The King and His Kingdom
Used by permission by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
The Application of the Mediatorial Kingdom “And He rules over the nations.” (Psalm 22:28b)
From Part II forward, the Kingdom discussed is the mediatorial Kingdom as defined in Part 1.
How does this Doctrine of the Mediatorial Kingship and Kingdom of Christ apply to:
The Individual (chosen of God)
The Family (basic unit of the Church)
The Church The Church—Civil Government Relationship
The Business and Life Walk
The Mediatorial Kingdom and The Individual
When we begin with the Kingdom in the life of the Individual, we find that this is the plan and program that Christ builds down into the mind and life purpose of every soul who comes to know Him as Savior and Lord. It is this way of thinking that is that outline of Christian life which He can look forward to growing up into. When Christ saves a soul, He builds His particular life purpose down into that person’s life—His particular reason for dying on the Cross for that particular person. And that soul begins growing up into that purpose, through the three stages of kingdom development, that Christ described in Mark 5; 1) the blade stage, 2) the green ear stage, and finally 3) the full corn in the ear stage. He can grow up to realize that he’s been called by the King who is now His Lord and that he’s not been saved just to get his own soul out of Hell and into Heaven, but to be Christ’s witness on Christ’s earth so long as Christ chooses to leave him there. He has been saved to be a witness to others who do not yet know Christ as King and then to help them to grow up into spiritual maturity just as Jesus taught His disciples to “think” Kingdom and grow up into it. In the same way, the Apostle Paul taught Timothy not to be satisfied with just becoming a Christian, or even leading someone else to Christ, but to work and plan and pray two spiritual generations, beyond that to see a “faithful man” reaching “others also”. That is “kingdom-thinking” and an essential factor in Jesus’ long-range Kingdom plan for the evangelization of His world. That is true “apostolic succession” and an essential factor in glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.
The Mediatorial Kingdom and The Family
When we begin with the kingdom in the family, we find that Christ has also built this kingdom plan down into the “mind” or purpose of the Family. So that the man and woman, bridegroom and bride, who are thinking with the mind of Christ will know that their marriage and family are not just for the purpose of developing a new level of romantic “love” nor just for the purpose of the propagation of the family name, but that they would be a two-person demonstration of the salvation relationship that exists between any soul who comes to know Christ as Savior and Lord and the Savior Himself. So that, as the world sees the way He, as the bridegroom, lays down his life for his bride-wife, they would begin to understand what was involved in Christ (as the bridegroom and King) laying down His life for His Bride (i.e. the church whose every soul comes to know Him as Savior and King). And as the world sees how she submits her whole life to her husband and puts herself into his hands without reservation, the world begins to understand what would be involved in surrendering without reservation to Christ, as Savior and Lord. The two of them will be a two-person demonstration of the salvation relationship. When this kind of kingdom-thinking or “mind” is the foundation and long-range plan for the family, then that family will grow up into spiritual maturity. “Father” will be more than just the oldest male member in the family. He will represent the Father in Heaven and he will pray for his family the way Job prayed for his children. Mother will “remind” them all of the place called Heaven and of what Christ wants His Church to be. The children will understand “grace” because they see and receive the grace and acceptance and purposefulness that is being demonstrated by both father and mother on a horizontal level and they will understand confession and forgiveness because they see it being demonstrated in the day to day relationships and conversations between a father and mother who begin with the Kingdom and Kingship of Jesus Christ. And Paul’s prayers for the family of Philemon, Apphia and Archippus will apply (i.e. “that the communication of your faith may become effectual in every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus,” (Philemon, verse 6). Other believers will say, ‘every time I think of you and your home, I just thank God’, and the extent of that family ministry will carry on beyond the four generations described by Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:2, from grandparents to parents to children and grandchildren to the end of time—wherever they may travel throughout His world.
The Mediatorial Kingdom and the Church
When we begin with the Kingdom, in our thinking and planning for the church, there have been those who, by accident, oversight, or by design, would limit the doctrine of the Kingdom to the church, saying that the Kingdom is the church or the church is the Kingdom. The Kingdom includes, as we have seen, far more than the church. But Christ intends that the (redemptive) origin and purpose of His Kingdom, rising as it does out of His work of atonement on the Cross, will determine the origin and purpose and message of His Church. The (spiritual) nature of His Kingdom will provide the standard of spirituality for His Church in all her “services,” especially her worship services, and that the (unlimited) extent of His Kingdom will be the “mission vision” for His Church. It is not that the Church defines and determines what the Kingdom is, but rather that the Kingdom determines and defines what the Church is, and what she will become. The Kingdom is that overarching dome, of which the Church is a reflection. Just as it is never the blue of the lake that determines the blue of the sky, but always the blue of the sky that determines the blue of the lake; so then it is the pattern of the Kingdom that determines the origin and redemptive purpose of every church; and the spiritual nature of the Kingdom that determines the standards of spirituality in all the “services” of the church; and the (unlimited) extent of Christ’s kingdom that determines the mission vision of each church.
I Will Build My Church
When Jesus, the Christ, made that remarkable promise, “I will build my Church”, over 2000 years ago, He had in mind a clearly-defined plan, a plan that He continues to implement throughout His world today. In Exodus 25:40, He had commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle according to “the pattern” which He had shown to him on the Mount. Throughout the Old Testament years, He led Israel and “the church in the wilderness” into the promised land. Now in the four gospels, He explains His Kingdom and His Plan for His Church in more detail and shows the relationship between His Kingdom and His church.
It is important to see how Christ begins in Matthew 6 with the command to “seek first the kingdom”, and then ten chapters later in Matthew 16:18 makes that remarkable promise “I will build My Church”. In Matthew 16:16-17, Christ first praises Peter with the highest commendation for making the kind of confession “thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God”, which is the rock of confession in every generation, upon which Christ’s promise to build His church is founded. When Christ proceeds to tell us about how He must be crucified in order to do this church building, and Peter begins to rebuke Him; saying in effect that he will find some easier way to do Christ’s work, Christ rebukes Peter with his sternest condemnation, calling Him Satan and saying the same thing to Peter that He had said to Satan on the Mount of Temptation. In effect, Christ is saying here to Peter and to all of us: Your responsibility is to “seek the kingdom”. I will build My church and when I do it My way then the very gates of Hell will not be able to hold out against it. You must learn to do My work , My way.
The Very Purpose of His Kingdom has been built down into His Church by the Lord Himself.
When we begin with the Kingdom, then the origin and purpose of the Kingdom become the origin and purpose of the Church. Both Kingdom and Church have arisen out of God’s sovereign will and redemptive purpose which is motivated by love to save souls. Once that decision had been made, then Christ was appointed and “became obedient unto death, even the death on the Cross, wherefore God also highly exalted Him” and gave Him the Kingdom (Philippians 2:5-11). Now He, in turn, builds His Church as a very important part of His Kingdom. Just as it was the primary and ultimate purpose of His Kingdom to glorify God, honor Christ Himself, and make it possible for Him to apply the benefits of redemption to His people and also meet their continuing needs for growing up into spiritual maturity, so now, these become the primary and ultimate purpose of His Church. Both Kingdom and Church are controlled and empowered by Christ and both are primarily concerned with the application of that redemption which He has worked out on the Cross. The Kingdom is not limited to the Church, but in these respects, they are the same.
There is a great difference between this and the idea that the Church originated in the minds of people as a voluntary spontaneous association who call themselves together in order to meet their own spiritual and social needs. This is Christ calling together His people, and ultimately it is not so much for man’s benefit as it is for God’s glory.
When we look at the Church beginning with the Kingdom, then there is a functional mission purpose that becomes very important. The Church becomes less “ours” and more “His”— not so much the place to which we come to add to our numbers and preserve ourselves, as it is the place to which He brings us, equips us, and sends us on to multiply into more congregations to evangelize His world.
On the one hand, there is a difference between the purpose Christ has built into an individual and a family and the purpose He has built down into His Church. Even a casual review of the works (erga) that Christ was reviewing in each of the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, will show that He has assigned a particular ministry to a particular congregation. On the other hand, all churches have certain things in common and when we review them, beginning with the Kingdom, there is less emphasis on drawing distinctions and more emphasis on ultimate purpose and mission. Beginning with the Kingdom brings less emphasis on what one church “has”, that another “does not have” and more emphasis on what Christ has designed and called all of us to do to the Glory of God.
The spiritual nature of His Church also has been “built” down into her by her Lord
Christ has also “built” the spiritual nature of His Kingdom down into His Church in such a way that the spirituality of the Kingdom provides a basis or standard for evaluating the spirituality of a particular congregation. Some churches are almost more dead than alive. They sing dead and pray dead and give and think dead. Others are “alive” in Christ and their services on earth can be seen as a kind of choir rehearsal for Heaven. That spirituality is also one practical basis for the Church’s independence of the power or control of all other organizations such as the civil government. Because she is a spiritual organization, she is not dependent on the State for her establishment or continuing existence. Her foundation is Christ alone. And because Christ has built her to be a spiritual organization, she is subject to Him alone. He is her only head and she is subject to Him as God has said, just as any person’s physical body is subject to the head. So the spiritual nature of Christ’s Kingdom built downward into His Church, provides the basis for 1) the spirituality of a church and especially the standard of spirituality for her worship services; 2) her independence to all other organizations and influences; and 3) her subjection to Christ alone. Also, as we shall see in a later section, this spiritual nature provides one basis for a healthy working relationship between Church and civil government.
The spiritual nature of the Church not only provides protection for Christ’s Church against the attacks of other organizations, like the civil government, from outside the Church but it also protects her against the attacks of the organizations from within the Church herself. It is clear in the records of history that the Church has been seduced or raped as often by those “legitimate” church boards (colleges, cardinals, assemblies, synods) that operate from within as she has been seduced and raped by emperors, kings, judges and other legislative bodies working from without. Whether it be hierarchical, congregational or Presbyterian form of church government, Christ has prescribed a form of church government simply because edification requires order and order requires government. The moment men begin to forget that their authority within His Church is not legislative but solely ministerial (the administration of the Word He has legislated), then they are usurping Christ’s authority within His Church. He never has permitted that and He never will. Whatever form of church government causes us to know that the Church is more “his” and less “ours” is what He was demanding and promising when He said that day to Peter, and to all the rest of us, “I will build My Church”.
When Christ built the unlimitedness of His Kingdom downward into His Church, He was establishing her unity, her universality, and her perpetuity. Today, we tend to think of unlimitedness in terms of the dimension of space but when we apply unlimitedness to the dimension of time, it means there never was a time when Christ was not a King with a Kingdom and there never will be. In the dimensions of space it means there is no “place” on the face of Christ’s world (or in outer space either, if we ever find souls in outer space), where we should not expect to find Him building His Church and using believers to do it. We catch a glimpse of the unity, universality, and perpetuity of His Church in that Passover-communion table stretching clear back into the Garden of Eden where we see Abel, the first man into Heaven, and then moving forward to include Job and Abraham and Isaac and Moses and the Prophets, all of them, looking forward through the Passover to the coming of the Messiah; and then, in the very center of that long table, Jesus the Messiah and His disciples; and then, Luther and Calvin and all the rest of the saints since then sitting at that same table looking back to the same Messiah/Christ to whom the Old Testaments saints looked forward. There never has been salvation in any other and never will be. All over His world! And universe from the beginning of time! His Kingdom will continue to grow and extend to the end of time and then on into eternity! And so will His church!
By building the specifications of His Kingdom downward into His Church, He provides his standards for:
1 Her purpose
2 Her spirituality
3 Her independence of all outward control
4 Her subjection to Himself alone
5 Her unity
6 Her universality
7 Her perpetuity
All this then translates into the order and program of His Church as she makes progress through time toward bringing His world into conformity to the regnum Christi totum. This doctrine of the unlimitedness of Christ’s Kingdom projected downward into the mission vision of His Church promises to develop a strongly united, universally expanding, perpetually existing Church which will one day confront the State in such a way as to require their working together. But what is the relationship between Christ’s Kingdom-Kingship and the civil government?
The Mediatorial Kingdom and The Civil Government
Everything Christ has been teaching us about His Kingdom provides reasons which imply that He is also Lord of civil government:
• His being invested with the mediatorial dominion in no way supposes His abrogation of any of His Rights of Dominion as God.
- His moral qualifications to rule over all things and especially “all flesh” would imply that such a vastly important thing as civil government would not be exempted from his mediatorial rule.
- And without such power over nations, Christ would be seriously handicapped in overruling the rebellions of men in order to bring about that time when “the kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15).
This doctrine of the unlimitedness of Christ’s Dominion gives us every reason to believe that Jesus Christ is now King and Lord over all nations’ civil governments as well as Lord of the individual, the family, and the church.
But more important than reasons and implications such as these are the specific statements from the following Scripture. The commands of Scripture, e.g. Psalm 2, as quoted in Acts 4:25,13:33, Hebrews 1:4, 5:5 and Revelation 2:27. The Prophecies of Scripture; e.g. Psalm 47:2, 3, 8, 9; Psalm 72; Isaiah 49:22-23; 60:11, 12, 16; Ezekiel 45:17; Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 11:15; 21:24,26: And such designations in Scripture wherein the Mediator is addressed as “Governor among the nations” (Psalm 22:28); “higher than the Kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:27); “King of nations” (Jeremiah 10:6-7); “King of Kings” (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). All of these assert Christ’s actual Lordship over civil government. To ascribe such titles to Him if they were not true, would be to mock Him.
We may summarize Christ’s Lordship over civil government under 8 topics, the eight things Christ does for civil government. These are followed up by 4 responses civil government can make to Christ’s Lordship:
1 The very origin of civil government is in the Hands of Christ. Of the Church, He has said “I will build my Church”. There is, however, a difference between the origin of the Church and the origin of civil government because He says—“civil government is an ordinance of man” and “the powers that be are ordained of (by) God”. This means that the God of nature has put the desire into man for a voluntary social compact. Civil government originated with God morally not less than providentially. God not only permitted it, He caused it and since, as we have seen earlier, the matters of Providence have also been put into the hands of Christ, then He is, as Mediator, the one who instituted and constituted civil government. It can never be the ordinance of man in any sense in which it is not ordained by God.
2 It is Christ who continues to oversee the affairs of civil government. Throughout the history of the Old and New Testaments, we see him influencing the counsels of statesmen and the prowess of armies to set some up and take others down, in order to accomplish His redemptive purposes.
3 Christ issues those commands through His Word which direct civil rulers in promoting the public good, restraining evil, administering laws with justice, promoting and protecting His Church and doing all this in such a way that it will promote the plans and holy name of the Mediator.
4 It is Christ who overrules the rebellions of those who oppose Him.
5 It is Christ who executes the judgments of God on those rulers and people who refuse to be guided by His moral law.
6 It is Christ who also works through civil government to disseminate the Gospel throughout His world. As King of Kings, He authorizes those whom He has commissioned to enter and evangelize any nation on earth. So it is not only what He does for them and to them, it is also what He does through them that proves His Lordship over nations. He is Lord of “common” grace.
7 Christ works through civil government in such a way as to gather together and protect and promote His Church. Because of the character of nations as they now are, there could be no hope for the Church if it were not for the fact that Christ is Lord of the civil government as well as Lord of the Church.
8 Christ promises to bring about an entire change (reformation) in the character and constitution of the nations of the world and in Isaiah 9, He adds this promise, “the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform it”.
In all these eight ways, Christ, as King, asserts His Lordship over His civil government, working through them to carry out the purposes of His Kingdom Plan. Conversely, at each of these points, civil government is thrust more and more up into the light and plan of Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom. One practical result of all this is that men are thus confronted in civil government, as well as in church with the mediatorial authority and plan of Christ. This is something more than Theocratic, it is Christocratic. Christ’s authority in the civil government becomes as absolute as it is in the Church. Everything here points to civil government being an ordinance of God—a moral ordinance, a divine institution. This is a very high doctrine of civil government.
Now what response can a nation make to Christ and His Lordship in civil government? There are at least four responses civil government can make to Christ’s Lordship:
1 The Glory of Christ, her King, can and will be the chief end or highest purpose of the State. It is just not enough to be satisfied with the promotion of domestic tranquility, peace, social order, happiness among men or the patriotic good of our own community. Everything the civil government does, every constitution and law and treaty she writes, every home and foreign policy she makes, every appointment she makes, must be reviewed with an eye to the excellency of her Lord. Even indifference or neglect of this can be seen as an insult, dishonoring to the King. This tends to equate civil government with what is commonly known as moral government. It means that the best interests of God, government, and men are one. Government is intended to do more than guard, defend, and protect the civil rights and properties of her citizens, it is also intended to hold together moral and political truth.
2 The Law of Christ can and will be the rule of conduct. Since God has commanded His people in Old Testament times to use His Laws and Precepts as the basis for their governing and civil government, then less could not be expected of those of us in New Testament times who have access to the whole of God’s Revelation in Scripture. This means then that the State, by virtue of being an instrument of Christ, a moral ordinance, is not just limited to such grounds as common consent, protection of property, or physical needs as a basis for her laws. But she can, and therefore should, go on directly to God’s moral law in the Scriptures as the best basis for all her laws. Those who break those laws would be, disciplined not only because of what they have done against man, but also because of what they have done against God. In both legislation and the restraint of irreligion, the most important thing would be, what is most honoring for Christ as the Lord of Civil Government.
3 The standards that Christ demonstrated in His own character as King will be the base for evaluating or electing men for office in civil government. Using Christ’s character as the basis for our evaluation of the character of those seeking our vote, we would want to see in their lives:
• His kind of dignity or respectability
• His kind of “near relationship” to us
• His kind of knowledge and wisdom
• His kind of power—ability to get things done
• His kind of moral purity
• His kind of compassion
• His kind of authority
Throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God has defined and described these character qualities as essential prerequisites for one who will be both “a terror to evil” and “a minister of God for good”. And because of Christ’s Lordship over Civil Government, Christians, in voting, are bound to rule out choice based on passion, prejudice or party and subject their choice to the character standards and policies found in God’s Word. Yes, the franchise is a civil right, but it is to be exercised to the will and honor of Christ. This does not mean that non-Christians will ipso facto cease to be magistrates but it does mean that in a nation that has received God’s revealed will, it is unfitting, even dishonoring to Christ to elect to office those who have rejected Him. At the same time, Christians who are elected to office need to remember that they are not just the servants of their constituencies, but are “the ministers of God” and regulate both their public and private conduct accordingly.
4. The authority of magistrates and the submission of Christian citizens in any nation which has access to the Gospel is dependent on these standards. Power and obedience in this nation does not arise out of either slavish fear of “my constituency” or from selfish motives but from love and respect for the Redeemer-King. It will include a respectful kind of fear, well doing, paying of taxes and customs, and giving of honor, as described in Romans 13. Disobedience become disobedience to Christ.
At this point, it becomes necessary to make a distinction between “power” and “authority”. God has invested people with democratic power in political matters and those people have the right to exercise that power. This is moral power as distinguished from physical-strength kind of power. It is the power to organize their own social relationships, agree on constitutions and laws, and to elect and invest certain individuals to rule over them. This is just the basis for the secular state. But we are going beyond this when we make a distinction between this kind of power, and the kind of authority which Christ as King has given to a Christian magistrate. Both moral power and moral authority come from God. But the moral power comes immediately from God as a natural thing. The moral authority comes mediately as an added thing. And there are two essential prerequisites for a person’s getting the right or title to this moral authority:
1 A moral capacity, i.e. he must have some age of maturity and a sound mind; and
2 A moral ability, which is not necessary for him to have moral power, but is necessary for him to have moral authority. For example, a man who is of age and a sound mind may have demonstrated his moral inability to rule his own children. And yet his (terrible) moral power over those children cannot be denied. Such a man cannot be said to have moral authority. And since God has not given such a man any such authority, then Christian citizens who desire to honor Christ as Lord of civil government should not attempt to give him any such moral authority by electing or appointing him to rule over them. It may not be the responsibility of a Christian citizen to investigate the moral authority of the man who makes his shoes, but before electing a man to rule over him, he must examine carefully his natural, moral, and spiritual qualifications by evaluating his qualifications against the very character of Christ the King of all civil governments.
Beginning with the Kingdom lays a foundation for the development of Christian influences in civil government and the purpose, nature, and extent of civil government. It provides a Kingdom-based initiative for the further study of church and civil government relationships, that would be honoring to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The Kingdom and the Business and Life Walk
When we begin with the Kingdom in Christian Life, then we can see how surely some men are “called” into business just as directly as others are “called” to be pastors or missionaries. Those men will see a relationship between whatever they do or produce or build, and Jesus’ reason for dying for them on the Cross. The purpose or reason for their business will be directly related to the purpose of Christ’s Kingdom. The spirituality of Christ’s Kingdom will permeate the very character of their personnel and corporation and the honesty, integrity and dependability of their services and products. They will be as successful as was Job and Abraham and Joseph and Solomon and Lydia. The unlimitedness of the extent of Christ’s Kingdom will unlock the entreprenurial creativity and initiative of owners and employees. Their attitude toward the wealth of the world and their control of that portion of it which the King entrusts to their stewardship will be directly related to the fact that in one sense they do not “own” anything. Everything they “have” belongs to the King Himself and is to be managed by them as stewards of the Lord in such a way as is useful to Him in His building of His Kingdom.
Christ’s promise is the promise of the King Himself and these men who have been “called” into business have learned that when they seek first the Kingdom of God in their business, then all these other things will be added unto them. No man who has learned to do that has ever been known to “fail”.
PART THREE The Conclusion of the Matter
“Therefore since we are receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Hebrews 12:18)
Beginning with the King and His Mediatorial Kingdom does make a difference in the Christian walk.
The Individual Soul who comes to know God in the person of Jesus Christ discovers that the One who gave His life for him on the Cross is the King with all this Kingdom. Lordship takes on new reality. He has been “saved” or called, not just to get out of Hell, but to be a witness to this King so long as the Lord chooses to leave him on His earth, and then on into eternity. Something of the mind and purpose of Christ begins to “renew” his mind so that he thinks with the mind of Christ (Romans 12:1-2). He becomes a “spiritual” man with a sense of responsibility (vision) for what Christ, His King, is doing all over his world. He becomes a friend of Christ, not just a servant in His Family. He will have a redemptive purpose for living, a spiritual nature, and a world vision. He will see a relationship between his occupation or work and Jesus’ reason for dying for him on the cross.
The Family who learns to begin with the Kingdom will know and rejoice in the fact that their family relationships are not a do-it-yourself work. But “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1a) and that, as a matter of fact, the Lord is building their family and that the King who formed the first family in the Garden of Eden has also formed them into His family. He designed the father to be the demonstration or illustration of Christ’s kind of self-sacrificing love and the mother to be the demonstration of the submission of any soul to Christ as Savior, and all the family to demonstrate the spirituality of Christ’s Kingdom and the children, from generation to generation, to demonstrate the unendingness of Christ’s Kingdom. So Christ the King designs and directs the family to explain and demonstrate the redemptive purpose, the spiritual nature and the unending extent of His eternal Kingdom. It will keep on multiplying to the end of time.
The Church who learns to begin with the Kingdom will be a family of families. She will recognize that Christ is not only Her only King and Lord, but that He is Her beloved Bridegroom and She will be very jealous for all His Crown Rights and Royal Prerogatives. She will want His purposes and plan to be the purpose and plan for everything She does. Since He is a reaching God who is always reaching out to evangelize, She will want to be a reaching church. Since He is an equipping and sending God, She will want to be an equipping and sending Church. She will reflect the nature of His Kingdom by the way she worships Him and the way she maintains her independence of all other controls and Her submission to Him alone as Her only King and Head. Her very unity, universality and perpetuity will be reflections of the spiritual nature of His Kingdom. Her growth and multiplication will be a reflection of the unlimitedness of the Kingdom and of Her King.
The Civil Government who would learn to begin with the Kingdom would find a God-given basis for working and for working together with the church. This would be more than a faith-based initiative, it would be a Kingdom-based initiative. W. E. Gladstone (Prime Minister of England) had made a careful study of Church-State relationships in the light of Christ’s Kingdom and published a book titled The State in Its Relationship to the Church. His opponents condemned him for making a political blunder that almost cost him his political life (his election). They condemned him for believing that the State revolved around the Church. They insisted that churches came and went–revolving around the State.
They might have said the same thing about any one of the social units we have been looking at. Some individuals, dictators or emperors or even church leaders, have thought that everything and everyone else revolved around them. Some others have insisted that everything and everyone else; church, state, and individual must revolve around the family. Others have insisted that everything else, including the family must be sacrificed for the church. Pastors have sacrificed their children and family life “for” the church and some have chosen celibacy instead of family life.
The doctrine of the Kingship and Mediatorial Kingdom of Jesus Christ provides God’s answer to all this imbalance. The proper relationship between church and civil government and all these other social units rests on three foundations.
1. This doctrine of the Kingdom and Kingship of Jesus Christ “beginning with the Kingdom” provides ample basis for Church- State relationship. The spirituality of Christ’s mediatorial dominion has been built down into the very nature of the Church in such a way as to provide a basis for resolving Church- civil government conflicts and the continuing close cooperation of the two. It is also the basis for the assurance that the Church will continue to remain independent of the control of the civil government and subject to Christ alone as her only King and Head and it will prohibit the Church from ever dominating the civil government. The unlimitedness or universality of Christ’s mediatorial dominion has also been built down into the very nature of the Church in such a way that the powerful principles of a multiplying ministry of the Gospel of Jesus are sending a closely unified, universally expanding, perpetually existing Church, moving throughout the world. It will, one day, require a coming to terms between Church and civil government.
In all this, the basic essential difference between Church and civil government will continue to be preserved. They are different insofar as their immediate origin, their immediate ends and their forms of administration are concerned. They are particularly different in their means of operation, their attitude toward their subject citizens or members, and the character or results of their work. But having said all this, the fact is that the origin of both is in the hands of Christ. His Word is the ultimate rule and standard for both. His Glory is the ultimate objective for both. Both are subject to Him, whether they know and want it or not. Both are subject to Him as King and distinction does not mandate hostility. Things can be diverse without being adverse. The Church-civil government relationship can be a practical working out of the spirituality of Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom. It is a reflection of the relationship between the regnum Christi and the regna mundi. There is a clear, sharp distinction, but that does not mandate a further separation of the two. In fact, it is the distinction which makes the “separation” of Church and civil government unnecessary. It is actually because of their differences as well as their similarities that the two are designed to work together to the glory of Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom. The fact which is seen so clearly in history that “help” given by the State to the Church has been misused, does not mean that it must always necessarily be misused to “secularize” and corrupt the Church, or otherwise blend and confuse Church and civil government anymore than it means that civil governments, by virtue of having suffered in history, especially the medieval years, from the encroachments of the Church, no longer have need for the Church. Both Church and civil government are ordinances of God and the fact that Christ has been made Lord of both, guarantees that the necessary distinctions can/will be preserved when they form a right Church-civil government relationship. It is the overarching dome of Christ’s unlimited Kingdom and in particular His moral Lordship over nations that provides the grand basis for the alliance of Church and civil government, as well as the motive for bringing these two historically unruly persons together. They are two different moral provinces but they are under the same King as separate departments of one vast moral empire. Ptolemy may have initiated the idea of the overarching dome of the kingdom, but he found it in the Scriptures.
2. The second foundation for this Church-civil government alliance is to be found in the Scriptures. God’s Word authorizes these kinds of working relationships. In the New Testament, God defines the magistrate as the “minister of God” who is a “terror to evil”, so he must necessarily be concerned with the suppression of irreligion and the discouragement of offenses against religion. And as the minister of God for good, he must necessarily be concerned with the promotion of the true religion. The important thing is that God put no restriction on either of the two words “evil” or “good”. That is God’s New Testament definition of a magistrate, and the Old Testament provides three kinds of God-approved examples of this principle.
A.) In the pre-Jewish patriarchal economy, Melchisidek demonstrated a combination of sacred and civil things which were pleasing to God.
B.) During the Mosaic economy, the Jewish kings demonstrated a combination of things civil and sacred which were pleasing to God.
C.) The Gentile princes, such as Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, who made contributions to the work of the Church helped to destroy the idea that such civil government support was purely Jewish, and therefore without God’s approval for any other dispensation. Scripture, when not limited to either Old or New Testaments, authorizes an alliance that produces a good working relationship between Church and civil government.
3. The third foundation for a good Church-civil government relationship is just to review again what the civil government can do for the Church (faith) and what the Church (faith) can do for the civil government. The civil government, on the one hand, can do more than just restrain irreligion and protect the work of Christ and His Church. She can carry out Her own part in that work by making Her own profession of faith in Christ and pledging Her loyalty to Him. She can demonstrate His standards of character and conduct in her magistrates and laws. She can contribute to the extension of the special work of His Kingdom through the exercise of Her official or diplomatic influences.
On the other hand, true faith, as taught by the Church is a very important factor in the establishment of that kind of a sound political economy which is most honoring to Christ and most conducive to the progress of His Kingdom and the welfare of her citizens. She teaches magistrates that they are “vice-regents” of Christ with real authority from Him and directly responsible to Christ as well as to men, for putting down all selfish temptations to dominate or tolerate, legislate, administrate, or judge in any way that will run counter to His revealed law. She teaches the citizens the value of true liberty and the real source of it—which results from their knowledge of the true faith. The Church teaches the citizens of the State to restrain natural tendencies toward anarchical licentiousness and indifference which are dishonoring to the Lord of the State and detrimental to the efficiency of civil government. The Church, as the teacher of true faith is also directly concerned with the natural wealth of the nation and, to some extent, responsible for securing new industry through the development of habits of honesty, industry, creativity and thrift without at the same time actually becoming involved in that industry or acquiring that wealth for herself. She is involved in the prevention of indulgence, waste, and poverty, and the establishment of the real “moral” prosperity of the nation. History and current events show that when this is neglected whole civilizations and nations have collapsed. The Church can use the means peculiar to her own nature to reach (far beyond where the State can go) into the very hearts and consciences of men to promote the cause of peace and go to the very sources of lawlessness, profligacy, and impiety, to points that lie far beyond the scope of civil law and its physical means. Beginning with the Kingdom does make a difference.
4. But what does Christ mean when he directs us to “think Kingdom”? In Philippians 2:5-11, God says it this way, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” and in Romans 12:1-2, he calls it being “transformed by the renewing of your mind”. In Philippians 2, God continues to give us a detailed outline of the steps of incarnation, the thought processes of the Messiah in leaving Heaven to come to earth to that last step when “He became obedient unto death even the death of the Cross, wherefore God also hath mightily exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father”. That is the description of the Father’s appointment of the Son to His Mediatorial Kingdom and His statement of the extent of it. Now He says, in effect, I want you to think with the mind of Christ—the way He thought (and still does think) about leaving Heaven to come to earth to face death and then to receive this Mediatorial Kingdom. I want you to have that kind of love. To think Kingdom is a process. In Romans 12:1-2, God said, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”.
From the time of conversion, perhaps before that, God begins breathing through His inspired Word, His Kingdom Plan for each particular soul that He redeems—not only the general redemptive purpose and spiritual nature and unlimited mission vision of His Kingdom, but also the particular application of it all for that particular soul—His particular reason and life purpose for dying for that particular soul on the Cross. And the obedient soul will grow up into every day of that Life Plan.
That can be called “thinking Kingdom”. Understanding the redemptive purpose, the spiritual origin and the unlimited extent of Christ’s Kingdom can sometimes help us to recognize where Christ will be leading us next—his next “development” in our life. Then seeking His Kingdom may mean that we will begin praying; asking him to show us more about his atonement; about greater spiritual maturity in working with others; and for more mission vision and understanding of what He is doing in other parts of His world. It was that kind of prayer and desire that He put into our hearts as a family that sent us to drive around the whole world in 1974-1975. That mission was directly related to this doctrine of the unlimited extent of Christ’s Kingdom. We came back with a new sense of responsibility for what He is doing all over His world.
What does God mean when He promises to “give you the Kingdom”. (Luke 12:32)?
He means what He had kept explaining privately over and over again to his disciples—His long-range Kingdom plans for His world and how they will keep on working after He leaves them; what He was saying in John 15:15, “hereforth, I call you not servants (slaves) but friends, for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth, but I have called you friends for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.” This Kingdom will be yours—it is yours now.
The Author’s Personal testimony
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy (2:1-2)
Allow me to step back for a moment to personalize all of this in the form of a personal testimony that the King might use to make someone reading it to be sure of his/her own relationship to the King. Let me be the “individual” that the King is bringing into His Kingdom and building down into my own life something of the redemptive purpose, the spiritual nature and the unlimited extent of His Kingdom.
I realize now that He is the King who loved me in a manner wondrous and divine, who caused me to be born in 1925. He took my Mother to be with Himself when I was just three years old. He put it into the heart of my Father to give me away to his sister, a maiden lady and schoolteacher who loved me and taught me to memorize God’s Word (especially Psalm 19, wherein God speaks so precisely about how the “line” of the sun, the moon and the stars speak without words, in every language all over the world). As King, He had put me into the U.S. Navy (1942-1946) and made me the Acting Navigator on board that aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Petrof Bay, where those stars and their timing made the difference between life and death. He kept me alive and then brought me to the point of knowing that things were not “right” between Himself and myself. I did not think or talk or live the way He did. There were big differences between us, and there was nothing I could do to make things right between us. At that juncture, He caused me to remember and to know what I had learned as a boy, that He Himself had come down to earth in the form of Jesus Christ and deliberately given His life on that Cross at the other end of the Mediterranean Sea in order to make things “right” between us—if I would but trust in Him. He put it into my heart to trust in Him and I did.
It was 1948. He began “breathing” the facts about His Kingdom down into my heart/life through the study of His Word. He sent me through three years of seminary, and then directly on to graduate school to begin study of the doctrine of His Kingdom (1948-1953).
In 1953, He brought me back to the United States and called, ordained and installed me to be Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bloomington Indiana, home of Indiana University (40,000 students and 40,000 citizens), where He sent two friends who began to show me how to apply and communicate what He had been teaching me about His Kingdom—how to do His work His way. He then called me back to University (1960-1963) to study more of His Kingdom and then brought me to Indianapolis where He wanted to use me in His building of Second Reformed Presbyterian Church. In the last 40 years, He has allowed me to be involved in the lives of a dozen or more other pastors who can do everything I can do, but better than I can do it. He lets me be close enough to His Church “building” to see Him build six other churches (and three or more developing) and twelve more men working to become pastors.
Readers: In Philippians 2:8-11 (NKJ), “. . . and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father.” Since this is the will of the Father for the Son, then why not join Him in that express purpose for your own life, that is the exalting of Jesus in all that you are, know, and do, in a prayer of personal commitment.
Father, whatever it was You committed Yourself to by highly exalting Your son Jesus, a name above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in Heaven and of those below the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. To Your glory, Dear Father, I hereby now commit myself to full obedience of this command and make this the ultimate purpose of my life in Your Kingdom. Amen.
In 1948, after a four-year stint (1942-1946) in the U.S. Navy as Navigator and Division Officer in the South Pacific and Atlantic theatres, Dr. Roy Blackwood obtained his Bachelors degree in Chemistry from Geneva College in Ohio. Also in 1948, he married his wife Margie with whom he has three children. Roy obtained a graduate degree from RP Seminary in 1953 and became Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bloomington Indiana. In 1961, Roy and his family moved to Scotland where he received a Doctorate in The History of Theology from New College, University of Edinburgh. Dr. Blackwood became Senior Pastor of the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana in 1966 where he serves to this day.