Is Christ Over All?

6 Reasons for a New Ministry

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Somewhere in the haze of Covid lockdowns, churches hung up the keys of the kingdom for months at a time, governors began wielding the sword through the tip of a needle, and Christians, stuck at home, began searching the internet for answers about Romans 13, religious liberty, and reaching nations under quarantine. Amidst all this, a few friends began texting, talking, and trading ideas. These friends were a mixture of professors and pastors, vocational theologians and bi-vocational ministers, authors and administrators. What united them all was a shared vision to see Christ Jesus exalted in the church and over every area of life.

As confessional Baptists, these friends did not see the rising tide of theonomy as the solution. Neither did they see the cries to “just preach the gospel” as serving the church in its mission to make disciples of all nations. Returning the gospel to the center is a healthy corrective for compromised churches, but by itself “gospel-centeredness” is often ambiguous. It can miss the whole counsel of God and it easily leaves off the rest of the Great Commission—”baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [Christ] commanded” (Matt. 28:19–20).

In the confusion brought on by Covid, it became clear that Christians need fresh instruction in the manifold ways that God’s people engage God’s world with God’s Word. That is to say, because Christ is over all (Eph. 1:22–23), Christ’s people must learn how to live in light of his Lordship, even as the gospel of his kingdom is denied and dismissed in every generation.

From Saint Francis to the Saints of Ephesus

Such clarity was needed fifty years ago, when postmodernism swept through the church, denying the biblical antitheses of true and false, right and wrong, God and man. To that challenge, the Christian apologist, Francis Schaeffer, engaged a confused generation with biblical compassion and a breadth of knowledge that showed how all of creation stood under Christ. Similarly, when modernists offered a humanistic Christ and an anti-supernatural Christianity, the founder of Westminster Theological Seminary, J. Gresham Machen, stood in the gap and declared that protestant liberalism was an entirely different religion.[1]

1. See J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (1923).
2. Evergreen Content generally refers to online material intended to remain pertinent and edifying for decades, as opposed to online content that has an intended “shelf life” of only a few weeks or months.
3. For Christ Over All, a longform essay is a longer piece of writing (2500–3500 words) that seeks to address a topic from a robust biblical theological lens. It contrasts with our concise articles (750–1250 words), which provide abbreviated engagement with an issue. Christ Over All publishes two longform essays per month and multiple concise articles revolving around a particular theme.

As a result of Machen’s fidelity to the gospel and his willingness to take up arms in defense of the truth, his seminary trained a generation of pastor-theologians, including Francis Schaeffer. In time, Schaeffer had an equal, if not larger impact. Today, his pupils continue to roam the earth, including those friends who are now bringing forth this website to edify the church with evergreen content[2] that will help Christians think in biblical categories and apply Christ’s preeminence to all areas of life.

To be clear, Christ Over All does not possess any pretensions to pursue the status of Machen or Schaeffer, nor do we hold absolute allegiance to any man but Christ. Nevertheless, we share the biblical, theological, and apologetic convictions of men like Machen and Schaeffer. And it is with their penchant for true truth and their love for Christ’s church that we contend for the faith by means of this ministry.

To that end, I offer this initial longform essay [3] from the book of Ephesians, where Paul identifies Christ as the Lord over all things, especially the church. In his letter, we find a vision of the Lord that explains all that this website intends to address. So, in this essay, I want to give six reasons for Christ Over All. The first is the cornerstone; the next five are supporting pillars. I offer these reflections as aspirations that animate this ministry, so that in all things Christ alone would receive the glory.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.

Psalm 115:1a

Why Christ Over All?

For Christians, few things are more foundational or trustworthy than this: the risen Christ is reigning and ruling at the right hand of God. Or, as Paul put it when he prayed for the Ephesians, God

raised [Christ Jesus] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:20–23)

In these breathtaking words, we can see at least two things. First, all things in creation have been put under Christ’s feet—nations, demonic powers, death, sin, everything. The reference to “feet” harkens back to the Psalms and the messianic promise that a Son of David would sit at God’s right hand until all his enemies are put under his feet (Ps. 8:6; cf. Pss. 2:1–12; 110:1–7). In Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the enthronement of Christ has come to pass (Ps. 110:1), which in turn proved that Jesus is God’s son (Ps. 2:7), the great high priest (Ps. 110:4), who has received authority over all creation (Ps. 8:6). To say it like Matthew does, Jesus has now received authority over everything in heaven and earth (28:18), so that he can make disciples from all nations (v. 19). Such authority is the fulfillment of Daniel 7:13–14 and the foundation of Jesus’s promise that he will build his church (Matt. 16:18).

Indeed, when Christ rose on the cloud in Acts 1:9–11, he received the right to rule over all creation. This rule ranges from the most powerful rulers to the most obscure tweets, from the largest monument to the smallest mite. Revelation 4–5 speaks of his ability to open the scrolls, and the rest of John’s Apocalypse shows how Christ, the victorious lamb, is bringing salvation and judgment to earth, just as Psalm 110 describes. Today, all creation is now his, and one day soon all creation will know this (Phil. 2:9–11). Importantly, Christ’s rule over creation does not mean the instant submission of God’s enemies (see Heb. 2:8), but that should not stop Christians from recognizing what Scripture says—that the world and everything in it is rightfully his (Rom. 4:13).

And what is Christ doing in his world? Many things, but chiefly, he is gathering his church from the four corners of the earth.

This is the second truth to see in Ephesians 1—namely, that in his world, Jesus is directing the affairs of the nations, so that his elect (vv. 4–6), the ones purchased by his blood (vv. 7–12), will be saved and secured by his Holy Spirit (vv. 13–14). Indeed, when he was glorified, Jesus sent the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), just like he promised (John 7:37–39; 16:7–11). And today, he continues to build his church by means of his Spirit and his Word (1 Thess. 1:5).

Accordingly, the church must live with this truth fixed in their minds—Christ is over all. And in all things, he is working for the good of his elect (Rom. 8:28). The fixed purpose of Christ is not to redeem the nations as nations; it is to redeem from the nations one new holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9). This holy nation is described in Ephesians as Christ’s body (1:23; 3:6; 4:4, 12, 16; 5:23, 30) and bride (5:25–33), which means, metaphorically-speaking, the church must extend Christ’s reach and help his cause.

If Christ is Lord over all creation, then Christians have an interest in every aspect of creation, from microchips to the minds who want to make them mandatory. (Let the reader understand: Christ Over All will, as the Lord allows, address these topics and more in the months to come). Particularly, however, we will focus on the church and her calling to help her husband in what he is doing in his world, namely, to nourish and cherish the children she receives from him. This is the specific motherly mission of the elect lady and her children (2 John 1). Yet, it is a mission all too often coopted by others.

4. For an example of how the Law of Moses continues to give wisdom to Christians today, see Stephen J. Wellum, “Progressive Covenantalism and the Doing of Ethics,” Progressive Covenantalism: Charting a Course between Dispensationalism and Covenant Theologies, 215–33.

In our day, it is possible to make the church a helpmate to any number of political parties or social causes. Faithful Christians, therefore, must avoid betrothing the church to any husband besides Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). Equally, it is possible to err in the opposite direction. Christians who are tired of cultural warring may be tempted to ignore the social and political issues of our day. Or, by centering everything on evangelism, they may so ignore the world that all political elections or cultural events are treated merely as matters of individual liberty. Without denying the importance of the conscience as it relates to Christ and culture, this hands-off approach also misses the mark. Why? Because it fails to give biblical wisdom to Christians who inhabit the world.[4] Cue a church splitting over masks, or refusing to address the evil of abortion and the political party who treats it as a sacrament.

5. From the Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Syncretism is “a blending together of views from different philosophical or religious perspectives” (274). Pietism is “an approach to Christianity that emphasizes personal religious experience. In a derogatory sense it connotes an excessive concern for personal religious devotion and the leading of the Holy Spirit with not enough stress on reason and the intellectual dimensions of Christian faith” (210). Gnosticism is “an amorphous movement during the early church period which featured complex views that focused on the quest for secret knowledge transmitted only to the ‘enlightened’ and marked by the view that matter is evil. Gnostics denied the humanity of Jesus” (114).

Christ’s bride may sin in two opposite directions, by becoming fixated on one cultural battle or by forgetting that Scripture speaks to a broader range of topics than what the gospel explicitly addresses. The church may err by offering her assistance to human leaders that are not her husband. The church may also err by denying her material existence and thereby focusing only on the spirit. In the first case, the error is syncretism, if not sheer idolatry; in the second, the error is pietism, if not a neo-gnosticism. [5]

To each of these errors, the lordship of Christ is the answer. But this is not a lordship abstractly conceived. Rather, the lordship of Christ must be the foundation on which the entire edifice of the church is formed—and reformed. Textually, Ephesians is a letter that teaches priests (i.e. Christians who are seated with Christ in heavenly places, Eph. 2:6) how to live, move, and have their being in God’s temple, the place Christ is seated.

Christ is the cornerstone (2:20b), the Word spoken by the apostles and prophets is the foundation (2:20a), and the people redeemed by Christ are the living stones, to take a page from Peter’s playbook (1 Pet. 2:5). In Ephesians 2:19–22, the saints are being built by the Spirit into the household of God, but the work is far from finished. In short, Paul has a mission for the church to become the true temple of God. And why does he make this case? Because Jesus Christ is Lord. Indeed, Paul longs to see the completed temple of Jesus Christ rise above every earthly temple, and Ephesians is a letter that sets that mission before the church.

Carrying the Torch

Such is our desire as well—to take up and carry the torch ignited by Paul. Christ Over All, as a website, exists because Christ is over all. This is our cornerstone, and it is why we say,

If it has to do with Christ, we will write on it. If it is under his feet, we will speak to it. From Bible and theology to the church and culture, Christ Over All will help the church apply all the Scriptures to all of life.

At thirty thousand feet, that is our vision and raison d’etre. We pray that our small contribution to the internet might equip the church with biblical and theological resources that will help Christians engage the culture for the sake of Christ’s mission. Yet, more specifically, our approach to exhorting the church to uphold the unchanging reality of Christ’s Lordship can be outlined by the next five pillars—all drawn from the rest of Ephesians.

For the Gospel

In Ephesians 2:1–10, we find one of the clearest explications of the gospel. Dead in our trespasses and sins (vv. 1–3), God makes his elect alive by means of the finished work of Christ (vv. 4–7). This work is entirely of grace, so that no man may boast of his works (vv. 8–9). Still, this free gift of grace does not cancel works; it creates them (Eph. 2:10).

As Ephesians 4:11–16 shows, these works are primarily directed to the life of the church. [6] But they will also extend beyond the church to all areas of life, as the members of Christ’s body spread throughout the world. Indeed, this is why churches must teach the word (Eph. 4:11), to equip the saints for their manifold works of service (v. 12). As Paul explains, this is how the church is built up and it is how the church brings the gospel to the nations.

6. Thanks to Kelton Zacharias, pastor of Stafford Baptist Church, who first brought this observation to my attention.

This is our hope as well. We believe the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16). And yet, the gospel is a message that needs defining and defending (see Eph. 6:10–19). Fidelity to the whole counsel of God requires more than good exposition, it also requires steadfastness in the face of hostility (cf. Acts 14:1–7).

To that end, the Lordship of Christ remains foundational for persisting gospel preaching. Indeed, for all the ways that winsomeness transports the gospel across cultural boundaries, it is the Lordship of Christ that will impel Christians to keep preaching when the world raises its fist.

In this way, Christ Over All aims to keep the Lordship of Christ central so that the gospel may continue to be preached.

For the Church

Ephesians 3:1–4:16 outlines the wisdom of God in the church and the way God builds the church with his Spirit and his Word. All told, the central chapters of Ephesians focus on the church, which Christ is raising from the dead (2:5), displaying to the world (3:7–11), and building for his own glory (4:1–16).

For this reason, the Christian should focus his good works (2:10) primarily at the church (4:12). While a Christian’s job may take him into all areas of the world, the gathered assembly of saints is the reason why Christ died and rose again. The church is what proves to the powers and principalities that Christ is Lord (3:10) and that his death and resurrection are the means by which he is making all things new.

Thus, Christ Over All will engage any part of God’s creation, but always for the sake of the church. We are ambassadors of Christ, commissioned to make Christ known through the glorious grace of the gospel.

For Speaking the Truth in Love

When Paul speaks of building up the church, he says in Ephesians 4:15 that the church must speak the truth in love. In context, this truth-speaking is meant to guard the church from being “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (v. 14). This means that truth is not neutral. Defined by the Lord who is Truth (John 14:6), truth is by nature antithetical to the deceitfulness of the world.

At the same time, the motive for this true truth is love. The truth is given to build up the church unto Christ (Eph 4:15). Here again, Christ’s Lordship emerges, as does the purpose for which Christ redeemed his bride. In union with Christ, we are to wield the truth to demonstrate love to one another (see Eph. 4:25).

In an age where the internet is often hyper-reactive and hostile, we will take a different path. We will organize our material around monthly themes with longform essays, shorter articles, and various podcasts that commend the timeless beauty of Christ and the goodness of Christian truth.

Today, such neighborly conversation is hindered by hot takes, quick reads, instant commentary, and endless news cycles. Social media has turned honest debates into dishonest rants—even for Christians. Accordingly, it becomes increasingly difficult for online forums to speak the truth in love. Yet, if we can recognize Christ’s Lordship over every concept and keystroke, it might allow us to slow down, listen, and choose our words more carefully.

This is the premise for our website, as stated in our vision statement.

In an age where the internet is often hyper-reactive and hostile, we will take a different path. Instead of chasing down every theological trend and cultural controversy, we organize our material around monthly themes with longform essays, shorter articles, and various podcasts that commend the timeless beauty of Christ and the goodness of Christian truth. . . . we engage modern discussions by bringing forward the best of Christian thought to help Christ’s bride live in a manner worthy of the gospel. For more on our vision and approach, you can read our founding essays.

This paragraph captures the ethos of Christ Over All, but more importantly, it intends to capture the heart of Ephesians 4:15. We see this project as a means of edifying Christians, and doing so with intentional themes and longer reads forged in a medium more conducive to love.

For Understanding the Will of the Lord

To achieve this goal of edification, we must “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). Instructing the church to walk in love (5:1), Paul calls us to walk as children of the light (5:8) and to walk in wisdom (5:15). Indeed, such a calling means exposing darkness so that those asleep to error might awake (5:6–14). Likewise, it means speaking in a such a way that the awakened are led to worship and thanksgiving (5:15–21).

Again, the ditch of constant complaint is always open. Because there is endless darkness to expose, it is easy to always and only point the finger. But unbalanced negativity fails to produce speech seasoned with grace (Eph. 5:18–21). For this reason, most empathetic Christians fall into the opposite ditch of silence. In the name of peace-making, they refuse to confront friends who are in error. Yet, all Christians should learn from Jude how to use their word count. When this servant of Lord desired to glory in doctrines of salvation, he instead rebuked the false teachers who crept in unnoticed (Jude 3). May we all possess such boldness.

In truth, staying out of both ditches is impossible without the Spirit. But with the Spirit of Truth, it is possible to understand the Lord’s will. And such understanding beckons us to address one another with truth, so that genuine peace can result. In our day, hollow professions of peace abound, but these only undermine the Word of God and the work of the Spirit. What is needed is a genuine desire for making peace that comes by means of declaring undiluted truth.

Christ Over All aims, by God’s grace, to do just this—to expose darkness, so that Christ’s disciples can walk in love and light. Simultaneously, we will publish resources drawn from the well of Scripture and the best of Christian history. To do this takes wisdom, but thankfully wisdom is what the Lord delights to give his church (James 1:5).

For Arming the Church with Biblical Truth

Finally, Christ Over All aims to arm the church with the equipment outlined in Ephesians 6:10–19. Because Christ is risen and reigning, he supplies his saints with everything needed for spiritual conflict. By his death and resurrection, Jesus has won the victory. And now, we need to know how to conduct ourselves in a world where Christ is over all, but not everyone recognizes this.

In Psalm 110, the battle commences when Christ is seated as the high priest. In real time, when Christ sat down in heaven at his ascension, that was the start of a spiritual battle, where the people of God proclaim the gospel of his kingdom (Acts 8:12), “destroy[ing] arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and tak[ing] every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Indeed, the Lord calls the church to a spiritual battle and every disciple is summoned to wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17).

Making nice with everyone we meet is not the mission of the church. Proclaiming the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light is (1 Pet. 2:9). To that end, therefore, Christ Over All seeks to be an armory for serious-minded Christians to find biblical essays and expositions that will strengthen their helmet of salvation, supply their belt of truth, and sharpen their double-edged sword.

Christ Over All

Because Christ is Lord over all, Christ Over All exists to help the church apply biblical truth to every square inch of creation. Or to borrow the language of George Smeaton (who wrote about Christ’s lordship a decade before Abraham Kuyper penned his famous words): “The world is judicially awarded to Christ as its owner and Lord.” Accordingly,

Every foot of ground in the world belongs to Christ, that His followers can be loyal to Him in every position, and that in every country and corner where they may placed, they have to act their part for their Lord. [7]

7. George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Atonement As Taught By Christ Himself (1871), 300.

Put simply, Christ is over all.

In sum, we can say Christ Over All is a fellowship of pastor-theologians dedicated to helping the church see Christ as Lord and everything else under his feet. This is the unchanging reality of our universe, it is the certain hope of our future, and today, as the church continues to do battle with the powers and principalities, we intend this website to be an arsenal brimming with the Word of God, so that Christians in need of armor and a sharp sword may be equipped for all that God has for them. To that end, we introduce Christ Over All.

May the Risen Lord be pleased to use it for his purposes.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Schrock

David Schrock

David Schrock is the pastor for preaching and theology at Occoquan Bible Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. David is a two-time graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a founding faculty member and professor of theology at Indianapolis Theology Seminary. And he is the author of Royal Priesthood and Glory of God along with many journal articles and online essays.