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March 25, 2018 Every Believer Can Be a King and Queen

 

 

[I. Introduction] Under the Old Covenant there were three great positions that God’s people had: prophet, priest, and king. It was God’s desire that all of the Israelites be priests. They failed in this and so the Lord instituted a separate priesthood. Only those of the tribe of Levi would be priests. It was also God’s desire that all of the Jews be prophets. But neither did they cooperate with him in this calling. Only a few were prophets.

 

In the new covenant, the one we now enjoy, the Lord has again called every member to live as a priest and to speak as a prophet. Speaking prophetically does not mean predicting the future nor does it mean being a loudspeaker for the Holy Spirit. The spirit of the speaker is under the control of the speaker. He or she speaks under the influence of the Holy Spirit but not simply as a conduit. He or she speaks using their mind informed by God’s word. Being a prophet just means speaking on behalf of the Lord.

 

What about the third office – the office of king? This one is somewhat different. While the first two are meant to be exercised in the present era, the office of king is to be exercised in the next age. There is an age coming to this earth when the faithful members of the Lord’s church will rule and reign with Christ. It is only the faithful ones, the ones who are counted worthy by the Lord at his judgment seat, who will become kings and queens.[1] So, I have added two words to the title of this message that differ from the two previous ones: Every Believer Can Be a King or Queen.

 

We are all called to rule and reign with Christ. But not all will.

 

We are all called to rule and reign with Christ. Therefore, this is the Lord’s will for you.

 

We are all called to rule and reign with Christ. This calling is meant, by the Lord, to be a motivator for holy living.

 

We are all called to rule and reign with Christ. Therefore, this should be our desire and our goal.

 

One thing we must get out of our minds and hearts, if it is there, is the notion that we ought not to seek our inheritance. There is a notion out in some Christian circles, and maybe some of you have it, that is detrimental to God’s calling. You sometimes hear people say, “I do not want any rewards and they mean nothing to me. I just love Jesus and want to be with him. If I get to be with him that will be enough.” Now, that sounds very good. It sounds spiritual. It seems to elevate love for the Lord above everything else. So, how can it be wrong? Here is the problem: the Lord himself has held out the promise of rewards as a motivator for us. Not only so, but he has commanded us to seek after the rewards that he himself has designed for our encouragement and blessing. Therefore, we must have our inheritance, our reward (these are the same thing according to Scripture), in our view and we ought to seek our inheritance.

 

It is true that some people have more ambition than others.  Some desire responsibility in the next age and some have little desire. But whether we have desire, little desire, or no desire, we must get our desires in line with the Lord’s. Let us seek after our inheritance. Let us not be like Esau who did not care for his inheritance. Our inheritance is the kingdom of God that is coming. Our inheritance is to rule and reign with him.

 

In order to appreciate what the Lord has held out to us, we should be clear about two facts:

 

  1. Eternal life is God’s unconditional gift to those who have faith. This truth is said many times in the Bible. One verse that displays it is John 3:36.

 

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (ESV)

 

Whoever believes has eternal life! True, biblical belief brings with it obedience, but once we believe we have  (present tense) eternal life.

 

And there is the blessed verse, Ephesians 2:8, in which Paul tells us that we are saved by faith, not by what we do, and God’s salvation is a gift. We do not and cannot earn it.

 

  1. The second fact is this: Participation in the coming kingdom is conditioned upon conduct and faithfulness.

 

 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—[2]

 

And,

 

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage,[3]

 

We see, then, that participation in the kingdom is conditioned upon faithfulness and worthiness.

 

One passage that will shed light on many other passages with respect to the subject of the kingdom and rewards is found in Revelation 20.

 

 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. [4]

 

From this passage we can see three things. There are going to be two resurrections after the Lord returns to the earth. These two resurrections will be separated by a long span of time – a thousand years. (That may be a literal thousand years or, more likely, the “thousand” is representative of a long and complete period of time even longer than a thousand years.) And, those who participate in the first resurrection are either martyrs or those who do not worship the beast or his image and have not received his mark on their foreheads and hands. This does not refer to a literal mark. Rather, these words mean that the distinguishing ideas (forehead) and distinguishing actions (hands) of what is in opposition to God and his ways are not owned by those who proclaim allegiance to the Living God.

 

The main thing I would like you to remember is that there will be two resurrections.

 

[II.] The prize that awaits the faithful is the first resurrection.

 

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—[5]

 

Paul says “rejoice in the Lord!” Rejoicing, that is, enjoying Christ is one of the main keys, if not the key, of living as a priest and speaking for the Lord. When we enjoy the Lord we hardly have to think about how to live. We spontaneously do those things the Lord wishes and we gladly share our faith. We speak the wonders of God in the meetings. We live faithfully!

 

Paul then warns the Philippians to look out for the dogs. The dogs are those who pester the believers into following the law, especially the OT laws of rituals, in order to think themselves acceptable to God. But we have already seen that a person becomes acceptable to God on simple faith, not by works.

 

We put no confidence in our so-called obedience to God’s laws because we know that we fail him often. Our confidence is in Christ’s sacrifice for us and God’s grace towards us. And, we worship by His Spirit. Praise Him!

 

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. [6]

 

All the efforts that Paul had put forth to please God before he considers as rubbish. The KJV has “dung” instead of rubbish. In verse 9 he says that he does not have his own righteousness, but a righteousness that comes from God.  This righteousness comes from God just by faith in Christ. That is such good news! It doesn’t depend on us!

 

But now, in verse 10, he says that he is made right with God that he may truly know Christ, becoming like him even in his death. The death that Jesus died manifested that his life was given for others. This was Paul’s life, too.

 

He wants to know the power of his resurrection. This is attainable and to be sought by us. We need to know the power of Christ’s resurrection.

 

Look at verse 11. It begins, “that by any means possible…” One commentator aptly observes that this expression implies three things:

 

  1. the extreme eagerness of the apostle
  2. his sense of the value of the end he aimed at
  3. the perception of the need of exertion in order to realize the object of his pursuit.[7]

 

What was the object of Paul’s exertion after he has come to Christ by faith? It is the resurrection from the dead. It should be evident that the resurrection which the apostle so eagerly sought cannot be the general resurrection. Because the wicked shall also partake of that whether they desire it or not.

 

Paul is referring to the first resurrection. He valued it. He eagerly sought it. He would use any means possible to attain it.

 

Observe verse 12:

 

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (ESV)

 

When Paul writes that he has not obtained it he doesn’t mean that he hasn’t risen from the dead yet. That would be silly and obvious. He means that he is not yet assured of obtaining to it. He makes this clear in verse 13:

 

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. (ESV)

 

Consider this! The great apostle Paul, at this point in his ministry, after having established churches, appointed elders, preaching the gospel to thousands, was not assured that he would receive the prize of the first resurrection.

 

This is what he calls it in verse 14:

 

14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

 

Even though he was not certain that he would obtain it, he pressed on. It was his goal. His mind and heart were on the prize. But is it just Paul? No! It should be every mature Christian’s goal.

 

15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. [8]

 

Are you mature in the faith? If you are, than you ought to think in this same way. You will not be assured of the prize. You are only assured of eternal life. Because you are not assured you must press on to seek the prize. This prize is the higher calling of God. It is given to every believer. Sadly, not every believer seeks it because not every believer is mature.

 

It is time to put aside worldly things. It is time to put aside entertainment and the many distractions of life and press into the kingdom of God! Do you realize the greatness of the rewards that await those who do?

 

Do not think, “I cannot live the way Paul did.” It is true that you cannot live like Paul did in yourself. But Paul could not either! This is why he said, “…not I, but the grace of God within me.” (I Cor 15:10) It won’t be you. It will be the grace of God within you. All you must do is take possession of the vision. Take the goal. Make the first resurrection and the promise of reigning your own. The Lord Jesus and the power of his resurrection will bring it to pass!

 

Every believer can be a king or queen. Take hold of your destiny. Do not be left behind.

 

 

 

 

[1] The NT does not use the term “queen” at all. However, the promises of ruling and reigning with Christ are given to all members of his body without respect to gender. Therefore, it is appropriate to use the word in the same sense as the word “king” is used, that is, not as an absolute sovereign but as a co-regent under the rulership of Christ, the Lord of lords.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Th 1:4–5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 20:34–35). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Re 20:1–5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 3:1–3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 3:7–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] Robert Govett, Entrance into the Kingdom ( Miami Springs, FL: Schoettle Publishing  Co.), 16.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 3:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.