The Person of Christ - 29 - Ascension to Right Hand

 

Chapter 29 - The Ascension of Christ

At The Right Hand of God

Phillip Harding

 

There are twenty-six references to the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of God in the New Testament. Six of these are used by the Lord Himself, three of which are quoted from Psalm 110:1 (Malt. 22:~. Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42), and three referring to Him as the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power (Malt. 26:64, Mark 14:62, Luke 22:69). We intend to consider the other fourteen references, in two articles.

 

THE PERFECT SERVANT ACTS 16:19

 

We know that Mark presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the Perfect Servant, describing His unhesitating and unceasing energy in service for His God (Mark 1:35, 3:20-21). In Mark we see the Lord characterized by diligence in service, perfection marking all that He did, so that Mark alone records ?He hath done all things well? (Mark 7:37). In Matthew we have the authority of His Word, in Luke the approval of His Walk, in John the appreciation of His Worth, but in Mark we have the acknowledgement of His Work. Therefore at the close of Mark?s Gospel the Perfect Servant is seen seated at the right hand of God, indicating that His service has been accomplished to the complete satisfaction of God. We know that Mark 16:20 presents the Lord still working but this introduces a new sphere.

 

?That service now is all complete

And God is satisfied;

His Perfect Servant now is risen,

And seated by His side.?

 

The practical application is that we, as servants of God (I Cor. 7:22, I Pet. 2:16), will only receive the approval of God if we are faithful and diligent in our service (I Cor. 4:2, II r~. 2:15). Diligence in service should characterize each ctniid of God, but sad to say, many believers would rather expend energy on material things than devote time to the things of God.

 

THE PROOF OF LORDSHIP ACTS 2:33-34

 

In this very important chapter we notice (a) The Descent of the Spirit of God (vs.l-13), (b) The Declaration of Peter (?s14-40), and (c) The Details about those who believed (vs.41-47). In Peter?s address there is first the Explanation of what has taken place (vs.14-21), then the Exposition (vs.22-36) and finally the Exhortation (vs.37-40). In his exposition the apostle speaks of the life of Jesus of Nazareth which brought blessing to the people and was approved of God (v.22). He spoke of the death and resurrection of Christ using the words of Psalm 16 and 132, and finally gave proof of His Lordship (vs.23-36). In these closing verses Peter states that the crucified One is raised from among the dead and seated at the right hand of God, quoting Psalm 110 to substantiate this fact. This is the proof that His Lordship is acknowledged by God and will yet be owned universally (Phil. 2:9-1 I). It is the believer?s privilege as well as responsibility to own this now by life as well as by lip. It is not enough, dear Child of God, to say ?He is Lord?; it must be proved by our lives. The child of God who refuses to obey His Word has no moral right to call Him Lord. ?Why call ye me, Lord. Lord, and do not the things I say?? (Luke 6:46).

That all the world assuredly know, Both Christ and Lord is He;

The Crucified, exalted high, At God?s right hand we see.?

 

THE PRESENT SUSTAINER ACTS 7:55-56

 

It has well been said in this passage that we see the Lord standing to welcome Stephen, the first martyr of the church.

 

What a comfort it must have been to Stephen to have a sight of the Lord standing at the right hand of God! In verse 56, Stephen uses the title ?the Son of Man? to bring home conviction to his hearers, but in verse 55 the name Jesus is used to indicate the One Who was despised and treated shamefully. Stephen was sustained and comforted by the sight of the One Who had gone that way before him. All the scorn and ridicule, all the shameful treatment, all the pain, yea and so much more, had been experienced by the risen Lord.

 

There is One at the right hand of God Who is able to sustain in every circumstance of life. He sees every tear, knows every pain, understands every heartache, for ?He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities,? and ?He is able to succour them that are tempted? (Heb. 2:18, 4:15). What a comfort to know that there is One we can go to in every circumstance of life. Even when we cannot go to our fellow believers, for they may misunderstand, He never does; they may do nothing to help, He always does; they may not have time to listen, He always has; they may be cold hearted, He never is. Dear fellow believer, there is a Man at the right hand of God Who is our Present Sustainer.

 

?Whatever trials come our way,

However dark the day;

There?s One at God?s right hand above,

Whose heart is filled with love.?

 

THE PERPETUAL INTERCESSOR ROMANS 8:34

 

In Romans 8:34, the Lord Jesus is the intercessor, inverse 26 the Holy Spirit is the intercessor. In keeping with the character of the Epistle we have a court scene in verses 31-39, where questions are asked and answered. In verse 34 the question is that of judicial condemnation. The apostle gives four reasons why the condemnation of believers is impossible.

 

(a) ?It is Christ that died.? The death of Christ forbids forever the condemnation of those who are His. The claims of the Throne of God have been fully met.

(b) ?Yea, rather is risen again.? The resurrection of Christ is the proof of His finished work; because of this the condemnation of believers is impossible (Rom. 4:25, I Cor. 15:17).

(c) ?Who is even at the right hand of God.? The One Who hung upon the cross in shame is seated at the right hand of God proving that Calvary needs no repetition.

(d) ?Who also maketh intercession for us.? His presence at the right hand of God is here linked with His priestly work of intercession. An intercessor is one who represents another thus the risen Lord is the Representative of His own. This intercession is not intermittent, but continual, while His people toil in the tempest of life. Matthew 14:23-24 provides a beautiful picture of this.

 

?No condemnation! now He lives,

 For us to intercede;

At the right hand of God on High,

Our every cause to plead?.

 

THE PRE-EMINENT HEAD EPHESIANS 1:20

 

In Ephesians 1:19-23 the display of the power of God is linked with the resurrection of Christ. The Apostle states that the risen Lord, now at the right hand of God, is far above every form of government and rule, far above every position and rank, and far above every name in the universe. The risen head of the church is absolutely pre-eminent, with all things under His feet. Although this pre-eminence of Christ is not yet displayed it is nevertheless true and will be fully demonstrated in a coming day. The emphasis in Ephesians is upon what the church is to Christ. The church is the ?fullness of Him.? The church is essential to Christ; this staggers the mind. It should also captivate the heart when we appreciate that through grace and on the ground of precious blood shed, we who were guilty sinners have been brought into such a relationship.

Dear fellow believers, if such a relationship is ours, surely we ought to order our lives in keeping with that relationship and show our allegiance to the Pre-eminent Head in every department of our lives.

 

?Raised from the dead the Saviour see, At God?s right hand His place;

Far above all, supreme is He, His majesty we trace.?

 

THE POWERFUL ATTRACTION COLOSSIANS 3:1

 

In the closing verse of Colossians 2 the apostle shows that the believer has died with Christ and therefore by death has been cut off forever from the world. Not only is this true but In chapter 3 the believer has been raised with Christ and thus, though still on earth, brought into a new sphere of heavenly life. The full import of these verses is that the child of God should now have his heart in Heaven where Christ is. As an exile longing for home - as a compass needle drawn to the true north, so the believer should live under the attracting power of heavenly things. The powerful attraction for the believer is the Person at the right hand of God.

 

The apostle states in verse 4 that the life of the believer is a Person - Christ. He is not only essential for our salvation but also for our happiness, and for a life of holiness. In the Increasing knowledge of the risen, ascended Christ is the power for victory. The Christian life is not governed by negative terms but in occupation with Christ. For the child of God, Christ is everything. Only occupation with Him will ensure a victorious Christian life. However we remind our hearts, that we cannot be occupied with Christ and practice sin. We cannot be attracted to Him without Christ like features being developed in our lives. We cannot have an increasing intimacy with Christ and vet be marked by disobedience.

 

?Lord Jesus, Thine;

No more this heart of mine

Shall seek its joy apart from Thee;

The world is crucified to me.

And I am Thine.?

The Ascension of Christ

At The Right Hand of God

  

THE PRECIOUS SIN PURGER - HEBREWS 1:3

 

There is no doubt that Hebrews 1 is one of the great chapters in the New Testament. Christ is revealed in the excellency of His revelation, His sovereignty as Heir, His ability as Creator, His majesty as the Brightness of God?s glory, the excellency of His Person as the Express Image, His sufficiency as the Upholder of all things, and the excellency of His work at Calvary (vs. 1-3). In verse 3, the Son, having sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, is linked with the work He accomplished at Calvary.

 

This work of purgation was accomplished by Him personally - ?by Himself?, no other could have accomplished this work. Secondly, the work of purgation was carried out perfectly - He, who knew every claim of the throne of God against sin, met every claim at Calvary. Thirdly, the work of purgation was accomplished permanently - ?He sat down?. Never has the work to be repeated, for it is eternal in its value. The proof of this is that the Lord Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God. In His ascension, the Lord Jesus passed through the heavens (Heb. 4:14) and is now far above all heavens (Ep. 4:10) so that He is now higher than the heavens (Heb. 7:26). The place signified in Hebrews 1:3 is the place of supremacy. Surely then, as we recall all that He endured for us, we bow in adoration; as we appreciate where He now sits, we respond to all His claims upon us.

 

We thank Thee for the blood,

The blood of Christ, Thy Son,

The blood by which our peace is made,

Our victory is won:

Great victory o?er Hell and sin and woe,

That needs no second fight and leaves no second foe.

 

THE PROSPECTIVE VICTOR - HEBREWS 1:13

 

In this wonderful chapter. God speaks in Son (vs.l,2) about His Son (vs.3,4), for His Son (vs.5-7) and to His Son (vs.8-14). In the closing section we see that the Son is Lord in His Deity - ?Thy throne 0 God? (v.8); Lord in supremacy

?above Thy fellows? (v.9); Lord creatorally - ?the work of Thine hand? (v.10); Lord eternally ?Thou remainest? (v.11); Lord inherently - ?Thou art the same? (v.12) and Lord in authority - ?Thine enemies Thy footstool? (v.13). The One who sits at the right hand of God is the one whose virtues never vary, whose character never changes, whose ability never abates, whose faithfulness never fails, whose perfections never perish and whose dominion will never diminish.

He is seated at the right hand of God only until His enemies are all subdued. He is the prospective Victor- He will one day return to this stricken, rebellious earth as King of kings and Lord of lords to smash all opposition to His rule (Rev.9:l1-21). Then shall His enemies be made His footstool; then He shall reign in righteousness (Isa. 32:1). The ultimate will be the subjugation of all things (Phil. 2:9-II) and nothing can prevent this. However, at present He is still held in reproach in this world. True, we shall yet reign with Him, but remember, dear fellow believer, that it is our responsibility now to share His reproach (Heb. 13:13). Shame on us if we refuse to do so!

 

Jesus died, and then arose;

Yes, He rose,

He lives to reign,

He will vanquish all His foes

When to earth He comes again;

His the triumph and the crown,

His the glory and renown.

 

THE PERMANENT HIGH PRIEST - HEBREWS 8:1

 

This statement in Hebrews 8:1 is the climax of all that has gone before in the epistle. Two statements characterize the whole epistle - ?Thou art My Son? (ch. 1:5) and ?Thou art a Priest forever? (ch. 5:6; 7:21). The eternal Son, who stepped into this scene and went to Calvary, is now in Heaven as a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. His deity and supremacy are unfolded in chapter one; His incarnation and humanity in chapter two. As the Apostle and High Priest of our profession He is greater than Moses, the earthly mediator (ch.3), and greater than Joshua, the earthly rest-giver (ch. 4). The statement, ?Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec? in chapter five is developed in chapter seven where we see that now there is a superior priesthood (vs. 1-10), a spiritual priesthood (vs. 11-19), a stable priesthood (vs. 20-25), and a suitable priesthood (vs. 26-28). This brings us to Hebrews 8:1 where we reach the climax and find our High Priest seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. Thus we see that it is in the heavens our blessed Lord exercises His priestly office and since He ever liveth, in the power of an endless life, that exercise will never cease. What a comfort to know that now there is One who is able to succour us, who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, and who is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him. (Heb. 2:17,18; 4:15,16; and 7:24,25).

 

With joy we meditate the grace

Of our High Priest above;

His heart o?erflows with tenderness,

His very Name is love.

Touched with a sympathy within,

He knows our feeble frame;

He knows what sore temptations are,

For He endured the same.

 

THE PERFECTER OF THOSE SANCTIFIED -HEBREWS 10:12.

 

Verse 12 is found in a section that begins at v.5 and ends at v.18.    First of all, we have the contrast between the oft repeated sacrifices of a past economy and the work of Christ, then the application of that finished work to the people of God today. The believer?s sanctification here is positional, rather than practical. As to his standing, the believer is set apart to God as a result of the work of Christ. We see that the sacrifice of Christ is perfect and has eternal efficacy. Because of this perfection, believers have an unassailable position and are accepted in all the value of that work.

 

We judge that the introduction here of Christ at the right hand of God is to show the completeness and finality of His work in relation to His people. We stress that the perfection is positional and will be fully realized at the coming of Christ. However, we should seek to live in the light of this glorious truth to live experimentally as those who a rest apart to and for God. Sin in any form should be a grief to the child of God and he is expected to judge self in the light of the divine holiness. Dear fellow believer let us ever seek to live a sanctified life.

 

We see the Lord now seated

Above at God?s right hand:

His glorious work completed,

And on this ground we stand,

Now perfected forever,

Thy people all are blest

No foe from Thee can sever,

In this, Thine own can rest.

 

THE PRINCE OR PATTERN OF FAITH - HEBREWS 12:2

 

In chapter 11 the writer has given a great cloud of witnesses who testify, that in every possible circumstance and under every kind of suffering, it is possible to live a life of faith. In the light of this, we, who are the people of God in this dispensation, are called to run the race with patience, remembering the testimony of those who are gone before. However, the saints brought before us in chapter eleven, whatever their achievements, are not to be the object on which we are to fix our gaze. There is One alone who is to fill our vision, the Lord Himself who is ?the Author and Finisher of faith? (ch. 12:2, ~our? is not in the original). Many lived by faith, but He alone had perfect faith. He, in the preeminence of His faith surpasses all the examples in chapter eleven. Indeed, the great cloud of witnesses recedes into insignificance as we fix our attention on the perfect Pattern of faith. W.E. Vine states, ?As the Author and Finisher (perfecter) of faith, He is the perfect example of it for in the days of His flesh He trod undeviatingly the path of faith and brought it to a perfect end in His own Person.? The Lord Jesus could truly say, ?I have trusted in the Lord? (Psalm 26:1) and ?In Thee do I put My trust... I have set the Lord always before Me? (Psalm 11:1,8).

 

Now, the One who manifested perfect faith is seated at the right hand of God. He is the Leader of all who tread the path of faith and we are to fix our gaze on Him. The legitimate things of life that would hinder us in the race are to be cast aside as well as the sin that can so easily beset us. With One Person filling our vision we are to pursue patiently the course set before us. Only as we look away unto Jesus will our attention be diverted from the circumstances that surround us. Only by looking away to that lovely Man at God?s right hand will we be sustained and strengthened for the race.

 

Looking off unto Jesus, I go not astray;

My eyes are on Him, and He shows me the way;

The path may seem dark, as He leads me along;

But following Jesus, I cannot go wrong.

 

THE POTENTATE SUPREME - I PETER 3:22

 

It is important to appreciate the background of this passage to understand why Christ is presented as being at the right hand of God. The Old Testament prophecies had taught these Jewish believers that Christ would come to reign on the earth, making the throne of David supreme. In that day Israel would be the chief nation with the Gentiles subjugated. They now believed that Christ had come, but had been rejected and their testimony to Him had also been rejected and Gentiles, far from being subjugated, were their persecutors, as well as unbelieving Jews. This passage explains why Christ is absent from the earth and what His absence involved. Christ has been rejected and the saint on earth, during His absence shares in His rejection and suffers for righteousness sake. In order to comfort these persecuted saints, the apostle directs their attention to One who had suffered but is now at the right hand of God. He is there as the Potentate Supreme - angels, authorities, and powers are all subject to Him.

 

Since He now reigns from His Father?s throne, nothing can prevent Him sitting on the throne of David, but the time for that has not yet come. The day will dawn when the Gentiles will be subjugated and Israel will become the head of the nations, but in the meantime the Lord is absent from the earth. Though absent, He is still the Potentate Supreme seated at the right hand of God.

Dear child of God, as we suffer for righteousness?sake in a world filled with unrighteousness and corruption, let us remember that our blesed Lord who suffered as no other would ever suffer in this scene is now at the right hand of God. This fact will strengthen and comfort us in the midst of persecution. The time will come when all the persecution will be over and we shall share with our blessed Lord His glorious reign.

 

Far above all, far above all,

God has exalted Him far above all;

Thrones and dominions before Him shall fall,

Jesus my Saviour, is far above all.