The Coming King
March 26th, 1978 @ 7:30 PM
THE COMING KING
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-26-78 7:30 p.m.
A thousand times over again do we welcome the throngs of you who listen on the radio of the Southwest, KRLD, and on radio of our Bible Institute, KCBI, to this evening service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Coming King.
As you know, Broadman Press has asked the pastor to preach sixteen of his favorite sermons; this in deference to the fifty years that I have been a pastor. And out of those fifty years that I preach sixteen of the sermons that are most meaningful to me. They are to be published in a book entitled With a Bible in My Hand.
And the sermon tonight is one that is dear and precious to my own soul. It is entitled The Coming King. It is a message about the return of our living Lord. Just as a background, Jesus is King, I read from the eighteenth chapter of the Book of John. Would you like to read it with me? Turn in your Bible to John chapter 18; and we shall read verses 33 to 37, together. John, the Gospel of John chapter 18, verses 33 through 37. Now out loud with the pastor together beginning at 33, ending at 37 of John 18, together:
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 to the Jews: 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, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.
And the background text, Pilate incredulously looking at that despised figure with a crown of thorns on His head, with a purple robe over His shoulder, with a reed for a scepter in His hand, bloody and beaten by the scourging of the Roman legions, said unbelievingly, “Art Thou, You, a king?” Jesus answered in the most emphatic way that the Greek language can express it, to repeat the question. “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” [John 18:37]. Jesus is King.
In an unconditional covenant, the Lord God promised the land of Palestine to Abraham and to the seed of Israel, forever. “He hath remembered His covenant for ever” in Psalm 105:
The word which He commanded to a thousand generations.
Which covenant He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac;
And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.
The rest of the world is for all of the others of us, but the land of Canaan, the land of Palestine belongs to the seed of Israel. It was promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob by an unconditional covenant forever.
The same Lord God said to David that he should have a son who would sit upon His throne, world without end. And the Lord said to David, in 2 Samuel 7:
When thy days shall be fulfilled, and thou shall sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee . . . and I will establish the throne of thy kingdom for ever.
And thine house and thine kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
[2 Samuel 7:12, 16]
The same Lord God who promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that the lot of their inheritance forever should be the land of Canaan [Psalm 105:8-11], is the same Lord God that promised to David that he should have a son, who would reign over the house of Israel and forever. The prophet Isaiah described that glorious Son and that glorious King in the seed and line of David. He said in chapter 9: “The dimness and darkness shall not continue forever though the land of Zebulun and Naphtali have been under the judgment of God [Isaiah 9:1]. Yet, these very lands,” Galilee of the Gentiles and beyond the Jordan, “shall be filled with glory.”
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
For unto us a Child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government shall rest upon His shoulder: His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it. . . even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it.
[Isaiah 9:2, 6-7]
Seven hundred fifty years after that prophecy, the angel Gabriel was sent to a little village in Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin Jewess named Mary and announced to her that she should be the mother of this foretold, foreordained Child [Luke 1:26-33].
The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And upon a night of nights when the heavens were resonate with the glory of God, when the very stars were filled with the rhythm of the presence of the Lord, when each star seemed to be lowered like a golden lamp earthward with invisible hands, the Child was born.
An angel suddenly descended from heaven and announced to the startled shepherds, “In Bethlehem, there the Savior of the world has come. Go, see for yourselves. With you own eyes, behold Him.” And upon that announcement, the heavens just parted like a scroll. And the angel chorus, waiting from the dawn of creation, flung upward their paean of praise: “Glory to God in the highest” [Luke 2:8-14]. And then flung downward their benedictory blessing, “And on earth peace, good will toward men” [Luke 2:14]. The covenant King had come.
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar [Luke 3:1], Jesus being then about thirty years of age [Luke 3:23] was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River [Luke 3:21-22], and immediately went forth to declare the coming of the covenant kingdom and to present Himself as the promised and covenant King [Matthew 4:17]. He carried with Him the credentials of His royalty and His kingship. Through His mother Mary, He was descended from David through the line of Nathan [Luke 3:23-38]. Through the husband of Mary, through Joseph He was descended from David through the line of Solomon [Matthew 1:1-17]. Both by legal right and by blood inheritance, 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 2:1-2]. He carried with Him also the credentials of a beautiful and sinless life [2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15]. He bore also the credentials of wonderful words, “Never a man spake like that Man” [John 7:46]. He bore also with Him the credentials of wondrous works. “It was never so seen in Israel” [Matthew 9:33]; the glory of the work, of the words, and of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
And upon a day at the exact time foretold by Gabriel to Daniel the prophet-statesman [Daniel 9:24-27], in the exact manner as prophesied by Zechariah [Zechariah 9:9], the Lord Jesus Christ, the covenant King, came into Zion lowly and riding upon the foal of a donkey to present Himself as the covenant King, the Prince of Peace [Isaiah 9:6]. And as He came into the city of Zion and the holy city of Jerusalem, they shouted with inexpressible exultation and delight, “Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna to the Son of David” [Matthew 21:5-9].
And when the scribes and the Pharisees sought to still those who were so crying, the Lord replied, “If these were to hold their peace, the very stones would cry out” [Luke 19:39-40]. It was the great covenant day in the life of the chosen people of God. It was the great, consummating moment of all history. The covenant King had come, Jesus, King of the Jews [Luke 2:8-14].
Second: He is a rejected King. He stood on the witness stand in the Sanhedrin, the highest court of Israel. And before Him is the high priest who presides over the Sanhedrin, the high court of Israel. And the high priest says to Him:
I adjure Thee, ei ou, I adjure Thee. . .that Thou tell us whether Thou be Christ, the Son of the Blessed, the King of the Jews.
And the Lord replied, I am. I am. And henceforth shalt thou see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, coming in the clouds of glory with all His holy angels.
And when the Lord so said that under oath, the high priest rent his garments and turned to the other seventy of the Sanhedrin and said, Thou thyself hast heard His blasphemy. What do you say?
And they cried saying, Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
[Matthew 26:63-66; Mark 14:61-64; Luke 23:13-21]
At that time, capital punishment had been taken out of the hands of the Sanhedrin and of the Jewish state, and it was invested in the court of the Roman procurator. The Jews therefore took the Lord Jesus to Pontius Pilate and accused Him of sedition saying, “He says He is a king” [John 18:37]. And the Lord, standing there so humble, so patient, so quiet; then Pilate said, “He, a king?”
“Yes. He says He is Christ, a king. He is guilty of treason and sedition” [Luke 23:2].
Pilate said, “I will scourge Him and let Him go” [John 19:1].
So the Roman legions beat Him. And in contempt both for the Jew and for this lowly Nazarene, crowned Him with thorns, put a cast-off purple robe over His shoulder, put a stick in His hand for a scepter, and mockingly, scornfully bowed the knee saying, “Hail, king of the Jews” [John 19:2-3].
Pilate, seeing Him so bloodied now with the awesome scourging, such a ridiculous figure with a crown made out of thorns and a dirty, ragged cast-off robe with a reed in His hand [Matthew 27:29], brought Him forth and said, “Behold, your King!” [John 19:14].
And they cried out saying the more, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
And Pilate answered, “Shall I crucify your King?” [John 19:15].
And they answered, saying, “We have no king but Caesar. Crucify Him!” [John 19:15].
And the Pontius Pilate, the procurator, delivered Him into the hands of a quaternion of soldiers who took Him to Calvary and raised Him between earth and sky, crucified [John 19:16-18]. But above His head, Pilate wrote the superscription of His accusation: “THIS IS JESUS A KING.” And the scribes and the Pharisees went to the procurator and said, “Do not write, ‘This is Jesus the King.’ Write, ‘This is Jesus who said He is a King’” [John 19:19-21].
Pilate replied that famous reply: “Quod scripsi, scripsi, What I have written I have written” [John 19:22]. He was crucified a King. And He died a King written in Greek, and in Hebrew, and in Latin for the whole world to know [John 19:20]. Jesus died a King. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11].
Third: He is an exiled King. In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Luke, our Lord says, speaking of Himself, “A nobleman went away into a far country to receive a kingdom unto himself [Luke 19:12]. And he said to his servants, ‘Occupy ‘till I come’ [Luke 19:13]. And the nobleman went away into the far country and left his servants here to work in his name” [Luke 19:12-13]. And the Lord Jesus, King Jesus, went away into another country—up there into heaven—and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high [Hebrews 1:3], waiting for the consummation. He is an exiled King. He is up there in heaven.
Now, the great intermission and the great interlude; when Jesus died on the cross [Matthew 27:32-50; John 19:16-30], how Satan must have exulted, how he must have rejoiced. Oh! I can hear him cry, “Look! Look! Jesus is dead! Israel has crucified her own firstborn Son. Jesus is dead. Look, the chosen family and the chosen race are in unbelief, they have rejected their King!”
I can hear Satan cry in exultation and rejoicing, “All of the promises of God have come to naught, every prophecy is fallen to the ground. Sin shall reign forever, darkness shall reign forever, death shall reign forever!” I can hear Satan rejoice, as through a scribe, Pharisee, and Sadducee he marches up and down in front of Jesus as He dies on the cross [Matthew 27:39-43].
But Satan didn’t know—it was a secret kept in the heart of God—that there should be between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth weeks of Daniel, an interlude, an intermission [Daniel 9:26-27], a mustērion, Paul calls it in the third chapter of Ephesians [Ephesians 3:2-11]. Between His coming to the cross and between His second coming with a crown [Hebrews 9:28], there should be an intermission; the age of grace, the age of the Holy Spirit in which interlude and intermission God would call out of the whole world a people for His own. They should be called ekklēsia, “the called-out ones,” in our language, “the church” [Ephesians 5:27].
And the gospel of salvation, and redemption, and invitation should be preached to all men everywhere [Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:44-47]. And wherever there is a man who would turn and believe, he also should be added to the family of God; one household of faith with Jew and Gentile, Greek and Bavarian, Roman and provincial, black and white, male and female, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, all alike, precious in the sight of God belonging to the redeemed family of the Lord; this intermission, this full interlude, this Age of Grace, this age of the Holy Spirit, this age of the calling out [Ephesians 3:2-11], when God is fashioning a new body, a new thing called the church, the bride of Christ [Ephesians 5:27].
But what of the kingdom, is there to be no kingdom? Has God forgotten the kingdom? Has He? You see Jesus is the head of the church [Ephesians 5:23]; He is not the King of the church. There is no such nomenclature in the Bible. Jesus is a King over a kingdom [John 18:36], and what of the kingdom? Will there ever be a kingdom? Will the kingdom ever come? Will Jesus ever reign as King over the earth?
They asked Him that as He began to ascend into heaven. In the first chapter of the Book of Acts, the disciples came and asked Him saying, “Lord, at this time, wilt Thou restore the kingdom to Israel?” [Acts 1:6]. What a propitious moment. What an adventitious hour for the Lord to answer the disciples saying, “There is not going to be any kingdom. There will never be a kingdom. I am not a king. It will never be.”
He didn’t say that. When they asked Him, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom?” [Acts 1:6] the Lord replied:
It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Lord hath kept in His own hands. But you preach the gospel. Build the church. Call out the called. Gather the redeemed into the family of God. The kingdom is postponed but it will come some glorious, triumphant, consummating day. The kingdom will come.
Fourth, and last: Jesus is a coming King. He is coming under a twofold simile. He is coming first as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2]. And He is coming second as the livid lightening splits the bosom of the sky and shines from the east to the west, so shall the Lord come in the parousia, the great revelation, the apokalupsis of the reigning King [Matthew 24:27].
First: He is coming under the imagery of a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2]. He is coming unannounced, suddenly with unsandaled feet, quietly, furtively, clandestinely, secretly. He is coming as a thief to steal away His jewels [1 Thessalonians 5:2], to take out of the world His pearl of price [Matthew 13:45-46], and His treasure hid in a field [Matthew 13:44]. He is coming as a thief to take away, to rapture away His people [1 Thessalonians 4:14-17].
And it will include us all, we all shall be changed [1 Corinthians 15:51-52]: “we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord,” when He comes as a thief in the night, we shall be suddenly raptured away to meet our Lord in the air:
And these who have fallen asleep in Jesus will rise first. The trumpet shall sound, and the archangel shall speak, and these who have fallen asleep in the Lord shall rise first; then all of us shall be changed, caught up to meet our Lord in the air.
[1 Thessalonians 4:15-17]
There shall not be a bone left in the region of death, not a relic for the devil to gloat over. We shall all be raised, and we shall all be changed, and we shall all be caught up to meet our Lord in the air [1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17].
As it was in the days of Enoch, just suddenly he was gone [Genesis 5:24]. As it was in the days of Noah, the Lord shut him away in the ark [Genesis 7:16]. As it was in the days of Lot and the angel took him out before the judgments of the Almighty fell upon the earth [Genesis 19:15-16, 22]. So the Lord shall come first, furtively, secretly as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2], to rapture away His people [1 Thessalonians 4:14-17].
Then, He shall come—the parousia, the apokalupsis, then He shall come openly. And every eye shall see Him, as the lightening shines in the heavens above so the glory of the presence of the Lord shall be seen. The text of the Apocalypse of the Revelation is Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He cometh with clouds,” with the garments of God; “and every eye shall see Him.” As the brother of the Lord, Jude says, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints” [Jude 1:14]. The Lord is coming with His people, descending from heaven [1 Thessalonians 4:14]; and He is coming in glory [Mark 8:38]. He is coming in the glory of God as God the Son and the Son of God [Luke 9:26]. He is coming in the glory of the angels as the Captain of the hosts of heaven [Matthew 25:31]. He is coming in the glory of the church as the Bridegroom with the bride [Ephesians 5:25]. He is coming in His own glory as the Son of God, as the Son of Abraham, as the Son of David, as the Son of Man [Matthew 25:31]. He is coming in His own glory as the virgin-born Man [Matthew 1:23], the crucified Man [2 Corinthians 13:4], the risen Man [1 Corinthians 15:4], the God-Man [Titus 2:13], the manifest and eternal Son of the Highest [Luke 1:32]. He is coming as the King of the Jews [Isaiah 9:7]. He is coming as the King of the Nations [Revelation 2:27]. He is coming as the King of Kings [Revelation 19:16]. He is coming as the Lord God, pantokrator, the Almighty God Himself [Titus 2:13]. He is coming as the re-creator and the restorer of this earth [Acts 3:21]. He is coming to be Lord and King over all creation [Philippians 2:10].
Then shall be brought to pass all of the sayings in the prophecies, as Micah:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
The Prince of Peace has come [Isaiah 9:6]. Then shall be brought to pass the beautiful prophecy of Isaiah:
When the wolf shall lie down with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid. . . when the carnivorous lion will eat straw like an ox. . .when they shall not hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain; and the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the earth.
King Jesus, Prince of Glory, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father [Isaiah 9:6].
The thought of the imminent return of our Lord has two repercussions in the human heart; one is terror. If my heart is in this world, and if my life is given to vanity and to sin, the thought of the coming of Christ terrifies me; even as it is described in the sixth chapter of the Revelation:
And they cried for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them, and to hide them from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the face of the Lamb; For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
To these, who reject our Lord and live in sin and compromise in the world, the coming of Christ is a terror. But to those who love the Lord Jesus, the thought of the appearance of our Savior is of all things sweet, and dear, and precious. Even as the apostle John replied, when the Lord closed the Apocalypse with the words, “Surely, surely, truly, truly, He which testifieth these things saith I come quickly”; and the sainted apostle John replied, “Amen. Even so, come, blessed Jesus” [Revelation 22:20].
It may be at noon-day, it may be at twilight,
It may be, perchance, that the blackness of midnight
Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,
When Jesus comes for “His own.”
Oh, joy! Oh, delight! should I go without dying!
No sickness, no sadness, no dread, and no crying;
Caught up to the clouds with our Lord into glory,
When Jesus comes for “His own.”
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long
Ere we shout the glad song—
Christ returneth! Christ returneth! Hallelujah! Amen.
[“Christ Returneth,” H.L. Turner, 1878]
Welcome King, Lord, Savior, the blessed Jesus [Revelation 22:20].
And that is our appeal to your heart tonight. “Lord Jesus, if I know my soul, I’m ready. If I know my heart, let it be now. Any day Master, any hour, come. My family is ready, we all are ready; we are all in the fold, we are all in the kingdom, we are all in the faith [Ephesians 2:8], we belong to the redeemed family of God” [1 Peter 1:18-19].
Our appeal to you, welcome fellow pilgrim. Walk with us, pray with us, look up with us, love Jesus with us; someday, live with us and reign with us in the blessed kingdom of our Lord [Revelation 22:3-5]. Accepting Him as Savior tonight, come [Romans 10:9-13]. Following Him into the fellowship of His church, come; counting yourself with us in the circle of this precious fellowship, come. As the Holy Spirit would press the appeal to your heart, make it now. Come now.
On the first note of the first stanza, answer with your life. Down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles, “Here I am on the way, pastor. I have decided for Jesus and here I come” [Ephesians 2:8]. Do it now, make it now, on the first note of the first stanza, come. That first step you take will be the most meaningful you will ever make in your life. When you stand up, stand up walking down that stairway, walking down this aisle, and may God’s blessings attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.