Christ is King in a double sense. As God, the second Person of the trinity, as God equal with God, He has an absolute, inherent sovereignty over the entire universe. This dominion is natural, independent underived. As the Mediator He was appointed a King by the authority of the triune Godhead. His mediatorial dominion is official, derived, given Him as a reward for the faithful accomplishment of His redemptive work (Phil. 2:7-11).
Dispensationalists have not liked to think of Christ as the King of the Church. They have, generally, agreed with C.I. Scofield in his footnote on Matthew 2:2, “The King is one of the divine titles (Ps. 10:16), and so used in the worship of the Church (I Tim. 1:17), but Christ is never called ‘King of the Church.’ He is ‘King of the Jews’ (Matt. 2:2) and Lord and ‘Head of the Church'” (Eph. 1:22, 23). This note is omitted from the New Scofield Reference Bible. Yet the “New Edition” states on p. 988, that “Christ is never called King of the Church. ‘The King’ is indeed one of His divine titles, and the Church joins Israel in exalting ‘the King eternal, immortal, invisible’ (Ps. 10:6; I Tim. 1:17). The Church is to reign under Him. . .” Since Dispensationalism distinguishes Israel from the Church, strange are the words, “the Church joins Israel in exalting the King,” for natural Israel does not exalt the King, and therefore the Church does not so join Israel!
Further, Dispensationalists have also taught that Christ is not now a king, not since He was rejected as such at the close of His earthly ministry, and is not destined to be a king until His second coming in the millennial kingdom of glory. But it is evident from a comparison of Ps. 2:6-8 (“Yet I have set My King upon My holy hill of Zion!” withActs 13:33 that Christ from His resurrection is King of the Gentiles. He is also King of saints (Rev. 15:3). This He must be, if Heb. 13:8 is true. He is King of he world; for “the kingdom of this world became the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:5, Gk.). When He became King of this Cosmos is clear from Psalm 2 —at His resurrection. For further proof, compare Ps. 2:6, 8 with Matt. 28:18. There is no question that He is King of the Jews. He is the King of Israel (John 1:49), which cannot be understood apart from Gal. 6:16. He also is the King of nations (Jer. 10:7). This is all true, because Christ is King and has a kingdom appointed to Him. (Luke 22:29). It is also true because our Lord bears all the marks of royalty. Kings were anointed to their office (I Sam. 15:17; I Kings 1:39; II Kings 11:12, 23:30). So Christ had been “anointed with the oil of gladness above” His fellows, and that as King, as a comparison of Heb. 1:9 with Heb. 1:8 shows. Kings were also inaugurated, placed upon a throne, sceptered and crowned; so with Christ. He took the eternal throne, the scepter of righteousness, and was crowned with glory and honor (Heb. 1:8 withHeb. 2:7, 9). Kings sit on thrones in royal state (I Kings 2:19, 10:18). So Christ sat in the Old Dispensation, as Isaiah saw Him, in vision, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up: and is now set down on His throne with His Father on His throne (Rev. 3:21). Kings send out ambassadors. When the apostles preached, “We are ambassadors for Christ,” they recognized Him as their king. Kings reign with authority over their realms. Christ has all authority in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18). Scofieldians point out that “Christ is never called King of theChurch” (ital. added). Yet they admit that the Church exalts “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God (I Tim. 1:17).” This can only mean that the Church exalts its King. Christ, then, certainly must be King now; only at present He is invisible! But “in His times He shall show” it, that is, “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (I Tim. 6:16) shall display the Epiphany! Then the King shall emerge from His present invisibility.
Christ was King in the O.T. dispensation. As Melchizedek, a type of Christ, was both king of righteousness and king of peace, so also is Christ. For He is Jehovah-tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). He is the Prince of Peace, but as Melchizedekian antitype, King of Peace.Psalm 45 is the great Psalm of the King reigning over His people (Ps. 45:5, 7, 11, 17). At Sinai and in the wilderness “He was King in Jeshurun (Deut. 33:2-5).” Indeed, prior to Saul, “the Lord your God was your King (I Sam. 12:12).” For “the Lord is King forever’ (Ps. 10:16). Zion and her children had a King (Ps. 149:2), the King of Glory (Ps. 24:7, 8, 10).
Christ was King in His state of humiliation. He was born King of the Jews. At His birth He would be great, be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God would give Him the throne of His father David. “During all the years of the earthly life of the (King), alike while an unconscious babe in the manger and while hanging a dying victim on the cross, the eternal Son of God was exercising His Sovereign dominion over the entire universe.” (A.A. Hodge, “Popular Lectures on Theological Themes,” 261). His dominion shall continue, for “He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever and ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32f). He was recognized and confessed the King of Israel (John 1:49) When Pilate asked Him, “Art thou a king, then?” He answered, “Thou sayest it! because I am a king!” (John 18:36f, Gk.). The more enlightened of Jesus, disciples acclaimed Him King and praised God for the heavenly character of His kingdom, saying, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest (Luke 19:37f)).”
Christ was King in His ascension and exaltation. For in that great event, according to Daniel, He ascended in clouds to the Ancient of Days, where before Him, He was given everlasting dominion, glory and a kingdom. In the same passage (Dan. 7:9-14), He himself is seen as the Ancient of Days sitting on His throne, arrayed in a “garment white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool (cp. Rev. 1:13f).” Psalm 24 is an ascension Psalm, exalting the King of Glory. Psalm 47 is an ascension Psalm where it is exulted, “The Lord Most High. . .is a great King over all the earth. God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet! Sing praises unto our (ascended) King! For God is the King of all the earth! God reigneth over the heathen! God sitteth upon the throne. . . (Ps. 47:2, 5, 6-8)” Psalm 68 is another ascension Psalm in which we read, “Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive; Thou hast received gifts for men . . . They have seen Thy goings, O God; even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary. . .Sing praises. . .to Him that rideth upon heavens of heavens.” (See alsoPhil. 2:9-11; Eph. 1:20-23).
Christ is King now at the right hand of God. There “He must reign, till He hath put all His enemies under His feet (I Cor. 15:25).” For He is “the Ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5, ASV).” So that now “a Man sits upon the mediatorial throne of the universe. He who stood insulted, despised, condemned at Pilate’s judgment seat, now sitting at the right hand of God, rules all worlds, as He will hereafter, seated on the great white throne, judge all men.” (A.A. Hodge, “Popular Lecture. . .” 262).
“How doth Christ execute the office of a king? Christ executeth the office of a king in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all His and our enemies (SC, 26).” According to the Heidelberg Catechism, Christ is a soteriological King. “Why is He called Christ, that is, Anointed? Because He is ordained of God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our . . . eternal King, who governs us by His Word and Spirit; and who defends and preserves us in the enjoyment of that salvation He has purchased for us (Q. 31).” Also as King “the Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends and preserves to Himself, by His Spirit and Word, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life (Q. 54).” How does Christ as King rule and defend us? He does so by His Word and Spirit, so that we as subject kings submit ourselves more and more to Him, preserve and increase His church, destroy the works of the devil and all violence which would exalt itself against Him, and also all wicked counsels devised against His holy Word, till the full perfection of His kingdom takes place (Q. 123). In the “Reformation Principles Exhibited by the Reformed Presbyterian Church (USA)” the Testimony of the Covenanters, whose motto is, “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant,” reads, “God manifested in the flesh will never cease to be the Mediator, but as the Prophet, the Priest, and the King, shall remain through eternity in full possession of the glory of God, the Head of His body, the Church (VII, 6.” “Christ Jesus, as the Head of the Church, rules by His infinite power, and in perfect wisdom and justice, over all parts of the inanimate and irrational creation, and over all wicked men and devils; making them, and all their changes, counsels and efforts, subservient to the manifestation of God’s glory, in the system of redemption (XX, 4).”
This truth has a very practical application, which may be made in the following question. Is Christ our King? or do we say in our hearts, “we will not have this Man to reign over us (Luke 19:14)?” This is no mere laboratory problem, nor debate theme which Dispensationalists may argue. It is a matter of vital concern to us, and our straight answer to it will reveal whether we are of God or not. If Christ is not our King, in faith and life, then our profession is false, and we are rebels against the King. The question demands whether His will is our law, His Word our rule, His scepter our authority. By nature we all must confess, “Other lords beside Thee have had dominion over me (Is. 26:13).” But let us also confess, “God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth (Ps. 74:12).