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Allen Jackson - Tale of Two Kingdoms


Allen Jackson - Tale of Two Kingdoms
TOPICS: Tale of Two, Kingdom of God

It's good to be with you again. Our topic is, A Tale Of Two Kingdoms. There is a lot going on in our world these days. We've got wars on the international front. We've got turmoil in our nation, just a lot of stuff happening. And one way of interpreting all that's transpiring is understanding there's a conflict between two kingdoms, not between nation states that you can find on a map, but between two spiritual kingdoms, the kingdom of our Lord and a kingdom of darkness. They're as real as the United States of America is real. And there are authorities and lines of authority that govern them just as certainly as the Constitution is intended to govern our nation. The more we understand that, the better we'll be able to navigate what's happening in our world. We can't separate our spiritual lives from the physical world we live in. Please don't imagine that sitting in church for a few minutes on the weekend is your spiritual life. We are spiritual beings 24/7 and understanding these two conflicts help you understand what's happening in the news every day. Grab your Bible and a notepad. But most of all, open your heart.

The kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness, they both exist. They're real, they affect your life. You don't have to believe in them for it to impact your life. Christians live with this kind of, or people live with this kind of mistaken notion that if you say you don't believe in something, that it won't affect you. To evaluate the success of that thinking, just imagine you took that approach to COVID, not believing in it wouldn't protect you from the virus. And not believing in God or not believing in the devil or not believing in the kingdom of God or not believing in the kingdom of darkness really isn't adequate protection. But they're two very different kingdoms. They have two very different agendas. They occupy two very different places in the unfolding story of Adam and his descendants and how you respond to them will determine a great deal about your journey through time. And it will determine everything about your journey in eternity.

So, it's a topic that you want to be well versed in. You don't want to accept my word for it. I'm gonna give you some passages, but each of these passages is really a doorway into a much broader study. So, I would encourage you to take some time if you haven't considered it. Just some general observations before we get to your outline, the two kingdoms are distinct in that one is temporary and one is eternal. The kingdom of darkness will not exist forever. Now, it's a powerful set of influences in your life right now, and it will have bearing on your eternity. But it will come to a conclusion because of the victory that we celebrate in Jesus's redemptive work, the Easter story. He gained the authority to have the name above every name so that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven on earth and under the earth.

So, the difference between temporary and eternal is significant. It would be more prudent to make your investment in something that has no end. I'm just thinking. The two kingdoms have a different focus, different objectives, different agendas, and they're pretty evident. You know, Jesus said you can determine the faith of somebody's life by the fruit of their life far more than their words or their location. And your life gives evidence by the fruit of your behaviors and your choices to the kingdom authority that you're under. You should also know that the two kingdoms are in conflict and that conflict is played out. You don't have to choose that. You don't have to sign up. You can't declare yourself as a conscientious objector. If you're a US citizen today, there are places in the world where you're considered to be an adversary, not because of a choice you made, simply because of the citizenship you have in this nation. And when you become a citizen of the kingdom of God, you inherit an adversary.

Say, "I don't like," duly noted, but it doesn't change the reality. "Well, I think I'll ignore it". You'll do that at your own peril. So, it's important to understand something of the nature of that conflict. And then fourth and maybe, perhaps the most significant of the characteristics is your choices are the determining factor on which kingdom you'll be a participant in. God would welcome you into his kingdom, that's amazing. Did you ever get left off of something you wanted to be included in? Weren't selected for a team? You didn't get an invitation to a party? You didn't get to go to the school you wanted? Someplace where you didn't receive the invitation you wanted? Well, the Creator of heaven and earth has invited you into his kingdom.

Now, that's amazing. It's free in that you don't purchase it, you don't earn it, it's not merit based, you can't qualify for it, It has nothing to do with the circumstances of your birth or your genetics or your height or your race or your sex. It has to do with the choice that you make. Now, while it comes at no cost, it's not cheap. In order to participate in the kingdom, you'll have to acknowledge your need for a King, and you'll have to choose him as Lord of your life. If you don't want Jesus to be Lord of your life, you won't enjoy his kingdom. So, we're gonna see if we can unpack those simple ideas in a little more detail. And I'll start with the one that, perhaps, that receives the least discussion and that's the two kingdoms are in conflict. Don't need to be afraid of that. I don't think most of you woke up this morning frightened because there are nations in the world that are opposed to what you represent. It's just the reality of existence.

In Colossians chapter 1 and verse 13 it says, "He's rescued us from the dominion of darkness," speaking of God, "He's rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins". God launched a rescue mission with Jesus. That's the Jesus story, to rescue all humanity for time and eternity from the kingdom of darkness that no person would have to stay under the authority of kingdom of darkness, unless they chose to do so. Now, that's good news. Evil may have touched your life in some horrific ways maybe because of a family system, maybe because of life circumstances. Lots of things contribute to that, but those external things do not have the power to keep you as a participant in the kingdom of darkness. God himself has rescued us.

In Ephesians 2 and verse 1 it says, "You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient". The scripture refers to Satan as the ruler of the kingdom of the air. Satan is a ruler of a kingdom. I know it's not fashionable to believe in the devil, I get that. It's probably not a conversation you want to have around the coffeepot at work. I get that completely. We're a little reluctant, a little reticent. The level of unbelief is so high that the Christians are increasingly being driven undercover because you don't want the ridicule or the forfeiture of opportunity that comes with identifying as a Christ follower. We're gonna have to overcome that.

Ephesians chapter 3, same book, so the language and the vocabulary is the same. "His intent, God's intent was that now through the church," not through a congregation or a denomination. The New Testament, when it talks about church, it's referring to every person that's acknowledged Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and Christ, the first global initiative. "God's intent was that, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms". God's gonna demonstrate to the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places his wisdom through his church. In 1 Corinthians chapter 1 it says God chose the weak and the broken and the things that weren't noble to demonstrate his power through so that the whole world will look and go, "That has to be God".

That's how we get recruited, not because of our great IQ or our great intellect or God needed our resources or the degrees we've earned, but through our weakness and frailty. The people that really know us will go, "Now, that has to be God. I went to school with him. Only God can bring that outcome out of that. Nobody thought that was gonna happen". The likelihood of God turning our lives into something that becomes a display of his glory is about as probable as you having a tournament bracket this morning that's perfect. If you have one, you filled your first one out with pencil. It's most improbable and because of that, God gets the glory and the honor. Colossians 2 says, "Having disarmed powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross".

This spiritual conflict has an enormous impact upon our lives, doesn't mean that every discouraging thing that happens to you or every thing that happens to you that isn't good, the devil is the immediate cause of. But it means that that spiritual conflict is being played out in the world. You don't have to have a great deal of discernment to see it. Now, the good news is, I've already said, is you have a choice. You can choose the kingdom of God. That's my invitation to you, not to play church, not to sit in church, not to pretend to be a Christian, but to do everything in your power to align yourself with the authority of the kingdom of God.

Now, that may begin with a new birth, but just as a physical birth gives you the genetic tools you need to grow up to be an adult, you have to grow up. It's a diminished life if there's never any development or growth beyond that state of being an infant. And if you are birthed into the kingdom of God and there's no maturing beyond that stage of infancy, much is forfeited. So, the choice to grow up is ours. It takes a steady diet of the Word of God. We have to learn about God's character and nature. Sermons is not enough. They're, at the very best, little sample sets hopefully opening doors to help you to give you a desire to spend some time in the Word of God. You'll have to get to know the character of God. And don't wait until you're desperate. It's too difficult to learn to recognize the voice of God when you're in a desperate place. Sometimes God, in his mercy, will intervene in those desperate places, but it's not a pathway that you want to learn to depend upon.

Luke chapter 4 and verse 43, Jesus is speaking, he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, that's why I was sent". Jesus said, "I came to deliver the good news about the kingdom of God". There's a kingdom beyond Rome. There's a kingdom beyond the powers that you can see influencing your life. That's important to know today. We live in a confusing time. The leadership of our nation is intensely concerned about the borders of Ukraine and have little concern about the borders of our own nation. That's a confusing proposition to try to process. If we thought our future was determined by the leadership of our nation... I'm not talking about politicians or political parties. I'm talking about people void of a God perspective.

It would be frightening to trust your future to that. But there is a kingdom with a greater authority than any authority that a nation state holds. And you want to do everything in your power to align yourself as completely as possible with the kingdom of Almighty God and sitting in church is really not adequate demonstration of that. That sounds strange to somebody who spends his life inviting people towards church, but the reality of our faith is demonstrated far more beyond the walls of this building than they are ever when we're on this campus. Luke chapter 9, and verse 2, Jesus sending out his disciples. "He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick".

You see, the kingdom of God is a demonstration of power. It's not primarily a theological discussion or an intellectual argument. It's a demonstration of the power of God. Jesus came to show us the nature of God. He spoke to storms, he opened blind eyes, he raised the dead. He delivered people who were tormented by unclean spirits. He showed us that there was an authority greater than the authority of the prevailing Jewish culture or the Roman authority that was overlaid on top of that. It was a demonstration. And after Jesus left in Acts chapter 1, he empowered his friends. He said, "Now you go and you tell this same story and demonstrate this same power". He said, "You'll do greater things than you've seen me do".

So, the message that we have to take is not a message of condemnation or a message of criticism or a message of you just need to be different, you're thinking the wrong thoughts. It's a message that there's a kingdom that has the power to bring a freedom to your life. It won't eliminate you from the realm of human suffering. Jesus suffered, his disciples suffered, the heroes in our Bible suffered. Jesus said in John 16, "In this world, you'll have trouble. But be of good cheer, I've overcome the world".

So, to participate, to align yourself with the kingdom of God will not remove you from the realm of human suffering. Don't believe that. That's the wrong objective. The objective is to understand there's an authority within us, a power available to us, to help us lead the life of an overcomer, that we'll not be overcome by evil, but we will overcome evil with good, that's our goal. And there are moments in your journey where you'll find yourself and you'll feel and you'll be at a deficit position to evil. The diagnosis won't be good. The circumstances will not be good. And you all can fill in the blanks on that. We've lived this out. It doesn't mean your faith is absent or God has abandoned us, but we have a message that no one has to live under the authority of darkness filled with despair and hopelessness.

The world is unraveling, the system's falling apart. How do you live in a world that's falling apart? I spent a good bit of time, in the last couple of years talking to you about possibilities and encouraging you to choose God with your whole heart, warning you of what was possible. And to be completely honest, inside of me, it feels like the message has shifted a bit. It's no longer appropriate or sufficient just to talk about the possibilities of what could happen if God's people chose not to respond. I don't know what the Mendoza Line is on how many of us are needed to respond to change God's engagement on our behalf. I don't presume to know that. But I feel like it's urgent these days that we prepare for the changing reality of the world we live in because our world has changed. The world that existed a couple years ago is no longer present.

I don't know all that the future holds but, folks, if you think you can hold your breath till we get back to there, you're gonna get blue. The world has changed, and I don't mean that in a frightening way. I think there's some unprecedented opportunities in front of us. I think we have an opportunity to see the moving of the Spirit of God that will exceed anything that we've ever witnessed in our lifetimes, but I'm also equally confident that we're going to see expressions of evil that will be unlike anything we've seen in our lifetimes. We're watching it now, but we don't talk about it, and the people that control the messaging don't want you to say anything. And if you object to it, you're likely to get de-platformed. You want God to be pleased with you, not the people that control the platforms.

There's some very simple things the Bible tells us will increase as we move forward towards the culmination of this age. And again, I don't know the exact timing, but these things will increase. The Bible makes that clear. Lawlessness will increase. You don't need a PhD in social sciences to understand that lawlessness is increasing in our nation, violence. It's not just in our big cities, violence in general. We have knuckleheaded ideas like defund the police. Oh, that'll make us more secure. Well, there's bad police officers, no doubt there are. It's a large group of people, they're not all perfect. Imagine if we defunded restaurants because somebody served a bad meal. Have the good sense to find the good ones. Lawlessness is our unwillingness to enforce our borders. We will lose our sovereignty as a nation unless we change that, and this is not a political thing.

There isn't anybody in the political power that's doing anything to change it. This is in our hearts. It's changed. It has already changed the quality of our lives, the quality of education the children who will receive, the quality of healthcare that will be available to us. Tens of thousands of Americans are dying on a regular basis because the things that are being trafficked over an open border. Lawlessness, now we've been watching it increase for a long time. We had sanctuary cities. We had cities that would reject federal law and demand federal funding and nobody said, "That doesn't make sense". We championed them. We've been championing lawlessness for a long time until now, it's at a crescendo, it will wash us away. It'll cause us to cry for an authoritarian response. Somebody restore order so we will continue to give up our civil liberties and freedoms because we don't like the lawlessness.

Jesus said false prophets will increase. Don't think of that in terms of just religious speech. Prophets are intended to be truth tellers. They're from theological, from a faith perspective, they're to give us God's truth. But prophets, people expected to speak truth to us will speak deceptively. That seems like an epidemic these days, both within the church and without. Apostasy within the church is being given expression these days at a level that is just unthinkable. Nothing in my lifetime, nothing in the history of our nation can compare with it. We're walking away from the authority of scripture so that we can have the approval of culture. Jesus said economic upheaval would increase.

Again, you don't have to be particularly observant. Inflation, anybody noticed? I mean, they've told us it's temporary, that it's our imagination, that it's somebody else's fault. Well, it's double digits. It's changing our lives. We're energy dependent upon our enemies. Who thinks that's a good idea? We're spending money recklessly, but we don't say much because some of it comes to us. And if we feel like we have bigger stacks of cash, we're just not paying much attention that it buys less and it's not worth as much. The world is unraveling. And you think, that's describing ours, and we're one of the most stable places on the planet. You should visit the nations of the world.

So, what do we do? We need to align ourselves with the kingdom of God. Well, how do we do that? I want to take the time we have left and see if we can gain a little insight into that. I would submit to you that from a biblical perspective, aligning yourself with the kingdom of God is connected to a word and that word is love, but I can tell which kingdom you're aligned with by what you love. Now, love is a complex word. It's a word that is misused so frequently. I think the word "love" is used more for destruction than it is for good. You can use the word to manipulate, to instill guilt, to initiate ungodliness. "Well, if you loved me, you would".

And what comes after that oftentimes is more ungodly than not. We can use it to extend permissions for wickedness. We use it to accuse God. It's a powerful word. It's an important word. You won't flourish without it, but it's a very complex word. And if we're not open to God's definitions and God's perspective, it'll become a very manipulative tool in your life. Look at John 3:16, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". Maybe the best known verse in the Bible, certainly in the New Testament. God so loved the world, not this ball of matter that's hurtling through space and in orbit around the sun, but the people of planet earth. God loves you, he loves people in our rebellion, in our ungodliness, in our wickedness, in our stubborn refusal to cooperate with us, he loves us.

There's no explanation given in scripture for that. A third of the angels rebelled, and God did not launch a rescue mission for the fallen angels. And yet when humanity rebelled against him and refused to cooperate with him, God envisioned a rescue mission for us. We just read it, that he rescued us from the dominion of darkness. The Jesus story is a supernatural, divinely initiated from the kingdom of God rescue plan for the descendants of Adam. Jesus became one of us, we call that the incarnation. That's why the virgin birth is necessary. If the virgin birth isn't a reality, the Jesus story is a hoax. I mean, Christians, they don't believe in miracles. It's logically inconsistent. Our faith is centered, found, and made possible by the supernatural involvement of God. God loves you. Say, "I don't like what he's done".

Well, I remember having that attitude about my parents. You know, if they loved me, they'd have given me Oreos before dinner. I knew it would help my appetite. How did they know what I was hungry for? "You'll clean your plate". Then let me fill my own plate. I had all sorts of parenting helps that they weren't open to. Pray for me. Most of us think if God would just listen to us, we could help him make our lives better. We know what we want to do and what we should be able to do and how we should fill in the blanks. And he's just an intrusion. Oh, bother. The Bible uses that imagery that he's our heavenly Father, that he disciplines the children he loves. God loves you. "Well, I don't feel like it". Okay.

In James chapter 1, we're told that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God and he'll give it to us with generosity. I don't know how you feel but, most days, I feel like I need God's wisdom and his discernment to navigate what we see unfolding around us. I'd like to take a moment and have that prayer with you before we go. I suspect there are some circumstances in your life where God's wisdom and discernment could be of benefit. Let's pray:

Father, I thank you that you've given us permission to ask. And we come today, Lord, to acknowledge our need for your wisdom. We lack the experience or the training to have the correct responses to everything that's before us. Give us your wisdom, your insight, and your discernment. I thank you for it in Jesus's name, amen.

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