BlogsThoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral
Christ’s Open Reign
By Dave Frodsham, lead elder, Jubilee Church Wirral
Last Monday we decided to take our guests to visit Port Sunlight and in particular the Lady Lever art gallery.
On arrival we realised we had made a mistake and the feeling of disappointment was evident. It was closed!
Closed is a word that can bring great disappointment upon arrival at a day out at a park, or going to a shop, or a restaurant. But also, in other areas of our lives things can seem closed to us. A new job, a place at a school, a promotion at work or a college course. We can plan to go somewhere or do something and we realise that we can’t get in. It’s not OPEN.
As we see in the Bible, the Kingdom of God is still open to all until the day that Jesus comes back again:
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26 ESV)
In this part of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he focuses on the resurrection and how important that is for us. He is reigning because he is alive.
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20 ESV)
We see that Christ is the first fruits from among the dead, that he is reigning with open arms but that he will defeat every enemy, the final one being death itself.
So, what is this firstfruits? It is not a phrase that we use these days but it has a lot of biblical references and practical application. Firstfruits is the first part of the crop and the understanding of it is that more fruit will follow. We have raspberry bushes in our garden and once we start seeing some fruit turn red, we know that ripe fruit will continually follow for the next month or so. They are the first fruits and they are sweet.
So, in the Old Testament, the first fruits are celebrated as a guarantee that the rest of the crop will follow, but also are given as an offering to God in thanks. The principle starts early in man’s existence where Abel’s offering is the first and best that he has to offer but Cain’s offering is not regarded well by God.
This age we live in is a period of waiting; not with doubt or anxiety but with certainty and expectation like a farmer who has gathered his first fruits and knows that the rest of the crop will follow or a general who knows that the latest battle signals that they will win the war.
Jesus is reigning now. He is the openly declared Messiah, the risen King. Before he came to the earth, He was “just” God. Now he reigns as the “God- Man” based on the cross and the resurrection. We can bring our first fruits to him to thank him for all that has done and is doing.
He is reigning with open arms. He is not ready to deliver the Kingdom to the Father yet. He is still welcoming people into the kingdom.
Tom Wright says: “The message of Easter (i.e. Jesus death and resurrection) is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.”
It is a reign of grace not judgement. The judgement is postponed until the Second coming – then it will come suddenly like a thunderclap and then the dead will be raised. The gates will be shut.
So, this present reign is not a passive reign. He is still working, he is still playing, he is not sitting on the bench like a footballer who has scored both goals, and is the star of the team, and has been taken off by the manager as the game is won. They player will often complain as they want to stay on the pitch to see it through to the end of the game and victory is assured. Jesus is still on the pitch fighting our opponents until God the Father blows the final whistle.
The extent of this reign is to be over all enemies: v25 and every rule, every authority, every power. v24 He must reign over all things and until He defeats all his enemies the final one being death.
Whenever we face an enemy in our life – an enemy to our faith or an enemy to our happiness or to our salvation – Jesus comes in resurrection power to fight with us. He reigns over all enemies and He will subdue them in time.
The gospel makes no promise that we will have a trouble-free life but it gives us the strength to persevere, because of the resurrection. Jesus is reigning and is working on defeating all our enemies. We have to trust Him and believe him for every situation.
We only receive the benefit of that when Jesus comes again but death could creep up on us before that day and before we have accepted Christ’s offer of freedom from sin and to know forgiveness. Life eternal and blessing begins when we do but we need to accept the gospel message in full.
Jesus has been raised from the dead and HE is the firstfruits, the guarantee that those who belong to Him will be raised also.
He is the present reigning King, reigning with grace and open arms.
He is working on destroying all His (and our) enemies finally defeating our deaths when he comes again.
Dave Frodsham, Jubilee Church Wirral
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Helen on the importance of Friends and what God has to say about them in the Bible.
Andrew on evangelism, how we are all evangelists whether we like it or not, and how to evangelise easily.
Dawne on the parable of the lost sheep and the lessons we can take from it as followers of Jesus and members of His flock.
Yvonne on loss and how God has helped her deal with the loss of her mum and the impending departure of her eldest son to his first job
Nicki on serving at Newday and the impact it has had on all three Frodsham children and many, many others
Simon on the frustrations of not being able to get to sleep properly, and the Bible verses that help him stand firm against sleeplessness.
Gerry on how easy it is to be drawn into gossip. “If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all” isn’t just good advice, it’s Biblical wisdom.
Sylvia on being an encourager: “God knows our troubles. When we open up to Him, He’ll use other people to encourage us through His word.”
Lynne on doing what God wants us to do even when we really don’t want to do it – and why it’s important
Chris on the power of our words and how having a relationship with Jesus can give us the power of the right word at the right time.
Helen on why Psalms have taken the place of Proverbs as her favourite book of the Bible
Andrew Greenhalgh on being much better at giving advice than at taking it – and what happens as a result.
Chantal Robertson on how God and the gospel of Christ has never changed over time – even though the way we package it has.
Nicki on how she was planning to work in the marketing and advertising industry until God led her in a different direction.
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Jen on how taking the Alpha Course because she had nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon led to a life-changing wheelchair for her daughter Daisy and many others.
Gerry on how her ideas of what love truly is have changed over the years, and how love can be so much more than a feeling.
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Denise Griffiths on resolutions and why she has resolved not to make the usual New Year’s resolutions such as giving up chocolate, eating healthier or doing more exercise!
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Andrew Greenhalgh on how he ended up going to church on Christmas morning for the first time at the age of 11 – and what it has taught him.
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