by Jay DeBeir
As Christians, we live in two kingdoms with one King. This is to say that we live in God’s earthly kingdom (also known as the left kingdom) where He provides secular authority for us in this world that includes daily provision and His created order. We inhabit this earthly kingdom with all people including those who have yet to have faith in His saving Word.
God also rules the Church. “Because God’s greatest desire for human beings is that we hear the Gospel and come to faith, this aspect of His work is sometimes called his ‘right hand’ reign, or ‘the kingdom of the right’” (Mueller, 2005). Christ reigns in this kingdom by His Gospel and acts in this kingdom through His means of grace. We live in God’s earthly created kingdom (left) as well as the Lord’s spiritually divine kingdom (right).
This Bible study endeavors to dig a little deeper into this topic in order to and provide some insight into how we are instructed to live in our earthly kingdom, while acknowledging that the gift of faith alone, because of Christ’s work for us, provides our place in His kingdom of the right.
Luther helps explain this distinction where he writes: “It is manifest that Christ was not sent to wield a sword or possess a worldly Kingdom.” Read Mark 12:13–17. How does Jesus distinguish between these two kingdoms? Does Jesus instruct us to submit to the secular order that He has created?
Next read John 18:36 and reflect on the aspects of the kingdom being discussed. Which two kingdoms are be referred to? Who has God put in place to rule in the left kingdom in this verse? Read 2 Cor. 10:4. What do we struggle against in the earthly kingdom? Read Phil. 3:20, and discuss where our true citizenship lies. How have we become members of the right kingdom (Eph. 2:19)?
What do we learn about our holy citizenship in 1 Peter 2:9–10. According to this verse, to whom do we belong? What are we called from and to in verse 9? In verse 10, what were weren’t we and what are we now? What didn’t we receive and what have we received?
Because of our citizenship in the kingdom of God (right), we are free to live to His glory in the earthly kingdom (left), which is also the Lord’s kingdom. Continue reading 1 Peter 2:11–25. In verses 11–12, what type of behavior and we instructed to exhibit in the left (earthy) kingdom? What are we to be subject to in verse 13 and 14? Whose will is being fulfilled in verse 15? How are we instructed to live in verse 16? What are the verbs used for our lives in the world in verse 17? How does the Lord’s kingdom (the right kingdom) motivate us in verses 21–25 for life in the left kingdom?
John 17 provides insight for our work in the left kingdom. What does Jesus give us in verse 14? What does verse 15 tell us about Jesus’ desire for us to be in the world? What does Jesus desire for us in verse 18? Why would He want this? Who is Jesus referring to in verses 20–26?
Read Revelation 21. What changes happen after the Lord’s return? Is there still a need for a secular authority for law and order?