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Resident Aliens

This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series

"Citizens and Exiles"

Read more posts by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar.

There is a real sense in which Christians, analogous to Israel in exile, are dual citizens—resident aliens. Christians are first and foremost citizens of the redemptive kingdom, but they are also citizens of God’s Universal common Kingdom along with every other human being. And thus, Christians contribute to society, submit to and pray for governmental authorities, and participate in various aspects of cultural endeavors, as long as they reflect and remain consistent with God’s law.

Yet an individual Christian’s role in society is not connected directly in any way to God’s plan to establish his united kingdom on earth and restore all things. When a Christian acts in society, it is not out of a motivation to “redeem culture.” Only the “Last Adam” can perfectly fill the role God intended as King/Priest who exercises perfect dominion over all, and this will occur when he comes again.

The common evangelical view that ignores the biblical distinction between the Universal Kingdom and the Redemptive Kingdom has led to errant thinking about individual Christian work in society, and this usually takes one of two forms. First, for some, the only way to really serve the purposes and plans of God is what is sometimes referred to as “full time Christian service,” that is, being a pastor or missionary. Other vocations are of lesser value. The other form is actually growing in influence within evangelicalism, and that is to find value in cultural activity by insisting that it is “work for the kingdom,” which supposedly legitimizes what would otherwise be considered “secular” work.

Neither view is biblical, and only properly distinguishing between the two kingdoms provides a correct framework for understanding a Christian’s responsibilities toward both.

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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

7 Responses to Resident Aliens

  1. Scott

    Admittedly, I am lost – I know nothing from scripture of either

    1. A “redemptive kingdom”, nor

    2. God’s Universal common Kingdom (along with every other human being).

    I only know of the Kingdom of God and of His beloved Son – AND a “Kingdom of this world” that Jesus DOES NOT WANT TO BE KING OVER (Jn18:36). Thus the great failure of evangelicalism is not so much the above but the rampant Dominionism (read: blatant fascism) that has been and is dominating the white American evangelical community – as we “win America back for Jesus”, etc.

    Where is the disjunction here?



  2. Greg, I’ve been developing these ideas through the course of the current series. Use the links to the right to read the previous posts.

  3. Hi Scott,
    I was just going to write when I discovered that Greg Logan had already said what I wanted to say!

    I have read your previous articles and have been mostly confused as I have not been able to “wrap my head around” what you are seeking to teach. I just reread your “Israel and the Two Kingdoms” and for the life of me I can’t see two kingdoms anywhere set forth in that article? What am I missing?

    Could you simply set forth two sets of scriptures which deal specifically with the “two kingdoms” you have in mind? I’m always suspicious of unscriptural terms introduced to describe supposedly “scriptural ideas” (covenant of works, covenant of grace, covenant of redemption etc or dispensation of law, dispensation of innocence, etc). So too, it would help greatly if you could set forth your ideas and designate them by scriptural terms as Greg has above.

  4. Hi Bruce

    Thanks for confirming that I am not the only confused person.

    I look forward both to a quick review of the articles Scott suggested – as well as his response to your comment.

    I really like your point about using not needing unscriptural terms to describe scripture – if the God’s own Word is inadequate to describe itself – then do we really have God’s Word?? If we need to add unscriptural terms in our theology – does not that begin to sound like adding idols in the temple??

    That is why I do not use such terms as “trinity” or “hypostatic union”, etc. I simply refer to clear texts of scripture for all of my understanding of the Prophetic, Messianic and Apostolic minds.



  5. Scott

    Thanks for the follow-up – I will take a look at the articles- though I wonder – is the Word of God really so complex as to not have simple text or two to make clear a seemingly critical concept?



  6. Greg,
    Your comments are like music to my ears! What “heretics” we are for rejecting the “trinity” but embracing all that scripture says about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

    Years ago, 3 simple tests of scripture caused me to evaluate every doctrine I’d embraced and taught to others:
    (1) Psalm 12:6 Can my doctrine be stated in pure words of the Lord?
    (2) Proverbs 30:5,6 Can my doctrine be stated in pure words of the Lord apart from any additional words?
    (3) I Cor.2:13 Can my doctrine be stated in words which the Holy Spirit teaches apart from any words which man’s wisdom teaches?

    These tests forced me to reject not only the doctrine of “Three persons in the trinity” (The Father and the Spirit are never spoken of as persons!), but many others including “substitutionary atonement” (Christ came to do many things FOR us, but a substitute is always someone or something which takes the place of another to do for them what they could normally do. Christ came to do something for us (bring us to God) which we could never do!), “justification by faith alone”… just one additional word makes a sound doctrine into a false one! (We are justified by Christ, by his blood, by grace and by works NOT BY FAITH ALONE!), “pre-trib-rapture” not a single text of scripture nor a dozen put together teach such a doctrine! Rather our rest from trouble comes “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Thess.1:6-10), “Christians go to heaven when they die” (Every person in scripture who went to heaven went there while their physical body was alive and well! Every Christian was raised up and seated with Christ in heavenly places the day they lived! Eph 2:6

    Would love to chat and get to know you better, brother!

  7. Bruce

    A good direction indeed – with a lot carefulness, humility and prayfulness.

    Please feel free to contact me (apparently my em is not allowed?? perhaps my FB site I am traveling so my interactions will be slow but feel free to follow-up.

    Let us consider a simple text –

    “Why do you seek to stone Me, a MAN who has told you the truth that He has heard from GOD…”

    May I humbly suggest they are still trying to stone this man – for as they seek to stone His followers so they seek to stone Him.


    Jesus of Nazareth, a MAN, attested to by GOD…. whom God hath made both Lord and Christ.

    I am really not certain how the Messianic and Apostolic mind could be any more clear….

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