Mysteries of the Kingdom

            in awe of scripture, viewing it through the lens of the kingship of Jesus





A SUPERHERO COSTUME

    In 1984, a Japanese graphic designer named Nobuyuki Takahashi attended the World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles. Reporting on the convention to Japanese sci-fi magazines, Takahashi coined the term "cosplay" to describe the costume play/hobby of many fans who attended the convention elaborately dressed as their favorite fiction characters and heroes. From Halloween costumes to masquerade balls, convention cosplay and reenactments, the human race shows an innate desire to hide our identities from head to toe.

BECOMING JESSE
    As the first command in the first epistle, Paul in Romans 6:11 called us to dressing up in the identity of a superhero with a four-piece costume easily remembered as J.E.S.C., pronounced "Jessie" like Jesse James or a shortened version of "Jessica." In Romans 6:11, Paul commanded us, "Count yourselves dead to sin, yet alive to God in King Jesus." The sole verb in the command is to count which can be translated as a financial term. When someone makes a deposit at a bank, the money is "accounted" or "reckoned" to their personal bank account.
    The J in JESC comes from Romans 3:28 where Paul said, "We count a man as justified by faith apart from works of the law." We reckon or account a human as J (justified) by faith because God accounts people as justified, not by their obedience, but by their faith. "Justified" means "made acceptable." Though our sins made us unacceptable to God and placed us deeply in debt to His justice, Romans 3:24-26 states that Jesus satisfied the cost of that debt and the demand of justice. The one who satisfied the debt was no ordinary citizen of the domain of darkness. He who satisfied the debt was the King of a new Kingdom. Scripture never says we are justified by believing that Jesus died for us; but John 20:31, Romans 10:9, 1John 4:15, and 1John 5:1 explicitly offer life to those who believe in the authority of Jesus. God counts as Justified everyone who believe Jesus is the Psalm 2:2-6 King (Christ), the Psalm 2:7-12 Son of God, and the Psalm 2:1-12 Lord of all the earth.
     When we believe in the authority of Jesus, 1John 5:1 says we are "born of God", referring to the second birth which Jesus taught Nicodemas (John 3:3-5) is the entryway to the Kingdom of God. Belief in the kingship of Jesus makes us J (justified) because believing in the kingship of Jesus makes us citizens of the kingdom of Jesus. Citizenship has benefits.

MORE THAN ABRAHAM
    Paul elaborated in Romans four that we count people as J (justified) because God counts believers as Justified in the same way He counted Abraham as J. Referring to Abraham, Paul used the word "count" (in the financial accounting sense) throughout Romans chapter four. God accounted Abraham as Justified when Abraham believed God's message.
    Interestingly, God's message to Abraham was (in paraphrase) simply, "You will have kids." The message of God in Genesis 15:3 had nothing to do with a sacrifice for sins or a coming King. God said, "You will have kids," and Abraham believed the message of God. God counted Abe's belief as justification. God *only* counted Abraham as J though, not as E, S, or C. God's message to Abraham was "You will have kids." God's message today is "The kingdom of God has come near"(mt10:7, mt24:14, act28:31, col1:15) or as the apostles more often put it, "God has made Jesus the King." (Compare Psalm 2:6 with Acts 2:36.) Today's message is a kingdom message, and kingdom citizenship has more benefits than Abraham received. God only counted Abraham as J. God counts the citizens of King Jesus as J.E.S.C.

CITIZENS OF J and E
    As you may recall, Paul tied the command "Count yourselves dead to sin, yet alive to God in King Jesus" into ritual dunking. He said in Romans 6:3-4 for example, "Or don't you know that all we who were immersed into King Jesus were immersed into His death? We were buried therefore with Him through immersion to death..." Then Paul explained the benefit of ritual immersion, calling it the "likeness" of the King's execution: "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death... our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin."
    Citizenship in the Kingdom of Jesus includes the benefit of being counted by God as "Executed." Paul said we not only imitated the death of Jesus, but that God "united" us with the King when we imitated His death. When we imitated His death by going into the water, "our old man was done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin." God declares our sin nature (old man) was Executed. God counts our sinful identity as Executed with King Jesus through ritual-dunking. Therefore Paul commanded us to count ourselves as Executed too. Every day we tell God we agree with His declaration. Every day we count our sin nature as Executed, telling God we no longer have any interest in Sin, praying "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one." We count ourselves as Executed and believe that with God's help, it is unlikely that we would sin today because we are Executed (dead to sin).
    Abraham was counted as Justified by faith. We are counted as Justified by faith and Executed by immersion.

CITIZENS OF J, E, and S
    In Romans 6:11, Paul said to count ourselves not only as dead to sin, but also as "alive to God." When we were dunked into the name and authority of King Jesus, we did not stay immersed in water. We went under the water, then immediately came back up from it in the likeness of how Jesus rose from death. Having the old sinful nature Executed is great, but even better, God also gave us a new nature when we took part in the ritual of immersion. "Just like the King was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life."
    For the "old man" to pass away, he must be replaced with a new creation. 2Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if anyone is in the King, he is a new creation." Our old self who was born of sinful Adam and Eve was Executed when we went down into the water. A new self came up out of the water, born not of Adam, but of God's Holy Spirit. 1John 5:1 says, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the King is born of God." Jesus told Nicodemas, "Most assuredly I tell you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God!" Daily we obey Paul's command by prayerfully counting our sinful identities as Executed and counting ourselves Spirit-born. As those born of the Holy Spirit we cannot help but work the good works God has prepared for us to do. As those Spirit-born we have no interest in sin. Our eyes are fixed on King Jesus as we constantly and joyfully praise our Father. We remind ourselves daily that we cannot help but worship all the time because we are Spirit-born.
    God counted Abraham as Justified by faith. God counts us as Justified by faith (J), Executed by immersion (E), and Spirit-born by immersion (S).

CITIZENS OF J, E, S, AND C
    More than Justified. More than Executed and Spirit Born. Every citizen of God's kingdom has actually been Clothed in King Jesus. Galatians 3:27 says, "For as many of you as were immersed into the King have put on the King." At the end of Romans thirteen, Paul said, "Let us put on the armor of light... put on the Lord King Jesus."
    On Halloween, at masquerade balls, at comic book conventions and elsewhere, children young and old delight in covering themselves from head to toe for a few hours, wishing they were more powerful, more beautiful, more frightening, or more famous. The hour or so of dress-up only proved itself as entertainment, then faded to nothing because it was nothing. Only a game.
    Citizens of God's Kingdom however, clothe themselves daily from head to toe and from heart to mind with the greatest, most powerful, most beautiful, most fear-inducing, and most famous One. We wear him not in a game or in entertainment, but in truth. By God's declaration, we can Clothe ourselves in the King of Kings, not believing any one of us is Jesus, but believing that we have put Him on and reminding ourselves that we have put Him on. We worship the Father with joy and with fear as we pray, "According to Your word, Lord, I put on King Jesus." Galatians 3:27 says, "For as many of you as were immersed into the King have put on the King."

My name is Matthew, but my identity is "Jessie." By faith and through baptism, according to God's word, I am:

    J - Justified
    E - Executed
    S - Spirit Born
    C - Clothed in King Jesus

Citizenship has its privileges!


                                                    
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"A Superhero Costume" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net on September 2nd, 2013. All rights are reserved.