “son of God” equates with being spirit-bodied and saved from eternal, irreversible, or “second death” which was a consequence of Adam’s sin. “Thou shall surely die” in Gen. 2:17, gives a hint to this particular death and as in Romans 5:12-21, Adam’s sin and punishment were accounted to all. As bad as our own sins are, the key determinant was the sin of one person Adam, not our personal sin, so that also through one man, Jesus, all mankind’s sins can be covered by death with his blood as a Passover Lamb. Being flesh-bodied and not because of sin, humans will die the “first death” as “it is appointed for man to die and after this the judgment” (Heb.9:27). Our flesh-composed body is matter and earthy and can therefore deteriorate, unlike the “spirit of man or breath of life” that came from God, and is heavenly. At death, our dead body will be in “hades“(grave) to rot and only the “spirit of man, the “ruach“, not earthy but heavenly, will go back to the Father (Eccl. 12:7). Proof that man’s “first death” is not because of sin, is the death of sinless man-Jesus, “tempted but who knew not sin”(Heb.4:15). The death of YHVH/CREATOR became possible by incarnating into man-Jesus. Being flesh-composed, Jesus/YHVH died the “first death” and not because of his own sin. But this death, as promised by the Father, was to pay for the “second and eternal death” of mankind due to Adam’s sin. Jesus’ death was propitiation for sin that reconciled mankind to the Father. Also as promised by the Father, Jesus, having died, was resurrected for the purpose of proof of resurrection for eternal life and receiving the promised Holy Spirit to then be given to humans at time appointed.
The statement in Luke 17:21 that “the kingdom of God is within” us, refers to the ethereal “spirit of man” within our terrestrial physical body. This is the template or temple, not made by hands, where the promised/planned God-abode through the Holy Spirit, will dwell in for our sanctification. As the human “spirit is willing and the flesh is weak”(Matt.26:41; Mk. 14:38), God’s Spirit has to dwell in and empower/quicken it. This power has to be given to become “sons/daughters of God (John 1:12). The spirit of man has to be re-educated on the ways of God. By being obedient to His guidance and by having faith and trust in God, we will then fulfill what is required for salvation, i.e., following the Law, not by our own power or personal goodness, but with the power that comes with the Holy Spirit given to us by faith of Jesus and therefore by grace. Our personal human-flesh goodness, like that of Job, is as “filthy rags” (Isa.64:6)..This fulfills the promise that the Holy Spirit will be the mechanism to “put the Law in their minds and write it in the tables of our fleshly heart” and no longer on “tables of stones” as were given at the time of Moses suggesting that the time was not yet (Jer.31:33; 2 Cor. 3:3).This was affirmed by Jesus and the apostles (Rev. 12:7; Matt. 7:21-23; 19:16-24; 22:36-40; Heb. 10:26-31; Gal. 5:19-21). And that, to bear “fruits” of Holy Spirit(Gal. 5:22-23), have experiential knowledge of God (John 17:3) and be “one” with the Father and Son. Without ” bearing fruits” we will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt. 7:19).
At resurrection with an immortal body that will replace this “earthly tent” and thereby becoming sons/daughters of God, we will then be members of the God-kingdom (not human kingdom) as the Father has planned from the “foundation of the worlds“. This is the mechanism of salvation and for building the “God-kingdom”, with Jesus as the builder or carpenter, the “pioneer and perfecter” (Heb. 12:2) and his faith in the Father as the foundation. All these “good news” are a gift by grace and an expression of love of the Father, not because of our own works but by the works of the Holy Spirit of power in us, so “no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9; I Cor. 1:29). The Holy Spirit is the power-tool given by the grace of God through the faith of Jesus. As exemplified by Jesus, we should also have faith, i.e., from “faith to faith” (Rom. 1:17).