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Sunday, 1 December 2013

'JESUS SHALL REIGN'

Rev. Brian Wilkie
By Rev. Brian Wilkie                                                                                    

Pastor of St. Andrew's Christian Community
Rockland, Ontario


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PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, December 1st, 2013:

http://proxy.autopod.ca/podcasts/chum/6/17767/good_news_081_dec01.mp3
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Broadcast Notes:
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‘Jesus Shall Reign


Welcome to Good News In The Morning, a program of words and music bringing a Christian message of hope and encouragement to those who are looking for an intelligent meaningful and spirited approach to faith and to life. This program is sponsored by Good News Christian Ministries Box 184 Rideau Ferry, Ontario K0G 1W0. I'm your host today, Brian Wilkie of St. Andrew's Christian Church in Rockland. As always we will start by thanking you our listeners. We are grateful for your encouragement and support. It was so good to meet many of you at the recent concert with Ernie Cox in Ottawa this November. We are thankful for that. Remember that you can always visit us on our website for materials to encourage and support you in your Christian walk. 

Today I would like to speak to you about the glorious truth that Jesus Shall Reign
The Scripture, one of the many Scriptures which speaks to this, is a Scripture from Paul's (first) letter to the Corinthians in chapter 15 and he speaking about the truth of the resurrection of the dead and he ties it so much into the coming reign of Jesus Christ. He says to the readers,

19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

This is a great Scripture speaking of our hope, a hope that is tied completely to the destiny of Christ.  Just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we who put our trust in him will be raised from death. Because Christ will reign forever we have this hope that the future holds the justice the goodness, the life and the light of Jesus Christ as the measure of our reality.

Now in some traditions of the Christian church they follow a liturgical calendar. The church year begins with Advent the season that we enter into in December as we prepare for Christmas and it continues through various parts of the church year to bring to remembrance various aspects of who God is, and what Christ has done for us. In the very last Sunday of the church year is Christ the King Sunday. I'm not such a big fan of the liturgical year – I observe it when it's convenient, I suppose, but I do really enjoy celebrating Christ the King Sunday. It’s a Sunday to remember that all injustice will be destroyed, that Jesus Christ will come again that he will come to set everything right to raise the dead and to settle all injustice. That second coming or second advent of Jesus marks the end of the church year just as the first advent, the waiting for the birth of Jesus, marks the beginning.

Well we’ll discuss that more in a few moments, but first let's turn to this hymn of praise which is “Worship the King” as presented by Grace Presbyterian Chancel Choir of Houston Texas.

Paul speaks boldly of the return of Christ. He speaks about the complete sovereign rule of Christ when Jesus destroys all dominion authority and power. He is speaking of a new kingdom, a completely different day, something outside of our experience. Instead of being dominated by the forces that destroy and decay we will be free from all that, and set in a right relationship with God in a creation that is renewed, in bodies that are immortal.

It's the hope of the redeemed. We don't hope for the streets paved with gold, we don't hope for the pearly gates, we don't hope for great big mansions as much as we hope for Jesus Christ to be with us to reign over all things. In fact the reign of Christ is the answer to the petition in the Lord's prayer that says to God the Father, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

It's a delight to think that we will be set free from false rule – from the rule of sin, evil and decay. How often we are ruled by these forces: whether they’re political forces, laws that are unjust, or systems that that create difficulty and hardship especially for the most needy. We find ourselves even as Christians struggling with the domination of sin: of appetites and desires that try to rule us. Our appetites and desires are meant to be our servants to enable us to seek good things in good measure, but too often they are out of control and they are a tyranny over us. When people try to get rid of an old habit they find themselves under another domination than Jesus Christ, then they submit themselves to Christ that he might dominate them with his love with his freedom, with his gift of peace and self-control. It will be a great day when we are set free from all those false rulers, when we are set free from all the deceptions that keep us from knowing the truth about our identity in Christ. It will indeed be the glory of heaven on earth.

When Jesus Christ walked on this earth, John the apostle described him as full of grace and truth. When his rule is over all things the entire world will be full of grace and truth. 

Prophets of the Old Testament spoke of a glorious day in the future a day which would be like a return to Eden, a peaceable kingdom when the lion would lie down with the lamb, when there would be nothing harmful on all of God's holy mountain, when all people would live at peace.  It is a glorious vision in the Old Testament and is also glorious vision in John's Revelation, the vision that he was given of Jesus Christ coming to reign over all things. It's a very challenging book, the book of Revelation, and many, many sermons have been preached, many books written, trying to untangle its mysteries and trying to answer many different questions about the when, where,  who and how of it. The ultimate message is the coming of God's great kingdom on earth, the end of all that's evil, the destruction of death itself, as Paul describes it. We are looking forward to that kingdom. We are praying for it even when we await the Christmas story once again as the month of December comes upon us. We are not just waiting to remember that Jesus once came we are celebrating the fact that this Jesus, who so greatly loved us as to come as a child, is going to return as the King and continue to show his love upon his creation.

Well we will take a little bit more of a little closer look at Jesus’ reign in a slightly different aspect after we listen to this song. This is a song by sung by Michael Card but it's an ancient hymn, “Holy God we praise thy name.”

Jesus shall reign in the future: that's glorious good news. Now that future which God promises is really his answer to many of our questions about the state of the world today. We wonder at the existence of evil – in fact many of the strongest or most passionate arguments made against Christianity is the is the recognition that there is evil in the world. As one of my favorite philosophers says, I am very glad that people have a problem with evil. God has a problem with evil! Christians have a problem with evil. We see what's wrong the world and we know that this is not God's perfect intention. We know that God has something better planned. In fact a number of Jesus’ parables talk about how, as Christian believers, we ought to put our hope not in what we see in this day and age but in the future that God promises. 

So often Jesus points to those who put their hope in the present world to accumulate riches, only to find out that the death awaits them; those who abuse the needy and indulge themselves only to discover that they've received their reward already in this life and to find that the people they neglected are being cared for by God in the next life. It is important to recognize whenever we see injustice in this world that Scripture recognizes that there is injustice and promises the God who is just and merciful will restore and repair those injustices. It's important for us to recognize this when we see difficulties in our own lives as well. We sometimes are told by some preachers that we should expect nothing but prosperity, nothing but health, nothing but good things because we’re Christians. What do we actually experience? We experience significant difficulties in life; we experience heartbreak – in fact because God has put such a love in our hearts, not only for our own families, but for neighbors and strangers, even a love for enemies, we find that our heart is broken over and over again because of the evil in this world. Jesus tells us to have a hope that the God who is full of grace is going to judge the earth and set right all things, restore and give restitution in all areas. We know that the problem of evil needs to be looked at in terms of not only what's happening right at this present moment but in light of the whole scope of God's plan.

Paul uses the illustration of a woman in labor. Though she experiences pain in labor, when the baby is born the pain is forgotten. (I always like to point out that it's not quite forgotten because we hear about it in stories for years afterwards.) However the pain is set aside and replaced with joy when that child is born. The kingdom of God promises us that what we suffer in this life will be more than worth it when seen through the lens of eternity. Is there anything else that we can learn about Jesus reign in the future that affects us today?
If Jesus is coming again someday to set everything right does it really matter what we do here on earth if this earth is going to pass away and the new earth take its place? Jesus makes it abundantly clear that his kingdom is to begin in us today. The way we live should reflect that the kingdom of God is present in us.

I always think of kingdoms somewhat differently than I think of the modern state. The modern state is carefully defined in terms of borders and lines and the jurisdiction of the government is set out in statute. But it seems to me the kingdom is a little bit more flexible. The kingdom consists of those who are subject to the King and wherever there is a subject obeying the King there the kingdom exists, because the rule of that King is present in that subject.  In some ways that's our state here on earth. The kingdom of God is something that we bring into the world as ambassadors. We present a kingdom, like ambassadors in the modern nation state. The ambassador is always subject to his government back home and he has a certain degree of freedom in the country in which he is living because he represents the government from another place. We also represent the government of God, we represent his rule and so we obey him above all others. We obey him according to his Word not in an arrogant fashion, but in a humble submissive fashion. In that respect we are like Jesus who exercised his authority by always acknowledging the authority of his Father in heaven, who did what he did in order to glorify his Father. Does everything he did was a statement about who his Father was. How is that reflected in our lives? Does everything we do reflect who Jesus is? Everything we do reflect the love of our heavenly Father? We often come before God confessing that we haven't been good ambassadors that somehow or other we may have misrepresented his kingdom by hanging onto our opinions and attitudes instead of letting them be shaped and formed by God.

We can turn that around by asking God, inviting God, to rule in us anew:  inviting God to help us to obey. He's given us the Holy Spirit so that it doesn't even have to be by our own strength that we follow his rules, but, in allowing the Holy Spirit to live and work within us, to extend it in every aspect of our living, so that whenever people look at us they will see a representative of the kingdom of God.

I really do believe that people need hope today. The systems of this world are continually subject to decay. A new idea rises up and looks good for a while and then falls apart. The things that people have depended upon for years and even generations sometimes suddenly show cracks and decay. The kingdom of God is not like that. The kingdom of God is everlasting. The word of God is  from age to age the same.  If we will continue to present this changeless, glorious, graceful word of God's saving love then we will give people something that represents their hope for today and their destiny for tomorrow. We can be a part of this great work of God remembering that he shall reign in the future. Remember that he shall restore all things. We can give our lives with abandon into his service to be his subjects, his children and his ambassadors wherever we go.

Let's turn to him in prayer:
 
Gracious, heavenly Father we give you thanks and praise that we have your help in presenting to the world your lasting hope. O Lord, you are worthy of all honor and glory and praise not just by the Angels in heaven but by us here on earth. Let our obedience be a sacrifice and offering to you. Let our hope be found in you. Let our strength be sourced in your Holy Spirit that we might always honor you. To you be glory heavenly Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

I want to thank you, listeners, for your encouragement and prayers and I do want to urge you to consider supporting this ministry financially. If you can please make out a check payable to Good News Christian Ministries and send it to box 184 Rideau Ferry, Ontario K0G 1W0. We will send you a receipt at income tax time. Please also tell others about this program and be sure to worship in a church where the gospel is soundly proclaimed and lived out with integrity, compassion and resolve.

Now to conclude this program, with a glance toward the coming Christmas season, here's a song from Bruce Cockburn “Shepherds”

I do pray that the Lord will hold your heart and you would know Jesus personally and profoundly. May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart and may the heavenly Father surround you with his constant and abiding and accompanying love.  
Good News In The Morning is produced in the Studios of News Talk Radio, 580 CFRA.

- Rev. Brian Wilkie
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To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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