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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Preached At:Providence Canadian Reformed Church
 Hamilton, Ontario
 
Title:Christ is our eternal King and we share in his anointing
Text:LD 12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Christ's Kingship
 
Preached:2011
Added:2011-12-29
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Note:  all songs from the 2011 Book of Praise

Hymn 4
Psalm 72:1,4,5,10
Hymn 44
Hymn 1
Psalm 45:1-3, 6

Readings:  2 Kings 21:1-18, Revelation 19
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 our Lord Jesus,

Of all the three offices mentioned in Lord’s Day 12, the office of king is probably the one that is most familiar to us.  As Canadian citizens, we’re aware of the concept of royalty.  After all, Canada is a constitutional monarchy.  Before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, Canada had a king.  It’s quite likely that in our lifetimes we’ll see another king, either Charles or William.  So the general concept of a king or royal ruler is familiar.

Yet the idea of a king in the Bible does have some significant differences from our modern day situation.  We have a constitutional monarchy.  Our Queen is more of a ceremonial figure head than a real ruler.  She really makes no decisions that bear on our daily lives.  Real political power in our country resides in Ottawa, not at Buckingham Palace.  But in Bible times, particularly in Israel, there was no constitutional monarchy.  Instead, what we find is an absolute monarchy.  Kings were real rulers with real political power.  Kings made real judgments and decisions in the affairs of the land.

And that’s the background to the office of king as we confess it in the Heidelberg Catechism.  When we say that Christ is a king, we certainly don’t mean it in the Canadian understanding of royalty.  We don’t mean that he is a nominal ruler, but an actual King with genuine powers.  A King similar to the kings we read about in the Bible.  This afternoon we’re considering his kingship and ours.  We’ll see that Christ is our eternal king and we share in his anointing. 

We’ll consider:

1.      What Christ’s kingship involves

2.      What our kingship involves

Let’s begin by asking:  where does the Bible teach us that Christ is our eternal King?  There were already indications in the Old Testament that the coming Messiah would be a king.  Think of the prophecy of Isaiah 9.  The child to be born who would be called “Mighty God” would have the government on his shoulders.  Isaiah 9:7 prophesied that he would reign on David’s throne and that his reign would last forever.  That’s just one example, one of the most clear. 

When we get to the New Testament, we find the fulfillment of those sorts of prophecies.  In Luke 1 the angel Gabriel comes to the virgin Mary.  He tells her that she will have a baby whose name will be Jesus.  Then he says in Luke 1:32-33, “The Lord will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  So there is little question that our Saviour is an eternal King.  The Bible clearly teaches it. 

Yet we could ask the question:  what does “eternal” mean?  It’s not right away obvious.  Eternal can mean at least two different things.  Eternal can mean that he became a king at a certain point in the past and will be into the future forever.  Eternal can also mean that Christ has always been a king into the eternal past and will be into the eternal future.  Do you see the difference?  If you don’t, think of it this way:  as Christians, we have eternal life in Christ.  That means that we will live forever because of him.  But having eternal life does not mean that we have existed eternally into the past.  Our existence has a definite starting point.  We began to exist when we were conceived.  Christ also has eternal life.  He will exist into the future forever.  But he also has existed eternally into the past.  There is no point at which he began to exist.  The Son of God, because he is God, has always existed and always will.  Yes, he did become a human being at a definite point in time, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t exist before that as the second person of the Trinity.  So I hope that makes it clear that the word “eternal” can have different meanings. 

Now the question:  what does it mean that Christ is our eternal King?  Here we can get some help from article 27 of the Belgic Confession.  That article is about the church.  We confess in the second paragraph of article 27, “This church has existed from the beginning of the world and will be to the end, for Christ is an eternal King who cannot be without subjects.”  This is a brilliant piece of reasoning from what the Bible teaches.  Christ is a King.  By definition, a king has people that he rules over.  Christ’s kingship is intimately connected to those he rules over.  So his kingship began when the church began.  When did the church begin?  Some say that the church began at Pentecost, but this isn’t correct.  The church began when God created the first human beings.  Adam and Eve made up the first congregation of believers.  They were the first subjects of Christ the King.  Christ’s Kingship therefore begins at a certain point in time.  And it is a kingship that will last into the eternal future.  Because we have eternal life through him, he will always be reigning and ruling over us.

From here we can move on to consider how he rules over us.  There are many aspects to his reign.  The Catechism isolates three of them.  First, he governs us by his Word and Spirit.  With his Word he directs us how to conduct our lives as Christians.  With his Spirit he makes us teachable, he makes us pliable to his will.  With his Spirit he makes us able to recognize, understand, and do his will.  Second, he defends us in our redemption.  We have enemies who are intent on our destruction, the most powerful of which is the Devil himself.  Christ will not allow Satan to have his way with us.  If we belong to him, we cannot belong to the Devil.  The Evil One may still oppress us, just like he oppressed Christ himself, but he cannot possess us.  Christ will not allow it.  Third, he preserves us in our redemption.  That’s a reference to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.  If we truly belong to Christ and are his subjects, he will keep us.  Through his grace, we cannot fall away from him.  Think of what Scripture says in 1 Peter 1:4-5.  Peter says that through Christ we have an inheritance that cannot perish, spoil, or fade.  He says that we are being shielded by God’s power.  Nothing can draw away the elect from the salvation they have in Christ.  They will be invincibly preserved by the King.                

The power of our eternal King is also illustrated in what we read from Revelation 19.  At one time in his life, as he was descending into humiliation, the King rode on a lowly donkey.  But here in Revelation 19, the glorified King rides on a majestic white horse.  His robe announces his title:  “King of kings and Lord of lords.”  That title is also written on his thigh.  “King of kings...”  And as a King, what do we see him doing in Revelation 19?  Judging and making war.  The King of kings is the Divine Warrior and Judge.  He has a sword which strikes down the nations.  In other words, what we see him doing here is taking vengeance on those who do not know God and obey the gospel.  When Christ returns to judge the living and the dead, he will be carrying out an aspect of his office as King.  That reminds us again to live in the light of eternity.  That reminds us again to be sure that we are looking to Christ as our Saviour, so that we stand behind him and not in front of him as he judges and makes war.

As we continue looking to him in faith, and trusting his Word, we know that he is a good King.  In the Old Testament, there were some relatively good kings.  But there were also some really bad ones.  Manasseh was one of the worst.  He set up pagan worship in the temple of God.  He made a human sacrifice of his son, burned him up in fire to some pagan god, probably Molech.  He led the people far away from God.  Manasseh’s detestable sins were a big part of the reason for the exile into Babylon.  Manasseh was a king in Judah, he was from the line from which the Messiah was supposed to come.  But obviously he was not going to be the one to overcome sin and evil and pay for others.  Looking at Manasseh could only lead the faithful among God’s people to despair and call out for true deliverance.  He was a wicked king, a total failure. True, in 2 Chronicles 33 we do read of his repentance at the end of his life.  Yet the total record of his life is a mess.  And even the best kings in Judah and Israel had their blemishes.  Even Manasseh’s grandson Josiah, despite all his faithful deeds in obedience to God’s law, even King Josiah had his fatal flaw.  He should have turned away from the battle with Pharaoh Neco, but he would not listen.  There was not a single king in all Israel’s history who was good in every sense of the word.  There was no completely good king.  Until Jesus came. 

Loved ones, he was and is the good King.  He reigns in righteousness and justice.  He loves his subjects.  He loves you and will always do what is good for you.  We can trust our good King – he has a flawless track record as a King, and we have the promise of God’s Word that he will always continue to be the same.  Being under his rule and acknowledging his Kingship over you will always be a blessing for you.

And when we look to him in faith, we share in his anointing as kings.  His Holy Spirit lives in us and makes us to share also in this office.  What does that mean exactly?

The Catechism divides up the answer to that question into two parts.  The first has to do with the present.  Right now, being a king with Christ means that we “fight with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil in this life.”  In other words, we do what Manasseh didn’t do and what Christ did do:  struggle against wickedness.  In Manasseh’s life, for most of it anyway, there was no struggle.  He didn’t wrestle with evil – instead, he gave himself completely over to it and he led others to do likewise.  When he was tempted, there was not a moment’s hesitation – he simply gave in and followed whatever evil presented itself.  What a difference from our King Jesus!  That King was tempted too.  The Evil One tried to get him to swerve from his commitment to goodness and righteousness.  But he would not turn to the right hand or to the left.  He remained faithful.  He genuinely struggled and he was victorious over temptation.  He did it for us.  His obedience is imputed to us and that’s part of the gospel.  And as our response to the gospel, we live in union with him.  We heed his Word and we struggle against sin. 

Sometimes I’ve heard people say things like, “How can I be a Christian when I struggle with this sin?”  It’s a good question.  The answer is that you cannot be a Christian UNLESS you struggle with sin.  If there’s no fight and no struggle in your life with wickedness, that’s a problem.  A serious problem.  If you’re not searching out and battling the evil in your own heart and life, there’s reason for concern about your spiritual health.  One of two things is normally going to be true if you’re not struggling with sin:  1) you’re dead.  In which case, the battle is over.  You will be perfected and glorified in Christ, you’ll no longer have sin to struggle with.  But if you’re not dead, the other thing is going to be true if you’re not struggling with sin:  2) you’re not a Christian.  You don’t share in Christ’s anointing, you are not a member of Christ by faith.  Brothers and sisters, let me urge you to hate sin and fight against it, not in a half-hearted kind of way, but with a full measure of your Saviour’s holy rage and violence.  You have to get mad about your sin.  Hate it like God hates the devil and then do whatever it takes to put a knife in it.  As the Puritan John Owen once said, be killing sin or it will be killing you.  As kings, we have to be serious about this.    

Does the Bible have more to say about our office as kings right now?   It does.   Here we can think of the mandate given to Adam and Eve before the fall into sin.  It’s in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  To rule is to carry out the royal office.  This was the original mandate given to our first parents and this mandate is still given to us today.  It has often been perverted.  Human beings have often ruled the earth badly and become tyrants over creation.  But we are in Christ, the true King, the righteous King who was everything that Adam should have been.  Because we are members of Christ by faith, we look at Genesis 1:28 and we take it seriously as our calling.  God has placed the earth in our care.  We are his vice-regents.  We can develop the earth and use it for the good of the people around us.  But we also have a royal responsibility to take care of it.  Conservation and environmental stewardship should be important to those who share Christ’s anointing as kings.  We have to be conscientious in what we do with and in our Father’s world.

Then we also look to the future.  The Bible teaches that, as kings, in the age to come we will reign with Christ eternally over all creatures.  Matthew 25:34 speaks of a kingdom being prepared for us since the creation of the world.  That’s a kingdom in which we will live, but also a kingdom in which we will reign.  It will be not only the restoration of the way things were in the Garden of Eden, but the further development.  The way things should have gone.  In the Garden, Adam and Eve ruled over all creatures.  In the new heavens and new earth, we too will rule over all creatures.  Think about that for a moment brothers and sisters.  In the new heavens and new earth, there will be creatures to be ruled over.  There won’t just be human beings.  There will also be other creatures, plants, and animals.  We will have a responsibility to care for them, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden.  They ruled and so will we.  Sometimes people think that eternal life is just going to be a time of leisure, that it will be much like lying on the beach in Cancun for endless days.  This view assumes that work is bad and that work is evil, that work is part of the fall into sin.  It isn’t.  Before the fall into sin, Adam and Eve worked in the Garden.  They tended it and they ruled over everything in it, including the animals.  This involved work.  It’s going to be the same way in the age to come.  In the new heavens and new earth, we will have work to do.  It will not be burdensome, we will have no bad attitudes or discontent about our work.  We will always find the work fulfilling and purposeful.  But we will work – we will work as kings under our great King Jesus Christ.

That perspective on the future also has an impact on how we live in the present, don’t you think?  Work is not evil.  Work is simply part of what it means to be human.  And if we share in Christ’s anointing, and if he is continuing to work for us as our King, and if we have a future that involves eternal work, shouldn’t we look at our daily work in a positive way?  We weren’t created for the weekend.  God didn’t put us on this earth for the x number of weeks that we have for vacation.  He put us here to glorify him, also to glorify him with our daily work.  That calling has everything do with being kings now and into the future.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a vacation.  God himself gave his people the Sabbath; he also gave them many feast days in the Old Testament.  These are good things too.  But it’s about perspective and balance, and attitude.  Perspective:  work is not evil or bad.  Balance:  to be effective in your work and also to serve others around you (including your family), as a weak creature you need to take time off to be refreshed.  Of course.

Loved ones, our King is Jesus Christ and he is both powerful and good.  His reign over us is something to be treasured.  It’s something for which we can be thankful.  And as we think with gratitude about him being our King, that’s also going to shape our own office as kings under him.  We’ll want our lives to look more and more like King Adam II, and by God’s grace, it will happen.  AMEN.

Prayer:

Our eternal King,

Thank you for your just and good rule.  We thank you for your Word and Spirit by which you rule over us.  Thank you King Jesus for defending and preserving us in our redemption.  And we’re also glad that we have the promise of your return to judge the living and the dead.  We look forward to seeing you come with the clouds of heaven.  We ask that you would hasten your great day.  We look forward to ruling with you over all creatures forever. 

We also ask again for the help of your Holy Spirit.  We’re so weak and we need your strength.  We want to hate sin and struggle against it.  But where the spirit is willing so often the flesh is weak.  Help us to fight against sin and the devil in this life with a free and good conscience.   We pray that with all of us there would be a genuine wrestling with sin with our whole heart.  We pray that you would also help us to take care of this world.  Help us to be conscientious in how we care for your creation.     

                 




* 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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