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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:The Enthroned Christ is Lord of Everything
Text:LD 19 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Christ's Kingship
 
Preached:2016
Added:2016-12-25
Updated:2016-12-25
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 72:1,4                                                                                

Hy 1

Reading – Psalm 110; Matthew 25:31-46

Ps 110:1,2,3,5

Sermon – Lord’s Day 19

Hy 44:1,3,4,5

Hy 41:1,2,3

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Christ Jesus, in the last couple of years there have been some medical studies about how bad it is for you to sit. If you sit a lot, there is some risk that your health will suffer. Those who sit down at a desk all day need to make sure that they stand up sometimes, and get regular exercise. And it’s true, usually we think of sitting as a very passive activity. We say to someone, “Don’t just sit there—get moving!”

For Christ our Saviour, sitting down isn’t something passive, nor is it harmful. Scripture and the Apostles’ Creed speak of him ascending, then sitting down. Once He finished his saving mission, He was seated on a throne in heaven. For years He’d been “on his feet,” as it were. He’d worked hard: teaching the crowds, leading his disciples, healing the sick, and then bearing the Father’s wrath. He worked hard, and now He was finished—so He sat. Yet this sitting isn’t like you or I will do after vacuuming the whole house, or mowing the lawn. Christ sat down so that He could keep on working!

Christ sat down, we confess, at the right hand of the Father. Which is a great place for getting things done! In ancient times kings and queens often had a person of great ability and faithfulness sitting on their right side. They could turn to them directly, and give the word: “Go lead my armies out to war!” Or, “Let these prisoners free!” It’s how they’d put their decisions into effect. What such person “at the right hand” said and did was the will of the king himself.

Christ seated at the right hand of the Father means that He has received all authority in heaven and earth—it means that He is now enthroned in the highest place. The same one who saved us at the cross, is ruling over all things for our good, until He comes again. This is our theme from Lord’s Day 19,

The enthroned Christ is the Lord of all:

  1. Head of the church
  2. King of all creation
  3. Judge of every person

           

1)   Head of the church: Two times in Lord’s Day 19, the Catechism refers to Christ by a special name. It speaks of him as “Head.” For instance, in Q&A 50 there’s this question, “Why is it added, ‘and sits at the right hand of God’?” And this is the answer: “Christ ascended into heaven to manifest himself there as Head of his church…”

Still today we talk about someone being “head” of a department, or “head” of a company. But this title for Jesus means much more than the position of director or boss. It’s part of how Scripture describes the meaning of our connection to Christ. Just check the proof texts under this Lord’s Day. For example, it is said about Jesus in Ephesians 1:23 that He’s the Head of the church, “which is his body.”

It’s a lesson in basic anatomy. We know that our head is over and above all the other parts of our body—what we call “members.” And our head is in command of the members too. If you’re swimming in the pool, or vacuuming the house, and you want your hands and feet and fingers to do what their supposed to, they’re going to need signals sent from your brain. The head gives the body its necessary direction, even it’s whole purpose for being and doing.

Now take that and apply it to Christ and his church. As members of Christ, you and I are intimately connected to him up in heaven. By faith we’re connected to him, even as the different parts of our body are connected to our head. And because we’re connected to our Saviour in this way, we receive so many “member rewards.” To paraphrase American Express: Membership in Christ has its privileges!

The greatest privilege of all has to do with our status or our position before God. Being united to Christ our Head means that his life is our life. His holiness is our holiness. All of his righteous accomplishments are credited to our account. We used to be disconnected from God, strangers and enemies because of our sin. But through his blood, Christ brought us back to the LORD our Maker. Christ became our Head, so now we live through him.

That links us back to the idea of Jesus enthroned above: if Christ is our Head, then as the living parts of his body it follows that we share in his power and goodness. Being physically apart from Jesus has nothing to do with it. He might be up in heaven, but Christ is still busy sending benefits directly to us, his members. Remember what it says in Ephesians 5, “No man ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it.” So Christ our Head loves his body. He does everything in his power to feed and maintain us!

This is what He does: “By his Holy Spirit [Christ] pours out heavenly gifts upon us, his members” (Q&A 51). Daily, Christ sends blessings of so many different varieties! So many, we could never count all his gifts. There’s all the material things you have to sustain your life, and the physical abilities you possess, and the blessings of family and church. All these things come from him—they’re given by the Father, for Christ’s sake. And Christ also, and most importantly, gives us the riches of his Holy Spirit.

“He pours out gifts.” Notice first of all, that term of generosity, which is well-chosen by the Catechism. If you pour something out, you’re not holding back. It’s not a slow trickle of iced-tea that you serve your guests on the patio, but it’s plenty that you pour. As much as they ask for, they can have. You’ll make more, if you need to! Like that, Christ pours out his gifts on those who ask. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ saturates us with love and joy and peace. You can ask him for wisdom, you can ask him for patience, and Christ will give it, generously.

More than that, our Head sends the constant signals that we need for working in his service. It’s when you’re connected to Christ your Head that you’ll know what you need to do. If you’re connected to Jesus Christ by regular prayer and through his Word, then it’s certain that you’ll begin to understand what your calling is in this world. Maybe you still have your questions about his will. Big decisions might still be hard to make. But you’ll find your way through fellowship with Jesus, your Head! If you’re connected to him, the Head will direct you.

Again in Ephesians Paul writes about this body of Christ. He says that the body is “joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, in which every part does its share” (4:16). You can hear there’s a point he’s emphasizing: He speaks about the whole body! Every joint! Every part! For we’ve all received heavenly gifts from Christ. Every member of the body has blessings from the Head.

God’s Word lets us assume that every member will be blessed with some ability to serve and to contribute. Some in the church will be especially good at showing mercy, while others will be able to teach, and others will be able to encourage. Some receive this gift, some that one.

Christ gives his Spirit to each of his members, so that in different ways we can bring benefit and blessing to one another. The Head wants his Body to be edified, to be built up, “joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, in which every part does its share.”

So beloved, since you’re a part of Christ’s body here on earth, how have you been involved in body-building? How have you strengthened the church? Can you say that you are contributing in some way to the good of Christ’s people?

I wonder if that’s something we think about very often: doing our share, as members of the body. The problem is that it’s far easier for us to sit back, and let others do the work, the same ones who did it before. It’s also easier for us to just be critical of how things are done in the church. We can point out how this or that should be better. We can complain how people in the church aren’t doing what we think they should. But is that really contributing, really helping the body? Then is each part doing its share?

These are important questions for us as believers and as church. Important, because our Head has poured out gifts on us, his members, for this reason: We’re each called to glorify the heavenly Christ by our service here on earth. So we need to give ourselves cheerfully and wholeheartedly to that task.

 

2) King of all creation: Earlier we read from Psalm 110. This is a royal psalm, one that was probably sung whenever a new king was crowned in Israel. When a king took his throne for the first time, the people praised God. It was a gift to have someone faithful in charge. But though this Psalm is about those earthly kings in David’s line, there’s another level to Psalm 110. From the New Testament we know it proclaims David’s greatest Son. He was praised during his ministry as the “Jesus, Son of David,” even crucified as “King of the Jews.” And finally, He was enthroned on high.

When Christ came into the heavenly places after his resurrection and ascension, God granted him a position of power. God took the words of Psalm 110 into his mouth, “Sit at my right hand!” (v 1). “My Son, you’ve proven yourself, so sit down here,” the Father said to Jesus, “to rule, and to be the instrument of my will on earth. Rule over every president and every king. Have dominion over every enemy and every hater. Be king over all the angels, chief over every nation, and Lord of all creation. For I give you all authority in heaven and on earth.”

Today Christ is seated in heaven. From his throne He governs over all things, great and small, seen and unseen. Ephesians 1 says that Christ is “at God’s right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion” (vv 20-21).

Christ is King at God’s right hand, and for his reign He’s been given a clear mandate. It’s again Ephesians 1 that tells us how it us: “God put all things under Christ’s feet, and He gave him to be head over all things for the church” (vv 22-23). Christ isn’t busy with some goal that we have no idea about. He doesn’t have a hidden agenda. No, in a way it’s very simple. Christ has ascended, to be “head over all things” for his people, for the church. He governs, with both eyes constantly on us!

And his government is total, inclusive of all things—like we see in Lord’s Day 10. He rules everything, “leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty” (Q&A 27). Christ the King is directing the decisions of governments for us. He’s holding in his power every material thing, every physical condition, every spiritual reality—anything and everything that might ever have an impact on us, the citizens of his kingdom.

Christ the King rules all things for us. That’s an amazing truth for us personally, that Christ is stronger than our troubles, that He is Lord of our pain and depression. Christ the King is greater than our worst anxieties, and mightier than our toughest temptations. He is Lord of it all.

It’s also an amazing truth for us as church, that Christ is King. As King He is greater than every godless opponent. He is wiser than every conspiracy against his Word. He can also outlast anyone who challenges him. Christ the King isn’t sitting on the throne with his fingers crossed, hoping that everything works out by the end. He’s on his throne, ruling from a position of strength. Our salvation is his constant goal, and it’s the glue that holds his plan together. Through him, the Father governs all things (Q&A 50).

Meditate on it, because this truth means we have no reason to be afraid. For us, fear is such a natural reaction. We fear so many things! We’re not just afraid of heights, or public speaking, or spiders. Usually we can avoid those things… But we fear everything that can go wrong, turn out badly for us, everything that could end up less than perfect or ideal.

And so much of this fear arises with the realization that we’re not actually sitting on the throne. That sounds strange, but it’s true. Most of the time, we like to think that we’re in charge, in control of things. By sticking to our schedule, by obsessing over the details, by making plans and anticipating the future, we suppose that we actually have a measure of control.

Then something happens, and we realize we’re powerless. It doesn’t take much, and we come to the conclusion that we’re actually not on the throne. We realize there’s so much we can’t control. But Christ can. With him at God’s right hand, our lives are completely secure. From Romans 8, we know that nothing at all can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. That’s a powerful promise. And what gives that promise it’s punch is the rule of Christ. Everything in all creation bends to his will. None of it surprises him. None of it leaves him without answers. And none of it can keep us from his love.

Think about how Lord’s 19 is built on top of the previous Lord’s Days about the person and work of Jesus Christ, all the way from Lord’s Day 11—today, we reach the pinnacle of who Christ is. Jesus was conceived, born, He was anointed, He suffered, was crucified, was dead and buried and resurrected. That’s been the story of his life all along: how much Christ has done for his people. So now that He is ascended and seated at God’s right hand, He won’t let us go!

He won’t give us up to the striving of the nations, to the small troubles of this life, or even surrender us to the grasp of the devil. Christ rules us from his throne, for our salvation. So praise your King in your worship and prayer! Honour your King with your wholehearted trust! Glorify your King by your willing service!

 

3) Judge of every person: There’s a final position that the enthroned Christ has, and that is Judge. In Matthew 25, Jesus gives us a preview of what’ll happen at the end of time. Previews are good, because they prepare us. Now we know what to expect. Jesus says this, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before him…” (vv 31-32).

In Scripture, God the Father is often described as the great Judge, but at the last day we see Christ in this role. The Father gives him this, because judging is a position of great privilege and honour. Think of the prestige that judges still have today, like the judges of the Supreme Court. They have a great and far-reaching authority. Only those with the right credentials and a solid reputation will be appointed. In the same way, it’s a glorious position that Christ holds as the Judge of every person.

And it’s a position that He has earned. He earned it, by being true to his mission. His first coming to the earth was clouded in obscurity and shame—lots of people missed it, because they weren’t looking for God-in-the-flesh. But his second appearing will be glorious and unmistakable, and every eye will see him. “For God has exalted him to the highest place,” says Paul, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth.”

Before him every knee shall bow! Note that well. Not just those who confessed his Name. But everyone, even the unbelievers and idolaters and hypocrites—all these shall come before his great throne, and kneel before him. And we will all be judged by him.

Jesus says that “all the nations will be gathered before him…” (v 32). On that day, there will be a great separating. It will be like “a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (v 32). In Palestine, when a shepherd had his animals out in the valleys and plains, they’d all flock together, sheep and goats and other livestock. They’d feed all day in the same pastures, and drink all day at the same streams. But at night they’d be separated by the shepherd. Apparently sheep and goats are of different temperaments or characters: sheep are docile and calm, goats are unruly and aggressive. So they need to be kept apart, in different pens, or they’ll hurt each other.

We know Christ as the Shepherd of his flock, and believers as his sheep. Right now in this world, the godly and the wicked live together. We’re on the same street, at the same workplaces and shops, sometimes in the same schools. Hopefully we’re distinguished by some things as Christians, but no one can see into the heart and really know who are the people of Christ. But the day will come when the Judge will gather all nations before him, and He’ll start dividing. He will distinguish his followers from everyone else. All other divisions will be abolished, and the only distinction will be two-fold: sheep and goats—saints and sinners.

“Did you believe in Christ alone, for life and salvation?” The Lord Jesus will ask every last person, “Did you worship me in true faith? Did you serve me, in the time my Father gave you? Did you trust in me for salvation, and acknowledge that it was me on the throne, and not you?” Using the questions implied in Matthew 25, everyone will be asked by Jesus the great Judge, “When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was thirsty, did you give me drink? When I was a stranger, did you take me in, or when I was naked did you clothe me? When I was sick, or in prison, did you come visit me?”

Notice the tone of these questions. They don’t focus on how much we know. Nor do they centre on outward religion, things we could possibly fake by being in our pew every Sunday, or by praying at our mealtimes. But the questions will be practical and concrete. They will focus on how much help we gave to the spread of the gospel, and where we served, and whether we were merciful to the suffering. Jesus explains that if we did these things for his servants, then we did these things for him.

And to those who didn’t, Jesus will say, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (v 41). It’s a fearful scene for unbelievers. But what about us? We’ll be asked those questions too. Did you worship Christ in true faith? Did you serve him obediently, in the time the Father gave you? Remember that we’re given this preview of the final judgment, so that we can be prepared. We’re told this parable, so that we can get ready to meet the Judge.

Compare it to walking into a crowded room of strangers, all talking with one another. I’m sure you’ve had the experience. For a moment, standing near the door, you feel tense and self-conscious—but then relief: you’re so glad to see someone on the other side of the room that you recognize! There’s great security in a friend, a blessing in the welcome of an old acquaintance.

So on that day we come before Christ for judgment. We might be anxious, feel alone, but then the relief that we recognize someone. We know the very one who’s about to pass judgment! On that last day, says the Catechism, “the very same person” (Q&A 52) who will judge us is the one who already bore our sins. The one sitting on the throne will be the one who once was hanging on the cross, the one who’s covered all our transgressions.

Then Christ will claim his believers: “These are the sinners I redeemed from death. I’m the Head to these members, who are my own body. I’m the King, and these are my people. I’m the Good Shepherd, and these are the sheep for whom I laid down my life.”

And then—a final thing—once He’s separated us, notice where the Judge in Matthew 25 will seat us: at his right hand (v 33). He puts us in that place of high honour and privilege. Christ will seat us with him in the heavenly realms, so that we can rule over the new creation.

May it be for all of us! May you hear these words of the Saviour. May each one of us on that day hear the blessed words of Christ, “Come, you blessed of my Father. Sit at my right hand. Inherit the kingdom that’s been prepared for you.”  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://frcmn.org/sermons/

(c) Copyright 2016, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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