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Sermon #21 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: Christ the King
Text: Ephesians 1:20-23
Subject: The Exaltation of Christ
Date: Sunday Evening — October 25, 2015
Readings: Allen Kibby and Merle Hart
Jesus Christ is King over all the earth!
· That is the message of Acts chapter 2.
· That is the message of the New Testament.
· And that is the message of our text (Ephesians 1:20-23).
Our Redeemer has been exalted to the throne of everlasting dominion. We need to recognize this, rejoice in it, and proclaim it. If we worship the Son of God, if we worship the Lord Jesus Christ, we must know him in his kingly office and worship as the King.
(Ephesians 1:15-23) (15) Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, (16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; (17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (22) And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (23) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Isaiah and Zechariah
The prophet Isaiah had a prophetic, pre-incarnate vision of the King. He said, “I saw also the Lord sitting upon his throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.”
Zechariah told us that when Christ came, he would enter into his kingdom through humiliation. — “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout O daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King cometh unto thee; He is just, and having salvation; lowly and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass…He shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” Zechariah’s prophecy was fulfilled on the eve of our Lord’s crucifixion. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem to enter his kingdom by the door of his cross, the multitude cried out saying, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” I want to speak to you this evening on this subject — Christ the King. Our text will be Ephesians 1:20-23. — Christ the King (Ephesians 1:20-23).
“Hosanna to the King,
That for our guilt was slain,
Let every soul its tribute bring
And swell the exulting strain.
Hosanna to the King
Who sitting high in heaven,
Bids sinners lost and wandering,
Return and be forgiven.
Hosanna to the King
Who ever lives and reigns:
Let heaven and earth His praises sing,
In loud and lofty strains!”
Many of God’s saints lose great blessings because they limit their thoughts about Christ to one aspect of his life and grace for them. Some focus their minds the Savior’s virgin birth in Bethlehem’s manger. Others think only of his exemplary life of mercy. We frequently limit our thoughts to the Savior’s death at Calvary. And, I would encourage you to think upon these things and speak of them. These are all matters of vital importance. Deny any one of them and you deny the Gospel. We can never think or speak too much about Christ. But, I want to remind you this evening that our Redeemer’s death at Golgotha was not the termination of his history. He arose from the grave, and was exalted to a heavenly and eternal throne. This evening I want us to gaze upon the exalted and glorified Savior. It is the privilege of faith to follow the Lamb of God into the holiest of all and see him seated upon the Throne of Grace, King of kings within the veil.
In the closing portion of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1, we are reminded that the risen Redeemer has been given all power, authority, and dominion. In these verses Paul breaks out into praise and adoration for the exaltation of Christ our King. Christ has been given the scepter of the universe, as the God-man Mediator. As the Head of the Church, he has gone within the veil. — “Whither the forerunner is for us entered.”
Oh, how that ought to strengthen our faith and encourage our hearts! He is worthy of our fullest trust. There is no room for doubt or uncertainty! The Lord God values the obedience and death of Christ above all else. He accepts it for our perfect redemption. And to prove it, he has exalted our Redeemer to the throne of eternal glory as the reward of his obedience as our Redeemer. God the Father has given the supreme place of honor in heaven to the very one who bore our sins and died in our place! This he has done for us!
Proposition: God, the Triune Jehovah, raised Christ from the dead and exalted him to his own right hand to be an everlasting King and Priest for his Church.
Divisions: My subject this evening is too great for me to preach and too great for you to comprehend. But I hope that when I am done, we will all be filled with confidence and joy in, and praise for, our great King, the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to give you things, four points, clearly set before us in these four verses. May the Holy Ghost be our Teacher.
1. The Place of Our King (v. 20).
2. The Pre-eminence of Our King (v. 21).
3. The Power of Our King (v. 22).
4. The Pleasure of Our King (v. 23).
1. THE PLACE OF OUR KING
Paul is here talking about the power of God by which we believe, the power…
(Ephesians 1:20) (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
The Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and exalted to a kingly throne by the power of God, because he suffered and died for his people.
The throne of our King is the reward of his humiliation and death. — This is the Place of our King (Philippians 2:5-9).
(Philippians 2:1-11) (1) If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, (2) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (5) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (9) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (10) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is himself equal with God.
2. Christ our God greatly humbled himself and became a man. Though a man, a real man, he is yet God over all, blessed forever!
3. As God-man, our Mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died in obedience to his Father’s will.
4. As the reward for his suffering and death, God the Father raised him from the dead and set him upon the throne of everlasting dominion.
· He was raised by the power of God.
· It is this same power which brings dead sinners to life in Christ.
· If we are to be exalted to heaven, we must be humbled upon the earth.
5. Soon everyone in heaven, earth, and hell will bow to Christ the King, confessing him as Lord over all.
The Lord Jesus Christ is sitting as a King in heaven. — Paul’s expression, “set him as his own right hand,” is not to be forced into a literal interpretation. It is a metaphor. The Scriptures plainly show us that Christ is not actually and permanently seated. In Acts 7 we read of “the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” He is the One “who walketh in the midst of the seven candlesticks” (Revelation 2:1). — “In the midst of the elders stood a Lamb” (Revelation 5:6).
· He stands to receive repenting sinners!
· He stands to intercede for his elect (Zechariah 3).
· He stands to receive dying saints (Acts 7).
· He stands to fulfil the purpose of God (Revelation 10)
When the Scripture speaks of Christ sitting in heaven, it must be interpreted as a figure of speech. It indicates at least four things.
1. Christ’s being seated in heaven indicates that he is resting from a finished work (Hebrews 1:3).
· His sacrificial services and sufferings are ended.
· The Old Testament priests could never finish their work. Among the furnishings of the tabernacle there was no chair. But Christ sat down, having finished his work (Hebrews 10:11-12).
(Hebrews 1:1-3) (1) God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
(Hebrews 10:10-14) (10) We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (11) And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: (12) But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; (13) From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. (14) For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
2. Christ’s being seated in heaven indicates that he has begun a new work. He has ended the work of his expiation for sin; and he has begun the administration of his kingdom (John 17:2).
(John 17:1-5) (1) These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: (2) As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (3) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (4) I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (5) And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
3. Christ’s being seated in heaven indicates the supreme honor and dignity placed upon him.
(Romans 14:9) (9) For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
(Revelation 5:9-14) (9) And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (10) And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (11) And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; (12) Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (13) And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. (14) And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
4. Christ’s being seated in heaven indicates a state of everlasting continuance. His humiliation was temporary; but his exaltation and dominion are eternal (Isaiah 16:5; Daniel 7:14).
(Isaiah 16:5) (5) And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.
(Daniel 7:14) (14) And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
The Lord Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God. — Again, this is to be understood figuratively. God does not have a body. He is Spirit. So when he uses the terms of a body to describe himself, he does so in a figurative sense.
· The right hand is the place of blessedness (Psalm 16:11).
· The right hand is the place of honor (Hebrews 1:13).
· The right hand is the place of power (Matthew 26:64).
Let me draw a few practical conclusions from this verse. We who believe were raised with Christ.
· When we trust him, we enter into his rest (Hebrews 4:10).
· We are out of the reach of our enemies.
· We are the children of God’s right hand.
Illustration: Spurgeon after The Great Fire
2. THE PRE-EMINENCE OF OUR KING
In verse 21 we see the pre-eminence of our King.
(Ephesians 1:21) (21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.
Remember God the Holy Ghost is here telling us about the God-man, our Savior. As God, he already possessed the honor described here. But, as our Mediator, the humanity of Christ is exalted. He rules as the Son of David, above all creatures in dignity, glory, and authority. Yonder, he sits King, as David’s Son and David’s Lord upon the throne of David.
This is what the Apostle had reference to when he said, “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels.” — The angels now, for the first time, saw, gazed upon, and rejoiced in the vision of the Godhead in the glorified humanity of the Son (Colossians 2:10). And what the angels saw in the ascended, exalted Christ, the nations of the world have proclaimed to them through the preaching of the Gospel, namely, the boundless mercy, grace, and love of God and the surpassing glory of Christ.
Our exalted King is also our High Priest (Hebrews 8:1-2).
(Hebrews 8:1-2) (1) Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; (2) A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
(1 John 2:1-2) (1) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
1. He is a Priest upon the throne.
2. He rules as a King, but he intercedes as a Priest.
3. He is our Melchizedek.
· He has neither father nor mother.
· He is King of Righteousness.
· He is King of Peace.
Christ our King is a universal Monarch. — He is King over all angels. He is King over all devils. He is King over all authority in earth. He is King over the world to come. He is the King over heaven, the King over earth, and the King over hell! Before this King, all shall bow!
“The Head that once was crowned with thorns,
Is crowned with glory now.
A royal diadem adorns,
That mighty Victor’s brow.
The brightest place that heaven affords,
Is Thine, is Thine by right, —
Thou King of kings, and Lord of lords,
And heaven’s eternal Light.
There, like a man, The Savior sits,
The God, how bright he shines.
And scatters infinite delight,
On all the happy minds.”
Again we may draw comforting and encouraging inferences from this verse.
· Is Christ a King? Then we are kings in him.
· Is Christ a Priest? Then we are priests in him.
· With such a King as Christ, the kingdom is surely safe.
· Has God given Christ pre-eminence? Then, children of God, give pre-eminence to Christ your King.
3. THE POWER OF OUR KING
Read verse 22 and rejoice in the power of our King.
(Ephesians 1:22) (22) And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
The Lord Jesus Christ has all power and authority throughout all the universe as our King. God has exalted Christ to such dignity and dominion that everything is under his power and brought in subjection to him (Psalm 8:6; Hebrews 2:8-9).
(John 17:2) (2) As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
(Psalm 8:6) (6) Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.
(Hebrews 2:8-9) (8) Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (9) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
All creatures are under the rule of Christ our King. The Triune God has made Christ Lord (Acts 2:36).
· He is Lord of all (Acts 10:36).
· He is Lord over all (Romans 10:12).
· He is Lord both of the dead and the living (Romans 14:9).
Jesus Christ rules in providence over all things (Revelation 10).
· History is shaped by the hand of our King.
· He governs the lives of all men.
King Jesus rules for the benefit of his Church.
· Christ has been given absolute and universal rule so that he may give eternal life to his elect (John 17:2).
· It is by the power of Christ that the Church carries out her mission (Matthew 28:18-19).
· Because Christ rules, his Church is safe. No weapon formed against her shall prosper.
· Our King orders the affairs of the universe for his Church.
There is a mystical union between Christ and his Church. He is our Head.
· He is the Head, therefore he receives honor.
· He is the Head, therefore he is Governor.
· He is the Head, therefore he is the Guide.
4. THE PLEASURE OF OUR KING
Verse 23 declares the pleasure of our King. Though Christ is a universal King, his pleasure is in his people.
(Ephesians 1:23) (23) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
We are his body.
· We are one with him.
· We are one with all who are in him.
· His body must be perfect.
We are his fulness. As our Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ must have all the members of his body, for the fulness of his body and his satisfaction.
· There cannot be a Redeemer without the redeemed.
· There cannot be a Shepherd without sheep.
· There cannot be a Head without a body.
· There cannot be a Bridegroom without a bride.
(Colossians 1:18-19) (18) And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (19) For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.
(Colossians 2:9-10) (9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.
We have all fulness in Christ our King.
1. The Fulness of Redemption!
2. The Fulness of Pardon!
3. The Fulness of Grace!
4. The Fulness of Righteousness!
5. The Fulness of Sanctification!
6. The Fulness of Glory!
7. The Fulness of Heaven!
8. The Fulness of Eternity!
9. The Fulness of God!
“Hail to the Prince of life and peace,
Who holds the keys of death and hell!
The spacious world unseen is His,
And sovereign power becomes Him well.
In shame and torment, once He died,
But now He lives forever more;
Bow down ye saints around His seat,
And, all ye angel bands, adore.
So live forever, glorious Lord,
To crush Thy foes, and guard Thy friends!
While all Thy chosen tribes rejoice
That Thy dominion never ends.
Worthy Thy hands to hold the keys,
Guided by wisdom and by love;
Worthy to rule o’er mortal life,
O’er worlds below and worlds above.
Forever reign, Victorious King!
Wide through the earth Thy name be known;
And call my longing soul to sing,
Sublimer anthems near Thy throne!”
Sinner, bow before our King. — Children of God, Christ is King.
· Trust him.
· Love him.
· Live for him.
· Look for him.
(1 Timothy 1:17) (17) Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.