The World System, Are Christians Its Citizens?

ChurchServiceNazisFor the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. (1 Corinthians 10:26 KJV)

“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31 KJV)

Consider these two verses closely. The earth is the Lord’s, and in Genesis everything He created He declared as “good.” But is the world good and are we to be part of it? To answer this question we have to go to the Greek meanings of these two words.

gē (“earth”)

Thayer Definition:

1) arable land

2) the ground, the earth as a standing place

3) the main land as opposed to the sea or water

4) the earth as a whole

4a) the earth as opposed to the heavens

4b) the inhabited earth, the abode of men and animals

Obviously this Greek word means the planet we call “Earth.” It is the Lord’s. Now how about this word that was translated world— this same world that is under the judgment of God that was translated from the Greek word kosmos?

kosmos

Thayer Definition:

6) the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ
7) world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly
7a) the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ”

W.E. Vine defines kosmos as the “present condition of human affairs, in alienation from and opposition to God.” There is a teaching in many churches that we who are Christ’s have an obligation to support the country we are a citizen of. Yes, Jesus made it clear that we are to pay our taxes and obey the laws of the land… to a point. And here is the rub! Just what is that point, and at what point does obeying those laws make you disobedient to Christ who has purchased us with His blood?

As an example, take patriotism. This can be an evil deception when it calls for us who follow Christ as our Lord to murder our fellow man in the name of our national interests. Jesus was very clear about this when speaking to the Jews.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Matthew 5:43-48 RSVA)

What drummer will we march to? Will we obey all that our country requires us to do at the sacrifice of listening to the voice of God and doing what He requires of us in His kingdom as His children? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it plain that the Father loves all mankind, not just the ones that we agree with or that agree with Him. He links loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us to being God’s children! But He does not stop there. He goes on to relate such loving actions to the perfection of our heavenly Father in us, who makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall upon both the good and the evil. When the disciples wanted to wipe out a Samaritan village simply because they would not let Jesus and the disciples pass through, Jesus had an interesting reply,

And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. (Luke 9:54-56 KJ2000)

Anne Lamott said, “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when God hates all the same people you do.” When we get our patriotic and religious juices all worked up and are willing to take part in killing our fellow man, we do not know what spirit we are of. Jesus came to save the lost, not kill them! Jesus said that Satan was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). Beware of any murderous thoughts you are listening to because it is not God’s Spirit that is speaking in you.

When Peter and the apostles preached Christ under the power of the Holy Spirit on the days following Pentecost, the leaders of the Jews forbade them. To this Peter had one simple answer, “But answering them Peter and John said, Whether it is right before God to listen to you rather than God, you judge.”(Acts 4:19 LITV)

There is a higher Authority than secular humanistic governments that often are doing the will of the devil, the Prince of this world system. The kingdoms of men are becoming more and more anti-Christ by restricting Christian religious freedoms while promoting perversion and the murder of the innocent. The early church obeyed the Holy Spirit and it often cost them their lives. We can expect the same if we obey the Spirit and manifest Christ’s kingdom openly in this kosmos system. Jesus said, “These things have I spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world [kosmos] you have affliction. But courage! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33 CLV)

Dominion Theology

“Dominion Theology is the idea that Christians should work toward either a nation governed by Christians or one governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law.”- Wikipedia

Some preachers today are advocating that their members become active in the political arena. I do not see Jesus teaching any such thing. When Pilate during Christ’s trial asked of Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered succinctly, “My kingdom is not of this world…”

These same preachers point to a verse in Revelation they say gives Christians the authority to go out and take political dominion of our respective nations for God. They usually quote this part of a verse out of context, “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ.” Let’s look at it.

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, who sat before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God, Saying, We give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who is, and was, and is to come; because you have taken to you your great power, and have reigned. And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them who destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:15-18 KJ2000)

Notice first that the setting of this passage is at the end of the age during the wrath of God. Second, it is God who takes to Himself the power over the peoples of the world, not Christians through political or military force. Let’s look at this word translated kingdom in this passage.

basileia
Thayer Definition:
1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule
1a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom
1b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah
1c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah’s kingdom

As you can see, this is not about political kingdoms, but the right and authority to rule over the kingdom. Christ’s rule will be established over what was once the kosmos of Satan at the end of the age when God pours out His wrath. His rule has nothing to do human power or with national and political boundaries because it is a singular kingdom.

Jesus said:

“If the world [kosmos – in each case] hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:18-20 RSVA)

My God, my Savior and those who are His are not of this kosmos or its worldly kingdoms, For our citizenship is in heaven; from which also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20 KJ2000 – see also Gal. 4:26, Eph. 2:19 and Heb. 12:22).

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God and Country? What Kingdom Are We of?

God and Country picI used to be a rabid right-wing supporter of Americanism and “God and Country” was my mantra. Looking back, I had put them on an equal plane in my thinking. I supported America getting involved in the Vietnam War “to save the world from communism.” After all, wasn’t atheistic communism the opposite of Christianity? But after spending three years fighting in that war I saw things a bit differently. What a farce! That war was all about trading the blood of our young men and women and exploiting another nation so huge multinational corporations with politicians in their pockets could make extortionist war profits, including the then President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson. The industrial-military complex that President Eisenhower had warned America about had taken over (see http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/eisenhower-warns-of-military-industrial-complex).

For me the real lesson learned was not political in nature; quite the opposite. When I totally surrendered to Christ in 1970 after coming home from that war, I was born of the Spirit of God. I no longer was of this world system ruled over by the prince of this world (John 12:31-32). When Pilate asked Jesus why His people wanted Him executed, His answer is very instructive, “My kingdom is not of this world.” When we are born from above we become aliens to this world and citizens of God’s kingdom (1 Peter 2:9-11), not of the kingdoms of men. As such, our hearts are now His and are not entangled with the things of this world (2 Peter 2:20). Jesus was no more a Jewish patriot than He was a Roman citizen. He made it clear that He only did what He saw His Father doing. He got His direction from a Source higher than even the Jewish law and those enforcing it, the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. This is why they hated Him! He was not subject to their control. His kingdom was not theirs, since they were of their father the devil and they did what he wanted, just as Jesus said they would (John 8:42-59). His blood was on their hands as a result (Matt. 27:15-25). Jesus told His disciples that as they walked by the Spirit as He did, they could expect the same treatment He got.

Christians, real Christians, need to realize what kingdom they are of and whose voice they follow. For the first 300 years, the early Christians were martyred wholesale because they would not swear allegiance to Caesar. They counted it joy to be persecuted in the name of Christ and His kingdom. How many of us Christians today are sold out to Him like that? Daniel saw it coming when he saw the image of a man depicting the world kingdoms whose feet were a mixture of clay and iron. The scripture makes it clear that iron represented the Roman Empire because the legs of the statue he saw were iron (see Daniel ch. 2). It also makes it clear that God is the Potter and we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8). What is clay doing mixed with iron? The churches of the world system today are still an unholy mixture of God’s people adhering to governments that descended from ancient Rome—the empire that incorporated Christianity into its pantheon of paganism to solidify its power. Yes, Emperor Constantine stopped the persecution of the Church, but he also killed its loyalty to Christ with an embrace that smothered God’s Spirit life right out of her and became the final word in all things pertaining to Christianity. The Church has been subservient to world rulers ever since.

“In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because AS HE IS SO ARE WE IN THIS WORLD.” (1 John 4:17 RSVA – emphasis added)

“Father, please show us our hearts and just what spirit we are governed by who claim Christ as our Lord. Amen.”