THE KINGDOMS OF GOD'S
POWER, GRACE AND GLORY
 

Excerpts From A Sermon By

Dr. Walter A. Maier
 


 Some passages of Scripture speak of God as the ruler over all men (Psalm 103:19).  Other passages speak of the kingdom of God as including only believers (John 3:3-5).  Still other passages speak of God's kingdom as being in heaven (John 18:36).  This fact has led some theologians to speak of God as ruling over three kingdoms; the kingdom of His power (which includes all men), the kingdom of His grace (which includes only believers), and the kingdom of His glory (which is limited to heaven).The following paragraphs, from a 1947 sermon by Dr. Walter A. Maier, reflect a Biblical understanding of  this doctrine. (editors note)

     Pilate was a practiced politician. Examine the record, and you will find that he was convinced that our Lord was innocent, that the priests in Jerusalem were moved by jealousy. You will learn that he repeatedly sought to have this strange Galilean prisoner freed. Yet, steeped in unbelief, he was convinced that Christ, His arrest, His teachings, were of no real importance. Politicians today often share the same opinion. The churches? Jesus? The Bible? All this means little to them personally, unless they can use religion for personal profit or party support. It has become the unholy mark of our generation that many in control of international affairs have out-Pilated Pilate and have openly revealed themselves as enemies of religion, rebels against God. Never before since the beginning of our country, have so many people and nations been controlled by men who hate our Savior as now, when the crest-wave of Red radicalism sweeps over vast areas of the world. An eyewitness to atrocities in northern China brings this shocking report from Siwantze: "In this snow-covered North China town I have seen Communist vengeance written in blood and ashes. It is easy to see. The ruins of the burned cathedral faced us as we entered the town. Men and women wept as they tried to tell us of the dead and missing from their family circles. Picking my steps through the debris of the burnt seminary, I came upon the fullness of Red vengeance. . . . There lay more that a hundred corpses, each frozen in the attitude in which he was slain, some partially stripped of clothing. The dark congealed blood, the sightless eyes, the head wounds inflicted at close range, the ropes still binding the arms of one who had been bayoneted; these spell out a lesson in Communism. At least 200 . . . were killed in cold blood . . . all because Siwantze chose not to accept Communism."

     God protect our country from anything like that! God give us political leaders who love the truth which blessed America in the past and which alone can guide us to glory in the years ahead!

     Pilate lost no time in examining Christ on the one issue which to his mind was uppermost and decisive. Pointedly he asks the Savior, "Art Thou a king?" There was only one question which at first troubled the Roman governor's mind: Was this Jesus, beaten, bruised, and bleeding -- Oh, how could He be! -- a rival to the Roman rule, a competitive king, a royal threat of rebellion against the Latin lords of the world? A king without a crown, without a court, without a scepter, without a subject? Pilate could not begin to imagine that this poor, persecuted Prisoner could lay claim to real royalty.

     You can understand, then, how surprised the blasé Roman official was to receive this reply from our Lord: "Thou sayest that I am a king"! Yes, Christ is not only "a king"; He is the King, "the King of Kings," "the Lord of lords," the Ruler of rulers. He regulates this entire universe with its billions of stars. He controls the trillions of human beings in all history. He produces and uses the mighty forces of nature. He directs the course of human events. "In him we live and move and have our being." Whether you realize it or not, you, as every person, are subject to Him in His Kingdom of Power.

     Because Pilate misunderstood this universal rule, Christ hastened to add, "My kingdom is not of this world," that is, not after the manner of earthly monarchies and the pattern of princely rule which men see. Thank God for that! Human kings have often secured their thrones by fraud and falsehood, brutality and bloodshed; but Jesus reigns as the divine Creator. Monarchs among men have sometimes been sensual degenerates, selfish criminals, with hands and souls stained by the crimson blood of their murdered victims; but our Lord rules with righteousness and justice. The mightiest potentates have lived their brief span and disappeared in death; but of our Redeemer even the Old Testament records, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever!" The crowned heads of this world have waged costly, deadly warfare; but Jesus tells Pilate: "If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered." Reread these words and realize that the son of God never wants His Church to engage in bloody conflict; He condemns those gory butchers who under the banner of the cross, in the name of His truth, with the sanction of churches, have cut down in cold blood their fellow men who refused to believe as they did. Behold the Lord of love, when weak and wan, torn and tormented, He faces Pilate! As the King of compassion, He condemns those who have sought to spread or defend His Gospel with the sword; He rejects the ghastly cruelties which misguided minds visited on His enemies. He warns the churches today against the danger of heaping up income from war's profits. David, some of you remember from your Scripture reading, was prevented from building the temple in Jerusalem because, God said, he had waged too many wars. The Almighty spare America a third global conflict and keep the churches of Jesus from losing many of their  spiritual privileges by applauding and promoting war! The churches in Germany formed the last line of resistance to the Nazi program; but when even they began to hurrah war and glorify gory struggle, that country was doomed. The Holy Spirit prevent our country's encouraging bloodshed! When men rightly fear that the next struggle with its atomic annihilation can wipe out more civilians and soldiers in a single night that the horrifying total of the military dead in the whole last war, may the eyes of mankind be trained on Christ! He cried out against the hatreds and selfish passions which draft men for opposing armies; He condemned the cruelty of aggressive warfare; He forbade His followers to lift a sword even in his behalf; He pleaded for peace; and in an age that has seen one proposal for a warless world after another collapse in failure, He directs mankind to the only pathway which can ever lead to peace. Yet -- may Heaven forgive us! -- Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is systematically barred from the peace conferences in progress today. In a New York City assembly room devoted to United Nations' meetings a costly painting showing Christ instituting Holy Communion looks down upon the delegates, many of whom ridicule the salvation which that sacred Supper would assure and seal for every believer. O God, turn the eyes of the world to Thy Son for His blessed, building peace!

     The Savior tells us, too, "My kingdom is not of this world," to remind those who love Him that they should shun fleshly means of extending His realm. He does not want churches which bear His holy name to heap up inordinate wealth, overlarge real-estate holdings, bulging bank deposits, while hundreds of millions in our war torn world are starving, physically and spiritually. He forbids His followers to use illegal means of raising funds for His cause. In Christ's work, contrary to the teaching of some creeds, the end never justifies the means. Gambling, in its fine and gross forms, or profiteering in the name of religion, is abhorrent to the Christ who drove the money-changers from the temple. Our Lord does not want His church in politics any more that He wants the state to intrude upon religion. He asks for the sacrifice of loving hearts, not for suppers and socials as substitutes for generous giving.

     Learn also from these words, "My kingdom is not of this world," that you have no reason to expect worldly, financial, or social rewards from following Christ. His disciples hoped He would establish a mighty kingdom here on earth, and repeatedly they debated the question, who is to have the positions of highest importance in the new realm? Today, likewise, misguided people reach out for selfish rewards in following Jesus. They look forward to a time when the believers will be happy, healthy, wealthy, in a kingdom of might here below, forgetting entirely the plain truth of these clear words, "My kingdom is not of this world." Every Bible reader ought to know, in protest, that the Savior's Word reminds us, "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." Millions of believers in our age have realized the heavy truth of this statement in the suffering and sorrows laid upon them. "The disciple is not above his Master," Jesus told us, and He added, "If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." The victims of Fascist and Communist mass murders who suffered or died for their loyalty to the Lord know certainly that His realm "is . . . not from hence," as the Son of God said, referring to this globe.

     Is it not clear, then, that Christ is not a worldly Ruler, with the sin and selfishness which often mark and mar royal blood? Yet, in direct contradiction to this straightforward teaching of Scripture, men today claim that our Lord really was an earthly monarch. A recent, widely heralded book, under the title King Jesus, actually, but blasphemously, makes the Savior a Sovereign descended from Herod, a mere man with a mortal father, mother, and wife. Christ says, "My kingdom is not of this world." But this book, which has been endorsed by high church officials, contradicts all this and in effect has Jesus say, "My kingdom is of this world." How, we ask ourselves, can we expect a national blessing from Heaven when divine truth is thus flatly and flagrantly denied? The most alarming sign of these turbulent times is this, that instead of returning to God's Word with sorrowful repentance for their past disloyalties, many are straying farther from the only Truth which can ever save them. They live only for the things of this earth -- money, gold, and gain are their gods; lust and pleasure, their idols; but in the midst of life they are in death; and when they feel themselves safe and secure, the Almighty suddenly appears to them and declares, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?"
 

HEAVEN IS CHRIST'S ETERNAL KINGDOM; IT CAN BE YOURS

     How reassuring, then, to know that Jesus' kingdom outlasts this world, which, according to Scripture, is to be consumed by fire! How comforting to be sure that after death and decay have returned our bodies to the dust, Christ will truly reign over a kingdom of glory in which He has prepared unspeakable blessings for all who trust Him as their Savior! Praise God with me for this triumphant truth: When our Lord told Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world," He implied that His rule and realm, here in the hearts of His believers, will hereafter be in heaven, His throne surrounded by the cherubim and seraphim, the angels and archangels, the ten thousand times ten thousand ransomed saints in white! This Christ, pale and pained before Pilate, will rule in might and mercy such as the human mind cannot measure.

     Jesus is the King of Heaven, with all its majesty, because He is our God, together with the Father and the Spirit, the only, but almighty God. You may question and contradict this as you blaspheme the Redeemer, abuse His holy name, ridicule His Patient love; but the time is coming, more surely than I now speak to you, when, with "weeping and gnashing of teeth," everyone who died in unbelief will know that the Crucified is truly Ruler of heaven and earth. It will be too late for any hope of salvation then. Those who rejected Him will be sentenced by this verdict of the unbreakable truth: "He that believeth not shall be damned."