HEB 4:12 - For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the he... more
“For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” 1CO 15:25
From the Cross to the Crown
Jesus Christ now reigns at the right hand of the Father and, from the moment of the ascension, is ruling in the very midst of His enemies. Most Christians—and indeed even pastors—focus on the finished work of the cross, to the exclusion of what is called theologically, “The Present Session of Christ.”
But what kind of rule is this? The history of the world for the last 2,000 years is one of chaos, the rise and fall of nations, and unspeakable evil and suffering. How can we say that our Lord is reigning in the midst of all of this?
We need to look at history with the eye of faith. Then, we begin to discern the hand of God at the tiller of history. The goal of the present session reign of Christ is clearly stated by Paul, “till He has put all enemies under His feet.” And the place of His reign is also clear, “in the midst of [His] enemies.”
Divine Jiu Jitsu
To understand the present reign of Christ, watch one of The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings movies, and see how the Elves fight the Orcs. Then, picture in your mind an ancient battlefield. In the center is a master warrior. Five enemies surround him. We will call them evil #1 through #5. As evil #1 attacks him with a great sword, the master swiftly deflects it so that it kills evil #4. Then, evil #3 closes in with a battle-axe, taking a mighty swing, only to find the master warrior is not there, Instead, the aim intended for him decapitates evil #5 who was closing in from the other side. Last of all, evil #1 and #2 charge in for the kill, but the master again deflects their weapons to destroy each other. So, Jesus Christ does with each new evil that arises on the world scene.
The essence of evil, as defined scripturally, is that it always fulfills the dual role of deception and destruction of the souls of men. To those who engage in any evil, it looks “good,” but it always has a degenerative effect on the soul, diminishing their capacity to know truth and to love, as well as to experience inner joy and peace.
In World War II, German Nazism fought Russian Communism—two forms of evil. Yet, to those on either side, they were the “good” forces, seeking to destroy the “evil” forces. Then we have the Allies, with Great Britain and America, who we see as the “good guys,” and rightly so to a degree. But we brought to the fight an evil of our own, which came to be known as “the American dream.” This “dream” set aside the spiritual focus that came to the forefront during the Great Depression; and early in the War, we replaced it with happiness through materialism. If only we have a good job, a nice car, and own our own home, we will be “happy.” Being “happy” became our goal—the deception that has destroyed the soul of America. As this evil has permeated our culture, it has morphed into a myriad of pursuits, all designated as “rights,” and all at war with each other.
We have workers’ rights, women’s rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, etc. The problem is that each of these “rights” tramples on the “rights” of others, and demands that others curtail their “rights,” so that my rights are not infringed. One example is the Supreme Court decisions, beginning in 1963, to limit the “rights” of Christians to pray or have Bible studies in schools, for fear of offending non-Christians. Yet, somehow, we have now come to the point where Muslims can interrupt school schedules for their regular prayer times—a “right” which remain prohibited to Christians.
In the midst of it all, Jesus Christ moves quietly and powerfully, reigning “in the midst of [His] enemies”—using them to slowly destroy one another. And, in the gloom of warring evils, the light of the Gospel continues to spread from soul to soul as eyes are opened to the only good and the ultimate truth—that Christ is Lord to the glory of God!
The Reign of Christ Illustrated
We have a perfect example of Christ’s reign in the story of Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 27. We have the centurion Julius, of the Augustan Regiment—the elite of the Roman military power. We have the captain of the Alexandrian ship, representing the economic power of the times. Under this captain are sailors representing the workers’ guilds. In the “midst” of it all is Paul, a “helpless” prisoner. The power hierarchy is Julius, then his soldiers, then the captain, then his sailors, and then other passengers, and—last of all and without any earthly power—Paul.
As the story unfolds, and the storms assail the ship, the Apostle Paul begins to rise in both esteem and power. He counsels them (ACT 27:10), and is overruled by the centurion and the captain (ACT 27:11). He then reminds them of his counsel (ACT 27:21-26) and inserts spiritual hope in what appears to be a hopeless situation. At a crucial moment (ACT 27:30-32), he literally takes command of the situation. Then, he leads them in prayer, and urges them to eat (ACT 27:33-36). He has now won the admiration and favor of the centurion (ACT 27:43).
After escaping the ship, Paul helps to gather wood for the fire—a small but admirable display of humility (ACT 28:1-3). God now uses this to display His power, as a serpent fastens onto Paul’s hand, which he treats with total disdain (ACT 28:3-6). Paul, trusting in God’s promise that he would arrive in Rome (ACT 23:11), knew that no harm would come to him. Thus, his conduct, wisdom, counsel, and witness all worked to bring attention to display the power of Jesus Christ (ACT 28:7-10).
By His indwelling Spirit, resident in the Apostle Paul, Jesus Christ exercised His reigning power “in the midst of [His] enemies.” By the end of the story, we would assume that many of those former enemies have now become followers of Jesus Christ. Many evils, including storms, greed, selfishness, military and economic power, and illness, were all brought to bow before the throne of Jesus Christ through the humble, patient, and faithful conduct of a lone prisoner. This very example is what Jesus Christ seeks to do through each and every believer through the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit.
Justice For All
“A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory …”MAT 12:20
All the tumult and chaos of the present time is working toward a grand finale. And in the midst of all the evils of our age, Jesus Christ is quietly working through His Body, the Church, to “[bring] justice to victory.” Those who bow the knee to Him in faith secure eternal deliverance. Those who refuse to humble themselves before Him will be destroyed.
In the soon-to-come Tribulation period, the great climactic battle of good and evil will be fought. One form of evil will be used to destroy another, until all lie in ruins at the feet of Jesus Christ, the King of kings. All that will remain will be those who—through the clash of various evil forces—will be brought to pray to Him, who alone can save them, “deliver us from … evil” (MAT 6:13) and turn to Him in faith.
Every child of God is intended to be an instrument of His current reign, as Christ is given the throne of that life, so as to “reign in the midst of [His] enemies.” For those of us who trust in Christ, the greatest peril of this age of perilous times is not the obvious dangers. For us, the greatest peril is to fail to let Him reign in us. For to the degree that we resist His inner reign, we make ourselves “enemies of the cross of Christ” (PHI 3:18b).
May God give us the faith, humility, and submission, to “reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (ROM 5:17). For we are like Paul on the doomed ship, and we have the opportunity to demonstrate that, though this world had only a cross for Christ, yet the heavenly Father has crowned Him with glory and honor!