A Resting Place

"It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me."

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Jesus is Lord

Hopefully this post will address some questions that have been asked in various comments as well as outside of this blog. I want to take up the issue of the Lordship of Christ. Eschatology will make an important appearance in this article, as well as some vital questions and unhelpful confusion.

One of my hesitations about the total avoidance of any attempt at a Christian government is the overwhelming chorus of early Christian voices claiming that "Jesus is Lord." Lord of what? The Church? Individual Christians? Or is He Lord of the entire earth? And if so, how?

A key text here is 1 Corinthians 15:20-28:

20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For "God[b] has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "all things are put in subjection," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

The order of events seems plain: (1) Christ's resurrection occurs. (2) At His coming, the resurrection of believers take place. (3)"The end" comes. (4) Jesus hands the kingdom back over to His Father.

This destroys premillenialism, in my opinion, which means we are left with either amillenialism or postmillenialism. The text seems to favor post- (though I would gladly welcome alternate views if I'm missing something), because by the time the return comes, all things are put under His feet, and death is the final enemy.

Several questions must be answered: Who or what are the enemies? What does all things mean? Does He destroy every rule and power and authority at His coming, or during all the years leading up to it?

Here's the dilemma in my mind: If Jesus' reign is occurring now, which the text clearly says, and His reign ends at His return (hands the kingdom back to the Father), which it also says, and we are not supposed to seek for a Christianized world with Christian governments, then Jesus' reign over the earth is never entire. It is only over the church and was never intended to be over governments at all. Maybe that is indeed what the Bible says; I've got lots of studying to do there.

But something worries me here. If we are not supposed to have Christian governments, are we supposed to not try to elect Christian leaders? Should we not call on them to turn to Christ? Should we, in effect, not evangelize government officials, since the state is supposed to be secular? How do we affect our political atmosphere for Christ if it's not supposed to be Christian? Something tells me we'd do what we're doing now - engage in political power plays that show nothing of the true humility of Christ. Furthermore, it is obvious that we are, indeed, to call all to turn to Christ (Acts 17:30-31).

At the same time (it's like a literary tennis match), Christian governments have been absolutely horrendous in the past. Forced Christianity is never a good thing.

So perhaps I've come right back around to the idea of preaching the gospel to everyone everywhere and letting Christ take Lordship of what He wants to in His time. That's a little too vague for me, but it does keep the gospel primary and political power plays on the back burner. I'm going to explore the merits of this position over the next few days.


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