The Coming King
November 19th, 1972 @ 10:50 AM
THE COMING KING
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-19-72 10:50 a.m.
The title of the sermon is The Coming King. And you who have tuned in on radio and turned your television set to Channel 11 are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. The reading of the text is in the eighteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews?
Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?
Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me: what hast Thou done?
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered . . . but now is My kingdom not from hence.
Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.
“Pilate said unto Him, Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king,” which is the most emphatic way that the Greek language has of answering an affirmative. “Thou sayest I am a king” [John 18:37]. He is the covenant, promised King of Israel [2 Samuel 7:16; 1 Chronicles 17:11]. God, in an unconditional guarantee, gave to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and to their seed, the land of Palestine for an everlasting possession [Genesis 35:1, 9-12]. And the same Lord God promised to David that he would have a Son who would sit and reign upon his throne for ever [2 Samuel 7:13]. The prophet Isaiah spoke of that glorious Son in these words:
For unto us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government shall rest upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. And of the increase of His government . . . there shall be no end, upon the throne of His father David . . . to establish it in judgment and in justice for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it.
Seven hundred fifty years after that prophecy, the angel Gabriel was sent to a little city in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin Jewess named Mary, and there he announced to her that she would be the mother of that foretold and foreordained Child.
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; wherefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And He shall be the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.
Then upon a night of nights, when the heavens were filled with the harmony of the glory of God, when the very air was filled with the rhythm and resonance of the singing of God’s created hosts in glory, when each star seemed to be let down like a golden lamp close to the earth, the Child was born. An angel came from heaven and announced to the startled shepherds that they would find the Child in Bethlehem. Let them go see for themselves [Luke 2:8-12]. Then the heavens rolled back like a scroll, and the angelic choir that had been waiting since the dawn of creation flung upward to the heavenly throne their adoration, “Glory to God in the highest.” Then they flung downward to the waiting earth their benediction, “On earth, peace, good will toward men” [Luke 2:13-14]. The King was born!
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar [Luke 3:1], Jesus being then about thirty years of age [Luke 3:23], was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist [Luke 3:21-22]. And He went forth to announce to the world and to Israel the coming kingdom, and to present Himself as the coming King [Matthew 4:17]. He carried with Him the credentials of His claim: through His mother Mary He was descended from David through the line of Nathan [Luke 3:23-31]; through Joseph the husband of Mary he was descended from David through the line of Solomon [Matthew 1:6-16]; by legal right, by birth, by covenant promise He was a king. “There came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” [Matthew 2:2]. He carried with Him the credentials of a sinless life [Hebrews 4:15]. He carried with Him the credentials of matchless and incomparable words [John 7:46]. He carried with Him the credentials of miraculous and marvelous deeds [Matthew 11:4-5]. And at the exact moment the angel Gabriel had foretold to Daniel the prophet [Daniel 9:21-25], in the exact manner as was foretold by Zechariah [Zechariah 9:9], the King of glory, the Prince of Peace, came riding into the holy city of Jerusalem, there to present Himself as the promised and covenant King [Matthew 21:5].
As He rode into the city, the hosts on every side lifted their voices in praise to the coming King: “Hosanna,” they cried, “in the highest. Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the coming kingdom” [Matthew 21:9; Luke 19:37-38]. And when the Scribes and the Pharisees heard these words of adulation, they importuned the disciples to hush the throng. But the Lord replied, “If these were to still their voices, the very stones would cry out” [Luke 19:39-40]. The great, mighty, promised, covenant moment in world history had arrived: the King had come! Jesus, the Son of God, presented Himself as the promised, covenant, coming kingdom and King of Israel [Matthew 21:5].
He is a rejected king [John 1:11]. When He was betrayed and arrested [Matthew 26:14-16, 47-57], He was arraigned before the Sanhedrin, the highest court of the Jewish nation. And the presiding officer, the chief justice of the court, placing Christ on the throne, on the witness stand, said, “I adjure Thee, by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Blessed” [Matthew 26:63; Mark 14:61]. And the Lord replied, “I am” [Mark 14:62]. “And from henceforth, ye shall see the Son of Man coming in power and in great glory” [Matthew 26:64]. And when the Lord so answered under oath, the high priest rent his garments and said to his fellow Sanhedrins, “Thou hast heard Him for thyself; the blasphemy that He speaks. What dost thou think?” And the Sanhedrin replied, “He is worthy of death!” [Matthew 26:65-66].
Now at that time, the Sanhedrin and the Jewish nation was deprived of the power of capital punishment. So they took the Lord and arraigned Him before Pontius Pilate the Roman procurator. And they accused Him of treason and sedition, saying that “He calls Himself a king.” And Pilate said, “Are You a king?” and the Lord answered, “I am” [John 18:37]. Then Pilate turned to the Jewish nation and said, “Behold your King!” [John 19:14]. And they replied, “We have no king but Caesar, away with Him; let Him be crucified.” And Pilate said, “Shall I crucify your King?” And the mob replied, “Away with Him, crucify Him” [John 19:15], and He was crucified a king [Matthew 27:32-50]. He died a king. The superscription of His accusation was written for the whole world to read, in Greek, and in Latin, and in Hebrew [Luke 23:38]. The Roman governor wrote, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” [Luke 23:38].
“He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11]. He is an exiled King. As He taught His disciples in the nineteenth chapter of Luke: a nobleman went away into a far country, there to receive a kingdom for himself, and said to his subjects, “Occupy till I come” [Luke 19:12-13]. So the King has gone away into a far country, waiting the great covenant and consummating moment when God shall intervene in human history. But what of the kingdom? And what of the purpose of God? Here, when the kingdom is postponed to some other day, to some other time in its consummation, God has placed a great intermission, a vast interlude—it is a mustērion, hidden in the heart of God; no prophet in the Old Testament ever saw it. It was the secret that God kept to Himself until the day that He revealed it to His holy apostles: that there should be an intermission, an interlude between the death of the Lord and the consummation [Luke 19:12-13], the coming kingdom [Ephesians 3:2-12].
In the day that He was crucified, in the day of the cross [Matthew 27:32-50], how Satan must have exulted. Israel has crucified her own Son! [Acts 2:36] The chosen people lie in unbelief and rejection, and every promise and prophecy of God shall fall to the ground. There is no kingdom, and there shall be no King! Death shall reign forever. Satan shall be crowned forever, and sin shall rule forever! The world shall be plunged without amelioration, without alleviation, without hope, into darkness and death forever! How Satan must have rejoiced in the day of the cross, when the Son of God died like a felon, hanged on a tree [1 Corinthians 2:8].
But in the purpose of God, this mustērion, this secret He kept in His heart, which is revealed for us in detail in the third chapter of the Book of Ephesians: that God purposed some new creation. This, says the apostle, in the revelation of the purpose of God, this day in which we live is the day of grace; it is the day of the Holy Spirit; it is the day of the church, when God is calling out a new body and creating a new fellowship. In this new creation there is to be Jew and Gentile, bond and free, male and female, old and young, learned and unlearned, out of all the nations and tribes and kingdoms of the world [Ephesians 3:1-12]. They are now engrafted into the holy olive tree [Romans 11:24], and by invitation anyone in this day of grace can become a member of the household of faith, a member of the chosen family of God [Ephesians 3:5-6]. This is the day of the preaching of the gospel of the grace of the Son of God, to the ends of the earth; any man who hears the voice of the Lord, who feels the wooing invitation of the Holy Spirit, who names the name of Jesus Christ can be added to the family of the Lord, a member of the chosen family of God—this great interlude, this vast intermission in which we now live, the creation of a new body, the church of Jesus Christ, the bride of our Lord [Ephesians 3:7-12].
But what of the kingdom? And what of the King? Jesus is not the king of the church: there is no such nomenclature in the Bible. He is the head of the church [Ephesians 5:23], and we are members of His body. But He is no king of the church. What of the kingdom, and what of the King? That was why the apostles asked the Lord Jesus when He was ascending up into heaven, “Wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” [Acts 1:6]. And the felon who was crucified with the Lord Jesus turned to Him and said, “Lord, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom, remember me” [Luke 23:42]. Is there to be a kingdom? Is He a king? Is there coming the great final fulfillment of all the prophecies and all the covenants and all of the promises of God? Is there to be a kingdom? And shall we ever look upon the triumphant glorious face of the King of the universe, of the King of kings, of the King of the Jews, of the King of the nations? Is Jesus a king? This is the consummation of the age. For somewhere, someday, some time, in an hour known to God, the heavens will be rolled back like a scroll, and the King of glory shall come through [Matthew 24:27]. Christ, our living, reigning Lord, shall come down. The King is coming. Someday, some glorious consummating hour we shall see Him personally and visibly descending from the skies! [Revelation 1:7].
He is coming under a twofold simile: He is coming first as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2]; then He is coming as the livid lightning splits the bosom of the sky [Matthew 24:27]. He is coming first under the simile of a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2]. He is coming to steal away His pearl of price, to take out of the world His jewels, the treasure hid in the earth [Matthew 13:45-46]. He is coming clandestinely, furtively, secretly, with sandaled feet. He is coming to take away, to rapture His people, without announcement, without placard, without advertisement [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17]. No one knows the moment, the hour; it can be anytime, any day, any second. It can be at high noon or at midnight; it can be at dawn or at twilight; any day, any moment the Lord can come, secretly, furtively, clandestinely, as a thief to take away, to rapture His people [1 Thessalonians 5:2]. And all of us shall share in the glory of that triumph and that moment, all of us. These who have fallen asleep in the Lord and who have been buried in the heart of the earth, God shall speak to them, and they shall rise to live again in His sight [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17]. And we who are alive and remain unto His coming shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead in Christ shall be raised incorruptible; and we, we shall all be changed [1 Corinthians 15:51-52].
There shall not be a bone left in the region of death, not a relic for Satan to gloat over: we shall all be changed, caught up to meet our Lord in the air. “Two shall be sleeping in a bed; one shall be taken, the other left. Two shall be grinding at a mill; one shall be taken, and the other left. Two shall be working in a field; one shall be taken, and the other left” [Luke 17:34-36]. Without notice, without harbinger, suddenly the Lord shall come for His people.
Nor can the tribulation and judgment fall upon the earth until first His people be delivered out of it. It was only after Noah was in the ark safely that the judgment fell [Genesis 7:16-24]. It was only after Lot was snatched out of Sodom did the fire and brimstone fall [Genesis 19:15-29]. Nor can there be judgment upon the earth as long as His people live in it. But there shall come a day, as it as in the days of Noah, as it was in the days of Lot, when secretly, furtively, God shall take out of the world His people. He shall rapture His church [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], and then shall the tribulation come [Matthew 24:5-31], and then shall the judgment fall [Matthew 24:44-51].
Then, at the end of that period of judgment and tribulation, then shall the heavens be rolled back like a scroll [Revelation 6:14-17], and then shall the Lord who has come for His people, then shall the Lord descend with the redeemed of all glory. As Jude says, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints” [Jude 14]. And as the text of the Revelation, the Apocalypse, says, Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him; and they also who pierced Him; and the families and tribes and peoples of the world shall wail because of Him. Amen.” The Lord shall come openly and visibly and personally; and every eye shall see Him as the vivid lightning shines from the east to the west [Matthew 24:27]. For the Lord God is coming in triumph, to be King over all God’s creation: the earth, the planets, the universe, the Milky Ways, the sidereal spheres, all of the handiwork of God shall bow in obeisance and in adoration before the Lord God Christ, the coming King [Romans 14:11].
He is coming in the glory of the Father as God the Son and the Son of God [John 17:4-5]. He is coming in the glory of the angels, as the Captain of the hosts of heaven [Joshua 5:14]. He is coming in the glory of the church, as the Bridegroom with the bride [Matthew 25:6]. And He is coming in His own glory as the Son of God, the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Son of Man [Matthew 25:31], the virgin born Man [Matthew 1:23], the crucified Man [Matthew 27:32-50], the risen Man [Matthew 28:5-6], the eternal manifest God Man, Christ Jesus [1 Timothy 3:16]. And He is coming to be the King of Israel, and the King of the Jews [Matthew 2:2], and the King of the nations [Revelation 12:5], and the King of Kings [Revelation 19:16], and the Lord of all the Lords [Revelation 19:16]. He is coming to be Lord God, pantokrator, the Lord God Almighty! [Revelation 1:7-8]. And He is coming to be the restorer and the re-creator of this earth [Acts 3:21]. And when Christ shall come and remake this creation, then will be brought to pass those marvelous prophecies:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and there shall be none to make them afraid.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . and the carnivorous and ravenous lion shall eat straw like an ox . . . They shall not hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
When the King comes,
Lo, He comes on clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand, thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train
God appears on earth to reign
Yea, amen, let all adore Thee,
High on Thy eternal throne
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly, O come quickly,
Everlasting God, come down.
[“Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending,” Charles Wesley, 1758]
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, blessed Lord Jesus” [Revelation 22:20].
And thus to receive Him in faith, to belong to the family of God that shall welcome Him, Oh, this is God’s day of grace, of open invitation. “And the Holy Spirit says, Come; and the bride of Christ, the church, says, Come. And let him that heareth, the passerby, say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” [Revelation 22:17]; come, come, come.
In a moment we stand to sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, or just one somebody you, to give your heart to the Lord, to put your life with us in the fellowship of this dear church, while we sing this song of invitation, on the first note of the first stanza, come. Make the decision now in your heart, and when we stand to sing, prayerfully, earnestly, lovingly, tenderly this appeal, come down one of these stairways, walking down one of these aisles. Gather your family together. Do it today, just the two of you; husband, take your wife by the hand, “Let’s go.” Or just you. When we sing this hymn, the first note of the first stanza is God’s pressing, wooing invitation to you. Come now, do it now, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.
I. The covenant King of Israel
A. The promised Seed of
Abraham (Isaiah 9:6-7)
announcement to Mary (Luke 1:32-33, 35)
C. The Child born in
Bethlehem (Luke 2:14)
D. Announced to the
world the coming King (Matthew 2:2)
II. A rejected King
A. Betrayed, arrested,
arraigned before Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:63-66)
B. Accused of treason
and sedition before Pilate (John 18:37)
C. He was crucified a
King (John 19:14-15, Matthew 27:37)
III. An exiled King
has gone away into a far country, waiting the consummation (John 1:11, Luke 19:13)
IV. The great intermission
A. A musterion,
hidden in the heart of God until revealed to the apostles
B. How Satan must have
exulted in the day of the cross
1. But the
purpose of God is a new creation (Ephesians 3)
V. The coming kingdom
A. What of the kingdom?
(Acts 1:6, Luke 23:42)
B. He is coming again
As a thief in the night to steal away His treasure (1
Thessalonians 5:2, 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Luke 17:34-36)
2. As the
lightning splits the bosom of the sky (2 Peter
a. After the
tribulation (Jude 14, Revelation 1:7)
Christ shall come (Micah 4:4, Isaiah 2:4,
11:6-9, Revelation 22:17, 20)