Lord’s Day 19
Question 50. Why is it added, “and sitteth at the right hand of God”?
Answer. 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.
Question 51. What profit is this glory of Christ, our Head, unto us?
Answer. 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.
Question 52. What comfort is it to thee that “Christ shall come again to judge the quick and the dead”?
Answer. That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head I look for the very same person, who before offered Himself for my sake to the tribunal of God, and has removed all curse from me, to come as judge from heaven: who shall cast all His and my enemies into everlasting condemnation, but shall translate me with all His chosen ones to Himself, into heavenly joys and glory.
This Lord’s Day contains two important and comforting truths for the believer. The first is that Jesus is king today; the second is that He is coming in the future as judge of all.
Contemporary teachings on the “millennium” deny these truths and rob God’s people of comfort. Both pre- and post-millennialism teach, not that Christ is King today from heaven, but that His kingdom is future and earthly. And in neither system is the future coming of Christ a comforting deliverance for believers.
This Lord’s Day, even though it was written centuries before these debates on eschatology, is decidedly a-millennial in two important ways. First, it speaks of Christ’s kingdom as present. Today, in His present position at God’s right hand, He “governs all things.” Second, it speaks of only one coming of Jesus Christ (not two as the pre-millennialists teach) as Judge to deliver His people from a hostile world (not a “christianized culture” as post-millennialists teach).
Our comfort is that Christ rules today over all His and our enemies, and that when the time of judgment is ripe, He will come to destroy them and deliver us into heavenly joys and glory. This comfort is so necessary for us as we live in a world that becomes more and more hostile towards Bible-believing Christians.
Sitting at God’s Right Hand
God does not actually have a right hand, and so this does not describe a place in heaven where Christ sits. Rather, Jesus’ “sitting at God’s right hand” is a biblical figure of speech. Already in the Old Testament this figure was used in prophecy of Christ’s exaltation (; ; Acts 2:33). We use this figure when we refer to someone as a “right-hand man,” that is, someone who helps you with your work, someone on whom you depend, and someone to whom you give the right to make decisions in your behalf. God has given Christ this exalted position.
Christ is “sitting” as a sign that He has finished the work He came to do on earth as our Savior. A lawyer, when he completes his argument in a courtroom, says, “I rest my case,” and sits down as a sign he is done speaking. A mother, after a busy day of work in the home, finally sits down. So Christ, “when he had by himself purged our sins” and “after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (; ). He sits, not to rest, but as a sign that His work of redemption is complete. He has accomplished all that is necessary for our salvation.
“God’s right hand” refers to the position of authority, power, and honor that God has given to the Mediator. After God had raised Jesus from the dead, He “set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named…and hath put all things under his feet” (). In this position, besides having power over all things, Christ also has all authority in heaven and on earth, that is, the right from God to rule all ( ). God has given Him the highest place of honor, and before Him every knee shall bow ( 1). He is King of kings and Lord of lords! ( ).
From this position, the exalted Christ rules over all things in the interest of His chosen people (). In His might He executes the sovereign power of God’s providence, directly controlling all the events of this world to serve His purpose in the salvation of His people ( ). Because of this, no weapon formed against us can prosper ( ).
Aside from the sovereign rule of His power, Christ also rules His people by the sovereign power of His grace and Spirit. By nature we do not submit to Him, but in the day His grace comes, He makes us willing servants and equips us to fight against His and our enemies ().
The kingdom of Christ is not future, but present. Today He is exalted to the highest position, and today all kings and rulers operate under His control. We are not waiting for the day when we will become citizens and subjects in His kingdom, but we are already His willing servants. From His exalted position at God’s right hand, He has dominion over all things, and by the irresistible power of His grace He conquers sin in the hearts and lives of His people. “He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” ().
Coming Again As Judge
At the conclusion of the Bible, Jesus says, “Surely, I come quickly,” and the constant prayer of God’s people all through the ages has been, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” ().
Jesus will come at the end of this present age, when He has finished gathering His elect by the preaching of the gospel (). The second coming of Christ is future—it will take place after all the signs of His return are complete; real—Christ Himself will bodily appear from heaven; sudden—no man will know the day or hour; and personal—every living human will be personally confronted by Christ.
The purpose of His coming will be the judgment of all mankind. We do not know, from the Bible, all the logistics and details of the judgment day. It will be a miracle. But we do know several important facts (see; ).
There will be a great white throne upon which Christ, the judge, will be seated. He will be assisted by His angels in separating the elect from the reprobate. Every last human being will appear personally before Christ to be judged according to his works. Every secret thing will be made open and public. Everyone will be called on to give an explanation for what he has done. Every human voice will be silenced, also the mouth of God’s elect. No one will be able to claim, by his works, that he deserves heaven.
The purpose of the judgment is not for God to figure out which people are good enough to go to heaven, and which ones deserve hell for all their wickedness. Rather, it will be a day when God is vindicated before all, and when His justice in punishing the reprobate, and His mercy in sparing His elect, are made plain. The judgment day will be a day in which the grace of God in the cross and suffering of Christ will be lifted high as the only explanation that some inherit eternal life.
Comfort for Believers
For those who do not trust in Christ for their righteousness, the result of the judgment will be eternal suffering in hell. There is no comfort in the coming of Christ for unbelievers, only terror ().
But for the believer there is great comfort. The Christ who comes as judge is “the very same person who before offered Himself for my sake, to the tribunal of God, and has removed all curse from me.” I do not have to fear being put on trial before Him, because He already went on trial for me before God. And when the verdict was guilty, and the sentence death, He took that guilt and sentence in my place. Because it has all been paid by Him, there is no chance that He will look at you, or any one of His, and say you are guilty and hell-worthy. Jesus’ blood has satisfied!
The judgment day will also be a day of vindication, not only for God, but also for His people who suffered at the hands of those who hate God. On that day all His and our enemies will be banished and destroyed forever in hell. Maybe you do not find much comfort in this, because you have not had to suffer much at the hands of your enemies. But consider this: God is holy and just, and all sin committed against Him must be punished with the suffering of hell. Jesus has already suffered the torments of hell for His people, but the reprobate must bear this themselves. Only then is God truly vindicated. Christians who endure the hatred of the world and are martyred for their faith understand the comfort of this day of vindication.
The result of the judgment for God’s people is that they will dwell in body and soul forever with the Lord. That will be the end of all suffering, sickness, loneliness, disease, and sin. And it will be the beginning of a new and eternal day, an eternal day of praise and joy in God’s presence.
This is my hope, and so, “in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head,” I pray, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
Questions for Discussion
1. How do the errant views on the millennium rob God’s people of comfort?
2. Explain the figure of speech, “Sitteth at God’s right hand.”
3. What comfort and benefit do we receive from knowing that Christ is exalted as King today?
4. Explain the wickedness of man, and human suffering, in light of Christ’s absolute rule over all things. If He is King, then why do these increase?
5. Can we know the timing of Christ’s return? How do you harmonizewith Jesus’ word in ?
6. What will happen at the moment of Christ’s return from heaven? ()
7. What is the purpose of the great judgment day?
8. What does it mean that we will be judged according to our works? ()
9. Why will God’s elect also be judged? Should this make us fearful?
10. How is the coming judgment an encouragement and comfort to you as a Christian?
11. Explain how a God of love can send people to hell? Why do so many who call themselves Christian deny hell?