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Living in the Kingdom

February 02, 2017
By Mr. Eric VanDerhoof - Head of School

There once was a King who felt greatly distressed as all his people were very lazy. Nobody was prepared to work, so he wanted to teach them a lesson. Therefore, he had a big stone placed right in the middle of the road, and he disguised himself as a beggar who sat by the road so he could observe what would happen. Many merchants passed by, looked at the stone, made a face and went round it. An officer who was driving his carriage avoided the stone and moved away. A young soldier came riding a horse; he criticized the government for not removing the stone. Then along came a foreigner who was passing through that road, and he decided to move the stone. The king came out of hiding to congratulate the stranger; he called for the merchants, the official and the soldier so he could explain the lesson. The King then presented a box full of money which was buried in a hole beneath the stone, and upon it was etched that the money belonged to whoever removed the stone. After that day the kingdom became very hard-working and was never as lazy as it was before; they learned that laziness does not pay.

The account of the visit by the Magi in Scripture teaches that Christ is King of the Jews, King of the World, and King of Heaven. As a result, Paul reminds the Colossians that God “has delivered [Christians] from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” As King Jesus looks out over His kingdom, what does He expect to see? Now that we reside in a new Kingdom, how shall we then live?

The Apostle Peter provides some guidance to answer these questions in 1 Peter 2:9-12. As he writes to “the pilgrims of the Dispersion”, the apostle will employ four arguments to remind them of how they should live. These believing Jews were disconsolate because their life, traditions and rituals had been upended by Roman persecution. Peter reminds them of the Rank, Resolve, Record and Reputation that characterize believers who live in His kingdom.

Peter states that God deems His subjects as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people.” These encouraging words echo the promise that God gave to the Israelites through Moses in Exodus 19 after He had rescued them from Egypt. No longer were they slaves in Egypt, they had been liberated to live as a nation. And, this promise now extends to the desegregated Gentiles who were grafted into the Kingdom of Christ. As John Calvin says in his commentary on this passage, God “brings the vassals of Satan, of sin, and of death, to the enjoyment of royal liberty. God’s people are highly favored in the Kingdom of Christ.

The special Rank that Christians enjoy in God’s Kingdom also gives them a new Resolve…to “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Those who have been transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light will spend their time praising the King for His grace and mercy. As the prophet Isaiah proclaims, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” (43:21) No longer is the primary concern with personal welfare or self-centered living; now the King will be exalted at all times by the people in His kingdom!

To appreciate the new Rank and Resolve Peter argues it is important to remember their past Record. He utilizes language from the story of Hosea to remind his readers that God is worthy of praise because He patiently extends grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. Just as Hosea forgave Gomer’s continual obstinacy and disrespect, so God overlooks the egregious disobedience of His people as He provides salvation through His Son, King Jesus. Those who have obtained mercy and are now the people of God will not behave in an ungrateful, unfaithful, promiscuous and selfish manner like Gomer. Instead, they will loudly proclaim, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” This song will be sung eternally by those who live in the Kingdom of Christ.

With this new found perspective, Christians living in the kingdom now become concerned with their Reputation…as it reflects upon the reputation of the King. Admittedly, there is a great spiritual war that wages, and the temptation to return to the kingdom of darkness can seem overwhelming. However, obedience has always been the God-designated standard. John writes in his first epistle that the “old commandment” continues to be, “By this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” Victory over the internal battle is demonstrated through external disciplines. Just as no valid accusation could be found against Daniel (6:4), the accusations against Christians living in the kingdom will serve to glorify God and defend the reputation of King Jesus.

As our King looks over His kingdom, what does He see? A kingdom filled with lazy sluggards or obedient subjects? Are we putting up with distractions and obstacles or are we clearing the path for others to follow? Are we blaming others for difficulties or enjoying the abundant blessing of kingdom living? May our King rejoice that we remember our Rank, Resolve, Record, and Reputation now that we have been delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son.

What Child Is This?

January 09, 2017
By Mr. Eric VanDerhoof - Head of School

In 1941 the BBC (British Broadcast Corporation) announced that it would produce a series of twelve radio plays retelling the life of Christ.  Popular mystery writer and scholar, Dorothy Sayers, was tasked with the undertaking.  As the public received word about the project, The Man Born to be King, there was an outcry by religious and non-religious communities alike.  “Blasphemy” and “Religious propaganda” were heralded by unified opponents who were typically polarized in their efforts.  The issue seemed so crucial that Prime Minister Churchill and the Archbishop of Canterbury received numerous requests to ban the play; even the House of Commons discussed the matter in session!  Nevertheless, the play was broadcast much to the applause and encouragement of many who enjoyed the programs.  Her fellow Inkling, C.S. Lewis, wrote a letter years later expressing his delight: “I’ve finished The Man Born to Be King and think it a complete success…I shed real tears (hot ones) in places.”

The first play, Kings in Judea, was broadcast just before Christmas in 1941.  The story recounts the efforts of the Magi as they searched for the king who had been born according to their study of prophecies and astrology.  After their visit with King Herod, the kings were led by the star to Bethlehem, and they worshipped the young child in humble surroundings.   As the kings met the Christ-child and presented their gifts in adoration, they proclaimed the following titles that provide an answer to the question, “What Child Is This?”  In their words Jesus is:  King of the Jews, King of the World, and King of Heaven.  The Magi had studied the prophecies and had derived these titles.   Matthew 2 serves as a summation for this truth that permeates all of Scripture.  These titles are the central idea in the teachings of God’s Word, are confirmed by tracing the genealogy of Jesus, are modeled in biblical types, and are proclaimed in the testimony of witnesses throughout eternity.

King of the Jews – The wise men proclaim this title as they seek guidance from Herod and his advisors.  Furthermore, as early as Moses’ declaration in Numbers 24, Old Testament prophets and poets alike assert that Jesus would fulfill this role.   Common references such as the “Star of Jacob” and the “Rod of Jesse” are used to identify the royal lineage of the long awaited king.  The genealogy of Jesus recorded in the first chapter of Matthew traces this pedigree and connects Him all the way to Abraham through the kings of Israel, and especially to King David who is presented as the archetype for the anticipated monarch…a man after God’s own heart.  Contemporaries of Jesus gave testimony of His royalty, either wittingly or unwittingly!  Both Nathanael and Peter declared that Jesus was most assuredly the Christ, and Pilate (with the aid of the soldiers) proclaimed this truth through their attempted mockery at Christ’s trial and crucifixion.  This child, Jesus, is the King of the Jews!

King of the World – In their worship of Jesus, the Magi acknowledge Him as the King of Kings.  This moniker is a favorite of the psalmists as kings and nations are reminded repeatedly to honor the King of the Nations.  Daniel also makes this proclamation in his visions, and the throne room scenes in John’s Revelation declare that Jesus is the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords!”  Luke uses his genealogy of Jesus to trace the physical bloodline all the way back to Adam, the father of all mankind.  Interestingly, Luke avoids the direct “kingly” line and circumvents King Jechoniah who had been cursed by God when He proclaimed through Jeremiah that none of his descendants would sit on the throne.  However, Jesus is still connected to Adam through David, Abraham and Noah.  Jesus is also from the archetypal order of Melchizedek, the priest-king to whom Abraham (Father of Israel) paid homage and offered tithe.  Jesus would be more than just the King of the Jews!  From the protevangelium (the First Gospel) declared to the Serpent in Genesis 3 through the songs offered by Mary, Zacharias and Simeon at the Incarnation to the hymns and feasts of the Church, saints throughout the ages rejoice over this truth when they sing, “Joy to the World the Lord has come; let Earth receive her King!”  This child, Jesus, is King of the World!

King of Heaven – The Magi followed the star to locate the newborn king.  All creation is under His authority, does His bidding, and declares His glory.  Paul’s portrayal of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation in the Christ Hymn penned in Philippians 2 shows this truth to be God’s plan all along…”that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord….”  Furthermore, the genealogy proffered by the writer of the letter to the Hebrews traces His lineage directly to God Himself.  Jesus is the Son of God and “has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name” than the angels.  He is the “heir of all things” and the “creator of the world.”  He sits “at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”  In this passage the types represented by David and Melchizedek are actualized…Jesus is the reality!  As the “heavens declare [His] glory” and the angels announced His birth, so all the saints will join all of creation at the Great Throne Room scene recorded in Revelation 5 and eternally sing, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”  This child, Jesus, is the King of Heaven.

As we begin a New Year and celebrate this Season of Epiphany pray that we are able to answer the question, “What Child Is This?”  May we follow the example of the Magi and recognize that we are celebrating the birth of the King Jesus Christ…King of the Jews…King of the World…King of Heaven!

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