9- A Tale of Two Kingdoms
By Colleen Donahue
1. It was a great practical help to me when I realized I was a citizen in two kingdoms. For all who follow Jesus, we are a citizen in the kingdom of God. But, we are also a citizen in some kingdom of this world ---- a citizen in whatever country we live in. For the most part, we can live simultaneously in both Kingdoms without conflict. But if you haven't faced something already, you may find a time when Kingdom of God values clash with kingdom of the world values and then you'll have a choice to make as the early apostles did.
2. Jesus clearly taught that two kingdoms exist simultaneously and that we have an obligation to both of them.
Matthew 22:18-22 or Mark 12:13-17
Why can we easily overlook the fact that there are two kingdoms?
The Kingdom of God is God's rule in man's heart and as such is invisible to the eyes but a very real entity in the spirit world.
3. Who are the leaders of these two kingdoms? And who is the most powerful?
The Bible often speaks of "the world" or "the world system" that is opposed to the Kingdom of God. This is the power that is ultimately behind all man-made governments. Who is the world system controlled by?
1 John 5:19
4. Does this mean that man's government is evil? This might be our logical conclusion but the Apostle Paul sets us straight on that point.
In fact, Paul clearly tells us how we are to regard those in government.
5. The two kingdoms have very different priorities. What is ultimately Satan's Kingdom priorities?
Most often he does this through good or legitimate means. Consider these examples:
A. Satan might want to kill any dreams we have to start a small business because there is so much red tape and government regulation.
B. He can steal the opportunities that we might have through a college education by such high tuition that we can't afford to go.
C. He can destroy all hope of saving for a house because of high taxation that leaves us little left for saving. These are only a few examples of the way Satan steals, kills and destroys while using legitimate man-made systems.
6. After Jesus left the earth, the Apostle Peter saw the reality of two kingdoms in a most practical way. What was he seeing come into the fledgling church?
2 Peter 2:1-3
What was the main goal of these false teachers?
2 Peter 2:12 - 19 (especially verse 14,18,19)
Satan was using them to snatch new believers back into his own kingdom. Through deception (verse 13) he wanted to steal the faith these new believers had, kill their allegiance to Jesus and destroy them by plunging them back into a life of sin. If a believer fell for the deception of a false teacher, Peter paints a vivid picture of their life.
2 Peter 2:20-22 (especially verse 22)
7. Jesus has a very different plan for us than Satan's plan.
In contrast to Satan's priorities, Jesus wants everyone of us to fulfill the purpose that we were created for. And we do this by focusing on two things:
The "world system" wants us to focus on ourselves -- what we should be and do as we grow up -- how we should get the money to do what we want to do -- and how we should pursue happiness. But this is opposite thinking to the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 6:31-34 / Luke 12:29-32
God made us for himself -- to fulfill HIS purposes. When we fulfill the purpose that God made us for, then we ultimately fulfill our own. We find all the pleasure and happiness that we could want because we are living the plan that our Creator knew would make us the most fulfilled and happy.
8. The dialog in Luke adds an important line that Jesus said to his young disciple and to us. Jesus doesn't want us to be afraid to put God and others first. He knew that what he was telling these disciples was opposite to what everyone else was doing. Everyone else was planning their careers, their homes and their families. But he wants us to put God first and then others. Not only would God give us everything that we needed but what else would be true?
You see Jesus came to bring back to man the kingdom that we forfeited through sin. When we let God rule our hearts again then we regain what we lost -- our rulership in the part of the world where God has put us. Most of us have no idea what power and authority is ours in the Kingdom of God and that's why we must keep studying to find out. For citizenship in the Kingdom of God is far superior than anything man can offer.
9. We see more about the priority the Kingdom of God is to be when Jesus taught his disciples about prayer. What three things are we to focus on in prayer first?
Only after we have focused on God's interests first do we start asking about our concerns in the kingdom of this world. If we are honest, most of us start with our own interests and needs and never get to God's. But if we get our priorities straight, then this promise is sure to be ours.
Jesus made it clear that the Kingdom of God was not religion. Religion is man's attempts through doctrine and ritual to fill the vacuum created when God's Spirit left our spirit. Even if we are atheists, every person pursues a path of religion sensing there is something missing in life beyond our own realm. Religion can actually be the enemy of the Kingdom of God.
10. A clear example of this was the Pharisees. They had dedicated their lives to living according to God's law. They created thousands of rules and regulations they thought would please God. But Jesus went head to head with the Pharisees in one clash after another. Here is one of them.
These so called pious men were actually cancelling the Word of God by their own man-made traditions. Jesus exposed them for what they were.
They had actually become enemies of the Kingdom of God.
11. Just because a person talks and acts religious doesn't mean that they are right with God. As we have just read, it's possible to honor God with our lips while having hearts that are far from God. In the Kingdom of God it's the heart that matters because everything we think, say and do flows from the heart.
12. A religious person with a "dirty" heart can be most dangerous, especially if they are in leadership. For it's easy in religion to justify injustice towards men with the pretense that God wants something else. For this reason Jesus warns us to beware. Who and what are we to beware of?
If you are seeing religious leaders using or abusing "the sheep" then you know that something is wrong and you might want to head in the opposite direction.
13. The Kingdom of God in Heaven and the Kingdom of God here on earth exist side by side. What we do on earth is important because there is a parallel action in Heaven. Scripture gives us many examples. As you look up these verses list in the chart below what happens in Heaven as a result of what is believed, said or done on earth.
Action on Earth
Results in Heaven
Notice the many verses that tie up our acceptance of Jesus here on earth with acceptance by God the Father.
14. Jesus made it plain to his disciples and to us that there was only one way that any of us could ever know the one true God.
John 14:6 / John 17:3
15. Jesus knew that there would be parallel consequences for his disciples similar to what he faced on earth and he was concerned for them and all who would serve him down the centuries -- including you and me. Read slowly this beautiful prayer that the disciples heard Jesus pray. Notice the requests that he makes for our safety while we live here on earth.
John 17:9-26 (especially 11,12,& 15)
16. Jesus was about to sacrifice his life as the good shepherd:
But he knew that his Father would continue our care even after he had gone.
That brought Jesus great comfort and it should bring us comfort as well.