19. The King

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 19 2024

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  • Series: Aspects of Systematic Theology
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Our Scripture is from 1 Corinthians 15:22-28, and our subject: The King.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” 1

The Scriptures make clear that Christ is King. This is the most obvious fact of Scripture. The Old Testament repeatedly speaks of the Messiah as king. In Psalm 45:6-7 this is emphatically stated. In fact, His crucifixion was due to His royal status, this was His crime. All the four gospels tell us, Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38, John 19:19, that the crime charged to Him was that He was king of the Jews. By this was meant the Messianic King, the God-King.

The Chief Priests and the scribes railed at Him when He was on the cross:

“He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe…” 2

Thus they set forth, even in their railing, the charge.

Our Lord did not deny this charge. He said rather that His kingdom was not derived from this world, but from above, from over this world. The chief priests and the scribes realized that His kingship was linked to His deity, and so the charge was both that He claimed to be King, and that He said He was God.

We read in Matthew 27:43 that they declared that He had said: “I am the Son of God.” The early church repeatedly quoted Psalm 2 and Psalm 110, and many like passages, as does the New Testament of course, concerning the Kingship of Christ. But it is not necessary to pile text upon text from the Old and the New Testaments to prove that Jesus Christ is King. The most common term given to our Lord in the Scriptures is ‘Lord.’ Lord, which means God, absolute owner, King. And so indeed, Jesus Christ is most commonly known as ‘Lord’ or ‘King.’ He is the King, our text says, the Creator, the Redeemer, the Head of the Church, the King of the Universe.

He is the King because He is the second or last Adam. In the beginning God created man in His own image and set Him over the earth as priest, prophet, and king. Man's creation or dominion mandate was to establish himself as king over creation, to rule it, exercise dominion over it, to apply the Word of God to it as prophet, and to dedicate it to the Lord as priest. But man fell from this task, he chose to be king priest and prophet to himself, in independence of God. And as a result, Christ came to fulfill, to put into force, that calling of man. As very man of very man, and with all the power of one who is also very God of very God.

In His baptism, His royal calling is set forth and His investiture as king. The voice from Heaven declares:

“This is my Son today, this day I have begotten thee.” 3

He was born then into the fullness of His kingship; He always was from His conception very God of very God, but now He was the Messiah-King.

Berkhof stated the meaning of this very clearly, of His baptism:

“This investiture was part of the exaltation of the God-man. It did not give Him any power or authority which He did not already possess as the Son of God; neither did it increase His territory. But the God-man, the Mediator, was now made the possessor of this authority, and His human nature was made to share in the glory of this royal dominion. Moreover, the government of the world was now made subservient to the interests of the Church of Jesus Christ. And this kingship of Christ will last until the victory over the enemies is complete and even death has been abolished, 1 Cor. 15:24–28. At the consummation of all things the God-man will give up the authority conferred on Him for a special purpose, since it will no more be needed. He will return His commission to God, that God may be all in all. The purpose is accomplished; mankind is redeemed; and thereby the original kingship of man is restored.” 4

Christ’s kingship thus is the restoration of Adam's original kingship, and of the kingship under God which we lost in Adam.

Now, because God’s requirement for kingship means ‘rule,’ it means ‘dominion.’ This rule and dominion which Adam rejected and which we are called to and reinstated into in Jesus Christ, means first of all rule over ourselves, and then rule over everything which we possess, over every area wherein we labor. So that kingship means responsibility and work.

Now man at the beginning sought instead of kingship, deity; to be as God. So he rejected kingship as God had ordained it, because it meant responsibility and work; and he sought deity, and he also rejected responsibility when God confronted him with his sin.

Kingship in our age is largely ceremonial and no longer has the significance it once did. But the life of a king in bygone days was not an easy one because it was an unending round of work and responsibility, and man as king has been called to that.

Now the association of royal status with battle, with work and responsibility is clearly set forth in our text. We have here the work of Christ, the last Adam, set forth; and the work of all of us who are members of Him. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” says Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:21. All men are made alive in Christ, who are members of Him; verse twenty-two declares. Now to be in Christ is therefore to be a soldier, to put on His armor, to engage as Paul says in Ephesians 6:10-17, in holy warfare. And here in 1 Corinthians 15:24 the work of Christ, His warfare and dominion is described as putting down all rule and all authority and power which is outside of God. Only God’s rule shall prevail, all pretended powers and laws are put down. Christ, thus, establishes His dominion as the last Adam, and we are called to the same dominion in Christ. All Christ’s enemies are to be put under His feet, verse 25 declares. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet.

Paul tells us in Romans 16:20 “the God of peace shall bruise (or crush) Satan under your feet shortly.” This is a promise to all Christians, so that all Christians are called as kings to put down all rule and all authority and power that is outside of Jesus Christ. Make no mistake about it, either we put them down or we are put down by them.

It has been interesting to me to see the reaction to people to the Moral Majority Conference at Dallas, Texas. All that took place there was Christians being told by Christian leaders that it was their duty to be responsible, to take a part. Attention was called to the fact that from a half to two thirds of all Evangelical Christians are not registered to vote, and what has been the reaction of the press to that? Even in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, which is somewhat more conservative than most papers, a columnist called the whole thing: ‘sinister,’ sinister. And more than a few have said that it is illegal for Christians to speak out in this way. The separation of church and state in their thinking calls for the church or evangelicals to be silent. Of course, none of these men had anything to say about a National Council of Churches being silent, with their liberation theology.

But then Paul goes on to tell us, the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. The Fall brought in the reign of sin and death, and sin will before the end be effectively, although not totally, broken and suppressed. All power will be under Christ’s feet, then at the end, the last enemy death itself shall be destroyed. So that we too are called to bring about the death of sin and death as Christians. To break the power of sin around us, to push back the power of death, scientifically and in every way.

Then finally, Christ will yield the kingdom to the triune God. When the triumph of His people as kings has been accomplished and they have reigned triumphantly for a season appointed by Him. And then Christ, the God-man, with total dominion having been gained by His new humanity, which is now restored eternally to God’s dominion service, will yield the kingdom to the triune God. And in that new creation, Revelation 22:3 declares: “...his servants shall serve him…” Christ’s work will have been accomplished. He has restored man as priest, prophet, and king; and as Hodge noted:

“And as the delivery of the kingdom or royal authority over the universe committed to Christ after his resurrection, is consistent at once with his continued dominion as God over all creatures, and with his continued headship over his people; so is the subjection here spoken of consistent with his eternal equality with the Father. It is not the subjection of the Son as Son, but of the Son as Theanthropos of which the apostle here speaks.” 5

God’s purpose will then have been accomplished. Man has learned dominion, and man is now able to serve God perfectly throughout all eternity. Christ’s coming and His work in us is to restore the covenant-people, the new humanity, into their life as priests, prophets and kings unto God. Christ then turns the kingdom over to the triune God. We have been restored, reestablished, into dominion, into our fulfillment of the calling God gave us at the beginning. And so Christ comes as King to make us kings. To postpone Christ’s kingship to the future or to eternity as some people do, who declare that Christ is not King until the Millennium begins, or until the new creation after the general resurrection begins; to do so is to postpone man's duty to exercise dominion. It says in effect since Christ is not King now, man cannot be king now. And so we are to be silent as kings. We have nothing to rule if that be the case, and must be the ruled. And then too it follows that we should be silent as prophets and priests, and the result is what we have seen in our generation; the surrender of this world to Satan, a dereliction of the Christians duty, and an open invitation for God’s judgment upon us.

But Christ is King, and therefore we are called to be kings, and because He is Priest and Prophet, we are called to be priests and prophets unto this generation, in Him.

Let us pray.

* * *

O Lord our God, make us faithful in Christ to our calling, to be priests, prophets and kings, and to bring all things under thy dominion. We thank thee our Father that thou art raising up unto Thyself men who proclaim Christ’s Kingship, and in Him seek to exercise dominion. Bless us all to this purpose we beseech thee. In Jesus' name, amen.

* * *

Are there any questions now, first of all on our lesson? Yes?

[Audience Member] What do you think of this conflict between Falwell and Bob Jones?

[Rushdoony] I really don’t know anything about that conflict, so I couldn’t comment on it.

Well, the sad fact is that we do have a problem in the Christian community in that there is a false doctrine of separation abroad? Christians are separating from Christians, rather than from the world, and we have too many people who are ready to fight other Christians, but not Caesar, not unbelief; not the powers of statism that oppress them. And this is sad. Moreover, we have too many legal battles which involve some group or other that is heretical; the clearest case of that is the Worldwide Church of God. By no stretch of the imagination do I agree with their doctrines, they regard Armstrong as a prophet which to me is blasphemy. But the fact is that the state and Federal governments find it very easy to go after such groups because they don’t have others springing to their defense, until too late all too often. And they establish thereby legal precedents that they throw at all of us. We have to defend religious freedom no matter who is involved. And we cannot do that when we have Fundamentalists refusing to fellowship with Fundamentalists, or Calvinists with Calvinists, or Arminians with Arminians, let alone across theological lines. That is one of our most grievous problems in this present battle.

Any other questions? Well, if not, let us bow our heads for the benediction.

* * *

And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, amen.

1 1 Co 15:22–28.

2 Mt 27:42.

3 See; Matthew 3:17.

4 Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (p. 411). Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.

5 Hodge, C. (1857). An Exposition Of The First Epistle To The Corinthians (p. 333). Robert Carter & Brothers.

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