The church triumphant is the name given to that part of the church that is now resting from its labors in glory. Those who belong to the church triumphant have fought the good fight of faith, have finished their course, and have received a crown of righteousness from the Lord (II Tim. 4:7-8).
That we call them the church triumphant should not suggest to us that the church on earth is not triumphant in the battle of faith. As we saw in the last issue, even those of us who are still fighting the battle, suffering and struggling here, are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37). Christ has triumphed gloriously over his enemies, death, sin and Satan, and totally defeated them (Lk. 10:17-18, Eph. 4:8, Col. 2:15). We are victorious in Him.
That needs emphasis today. Christ is not waiting to be crowned King of kings. He is crowned with glory and honor at God's right hand (Heb. 2:9) and rules in the midst of His enemies (Ps. 110:2). Even while the battle is still being fought, we already have the victory with him and fight a defeated enemy. All that remains are, what are called in military terms, the "mopping up operations." The kingdom is won, it must only be delivered up to the Father (I Cor. 15:24).
That is true even while wicked men grow worse and worse, and the whole world lies in darkness. The wicked are so completely defeated that Christ not only continues to rule over them, but by His sovereign rule He uses them for his own purpose.
Nevertheless, we refer especially to the saints in glory as the church triumphant because they have entered into the full enjoyment of the victory. While we continue the struggle, they rest from their labors (Rev. 14:13) and go no more out (Rev. 3:12). While we must still wear the armor of faith, they have put it aside and are clothed in white (Rev. 3:5). They are no longer see the faces of their enemies, but behold the face of the Lamb (Rev. 22:4). Their tears are wiped away and there is for them no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (Rev. 21:4).
It is good for us to think of them. Their glory is a testimony that the victory is ours also. Before long we shall be where they are and shall rest with them. What a great day that will be! Not only that, but they pray in heaven for vengeance upon their and our enemies, a prayer that God surely hears (Rev. 6:9-11).
Only in two respects is their triumph incomplete. First, their bodies are not yet raised, so that they do not enjoy heavenly glory with both soul and glorified body. Second, the rest of the church is not yet glorified and, as Rev. 6:9-11 suggests, their glory is not complete without ours. The whole body must be gathered in one in Christ, for the glory of God the Father, and until it is, they too must wait as we do.
In the sure hope of that coming day - sure by God's decree, by Christ's blood and rule, and by the sovereign work of the Spirit - we struggle and wait and pray while they rest and wait and pray. Soon we will be together.
- Volume: 6
- Issue: 2
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address13823 Clear Lake Rd.
State or ProvinceWA