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Reigning and Ruling with the King of Kings
Our dominion and authority when Jesus returns
God created you to rule the earth. You might read those words and feel a little uncomfortable. In the Church today, believers tend to shy away from God’s specific call to dominion, because the concept has gotten misused. It does not imply violent destruction. Having dominion over nature, for example, doesn’t mean God approves of us destroying it. God invites us to value His creation in the same way He values it. Godly rule requires responsibility. That is called “stewardship.” A good ruler doesn’t destroy his or her people, but instead serves, manages, and stewards.
Yes, God created you to rule the earth. He created us in His image, and He is the ruler of the universe.
The apostle John opens Revelation with this vision:
John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.—Revelation 1:4–6
He has “made us kings and priests.” We serve as priests. We rule as kings.
That may be odd to hear if you are one of the female readers in this community, but that is the language used here. Just like men need to get used to hearing we are the “Bride of Christ,” we’ll have to get used to the masculine word used here. But God has made all of us, male and female, to be kings under the authority of King Jesus. That’s who you really are.
Lost to Disobedience
Now, you may be thinking: Wait a minute. I’m not a king. I work in childcare. I do landscaping. I proofread contracts. I’m just a middle manager.
I want you to know you only do those things temporarily. Eternally, you are a ruler! God gave us dominion of the earth, but we handed that dominion over to Satan. We lost it because of disobedience, but Jesus redeemed it. He restores us to our true identity.
Here’s how Peter described it:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.—1 Peter 2:9–10
Before you took hold of God’s mercy, Peter writes, you were not redeemed. Now, however, you have reached out for God’s mercy, and He has restored you to who you really are—a royal priest. Although that is who God created you to be, we are living in a moment that makes it easy to struggle with this concept. After all, many people mock God, Jesus, the Church, and the Bible. Christians around the globe still suffer severe persecution, and it is increasing daily. How are we supposed to think we have any kind of authority?
Getting Our Authority Back
Just be patient. We won’t be asking that question on the day Jesus returns. When that happens, all the rules will change in an instant:
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
—2 Timothy 2:12
This is God’s promise to us, and our authority is a constant theme throughout the Bible. In the Bible’s first chapter, Genesis 1:26 tells us God gave humans authority over the entire earth, and in the Bible’s last chapter, we learn we will “reign forever and ever.” But beyond Adam naming the animals, as far as we know, Adam and Eve never exercised their authority to the extent God intended.
Why not? It was because they chose the sin of disobedience rather than embracing God’s purpose and destiny for them. When they sinned, they handed the title and deed to the earth over to the devil. And Satan quickly scratched his signature on it. That may be why Jesus refers to the devil as the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). That’s why Satan tempts Jesus by taking Him up a high mountain, showing Him the kingdoms of the world, and saying “this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” (Luke 4:6).
In this passage, the word translated deliver means “to hand over.” Who handed it over? It wasn’t God. Humans did it. You see, sin is not just rebelling against God; it’s also agreeing with the devil and giving him authority. Unused human authority is where the devil dances. The devil rules illegitimately in the vacuum of human rule.
Living Under God’s Authority
The only way you can be free from the devil’s rule is by willingly living under God’s rule. As you place yourself under God’s authority, you will have authority. In the Kingdom of God, you will only have as much authority as you are willing to put yourself under. That’s why James writes this:
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.—James 4:7
James tells us to submit to God and then resist the devil. Why will the devil flee from us when we submit? Because He knows we are under God’s authority, which then gives us authority.
When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He paid the penalty for us so we could be forgiven. He also took back the title and deed of the earth that we had handed over to the devil. Jesus signed it with His own blood. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth,” Jesus means He has all the authority in the whole universe.
Conversely, that means the devil has zero authority—zero dominion—over your life. Satan cannot harass you, come against your marriage, destroy your family, threaten your destiny, or pursue any other precious thing in your life. When the devil attempts to come against you, then you must rise up as a king and priest and take authority over him.
Reigning and Ruling
We reign and rule because we are kings. That is who we are. Jesus Christ established us as royalty the minute He rose from the dead. And until the Rapture, we are to reign over our sinful passions, bringing our minds, wills, and affections into submission to Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit through His Word.
When Jesus comes again, we will completely receive our authority back. Then we will rule over the earth just as God intended for Adam and Eve in the beginning. I want to close by pointing out two aspects of our role as kings in the future: authority and dominion.
Authority: We are given authority in Christ when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. However, there is also a future aspect to our reign with the Lord, a reign that will involve us judging even the angels (see 1 Corinthians 6:3). I cannot give a clear description of how or why we will judge the angels, but Paul wants us to know the extent of our authority.
Jesus will seat us on thrones alongside Him. We should wait eagerly for this day in the future, and we should be growing in our authority under Christ even now.
Dominion: For us to have dominion, we must have a domain, which is an area over which we are in charge. Romans 6:14 tells us that sin no longer has dominion over us because of grace. Jesus Christ has given us the power by the Holy Spirit to conquer sin and pursue holiness.
When Jesus comes again, we will no longer be influenced by sin, and it will never again be present in any dimension where we exist. In fact, we will have no need for the Law at all, because we will be present with the Lawgiver. We will be able to live according to the law of liberty as we serve our Creator for all eternity (see James 1:25).
When Jesus returns, He will give us dominion, and He will also give us a domain. I personally believe He will give us authority over defined geographical areas. But whatever that looks like, we can be sure that Jesus will be King, and we will reign as kings alongside Him.