Bulletin Article for May 28, 2023
Church of Christ-Rockville
4221 Suisun Valley Road, Fairfield, CA 94534
“The Gospel and the Reign of Christ”
Doy Moyer – c/o Vestavia church of Christ, Alabama
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isa 52:7)
This is the passage quoted by Paul in Romans 10 and it shows that the preaching of good news, peace, happiness, and salvation includes, “Your God reigns.” Without the reign of Christ, we have no good news to share. With the reign of Christ, the gospel has force. It is God’s power to salvation (Rom 1:16-17).
Jesus is King. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Head. Jesus is God. We can go on. We need to see that these are not mere titles, but they do describe the position that Christ is in. He has all the authority, and this is where the good news finds its power, for without His authority, we have no grace, no hope, and no salvation. This is also why self-denial is so central to our discipleship, for it is where we decide who is Lord of our lives. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25)
If we want to talk discipleship, it starts with the reign of our Lord. If we want to talk authority, it starts with His Kingship. If we want to talk grace, it is rooted in His rule, for only the One with power to forgive can grant it (cf. Mark 2:1-12). If we want to talk … anything, we either start with His Kingship or we place ourselves on the throne over Him.
Let this phrase from Jesus sink in: “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). This boils down what it means to serve the Lord. It’s what Jesus prayed in the garden. It’s what I need to pray, and it’s where I fail the most. Whatever I want, “nevertheless.” When we make being Christians about us, we have missed the point by a long shot. I’m thankful that Jesus gave Himself fully to the will of His Father. Without it, we have no hope. And because He died for me that I may live, I need to live for Him that I may die in hope of life. It’s not about what we want, what we like, what pleases us, or how we want things done. At the end of the day, I must be willing to say, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
We also need to see that all matters of authority boil down to this. Further, the recognition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ is integrally linked to His word as recorded in Scripture: “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:48). We cannot claim to follow Jesus, while at the same time, ignoring what He said. Yet, the only way we know the words of Jesus is by the recorded testimony of the Spirit. We cannot discern this according to what we may feel, for feelings are fickle
and selfish and this runs counter to self-denial. The question we continually face, then, is this: Will I keep Scripture as primary in my thinking and decision-making or will I operate autonomously to determine my own standard of authority? “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
This issue also lies at the heart of the feelings-v-Scripture, the tradition-v-Scripture, and the personal experience-v-Scripture debates. Is Scripture primary or secondary? What determines God’s will over my will? Bear in mind that any appeal to the Holy Spirit (as feelings-based) must be tempered by what the Holy Spirit has revealed, for, again, we are asking whether we accept Scripture as the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Personal claims and feelings do not prove anything relative to what the Spirit actually does. The Spirit would not contradict Himself or operate in some vague, proof-less arena of feeling-based claims, for “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8).
All of this brings us back to the issue of Christ’s reign and the gospel. We have the gospel because Jesus reigns, and we must hear His word as revealed by the Spirit so that we know and practice His will (not ours). This is what gives us the hope that the reign of Christ provides. Jesus is the King who reigns, and He is the Word who gave His word, ensured His word, and by the Spirit recorded His word that we might know Him. This is gospel.