The basic principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland are not different from those held by many reformed and evangelical churches. Such differences, as there are, lie in the application and implementation of these truths and particularly in the prominence which Reformed Presbyterians give to the kingship of Christ. The Covenanter banner, which bears the inscription “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant,” expresses the desire of the Reformed Presbyterian Church to proclaim and submit to Christ as King – to say in all things “Jesus is Lord.”
A SCRIPTURAL TRUTH
The Bible teaches clearly that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has received from His Father a position of glory, authority and kingship as a result of His great work for man’s salvation. This is prophesied, for example, in the book of Daniel, where “one like a son of man … approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Thus, the risen Christ, on a mountain in Galilee, could say: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” The apostle Paul states that, because of His obedience to death on a cross, “God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name,” and in another place he reminds the Corinthians that Christ “must (continue to) reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.” The position given to Christ is referred to as “mediatorial kingship,” in that He now reigns not simply by virtue of His eternal deity but as the God-man, the Saviour, the “one mediator between God and men,the man Christ Jesus.”
The early Christians recognised the vital importance of the kingship of Jesus and so we find Philip in Samaria preaching “the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.” In the account of Paul’s ministry in Rome we are told that “from morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus,” and the words with which the book of Acts closes sum up the apostolic message, “He preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” To emphasize the kingship of Christ is not to lay an unbalanced stress on something trivial and peripheral; it is to stand in the mainstream of apostolic tradition, for to them, as to us, Christ was “King Jesus.”
AN ALL-EMBRACING TRUTH
The Lordship of Christ is a truth which embraces, affects and governs many other truths. It means that His people are not free to decide on matters of doctrine, church government or worship according to their own likes or dislikes. In all of these areas they are to be subject to the clear instructions which our Lord has left in His Word. He has given these directions for the good of His people and for His glory so that it would be both arrogant and foolish to replace them with private ideas. The same principle applies to every aspect of our human existence. There is no area of life which is beyond the bounds of His rightful authority.
The following chapters of this book outline the Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church on various issues and it should be understood that they form a coherent unity. Springing as they do from the same source, they all belong together. Reformed Presbyterianism is an attempt, imperfect and inadequate, admittedly, but nevertheless a serious and consistent attempt, to work out in practical terms the implications of the kingship of Christ. The ultimate explanation for everything we believe and everything we do should be found in the desire that “in all things He might have the pre-eminence.”
A RELEVANT TRUTH
The doctrine of Christ’s kingship is supremely relevant to the world. It is the one effective challenge to the various political and economic totalitarianisms which menace true freedom. It is the only answer to the moral chaos of a society which resembles that of the days of the Judges, when “there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” It is to be proclaimed by word and life in market-place, university and factory, to politicians, writers and businessmen, for it is the only message which is big enough and radical enough to bring healing and salvation to all of life. The Reformed Presbyterian Church sends forth this Testimony as a partial fulfilment of its responsibility to set Christ’s kingship before the world.