Christ the King
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
Colossians 1:13-20 Sermon
November 20, 2004
Hymns (from The Service Book and Hymnal):
163 "O Worship the King, All Glorious Above"
434 "Beautiful Saviour, King of Creation"
431 "Crown Him With Many Crowns"
115 "Golden Harps Are Sounding"
THE KING IS IN CHARGE
TEXT (vs. 17-20): “He [Jesus] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, , whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
It’s only been a few weeks ago that we finished a big election in the United States. There were many issues on the ballot, and along with this, there were lots of different people running for different offices and positions.
Of course the biggest thing on the ballot was the election of the president of the United States. People all over the country went to the polls to elect the person who would be the leader of the largest country in the free world for the next four years. Leading up to this was the campaign, the debates, and personal appearances—all designed to help the voters make up their minds as to which candidate would receive their vote.
People choose a candidate based upon their previous record, along with the promises they make. They have certain expectations as to how their candidates will perform once they’re in office. Sometimes a person elected to office will meet or exceed people’s expectations; while other times they will not meet them or go against what people expect, and people will be disappointed. But the person elected is the one in charge; and regardless of the public’s expectations, they’re still the person in charge when all is said and done.
Today is the last day of the church year, a day in which we talk about Jesus Christ being the King. This is a fact I believe we all know. Among Christians, there’s really no dispute about it at all. Christians believe and accept the fact that Jesus is not only their Saviour from sin, but also the Lord and King of their lives. All power in heaven and on earth is his. He is definitely the person in charge.
While the Lordship and Kingship of Christ might be evident to us, it wasn’t so with the early church in the city of Colosse. They were having trouble accepting the fact that Christ was above all else. Here’s what was going on:
Colosse was a major population center in Asia Minor. It had been captured and made a part of the Roman Empire under Antiochus III somewhere between the second and third centuries B.C. At that time, it was settled by several thousand Jewish settlers from the regions of Mesopotamia and Babylon.
But since Colosse was a major commercial center, other people appeared on the scene with numerous popular philosophies of the day—none of which were consistent with the Christian faith. As a result, there began to appear a hybrid mixture of Christianity and false doctrine.
For one thing, there was the popular belief that the angels were in control of human destiny on earth. For them, the only means of escape was by worshipping these angelic powers and seeking their help as mediators between God and his created world. This of course was robbing Christ of his glory and displacing him as the only mediator between God and mankind.
Another belief was that Christians must practice abstinence and self-punishment to somehow try to “escape” temptations and evil influences of the world. In effect, this was putting part of the responsibility of salvation upon the people themselves, instead of on Christ alone.
Undoubtedly there were other areas where the Christian faith was being compromised; these are just the two specifics that Paul mentions.
And so as Paul begins his letter to the Christians in Colosse in our text for today, he talks about Jesus in no uncertain terms. He establishes the truth of the Gospel—that Jesus has saved us from sin and the devil, and that through faith in him we have redemption and forgiveness for our sins; that Jesus is true God, and that through him all things were created by him and for him; that he is the truly supreme above all things; that he is head of the church; and that nothing in heaven or on earth is greater than Jesus Christ. Indeed Christ is King; not only is he our king, he is king over everything. Whether people believe it or not, or whether they accept it or not, it is a fact nevertheless. That’s just the way it is.
So where does that leave us? We know and believe that Christ is our King. So now what?
The first thing we need to consider is the will of God. Do we know what God’s will is? How can we get a glimpse of what is going on in the mind of the Almighty?
A good place to start is in I Timothy 2, 1-4 where Paul writes, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
This is telling us that God wants everyone to know him and be saved. He wants nobody to be condemned. Furthermore, he wants his children to pray to him, and to live peaceful and godly lives.
Okay, so how do we lead godly lives? If we look at John 14, 15 Jesus speaks these words: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” That would lead us then to the 10 commandments, which Jesus summarizes as “loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself.”
So if we want to know what the will of God is, all we need to do is look at what he tells us in the Bible. This is where he has revealed himself, and where he tells us what his will is. The Bible is clear enough on this subject that we should never be left second-guessing. Since Christ is our King, we will always search the Scriptures to find what his will is, and what is pleasing to him.
But, almost like someone holding a political office, God will not always measure up to people’s expectations, at least in an earthly sense. When a tragedy like the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center occurs, people will systematically begin to question God. They’ll say, “If Christ is truly a king…if God is above everything else in this world, if God is really in charge, why did he allow something like the 9/11 tragedy to occur?” And what’s even worse, are the well-meaning people who will look at a tragedy like that, and glibly say, “Oh well, it was God’s will.” Statements like that are of no help or consolation whatsoever.
It is important for us to remember that there are many, many things in this world that happen which are NOT God’s will. That’s right, this world is full of events and occurrences and actions that are not God’s will.
To prove this point, all we need to do is take a brief look at things. It is not God’s will that 9/11 occurred; it is not God’s will that Saddam Hussein or Adolf Hitler carried out the atrocities they did on their people; it is not God’s will that people are starving to death; it is not God’s will that millions of unborn children die each year through abortion; it is not God’s will that women and children are battered and bruised; it is not God’s will that people are beaten and robbed….and the list could go on and on.
Of course these things are not God’s will; if they were, then we would have a very sadistic God indeed. Furthermore, if all of these maladies were God’s will, then he wouldn’t be consistent with what he tells us in the Bible.
God’s will isn’t shown in the tragedies which occur on this earth; rather, God’s will is shown in how we, as Christians respond to them. Since Christ is our Lord and King, we respond to those things which are not God’s will with what we know God’s will to be.
Paul gives some great advice in Romans 12, 17-21: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
As long as there are evil people on this earth, bad things are going to happen. It’s sad, but true. Thankfully, God does give us the opportunity to respond according to his will. He tells us how to do it. We respond as loyal subjects in Christ’s kingdom.
I’m going to briefly address another issue connected with God’s will. Have you ever heard a well-meaning Christian say, “It was God’s will that I bought this house….It was God’s will that I bought this car” or any number of a variety of things they might attribute to God’s will.
My question usually is, “Well, how do you know it was God’s will?”
The answer usually is, “I committed the matter to prayer, and this is the way the Lord led me, so it was his will.” They might even throw in a Bible passage, like Proverbs 3, 5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”
Do you see the problem with this kind of thinking? Anything that is not God’s will is a sin; so that would mean if the person wouldn’t have purchased that house or car, it would have been a sin.
Certainly we can commit such decisions in our lives to prayer; and in retrospect we can see how the hand of God has worked in our lives. But to say something is the will of God where Scripture hasn’t spoken is making God’s will into a very fickle and uncertain thing. That’s carrying the Kingship of Christ too far. And as far as that Proverbs passage I just read is concerned, that is intended to direct us back into God’s word for understanding and guidance; and not for the Holy Spirit to zap us with some new revelation.
If we want to get to the very heart of the matter regarding Christ being our King, let’s look at what Paul writes in verses 13 and 14 of our text from Colossians chapter 1: “He [the Father] has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
The world is indeed evil. It is full of the influence and work of the devil. The devil’s kingdom is one of darkness. We don’t have to look too hard at our lives to see how we’ve been influenced by this. The sinful ways of the world have become our ways far too often. Satan’s ways have lured us time and again away from what is God’s will to what is his.
But we have been transferred into the Kingdom of Christ—not by anything we have done, but by what God has done for us. We have entered this kingdom of light through faith in Jesus our Saviour. Through him, we have redemption—he has paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross. Through him we have forgiveness for our sins—God will no longer hold any of our old sins against us; they have been completely and totally forgiven. This is all Christ’s work, all done for us on our behalf. Therefore, Christ is indeed our King—not through campaign promises or a popular vote, but through faith alone.
Throughout the years, people have tried to unsuccessfully marry Christianity with other pagan teachings. The Masonic Lodge has attempted to do this by mixing in their various rites and rituals with the excuse “well it’s based on the Bible.” Loosely basing something on the Bible in no way makes it Christian or correct. Others have tried to mix in reincarnation, or voodoo, or Buddhist philosophy, or the teachings of Mohammed, or the occult, or Wiccan practices. Some have tried even mixing in just a few good works as being necessary for salvation. But it just doesn’t work. It didn’t work for the church at Colosse, and it doesn’t work today.
Anything that is added to what the Bible teaches serves only to rob Christ of his Kingly glory, and threatens the inheritance we have through him.
A person who is elected to a political office will often not live up to our expectations. We frequently get fed up with the job they are doing, and we are disappointed. Thankfully with Christ as our King, we will never be left short or disappointed. He’s done everything on our behalf. He lived, he died, and he rose again. He won the victory over death and the devil. And now he lives and rules eternally.
May we always show that Jesus our King lives in us as we carry out God’s will in our lives.