Alright, picking up where we left off last week then with the kingship of Christ. Q. 45: How doth Christ execute the office of a king? A.: Christ executeth the office of a king, in
calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures,
by which he visibly governs them; in bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel.
One of the most fundamental teachings of Biblical Christianity is that Jesus Christ is “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16)....So then, it becomes obvious that a proper understanding of the lordship of Christ the King is essential to Christian faith and life. (119)
The Reality of Christ's Lordship:
The Old Testament is filled with prophecies that the promised Messiah of God would be a majestic and triumphant king. The very first gospel-promise in the Bible (Gen. 3:15f) refers to the messianic “Seed of the woman” as one who would conquer evil as personified in “the serpent and his seed.” (120)
The Song of Moses in Exodus 15:1–18 is a moving hymn of praise to Jehovah because He is a great king (vs. 18), warrior (vs. 3), and conqueror (vs. 6), who is not only invincible (vs. 7), but who is also “majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders” (vs. 11). The King of Israel will overcome all His enemies (vs. 14f), and will firmly establish His own people in the earth (vs. 17f). Since Jesus
is “Lord,” i.e., Jehovah incarnate (John 1:1, 12; Rom. 10:9; Heb. 1:10), we can properly ascribe this song to Him as praise for His triumph and lordship. (121)
The New Testament clearly identifies Jesus as the fulfillment of this Davidic Covenant, whenever it refers to Him as “the Son of David” (Matt. 21:9), or “the Root and Offspring of David” (Rev. 22:16). (122)
In the Psalms, we find many explicit references to the Messiah’s triumphant reign. In fact, the recurring emphasis on the inseparable relationship of Christ’s kingdom and Christ’s triumph cannot be missed. (122)
With the opening of the New Testament, Jesus is presented as the long-awaited messianic King. Matthew points out in Jesus’ genealogy that He is the son of kings, most particularly of King David, which is the first thing said about Jesus in the New Testament: “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David”
(Matt. 1:1). The New Testament becomes the story of a great King who came from heaven to earth to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). Jesus’ kingship is quickly set over against the unrighteous kings of the world, such as Herod (2:1). (126)
The greatest example of Christ’s authority to command, as King, is the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7), where He lays out to His servant-disciples His sovereignly-dictated order of life. (127)
During His suffering and death, it is obvious that Christ is in complete control of the entire situation, orchestrating His own death, which He had already foretold in Mark 10:45. Jesus tells His ecclesiastical judges that He is their king (Matt. 26:64f). He intimidates His civil judges by responding to Pilate’s remark concerning his authority to release Him if He cooperated: “You would have no power over Me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11). When Pilate said to Jesus, “You are a king”, then! Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the
truth” (John 18:36–37). Even by the cross God testifies to all men, through a sign written in Greek, Latin and Hebrew: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (Matt. 27:37). On the first day of the week after His crucifixion, Jesus proves Himself to be the eternal and mighty King of life by arising out of His own grave triumphantly (Matt. 28:1f). (128)
The book of Revelation makes much of the reality of the kingship of Jesus Christ. In 1:5, He is given the title of “the Ruler of the kings of the earth” who has made His people “a kingdom” (1:6). (131)
Christ’s reign goes under several names. It is called the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14; Acts 1:3; 28:23; Rev. 12:10)....Geerhardus Vos points out four implications of this title. (1) In Christ’s kingdom as a whole and in every aspect of it, God is supreme....(2) It is the sphere in which God manifests His supreme, royal power. Christ’s kingdom is a kingdom of conquest....(3) It is the sphere in which God, as the supreme ruler and judge, carries out His holy will in righteousness and judgment. (4) All of its blessings are gifts sovereignly and graciously bestowed by God. (133-134)
Christ’s kingdom is also called the kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 3:2; 5:3; 19; 8:11). This title calls attention to two things. (1) The kingdom’s origin is above and beyond human achievement; it is from God. (2) Blessedness characterizes the internal life of the kingdom, both in the heart of the believer and in the consummated universe. (134)
Because our Redeemer has established His kingdom upon His life, death and resurrection, it is called the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13; Matt. 16:28; John 18:36). He now sits on its mediatorial throne of grace administering its saving power and government. As the kingdom of Christ, it is the kingdom of grace (Rom. 5:21; 6:14; Heb. 4:16; Matt. 4:23) because “the power, the force, the dynamics of this
mediatorial kingdom is the grace of the Holy Spirit; He is to this kingdom what the sheriff, the army and navy are to human kingdoms—the power of application and execution, the energy of efficiency.”101 And, finally, because of the union of Christ and believers, it is also called the kingdom of the saints (Dan. 7:18; Eph.2:19; Phil. 3:20; Heb. 12:22f; Col. 1:12). 101. Webb, Christian Salvation: Its Doctrine and Experience, 236. (134-135)
Because of His full deity, being of the same essence with the Father and the Spirit, the eternal Son of God has always possessed absolute sovereignty over all creation (John 1:1f; 17:5; Col. 1:15f; Heb. 1:1f). And yet, the Bible speaks of God granting to Jesus a kingdom as an essential aspect of His work as the Mediator between God and men to bring salvation to sinners (1 Tim. 2:5; 1:15). ...His mediatorial kingdom and His authority to rule over all were given to Him by His Father as a “reward” for His obedience, humiliation, and suffering for us[.] (135)
Whereas some today say that His reign and kingdom do not commence until His second coming, the Bible is clear: “Christ is already a king upon His throne in the full sweep of His kingly administration.”104 Hodge, Popular Lectures on Theological Themes, 262. (136)
Christ’s reign has begun and has been in place since His resurrection. Christ, not Satan, nor man, rules the world! (137)
Christ’s kingdom had a commencement at His incarnation and it will have a consummation at His second coming. (139)
Christ’s kingdom has come, but it is yet to be perfected. (140)
This passage [I Cor. 15:24f] tells us several things. (1) Christ will not come to consummate His kingdom at the end of the world until He has demolished all opposition against Him. (2) When Christ finishes His mission, His mediatorial authority over the universe will be returned to the Godhead, although Christ’s headship to His body, the church, will never be severed. (3) At the end, when He
finishes His assigned task, he will hand over the kingdom to His Father. (141)
Jesus’ parables are about the kingdom of God. Three central themes occur time and again in them: (1) The planting of the seed: the present reality of the kingdom; (2) The growth of the seed: the development and progress of the kingdom; and (3) The harvest of the seed: the future consummation of the kingdom. (142)
It is here in saving power, and the fact that Christ has put down rebellion in our hearts, established His rule there, and made Christians of us, is proof of that fact. (142)
(1) The kingdom is what God gives the Son of Man upon His resurrection and ascension; (2) Christ’s kingdom is one of glory and light; (3) As His kingdom
advances, men serve Him; and (4) His kingdom is invincible. (143)
The point of Mark 4:23–25 is that the revelation of the kingdom and the experience of the power of the kingdom are inseparably connected with the preaching of the kingdom by Christ and His church. John Calvin wrote: “There never was so great a clap of thunder heard in any corner of the globe, than the sound of the voice of the gospel over the whole world. The lamp of the gospel was lit by the apostles, so that it should shine the world over.” 109. Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke, 3 vols., trans. by Rev. William Pringle (reprint Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 1:461. (143)
The harvesting of the grain [reference to the parable] must wait until the great day of consummation on Judgment Day at the Second Coming of Christ, when He comes to cleanse and perfect His kingdom. (145)
The seed of the kingdom is planted. It grows. The sower cannot fully understand how it grows, because it matures “mysteriously, by God’s initiative and appointment, without human intervention.” The sower’s ultimate interest is in the purpose for which he planted the seed—to HARVEST the grain. The harvest is certain. (146)
The kingdom of God is not only present in the world, it is growing and progressing toward harvest. It is present as a growing, transforming and advancing force in history. (147)
Between the PLANTING of the seed and the HARVEST of the seed is the MATURATION of the seed, the HISTORY of the seed. The planted seed grows, develops and matures until the harvest, when it is gathered. The kingdom of Christ is not only present and active in the world, it is a growing, conquering, expanding force in the history, societies and hearts of human beings....This kingdom, as time passes, spreads its dominating, liberating and transforming influence throughout the earth, gathers strength, increases in numbers, consolidates its position over all opposition, and more conspicuously manifests itself. (148)
The kingdom of Christ, like the mustard seed, will become a dominant force in the world, creating and expanding the church numerically, spiritually, geographically and heterogeneously, as it advances and deepens its spiritual growth toward Christlikeness. As this happens, the kingdom, and its institutions, will have a leavening influence on all aspects of human society. (149)
"During this brief interval what changes had been wrought by the proclamation of the Messiah’s kingdom (Luke 16,16)! The whole Jewish world has been thrown into commotion, and in spite of the resistance of its party leaders and its ruling classes, the new theocracy was welcomed by the masses, not with enthusiasm merely, but with a furore which could only be compared to the conquest of a kingdom by the violent irruption of a hostile army." 118 This is the effect of the presence, growth and triumphant advance of the Kingdom of Christ. 118. Alexander, The Gospel According to Matthew, 310. (152)
The spirituality of the kingdom of God has been often misunderstood and misapplied. (153)
The point of Jesus’ remarks should be obvious by their context: His kingdom does have political relevance for the people and institutions of this earth! All the political institutions of earth are accountable to Him as their king, including Rome. Jesus’ statement in John 18:36 is not about the nature of His kingdom, but of its origin.
His kingdom does not originate in this world of evil men; it is not “of” this world. Rather it is “from another place.” It is “given from above.” .... Furthermore, its method of conquest is different from that of the world. It advances by Christ’s witness-bearing to God’s revealed truth (Rev. 19:15; John 18:37). As “the sword of the Spirit, the word of God” is the weapon of the kingdom’s conquest... (154)
...it is important to note that the word “spiritual” must be understood in the strictest Biblical sense, as “of the Holy Spirit” or “Spirit-produced” (1 Cor. 2:10f; Col. 3:16). (155)
First, the kingdom is “spiritual” because its first objective is the conquest of the human heart by the Spirit and the Word (Luke 17:21; Rom. 14:17).
Second, because only those who have been “born of the Spirit” (John 3:3,5; 1:12–13), are citizens of this kingdom (Mark 10:15).
Third, because “the modes of its becoming, of its development and expansion in the world” (Webb) are not sensational or revolutionary (Luke 17:20) but of the Spirit mysteriously in the heart. ....
Fourth, the kingdom is spiritual because its conquering instrument, its most effective weapon, is revealed truth empowered by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 16:19; Eph. 6:17).
Fifth, the kingdom is spiritual because it is the antithesis of the kingdoms of this fallen world, which are energized, not by God’s Spirit, but by Satan (Eph. 2:1f). ...
Sixth, the kingdom is spiritual because the Holy Spirit is its life and power, its energy and effective force (John 20:22; 1 Cor. 4:20). (155-156)
The reign of Christ is eternal, universal and invincible: “And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:14). It embraces every second of history and every inch of creation, including every
person and all the products of their hands....Revelation 11:15 makes clear that “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.” Paul is as comprehensive as possible when he writes that Jesus is “head over everything” (Eph. 1:22). (156)
First, Christ “obtains a throne” in the hearts of human beings by conquest (Ps. 110:3; Heb. 4:12; Acts 2:37; Ps. 45:5, 6) by calling out of the world a people for Himself: “taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). He overcomes the opposition of excuse, doubts, fears, unbelief, rebellion and all thoughts that entrench themselves against the Word of God....He bestows saving grace upon His elect (Acts 5:31). ....Second, He imposes a new law upon those whom He subdues by His power and love (1 Cor. 9:21; Matt. 11:29; Rom. 8:1–4; 1 John 5:3). Having revealed God powerfully to the hearts of His “captives,” He changes their hearts, gives them rest from sin, and places them in the happy “yoke” of glad submission and obedience to Him, which “yoke” is “light” and “easy” (Matt. 11:30). ....
Third, He rebukes and chastens the soul for sin (Heb. 12:6f; 1 Cor. 11:30). By His Spirit He convicts us of our sin (John 16:8) and leads us to “godly sorrow” for our sin and to true repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). ....
Fourth, He restrains and keeps back His servants from apostatizing sin (Ps. 73:2; 1 Cor. 10:13; Gal. 5:16).
Fifth, He protects them as they walk in His ways, not allowing them to lapse back into bondage to sin and Satan. ....
Sixth, He graciously rewards the obedience of His servants, encouraging them and reassuring them in their sincere service to Him (Ps. 119:56; Heb. 11:6; Jer. 2:31). ....
Seventh, He gives the peace that surpasses all comprehension (Phil. 4:7) to His people experiencing “conflicts without and fears within” (2 Cor. 7:5). (158-159)
Christ, by His providence, orders, determines and governs everything in the universe for the special advantage and everlasting good of His redeemed people (Rom. 8:28; John 17:2). He supports the entire life of the world and everything in it (Col. 1:17). He restrains sin and provides order for life (Ps. 71:10; Gen. 31:24; 2 Kings 19:7, 8). (159-160)
In ruling the world for the sake of the church, Jesus is restraining and overcoming all their enemies: “For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet” (1 Cor. 15:25). ....
From the right hand of God He is powerfully ordering all things for His own glory and their good. ....
To protect His people from evil, Christ the King is taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel.... (160)
Jesus Himself said that the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in A.D. 70 was the sign that the Son of Man reigns in Heaven; and that these Roman armies were the instruments of His providence to judge the apostate Jewish state, as He had promised (Matt. 21:33f). (161)
In His church, His Word is Law: nothing may be added to it and nothing subtracted from it (Deut. 12:32). In the work and worship of His church: (1) Whatever He has
commanded in His Word must be done; (2) Whatever He has forbidden in His Word is not to be done; (3) And, especially with reference to the worship of the church, whatever He has not commanded is forbidden, for to perform acts in worship not commanded by Him is to add to His Word. (162)
The Larger Catechism Q. 45 makes the point that Christ, as the King of His church, has given to His church …officers, laws and censures by which he visibly governs them.… (1) Church offices and officers are Christ’s gifts to His church for Her growth and ministry...(2) Church law is the Word of God. It is Biblical Law...(3) The word, censures, refers to church discipline as described in Matthew 18:15–20: “And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more
with you, so that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.’ And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer. Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in Heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in Heaven. Again I say to
you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in Heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.” (4) It is by these officers, laws and church discipline that Christ the King visibly governs His church. (163)
The blessings and privileges of being members of Christ’s kingdom are innumerable. Among them are the following. (1) Those over whom Christ reigns, and who gladly submit to His reign, are certainly and fully set free from the curse and condemnation of God’s Law (John 8:36; Gal. 5:18)....(2) Those over whom He reigns are freed from the tyranny of sin (Rom. 6:14)....(3) They are constantly protected by Him in all troubles and dangers...(4) Peace and tranquility of heart
and conscience are enjoyed by those ruled by Christ... (5) Everlasting salvation belongs to all citizens of Christ’s kingdom because He who is the Head of the Church, is also the Savior of the Body (Eph. 5:24)....(6) Those under Christ’s gracious rule have been transferred by Him from the realm where “sin reigned in death” to the realm where “grace reigns through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:21). (163-164)
Paul’s answer to the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31 is a practical application of the lordship of Christ to evangelism and saving faith: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, you and your household” (emphasis added). In other words, the acknowledgment of Christ’s lordship is necessary if a person is to be saved....A person cannot enjoy the benefits of Christ’s cross without bowing before the claims of Christ’s crown. (164-165)
“Those who contend that a person may be saved without submitting to the Lordship of Christ are contending that there is forgiveness without repentance, a concept entirely without Biblical foundation (Luke 17:3).”127 Arend J. Ten Pas, The Lordship of Christ (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1978), 6. (165)
As Christians, we are to press His claims and establish His crown rights in every area of our own our nation’s life. In every area of human society, we are to confess that “Jesus is Lord.” (166)
Christ, as King and Lawgiver, has given the human race His Law in the Bible to govern the entire life and thought of all nations. (167)
Since Christ is Lord, He is necessarily Victor: “For the LORD Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth. He subdues peoples under us and nations under our feet.… God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne… For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is highly exalted” (Ps. 47:2, 3, 9). Time and again throughout the Bible, these two themes are inseparably connected: sovereignty and triumph. They presuppose each other. (167)
Therefore, believing in the triumphant kingdom of Christ, we have a victory-oriented, not a defeat-oriented, futureview, as we face our tasks, problems and future....Christ’s kingship guarantees the global success and triumph of His gospel! (168)
...by the grace of God, believers in the Lord Christ can crush Satan under their feet, i.e., resist and overcome the strategies, assaults and tactics of Satan against Christ’s kingdom and church. But, in order to do so, three traits must be true of them: (1) They must separate themselves from all anti-Christian ways of living and thinking; (2) They must devote themselves to obedience to God’s total word; and (3) They must believe the promise of God, expecting Him to triumph through us. (169)