And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY (11)
Christ our King (c)
We completed our last study by thinking about the triumph of Christ, our King, over “his and our enemies”. This, however, only tells part of the story of Christ’s dominion as King of the Church. The third part of this study into the Kingship of Christ will look at
THE INVINCIBILITY OF CHRIST AS OUR KING.
Our Saviour’s sovereignty is not merely to be understood in terms of His power in the face of the onslaught of Satan and this world in the present. To do so is to see Christ as a reactionary ruler who is on the back foot dealing with all kinds of threats. The whole story has yet to end, and conclude it will as Jesus Christ comprehensively and completely triumphs over all his enemies, to the extent that they will be crushed never to strive against Him again.
1: Christ Invincible in the Millennium
There are three basic schools of thought in relation to the Millennium which is prophesied in Revelation 20, where Satan is bound and cast into the bottomless pit “till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” It evident that there is a period of time when Christ will triumph over Satan when the Church will live and reign with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:6). The debate in relation to the millennium revolves around the literal use of the number and whether this time period will occur before or after the return of the Lord.
This school believes in a literal 1,000 years. Christ will return to set up His Kingdom on earth, centred in Jerusalem. Pre-millenialism’s major weakness is that it emphasises a physical kingdom, dominated by Jews, and focused on Jerusalem, while the Saviour came to establish a spiritual Kingdom.
Those who hold this view believe that the millennium is the New Testament Church beginning at Pentecost, concluding with the Second coming of Jesus Christ to the Earth. The major flaw in this scheme is that it argues that Satan is bound today and it conceives of no future international revival among the people of God.
This position is what I call ‘The Eschatology of Revival’. Eschatology is the study of the last things, and it is my personal conviction that prior to the return of our Lord there will be period of unparalleled spiritual blessing in the world when the Kingdom of Christ will be the dominant and leading force in world affairs. This period is known as “the first resurrection”, because it represents a world arising from death, darkness and moral decay to one which is dominated by the Gospel of Grace. While the people today are Kings and Priests we do not reign on the the earth. The Kingdoms of this world are under the spell of the prince of the power of the air, but there is coming a day when his influenced will be curbed for a lengthy period, perhaps as long as 1,000 years (the numbers of Revelation are not to be taken in a strictly literal sense). I firmly believe that when Jesus Christ teaches us to prayer, “Thy Kingdom come”, He is including the coming of the Spirit upon the world with power as the Church is enlarged in hitherto unprecedented proportions. While we show respect to those who hold other views of prophesies, I find Post-millennialism encouraging me to pray with faith for a great revival across the world.
2: Christ Invincible in the Second Coming
The one aspect of eschatology that we all must agree on, is the literal physical return of Jesus Christ to the world. When he returns he will come to a world that is fallen and suffering from the power of Satan. All schemes of prophesy teach that there will be a general Apostasy at the end of the world when Satan is loosed from his prison, according to Revelation 20:7-8. While Pre-millennialism teaches that Christ is already on the world when this rebellion occurs, the Post-millennial and A-millennial models believe that it is the coming of the Lord which will destroy this force of evil. This is, to my thinking, in keeping with the New Testament teaching that Christ comes directly to judge the world of sin:
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (2nd Thessalonians 2:8)
Revelation 21 supplies us with the awesome picture of the Great White Throne and the dead small and great standing before God, being called to account. There will be no atheists in that day because as Paul testifies every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).
The invincibility of Christ in His return is not just expressed negatively but positively. His coming will call the dead in Christ to life and will instantly glorify those who are alive and on the earth.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17).
This “Momentous Event”, which Rev. W.J. Grier called the Second Coming in his little volume, will bring about the final defeat of death, the mark of the curse upon this fallen world. We live every day under the shadow of death but when He returns the shadow will be dispelled forever:
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1st Corinthians 15:51-55)
3: Christ Invincible in the New Universe
Revelation 21 & 22 completes the story of the of God’s dealings with the universe by showing us the “new heaven and the new earth”. At the heart of this new creation is “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:3). Healed by the leaves from the tree of life, the nations of men exist without division, war and bloodshed. The picture is one of peace and harmony. The brokenness of the old earth is vanquished as all the aspects of our hurting earth are now unknown:
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)