In the End: We See Our Lord Face-to-Face!

The Lordship of Jesus Christ is essential to our Christian life, as we have seen on our meander through Roman 14:7-9 over the past few months. 

We are, as believers, in the process of being sanctified (set apart from sin to serve Christ). This process is never finished in this life, even in the most outwardly holy believer. How does Christ’s presence in our lives as Lord and Savior affect us if it doesn’t render us sinless in this life? Maybe an analogy from WWII might assist us.

I think of a story I read about Gen. Douglas MacArthur, in his biography, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 – 1964, by William Manchester, pp. 442-445.


The photograph above is of MacArthur, without side arm, as he steps from his Douglas C-54 Skymaster Bataan II in Tokyo. He later earned praise for his role in rebuilding Japan as its postwar civil administrator. (AKG-Images).

MacArthur as New Ruler—but not a god—over Japan

In 1945 after the two A-Bombs had fallen on Japan, the Japanese signaled to General MacArthur that they wanted to sign an unconditional surrender. He immediately decided to fly to Tokyo with a few aides to take up residence in a hotel as Supreme Allied Commander.

His advisors protested that Japan was still armed and he would likely be killed. They advised him to wait for occupation troops to take up residence and disarm the 300,000 battle ready army near the airport where he planned to land. MacArthur said, “No, they surrendered and they meant it. I’m going.”

He flew with his aides to Tokyo. As they prepared to deplane, his aides strapped their side arms on. MacArthur said to take them off because against 300,000 they would be useless anyway. A Marine by the door, reached for his rifle as was custom. MacArthur quipped, “Son, you’re in the wrong army,” as he chuckled. “Sorry, Sir,” the soldier replied as he replaced the rifle.

The hotel was 15 miles away from the airport. Thirty thousand armed Japanese soldiers lined the motor route with their backs turned to him. This was a sign of deep respect usually afforded only to the Emperor.

MacArthur receiving the Emperor

The symbolism of this parade from the airport to the central hotel where MacArthur would now enforce allied rule over the Empire was not lost on the Japanese people. From this place of central authority MacArthur would begin to enforce the implications of their surrender. MacArthur eventually forced the Emperor to visit him at his hotel. Before this photograph was printed most Japanese had never seen the Emperor’s face.

“Many Japanese were extremely offended by this picture because of how casual MacArthur is looking and standing while next to the Emperor, who was supposed to be a god.”

However, they did not mistake the implication that MacArthur was their new ruler and he was not a god nor was Hirohito any longer.

An Analogy to Christ’s Rule over Us

crowns jesus
On a Biblical level, Jesus does the same when each person receives him as Savior and Lord! He enters that person’s life and takes up residence in the citadel of his being—their heart. He begins to extend his rule over him/her throughout this earthly life and only perfects her/him in eternity when each sees him face-to-face.

I John 3:1-2 states this so clearly—

1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.


Lord over life and death,
I embrace You as my Lord!
I want you to speak to me through Your Word and by Your Spirit.
I want You to transform my mind and life by subduing me to Yourself and Your ways.
I know this will not be complete in this life, but
I look forward to being in Your presence,
seeing You face-to-face, where it will then be complete.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Blessed are the Dead in the Lord!

Jesus now rules both realms—that of the dead and the living.

We who are alive can depend upon him to watch over us since he is Lord of the living. When we come to the time for death, we are changing realms but not Lords! He rules the realm of the dead.

In Christ Alone!

in-christ-alone-with-sticker-4000x4000_ 2 jpg

One of my favorite modern hymns is Stuart Townend’s “In Christ Alone.” At my ordination to the diaconate in the Anglican Church in North America, the choir sang it. I was “setting the table” for the Bishop to celebrate communion. The pipe organ boomed out that hymn suddenly, and I was frozen there in worship of Christ at the table. I was roused into action shortly because there was work to be done. However, I’ve never grown tired of those words. The fourth verse is powerful.

No guilt in life, no fear in death.
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Committal at the Grave

I often used the 1928 Prayer Book in my ministerial practice as a Presbyterian clergyman. One blind lady commented at a funeral, “I think I heard echoes of the Prayer Book in your committal service.” She was right. There really is no guide for practical services—funerals, praying for the sick, counseling people in need. I fell back on the book I had owned since I was a teenager—The 1928 Book of Common Prayer.


The words of committal are traditional and Biblical. I recall vividly the first time I used those words at a funeral. I began,

“For as much as it has pleased Almighty God to call out of the world the soul of our beloved brother ___, we commit his body to the ground… .”

I didn’t get to add the rest right away because his daughter shrieked in horror at the thought of leaving her father’s body in the ground. I went on to add, “in sure and certain hope of the resurrection unto eternal life… .” I don’t think she heard the rest after “commit his body to the ground.”

I have slightly altered the words since that first time. I now say, “We commit his/her body to the Lord in sure and certain hope of the resurrection unto eternal life… .” No further shrieks have since occurred.

People today do not have the knowledge tradition gives. After you have heard the words of committal several hundred times at funerals, you know what is coming afterward. You sit and bask in the security of your loved one awaiting the resurrection, and not feeling you are abandoning him or her to the cold desolate soil of the grave.

Shakespeare’s Grave at Stratford on Avon (left); an unmarked field stone (right)

It doesn’t matter with the Lord whether we are famous or common. He will keep us safe in death as he did in life.

The Dead are Safe in Jesus’s Presence

Jesus commands the realm of the dead, so nothing happens to our loved ones he does not decide. He is the holder of the keys and Hades (in its local sense). The grave is also in his safe keeping. None of the sheep given him is lost ever.

Revelation 14:13 sums up our loved one’s state now—

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. They rest from their labors, and their works follow them.


Lord of the Dead,
You hold our loved ones in Your safe keeping.
They are never lost or never again in harm’s way.
You watch over them and will raise their bodies on the Last Day.
Until that day we can rest in the assurance
You control our destiny and theirs.
Keep me in peace when I am anxious about anyone who has died in You.
About those who didn’t seem to have a strong faith in You,
Help me to trust in You to always do what is right.
I do not know the transactions of a person’s soul at the end of their lives.
In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Our Lord’s Support System of Us

I again refer to a personal experience in this post about Jesus’s Lordship as essential to our Christian life. 

The second faith formative event that occurred to me just before graduation from seminary was my father’s death. We all have favorite verses of Scripture. I have several different passages that have become my favorites through various experiences I have had in life.

One day in January 1987, part of my mental, physical support system in this world collapsed when I received a phone call from my mother. It included just two words—”He’s gone!” But what an impact those two words had on me. She was telling me that my father had just died.

Mom and Dad engagement picture

Mom and Dad’s Engagement Picture (1951)

I was in my senior year of seminary anticipating my Dad being at my graduation in four months’ time. My Dad had never been an emotionally-oriented, touchy-feely sort of person. I do not remember his telling me that he loved me. (I’m sure he did. I just do not recall it.) However, one of the closest expressions of his love for me was his last words to me before we left Greenville, SC for Seminary in Jackson, MS. We were getting into the U-Haul which held our few worldly possessions. “Son,” Dad said, “Remember that you always have a home here.”

With his death that safety-net vanished. He would not be able to provide a home for me and my family if a pastoral call was not forthcoming after graduation. In fact, I would likely have to provide one for my mother if the need should arise. So much for earthly props!

I flew home for the funeral and found a rare 18 inches of snow covering the ground in Greenville. I had to be retrieved from the airport by church members with a jeep. My world inside my head was as cold as the earth around me.

After a tearful meeting with my Mother and my two siblings, and a quick meal, we all retreated to different rooms in the tri-level family home. I withdrew to the den and sat in Dad’s chair. Beside it I found his Bible. I had no outward security in my future earthly prospects. They were nonexistent. Could I find any security in God’s Word? I took up his Bible and prayed to God that he would give me a passage that would hold me in the days to come.

I found my way to Romans 14:7-9. God quickened the 9th verse and applied it to my chaotic mind at the time.

9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

That was the comfort I needed! Jesus rules the sphere of the dead and the sphere of the living! My Dad was safe in the keeping of Jesus in the world of the dead. He is where Christ is! And, Christ is Lord where I am in the world of the living. “I would be all right,” God said to me through that passage.


Over the next few months, I meditated on the surrounding context of that verse, developed a sermon which I preached, and received more comfort from God in my uncertainty.


Lord of the Living and the Dead,
I often feel as if I have nothing to lean on.
The economy rises and falls and
Often my income remains the same.
I have learned to lean on You.
Little with You is a lot!
My deceased loved-ones are safe in Your keeping.
While I await joining them,
I’m just fine in Your loving care, too.
I claim Your grace for today’s needs,
And I know it will be enough.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Dust of the Earth now Sits on the Throne of the Universe!

In the last post we shifted to the last reason why Jesus’s Lordship is essential to the Christian life.

Submission to Christ’s Lordship establishes our ultimate security.

This is based upon Romans 14:9—For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Rembrandt Etching of the Crucifixion (left);
Gustave Dore etching of Angelic pronouncement “He is not Here!” (right)

Jesus emerged from death victorious and returned to the realm of the living.

No one ever emerged from that murky underworld alive in the sense Jesus did. We have three persons mentioned in the New Testament that were raised from the dead. They were not raised to immortality, however. They were resuscitated. I like what one writer has said about the three, “They were the three most pitiable people to be imagined. They had their dying to do all over again.” Jesus emerged from Hades raised in a glorified body. That body now sits at the right hand of the Father in glory. Scottish theologian and pastor “Rabbi” John Duncan well said, “The dust of the earth now sits on the throne of the universe.”


Heaven is not a weird place seemingly extra-terrestrial and twilight-zone like. It is home because our Lord is there in his earthly, glorified body. His going to prepare a place for us should give us a sense of security. He holds the keys of death and Hades according to Revelation 1:17-18

17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

So many people depend upon relationships with people on earth for their security. Their maxim is “It’s who you know that’s important.” Maybe so in business, but I agree with Vance Havner, “You don’t have to know the key people when you know the One who holds the keys!”

I like the Heidelberg Catechism’s first question—

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

Next time more about our Lord’s resurrection and how it is related to our and our loved ones ultimate security.


Heidelberg Catechism Question 1 and answer. Accessed 11 September 2018 from

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Jesus alone Has Returned from the Dead

Over the past few months we have looked at three reasons why the Lordship of Christ is essential for the Christian life.

First, submission to Jesus as Lord connects us to him in a personal relationship.
Second, submission to Jesus as Lord provides us with an adequate motive for living.
Third, submission to Jesus as Lord makes us his cherished possession.

Let’s shift now to the last reason

Submission to Christ’s Lordship establishes our ultimate security. 

This is based upon Romans 14:9—For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.


“The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” by Caravaggio, 1603. Public domain

Jesus alone has had a unique world-altering experience—resurrection from the dead.

Jesus lived on this earth as the God-man. He was and is God and man. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states it the best I’ve ever read.

Q. 21. Who is the Redeemer…?

Ans. The only Redeemer…is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man and so was, and continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever. (See “WSC” below.)

Beyond this we cannot go in explaining the God-man Jesus Christ. But we know he was truly God and truly man.

Woodcuts of Widow of Nain’s son and Jairus’s daughter raised

He went from the realm of the living to that of the dead.

The point is he was alive. Then, “he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, was buried, he descended to Hades,” as the creed states so clearly.

The Westminster Larger Catechism question 50 explains the descent as clearly as I have ever read. (see “WLC” below.)

Q. 50. Wherein consisted Christ’s humiliation after his death?

Ans. Christ’s humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day; which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.

Someone might protest, several in the New Testament were raised from the dead,


Woodcut of Lazarus raised

weren’t they? Yes. But it was more a resuscitation from death than a resurrection.

C. S. Lewis says this about the death of his wife, Joy—

I want to have [Joy] back as an ingredient in the restoration of my past. Could I have wished her anything worse? Having got once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do all over again? They call Stephen the first martyr. Hadn’t Lazarus the rawer deal? (see “C. S. Lewis” below.)

Jesus’s raising people from the dead during his earthly life demonstrates he has the power to do so.

We will see in the next post the uniqueness of Jesus’s resurrection experience and what this means for us.


Lewis, C. S. (1961). A Grief Observed. From WikiQuote on C. S. Lewis accessed 17 July 2018 from

WLC. (1648). Accessed 17 July 2018 from

WSC. (1646-1647). Accessed 17 July 2018 from
N. B. The question and answer for 21 include the word “God’s elect.” As a Reformed pastor, I have no objection to the terminology. I omit it for the benefit of those who do, so they can read the truth I wish to emphasize and not stumble over the other which I may emphasize at a later time. 

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved