Training For Reigning
Romans 5:17, "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ."
Someone called the 5th chapter of the book of Romans, "The Chapter of the Five Kings".
In it we see King Sin, for Sin reigned. There is King Death, for "Death reigned." There is King Grace, for Grace reigned. There is King Jesus, for we reign by One, Jesus Christ; and then, as a consequence, you have kingly believers, for "they which receive abundance of grace shall reign in life."
Great numbers of commentators infer that the reign spoken of in Romans 5:17 is with Jesus during the Millennium. Others teach that believers will reign in Heaven, in the Sweet By-and-By. The deduction from these interpretations is that we can’t expect much in this life.
The overall impression is that until Jesus returns, we will not do any ruling, except to a degree over our own lives. The devil, evil men, sin, sickness, poverty, fear, and bondage is still running the affairs of history and believers will be the tail and not the head until they finally fly away into Heaven. But that’s not what the Bible teaches.
I am well aware that the statement "shall reign in life" has been misinterpreted and misapplied by many in the so called "prosperity gospel" camp. However, the far greater error, in my humble opinion, is to embrace the theology of the old gospel hymn and live as if all we can do and expect is "just a few more weary days and then we'll fly away."
It is God’s will that we followers of Christ reign in this life. What does this mean? Does reigning in life mean problem free living? No, it means that even in the midst of trials, troubles, and temptations we can have victory and not become victims. We can be overcomers instead of being overcome by circumstances. Reigning in life doesn’t happen automatically. It requires never-ending training from God's School of Life where we learn from on the job experiences.
God’s rule and reign comes through His grace and the gift of His righteousness. This kind of life is above the natural plane, it is the essence of life that God Himself enjoys. The Greek word translated "life" is "zoe." This is God-kind of life. It is the same kind of life that raised the dead body of Jesus, lifting Him above sin and death. This life is infused into the person who, by faith, receives Christ as their life and righteousness!
Commentator F. Godet comments on the phrase, "reign in life": "Contrasted to the phrase "reign of death", the expression denotes the mode or nature of the reign of believers. A new, holy, inexhaustible, and victorious vitality will pervade those receivers of righteousness, and make them so many kings. If the collective condemnation could make each of them a subject of death, the conclusion from this should be that their individual justification will make each of them a king in life."
Death reigned in the past, but for the believer life controls the future.
Realistically, “reigning in life” as declared in Romans 5:17 isn’t the experience of most Christians. Why? It isn't because of lack in desire or effort, but lack of appreciating and appropriating the grace of God.
To receive the abundance of grace is to reign in life. Grace gives the ability to reign over sin. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). The awareness of being made righteous through Jesus results in love shed abroad in our heart, and with the government on the shoulders of King Jesus, we have peace with God, and peace results in joy.
Becoming a child of God by the miracle of the "new birth" automatically makes one a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. This also results in our becoming co-partners and co-rulers in the Family Firm of Almighty and Sons. Your spiritual birth into this Royal Family automatically enrolls you in the on-the-job-training-for-reigning program in the University of Kingdom Enterprises Unlimited.
This "kingdom of heaven" the Scriptures frequently references is first eternal, then it becomes internal in us, and then external through us. The kingdom of heaven is about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). And the experience of this life isn't just for internal enjoyment, but for external employment whereby we reign as kings in life. In other words, Holy Spirit anointing will first establish God's kingdom reign in us and then extend it through us.
The fundamental flaw and leading failure of the Church of the Living God today is denying, diluting, or distorting the preeminent message of the present and pervasive reality of the kingdom of God. As a result, people in general, and young men in particular, are left with a pie-in-the-sky type faith that leaves them with no vision, no God-given vocation other than becoming a pastor, preacher or priest, and no victory to be expected until Jesus returns and slices and dices all rebels against His kingdom to everlasting destruction.
Although we’re God’s SPECIAL people, we’re not His sheltered people -- we will experience tribulations. These tribulations are an essential part of God’s training for reigning preparatory school for King’s Kids. God is intent upon training and preparing His Kids to reign with Him forever, and not in protecting them from troubles and pampering them with a lot of toys and things. He ruthlessly perfects those whom He royally elects!
We are told in the book of Acts that the early church was taught that suffering was a required course for King's Kids in Training for Reigning. We read in Acts 14:22, "strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
Learning to reign in life requires understanding that human opposition is designed by God to bring us into grace. Demonic opposition is designed by God to bring us into greater power. We must learn to relate to people and to resist the devil. Our reign in life is as servants of the Lord and not sovereigns.
John Owens, chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, lived in violent, turbulent, and trying times, yet he was a believer who by receiving the abundance of grace, reigned in life through Christ. His confidence was rooted in the assured promises of Scripture rather than believing the circumstances around him. Even in a time of death, disease, decline and despair, his confidence in the promise of God stood firm as he declared: “Though our persons fall, our cause shall be as truly, certainly, and infallibly victorious, as that Christ sits at the right hand of God. The gospel shall be victorious. This greatly comforts and refreshes me.”
The kingdom has broken into time and was definitively established at Jesus' First Advent. It is progressively breaking forth in power and glory through the "reigning in life", co-partnering, people of God.
We are King’s Kids in Training for Reigning. Our training enables us to practice reigning through the grace of God, for the glory of God, for the extension of the kingdom of God!
As for me, as I am continuing my training for reigning course, I am going to be singing in the REIGN!