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Under Christ’s Lordship – Every Knee Shall Bow, Every Tongue Confess

kneelingFrom the first hours following the fall, until the last moment preceding the last trumpet’s sounding, the people of God have anticipated the final victory of God. On that Day, every knee will bow before Jesus Christ.

The first promise of the gospel (“The Protevangelion” Genesis 3:15) anticipates an ongoing struggle (serpent-seed versus woman-seed) ushering in a final conflict in which the True Seed would crush the Serpent’s head.

The rest of the Bible describes this struggle as it continues throughout history, climaxing in the ministry of Jesus. It will be brought to an end by his glorious return.

Central to the Bible’s plot line is that Christ is the nations-blessing seed, promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:1ff); the Son-King appointed to sit at the Father’s right hand, his enemies subdued and the nations his inheritance (Psalms 2:8); the Suffering Servant who will sprinkle the nations before whom kings’ mouths will be shut (Isaiah 52:15).

He is the Son of Man whose kingdom will never end (Daniel 7:14).

These streams flow together into a single river in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to fulfil Genesis 3:15. Jesus engaged in face-to-face conflict with Satan and overcame him. Indeed, the Spirit as Divine Strategist actually “led,” or “drove” him into the wilderness to face temptation surrounded by wild animals (Unlike Adam, who was tempted in a garden surrounded by tame animals).

Christ came to conquer

His atoning sacrifice drew the sting of death, and was “the double cure” for sin’s guilt and power. He rose again as the “Founder of our salvation” (“archegos” in Hebrews 2:10 indicates someone whose accomplishments enable others to share in them). His resurrection is the cause and guarantee of ours. Truly “He breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the prisoner free.”

This is what the New Testament believers meant when they confessed Jesus as Lord. He is God (Kurios = Yahweh – the great covenant Name of God revealed to Moses).

But as God, He has become incarnate (He is Jesus) and fulfilled the Father’s promise that his Messiah (the Christ) would establish his kingdom. Now, as Paul saw, God has highly exalted him; from now on every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The Day of Pentecost was the visible sign that Psalm 2:8 was now being fulfilled: the Father was keeping his promise to give the nations to Christ. The outpouring of the Spirit was the visible sign of his enthronement, and the first step in fulfilling the promise.

The story of the church – from the days of the 120 in Acts 1 to the vast multitude of the present day who call Christ Lord – is the ongoing story of how Genesis 3:15 is fulfilled. The story of the church’s evangelism is the story of Christ’s conquest. “All authority… on earth” is now Christ’s (Matthew 28:18-20), and all nations are called to “kiss the Son” and live (Psalms 2:12).

One day Christ will return to wind up history. Between Easter Day and the Final Day, countless numbers from every tribe, tongue, people and nation will have bowed the knee to their King and said with Paul: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

Am I among them?
Does it really matter? It does, because Jesus emphasized that outside his kingdom lies only outer darkness, the weeping of bitter regret coupled with the teeth gnashing of bitter hostility. Is the greatest delusion that grips the slumbering church the notion that people who reject Christ life-long will suddenly love him when they die?

But if saying “Jesus Christ is Lord” is not music in our ears now, what will make it music in our ears then. For although we may refuse to say it now, we will have no option then. But, alas, we will say it then with the same hostility we have to Christ now.

All the more reason to do what the gospel encourages:”Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 3:5). And if we are, let us live out Paul’s earlier words: “We make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ… Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others… (2 Corinthians 5:9-11).

Then every day will be a dress rehearsal for the Great Day when we joyfully say with countless others: “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

About the Author

In addition to being Senior Minister, Dr. Ferguson is Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. A graduate of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, he is the author of some two dozen books, has authored numerous articles and has contributed to various symposia. His writing interests have ranged from works of scholarship to books for children. He has served as minister of two congregations in Scotland, one on Unst, the most northerly inhabited island in the United Kingdom, and the other at the center of Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland. He has served more than twenty years as a seminary professor and is currently on the faculty of Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas as well as part time faculty of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Sinclair and his wife Dorothy have three sons, a daughter, three grandsons, and three granddaughters.

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