I’m posting this excerpt of a portion of a presentation I did a few years ago as part of our doctrinal distinctives series. I was rereading it tonight in light of another discussion and thought that it was a timely reminder worth sharing. I trust you are courageous enough to contemplate it, in its fullness.
There are two competing kingdoms in this universe. There is the Kingdom of the World, dominated by Satan, the god of this world, and there is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of the World is visible. It seems so real and substantial. The Kingdom of God is invisible. To many it seems unreal and insubstantial. Each one has its own values, goals, loves, interests, and priorities. You are either a part of The Kingdom of the World, or a part of the Kingdom of God. Whichever one you are part of will determine your destiny.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: You are the most important being that exists. The universe exists to serve you. You are more important than anyone or anything else. Put yourself first. If there is a god or gods, he or they exist to serve you and make you happy. So, make sure to put yourself, your interests and your will, first. You are in charge. Do things your way.
The Kingdom of God says Jesus has come down from Heaven, and testified to its reality. Then He ascended back to Heaven. If you have been raised up with Jesus, keep seeking the things above, where Jesus is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on Earth. Don’t give in to sensuality. There are many legitimate pleasures, but don’t be a seeker of pleasure. Don’t make pleasure your priority. Consider the parts of your earthly body to be dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. Don’t put any of these things before God. Live modestly, love soberly. Live for God, and to accomplish His purposes. Make sure you are doing the things He wants you to do, like being part of his Holy Community, helping to build it up and strengthen it, reaching out to the lost with the Good News of salvation provided by Christ. Seek to fulfill what God has for you. Set your mind on things above.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: If you have desires, grab as much as you can, and get it now.
The Kingdom of God says: Learn how to postpone your desire for immediate gratification. Become mature men and women. One of the results of God’s Spirit living in you is self-control, so practice self-control. Learn patience.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: Make as much money as you can. Get rich, since wealth equals a good and happy and successful life.
The Kingdom of God says: Learn how to be content with what you have. If you have your basic necessities met, you are doing well. Be grateful. In fact, do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal, and stock markets plunge, and currencies are devalued, and housing markets deflate. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where the true wealth is, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. You can’t serve God and money, and it makes so much more sense to serve God, and not money, for we bring no material possessions into this world, and we can leave with none. Why strive for a life that is based on the acquisition of more and more material possessions? However, there are some things that we can take with us, and therefore those are the things worth pursuing. Salvation; your good name; your good works which will be rewarded by God; your sacrifices for others that will be rewarded by the Creator, your service for Him; your love and knowledge of God. So, if that is what you can take with you, it only makes sense that that is what you direct your time, your energies, your mind, your thoughts, your efforts, your education, and your resources towards.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: Life is uncertain, so you must be very concerned about having enough things.
The Kingdom of God says: Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles who don’t know the Lord eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Instead, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” God loves you and knows your needs. He has made it possible for your needs to be met by your ability to work, or by the generosity of others. Trust God to provide for your needs. Focus your attention, your thoughts, your time, your energies into serving God, extending His Kingdom, reaching the lost with the Good News about salvation, building yourself up in your most holy Faith, finding your part in His Community, building up His Community. Don’t be concerned about having enough things. God will provide.
The Kingdom of the World tells us:< Play it safe. Don't stand out. Don't make waves. Don't rock the boat. Don't go against the crowd. Go with the majority. The majority is always right. Go with the majority. It's important to be accepted. Make sure that you receive the approval of men. It's OK to be religious, but keep your religion to yourself. Don't offend anyone by telling them that they need to believe in Christ as the Redeemer for sinful men, and live a godly life. Keep quiet so you can live a safe and comfortable life.
The Kingdom of God says:The world is utterly lost, and its people dead in trespasses and sins, under the domination of a Satanic Tyrant. The majority is wrong about ultimate truth. Don't go along with the majority. They need to hear the message of salvation. How can they hear unless you go and tell them the message of salvation? God is not going to come down from Heaven, and preach the Good News. We are His ambassadors. We are His representatives. We are a royal priesthood. We must tell them the Good News of salvation through the Messiah! We must work with God, and fulfill the Great Commission. Don't fear those who can kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell! Get yourself up on a high mountain, in a place of visibility and prominence, and declare the Good News! When it comes to genuine religion, "enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." It doesn't matter what the world thinks of you. What is important is that you gain God's approval.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: A little religion may be OK, but don't take it too seriously. Give a little acknowledgment to religion – on holidays and perhaps a few other occasions during the year, but certainly not 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you do that you will be a religious fanatic! What a waste your life will be if you overdo religion.
The Kingdom of God says: Meditate in the Word of God day and night. Be filled with the Spirit continually. Pray without ceasing. Share the Good News day by day – in season and out of season, whether you feel like it or not. Become intimately connected to Messiah's Holy Community. Be an active member of your local church, whose Head is the Son of God.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: Love yourself first, and of course your family. Spare a little love for your nation too. You don't need to love those who are outside of your family and people. Hate your enemy. Do unto others before they do unto you.
The Kingdom of God says: Love God first, even more than your life in this world. Messiah said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and heads toward suffering and death, and follow Me. The one who does not take his cross and follow after Me, is not worthy of Me. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life, and gives up his own interests, plans, priorities and desires, for My sake, will find life – everlasting life. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? The one who loves father or mother, son or daughter, more than Me, is not worthy of Me."
The Kingdom of the World tells us: You are happy if you are self-assured, confident in your abilities, in control of your circumstances. You can do it!
The Kingdom of God says: Blessed are the poor in spirit. You will be happy when you understand that you are not that impressive to an infinitely holy, perfectly righteous, all-good God. Apart from what we do with God, for God, connected to God, all that we do will be vain, useless, meaningless, empty, without eternal significance. Apart from Him we can accomplish nothing significant, nothing lasting, nothing rewarding.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: It's very important that you be happy, so always do those things that will enhance your own personal happiness. Avoid sad situations, people with problems, visiting people in the hospitals, and funerals. Try to have as much fun as you possibly can.
The Kingdom of God says: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. There is so much wrong with this world. It's proper, it's right, it's appropriate, it's good to be sad about the lostness of human beings, so many going to Hell, missing God, missing out on true life, so many ignoring God and His ways, and not living for His glory, and not honoring Him. Life in this fallen sinful, temporary world is not about having fun and being happy all the time. It's better to go to a funeral than to a party, since it reminds you of the temporariness of life, and that life is serious. There is so much important work for us to do, and time is so limited. Use your time wisely, redemptively. The focus of our life is about redemption. It's about salvation. It's about sacrifice. It's doesn't center around having fun.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: Be tough. Be aggressive. Make sure that you are first. Then you will be successful.
The Kingdom of God says: Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the Earth. Be kind to people, especially to those in need, to the hurting, to the disadvantaged. Put other's interests ahead of your own. You don't always need to win, come in first, make the most money, have the best position, the most fame.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: Seek power, fame, influence, money, recognition. That's the way to a happy and meaningful life.
The Kingdom of God says: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Get in a right relationship to God, and do the right things. That will bring you true happiness.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: It's OK if you cut moral and ethical corners, as long as you are not caught, and no one sees. Everyone lies, everyone cheats a little. It's no big deal.
The Kingdom of God says: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. The invisible and all-knowing God sees your innermost being, and your motives, and your inner purity or lack of purity. So be pure in your heart. Be true in your innermost being. Have good and godly motives, serving God in your heart of hearts. Don't be a liar, because all liars will end in the Lake of Fire.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: If someone slaps you on the check, punch him in the face. Never apologize. The world is a jungle. Only the fittest will survive. Don't be afraid to use force. The army with the best weapons usually wins. Destroy your enemy.
The Kingdom of God says: Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the peacemakers. Don't be quick to retaliate, to punish others for the sins against you. Be quick to forgive. Have God's perspective, that human beings who may have hurt you are still made in the image of God, and precious, and try to redeem those messed up human being – not harm them.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: There are no absolutes, no rights and wrongs. It's the journey that is important, not arriving at any destination. Truth is relative. There is not only one way. There is no divinely inspired Book. The Bible is not true. Be tolerant of all opinions, all religions, all philosophies, all ideas. They are all equally valid, equally good, equally true – except for Christianity of course! You are a bad person if you say that I am wrong. If you insist that I am wrong, then I don't have to practice tolerance, and I can persecute you!
The Kingdom of God says: There are absolutes. There are things that are wrong, and things that are right, and the Creator has the right to tell us, "Thou shalt not!" The Lord is the God of truth. God's Word is truth. There is only one way to God and eternal life. The Holy Scriptures are divinely inspired. God's Spirit moved and breathed on Holy Men, who wrote down exactly what He want communicated.
The Kingdom of the World tells us: Don't believe the miracles of the Bible, that there is an infinitely wise and powerful Creator who made the laws of nature, but who can suspend them for a special circumstance. Instead, seek the miraculous through the occult and New Age spirituality.
The Kingdom of God says: The Creator made the universe, the Earth, and everything in it, the moon, the sun, the billions of galaxies and multiplies trillions of stars. Is anything too difficult for Him? What is the parting of the Red Sea to Him? The Messiah's Virgin Birth? His resurrection, and His Second Coming in power and glory? All the miracles described in the Bible are simple to the Creator. Don't get involved in false and demonic miracles, false prophets, or the occult. That's wrong, dangerous, an abomination to God, and a dead end.
Conclusion: My friends, the Kingdom of the World has its own priorities, its own interests, its own values, and its own philosophy. It seems so real, so enduring but it will not last. It is temporary. It is doomed. It will be totally destroyed. The Kingdom of the World will become the Kingdom of Our God. And He will reign forever and ever! All those who remain part of the Kingdom of the World, by merely doing nothing, by refusing to transfer their allegiance, their citizenship, to the Kingdom of God, by refusing to turn away from the world's corrupt values, and remaining under the power of the god of this world, will share the destiny of The Kingdom of the World. And that's tragic, and very sad, and that's what the majority are going to do.
Our challenge is to be in the world, but not of the world – sharing its corrupt values, priorities and interests. Our challenge is to enter the Kingdom of God, which may be invisible to us right now, and may not seem quite real, but it is real. It is eternal. It is good. It is blessed. All those who are in the world, but not of the world, who have drawn near to God, and who share God's values, God's priorities, God's interests, will be delivered from the destruction of The Kingdom of the World, and participate in the Kingdom of God and the World-to-Come. They will live forever and ever, receiving the true reaches, experiencing genuine success and everlasting happiness.