Christ the King of Forever
July 22nd, 1984 @ 10:50 AM
CHRIST THE KING OF FOREVER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-22-84 10:50 a.m.
It is a joy for us to welcome the uncounted multitudes of you who share this hour with us on radio and on television. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Jesus the King of Forever. In the eighteenth chapter of the Book of John, beginning at verse 33 – John chapter 18, beginning at verse 33, and, I am going to read through verse 37, John 18:33:
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews?
And Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?
Pilate answered – contemptuously – 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 in unbelief, 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. And every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.
This is an incident of incredulity in the life of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of the Roman province of Judea. You would have to summon up in your mind what Jesus must have looked like when He stood there before the governor. He had been up all night long, the night before, in His trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin [John 18:19-27].
And in that brutal confrontation, they had taken their fists and smote Him in the face [John 18:22]. His face must have been bruised. And the Book says that they plucked out His beard [Isaiah 50:6]. And there must have been a bloody mess when they pulled that beard from His face. The prophet Isaiah says that His visage was so marred – more than that of any other man [Isaiah 52:14]. And not only did He look bruised and bloody and disheveled but He apparently had the dress of a peasant.
And when Pilate asked Him, "Art Thou a king, You?" the Lord replied in the strongest affirmation that can be expressed in the Greek language – that is, by repeating what the interrogator said. And the Lord replied to Pontius Pilate, "Thou sayest I am a king" [John 18:37].
And that incredulity of the governor, as he looked at Jesus – "Art thou a king?" is the basis of this message this morning. King Jesus: how does He build His kingdom? How does He assemble His subjects? Who are the citizens of His kingdom? And when is His great coronation? And what is the extent of His dominion?
First then: how does He assemble His people, and how does He build His kingdom? He does it though the centuries and the centuries – quietly, unostentatiously, patiently, slowly, gradually. In the fourth chapter of the Book of Mark, our Lord said His kingdom grows like a seed – secretly, quietly [Mark 6:26-29]. And in that same section of parables, He said it’s like a grain of the mustard seed, so small, but it grows and it grows and it grows [Mark 4:30-32]. That’s the way King Jesus is building His kingdom.
I want to illustrate that in the life and work of our Lord. And when I do it in His life, I don’t mean to be brazen or uncouth, but I don’t know any other way to describe the incomparable miracle – I think, the greatest miracle in all creation. I am illustrating the fact that the kingdom of our Lord grows quietly, and softly, and secretly, and gradually, and patiently. And I want to illustrate it by His own life. When Jesus was incarnate, when the Lord God of heaven was incarnate, it was in the secret part of the womb of the virgin Mary [Matthew 2:20-25; Luke 1:30-35].
There were 23 chromosomes from her, a human virgin. And there were 23 chromosomes from deity, from the Lord in heaven. And they formed a first cell. And up and down those 46 chromosomes, all of those thousands of genes that are made into the unbelievable, miraculous birth of a child, and that one cell, by the process of mitosis, became two. And those two were four, and those four were eight, and those eight, 16, and those 16, 32, and those 32, 64, until finally the Son of God incarnate was born a babe [Luke 2:11-16].
And He grew as a child and became a youth. And the youth turned into a Man, the Son of God, Jesus the King. His work was just like that, slowly, gradually, unobtrusively. I don’t know a better way to describe it than by contrast.
Think of the humble ministries of our Lord: calling Simon – whom He named a rock, Petros, Peter [John 1:42] – and calling the sons of Zebedee [Matthew 4:21-22], and calling a clerk in the tax office [Matthew 9:9] – just humble, unknown people, peasant people. And contrast that with the great headlines of the day. How unknown, how unobserved, how uninteresting, compared to the great imperial marches of the Roman legions, Cato and Scipio and Pompey and Caesar storming the ramparts of Carthage and Gaul and Parthia – and, this humble ministry in Galilee.
Or compare it again with the University of Athens, the famous Academy of Plato or the Lyceum of Aristotle or the Stoa of Zeno – and Jesus, so unknowing and so humble. That is the way God has chosen to build His kingdom: gradually, slowly, through the centuries and the years.
Second: who are the citizens of His kingdom? These who through those years have found refuge in Jesus, who have looked to Him in faith and who have accepted Him as their personal Savior. These are the citizens of the kingdom of heaven – our forefathers, and our fathers and mothers and finally we.
Do you ever think about when it was that your forefathers came to know Jesus as a Savior – some of you out of Germanic, Teutonic backgrounds; some of you out of Latin backgrounds; and some of us out of Anglo-Saxon backgrounds? Sometimes I think, "Where did my forefathers first accept Jesus as their Savior?" When we were in London a few days ago – I always, when I am there, look through the telephone directory to look at the Criswells. Some of them don’t know how to spell their name. They spell it C-R-E-S. We need to teach those Britishers how to do over there. And some of them put two S’s in it. Yeah, they need us to go over there, not you coming over here.
And I look and I think, "I wonder who, in the days and generations past, became a Christian in my family. Was it in the days of the missionary Augustine, who came to Canterbury in the 500s? Or was it Paulinus, who came to Northumbria, and won King Edward to the Lord in the 600s? Or was it Patrick, who won west England, and all of Ireland to the Lord in the 400s?" Isn’t it a tragedy that someone stole our Saint Patrick. He was a Baptist preacher. Houston, did you know that? He was a Baptist preacher. He preached the gospel, and he baptized his converts, just as we do. Patrick did.
Was it in those days that my forefathers became a Christian? I could never know. I know this much. When I was a boy – see, I was born in 1909 – when I was a boy, I would see some of those old pioneer preachers out on the plains in the Western country where I grew up. And in those days, my father, who was a cowpoke – my father, when he was twenty-seven years of age, my father was won to the Lord out there by those old pioneer preachers. And then the day came, in my generation, when I heard the gospel preached. And on a weekday morning, in a revival meeting, I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus. These are the citizens of the kingdom of heaven – your forefathers, and your father, and your mother, and then finally, you.
Now next: when will He be crowned King of the universe? When will our Lord be received as the great God and Savior of all mankind? When is His great coronation day? The Bible tells us so explicitly. When is His great coronation day? It will be when the last Gentile comes down that aisle and accepts Jesus as Savior. In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans, verse 25: "When the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." "Fullness," pleroma, if I were to translate that literally: "When the last number, when the last one, of those who are to be saved among the Gentiles – when the last one comes down the aisle." That’s the first one. When is Jesus going to be crowned King of the earth? First, when that one written in that Lamb’s Book of Life, when that last one comes down the aisle, when that last one is saved [Romans 11:25].
Second, the next verse says when all Israel shall accept the Lord Messiah as their God and Savior [Romans 11:26], according to Isaiah [59:20-21], according to Isaiah [Isaiah 37:32], according to Zechariah, chapters 12 and 13, when the Lord Jesus is received by His people Israel as their Lord and Savior.
All right, when is Jesus’ coronation date? According to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, when the dead are raised from their graves, and when the generation that is alive at that time is raptured to meet the Lord in the air, and finally when the days of the tribulation are passed.
And you read that glorious coronation in your Scripture just a moment ago, in Revelation 19:
I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; He that sat upon him was Faithful and True,
His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many crowns,
And He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God.
Jesus’ great coronation day!
First, when the last Gentile written in God’s Book of Life comes down the aisle and accepts Jesus as their personal Savior [Romans 11:25]; second, when Israel accepts their Messiah and Lord [Romans 8:26]; third, when the dead are raised from their graves and the generation alive at that time is raptured to meet the Lord in the air [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]; and when the days, the judgments of the tribulation are past, then Jesus is going to come openly and publicly. As Jude 14 says, "Behold, He cometh with ten thousands of His saints." And as the text of the Revelation avows in Revelation 1:7:
Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him: and the lost tribes and families and nations of the world shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.
When King Jesus comes to be crowned the Ruler and Sovereign and pantokrator, the Lord God omnipotent of all the universe, His coronation day.
In the earlier part of our century, in your lifetime, the Japanese army overran Korea – cruel and brutal. And in that nation of Korea at that time were about five thousand Baptists in forty little churches, presided over, pastored, shepherded by forty godly Baptist ministers.
The Japanese military became suspicious of their meetings. So they called in for minute interrogation the pastor of the Baptist church in Korea that was the elected president, the moderator, of the Baptist Association of Churches. And they grilled him hour after hour, and finally came to the second coming of our Lord. And the military interrogator said to that Baptist pastor in Korea, "When you say this Jesus was slain, crucified, and buried, and rose again, and when you say He went back to heaven, then what?"
And the pastor said, "He is coming again. He is coming again."
And the interrogator of the Japanese military said, "And then what?"
And the pastor said, "And when He comes, He will be crowned the King of all creation and the Lord of all humanity."
And the interrogator says, "What of our divine emperor in Japan?"
And the Baptist pastor said, "He will bow down before our Lord, for the Scripture said all shall bow down – ‘Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’" [Philippians 2:10-11; Romans 14:11].
And the interrogator said, "Do you mean to say that that includes our divine emperor?"
And the Baptist pastor said, "It includes your emperor. ‘Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’"
And the interrogator said, "Do you believe this personally? Is this unique or peculiar to you, or do all of you believe that?"
And the [Korean] Baptist pastor said, "Sir, we all believe it."
And the Japanese military imprisoned all forty of those Baptist pastors. And they stayed there in cruel incarceration until the moderator died and his fellow ministers died. And it was only when American army came and liberated Korea that the remainder of them were given life and liberty.
Brother, we all believe it. We all believe it. Every one of us believes it. Jesus is coming again. And when He returns in triumph and in glory, it will be the great coronation of our Lord, attended by the hosts of angels, by all humanity, and by creation itself – Jesus, the King of forever!
And I have one other: what is the extent of His dominion? Over what is our Lord King of forever? He is certainly – according to the Word of God, He is certainly to be King over our hearts and over our souls. He is to be King inwardly. For example, in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Luke:
And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with parateresis;
Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is entos.
Now those are just common words: "The kingdom of God cometh not with parateresis" – with watching, with observation, outwardly. "Behold, the kingdom of God is entos." That is a Greek adverb: "inwardly." The kingdom of God is on the inside of you. It’s in your soul. It’s in your spirit. It’s inward. Now there is no doubt about that! The Lord plainly says that, Jesus is the King of our hearts and of our souls, of our devotion, of our visions and dreams and prayers, He is the King of the inside of us.
Even Paul, the apostle, wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:50: Behold, the kingdom of God is not flesh and blood, for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." Now, I don’t disavow that. That is the plain teaching of our Lord. The kingdom of our Lord is on the inside of us. He is the King of our hearts and of our spirits, of our love and devotion, of our prayers and hopes and visions. He is the King of our souls, of our spirit. But, I am avowing, according to the Word of the Lord, the kingdom is also spatial. It is material, it is physical, it is visible, it is actual, it is seeable and experiential. It is here in this creation of God. It’s an actual kingdom in an actual spacious place.
For example, there is not a more beautiful passage in the Bible, or one more comforting, than the fourteenth chapter of John, when the Lord is comforting His disciples. He had just made the announcement, "I go away." Then He said:
But let not your heart be troubled,
For if I go away, I will receive you unto Myself, that where I am there may you be also.
I go to prepare a topos – t-o-p-o-s – I go to prepare a topos for you. And if I go and prepare a topos for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there may you be also.
What is topos? What is topos: "I go to prepare a topos for you?" The King James Version translates it beautifully and perfectly and rightly and correctly. Topos is the common, ordinary Greek word for "place" – where you live, an area where you reside. Your house, your home, where you stay, that is a topos. It is a place. It is an actual spatial place.
A body has to have a place. Wherever you are, there has to be a place for you. Now, when we are given our new bodies, if it is a body, a body must have a place. When the Bible says He makes a new heaven, it is a new heaven, but it is a heaven – still a heaven. When the Bible says He creates a new earth, it is an earth. It may be a new one, a regenerated, a renovated one, but it is still an earth [Revelation 21:1-2]. And when the Bible says God is going to give us a new body, it is still and yet a body. It may be transfigured and transformed and immortalized, but it is still a body! [1 Corinthians 15:51-57].
You don’t have a more poignant illustration of that than in the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke, in the resurrection and appearance of our Lord to His apostles. The Bible says, when they saw Him, raised from the dead:
, They were affrighted, and thought that they had seen a spirit, a ghost, a phantom.
And the Lord said, Do not be afraid – do not be afraid. I am not a ghost or a phantom or a spirit. Handle Me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones such as you see Me have.
And He finally said:
, Have you here anything to eat?
And they gave Him of a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And He, did eat before them.
He has a body.
To me, the greatest revelation of all time and eternity is this: the Lord God who sits on the throne of the universe is a man! He is a man. He is Jesus Christ, the incarnate Man!
And the Lord God must like matter. That’s a Greek philosophical heresy – this dichotomy that matter is evil and only spirit is good; that’s Greek heretical philosophy. According to the Word of God, all things that He made He looked upon it and said, "It is good – it is good." And then He finally said, "It is very good" [Genesis 1:3-31]. God likes matter. He created it. And the Lord God deity was incarnate, was incarnate in matter. He had a body [Matthew 2:20-25; Luke 2:10-16]. And when He was raised from the dead and glorified, He still had a body of flesh and bones [Acts 1:9-10].
And my brother, may I make a second avowal? Not only to me is the greatest mystery of the universe, the greatest miracle of all creation, that the Lord God Almighty, the God of the universe is a man, not only that, but to me the great affirmation of the Christian faith is this: that the same Lord God, in His power, shall raise us from the dead, and we shall have a resurrected, glorified body just like His! [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57]. That’s the great demonstration of the Christian faith: the resurrection from the dead.
May I say a corollary to that? The Lord God that would leave in the dust of the ground the least of His saints is not the Lord God of the New Testament. Not a one would be left behind. There will not a bone left for Satan to gloat over, not a relic for him to hold up in triumph, to say that, "He was able to raise these and these and these, but this one He wasn’t able to raise; he belongs to me, the king of death and of corruption and of the grave." Every one of us shall be raised – every one of us. And we shall live in His sight. We shall have a body, and we shall live in an actual place.
I sometimes think of that when I read about Moses – Moses. And God took Moses to the top of Mt. Nebo and he looked over Jordan, and he saw the Promised Land. Jordan is, in our imagery, a sign, a symbol of death. And Moses looked over Jordan, and he saw God’s Promised Land [Deuteronomy 34:1-4].
And I think of us, we, looking over Jordan – we are looking over the cemetery. And we are looking over the tombstones. And we are looking over the grave. And we are looking over the corruption of death. We are looking over age, and senility, and hurt, and pain, and sorrow, and tears, and separation, and death. We are looking over Jordan, and what do we see? What do we see? There is the new heaven, and there is the new earth, and there is the new city: the New Jerusalem, and there is our new home [Revelation 21:1-5]. There is the mansion He has gone to prepare for our coming [John 14:2-3]. And there is the fellowship with our Lord, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and they who have preceded us into the kingdom of Jesus. And there in the midst of the capital city is our Lord, our Savior [Revelation 1:3]. And we shall reign with Him forever and ever and ever [Revelation 22:3-5]. That’s what God says, and that’s enough.
Oh, what a prospect it is. As Paul closed that glorious fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians: "Wherefore comfort one another with these words" [1 Thessalonians 4:18]. Our great destiny is yet to unfold, "God having prepared some better thing for us" [1 Corinthians 2:9]. O Lord, how could we praise Thee enough and love Thee enough, exalt Thee enough, sing about Thee enough, preach about Thee enough? Lord, Lord, what a triumph You have won for us in Your love and grace! And that extends down to you. It’s the Lord who through the years and centuries calling citizens to believe and trust in Him, and that call is to our hearts today, and now.
In a moment we’ll sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you, "This is God’s day for me, and I’m on the way." Down a stairwell if you’re in the balcony, down one of these aisles if you’re in the press of people on this lower floor, "Pastor, today, I’m accepting Jesus as my Savior. I’m opening my heart heavenward and God-ward and Christ-ward. I’m inviting Jesus to be my friend and Savior, to forgive me my sins, to stand by me in the day of death and the great judgment that’s yet to come. I’m giving my heart in faith and life to the Lord Jesus." Or to put your life in the circumference and fellowship and communion of our wonderful church, "Pastor, this is my wife and these are my children. All of us are coming today." You and your husband, just the two, or you and a friend, the two, or just one you, "This is God’s day for me, and I’m on the way." May angels attend you while you come. God bless you in that first step, and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.
THE KING OF FOREVER
A. The astonished
B. The strongest
affirmation in the Greek language
II. How does He assemble His people and
build His kingdom?
A. In time, slowly,
gradually, patiently (Mark 4:26-32, Luke
B. Illustrated in His
own life and work
III. Who are the citizens of His kingdom?
A. Those who place
their trust in him
2. My father won
by pioneer preachers
IV. When is His coronation?
A. When the last
Gentile is saved (Romans 11:25)
B. When Israel receives
her Messiah (Zechariah 12:10 – 13:1, 13:6)
the righteous dead are raised and the righteous living are raptured (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
the judgments of the tribulation are past (Revelation
19, Jude 14, Revelation 1:7)
Korean pastor (Philippians 2:10-11, Romans
V. What is the extent of His dominion?
over a spiritual world (John 18:31, Luke
17:20-21, 1 Corinthians 15:50)
king over a spatial, tangible, visible world (John
14:3, Luke 24:36-43)
God likes matter (Genesis 1:3-31)