My goal in this series is our greater joy in Jesus, even in complex struggles intellectually, emotionally, relationally, etc. So, each time I will offer a buffet on 8 ‘P’s of good news. Chew and savor whatever helps your joy in Jesus. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1)
I hope you’re finding help and encouragement in seeing the gospel as a paradigm like basketball, a musical score, or highway. In my experience, many who grew up in cultures founded long ago on Christian principles now struggle to articulate and apply specifics of life now and eternally in Christ.
Last time we explored the fact that any paradigm is 1) founded on an understanding of its truths in order to 2) pursue its passion. Those two needs are fulfilled in the gospel by Christ as prophet and priest, respectively. The third requirement in the gospel goes beyond most models: advancing the paradigm for God’s glory. Athletes and coaches, musicians and directors, drivers and pit-crews, and all their owners may act with excellence and passion but never recruit and train others to do the same for God’s glory. But in the gospel, Christ leads us to do exactly that as God’s Son and perfect King.
Again, the entire creation week introduces 8 basics of God’s love story in Jesus, and the stage is set by all the “P”s we’ve seen so far. This sub-series considers His positions (offices/roles) revealed on the 6th day of creation in the height of God’s love: Man, made in Christ’s image as prophet, priest, and king to rest and rejoice in God’s love, and reproduce the same. After we look at each position, we’ll complete our study of joy with love’s finale in Christian Joy 108: God’s peace in the 7th day.
For joy is in Life from God, through God, and for God as revealed in the Bible. (Romans 11:33-36) And Christ’s Positions (offices) interconnect as one 3-D image of how He fulfills His Purpose of love. As I said last time, simply understanding the basics won’t bring us joy. Our minds must rest in God as true revealed by Jesus’ work as God’s perfect prophet; our hearts must rejoice in God as good, which requires Jesus’ work as God’s perfect priest; and our relationships must reproduce our rest and rejoicing toward others in Christ. But, again, our human nature tends to rest and rejoice in ourselves rather than God. That’s why we need the gracious, invasive, transforming, securing love of Christ in all three of His offices: a “3-D” love. For as Prophet He brings God’s Word “top down” to people; as Priest He enables worship from His people, “bottom up” to God; as King He advances His kingdom “all around”; and He saves sinners to love in similar ways. This is a complete picture of love in action.
God willing, you’re already seeing the beautiful and powerful overlap of Christ’s work as prophet, priest, and king. Every aspect of the gospel involves God’s truth and love for Him overflowing in relationships of His truth and love toward others. Those human relationships are the king’s realm. And make no mistake, His is an expanding kingdom for His glory, implicit in Genesis 2:5-18, Ezekiel 5:5, etc. and explicit in Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 1:8, etc. God’s people are not to sit in church and home Bible studies waiting for the lost and hurting to come to us. We’re to go teaching His truth and living His love toward them for Christ to be glorified in their forgiveness and transformation, too. (Acts 11:18 and 21:20, Romans 15:1-13, 2 Corinthians 9:13, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12, 1 Peter 2:12, Revelation 15:4, etc.) If God’s love in Christ is really true, good, and eternal, shouldn’t He and we advance His kingdom? When we’ve found a good restaurant or, more aptly, the perfect “heart Surgeon”, we will share that news. The following video on Christ as King.
Yet, our human nature daily tries to define our own sense of “positions” (roles) for our own purposes. Again, the two videos in this section are repeated. The first reminds us of our need for Christ in the offices/roles in which we all live, since our sins and others’ sins distort and damage real love. For examples of our need for good news in our roles, you can listen to my Mom and me below.
The second video here offers a simple illustration of how one person often serves in many offices/roles. Jesus loves by three specific offices because His Father called Him to fulfill three specific aspects of love through the Holy Spirit. (John 14-17)
Thus, Christ’s third “position” is King for the kingdom that God calls us to advance for His glory. But what is His kingdom? What should it look like? Revelation 21-22 give a general idea of what the new earth will be for all who follow Jesus by faith in Him now: perfect spirits, bodies, and relationships with God and other believers in a perfect world forever. Here and now, His kingdom is not primarily to be in political policy, physical security or prosperity, or social harmony. (Matthew 10) Here and now it is His supernatural rule in His people so they love as He loves. It’s a reproducing kingdom always pointing others to rest and rejoice in Christ its glorious King and His sacrificial, transforming, securing love. (Matthew 3:1-3, 4:12-17, 6:19-33, 13:1-58, Mark 9:42-50, Luke 6:20-49, John 3:1-21, etc.)
Now may be a good time to reflect on part of the 6th day we’ve not yet addressed: the other animals. If you remember the birds and sea creatures on the 5th day foretold spiritually dangerous realities between which God would later call His people to go and live His gospel: places with “man-eaters” above and below. Revelation 13-19 is replete with this imagery, but Revelation 21:1 comforts us that the new earth has no sea, and there’s no mention of the birds. In contrast, the animals on the 6th day seem to reflect spiritually glorious realities of His kingdom. (Genesis 1:26-27 and 2:18-25) We’re to glorify God in strength like Behemoth (Job 40:15-24), trust in God for our footing and pant for Him like deer (Psalm 18:32-33 and 42:1), follow Him like sheep (Psalm 23), seek our food from Him like lions (Psalm 104:21) work like ants (Proverbs 6:6-8), be united like locusts (Proverbs 30:27), acknowledge our Master like the ox and donkey (Isaiah 1:3), renew our strength in Him to soar like eagles (Isaiah 40:27-31), be wise as serpents and gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16), be equally yoked like oxen (2 Corinthians 6:14ff), etc. Yet, only Man was and is the height of God’s creation, implying that we’re to glorify Him as they do but much more – by intimate relationship with Him. We are to rule as Christ rules, by trusting in God and loving sacrificially so others might walk with Him, too. Now, contrast His rule with the kingdoms in our analogies: athletes must defeat their colleagues to win; even musicians who want to recruit and train others can’t help a person who is tone-deaf; and few drivers keep and supports the laws out of love for the DoT. As King, Christ defeats death for His own, opens the ears of our hearts, keeps and supports us in temptation and trial, and leads us for our good in His glory.
So, the third of Christ’s “positions” as King has many practical implications and joys, too. We discuss some of these in the next video. As you listen, remember that the gospel’s 8 “P”s are a paradigm like a sport, musical score, or highway; each office of Christ supports His “main event”; and kings advance His kingdom. Isn’t it ironic that Jesus died with a crown of thorns, but our risen King gives crowns to faithful followers who glory only in Him. (Revelation 2:10, 3:11, 4:4, and 4:10)