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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Preached At:Langley Canadian Reformed Church
 Langley, B.C.
 
Title:Christ the Mediator-Warrior-King
Text:LD 12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Christ's Kingship
 
Preached:2007
Added:2007-07-25
Updated:2007-07-25
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 99
Hymn 1A
Psalm 110:1-3
Hymn 25:1-2
Hymn 52

Readings: Philippians 2:1-11, Revelation 5
Text: Lord's Day 12
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of Christ Jesus,

Some years ago, somebody made a painting of the Lord Jesus. In this particular painting, we see the United Nations building in New York City and Jesus standing beside it (towering over it actually) and making a gesture as if to knock at a door. Leaving aside the ethics of making pictures of the Lord Jesus, these sorts of images reflect a certain mindset about who he is. In this instance, he is the gentle soul knocking at the door and hoping that the United Nations will open up and answer his invitation. What we confess from Scripture challenges these sorts of pop images.

We confess that Jesus is the Christ. He is the Messiah, the anointed one of God. The Greek word “Christ” and the Hebrew word “Messiah,” both mean “the anointed.” At his baptism, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our prophet, priest and king. Today we’re going to take special note of that last office: the kingly office of Christ. We confess that Christ is our eternal King. That calls up many different kinds of pictures from the Bible. One of those is that he is a warrior. In Biblical times, kings were also the commanders of their armies and they often led their armies into battle. It’s the same with Christ. He is the Lamb of God, but he is also the Lion of Judah. This warrior King appears in Psalm 110, leading God’s people out to battle and bringing them to victory. In Matthew 10:34, we hear the Lord Jesus saying, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” This eternal King is clearly revealed in the Bible as a warrior King. He fights – he fights for his people in the spiritual warfare that has existed from the time of the fall. And in that fact, we also see him revealed as a Mediator, the one who acts for someone else. So, in order to have a full picture of who this is whom we believe in, we need to include the Scriptural truths that Christ is our Eternal Mediator-Warrior-King.

I preach God’s Word as summarized in the Catechism under that theme.

We’ll consider:

  1. His reign in our redemption.
  2. His reign in the response to our redemption.
  3. His reign in the realization of our full redemption.

1. His reign in our redemption

Christ’s kingship is found in many places in the Bible. Take Zechariah 9:9 which speaks about the king of Jerusalem coming with salvation and riding on a donkey. Matthew tells us in 21:5 that this refers prophetically to Jesus. Then there’s also the passage that we read from Philippians 2. Paul doesn’t actually use the word “King” to describe Jesus there, but we definitely find the concept of kingship. After all, Jesus was in very nature God. God is clearly described in kingly terms in the Old Testament. But, Paul tells us, Christ laid aside his regal glory before the eyes of mankind. He did this, not by losing his divine nature, but by adding a human nature. He concealed his divine majesty for the time of his suffering and death. And after all that he did for us, we read in Philippians 2 that God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the highest name. This was so that every one would bow before Jesus, recognizing him as the supreme authority, recognizing him as King.

So, the Bible teaches us clearly that Christ today is our exalted King. And what exactly does this king do in his reign? The Catechism summarizes the Bible’s teaching on this when it says that first of all he “governs us by his Word and Spirit.” This has everything to do with our redemption and there are two different aspects to this.

First, we should note that Christ brings us and keeps us under his reign by his Word and Spirit. Colossians 1:13-14 says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Did you catch that? We have been rescued from one kingdom and brought into another. How did that happen? Well, Christ works through his Word and Spirit. Through the preaching of the gospel, Christ rescues those dead in darkness and brings them into his wonderful light. The public proclamation of the good news is the normal way that Christ first brings us under his reign.

It’s also an important part of how he keeps us under his reign. When we hear the preaching of God’s Word, this is one way that Christ keeps us in his kingdom. With his Word and Spirit, he keeps us focussed on serving the King and following in his ways. But there is something else he also uses, something the value of which should never be underestimated: the sacraments. The King also uses the sacraments to keep us under his reign. He uses them too, along with the Word, to keep us focussed on himself. We regularly celebrate the Lord’s Supper. As we take part in this sacrament, we are reminded and assured of our King’s hearty love for us. In all of that, the Spirit is working to keep us under the King’s reign.

Each time there’s a baptism, we’re also reminded and assured that we are united with Christ in his victory over sin and death. Sometimes perhaps we have the tendency to be individualistic in how we look at baptism. We think that baptism is something for the parents and the child, but the rest of us are just spectators. While it is true that only the child is being baptized at that particular occasion, the rest of us are not excluded from participating in the sacrament. There is a reason why we baptize in a public worship service – this is something that involves the entire congregation. Each time a child is baptized, the entire congregation is vividly reminded of who our Saviour is – that he is our eternal King and Mediator. Each time we see the water being sprinkled on a covenant child’s head, we see a picture of our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. Christ uses this visible preaching of the gospel to keep us all together under his reign. And so Word and Sacrament ministry, which we only find in the public worship services of the local church, is a key part of Christ both bringing us under his reign and keeping us under his reign. In all this we see him working as a Mediator-King who loves his subjects and works for their good.

That brings us to the second aspect of his reign in our redemption. The Catechism says that he “defends and preserves us in the redemption obtained for us.” In other words, Christ is not only concerned with bringing us and keeping us under his reign, he’s also interested in protecting us from whatever and whoever might take us away from his reign. Think of the various passages in John’s Gospel where the Lord calls himself the Good Shepherd who protects the sheep. Who exactly does he protect us from?

We could think here of two different enemies; specifically, the world and the devil. The world wants to bring us back to darkness and it uses different ways to do that. We’re told that being worldly is more fun and exciting. We’re told that being worldly is freedom and being able to be your own boss. We have to recognize this as the lie that was told by Satan at the very beginning. We need Christ to protect us from these lies and deceptions. We also need to see that these worldly attitudes often creep into the church as well. People intent on living godly and holy lives are sometimes attacked or undermined by people they would least expect it from: fellow church members. Here too, we need Christ to protect us and guard us in our salvation.

Then we also have the devil. He’s the one that Peter calls “a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He’s a fierce enemy and we shouldn’t underestimate his power. Satan and his demonic forces also seek to destroy us and rob us of our redemption. Thankfully, in his love Christ promises to defend and preserve us against him. In John 10:28, we hear him saying, “I give them [the sheep] eternal life, and they shall never perish; no once can snatch them out of my hand.” But how does he do this? It’s through his sovereign power. Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords and everything and everyone is subject to him, including the world and Satan. It’s through his mighty hand that can and he does watch over us.

Yes, praise God, Christ our King defends and preserves us. He’s like a warrior King defending the helpless citizens of his realm. He’s a Mediator who lovingly cares for those under his wing. He does that not only for individual believers but also for the church as a whole. We have a Redeemer who is mighty to save – our Eternal King. He reigns in our redemption and now we’ll see that he also reigns in the response to our redemption.

2. His reign in the response to our redemption

Through faith, we have been incorporated into Christ. The Catechism refers to this Biblical truth when it says, “I am a member of Christ by faith.” The language here is meant to call up the image of a body. We are all parts or members of Christ’s body. This means we have union with Christ, and so we share in his Holy Spirit and his anointing. Baptism, like I mentioned a moment ago, is the testimony of this union. The result of all this is that we, like Christ, are also prophets, priests and kings.

I am a member of Christ by faith. That means that I have been redeemed by Jesus. His Spirit worked faith in my heart and I embraced Christ as Saviour. What follows is a matter of loving thankfulness. I love the God who bought me. I want to be thankful to the God who brought me out of darkness to dwell in his light. The way we do that can be summarized with these three offices of prophet, priest and king.

So, in our office of king, we are responding to the redemption Christ has accomplished for us. This is part of our sanctification, our thankfulness. Keeping that in mind, we also need to remind ourselves of what we confess in Lord’s Day 32. In that Lord’s Day, we say that our thankfulness is Christ’s work in us. “…Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, also renews us by his Holy Spirit to be his image…” In other words, the good news includes our sanctification. Some believers have this idea that God’s grace only goes so far as our justification. The sinner gets saved by God and his grace and then after that, you’re on your own and you have to work to keep in God’s favour. It all depends on you. Brothers and sisters, that is a Roman Catholic way of thinking. It’s not good news. The Bible teaches us the good news that Christ is at work in us also in our sanctification. He reigns not only in our redemption, but also in the response to our redemption.

We sang Psalm 110 before the sermon. There’s no other Psalm that portrays Christ as the Warrior-King in greater splendour. From this Psalm we see that the Warrior-King is not alone – he has soldiers under him who join him in the battle. Verse 3 of Psalm 110 says that these troops will be willing on the day of battle. We might ask why that would be. What makes us willing soldiers under Christ our King? For the answer to that, we could go to Philippians 2:13, “…it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Specifically, it is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who dwells in us and who leads us onward in holiness. Christ carries out his reign in the response to our redemption through the Spirit who lives in us.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t at all take away from the commands that are given to us and the responsibility we have to follow those commands. A second ago, I mentioned Philippians 2:13, I didn’t mention verse 12, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Yes, it is God’s work, it is the Holy Spirit, but he uses and shapes our wills and our obedience in the process. So with the Spirit living in us, we will hear the imperatives of Scripture and follow them, follow them out of thankfulness and love for the King and what he’s done for us.

Recognizing that, our call as kings is to “fight with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil in this life.” This image of the Christian soldier fighting against sin and the devil is found in several places in the New Testament. Probably the most well-known is Ephesians 6 where Paul tells the Ephesian Christians to “put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” I’m not going to go through that passage verse by verse. You can do that for yourself at home – this might be a good passage to read with your family. The one point that I want to draw out is that Christian soldiers have not only defensive armour, but also have been given a weapon for the battle. Verse 17, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” The Bible is the only weapon that Christians have been given to fight against sin and the devil. It’s our sword. In the ancient world, soldiers were trained to use swords. Normally you can’t just pick up a sword and go into battle and expect to find success. It’s the same with Christian soldiers. We need to train with the Sword of the Spirit to be able to use it effectively in battle against our enemies, sin, the devil, and also our own flesh.

As we fight this battle, using the tools given us, we increasingly come to share in Christ’s victory over sin. Our union with him in principle starts more and more to look like a union in practice as well. We begin to more and more look like our victorious Warrior-King. His reign among us becomes progressively more obvious!

That’s one outcome of this battle. And it is a life-long fight. The whole of the Christian life, from the time of regeneration to the time of natural death (or when Christ returns) is one long battle. Christ came to bring peace to his people, but we need to see that it is peace which starts a war. The good news is that it is not our war, not our battle. It is Christ’s and the victory is assured in him. The war of Christ and his people against sin, the devil, and our own flesh will be over when our full redemption is finally accomplished. Let’s now briefly consider his reign in that too.

3. His reign in the realization of our full redemption.

We confess that Christ is an eternal King. That means that he has always been a King and he always will be a King. However, the day is coming when his reign will be more glorious than it has ever been. In the age to come, King Jesus will have unsurpassed glory on the new heavens and new earth. As if that isn’t enough good news, we have the promise of his Word that we will be there reigning with him into eternity.

Though today we often suffer and experience grief in this broken world, God’s promise is for something better, much better. Hebrews 12:28 tells us that “we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” Through Christ, we know that eternal glory waits for God’s people in the age to come when our full redemption is realized. Then Christ will reign in full glory and we will reign with him.

Revelation 5 shows this most beautifully and powerfully. This chapter portrays the victory of Christ. He appears in this chapter as the Lamb, but also as the Lion of Judah and the Root of David, victorious and triumphant King! In this chapter we also find that those who had been purchased with the blood of the Lamb, have been made into kings and priests to God who will reign on the earth. Here we find a promise of future glory for God’s people. Just as Christ was exalted, so also his people will be exalted with him. And so, when our full redemption is realized, we will reign as kings with Christ our King. With his sovereign power he and he alone will make it so – and in this too, we see him as our Mediator. We know that it doesn’t depend on us and our strength, but on him alone. He will guide his people to victory like no other can. At that glorious moment, at the consummation of all things, not one of his people will be missing. This is our Saviour!

Let us pray:

Lord God in heaven,

Thank you for your Word of truth which has again put Jesus Christ and his good news before our hearts. King Jesus, we praise you for your reign in our redemption. We’re thankful that you bring us under your reign with your Word and Spirit. We’re grateful that you keep us in this good place through the preaching of the Word and the sacraments. We humbly implore to keep on defending and preserving us in the redemption you obtained for us. Lord, please also continue to reign in us in our sanctification. Lead us on, O King Eternal. Give us more grace that we would show our love and thankfulness to you by fighting against sin and the devil in this life. Direct us ever more to the Sword of the Spirit and train us in its effective use. We pray that you would do all this until the fulness of your kingdom comes, till the day when the fullness of our redemption is realized. We ask, O God, that the day would come quickly. How we long to live for eternity in your presence, happily ever after under your rule. Please hear our prayer for your own sake and for your own glory, AMEN.

For Further Thought and Discussion

(these can be placed in your liturgy sheet or church bulletin)

  1. List some of the words used to describe Christ in the Bible. Why are some of these word pictures out of favour among many Christians today?
  2. When was Christ anointed with the Holy Spirit? Does that mean the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with him prior to this?
  3. How do the Word and Sacraments relate to Christ’s reign and how does that impact our lives?
  4. What sort of image is being used when we confess that we are “members of Christ by faith”? Where does baptism fit into that?
  5. What comfort is there in knowing Christ as your Mediator-Warrior-King?
  6. What does Christ’s letter to the church at Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) indicate about the kingly office of believers?



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

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