Sunday, March 26, 2017
 

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon The Three Kingdoms of God ]

GOD'S THREE KINGDOMS
Lonnie Branam

2 Peter 1:5-11 says,” But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Therefore brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrnace will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Verse 11 speaks of a kingdom into which faithful Christians will enter after they are immortalized on resusrrection day. We have not entered this kingdom yet, and we will not enter into it until Jesus returns. This passage brings a question to mind which will be the subject of this Bible discussion, “How many kingdoms does God have?.

We live today in the Christian age of the world, and this Age commenced with the beginning of the Chrsistian religion in about 33 A. D. In the Christian Age of the world God, in His love and wisdom, has provided three kingdoms for the maintenance, well-being and ultimate salvation of the human race. Each kingdom serves its own purpose, has its own laws of entrance and its own laws of blessing. Moreover, each of these kingdoms is more or less independent of the others, and yet the three a re interrelated. Each is entered by some kind of a birth. Let us examine these three kingdoms.

The first kingdom of God pertains to things material and may be called the natural kingdom or the kingdom of the mateiral umiverse. It pertains exclusively to the flesh or to the physical man. It is mentioned in Psalm 103:19, “The Lord has prepared His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.” In Verse 22 David adds, “Bless the Lord, all His works in all places of His dominion...” In Psalm 104 David proceeds to describe God's rule over His natural dominion. God is said to have laid the foundations of the earth, and waters the earth which causes the grass to grow for cattle and herbs for the service of man. He sums it up by saying, “O Lord, how manifold are your works; in wisedom you have made them all. The earth is full of your riches.”

However, eye has not seen nosr ear heard the exact dimensions of God's natural kingdom. over which He governs. It defiies measurement. Even with the aid of the most powerful telescope, there appears to be no

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end to the material kingdom. Not only does it extend so far as the eye can see, but it is so vast that even ousr imaginations fails to grsasp in its comprehension the wide range of God's natural kingdom. If you would know the s glory of God's natural kingdom, examine the endless range of suns and star systems which crowd the Milky Way. Then multdiippy the millions of galaxies that exist in space, within dthe range of vision. After that you may form some idea of the magintude of His natural kingdom, .for the Milky Way is but a part of his vast natural kingdom. Light traves at a speed of about 186, 000 miles per second. If you could leave this earth and travel at the speed of light for a hundred years, you would still behold millions of stdars around you, and eah star seperated from the other by such distance that in this journey of a century you have only left about 10 stars behind you. The dimensions of God's natural kingdom defy human imagination.

Permit me to mention a few of the provisionss which govern our lives in the material kingdom. In it man and woman are amenable to the laws of nature.. Obedience to the laws of nature brings blessings, but disregard for the laws bring discomfort, suffering or even death. Furthermore, one enters the kingdom of nature by means of a physical birth. The biblical term for one entering this kingdom is begettal. Genesis 5:2 says that Adaam begot sons and daughters. The birth process includes a conception by a man and woman followed by the birth in about nine months. The word begot means to bring into existence. It is another word for conception. A new life begins at conception. God has placed in man and woman the power of conception which brings life into existence. This is the one and only way a human being can enter God's natural kingdom. There has been but one exception to this rusle in all of human history. Jesus was the only begotten Son of God. Only begotten means He was the only Son God had because the begettal was unique. He was born of a virgin who ever knew a man. The conception of the virgin Mary was by the Holy Spirit and not by man. Hoswever, every other individual is born into this kingdom in identically the same manner and according to the same identical laws. No one eners the natural kingdom by his own choice or will. Every person is born according to the will of his or her parents. Let me close my remarks on the natural kingdom by saying that this kingdom pertains to the physical or material. It provides nothing for the spiritual nature of man. At best it is only a place of preparation, affording opportunity for one to enter another and better kingdom, and to that kingdom we will next direct our attention.




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Kingdom number 2 is the kingdom of grace. This kingdom had no existence on the earth before the death of Christ in the first century. The Bible says, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”(John 1:17) The kingdom of grace did not exist in Old Testament times, but there were many predictions and prophecies in the Old testament about this coming kingdom. One of the clearest propjhecies about the Messianic kingdom was spsoken by the prophet Daniel about 600 B.C. Daniel 2:44 says, “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand foreer.” This kingdom had no reference to the kingdom of nature or the kingdom of Israel, for thse kingdoms were already in existdence when Daniel made this prophecy.

This kingdom of Daniel 2:44 was the kingdom of Christ, also called the kingdom of God(Acts 8:12). In Matthew 16:18,19 Jesus said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever ou bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This statement meant the Peter would be the first one to allow entrance into the kingdom of Christ(Acts 2). The rock Jesus built His church on was the confession Peter made, “You are The Christ the Son of the living God.” Jesus did not build His church on any man. All the apostles had the keys to the kingdom, and they were all equal in authority. The kingdom of Christ had its beginning on earth fifity days after the death of Christ. According to dthe Gregorian calendar, we date the beginning of the kingdom in about 33 A.D.

In Luke's account of that great and notable event, he relates the sermon which Peter preached to the people of Jerusalem. Luke said, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day about three thousand souls were added to tdhem....And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved”(Acts 2:41,47). People were added to the church and transferred into the kingdom of God's dear Son on that very day. For that reason we know that this parsticular Pentecost day marked the beginning of the kingdom of grace. All people in the world today live in this period of grace whether they know it or not. Those who are not Christians have opted not to receive God's special offer of grace and forgiveness, but they must accept the consequences of such a decision. Jesus said that those who believe the gospel and are baptized shall be saved, but those who do not believe will be condemned(Mark 16:15,16).

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The grace kingdom is to continue on this earth so long as time lasts, and this entire period of history is called in the Bible, “the dispensation of the grace of God”(Ephesians 3:2). The kingdom of grace began on he Jewish Pentecost day in 33 A.D. and dwill continue until Ch rist returns from heaven. At that time Christ will deliver up the grace kingdom to God the Father(I Corinthians 15:24). In considering. the provisions of the kindom of grace, we find that entrance into it, like the kingdom of nature, is preceded by a begettal and accomplished by a birth which follows. If people would accepet this comparison which the word of God teaches, there would not be all this confusion as to the importance g of baptism. Paul said to Christians, “In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (I Corinthians 4:15). Peter said that citizens in Christ's grace kingdom were, “begotten again, not of corruptible seed(semen), b ut of incorruptible, { the word of God) that lives and abides forever( I Peter 1:23). God has placed in man and woman the power of conception, and if development is normal, the birth takes place in about nine months. But as is well known, the conception does no always end up with a birth. God has revealed there is a similarity in being born into the natural kindgom and being born into the grace kingdom of Chirst. Hear and understand, said Jesus.

In like manner, God has placed the power of spiritual conception in the word of God. When the word of the gospel comes into contact with a believing, penitent heart, a spiritual conception takes place but this is not the birth. This is only the begettal. This only makes you a believer in Christ, but does not make you a Christian. Jesus drew an analogy between a natural birth and a spiritual birth, and there is no reason why you should misunderstand it. After one has faith in Christ, the birth does not take place until one makes a formal commitment to enter the kingdom of Christ and serve Him. Jesus made this perfectly clear when He said, “Except a man be born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven”(John 3:3,5). Men and women are born of the Holy Spirit when they are brought to faith and repentance.through the hearing of the gospel, but they are not born of the water until baptism(immersion}. All are born into the kingdom by the obedient act of baptism. When a penitent believer in Christ obeys Christ's command to be baptized, God forgives all sins of the past life.(Acts 2:38). The emerging of the penitent believer out of the baptismal water is comparable to the baby emerging h frm the womb of the mother. That is the scriputral meaning of Christ's words, “born of water.” There is no reason for anyone to misudnerstand these words of Jesus. Listen to Jesus, not the tachings of men. In the natural birth, the birth is absolutely essential, and sometimes it does not take place. The very same thing can happen in the spiritual birth. Consideer what I say, and the Lord give you understanding. Jesus said one must be born of the water and Spirit, and

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no one can change that law. All people enter the kingdom of Christ(the church) when they emerge from the waters of baptism, having been brought to faith and repentance by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The only use of water in the Christian religion is baptism which means to immerse or dip. All who enter the grace kingdom of Christ enter in exactly the same way by the birth of the water and Spirit.

Finally God has a third kingdom which greatly attracts our attention. Christians who are in the grace kingdom must be miraculously born into another kingdom which is the upper and better kingdom of heaven. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is, “the firstborn from the dead.” This does not mean that Christ was the first person to die and come back to life, for there are several examples of this in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The meaning is that Jesus was the first human being to die and come back to life, never to die again. It means He was the first one of us to come back to life never to die again. He was only first human to do that, Heis an example of what will happen to us. . All of His faithful followers will also come to back to life, and we will never die again. Scripture speaks of Christ's resurrection as a birth because God miraculously raised Him from the dead. All of God's redeemed people will be born into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior

The apostle Peter exhorted those in the grace kingdom to add to their characdter: irtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. Then he said, “If you do these things, you will never stumble(fall); for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” The saved will be miraculously born into the kingdom at the general resurrection of the dead. We will come forth from t he grave with new bodies created by God. All the saved will be caught up together in the clouds to meet Jesus in the air, and we shall be with Him forever. We shall enter that kingdom God prepared for His people from the foundation of the world.

We have briefly studied the three kingdoms which exist in our period of human history which is the Christian age of the world. All the billions of planet earth were born into God's natural kingdom by the will and choice of their parents. We didnd't choose to be here; we are here by the goodness of our parents. It is the command of God that people in His natural kingdom should become citizens in the grace kingdom of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who doses not believe will be condemned.” Mankind has two options: be saved or be condemned.

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