6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Matthew 23:6–11, NKJV)
This passage from Christ’s lips should forever eliminate the clergy-laity distinction. And yet, such hierarchies thrive in many of the churches and denominations of men. Yes, the Scriptures identify different functions of work in the church (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, Ephesians 4:11-12), but these are works of service, not positions of ordination given by the church. An ordained clergy establishes a pecking order of preeminence among Christians that does not exist in the New Testament. We are taught to submit to one another in the fear of God, not elevate a clergy to direct the people in the pews (Ephesians 5:21). The Lord washed feet, but now, people kiss a man’s feet as if he were God (John 13:12-17; Acts 10:25-26)! Pride feeds the desire for power and to be recognized above others. The clergy-laity distinction, that wraps people in garbs of religious hierarchy, separating and elevating one above another, is not from God (1 Corinthians 4:6).
42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42–45, NKJV)
As it was in the days of Christ, so it is to this present hour. Worldly ambition drives many to exercise dominance and control over others, measuring their greatness by positions of power. Such is neither the measure nor the ambition of Christ’s disciples. When a dispute arose among His apostles over positions of prominence in the kingdom, Christ taught that importance and favor are measured by service and sacrifice, not subjugation (Mark 10:35-41). Jesus set the high bar of lowly greatness, serving and dying to save the lost. To be great and first in God’s sight is what matters. So, let us use His measurements of greatness, and serve others as He served us.
25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:25–28, NKJV)
Jesus Christ is reigning at the right hand of God, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21). He is King today, and will continue to reign until death – the “last enemy” – is destroyed at the resurrection of the dead. Only God the Father, who gave all authority to the Son, and to whom the kingdom will be delivered, is exempt from being under the Son’s powerful authority (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-23). Christ’s return will be the grand summation of God’s plan of human redemption. The delivery of the kingdom to God the Father will usher in the everlasting kingdom in which righteousness dwells and over which God will reign forever and ever (2 Peter 1:11; 3:13; Revelation 21:22-22:5). The gospel calls us to submit to the authority of Christ with full, obedient faith. By doing so we are preparing to live with Him forever when He returns (John 14:1-6).
23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:23–26, NKJV)
All who die will be raised from the dead because Jesus was raised (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). The resurrection of the dead will be orderly, not haphazard or random. Christ’s empty tomb signaled His defeat of physical death and began the resurrection of the dead. When Jesus returns, those who are His, as well as those who are condemned, will be raised (John 5:28-29). With the resurrection completed, judgment will occur, and Christ will deliver the kingdom to God the Father (Acts 17:31, Hebrews 9:27). Here is a prominent and pivotal truth: Christ will not return to establish the kingdom. When He returns, He will deliver the kingdom to the Father. The kingdom of God exists today; it is the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 29-36, 41, 47). The end or conclusion will occur when Christ comes and raises the dead. If the kingdom begins when Jesus returns, then that is not the end. But, when Christ returns all enemies will have been vanquished, the last one being death itself. When Christ returns, the King and His kingdom will be victoriously presented to God the Father.
1 The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” 2 The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! (Psalm 110:1–2, NKJV)
With this prophecy, David announced the coming reign of his Lord. Elevated to the throne by Jehovah, this mighty ruler (the Christ) would reign at the exalted position of God’s right hand. Every enemy would be subjugated to His powerful authority as He reigned from Zion (Isaiah 2:2-4). This is a declaration of the rule and reign that now resides in Jesus Christ. Although born of the seed of David, He is David’s Master, being “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Matthew 22:41-46; 1 Timothy 6:15). His authority is established over His enemies and over God’s people (Psalm 110:2-3; Hebrews 12:22-24). It is this very reign of Christ that was announced by the apostle Peter on Pentecost (Acts 2:32-36). We do not wait for Christ’s coronation as King over His kingdom. He now rules and reigns over a kingdom that is not of this world, and that cannot be shaken – “the general assembly and church of the firstborn” (John 18:36-37; Hebrews 1:8-9; 12:28, 22-23). Upon His return, every enemy will be vanquished, and every servant will be rewarded (1 Corinthians 15:20-28; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). The day of His power has arrived. Now is the time to honor the King (Psalm 110:3).
1 The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. 2 Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. (Psalm 93:1–2, NKJV)
Although evil man exerts evil power against innocent ones, Jehovah is clothed in the strength of His eternal nature, and is mightier than all. By His might, He created the world, and by His power He maintains it. His sovereign rule over the world will not be deterred by the forces of evil. As America remembers the thousands of lives lost on September 11, 2001, we also recall the power of good that arose from the rubble. The nation united to rebuild and to defend freedom. Christians do well to always remember that our God is clothed in strength, and is always present to defend and to sustain His righteous cause. His protective hand is with us, even when surrounded by evil. Put your trust in the Almighty, who reigns in power from all eternity. Walk by faith; victory over evil is certain in Jesus, the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17, NKJV)
To do something “in the name of” the Lord Jesus means to do it by His power, authority and approval (see Acts 4:7). Why must we have Christ’s approval for all we say and do? One reason is because “the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23). We must have God’s direction in our lives, and the word of Christ supplies us with His moral, spiritual and doctrinal direction. Let His word richly dwell in your heart (Col. 3:15). It is His teaching, not our opinions, consciences, and human logic that marks out the right way to God. Another reason why all we say and do must be with Christ’s authority is because God’s thoughts and ways are far higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). We cannot rely on ourselves for salvation, and for how to live in fellowship with the Father. Christ, through His word, provides us the way, the truth and the life we must have in order to go to the Father now, and to live with Him forevermore. Jesus is “the Way” to the Father (Jno. 14:6).