What is secured by Christ as Priest is put into effect by Christ as King. He is King as God, for “He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Col 1:17). But the Father has also delegated Him to be King as Mediator: “Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion” (Ps 2:6). This assumes His divine nature. He is not only the child born, but the son given, the mighty God (Is 9:6). The exercise of divine power has been granted to Him as Mediator by the Father, for the Father “hath given Him authority to execute judgement also, because He is the Son of man” (John 5:26,27). He applies salvation by the Spirit, which He, being divine, was given without measure. The Lord is head over all things for the benefit of Zion. The world outside the Church is His subsidiary kingdom. Christ’s dominion as God is exercised in three areas: a physical rule over all, a moral rule over rational creatures, a gracious rule over His Church. The first two are essential to His Godhead. The third is sovereignly committed to Jesus as Mediator.
The moral rule of Christ as God is not subverted though His people are under grace and not under law. They remain under law to Christ and, being united to Christ, they bring forth fruit unto God. Christ’s rule as God over the material realm is not subverted as He orders and disposes all to the advance of the Church. Christ’s mediatorial government extends only to the visible Church. Thus 1. Nature does not reveal a mediator. 2. Jesus is represented as the moral governor of His Church alone, “set upon His holy hill of Zion”. He rules over the Church purchased by His blood. 3. His moral government as king and His work as prophet are coextensive: “the isles shall wait for His law” (Is 42:4). By His Word they are called. His administration as king must be as old as the revelation of the plan of mercy. The first word concerning Christ’s coming was accompanied by an announcement of war between the seed of Eve and the seed of the serpent, with victory at last for the Lamb. The vindication of the true seed and judgement on the serpent’s seed is seen in the case of Noah. God “spared not the old world, but saved Noah” (2 Pet 2:5). He appeared also to Abraham with the promise of the birth of Isaac and denouncing judgement on Sodom (Gen 18).
When Jesus appeared, He was termed the one “born King of the Jews” (Matt 2:2). In His humiliation He continued to act as king, cleansing the temple and appointing office-bearers. At His resurrection He was openly invested with kingly authority. “He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33). Christ’s dominion as Mediator is, first, over His own Church as a visible society of those brought in by baptism, as was the Ethiopian eunuch; and as an invisible society of all those who worship God in the Spirit. The charter of this kingdom is God’s covenant of promise, first in Eden, then to Abraham, and now to us. The purpose of Christ’s government is to preserve a pure Church in an impure society, by conversion, sanctification and building up in His most holy faith. Though the kingdom and the witness are often small, as in the time of Noah, of Abraham and of the two witnesses in sackcloth in the time of Antichrist, yet they will be preserved.
Christ’s power extends over all foes for the good of His Church. It extends to the whole human race, to holy angels, to fallen angels, to the lower animal kingdom. “He left nothing that is not put under Him” (Heb 2:8). He rules in order to gather the elect to Himself and He uses the unbelieving world to assist or to correct His people. At last, He will crush the finally impenitent. Sin is present in the believer and hypocrites are present in the Church, but the believer will be made perfect in righteousness and the Church cleansed in order to enter “the inheritance of the saints in light”(Col 1:12). His dominion extends to glory, and the holy angels also are part of this kingdom. It is God’s purpose “that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10).
Christ’s administration in the Church is first seen in its external form. Its charter is “the gospel of the kingdom”, and by it He assembles the outcasts of Israel. The gospel is the means of reconciling to God those who are enemies. Thus a seed is promised in Eden, Noah is saved, Abraham and Israel are told, “I am the Lord thy God”, and, “The promise is to you and to your children”. Christ’s first act is the authoritative publication of the gospel as containing the Church’s charter of privileges: “To the poor the gospel is preached”.
As King, Christ appoints laws and ordinances of worship in His Church. This must be in the power of the Mediator, as authority was given to Him to sanctify a people to Himself. “I will put My fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from Me” (Jer 32:40). The Lord gave the ordinances of the Passover and Circumcision in the Old Testament, and Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament. As King, Christ institutes offices, appoints men to these offices, assigns a sphere of labour and determines success. “As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you” (John 20:21). Success is determined by God and not by gifts; 3000 were converted on one occasion under Peter and, as far as we know, this was not equalled by Paul though Paul was more gifted. By Christ’s authority, ruling and teaching elders are appointed; and their decisions in their official meetings, such as the Council at Jerusalem, are to affect the Church at large. At the same time their power is ministerial only; they are not to be “lords over God’s heritage, but . . . ensamples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:3). Christ alone is Lord and lawgiver. It is for them to explain, state, and apply His law.
Christ also exercises an internal administration. By His Word and Spirit, He subdues the sinner and illuminates his mind savingly so that he who was a servant of sin becomes a servant of righteousness. The sinner is justified, and Christ as King conveys that sentence into the heart. “By His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many” (Is 53:11). Those called by His grace are governed by His laws written on their hearts, “not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Cor 3:3). The Lord orders everything in the lot of His people to their spiritual growth. Their different circumstances – whether they are rich, poor, or afflicted – are blessed to their growth in grace. They will ultimately, through Christ, get the victory over the world, over Satan and over the plague of their hearts.
The same Spirit who works savingly in the Church works in the world at large giving supernatural direction for the good of the Church. In Ezekiel’s vision the Spirit was in the wheels, moving and directing them. “Whithersoever the Spirit was to go they went” (Ezek 1:20). He uses those who are strangers to the covenant as He used Egypt to feed the Israelites and directed Cyrus to set them free and to assist their return to Jerusalem. “I will direct all His ways” (Is 45:13). The Lord uses the wicked to further the interests of the Church as He used the Assyrians to punish the Israelites. The enemies of the Church will be swept aside when they have served their purpose, as the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was broken by the stone cut out without hands, “for He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet” (1 Cor 15:25). All such judgements on individuals and nations terminate in the final judgment. Until then forbearance is shown but, when the elect are brought out at the second coming, it is judgement to the uttermost for the Lord’s enemies. Satan as the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2) exercises dominion over fallen mankind, but at Christ’s coming the prince of this world shall be cast out. The lower elements may be used by Christ to serve His purpose as when the ravens fed Elijah. In Christ’s kingdom “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom 8:28).
The Church is spiritual in nature. The Church is in the world but not of it. The Israelites had their institutions from God and so has the New Testament Church. The Old Testament predictions anticipate the spiritual nature of the Church. Jacob, David and Daniel speak of the spiritual nature of that kingdom. “His seed shall endure for ever, and His throne as the sun before Me” (Ps 89:36). The very names of the Church, such as the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven, reveal its spiritual nature. This kingdom is spiritual, as the King Himself is spiritual. His kingdom is not of this world and will be extended by the power of the Spirit. His subjects are separate from others, not by any outward appearance but by the spiritual qualities of faith, holy living, and zeal for truth and righteousness. The laws of this kingdom are spiritual, taking to do with thoughts. Success is by the Spirit. Christ’s subjects are characterised by heart-devotion, not by lip-service. Their reward is a spiritual inheritance reserved for them in heaven. This kingdom was set up and is being maintained for spiritual ends. The Church’s duty is first to God; all its members are to make their calling and their election sure. The Church looks forward, not so much to deliverance from the trials of the body as to the redemption of the soul, and deliverance from the power of sin, Satan, the world, and the sting of death. The means given are spiritual. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Cor 10:4). The sword is the Word of God. Ministers are to act, not by force, but “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor 2:4) as they address the conscience.
The general judgement is the end of the present mode of Jesus’ administration. He will come in glory to call the dead out of their graves, to make a complete separation between the righteous and the wicked, to pronounce final judgement on the quick and the dead, to commit Satan and his angels to the pit prepared for them, and then to put His judgement into execution immediately. A change will take place in Jesus’ administration at His second coming. His work as Redeemer of the Church will be completed. The purchase was completed at Calvary, but it is part of His work as King to apply progressively the blessings which were purchased. The justification and adoption of individuals are immediately effected, it is true, but they are fully revealed only at the second coming. “We shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). Jesus’ second coming is the day of our redemption. The Church is preserved and additions are made to it down through the ages till He shall “present it to Himself a glorious Church” (Eph 5:27).
When the work of Christ is completed, there will be a change in His administration. The Lord’s Supper is to be kept only “till He come” (1 Cor 11:26); preachers are given “till we all come in the unity of the faith . . . unto a perfect man” (Eph 4:13); and preaching is to go on only “till the end of the world” (Matt 28:20). Neither the Word or the sacraments will be required by those who see “face to face” (1 Cor 13:12). Jesus will cease to exercise mediatorial control over the enemies of the Church. He shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, “for He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet” (1 Cor 15:25) – that is, in Christ’s subsidiary kingdom.
Reasons for believing that Christ will reign eternally in triumph. (1) The Father has made a grant of the Church to Him and “He shall see His seed” (Is 53:10). (2) He is consecrated a Priest eternally by an oath, and similarly He is a King for ever. It is at the second coming He takes fully His royal honours, as in the parable of the pounds given to the servants of the king (Luke 19:11-27). (3) The saints are to reign with Christ and to glory in Him as Mediator. (4) The saints have their right to heaven from Jesus and maintain their attachment to Him as Mediator. “They shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:17). (5) Christ subordinated Himself to God as Mediator. “Then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).
1. This is the final section of a paper which was given at the 1998 Theological Conference. It summarises the argument of The Offices of Christ by George Stevenson, a Secession minister in Ayr who died in 1841. Earlier articles dealt with Christ as Prophet and as Priest.