Capturing Our Culture Without Compromising Our Convictions Conference
Living Hope Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Vineland. Pastor: Tristan Emmanuel http://www.TristanEmmanuel.com
Guest Speaker: Andrew Sandlin, President of the Center for Cultural Leadership, Writer and Publisher,
Christ and Culture 3
"Christ Ruler of the Nations Here and Now." Matt 28:18-20
Christ is giving a mission to the church, corporately and in a holistic terms. The source, nature and object of the mission.
What you believe about the future will impact how you live your life today. There are very pious and God-honouring Christians who believe in diminished progress in history, but out of love for Christ they are active in promoting the gospel. These are the exception. Most believe the culture and the world is going to hell, so they don't care about impacting culture for Christ. It is prophesied that culture is going down. Very few people who believe the end is bound up in diminishment, do anything for the future of our culture today. What you believe about Christ's Lordship impacts what you do today for our culture. Far too many people believe the Lordship of Christ extends only to the walls of my home and or church. Most don't see the impact of their lives extending Christ's rule over all things.
CHRIST IS TODAY, HERE AND NOW THE RULER OF THE NATIONS
I hope you are convinced of that. The source of the great commission. All authority is given to me on heaven and on earth. Twenty years ago Tristan, out of a latent, nominal Christianity, read the words of Matt 28:18,19, thinking it's obvious that Christ is God. But now we recognize the unique import of this statement in the light of the resurrection. What should cause us to pause and be astonished? It's the incarnation which brings uniqueness to this statement. God sent Christ in the fullness of time. Christ is the mystery of the Godhead and the second person of the trinity. He's unique. He's both God and man in one. There's a symbiotic relationship between divine and human. Everything Christ does is unique and new. Eph. 1:1-10; Phil. 2:5-11 The astonishing aspect of this part of the incarnation is that God who knew no misery, the author of the law, the author of life, would so bind himself to humanity to know the humility and misery of this life. What is unique is that God in man would submit himself to this kind of humiliation. God would take on humanity and experience fellowship with sinful humans. This is humiliating. He experiences the misery of such fellowship, and also submits himself to the rudimentary labour of the law, He Himself being the author of that law. He fulfilled the ritual elements to fulfill the requirements of fellowship with God. He had to submit himself to this moral regiment. He submitted himself to utter denial in the cruelty of the cross.
And being found in appearance as a man, he became obedient... therefore God has highly exalted him... that every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of the father. This Man has now ascended into the highest place in the universe. The man Jesus Christ has ascended past the highest place. For God to be exalted is not that radical. The man Jesus is now in Heaven. He is now seen and he experiences the environment of the divine. The uniqueness of the incarnation. Having said that, we develop the theme of Christ as ruler of the nations. Now all of humanity must bow the knee. Jesus came and spoke with his disciples: All authority is given to me. Jesus is saying, "I've received my rightful inheritance." He has all authority, principality, dominion. Psalm 2:4-9. The Father says in the Psalm to his anointed King, the Messiah, "ask of me and I will give to you the nations." Christ is the victor, he is a second Adam. He is the victor and he has received his inheritance. He has ownership and mastery over all under his dominion. In light of dispensational eschatology we should point out that Psalm 2 finds a parallel in Revelation 12:1-4. The rod of iron is the Word of God. Andrew has reiterated that we don't need military might to advance the cause of Christ. We have the Word of God accompanied by the power of the Spirit of God. We have Jesus the incarnate one, the unique one, enthroned with God in heaven. If Christ now has received the inheritance which is all the nations, under whose jurisdiction before? Didn't he already rule them? The Word (2nd person of the Trinity) was always there, but Christ was not always there. We could say God controlled the nations. But in the economy of the nations, God had formerly delegated the control of the nations to other principalities, namely Satan. When Christ receives authority over the nations, he's implicitly saying he's destroyed the rule of Satan. Satan was the ruler of the nations, with the exception of Israel. Satan is called the ruler of this world. John 12:31, 16:11; 2Corinthians 4:1-5; Ephesians 2:1-3.
Jesus refers to Satan as the ruler of the world. The reign of Satan over the nations as ruler, is delegated by God and is primarily spiritual. Satan is a spirit. He is a spirit who works in the sons of disobedience. So many Christians believe that the reign of Christ is essentially spiritual and it doesn't affect the world. It really only affects the hearts of believers. Is this the way of Satan's rulership? Satan's was spiritual, but is affected the entire lives of those under his influence. It affected the whole course of humanity. Luke 4:5-8. The Devil said to Christ, all this authority I will give you and their glory, for this has been delivered to me. Satan was the father of lies. This is truth, that he had authority over the nations. Satan manipulated this truth. What makes this temptation so great? Satan knew what the Father had promised to the son. Satan wanted to circumvent the cross by offering the inheritance without the pain, the suffering and the blood. For the Messiah, this was a powerful temptation. We know that Jesus replied, "don't tempt the Lord your God." And it is written thou shalt worship the Lord and Him alone. It is necessary to destroy the work of Satan. Luke 14:22 Christ says "every divided kingdom is brought to desolation, If Satan is divided against himself, he can't fight. If I cast out demons by the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God is upon you. Satan is guarding the nations figuratively, but Jesus is the stronger man who comes and takes his rightful inheritance of the nations from Satan. Jesus receives the nations, and divides the spoils with his brothers and sisters. The ruler of this world will be cast out. NOW, not in the future. Christ conquered Satan historically. He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. Revelation 12:9,11 -- great dragon was cast out. He was cast to the earth. Now salvation and strength, and the kingdom of his Christ has come. We need to be motivated by this truth. Christ is motivator of the nations here and now. It will not be some time in the future, after the rapture (great rescue), that Christ becomes ruler of the nations. Satan has been cast down. He is a disenfranchised scoundrel. Satan's time is short. He is no longer a prince in the court. The saints overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of his testimony. They overcame the work of the accursed Satan by the Blood of the lamb and the resurrection. Christ came to defeat Satan and He did. Hebrews 2:14. Satan's been kicked out. Satan is still busy. He no longer has the same status, or effective power or sway before the coming of Christ. Do not interpret scripture through the eyes of experience. Yes there is evil out there. Satan is a roaring lion, the accuser of the brethren. He no longer has a monopoly. The only reason he now has any foothold is because the church is not doing its job. Because of our apathy, because we are cowards, we do not take the responsibility we have to expand dominion.
The God-man Jesus Christ now has authority over all the angelic hosts. It is astonishing that now Christ has rule over all angelic hosts. Satan's rule is basically spiritual. The rule of Satan manifests itself in the organization of men. Christ's saying, "My reign is not of this world, but is manifest in this world. Source of authority is not the world, but the extent of it's influence is in the world." In all of your endeavours you should manifest the rule of Christ. There is not one square inch where Christ doesn't rule. Here and now, Christ is ruler. He is ruler here and now. He is now the universal sovereign. I want to underline the great in the great commission. We receive this commission by a very great king.
The nature of the mission is that all authority has been give to Christ on heaven and on earth. Therefore go, and make disciples. It is an active command. As Calvinists we fall into the dearth of passivity. God is sovereign, but does that mean we should be passive? Why does the sovereign of the universe say, "You go make disciples." Many say, if God isn't in it and I go do it, it won't happen. But this is wrong. He HAS already given us the task. God has commanded that you and I actively go out and do evangelism. How actively are you involved in this process? Of all the reformed denominations, how active are we in going out and making disciples. Every time I talk to the brethren in the faith, they say, look at how bad things are getting. They say, I can't do it if god's not in it. But just as God says "make your election sure", you need to obey God's command while God enables you to actually accomplish something. God says, this is what you are to do. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling . Because Christ rules, therefore GO! We don't like this aspect of God's sovereignty.
Evangelical dilemma: we're commanded to be active. On the flip side we have discipleship? How many are active in evangelism, but are just interested in changing and saving souls. I will humbly submit to you that the Great Commission doesn't talk about saving souls or being born again. Jesus says "make a disciple." As disciple is not necessarily just one who has been born again. But Jesus says, go and make a disciple. Work with them, baptize them, bring them into the covenant. Disciple is one truly converted in heart, soul and body. Within 300 years, a small group of Christians captured the world. There were problems, many were not true believers. But progressively the influence of the gospel changed a barbarous, heathen people into Christians. They were not all saved, but they were made into disciples. We want to make disciples of men. We don't just want our hearts and souls saved. We don't stop when we feel we've seen them converted. Most reformed folk are better at teaching their children the laws of God. You leave election and regeneration and born-again status to the work of the spirit. Your job is to make disciples. Men, women and their children need to be brought into the covenant of Christ.
"Make disciples of all the nations." Some commentators have argued (unsuccessfully) that Jesus is saying go make disciples of the disciples. This is illogical. But a more popular version of interpretation, which is go and make disciples "out of" the nations. There's a reason scholars didn't insert "out of" in the text. The Greek text itself doesn't have "out of" in its grammatical structure. Jesus says categorically make disciples "of all" nations. Jesus will stand for nothing less than the nations, because they belong to him, by divine right. Satan no longer holds this position of ownership. Christ has commissioned you and I to this word. When Jesus used the word "ethnos" he's speaking of the nations as a political entity. He could use the word anthropos (man), or basileios (kingdoms). Christ is speaking of individuals, the families, political structure, cultural institutions, art, etc. The entire nation is to exist under the rule of Christ. Right here in the great commission we have the impetus for the future. We have a long road to go in history. We have a great commission to carry out until the nations are completely His, we have more work to do.
Christ, Ruler of the nations here and now. Amen.