Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
Kingdom Civics

Upholding the World

Understanding the life of faith as “practicing the Kingdom of Jesus” begs a larger, overarching question, one that is essential to provide proper orientation and definition of our understanding.

The King’s business (2)

Sun RaysHe is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… Hebrews 1.3

We have defined the meaning of Christian life as “practicing the Kingship of Jesus.” We have further seen that we live out the privileges and demands of this high calling within three broad parameters – spiritual vision (practicing the presence of Jesus), spiritual disciplines (practicing the pursuit of Jesus), and spiritual practice (practicing the pre-eminence of Jesus). This way of thinking about the life of faith provides a useful framework for growth and ministry, as well as for increasing experience of the full and abundant life that we have in Jesus Christ.

But understanding the life of faith as “practicing the Kingdom of Jesus” begs a larger, overarching question, one that is essential to provide proper orientation and definition of our understanding. That question relates to Jesus’ own work as our exalted Lord and King, reigning at the right hand of God. We briefly summarized that work in our last installment. Now we want to unpack that summary in more detail.

We begin by considering the work that Jesus our King is doing in upholding the cosmos and all things in it. We will examine this great and foundational work from five perspectives. Then we will consider three implications of Jesus’ upholding work for our lives as His followers, and suggest ways these implications interact with the parameters of faith we have previously outlined.

A comprehensive work
The work that Jesus Christ is doing in upholding the cosmos and all things in it is a comprehensive work. That is, it comprehends or encompasses and includes all reality, everything that is, all things visible and invisible. In His infinite wisdom and might, and because of His immeasurable worth, Jesus, the Word of God, Who is the Agent through Whom all things have their existence, is also the Means whereby all things continue to exist. There is nothing outside the scope of Jesus’ sovereign, upholding power and rule.

We can only speculate on how this vast project proceeds. Scripture indicates that the Lord commands the creation, or some aspect of it, to accomplish His will, and it does; further, the Scriptures teach that “all things” fall into that category of things subservient to His counsel and will (cf. Ps. 147.15-18; Eph. 1.11). Everything that is has its existence and continues to exist at the pleasure of King Jesus, by the power of King Jesus, and for the purposes of King Jesus, which He has determined from all eternity past. At the right hand of God, in His glorified body, our Lord Jesus even now upholds the cosmos and all things in it by the Word of His power.

A coherent work
Jesus’ work in upholding the cosmos is a coherent work. That is to say, His work accomplishes specific purposes and ends for each of the particular creatures which are the object of His sovereign, sustaining power. A cell remains at all times a cell, and fulfills the purpose it alone is capable of fulfilling. The same with a tree, a river, a brain, a mind, an angel, and so forth. There is a time and a place for every created thing within the divine economy which Jesus administers from the right hand of God (Eccl. 3.1-11). Jesus causes all things to cohere according to the eternal counsel of God and the unique place in the creation of each of its components.

The world is thus a knowable place; things remain what they are under the sovereign hand of Christ, and they fulfill their unique purpose within the cosmos. Created reality can thus be known, understood, and applied to particular purposes and ends, a common-sense conclusion which would have no meaning whatsoever unless our King Jesus Christ upheld each individual creature according to its unique character and place in the cosmos. Our Lord’s comprehensive rule of the cosmos is also coherent.

A coordinated work
Everything in the vast cosmos has its place within the divine economy (Eccl. 3.1-11). It’s not just that the individual elements of the cosmos cohere within themselves, or within their own particular system. Rather, the Lord Jesus coordinates all the elements of the creation as His peculiar servants, which He causes to work together to accomplish the purposes of His glorious will (Ps. 119.89-91; Eph. 1.15-23; Hab. 2.14).

The Lord our King causes all things to work together according to His good purposes for His people and God’s glory (Rom. 8.28).

A continuous work
There is never a moment, never an instant when the Lord is not actively upholding the universe and all things in it. He continuously and constantly sustains every created thing, from the smallest to the greatest, the simplest to the most complex. Contrary to the language of secular science, matter is not eternal, and the “laws” of the physical universe are not self-created and self-perpetuating. Indeed, no such “laws” exist, except as descriptions of the comprehensive, coherent, coordinated, and continuous work of our Lord Jesus Christ as He upholds the cosmos by His Word of power.

A conciliating work
Finally, the rule of King Jesus, as He brings it to bear against the created world, is for the purpose of reconciling all things back to God (2 Cor. 5.18, 19; Col. 1.20). Jesus, through His Church, and by His Word and Spirit, is working to restore the creation to its original state of goodness before the Lord (Gen. 1.31). He is bringing justice, righteousness, beauty, goodness, and truth to the world as His people seek His Kingdom and strive to enter it more fully day by day (Matt. 6.33; Lk. 16.16).

This is not to say that we should expect a complete reconciliation of all creation and its creatures, including all men, to God through Jesus Christ in this life. Scripture teaches that only beyond the end of history, in the new heavens and new earth, can we expect such to be the case. This great work of reconciliation includes the application of God’s justice against unrepentant sinners; thus His eternal holiness is vindicated in the eternal punishment of the wicked. Knowing this, the subjects of King Jesus work even now to proclaim the rule of their King and to prepare themselves and the world – as much of it as they can affect – for the coming eternal reign of the Lord (Acts 1.8; 2 Pet. 3.11-14).

Implications for our service
Now this great, foundational work of our King has implications for His subjects, as they live within and toward the parameters of the presence, pursuit, and pre-eminence of Jesus Christ.

First, knowing His sovereign, upholding work, we sense His presence all around us at all times and, thus, maintain an attitude of thanksgiving and a posture of worship in all we do. He is with us in the things He upholds, and we are with Him as He thus engages this great work. Seeing Him in all things we cannot but receive His work with gratitude and, wondering at His wisdom, might, and goodness, give Him praise by our lives and words.

Second, as we pursue the Lord Jesus Christ through the various means and disciplines of grace, we strive to grow as stewards over the creation. This begins in the disciplines of prayer, meditation, and solitude, where we seek to increase in the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16) and the power of His glory (2 Cor. 3.12-18). Further, as we conduct our lives within the Lord’s creation, we may expect Him to guide us when we err from the path of stewardship, rebuking, depriving, and correcting us as needed, so that we may bring our lives more into line with the design and conduct of His sovereign rule.

Finally, as we practice the pre-eminence of Christ, we join with Him, as His ambassadors, to carry out as much of his great work of renewal and reconciliation as is available to us within our own callings (2 Cor. 5.17-20). As ambassadors we engage the world from the perspective of the Lord’s throne, using the protocols and practices of the Kingdom in order to persuade, redirect, and renew the world to reflect the holiness and goodness we know reflect the character of our Lord’s dominion.

The rule of King Jesus over the totality of creation is not remote and indifferent. Rather, the Lord is intimately involved in every detail of the creation, at all times, and for His own peculiar and glorious purposes. And we participate in this great project, as His adoring and obedient subjects, within the divine and eternal economy where Jesus rules as King and Lord.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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