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The Two Worlds

There is the world that God made and there is the world that man made of it. In the beginning it was perfect, perfect in every respect. Man lived in perfect harmony in the environment God had provided but he wasn’t satisfied with it. He listened to the tempter and decided he wanted to see how things would be if he declared his independence from God and God’s law. This independence proved to be the curse God said it would be. Man’s attempt to live without God’s law and under the assumptions he made for himself, was disastrous. He had rejected God’s law and decided to live as if he were god himself and make his own laws. This meant that each would-be god made his own laws and the world was populated with eventually millions of individuals, each out to get whatever he could for himself. This, though, is a lawless world, a world without any rules, anarchy. It was, of course, intolerable and impossible to sustain and eventually was reduced to law by force. The strong imposed their will on the weak until someone stronger or a consortium of individuals with even greater combined strength came along. In time this led to the Pagan state.


In this society, the state was seen as a divine-human order that governed every area of life, including the religious. There was no division of church and state as we see today. Both were subject to the power of the ruler or rulers. In order to lend credibility to their assumption of power, most kings or emperors claimed divinity. They knew that the people would resist them if they were seen as mere equals and needed this elevated status to gain the respect and awe they needed to retain power. These power seekers claimed to be the earthly embodiments of whatever god or gods the people wished to worship. To deny this claim was seen as treason and punishable by death.


Into this pagan world, during the time of the Roman Empire, came Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God with a whole new outlook on government and law. He was born an Israelite, of the nation God had established through Moses, who gave them God’s law two centuries earlier. Israel failed to obey that law and drifted further and further into the same man-centered society characteristic of the other nations.

Jesus reaffirmed God’s law but He was misunderstood by the Jews and even by His disciples at first. They were so accustomed to the pagan form of government that they couldn’t comprehend His words. They welcomed Him as their new king on Palm Sunday but because He didn’t conform to their idea of what a king should be, they rejected Him and called for His crucifixion, a week later.

Jesus said that His kingdom is in this world but not of this world. It is located here but it unlike any other kingdom that existed in this world at that time. It is from heaven and not from any earthly source. Jesus came into the world to establish a new humanity, one that would obey Him and obey God’s law.

Jesus rose from the grave with salvation in His hand. His death paid the sin penalty of all that would believe in Him. All these are released from Satan’s bondage, are able to see God’s kingdom and willingly obey Him. They are the new regenerated humanity in Christ that will eventually replace the old fallen humanity in Adam. The world will be repopulated, the new replacing the old and a new world will gradually come into existence.

God’s Law

When God’s law is obeyed, the need for civil government is minimized; government shrinks in size and in power and freedom is maximized. The tithe provides for the needs of the poor and because the people are obedient to God’s law, the law enforcement, courts and military agencies become miniscule in comparison to what we see today. Robert Winthrop explained this:

All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet.

This is the essential difference between the two worlds; one is populated with willing subjects, the other by a rebellious people that must be forced to obey, not just God’s law, but a grievous and heavy burden of man made laws.

The new world that Jesus brought is characterized by truly free individuals living in harmony with each other and governed, not by men but by the law of God. Their allegiance is to God who tells them that they must obey their leaders, but only to the extent those leaders are faithful to God. These free people represent a constant check on the tendency of rulers to aggregate power to themselves and increase their hold on others. Freedom reigns throughout this world; the only restraints are God’s statutes which do not represent a burden because they are obeyed from the hearts of the people. Human government is almost entirely exercised within the family where the next generation is taught to love and obey God. Civil government is present only to restrain the unregenerate and decreases as these pass out of existence.


This is the world that Jesus inaugurated with His coming. It began with a very few but it grew and made rapid progress in the early centuries. Sadly, it bogged down as pagan influences entered and gradually increased in significance, particularly in the church. Instead of recognizing that the church is only a portion of God’s kingdom and limiting itself to the teaching function as God commands, it grew more and more into a centralized hierarchy and came to see itself as the totality of God’s kingdom on earth. As a consequence, the world outside the church was left to man. God’s law was set aside and replaced by what was called natural law or the law of the nations. Kingdom growth was stunted and the earlier rate of progress toward the goal of the new world that Jesus set was greatly reduced.

The Reformation did much to correct the doctrinal error that was introduced in this period but it did not fully reinstate the whole life aspect of the faith that Jesus taught. Instead of standing firmly behind God’s law, they permitted the natural law concept to continue. Progress was improved, particularly with the Puritans in England and in America, but these eventually succumbed to pietism, a reintroduction of pagan philosophy that effectively moved the Christian faith out of this world and into the next life. The world that Jesus brought was abandoned and man-centered humanism was given a foothold.

More recently, a new doctrine of Scriptural interpretation, called Dispensationalism, was introduced and widely accepted by the English speaking churches. It gave impetus to Premillennialism the idea that the kingdom of God promised by Jesus could not and would not come about until His personal return at the end of history. This, of course, virtually halted all kingdom-building effort on the part of a great majority of otherwise conservative Christians and humanism was given free reign.


Today we see almost all the churches, Catholic and Protestant, out of the kingdom-building business and humanism in virtually total control of the kingdoms of this world. The world Jesus brought has been either put on the sidelines or abandoned altogether. His gift of salvation is seen as one that will only be fulfilled in the next life. The governments of the world are moving steadily back to what they were before He came. The freedoms gained during the Christian era are being taken back and the effect of this on individuals, due to the great advancements in technology, is felt far more intensely than it was in Ancient times. Today’s governments are far more intrusive and probe far more deeply into people’s lives than they could ever do before.

So, there we have world history in a nutshell! There are two worlds, the world that God gives and the world that man on his own makes. Scripture tells us that God’s world will prevail but it doesn’t tell us when. It also tells us that it won’t be handed to us on a platter; we need to work to bring it about. More, it tells us that it is the responsibility of Christians to do so. They are promised eternal life, something that cannot be earned; it is an entirely free gift. But they are also told that they have responsibilities in this life. They are told to “seek first the kingdom of God” and to do so first—before food, clothing or shelter (Matt. 6:25-33). They are told to teach the nations to obey all Christ’s commandments (Matt. 28:18-20). When they get back to doing as their Lord commanded, His kingdom, the world He gave us, will begin to take shape.