Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- What is the significance of the idea that we are seated with Christ (presently) and we will be seated with Christ (in the future)? How does this new position give us a new perspective?
- Read 2 Timothy 2:11-13. What does it mean for us to reign with Jesus?
- Why is humility necessary for us as we train to reign? Where have you seen pride creep up into your life and how can you address that? How can we, as a group, help?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
My guess is that we may not, in the United States, have been following this as closely as they have in Britain and in some other parts of Europe and even around the world, but you may have recently read about the fact that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle had a little baby named Archie. Some of you saw the picture. Some of you paid attention to that. You may not have. I don't particularly pay attention to what's going on in the royal arena, but sometimes when something like this happens, it causes me to pause for a moment and think about some of what happens because the royal family is like its own world. It's its own thing. There are some interesting things that I was thinking about, particularly like for Archie as he grows up. He's going to have to get trained in a whole lot of stuff about what it means to be a part of the royal family. I know William and Kate have kids as well.
Whether these are little boys or little girls, they are all theoretically, they are all kings and queens in training, so to speak. They have to learn a whole lot about royalty and what you're supposed to do and what you're not supposed to do. I mean, there are rules for everything. I don't know if you've seen pictures of the little boys when they're little, but they're always wearing shorts. They can't wear trousers until they're a certain age because that's a part of the royal code that they have. There are etiquette things around how you eat dinner. There are etiquette things around how you dress. There are pregnancy etiquette. There's all kinds of stuff. Girls, as to whether or not they wear, if they're royals, if they wear their hats at certain functions or if they're wearing their tiara at certain function. I think the tiaras are for when you're married. Anyway, I'm no expert on any of this. I just know that it's a whole deal, and they have to go through an intense training to figure out what all this looks like in terms of being a royal.
I also thought about it with Meghan Markle herself because she's American, and she married a British prince. She is becoming a duchess. I'm thinking to myself, "She's got to take this test for like citizenship for England." I don't know if any of you want to retake a test for American citizenship. Some of us would probably fail. She's got to learn all of these things. Then, she has to learn all the etiquette around what it means to be in the royal family. It's like a big deal. Imagine if it was you. You're just being you, doing you. Then, all of a sudden, bam, you're royalty. If I could state it this way, which is understating it like the Brits often do, this would be a drastic change of position for us.
Well, the truth is that, spiritually speaking, this is true of us. We were in a particular position, and we have been taken out of that position. We have been given a new position. This is fundamentally what Paul teaches us when we get to where we're going today in Ephesians chapter two. Now, as you know, Paul has already been teaching us things by way of the influence of the Holy Spirit as he's writing to the church at Ephesus. In chapter one, we learned a whole lot of new things about how we've got, really, a new identity. Our identity now is in Christ. Because of that, it means that there are a whole lot of things afforded to us. Right? We're chosen. We're loved. We're forgiven. We're adopted. We are indwelt by the Spirit. This is because we are in Christ. We have a new identity.
Then, we also learned that we've got a new purpose. The purpose of our very existence is that we would be to the praise of God's glory or that we would put God on display for the world to be able to see. That's a purpose for our existence. Then, we went on to learn that we've got a new hope, a hope that is bigger than just kind of the uncertain hope so, maybe so, think so of our regularly everyday living, but a hope that actually touches every aspect of past, present, and future because it's based in the character and the essence of God himself. Now, Paul begins to talk to us about a new position that we find ourselves in. Interestingly enough, he tells us by starting that we were in a really bad position before we were found in Christ.
Now, Paul minces no words here, and I want to make sure that you're clear on that. He shoots really, really straight when he talks about the position that we were in. He begins this way in Ephesians chapter two saying this, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath." I hope you got that because Paul is not mixing any words here.
He's reminding us very clearly that the position that we were in, he uses the past tense there, we were in before we were in Christ, is that we were dead in our transgressions and sins, that we were dominated by the influence of the enemy, that we were disobedient to God, and that we were deserving of the wrath of God. That is not a good position to be in, right? Dead, dominated, disobedient, and deserving of wrath, all of those things are true of us. That is a bad position. Here's the good news. God showed up. That's the good news. See, Paul tells us this is where we were, but then he goes on to tell us but God showed up. In fact, that's really how the passage, the next set of verses start, "But God," when you read them in the Greek. The NIV kind of separates but and God just a little bit, but it really starts that way, "But God." All of this is true of us, but God.
Listen to what he goes on to say. He says this, "But because of his great love for us, God," which in the Greek language it kind of starts, "But God, because of his great love for us, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved." See, this is a remarkable thing for us to make sure that we understand because Paul is teaching us about the heartbeat of the gospel. The gospel actually begins with God and it ends with God. The gospel has an impact on us, but it begins with God and it ends with God. It is by grace that we have been saved. We were this way. We were dead in our sins. We were dominated by the enemy. We were desperate. We had no chance of doing anything, but God, who is rich in mercy, who is rich in love, he has rescued us by grace.
You see, the gospel that we teach, ladies and gentlemen, the gospel of Jesus Christ, it begins with God and it ends with God. This is not a gospel that is about us. It impacts us, but it begins with God. God's the one who initiated this love, who initiated this mercy. God's the one who brings it to conclusion. In other places in the scripture, it says that he's the one who authors our faith and he's the one who finishes our faith. He's the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega. The gospel starts with God and it ends with God. We need to be reminded of this. By the way, the content of the gospel is not just that God loved the world so much that he gave his Son Jesus to die in our place so that some bad people would be a little better. That's not the gospel. The gospel is actually this, that Jesus did this so that dead people will live.
There's a huge difference between just bad people being a little better and dead people now being alive. That's the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that's what we teach here when we teach the gospel. What this does is this puts us in a new position. Where we were in an old position, dead and dominated and despairing and all of those things, now we're in a brand new position because of what Jesus has done. Notice how Paul talks about that new position in verses six and seven. He says this, "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus."
Now, this is remarkable because this passage actually talks about not only what God has done for us who are in Christ, but it also talks about what God has done for Christ. In other words, God has raised up Christ from the dead, and God has exalted Christ to the right hand of himself, to the throne. We already read about in chapter one that this incomparably great power of God is what got Jesus up from the dead. By the way, if you're new to all of this, you're brand new to church or you're brand new to hearing things taught from the Bible or you're brand new to hearing about Jesus, let me just make sure you understand something really clearly. What God did is he put on skin and was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, preached about the kingdom of God and how humanity, who had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, could be reconciled to a holy God through Jesus.
Jesus ended up fulfilling that by going to a cross, taking upon himself the just wrath of a holy God that could have been and should have been and we were deserving of, but Jesus stood in our place. He took upon himself the wrath of God. He died from crucifixion. I'm not talking about he hallucinated or he swooned. I'm talking about dead, like in the ground dead, like three days dead, like not breathing dead. Then, not dead, got up from the grave by the power of God because his sacrifice was sufficient for the payment of our sins, and he rose from the grave by the power of God. This is the heart of the gospel. This is what makes us, by the way, Christians. We're not Christians because we follow some teachings. We're Christians because we follow a risen Savior. That is the biggest difference.
Every world religion follows teachings of something, whether they're idols that are carved out of wood or whether they're some prophet that they like a whole lot, but here's the bottom line. Idols, dead. Prophets, dead. Jesus, not dead. The risen Savior, this is the difference between who we are as followers of Jesus and everything else that we see in the world that's competing for that. Jesus was raised from the dead by God and, listen to this, and exalted to the right hand of God. This matters. It's what maybe you and I refer to as the ascension of Jesus. Some of us think, "That's a cool party trick. He just kind of floated in the clouds." It's less than that. It's about him kind of moving into a different dimension called the heavenly realms. Now he is seated upon his throne where he is doing what he does. We'll talk about that in just a moment.
Now, this concept is really important, and I'll tell you why. It was important to the early church. It was important to the apostles. The idea of Jesus being raised and being seated in the heavenly realms was really important because it did a few things. Number one, it fulfilled what Daniel seven said was going to happen with the Messiah in terms of his exaltation, but it was also a fulfillment of the priestly and the kingly role of Jesus. This was really important to the apostles early on, that Jesus was actually the king who was exalted above every king and that he was the high priest who had finished the work that he was designed to do. In fact, when Peter the apostle was preaching at Pentecost... That was a lot of Ps right there, Peter the apostle preaching at Pentecost. When he was doing that, his sermon, he actually brought out this idea of the exaltation of Jesus and why that mattered, because it made him Lord of everything, King over everything.
In fact, listen to what he said in his message. He said, "Exalted to the right hand of God, Jesus has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven and yet he said, 'The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.' Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this," Peter says, "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah." What he was saying was this. Jesus is the King over every king. Why? Because he has been exalted to the right hand of God. This was very important for them. That was the kingly side, but there was also a priestly side.
The writer of Hebrews actually says it this way, "But when this priest," speaking of Jesus, "had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God." Now, to understand this, you have to understand that ministry in the temple by the high priest in the time of Jesus was an interesting ministry. They would put blood on the altar when they went in the one time a year, into the holy of holies, into the inner sanctuary. They would do their work there. There was incense that was going on in the outer sanctuary. There was a whole bunch that happened in that context. Listen to this. The one thing that you don't find inside of the most holy place is a chair. You know why? Because their work was never done, but Jesus' was and so he sat down.
He sat down in the heavenly dwelling place. Why? Because he finished the work that he was destined to finish, that by his blood he has purchased for himself those from every nation who now put their faith in him. This is no longer about the blood of bulls and goats and calves. Now the precious blood of God has settled the issue once and for all. Jesus says, "It is finished," and God says, "Amen," and exalts him to the right hand where he has a seat. See, this is a part of the priestly and the kingly role of Jesus. This is what God has done for Christ, but this passage that we read, verses six and seven of Ephesians chapter two, also teaches us what God has done for us who are in Christ. For those of us who have put our faith in Christ, God has also done something for us.
In fact, notice how we're included here in Ephesians 2:6. It says, "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus." Isn't that remarkable that God raised us up? We already know God raised Jesus up, and God has seated us with Jesus. We already know that God has seated Jesus at the right hand. Right? Now, we are included in this. In other words, what's true of Jesus is true of us. That, by the way, is a staggering thought if you sit with it for a moment. Paul is saying to us what's true of what God has done for Jesus is true of us. That is an overwhelming thought. In fact, Paul was so convinced of what God had done in Christ for us that the way he speaks about this, I'm actually going to highlight this differently. Same verse, I'm going to highlight it differently. Watch this, "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus."
Pause there for a second. What tense are you smelling right here? Past, raised us up, seated us, not present, raising, but raised. You're going, "Wait a minute, Jerry. Is he speaking in the past tense when he says that God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus?" Yes. "Jerry, in the Greek language, this is in the past tense." Technically, it's in the aorist tense, but that does mean past, so yes. Okay. That's confusing. What do we do with that? Why is he speaking about that in the past tense? By the way, that's the not the only time Paul's ever done that. Paul talks sometimes about future events in the past tense. In fact, in the book of Romans, listen to what he says. He says, "For those God foreknew, he also predestined." That's in the aorist present, indicative of also past tense.
"... to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined," past tense, "he also called," past tense. That's okay. We understand that. "Those he called," past tense, "he also justified," past tense. Okay. We get that. "Those he justified," past tense, "he also glorified," past tense. You're like, "Wait a minute. He predestined us, past tense. I got it. He called us, past tense. I got it. He justified us, past tense. I got it. He glorified us? That's future tense." Not according to Paul. It's past tense. You say, "Jerry, I have no idea what to do with that. How can that be so? How can I be raised with Christ when I'm still here? How can I be seated with Christ in the heavenly realms when I'm still here? How is that possible?"
Well, it's possible because we live in the New Testament in what we call the already/not yet tension. That's where we live. You say, "That doesn't help me any." Well, understand this. The way that God views everything, God is not viewing everything from a past, and present, and a future. God lives beyond our understanding of time, and he lives in the eternal present. For God, when Jesus was raised, so too were all of the people who would ever put their faith in him. When Jesus was exalted to the right hand, so too were all of the people who would, in our minds, in the future, put their faith in him. For God, that is like, listen to this, that is like it has already happened because God exists outside of our time in the eternal present.
Paul is able to actually talk about this by influence of the Spirit in the past tense like it's already done. That's an extraordinary thought for me to even put my mind around because you're going, "Wait a minute, Jerry. Let me make sure I'm understanding this right, this already/not yet thing." We are raised, and we will be raised. Yes. We are seated with him in the heavenly realms, and we will be seated in the heavenly realms. Yes. We are saved, and we will be saved. Yes. You're going, "Okay, man. What?" Let me see if this illustrates it a little easier. Three people, there's more than that, that are on this ship. The ship is sinking, but there's three people who are sleeping.
Somebody does them a solid, picks them up, throws them into a lifeboat, all three of them. They wake up when they're in the lifeboat. They see that the ship is going down. The one person is looking at the ship that's going down and says, "Thank God we were saved." The other person is not looking at the ship. They're looking at the waves, the storm that caused this ship to sink. They realize that their lifeboat is actually floating on the waves. They say, "Thank God we are being saved." The third person in there, she looks. When she's on top of one of the waves, she actually sees land. She sees that the current of the waves is bringing this particular lifeboat to land. She says, "Thank God we will be saved."
All of those things are true. We were saved. We are being saved. We will be saved. You see, this is the beauty of the already/not yet tension that we see in the New Testament itself. It reminds us of the glory of what God has done, that he can look at all of this and speak as if it is past tense. You see, to be in Christ in a real sense, listen to this, to be in Christ in a real sense is to be where Jesus is, doing what Jesus is doing. We are, as Paul teaches us, we are in Christ. We have this new position. To be in Christ, those of us who have put our faith in Christ, if we are in Christ, that means that we are where Jesus is, doing what Jesus is doing. Here's the question. What is Jesus doing? I can answer it in one word: reigning, not raining, reigning over everything. He's reigning over everything, unless we forgot maybe what Paul taught us in chapter number one about what God did for Jesus.
Notice what he said, "That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church or on behalf of the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who feels everything in every way." In other words, Jesus is reigning. The fair question that we might be able to ask is this. If we are in Christ, Paul says we are, then that means that we are where Jesus is, doing what Jesus is doing, and we know that Jesus is reigning. Are we reigning? Yes and not yet. There is even an already/not yet aspect to this because we are truly in Christ. We are where he is, doing what he's doing, and he is reigning. Therefore, we are reigning with him, and we will reign with him.
Now, why is this so great? Here's why. Because God, in the very beginning when he created humanity, actually started the whole deal this way. He started it as a deal where his image bearers that he made would actually be people who would rule and reign as representatives of him on the earth. Listen to what it says in Genesis one. You can see the language. God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." God created mankind in his own image. In the image of God, he created them, male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number. Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'"
You see, this was God's intent from the very beginning, that human beings would have rulership, that they would reign, that they would have dominion on the earth. This was the divine design from the outset, but you and I both know that something happened. Sin entered in. As a result, what sin did is it corrupted the image of God in these image bearers. It compromised the way in which that they would be able to reign and to lead. That was infected to every single other person in the human family. That's why what we understand is this. When we are born into this world, we are born in Adam. You see, the New Testament writers actually use that terminology. They talk about that we are in Adam. You see, there's one of two people in the entirety of the world. Humanity is broken down into being in Adam or being in Christ.
To be in Adam means that we have experienced the corruption of sin and we've experienced the corrosive nature of sin. To be in Christ means that he is remaking that image so that we might be able to rule and reign with him and like him. You see, in fact, Paul uses this imagery of kind of the fall of Adam and being in Adam and then what it means to be in Christ in the book of Romans. Here's what he says in Romans five. He says, "For if by the trespass of the one man," he's referring to Adam, "death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ?"
Now, I realize I'm kind of sending us all into deep waters here, but here's what I'm trying to get us to understand. We've got this future promise that we already understand, that we are going to be people who reign with the Lord Jesus. We are going to rule and reign with him. There's a number of places I could call your attention to. Let me give you a couple. 2 Timothy two says, "If we endure, we will also reign with him." Revelation three says this, "To the one who is victorious I will give the right to sit with me on my throne," that's a picture of reigning and ruling, "just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne." We've got this promise that we're going to rule and we're going to reign.
In fact, if you read the end of the book, Revelation chapter 22, "We will see his face. His name is going to be on our foreheads, and we will reign with him forever and ever," Revelation 22. There it is, right? We've got these promises that we're going to rule and reign with him forever, but does that have an implication for the right now? "Jerry, that's then, but what about the now? What about the already and not just the not yet?" Well, Paul actually hinted at this idea when he was writing to the church at Corinth. The church at Corinth had a lot going on, some of which I don't want to talk about right now. They were a mess. They had all kinds of stuff going on, but Paul is trying to help them understand something.
One issue had emerged in the church of Corinth. It was this. It was there were brothers and sisters in Christ, believers in Jesus, who were suing each other and taking each other to court in front of people and Pagans, and they were kind of making a display of all these things. Paul, knowing that he's talking to future kings and queens, says something unique. Notice what he says. He says, "If any of you has a dispute with one another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord's people? Or do you not know that the Lord's people will judge or govern the world? If you were to judge or govern the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life?"
You see, Paul is actually referring to the idea of the future that we are going to reign with Jesus, but he pulls the future into the present and says, "Hey, you need to make sure that you understand something. These trivial matters that you're dealing with, do you know that you're actually one day going to be ruling the world with Jesus? Do you know that you're actually going to one day be governing angels?" Think about that. You're going to govern angels. They've rescued you so many times you don't know what do with yourself. Then, you're going to be the boss. It's almost hard to conceptualize, isn't it? We are going to govern the world alongside of Jesus. How does that work out? Well, Paul knew he was talking to kings and queens in training and that this would have an implication in the right now.
Now, I know you guys know that I'm a CS Lewis fanboy. I've had an intellectual crush on his mind for a very, very long time. I don't care. It's part of the deal. If you're like, "Shut up talking about him," not going to. It's just part of the package. In this series of writings that he did that were children's books with really, really deep adult theology in them called the Narnia series, the fifth one of those books is called The Horse and His Boy. In this book, the main character's name is Shasta. Shasta is an orphan or so he thinks. He is raised by this poor fisherman in this fisherman's village. Shasta finds out eventually that this particular fisherman that's raising him is going to sell him into slavery so that he can have some money. Then, Shasta, whatever happens to him. Well, Shasta finds out about it, and you know what he does? Him and a horse that can talk, stay with me here, it's fantasy. Him and a horse that can talk are checking out, and they're going to head north to Narnia.
Now, he always had wanted to go to Narnia. The horse kind of said, he said, "You know, you kind of strike me as somebody of northern stock anyway. You kind of seem like that kind of guy." They make their way, and all kinds of stories and trials and travails that happen. Aslan the lion is actually helping guard them the whole time, and they don't really know it. He's kind of leading them on this journey. Then, here's what happens. Shasta actually finds out eventually that he's not an orphan. He's actually the son of King Lune of Archenland. King Lune brings him in, tells him, "Your name's not even Shasta. Your name is Cor." He tells him about his new name. He tells him all of these things, and then he starts showing him around the estate and the mansion, and he starts training him on what it means to ultimately be a king because he knew his son was actually a king in training. He begins to teach him all along about what that would look like.
I think that illustration is a great illustration for what we're looking at today because what we need to learn is that we have a position in Christ. This position is that we have been seated in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, but what we don't know is we don't know what to do with that. Well, here's what I'd tell you you do with that. In Christ, we train to reign. We are in training for our ultimate reigning. That's what we do with that. You say, "Jerry, what exactly are you saying when you say that?" Well, let me see if I can express it this way. I know I'm in deep water. Stay with me. Sometimes you need to have your mind just deepened, just blown up some. I think that Paul helps us to answer this question about what this training actually would look like.
If we're going to reign with Christ because we're seated with him in the heavenly realms and we've been raised for this purpose, we've been brought to life so that we might reign with Christ in the future. What does that look like now? It looks like us training to reign with him. That's what it looks like. We train to reign. What did Paul say? Look at these two verses again that is our core verses today, our text for today. It says, "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." Stay with me here for just a moment if you would.
He has shown us his kindness in Christ Jesus. What does that mean for us? Well, it means a whole lot of things. Right? It means that the gospel starts with God and it ends with God. It's all about him. Do you know what else it means? It means that this exalted one who is king over every king and who we are now in and we have been exalted with, that God has shown us the kindness of giving us the example of the true King. What do kings and queens in training actually need to see more than anything else? How a true king lives and talks and acts. God has shown us the kindness of giving us relationship with him through the true King, Jesus. Now, there's many things that I could say about Jesus' character. There's many things that I could say about who Jesus is, but there's one that I want to highlight for us here in these last few minutes. Stay with me.
The one that I want to highlight is this. What kind of King is Jesus? Jesus is a gloriously, powerfully, lovingly humble King. That's what he is, a humble King. Think about it this way. Jesus left heaven to put on flesh of human beings, born of a woman who was reasonably poor, lived in very modest circumstances. When he ministered, he said, "Foxes have holes. Birds have nests. The Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He came and humbled himself. When he was with his disciples, before he went to a cross, he got down on his knees and he began to wash their feet. He said, "If I, who are your teacher and master, are doing this for you, then this is what you ought to be doing as well." Why? Because he is a humble King. Jesus, who is a humble King, overwhelms us with that idea. He embodied the perfect kingship of what Israel actually needed.
Now, you know that Israel wanted a king back in the day, right? Remember, they didn't have one and they clamored for a king, "We want a king. We want a king. You're invisible. We want somebody who wears armor and has cool spears and sits on chairs. We want that because all of the nations around us, they've got somebody like that. That looks cool when they come out for battle. It's like, 'Hey, I'm a king.' Then we're like..." They're freaked out about it all. Now, here's the thing. Some of us might think, "Well, that snuck up on God. He sure wasn't happy about that." Well, he wasn't overly happy about it, but it didn't sneak up on God. God is omniscient. Has you ever occurred to you that nothing occurs to God? God is always knowing about everything. God actually had made provision for Israel's desire to seek a king before Israel ever desired to seek a king.
In fact, if you roll back into the book of Deuteronomy, here's what you will find. Listen to this. This is God giving instruction to Moses, "When you enter the land your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and have settled in it, and you say, 'Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,'" he knew this was coming, "be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel."
You know that Israel had a bunch of kings, right? Judah had a bunch of kings when the kingdom split. Do you know that none of them actually perfectly fulfilled this, this mandate from God? Jesus did. Jesus showed us exactly what a true King was like. You know what a true King is like? Humble. He's humble and obedient. It's no wonder that the apostle Paul wrote in the book of Philippians that he talked about Jesus' exaltation being a product, listen to this, of his humiliation. No wonder he says we should act like him. Listen to what Paul said in Philippians chapter two. He said, "In your relationships with one another have the same mindset as," we could say it this way, "as King Jesus who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage. Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man he," what?
"... humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Do you know what you see when you see this passage? Humiliation was the pathway to exaltation. That's what you see here about King Jesus. Humiliation was the pathway to exaltation. If our role is to train in order to reign, since we have been seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, and when we are in Christ, we are where he is, doing what he is doing, which is reigning, and we know we're going to do that in the future, but we know that we have an implication for that right now, how do we do that? We do that, listen to this, by learning the humility that is poured on top of us when we drink deeply of the gospel.
When we start drinking deeply of the gospel, do you know what it does? It builds a deep well of humility in us, not arrogance. Listen carefully to what I'm saying. When we see that Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of God, where he is seated in his kingly and priestly role, and then Paul tells us that we have been seated with him in this, we know how we got there. We know how he got there. Jesus' exaltation was his right. He validated it. Our exaltation was a gift. We received it. When we begin to breathe in the truth of the gospel and we think of our exalted status, that we are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, we're like, "What?" It ought not make us go, "What?" It ought to make us go, "Whoa. I didn't get here on my own." Jesus is exalted because it was his right. He vindicated it. We are exalted because it's a gift, and we received it. It ought to bring out a deep-seated humility in our hearts, not pride.
See, some of us, we haven't realized that we're kings and queens in training. We just haven't recognized that about ourselves. This is what God is actually wanting to do in us. What you need to understand is this. If you are in Christ, your position is different, so act like it. Your position is different. You have been set in a place where you are assured of ruling and reigning with Christ, but, listen to this, this is not now an opportunity for us to be so power hungry, going, "Okay, boys and girls. It's about to be on. I'm about to run this show." It's a humble King we serve. What he will make us to be are a kingdom of kings and priests, of kings and queens and priests who humbly serve. It's humility. People without humility should not be given power to rule. There are all kinds of applications there, by the way.
People without humility should not be given power to rule. Jesus calls us to be like him, who humbled himself and became obedient even to death, the death of the cross. He gave himself away. This is the kind of King we serve. He took his power to be able to give it away so that we would be empowered to be able to know him. That's the kind of kings and queens that he is raising up. I remember there was this pivotal moment for me when I was in Florida. I knew that God had called me to pastor and to teach and to lead and all of that. I was in the place that I was in. I was kind of second chair in the church that I was in. I was the senior associate pastor, but there was a senior pastor of the church. Wonderful friend to this day, and I've learned so much from him.
While I was there, I realized, I started thinking my own thoughts. I started thinking my own ways. Why? Because this is what God's called me to do. Sometimes those thoughts can be in your head like, "I wouldn't have done it that way. I'd do it this way." Sometimes you start thinking you know more stuff. Right? God, who was also beginning to speak to me about it was going to be in the not too distant future that I was going to be called out of that place. I didn't know anything at that time about The Chapel or about anything God was doing. God just knows your address. Relax in that. God knows your address. I didn't send out a resume. I didn't put my listing on a job site. God was speaking to me about what he was going to do, and God knew my address, and God knew what he was going to do to orchestrate those circumstances so I could just rest in it.
As I did, I realized that God needed to teach me some things. Do you know what God primarily was teaching me in that season of my life? Humility. Humility's not a once for all lesson, but this was what God was jamming into my heart. In fact, he was specifically talking to me about the sin of Absalom. He was saying to me, "Jerry, I don't want you to be guilty of the sin of Absalom, David's son." David was ruling. Absalom would stand outside of the palace. When people were coming to see David, he would say, "Hey, he's busy, but I can't help you." Why? "I know some things." Then, he begins to help a bunch of people, and he gets kind of full of himself. He's like, "I should be the king." He rebels against his own dad. He wants to now be the king. It didn't end well for Absalom, just as a head's up.
God was reminding me, "Hey, don't be an Absalom. Don't be a know-it-all. You're serving with this person right now. He's a friend to you. He loves you. You may do it differently, but I want you to humble yourself and learn. I want you to pray this kind of prayer, Jerry. I want you to pray that you will be the kind of man for him that one day God would give you to serve alongside you," because God wanted to make sure I started learning lessons about humility. This isn't about Mr. Bighead. This isn't about me being separated from everybody. This is about not thinking of yourself any better than anybody else. Just do the job I've asked you to do. Now, have I done that perfectly? Yes, 100%. You should all be like me. Of course I haven't, but there are these tethers inside of my soul that the Holy Spirit has weaved in there.
When these things start to happen, when arrogance and pride want to bubble up, I have to fight. I know that, but God has done something in my heart relative to this, and he keeps pulling me back to this idea. I didn't really know then why so much he was, but now I'm starting to understand it more deeply. You see, if we are going to train to reign, we need to be a people who understand kingly humility, queenly humility because that's who Jesus is. That's what it means to be a part of his royal family. We train ourselves. Listen to this. We need to learn to train ourselves in the word. That doesn't mean you have to be in a class. I'm just talking about being with God. You train yourself in the word. Why? Listen. Because it breeds humility to say that we are subjecting ourselves to an authority greater than ourselves. We need to train ourselves in our prayer closets. Why? Because it begins to build in us a humility that says that we are not independent. We are completely dependent.
We need to train ourselves to serve other people and to show grace to other people. Why? Because while we were yet sinners, Christ Jesus left everything and put on skin, listen, so he could take us in to raise us up. That's what we're supposed to do. You want to be people of the King? You want to be a queen and a king in the line of royalty that Jesus has called you in Christ to be? Then that means you do what he does. You know what that is? You bring people in so that you can raise them up. That has all kinds of applications. You bring them in so you can raise them up. When you do that, you are doing exactly what Paul said. God raised us up with Christ and seated us in the heavenly realms, but we were dead, desperate. He's taken us, and he's done something so remarkable. We train to reign with Jesus. Why? Because that's our destiny in Christ.
We ought to start preparing ourselves for what we are destined to do, to be kings and queens in training who model the humility of King Jesus, who gives himself for the sake of other people, that they may know God. Let's bow our heads together. As our heads are bowed in this moment, we're gone in just a second. Some of you in here maybe have never understood that you've been invited into a royal family. I can say this. Our present position of being in Adam when we are born and when we're growing means that we're dead spiritually. What Jesus wants to do by his grace is to bring you into his royal family, kings and queens. If you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus, kind of turned from your sin and put your trust in him so that he may bring you to life, then I sure hope you will do that.
We'd love to help you with that, talk to you about that, pray with you along that line. If that's your need, then when we dismiss in just a moment, whether you're in this room or the East Worship Center, we'd invite you into a room right across the atrium. You can see it right when you come out. It's clearly marked. It says Fire Side Room. There's some folks in there who would love to take a moment and pray with you, help you understand what it means to be part of the family of God. Father, I thank you for the word that you have given us today because your word is so rich and so deep. I often feel like I'm out of my depth, but I'm so grateful for that actually because it overwhelms me and it breeds a humility in my soul.
I pray that we would stand in awe of what you have done, so much so today, God, that it breeds a humility in our souls, not a humility that thinks less of ourselves but thinks of ourselves less and thinks of what God in Jesus has done for us. God, you would be glorified in us because we're not in our lives living them for ourselves. We're living for the praise of your glory. May the world around us see people who bring people in so that we can raise people up in seeing the new life that they can have in Christ because, God, that's what you have done for us in Jesus. May we be a people who humbly gives ourselves for the people in the world that we live in for your glory. Make us like you, King Jesus. Form us into your image. Train us so that we may reign well in this life and in the life to come. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.