“Whose Kingdom Will Have No End” (Colossians 1:13-20)

Last Sunday of the Church Year
November 24, 2019

“Whose Kingdom Will Have No End” (Colossians 1:13-20)

All good things must come to an end. And this week we come to the end of the church year. Today is the Last Sunday of the Church Year, and at this time of the year, we focus on the last things, the end times. Last week, for instance, we said that “The Day Is Surely Drawing Near,” that day when Christ “will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.”

But if we just stop there, at the Last Day, we have not gone far enough. There’s more to come after that. The end is not the end! Think about what we just said in the Nicene Creed, “to judge both the living and the dead.” What comes right after it? “Whose kingdom will have no end.” No end! There is a kingdom that has no end! A never-ending kingdom, an everlasting one. So today let’s find out more about this kingdom and how we get to be part of it.

The first question is, Who’s the “whose” in “whose kingdom will have no end”? If you look at the way the Nicene Creed is laid out in your hymnal–“And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end”–you might think it refers back to “the living and the dead.” As though the living and the dead who are being judged will have a kingdom that has no end. But of course that is not the case. The “whose” refers back to the one coming again with glory, the one who is the subject of the entire Second Article of the Creed, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is his kingdom that will have no end.

Because the fact is, you and I will have an end, whether we are currently among “the living” or “the dead.” Or, as the older translation had it, “the quick and the dead.” Because even if we’re “quick” now, we’ll be “dead” soon enough, no matter how quick we may think we are. You and I are not quick enough to outrun Old Man Death. He will run us down eventually. Our own little kingdoms, which we fashion in this life–they all will come to an end.

But it’s even worse than that. For there is a kingdom we belonged to–maybe “belonged to” isn’t the right term; “were trapped in” would be more like it–there is a kingdom we were trapped in, where physical, temporal death is only part of the story. It’s much worse than that. St. Paul refers to it in the Epistle for today. He calls it “the domain of darkness.” The domain of darkness–that’s where we were trapped and couldn’t get out. The domain of darkness is viewed as a sphere of power. It’s a realm that had us in its sway, in its thrall, under its control. It’s the ultimate “Evil Empire.” The domain of darkness is dominated by the devil. He had us captive in darkness and disobedience, death and damnation. We were in the dark, lost, unable to see where we were going. People in the dark bump into each other and get hurt. People in the dark cannot see God for who he is. It’s like all the lights were out, and we were blind anyway. That’s what the domain of darkness is like. It’s the condition in which we once lived. Doom and gloom, for as far as the eye can see–or can’t see, is more like it. Trapped in the domain of darkness. If that kingdom were to have no end for us, we would be lost forever.

But the good news is, you and I have changed kingdoms! Again, maybe “changed” isn’t the best word. You and I didn’t do anything to get ourselves out of the dark. Somebody else did it for us. God did. Like Paul says: “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

There’s a change of citizenship here. We’ve gone from one kingdom to another, from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of God’s Son. We’ve been delivered and transferred. God delivered us from the domain of darkness. We’ve been transferred to a new kingdom, totally different in its character than the old domain. This is the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. The domain of darkness was characterized by thick, gloomy darkness. The kingdom of God’s Son is characterized by light and the ability to see. The domain of darkness was a place of despair and doom. The kingdom of God’s Son is the realm of hope and salvation. The domain of darkness–slavery under the devil. The kingdom of God’s Son–freedom in Christ. The domain of darkness is hemmed in by death. The kingdom of the Son opens up into life.

“The kingdom of his beloved Son”: Who is this beloved Son whose kingdom it is? Paul tells us more about him, in lofty, cosmic terms: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Here we must stand in awe, so grand is this person of God’s eternal Son. This is the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God in all his infinite majesty. We come back to the wording of the Nicene Creed: “one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.”

“By whom all things were made.” That’s referring to Christ. The Creed is just saying what Paul says here in Colossians: “For by him”–that is, by the Son–“all things were created.” “All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” When Paul says the Son is “the firstborn of all creation,” he’s saying that Christ, with the full authority of the firstborn Son, has absolute supremacy over all created things. In other words, the Son is true God, the Lord of all creation. That is whose kingdom is being spoken of here. That is whose kingdom we have been transferred into. That is “whose kingdom will have no end.”

But how? How did God deliver us out of the domain of darkness, that death-kingdom in which we were trapped? How can such sinful rebels that we were be allowed to enter–or even to visit, much less to stay in–such a magnificent kingdom?

Here is where God’s Son comes in. For he did come into our hall of death, this gray, gloomy domain, on a divine rescue mission. Christ, the eternal Son of God, entered our world to set us free. God’s beloved Son, in whom God was well pleased, took upon himself all of God’s displeasure and wrath. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he cried on the cross. Why indeed? Because it took the death of God’s own Son to pay the price for our rebellion. Nothing less would do. We were trapped on Devil’s Island, with no way off. There was no escape. So Christ became the prisoner in our place. He took the death penalty we deserved.

Now if the only Son of God dies for the sins of the world, his holy death is of such infinite worth, that it is sufficient to rescue and restore all of fallen creation. Paul puts it like this: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

Here again we pause in wonder. The Son of God, the eternal Lord, stoops so low as to shed his blood on a cross of shame, for me and for my sins–I can hardly take it in! Yes, Christ did this for you! Ponder the mystery! Praise his name! God has transferred you to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom you have “redemption, the forgiveness of sins!”

Redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace–Paul is bringing out all these great gospel words to express the great change that has taken place! Think of it like this: Your sins were keeping you a prisoner on Devil’s Island. But Christ paid the price for your release, and now you are free. Now you are able to enter the kingdom. Or think of it like this: We were separated from God, but now God has reconciled us back. We were at war against God, but now the war has ceased. The peace treaty was signed with the blood of Christ. Use whatever language you like, we have been transferred to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.

His kingdom, Christ’s kingdom, “will have no end.” Paul says of him: “And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.” He is “the head of the body.” Where the head is, there the body will be. Christ the head lives forever, so also will we, his body the church. He is “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.” He has supremacy, full authority, over death and Hades. By his death he has destroyed death, and by his rising to life again he has restored to us everlasting life. Christ is the first to rise from the dead, and we his church will be sure to follow. And so we will “live under him in his kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.”

His kingdom will have no end. What will it be like, this never-ending kingdom of Christ? Well, we’re already in his kingdom now, but it’s only going to get better. Take away all the bad stuff that bothers us now–our lingering sin, the sorrow and pain that we cause ourselves and that others cause us, the sickness and the death we suffer, the tears–take all of those things away. And then multiply all the good stuff many times over! We’ve been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God’s Son. And in this kingdom there is only light and life. Alive with Christ and with all his saints forever–we can only imagine how good it will be! But we’ll have all eternity to experience it and to discover how wonderful this kingdom really is!

They say all good things must come to an end. Oh really? Because in Christ, “whose kingdom will have no end,” the end is only the beginning!

Published in: on November 23, 2019 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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