Jared Smith on the Gospel Law (Complete)

5 Two Kingdoms

The first two studies on the Gospel Law were designed to show the dividing lines between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. Unless these Covenants be clearly distinguished and the jurisdiction of each province be strictly applied, then all types of confusion ensues on many levels of doctrine and practice. Reference was then made in the previous study to the kingdom of God. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (Jn 3:3,5) As the kingdom of God is one of the provinces I was speaking about in the first two studies, and Jesus distinguishes between it and the kingdom of this world, it seems appropriate to provide an overview of both kingdoms. There is a sharp division between these kingdoms:

1. Each kingdom is governed by a single Covenant: (1) The kingdom of the world is governed by the Covenant of Works; (2) The kingdom of God is governed by the Covenant of Grace.

2. Each kingdom is designed for a particular group of people: (1) The Kingdom of the World is designed for the whole human race; (2) The Kingdom of God is designed for the elect.

3. Each kingdom is represented by a federal head: (1) Adam is the federal head for the kingdom of the world; (2) Christ is the federal head for the kingdom of God.

4. Each kingdom is experientially entered by a birth: (1) The human race experientially enters into the kingdom of the world by a first birth (natural generation)—each person brought into the world by the seed of an earthly father is conceived in sin and shaped in iniquity; (2) The elect experientially enters into the kingdom of God by a second birth (supernatural regeneration)—a new nature, created in righteousness and true holiness, is imparted to the soul of the born again sinner.

5. Each kingdom is administered by a special law: (1) The unregenerate sinner is under the jurisdiction of the Heart Law—each persons is responsible to first, love God supremely; second, love one’s neighbor as one’s self; third, repent for violating this law. Let it be remembered, the Moral Law (Ten Commandments) is an application of the Heart Law to the Jewish people as a nation. Therefore, although it falls under the jurisdiction of the Covenant of Works, yet it was only applicable to Israel as a nation prior to the incarnation of Christ; (2) The regenerate sinner is under the jurisdiction of the Gospel Law—each person is privileged to trust on Christ as his/her righteousness before God and to walk in the newness of life by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.

6. Each kingdom is restricted in its provisions for salvation: (1) There are no provisions for salvation under the Covenant of Works—no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, for as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse, for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them; (2) But there is full provision for salvation under the Covenant of Grace—the just shall live by faith, for Christ has redeemed His people from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.

7. Each kingdom is distinguished by a culture: (1) The culture of the kingdom of the world is driven by “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”—this is not of the Father, but is of the world. It is out of the sinful heart that evil thoughts proceed, which are manifested in wicked works such as murder, adultery, fornication, stealing, lying, blasphemy, idolatry, etc, etc; (2) The culture of the kingdom of God is driven by the desires of the new nature in Christ—this is not of the world, but is of the Father. It is out of the new nature in Christ that good thoughts proceed—thoughts that are true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely and of a good report; thoughts that are virtuous and praise worthy. It is in this God kingdom culture that the fruits of the new nature are produced and grow—fruits such as joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. It is for this reason, those who belong to this kingdom are blessed for being poor in spirit, and spiritually mourning, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and for being pure in heart. The culture of the God Kingdom is in stark contrast to the culture of the this worldly Kingdom.

8. Each kingdom has a measurable population: (1) The size of the kingdom of the world is far larger than the kingdom of God—for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; (2) The size of the kingdom of God is much smaller than the kingdom of the world—because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Nevertheless, though there is but a remnant of the human race that are set apart according to the election of grace, yet this number is described in Scripture as “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and languages.”

9. Each kingdom is fitted for a certain end: (1) The end of the kingdom of the world is destruction—for the wages of sin is death, and justice will be meted out unto all who stand in rebellion to the Lord. The heavens and the earth which are now, are reserved unto fire against the day of judgment of ungodly men—for when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, He shall come in flaming fire, dissolving and melting all things with fervent heat, and they that know not God shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord; (2) The end of the kingdom of God is life and peace everlasting—for the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, and justice has already been meted out in Him for all who have been redeemed by His precious blood. When the Lord Jesus shall return to this world, and after the fire destroys the heavens and the earth (for this will be a global warming of absolute proportions), He shall recreate the heavens and the earth, wherein dwells righteousness. Therefore, with the people of God looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of the Lord, what manner of persons ought they to be in all holy conversation and godliness?

Now, when the distinction between these kingdoms are kept in the forefront of the mind’s eye, the Scriptures take on a much clearer meaning. The Lord Jesus Christ frequently spoke of the two kingdoms—Mk 1:14,15; Lk 4:16-19; Jn 3:1-10; Jn 8:31-36; Jn 15:1-5; Jn 15:18-21; Matt 6:32,33; Jn 18:36; Jn 17:1-26. The Apostles frequently spoke of the two kingdoms—Gal 1:3-5; 1 Pet 4:1-5; 1 Jn 4:4-6; Rom 12:1,2; Phil 2:14-16; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 2:15,16; Js 4:4. These are obviously not a complete list of scriptures, but they do serve as examples on the helpfulness of distinguishing between the various features of the kingdoms.

“But,” you ask, “If the regenerate sinner has been delivered from the kingdom of the world, then how do you reconcile the fact that the believer still lives in the kingdom of the world?”

This is a good question. In short, the regenerate sinner is IN the kingdom of the world, but is not OF the kingdom of the world. This distinction is made clear throughout the Word of God (Old and New Testaments). Perhaps one of the most beautiful expressions of it is that given by the Lord Jesus Christ when He communed with the Father—John 17:6, 14-18: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word…I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” The Father, by electing love, and the Son, by redeeming grace, has set apart a remnant of the human race as special objects of their love. This transaction was made by the Father and the Son from eternity; it is an agreement, or a covenant, of grace. Notice how Jesus distinguishes these people as not being OF the world, even as He is not OF the world. However, also notice how Jesus asks the Father not that He should take them OUT of the world, but rather, that He should leave them IN the world (and that they might be kept from evil). In other words, whereas the people of Christ are not OF the world, yet so long as they are physically alive, and Christ has not yet returned, they are IN the world. Hence, Jesus said to the Father, “As thou hast sent me INTO the world, even so have I also sent them INTO the world.”

Here is the Apostle Paul’s description on how the Patriarchs lived IN the world—Hebrews 11:13-16” “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”

As strangers and pilgrims on the earth, the believer must interact as a visitor in this worldly kingdom, but he/she is not a resident or a citizen. That is, the believer is not governed by the Covenant of Works, or represented by the federal headship of Adam, or under the obligations of the Heart Law, or driven by the old and sinful nature, or conformed to its ungodly culture or walking the broad road that leads to destruction. Rather, the believer is a resident and citizen of the God Kingdom, interacting with the worldly kingdom only as a visitor or guest. That is, the believer is governed by the Covenant of Grace, and represented by the federal headship of Christ, and is under the liberating framework of the Gospel Law, and is driven by the new and righteous nature, and is conformed to the holy culture of living godly in Christ Jesus and is walking the narrow road that leads to life.

Truly Jesus said to His people, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (Jn 8:36) The nature of this freedom will be explored in the next study when we look at the precepts of the Gospel Law.