Guest post by theologian Paolo Castellina on Q&A 45 of the Westminster Catechism:
Question 44. In what way does Christ act as a King?
Answer: Christ executes 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.[Catechism of Westminster, D / R 45 ].
It is very important to know what constitutes the mission of the Saviour Jesus Christ according to what the Scriptures reveal to us. Their careful examination reveals that this is His mission is summarized in the three functions of Prophet, Priest and King , as it is prefigured in the Old Testament and explained the whole of the New.
We have already considered the functions of Christ as Prophet and Priest. Today
we consider what constitutes His function as King. Significant in this
regard is the question of Pilate and Jesus' response: "Then
Pilate said to him," But then, you are a king? "Jesus answered," You
say they are king, I was born for this, and for this I came into the
world '" (John 18:37).
When we think of the function of a "king" of course we must not think of
the modern monarchies, but consider how the figure of the king be
characterized in the ancient Israel, especially in its symbolic and prophetic . In any case, "re" stands for "government," the government of a nation, its functions and prerogatives. We think, therefore, relating to the risen Jesus, who, before His ascension "... came and spake unto them, saying," All authority has been given in heaven and on earth "(Matthew 28:18).
This authority has been conferred by God Himself, as His law: "talking
about the Son he says," Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever, and
the scepter of thy kingdom is a scepter of righteousness. Thou hast
loved righteousness, and you hated the ' iniquity: therefore God, your
God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. '" (Hebrews 1:8-9).
This authority was not conferred by the people, and this is not "democratic". The cry of humanity, in fact, that claims its sovereignty and independence, is: "We do not want this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14). Not to worry: He will prevail: "Jesus,
after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the
right hand of God, and expects only that his enemies are placed as his
footstool" (Hebrews 10: 12-13).
The Q&A 45 of the Westminster Catechism is rather complex and highlights how
Jesus, the Christ, carries on His prerogatives of King. Each of these
topics would require a much broader discussion and the catechism itself
will resume in different sections.
1. The King and His people . Jesus
is not like a "fairytale king" or "a prince from operetta", but has a
population that belongs to Him and that is willingly submissive, 'the people of the elect of God in every age and country. Jesus takes up this people through the proclamation of the Gospel, His church. He who "gathers his sheep" and they willingly follow him: "When
he put forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow
him because they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow;
but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers " (John 10:4-5).
2. The King and his officials. These people are officials of Jesus, the King, has established them as "official" or "officials." In fact: "It is he who gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers" (Ephesians 4:11). The Apostle Peter wrote: "I
urge the elders among you, I, who am old and a witness of the
sufferings of Christ ... Tend the flock of God which is among you,
taking the oversight, not as an obligation but willingly, according to
God, not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not as rulers of those
entrusted to you, but as examples to the flock. And when the chief
shepherd, you will receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away " (1 Peter 5 :1-4).
3. The King and His legislative body . For these people Jesus, the King, has instituted strict laws. He is our Lawgiver: "For the Lord is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king, he is the one who saves us" (Isaiah 33:22). These
are the same moral laws which God has established for His people in the
Old Testament. He did not come to abolish them but to fulfill
(Matthew 5:17). They are summarized in the law of love of God and neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40).
4. The King and His "Ministry of the Interior" ("Home Office in the UK"). On Christ the King establishes and administers a precise discipline over His people. In fact, He rewards obedience and He corrects unfaithfulness and sins. The
expression "discipline of the Church" (or "church discipline") means
the rules and obligations that must be met to be able to legitimately
join. These rules are rooted in Scripture. It is part of church discipline "the ministry of the keys" (Matthew 18:18-19). The
apostle Paul, for example, in one of his letters complaining about the laxity of
the Christian community in Corinth that he had "taken away" from them a
man who had taken his wife as a woman who is married to his father (1
Corinthians 5: 2), causing "public scandal." Regarding
the maintenance of discipline, in fact, om the Christian communities, He must,
in fact, give an account to God (Ezekiel 3:20,21: Acts 20:26,27). See this article .
5. The King and His "Ministry of Defence" (MoD in the UK) . He,
in fact, by defending his people from their enemies, supporting him in
the trials and afflictions, as well as limiting the power of their
enemies, and finally defeating them. In all this, the
Christ the King is sovereign, powerful and providential control of all
events, that all things should work for His glory and for the good of
His people. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose " (Romans 8:28).
6. The King and His "Ministry of War"
(MoD in the UK) Undoubtedly, then, the Christ the King also establishes and maintains a
"ministry of war" fighting against the enemies of His authority and
cause, prevails over all those who defy His rightful authority . "...
in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that
obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus They will be punished with
everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord and from the
glory of his power " (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
To this could be added a "ministry of education", and more, that the Scriptures provide.
If this Q&A can give the impression that the kingship of Christ
concerns only His church, surely this is not the case, because Christ,
the Lord, has a universal jurisdiction and determines that all things
according to His purpose in relation to his opponents or those who believe
they can do anything with impunity. The kingship of Christ consists of three spheres: (1) that the visible
church, (2) that the invisible church, (3) the sphere of the world.