The Right To Rule

When Adam sinned, he forfeited his right to rule over God’s creation, and Satan became the rebel holder of authority. Jesus referred to Satan as the “ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31; 16:11), and the apostle John would later write that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 Jn. 5:19). You cannot have two sovereigns ruling in the same sphere at the same time, so the question as to who has the right to rule must be resolved, and that is what Jesus came to do.

We actually know very little about the cosmic battle between good and evil that is being played out in the heavenlies (spiritual realm), and yet we are players in this eternal struggle as the apostle Paul explains in Eph. 3:8-12, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him.”

Mystery does not mean mysterious, it means something that has not previously been revealed. God is now revealing His plan of redemption on the grand stage of planet earth. Notice who has the speaking part and who is the audience. Ambrosiaster, a church Father, wrote in his commentary on Ephesians, “So abundant was God’s wisdom . . . that He caused the truth to become known to the angelic spirits in heaven, who are the principalities and powers.” It is through the church that He is going to make His wisdom known to the spiritual realm and that is the eternal purpose of God. How well do you think the church is fulfilling its purpose?

When I realized this truth years ago, I made a commitment to be a part of God’s eternal purpose. Whenever I was called to preach, teach, or disciple another person, there was another audience listening, and one that is not very pleased with what I had to say. At one conference a policeman, sweating profusely, approached me at the break and said, “Neil, I have this overwhelming thought to take my knife and stab you.” I thanked him for sharing that, and explained that it was just a thought from the enemy, and not one he should feel guilty about. Was I afraid? No, of course not! I am a child of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 Jn. 5:18). But I was grateful that the man chose not to believe that lie.

Dr. Neil

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