In the foregoing messages we have covered a number of negative things from which we need to be saved in the life of Christ: the law of sin, worldliness, naturalness, individualism, divisiveness, and self-likeness. Now we proceed to the matter of reigning in life.
Romans 5:17 says, “For if by the offense of the one death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” This is the only verse in the Bible that speaks of reigning in life. Going along with verse 17, verse 21 says, “That as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Perhaps you have heard that grace abounds, but probably you have not had the concept of grace reigning. But grace is a king reigning over all things. Although in the text verse 21 comes after verse 17, in experience it comes before verse 17. According to verse 21, grace reigns unto eternal life, which means that the reign of grace results in eternal life. It is in this eternal life that we shall reign.
Although there are many Christian books on victory and overcoming, I do not know of any books on reigning in life. A number of books have been written about reigning with Christ in the millennial kingdom. However, reigning in life should not be a matter only for the future. This should be our experience today. I am not content with promises about being a king in the future; I desire to reign in life as a king today. In 5:17 Paul does not refer to the millennial kingdom. If you consider this verse in its context, you will realize that Paul is speaking about our present daily life. Praise the Lord that even today we can be kings in life!
Before we explore further the matter of reigning in life, we need to consider the relationship between the Gospel of John and the book of Romans. Romans is a continuation of John. John 1:4 says, “In Him was life,” and verse 14 of the same chapter says, “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us full of grace and reality.” Verse 16 continues, “For of His fullness we all received, and grace upon grace.” Hence, in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we have life and grace. In John 10:10 the Lord Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and may have it abundantly.” John 8 speaks of certain negative things, such as sin and death. Verse 24 says, “Unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins.” This means that those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus will remain in death. Furthermore, in verse 34 the Lord has a word about being slaves of sin: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” In verse 36 the Lord speaks about being set free: “If then the Son shall set you free, you shall be really free.” Those under the bondage of sin and in death can be set free by the living Son of God, the One who is the living reality. Therefore, in the Gospel of John we have life, grace, abundance of life, sin, death, slavery, and being set free from sin and death.
All these matters are also found in Romans, where the truth concerning them is developed further. Although both John and Romans cover many of the same subjects and even use a number of the same terms, the Gospel of John does not speak of grace reigning, nor of reigning in life. The use of the word “reign” in Romans with respect to grace and life shows a significant development over what is covered in the Gospel of John. Although the Gospel of John is rich and deep and although it speaks of the abundance of life, it says nothing about the reign of grace nor about the reign of life. Because Paul was one reigning in grace and in life, he could speak of such things in Romans. In contrast to many Christians today, Paul was not waiting for the millennium in order to reign with Christ.
In Romans 5 we are told that grace reigns and that those who receive abundance of grace can reign in life. Because grace reigns unto life eternal, we also can reign in life.
To reign is to be a king; it is to subdue something and rule over it. To reign also means to have a dominion or a kingdom. Our Christian life today should be not only a victorious and overcoming life; it should also be a kingly life, a reigning life. Day by day we can be kings.
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