Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
Jesus is Ruling Over You Today!
Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:31NKJV
Question 45 of the Larger Catechism asks, “How doth Christ execute the office of a king?” It gives the answer, “Christ executeth the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them; in bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel.” Last week we considered the manifestation of the kingdom of Christ on earth, the visible church. This week we will look at how God supernaturally governs all of His elect.
First, the Catechism declares that God bestows “saving grace” upon His elect. Reformed theology distinguishes between God’s saving or special grace, and God’s common or general grace. Common grace is why anything good happens to bad people! Since we are all sinners and deserve everlasting condemnation, whenever a sinner receives anything short of Hell, he is experiencing God’s common grace. He is receiving what he does not deserve. God, in His great goodness, causes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust (Mark 5:45). The unconverted and reprobate often experience the delights of marriage, the joy of children, the blessing of good health, good food, long life, the satisfaction of hard work, etc. God gives these great blessings to all, regardless of whether or not the recipients will ever be converted. They are gifts of grace, for no sinner can earn them, but they do not bring salvation. This grace is “common.” It flows from God’s benevolent love of all that He has made. Both the elect and the reprobate receive these blessings, but this kind of grace does not convert or save anyone.
The elect alone receive God’s saving grace. God’s saving grace is how God brings elect sinners to Himself, effectually calling them by the gospel, so that they are regenerated (born again), given faith and repentance, and preserved in the faith forever. As the Scripture at the head of this article shows, it is because Christ is our king (prince) that He is able to bestow this saving grace on all of His elect. Jesus, having defeated sin, death, and Hell has earned our salvation and by His power and authority He sends forth that saving grace to each of His elect, when and how He chooses, so that, in His time, they certainly repent of their sins, believe in Jesus, and live a new life. By the victory He has achieved, Jesus has the power to lose not one of those whom the Father has given Him (John 6:39; 10:27-29; 17:11-12). The captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10) has won the victory, not for Himself but for us – for all of His elect. Therefore, it is impossible that we would not participate in that victory!
However, Christ’s reigning over His elect is not limited to our conversions! As the sovereign and supernatural king, Christ manages every aspect of the lives of His elect. As the Catechism teaches, He actively governs His elect “rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins.” Jesus does this in our lives, in countless ways, every day. Hebrews 12 talks about how the Lord chastens those whom He loves. 1 Corinthians 11 gives an example of God disciplining believers who were brazenly corrupting the Lord’s Supper. Likewise, Revelation chapters 2 and 3 give us multiple examples of the Lord Jesus rewarding or correcting obedient or disobedient believers, in this life. Christian you should not see anything in your life as an accident. If we are suffering, it is for the Lord. If we are joyful, it must be for the Lord. Whatever comes your way, know that it is from the hand of your heavenly king, who is exercising His benevolent rule over your life for His glory and your good!