THE PROCESS OF THE KINGDOM
In Mark 4:26-29 the Lord Jesus said the kingdom is like a man who sows seed into the earth. The seed grows, the blade appears, the ear appears, and finally it is harvested. The kingdom is a seed that is sown into the earth and that grows until it reaches maturity, at which time it is harvested. The seed is the Lord Jesus as the shining One. We all are the soil into which the Lord Jesus as the seed has been sown. The seed grows and eventually will produce the harvest, the full manifestation of the kingdom. Thus, the kingdom is the Lord Jesus as the seed of life who has been sown into us and who grows in us until He reaches maturity at the time of harvest. When the crop is ripe, there will be the harvest, the full manifestation of the kingdom. The growth of the seed within us is the process of the kingdom. On the one hand we are in the kingdom, but on the other hand we are in the process of the kingdom. For example, in a wheat field seeds are sown into the soil. The seed then grows until the tender young sprouts appear. The growth continues until the sprouts bring forth ears, fruit, and eventually are fully ripened. Then there is the harvest of the field. This is a picture of the process and manifestation of the kingdom. Now we are in the process of the kingdom. Today we have the seed of the kingdom growing within us. This growth of the kingdom will bring us to the harvest, and that harvest will be the full manifestation of the kingdom.
THE KINGDOM BEING THE GOSPEL
Let us compare Luke 18:29 and Mark 10:29. Luke 18:29 says that we leave certain things for the sake of the kingdom. Mark 10:29 says that we leave the same things for the sake of the gospel. This proves that the kingdom is the gospel. The kingdom and the gospel are synonymous terms and are used interchangeably. We must declare that the kingdom is the gospel. If we do not realize that the gospel is the kingdom, we are deficient in our understanding of the gospel. The gospel is not only a matter of the forgiveness of sins, redemption, justification, sanctification, or salvation. The gospel is also a matter of the kingdom. What is the kingdom? The kingdom is the Lord Jesus as the seed of life who has come into us. When this seed of life came into us, we were regenerated. By regeneration, we were born into the kingdom (John 3:3, 5). Regeneration was our transfer. By regeneration, we were transferred out of the authority of darkness into the kingdom of God. Hallelujah! This is the genuine gospel!
The entrance into the kingdom is not an outward entrance, but is by an inward rebirth. "Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). In other words, when the Lord Jesus comes into us, He brings the kingdom into us. This is why He said the kingdom is within you (Luke 17:21). This is the Lord Jesus, the seed of life, sown into us and growing in us all the time. We are in the process of the kingdom.
We come now to 2 Peter 1:3, 4, and 11, which tell us that God’s divine power has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness. By these we become partakers of the divine nature. Since we share the divine nature and all things that pertain to life and godliness, we can have a rich entrance into the kingdom. When the Lord Jesus comes into us, He brings with Him all things pertaining to life and godliness, including the very nature of God. By this, we can have a rich entrance into the kingdom. This is the process of the kingdom. Thus, the kingdom is not merely a dispensation.
How do we enter into the kingdom? It is not by learning or by studying or by keeping any outward regulations. It is by regeneration. We enter the kingdom by the Lord Jesus coming into us and giving us all things pertaining to life and godliness. All things pertaining to life and godliness are now inside of us. Do not despise the little seed. That little seed is all-inclusive: the roots, the stalk, the branches, the leaves, the blossom, the fruit—all these things come out of that little seed. All things pertaining to life and godliness have been given to us; so we are partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). By this, we can have a rich entrance into the kingdom—not just an entrance, but a rich entrance.
In Mark 10:17-23, a rich young man came to the Lord Jesus, asking how he could inherit eternal life. He thought that he could inherit eternal life by keeping the law. After he left disappointed, the Lord Jesus said that it is difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, thus indicating that to enter into the kingdom of God is simply to possess eternal life. They are synonymous terms; they both refer to the same thing.
Thus, the kingdom is the spiritual realization of the Lord Jesus. Whenever He is shining upon us and spreading within us, we are in the kingdom. As the seed of the kingdom, the Lord Jesus has been sown into us. Now we are in the growth process of the kingdom. When the Lord becomes full-grown in us, that will be the time of the manifestation of the kingdom.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)