Ques. 50. Why is it added; “and sitteth at the right hand of God.”
Ans. Because Christ is ascended into heaven for this end, that He might appear as head of His church, by Whom the Father governs all things.
Ques. 51. What profit is this glory of Christ, our head, unto us?
Ans. First, that by His Holy Spirit He pours out heavenly graces upon us His members; and then that by His power He defends and preserves us against all enemies.
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 19
“The Lord (Jehovah) said to my Lord (Adonai, the mighty Conqueror), sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1).
This prophecy was realized on Christ’s coronation day. When our Lord arose from the dead and ascended to heaven He was accompanied by ten millions of angels, who accompanied Him to the throne of our eternal God, where He received the crown, with power and authority to rule over all the works of God’s hands (Daniel 7:13, 14).
What a glorious moment that was for our Lord! It was the moment He had looked forward to with eager anticipation during all His life and ministry here on earth. Even when He repeatedly referred to Himself as the Son of man He had in mind this glorious exaltation. For the Scripture had foretold that through the deepest humiliation this Son of Adam would be exalted to heavenly glory far above the angels. He must often have sung in His soul, “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. . . . O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:4, 5, 9). Often Jesus spoke of His kingdom, reminding His disciples that His kingdom is not of this earth, but is heavenly, spiritual and eternal. He assured them in His preaching that the Son of man would soon enter into His kingdom. When He stood before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin He boldly testified under oath that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God, and added, “Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). Also after His resurrection Christ showed His disciples that He had to suffer all these things, even to the death of the cross, in order to enter into His glory (Luke 24:26).
This was another step in Christ’s exaltation and the beginning of His work as the Great Servant of God in heaven, our great Prophet, our exalted Highpriest, and our eternal King. Literally all power was entrusted to Christ, over the angels and saints in heaven, over the devil and demons of hell, over the nations of the earth, over sun, moon, and stars, and over every creature that is upon the earth and in the sea. This is a derived power. God still occupies the throne as sovereign Potentate of potentates, Lord over all, but He exercises His power and carries out His eternal counsel through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is at the same time a universal, totalitarian control over all things in heaven, on earth, and in hell. Our Catechism stresses the fact that Christ exercises this power as Head of His church, of which we are members. He builds His church, brings His saints to glory through the judgments that are brought upon the wicked, and establishes His kingdom in the new creation, that God may be all in all!
The more we think about this the more staggering it becomes! What a glorious day that was when the angels were sent out to accompany our Lord in His triumphal entry in His kingdom! The breach that had been made in the angel world when the devil and his demons rebelled and were cast out was now finally healed, as our Lord assumes His place of authority over the angels who eagerly obey His bidding. They are far more involved in the work of our salvation than we realize. What a blessed day that was for the saints when they saw their Redeemer and Savior face to face in His glory. How wonderful for them that now they can see God fully revealed to them in all His perfections in Jesus Christ, so that they can live and reign with Christ to the glory of the Father! How blessed for us to know that our dear departed ones now wear a crown with Christ in His kingdom!
But what a terrible day that was for the devils and demons, along with all the wicked in hell! For one of the first duties that Christ carried out in His new position of authority was to proclaim His victory to the inhabitants of hell, whereby their condemnation is sealed forever (I Peter 3:19, 20). Once for all, the Accuser of the brethren, who still entered heaven in the old dispensation, is banished from that heavenly realm (Rev. 12:8). Satan and his host have received their death sentence, so that they know that they have but a little while before they will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (Matthew 8:29). Also the wicked of all the ages must realize now the utter hopelessness of their situation. What a cry of anguish arises from the lips of the wicked as they gnash their teeth and chew their tongues in a much deeper torment of despair!
What a difference the exaltation of Christ has made upon the nations of the earth! On the day of Christ’s coronation the millennium of Revelation 20 was introduced. Scripture informs us that for the past “one thousand years,” taken symbolically as a full period of time determined by the Almighty, the devil had been bound in regard to the nations of the earth. This does not mean that he had been unable to tempt individuals or to attack God’s church with heresies and other seductions. But it does mean that he was not able to establish a world empire through these nations. This new dispensation in this sense is different from the old, when nations like Assyria, Babylon, the Medo-Persian kingdom, the Macedonian empire, and the Roman empire could temporarily rule the known world. Since Christ’s ascension all the attempts that have been made to establish a world empire, even as recently as Napoleon and Hitler, have utterly failed. In the meantime, Christ has carried out the counsel of God as contained in the book with its seven seals (Revelation 5:6, 7). Only the exalted Christ, as the Lamb for sinners slain, was found worthy to break the seals of that book and carry out all that is written in it. As a result, the white horse has gone forth spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth and to the islands of the sea, conquering over and subduing the hearts of God’s elect unto submission to the gospel of peace. In its trail followed the red horse, arousing nations to war against each other as they gave vent to their hatred against God and His Anointed, as well as against one another in selfish greed. Also the black horse was sent forth to bring about economic disorders which resulted in the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming the more oppressed by the rich. Along with these was sent out also the pale green horse bringing sicknesses, plagues, diseases, and death upon the earth (Revelation 6). In the normal course of events one fourth of the population of the earth was affected by these judgments of God. At other times a far larger number suffered, as one third of the earth’s population experienced God’s visitations. And all of these judgments reach their culmination when antichrist stands at the height of his power and the vials of God’s wrath are poured out upon the worshippers of the beast (Revelation 16). Only at the end of these “thousand years,” when the gospel will have spread to the ends of the earth and the entire church of Christ is gathered from every nation and tribe and tongue, will Satan once more be unleashed to arouse the nations of the earth to the final battle of Armageddon. In the meantime the wickedness of man will be fully manifested, so that there is no semblance any more of religion or of repentance, but only a bitter cursing of God for all His sovereignty over the earth. That day cannot come until the very last saint has been prepared for his or her place in Father’s mansions, even until the Bride has been fully adorned through the sufferings of this present time to meet the Bridegroom. Only then will our Lord appear with the clouds in all the glory that He now possesses, as that majesty is described in Revelation 1, to judge the earth in righteousness and to take His Bride unto Himself in His heavenly perfection at the wedding feast of the Lamb.
“The Lord unto His Christ hath said,
Sit Thou at My right hand,
Until I make Thy enemies
Submit to my command.
A scepter prospered by the Lord
Thy mighty hand shall wield;
From Zion Thou shalt rule the world,
And all Thy foes shall yield.”
Psalter number 303
What a glorious day that day of Christ’s coronation proves to be for the church of Jesus Christ that is still on earth! Christ rules the world from Zion’s holy hill. Therefore Scripture can assure us that “All things are yours”—the world, the creatures of the earth, tree and plant and flower, ‘life and death, things present and things to come; all are yours—”and ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” Nations continue to rage and exalt themselves against God and His Christ to wipe out His cause and His people from the earth, but they only serve the eternal purpose of God’s will. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof! He has set His King upon the holy hill of Zion. “Let mount Zion rejoice, let her daughters be glad, because of Thy judgments!” (Psalm 48:11). May our prayer continually arise before the throne, “Come, Lord Jesus, yea, come quickly”.
Scripture assures us that “Thy people (Christ’s) shall be willing in the day of Thy power” (Psalm 110:3). That day of Christ’s power is now. He prepares the hearts of His people so that they live in devotion to Him. As our Catechism adds, “By His Holy Spirit He pours out heavenly graces upon us His members.” With a people that is less than willing God can never be satisfied. Any cold, formal worship, any outward homage, any prayer that arises from our lips out of mere custom or habit is more abominable to Him than the offering of swine’s flesh on His altar (Isaiah 66:3). Never can we of ourselves fulfill the strict requirements of His law, in which He requires of us that we love Him while we sleep, when we arise in the morning with our first thoughts directed toward Him, when we eat our meals in thankfulness, when we perform the duties of the day as His friend-servants, and when we are engaged in any form of relaxation. Still more, we must love our neighbor as ourselves, and put forth every effort to shew him that love in all that we do, at home, in our labors, in the church and in the midst of the world. God says, “Whether you eat, or whether you drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” How often have not you and I complained that we just can never do that. We forget that we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us, and therefore must prayerfully confess, “By Thy grace I will.” Always foremost in our hearts and on our lips must be the prayer, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.” The wonder of grace is that Christ makes us a willing people that is enabled by His Word and Spirit. He creates in us the desire to serve and glorify our God, to crucify the flesh and to live a new, holy life before His face. And when we fail—for who of us does not fail miserably while we are in this body of sin—and when we sin—for who of us does not sin every moment?—God does not turn His back to us or cast us away in His anger, but He mercifully draws us back to Him in sorrow and repentance, to assure us of His forgiving mercies that never fail. Like wandering sheep we are brought back within the fold. In the great Day of days Jesus Christ will sit on the judgment seat to judge us according to the deeds done in the body, whether good or evil. All our multitude of sins will be forgiven on the basis of His meritorious death, and we will be rewarded according to the works which Christ by His Spirit carried out in us, a reward, not of works, but of grace.
We cannot fail to note that we are still a militant church and soldiers of the cross. Yet our Catechism assures us, that Christ “by His power defends and preserves us against all enemies.”
In this battle we are not mere puppets who go through the motions without actually experiencing the horrors of our spiritual warfare. Our enemy is very real and our battle from day to day is also very real. We attain the victory through faith, and through faith alone. Our Lord defends and preserves us by equipping us to fight the battle of faith until our dying breath. He has prepared for us a shining helmet of salvation, which distinguishes us as soldiers of the cross and assures us of victory. He gives us a well-furbished breastplate of the righteousness of Christ, protecting our hearts and lives from defeat and death. He keeps that breastplate in place by supplying us with the girdle of truth. For our feet He has prepared strong, pliable shoes of preparedness of the gospel, so that we can always stand in the face of the foe. For our left hand He has made ready a strong, defensive shield that is guaranteed to ward off all the fiery darts of the enemy. No modern bullet or shrapnel can penetrate that shield. And for our right hand He assigns a sword of the Spirit, which is none other than the Word of God, whereby we can fight offensive warfare, ready at all times to give account of the hope that is within us, even when the enemy seems overwhelmingly strong and the battle waxes intensely fierce. Before the Word of God all the hosts of hell are put to flight.
Stand ye! Put on the whole armour of God!
Our response must always be: “By Thy grace we will.”
Through our exalted Lord in heaven we are always more than conquerors. He loved us unto death, and lives to bless us in His love forever! Amen.