Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on December 25, 2016
Open your bibles to Revelation 19:11-16. Today marks our last Sunday in our four part series entitled “King of Kings.” As I have stated a number of times, my goal in this series was to magnify the significance of the Birth of God in the Birth of Jesus. I desired to establish that all of existence, past present and future revolves around King Jesus. I want for all of us to understand that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end; that we exist for him, not the other way around. As I have pondered this series over the last month, I am more and more convince that these messages are not as much for the lost, as they are for the found. As Christians we have a tendency to become apathetic. We start to lose our first love. The oil in our lamp starts to run out. We fall asleep in the Kingdom of Christ. And we must be reminded about the reason that we exist, to be fellow workers, fellow soldiers for our King. In the pursuit of this, we began by looking within ourselves and recognizing that all mankind is created for a King. Inside all of us resides the moral code. It is written on our hearts. And if there is a law, there must be a lawgiver. To be a lawgiver, you must by of the highest authority, the Sovereign, the King. Every person was designed to be ruled by a King, and that King is Jesus of Nazareth.
However, because of sin, we suppress this truth. Because of sin we are blind to the realities that we are created for a King. So God, being rich in mercy, uses history to cast a shadow of the King of Kings. Then he takes this history, and he records it through the writers of the Old Testament: Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, the Prophets. Each person, as they are carried along by the Holy Spirit, are an instrument in the hand of God, writing a single story pointing forward to the coming of Christ the King. And then, after the stage had been set, and all heaven was on the edge of their seat, the Son of God took on flesh and was born into this world. As we pondered last night, the event of the birth of the eternal God is incomprehensible, yet necessary for our salvation. Without the birth and then the death of our King, we have no hope. He is truly the King who saves His people. Today we take the final step in this series. The title of this mornings message is “The Rule and Return of the King.” So with that, let us read Revelation 19:11-16.
Revelation 19:11-16 – “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.15From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” The author of our text this morning is the Apostle John. In the later years of his life, being the only remaining apostle alive, God chose to close the Cannon of Scripture by providing John a glimpse of the end times. In our passage this morning God is revealing to John the second coming of Christ. An event that has not yet occurred, but one that we are waiting for. In fact, this is what the song Joy to the World is all about. It is not about his first coming, but his second coming. This morning we live in an in-between time. In the Bible this in-between time is, periodically, called the last days. Hebrews 1:2 says, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” The question I want to tackle this morning is, if we are created for a King, and the Old Testament is the Shadow of the King, and Christmas is the birth of the king, and Revelation is the return of the King what are the implications for us today this Christmas morning? How is the Kingship of Jesus Christ relevant to us here at Cornerstone?
Faith Without Works is Dead
To answer that question, lets ask another question. What does it take to become a part of the Kingdom of Christ? Many of you will answer, “faith”. The way in which we are transferred from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of the Beloved Son is through faith. A verse that ever Christian should have memorized is Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The means by which we receive God's glorious grace is through faith.
but what is faith? Recently, here at Cornerstone, we posed this same question, and we pointed to Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” As our verse indicates, faith is not just some intellectual understanding, it is being sure and being convicted. Perhaps to shed even more light on what this means we can turn to James 2:18. In the book of James, James is writing against people who claim to have faith, but do not live a life of that matches. This is what James says in 2:18, “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” What is James saying? Is he saying that to get into the Kingdom, you must work your way into it? No. He is saying that if you have authentic, convicting faith, it will produce in your life evidence of that faith, specifically works. If you have faith, you will produce works. If you have no works, then that is evidence that you have no faith.
If you truly believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior King, you will begin to live your life in such a way that displays His authority over your life. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, yet you do not follow him in your day to day life, you are no different than Satan. For Satan knows that Jesus is the chosen one of God, but refuses to submit to His rule. Satan lives life his way, not God's way. This understanding of a faith that produces works is why Jesus says things such as, “If you do not renounce all that you have, you cannot be my disciple” and “pick up your cross daily and follow me.” To believe in Jesus as our Savior King means to follow. Or to say it another way, to believe means to submit to the rule of your King.
A Wake Up Call
This is where many people are going to be unpleasantly surprised on the day of Judgment. It will be a wake up call. As Jesus says in Matthew 7:22, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Just because these people claim Jesus, does not mean they are following Jesus. Claiming you have faith is not the same as have true saving faith. True saving faith does not produce lawlessness, it produces obedience.
This world is full of people who claim Jesus as their Savior, but not has their Lord. Let me tell you something, these things are a package deal. You can't have one without the other. If Jesus is not your Lord, then he is not your Savior. This is why Jesus, prior to ascending into Heaven tells his disciples in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Does this not ring with the sound of a King commanding his subjects. A disciple of King Jesus is someone who obeys all that King Jesus commands. Notice that Jesus doesn't say, all that he suggests. He says commands. Jesus is not jut a savior he is a King. And when the King commands, his subjects obey. And this is the essence of your life, If you are a true Christian. To be ruled by Him. He is not just your buddy, his is your Lord.
The Christian walk is one that submits to Christ your King. Not just in some things but in everything. Your marriage, your finances, your job, your children, your dreams, your goals, even your thoughts must come under the authority of Jesus. Many self-proclaimed Christians have a hard time submitting to Jesus fully. They instead will sit the fence, or meet him half way. Instead of reading the Bible, they will read devotionals. Instead of becoming a Church member, they attend Church semi-regularly. Instead of sharing the Gospel, they will post a “Leave Christ in Christmas” facebook post. Instead of visiting orphans and widows, they cut a check to World Vision. The list can go on and on. We serve Jesus until it interferes with our job, our comfort, our interests, our life. And it is not just our actions, or lack thereof, failure to submit to Christ is also in our theology. We like to pick and choose what we like. You don't like the idea of wives submitting to their husband, throw it out. You don't like the idea of Calvinism, throw it out. You don't like the idea of homosexuality being a sin, throw it out. You don't like the idea of judgment, throw it out. You don't like the idea of Hell, throw it out. This is unfortunately the norm in American “Christianity”, the theology of pick and choose.
The Essence of of Sin is Lordship
But I should be fare, for it is not just America, it is our sinful flesh that we are warring against. It is the problem that first took root in the Garden of Eden. If you recall, the first sin was Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why did this tree have this name? It was because this is the essence of sin, putting yourself in the place of God and determining for yourself what is good and what is evil. And this is exactly what we do when we pick and choose, we are ruling over God, not being ruled by God. We forget that when we placed our faith in Jesus, we are no longer our own, we have been bought with a price. And until Christ returns we are to be about His work, not ours.
Earlier I mentioned Ephesians 2:8-9. The heart of the Gospel, but I left out verse 10. It is unfortunate, but many people leave out verse 10, for it says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. “ God has for each of us work that he is just waiting for us to step into. Personalized work in the Kingdom of Christ that only you can accomplish. It is just waiting for you. So many people allow Satan to convince them that they can't serve within the Kingdom; that you are not knowledgeable enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not extroverted enough, not rich enough. If you believe you can't be used by God, then you are calling God a liar, for Ephesians 2:10 says the opposite.
Living Sacrifice for Our King
Instead of calling God a liar, I have a better idea. Implement Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers,a by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world,c but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” In light of all that Christ did for us in becoming a man and dieing in our place, let us reciprocate by laying our lives down for him. Surrendering fully to our King. Being willing to test some things out this year. You could go on a mission trip, share the gospel with all your co-workers, open up your home to your brothers and sisters in Christ, plug into an ongoing ministry here at Cornerstone, start a new Bible study small group, lay it all on the line for your King.
Good and Faithful Servant
Isn't this what you want Jesus to find you doing upon his return? As Revelation 19 tells us, Christ is returning, yet this time, he is not coming as a Baby, he is coming as a warrior. A king whose patience has finally ran out and who will with a rod, force submission. Jesus speaks of his second coming somewhat frequently. And it is actually interesting what Jesus seems to emphasize. Take for example the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14.
Turn with me there, so we can better understand the rule and the return of the King. Matthew 25:14-30 - “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servantsc and entrusted to them his property. 15To one he gave five talents,d to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.e You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
I cannot help but see the similarity between Revelation 19 and Matthew 25. As King, Jesus has expectations. If those expectations as not met, there are consequences. If upon his return, he does not find you obeying his commands, he does not find your about his work, he does not find your offering your body as a living sacrifice, does not find you as a good and faithful servant, then there is only one conclusion, you are not a true servant of King Jesus. You are instead a hypocrite. And hypocrites, who bear no fruit for their King, are cast into Hell.
However, for those who commit their heart, soul, mind and strength to loving the King and obeying the King, the return of the King marks a new beginning. No longer will his subjects be living in the in-between, but instead they will be living in the forever. A forever where all things are in full subjection to their ruler. All the enemies of Christ will bow at his feet, sin will be put away forever, and death will be abolished. The fullness of the Glory of the Kingdom of Christ will be eternally secure, and the people of Christ can rest, and fully and finally enter into the joy of their King, and we can sing with all our hearts, “Joy to the World, the Lord has come, let Earth receive her King.”