Ephesians 1:15-23 – Our Authority in Christ

Hello, friends! Welcome to Christ the King Sunday, a day which reminds us that in the coming Advent season, we look for both a baby and a king. Click the video below and let us acknowledge and worship King Jesus…

There is perhaps no better hymn for this day than Crown Him with Many Crowns:

For a contemporary song, it is appropriate today and every day to Sing to the King:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.

Christ the King Sunday

Stained glass window at the Annunciation Melkite Church in Roslindale, Massachusetts

Christ the King Sunday is intended to help us see the cosmic reality that Jesus reigns over all creation as the only rightful Sovereign of the universe.  This Sunday always comes just before Advent so that we remember to anticipate both a baby and a king.

Christ as Lord of all exposes three problems humanity faces:

  1. Building our own petty kingdoms and setting ourselves up as masters over our own small worlds.  People who have been hurt (all of us) often attempt to seize power for themselves in order to avoid ever being hurt again, or in the belief that wielding power could have prevented others from being hurt.  The classic villains of movies and literature are ones who seek to destroy the earth so that they rebuild it in their own idea of how the world should operate.  It is protection of self and loved ones from pain. The irony is that much hurt is inflicted to alleviate such pain.
  2. Bowing to other kings besides King Jesus.  When we are distressed, we might rely on alternative authorities to address our hard circumstances.  We might expect other people to give us only what Jesus can.  Instead of repentance and faith in Christ, we may run to the politicians or pastors we have set up in his place to cope with whatever is going on in our lives.
  3. Lacking awareness of the power we possess as subjects of King Jesus.  Christians possess authority in Jesus Christ.  As believers in Jesus, we reign with him and can exercise authority over every dominion that exists, especially the dominion of darkness.

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers provides God’s design for the church.  It is a plan for believers in Jesus to know their spiritual blessings and exercise the power they have as Christians united to Christ. God wants us to understand this power and authority, and to actively use it.  We will know King Jesus better by availing ourselves of his authority given to us as believers. (Ephesians 1:15-23)

We have a clear understanding from Ephesians of how to pray: To know Jesus better.  There is probably no higher prayer.  Paul prayed that believers in Jesus would know the hope to which we have been called and the incomparably great power accessible to us.

The word for “power” in the New Testament (Greek dunamis, pronounced “doon-a-miss”) is where we get our English word “dynamite.”  When I was a kid, we had a neighbor who had a fondness for playing with dynamite, especially when he drank too much.  Even though he lived a mile down the road, when he blew up a tree stump or anything else on his property, it would shake our house and feel like the windows were going to break.  One stick of dynamite is nothing compared to God’s power, an incredible might without equal.

This divine power is for us who believe in Jesus the King.  It is the same power used to raise Jesus from the dead and which exalted Christ as Lord of the universe.  The rule and reign of Jesus is far above any other existing authority – including powers and authorities of the dark domain.

When it comes to dealing with the powers of darkness, we have the authority of Jesus Christ.  We have a vital and inseparable union with Jesus Christ, because of his resurrection and exaltation.  Jesus redeemed us and we belong to him.  We are adopted children of God.  Since all earthly and spiritual powers are subject to Christ, they are also subject to us.  The imagery of Jesus as Head, and believers in Jesus as the Body of Christ means we have an inseparable union together.  Since we are united with Christ, we share his authority over all spiritual powers.

It is one thing to know this information; it is quite another thing to use it.  God wants us to experience Christ’s power through exercising our authority as believers.  We are to pray in a way which links faith and knowledge together in a confident use of spiritual authority.  We have unimaginable rights as blood-bought children of God.

The 118 feet high Christ the King statue in Świebodzin, Poland

Tackling the forces of darkness needs to be a communal activity; going it alone is dangerous. So, let us pray the following prayer together, united in Christ and with one another in spiritual bond a million times stronger than superglue. This is a prayer that boldly exercises authority in Jesus Christ. So, let us come confidently before the throne of God’s grace.

God Almighty, we bow in worship and praise before You.  We thank you that the Lord Jesus Christ is King over all creation, and that he is the rightful Sovereign of the universe.  We thank you that because of this truth, we have power together with Jesus.  Since Jesus is King, we surrender ourselves completely in every area of our lives to You.  Since Christ’s authority extends over every dominion, including the dominion of darkness, we now take a stand against all the work of Satan that would hinder us now in prayer.  We address ourselves only to the True and Living God and refuse any involvement of Satan in our prayers.

Therefore, Satan, we command you, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to leave our presence with all your demons.  We bring the blood of Jesus Christ between us.

Sovereign God, we recognize You are worthy to receive all glory, honor, and praise.  We renew our allegiance to You and ask that the Holy Spirit will enable us to pray.  We are thankful, Lord God, that You have loved us from eternity past and that You sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to die as our substitute.  We are thankful that Christ has completely forgiven us; You have adopted us into Your family; You have given us eternal life; You have offered Yourself to us to be our daily help and strength.

Glorious God open our eyes so that we will see how great You are and how complete Your provision is for today.  We are thankful the victory Jesus Christ won for us on the cross and in His resurrection has been given to us and that we are seated with the Lord Jesus in heaven.  We take our place with Him and recognize by faith that all wicked spirits and Satan himself are under our feet.  We declare that Satan and his demons are subject to us in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are thankful for the spiritual armor You have provided.  We put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace and the helmet of salvation.  We lift the shield of faith against all the fiery arrows of the enemy; and we take in our hands the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  We choose to use Your Word against all the forces of evil in our lives.  We live and pray in complete dependence upon You, Holy Spirit.

We are grateful the Lord Jesus Christ disarmed all power and authorities, triumphing over them by the cross.  We claim all victory for our lives today.  We reject all the insinuations, accusations, and temptations of Satan.  We affirm that the Word of God is true, and we choose to live today in the light of God’s Word.  Almighty God, we choose to live in obedience to You and in fellowship with You.  Open our eyes and show us the areas of our lives that do not please You.  Cleanse us from anything that would give Satan a foothold against us.  We stand into all that it means to be Your adopted children and we welcome all the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives today.

By faith and in complete dependence upon You we now put off the old sinful person and stand into all the victory of the crucifixion where the Lord Jesus Christ provided cleansing from the sinful nature.  We put on the new person and stand into all the victory of the resurrection and the provision Christ has made for us to live above sin.

Today we put off the old sinful nature with its selfishness and put on the new nature with its love.  We put off the old nature with its fear and put on the new nature with its courage.  We put off the old nature with its deceitful lusts and put on the new nature with its righteousness, purity, and honesty.

In every way we stand into the victory of Jesus Christ’s ascension and glorification, in which everything was made subject to Him.  We claim our place in Christ as victorious with Him over all the enemies of our souls.  Holy Spirit, we pray that you would fill us with the righteousness of Christ.  Break down every idol and cast out every enemy of our souls.

We are thankful, mighty God, that You have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  We are grateful You have given us new life into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  We are thankful You have made provision for us so that today we can live filled in the Holy Spirit with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  We recognize and affirm that this is Your will for us and so we reject and resist all the attempts of Satan and his demons to rob us of God’s will.   

We are thankful, Blessed Holy Trinity, that our spiritual weapons have divine power to demolish demonic strongholds, arguments, and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.  We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  Therefore, we tear down the strongholds of Satan and smash the plans of Satan that have been formed against us.  We affirm You have not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.  We choose to make right decisions of faith. 

Powerful God, show us the ways Satan is hindering, tempting, lying, and distorting the truth in our lives.  Help us to be aggressive in prayer and faith.  Help us to think rightly, and actively practice Your Word.  Help us to give You Your rightful place in our lives.  We now cover ourselves with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and pray that You, Holy Spirit, would bring all the work of Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and all Your work of Pentecost into our lives today.  We deliberately surrender ourselves to King Jesus.  We refuse to be discouraged because You are the God of all hope.  You have proven Your power by resurrecting Jesus from the dead, so we claim this victory over all satanic forces in our lives, our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, and our faith communities.  We pray in the Name and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ with thanksgiving.  Amen.

The Reign of Christ the King

 
 
In my undergraduate college days, one of the required classes for my major was Philosophy of History taught by a crusty old professor who looked like he was one-hundred ten years old.  Professor Thompson knew that I was a Christian because I always sat in the front of his class taking notes with a Bible on my desk.  One day he came into the classroom and began his lecture by looking directly at me with those beady black eyes of his and said, as only Professor Thompson could say it, “Ehrhardt!  Can God change history?”
 
            My answer was this:  the question is only relevant if God were never in control and sovereign over history to begin with; there is no need to change history if God is actively and continually working out his purposes in and through history.  So, a more appropriate question would be:  Since God is Lord over all history, will we submit to him? 
 
            In difficult times, it is only human to wonder if God is really sovereign over all the earth.  When terrorists kill others; when natural disasters claim countless lives; when Christianity is seen as a threat to many; with such realities we might ask ourselves – Can God change history?
 
            Even though Christ’s reign is invisible and seems limited and temporary, it will ultimately be visible and is pervasive and permanent (Revelation 1:4-8).  Faithful believers in the first centuries of the church would witness to their faith and tell others about the redemptive events of Jesus and that, since Jesus is alive, others can experience new life.  They were effective enough to alter the social order of things, which brought persecution and, in some cases, death.  These men and women were killed proclaiming their devotion to Jesus, witnessing to others.  So, the term “witness” or “martyr” began to refer to those who were killed for their proclamation of the gospel.  In doing this, they saw themselves as only emulating and following in the way of their sovereign Lord Jesus, who was himself a faithful martyr.  Just as Jesus died proclaiming the kingdom of God and people’s need to submit to it, so the earliest believers needed to see their solidarity with their Lord so that they would not falter and give in to being silent.
 
Jesus is Lord of both good days and bad days.  Our faith cannot be dependent upon our circumstances because it is the blood of Jesus that has freed us to live for God no matter what the situation we have before us.  We overcome only on the ground of the blood of Christ – not because everything goes our way.  We overcome our consciences, bad tempers, defeats, lusts, fears, and pettiness on the basis of the blood of the Lamb.  Jesus frees us! The goal of the church is not having a wonderful existence without any adversity; the goal is to know Jesus Christ, and him crucified, dead, risen and ascended. 
 
As believers in Jesus we have continual access and unconditional acceptance of God through his blood.  We can intercede for others directly by going straight to God.  Just as Jesus has unlimited access to the Father, so, the Christian has the ability and the privilege of coming to God at all times.  Christians are a kingdom of priests where every believer intercedes for other believers, and even for the world which persecutes them.
 
While we wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus, we do not idly wait.  We intercede for the world.  We proclaim the gospel to all the earth.  We love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  Nothing in this world can ever deprive us of grace and peace.  No circumstance or adverse situation, no terrorist or natural disaster, no ornery people, no other person can take away Jesus from us.  So, with this security, assurance, and blessing we are free to rescue others from the coming judgment.
 

 

The reign of Jesus Christ elicits some probing questions:  Will we be faithful to Jesus by being faithful witnesses?  Will we live into the new life offered to us?  Will we submit to King Jesus?  Jesus is worthy of our praise.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.  His kingdom will never end.  Since this is true, we are meant to serve God.  In life and in death, we belong to God.  We are not our own; we were bought at a price.  Therefore we are to serve God in the ways he wants us to serve.  “Can God change history?” is not really the question we should be asking.  Since God has changed history forever in the sending of the Son, what will we do with him?  

John 5:19-40

            Christ the King Sunday is a time in which the church observes and recognizes the exaltation and glorification of God the Son as authority over every dominion.  Following the emphasis of that Sunday, these verses in John’s Gospel provide the words from Jesus as to the basis for such power.  Jesus is God.  God the Father works through God the Son.  The works that Jesus did bear testimony to the cosmic reality that Jesus is Lord of all.  Jesus lets us in on his relationship to the Father, and to his actual position and power.
 
            In the face of such biblical evidence as to the greatness and majesty of the Lord Jesus, the only valid and appropriate response is sheer submission to Christ’s authority.  Just as Jesus listened to the Father and obeyed the Father’s will, so we need to listen to Jesus and carry out his will.  Just as Jesus enjoyed his relationship with the Father, so we are to bask in our wonderful relationship with Jesus.  Since Jesus submitted to death on a cross and rose from the dead through God’s power, we now have access to that power by God’s grace through faith in Christ.
 
            We need not bend to any other master other than King Jesus, the rightful ruler of the universe.  Let us put away all others “gods” in which we depend upon for solace and help.  Jesus is a leader who guides us with grace into God’s will for us.
            King Jesus, I submit my life to you alone.  You are the object and desire of my heart.  Use me to work your divine will on this earth, to your own glory and honor.  Amen.