The Work of Christ - Present 1 - Bodily Presence of Christ in Glory

The Work of Christ
by Arno Gaebelein
 

1. The Bodily Presence of Christ in Glory.

Our blessed Lord gave on the cross the body, which He had taken in incarnation. That body died. It was the only part of Him, which could die. But that body so dishonored by man, scourged and nailed to the cross, could not see corruption. He arose from the dead. The mighty power of God opened that grave and raised Him from the dead. This mighty power of God, which brought Him forth is the power which is towards us who believe. It is on our side (Eph. 1:19). And God not alone raised Him from the dead, but He gave Him glory (1 Peter 1:21).

If I were to teach on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, I would demonstrate two things. First, that He actually arose; the indisputable fact, that He who had really died, who was dead bodily, arose bodily, and, in the second place, the all important meaning of His resurrection.

The Apostle Paul writes in that great chapter in First Corinthians, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished" (1 Cor. 15:17-18). In other words, if the Lord Jesus Christ came not forth from the tomb, where His blessed body had been laid and where it rested for three days; if He did not leave that grave in a bodily form, His death on the cross would have no more meaning than the death of any other human being. Then that blood which was shed could never take away our sins and give the guilty conscience rest. Furthermore, the countless beings, who passed out of this life trusting in Christ, would have all perished. But Christ rose from the dead. There can be no doubt about it. The witnesses for it are simply unanswerable.

His Physical Resurrection.

His resurrection from the dead was God's answer to His prayers with strong crying and tears.

"Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplication with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared" (Heb. 5:7).

This took place in Gethsemane. The answer to His prayers and tears came from God on the morning of the first day. His resurrection from the dead was the "Amen" of God to His triumphant shout on the cross, "It is finished." By raising Him from the dead, God set His seal to the work of Christ on the cross. God gave His witness by it that the work, which was demanded by His holiness and righteousness, had been fully accomplished. Guilty man can now be righteously acquitted from his guilt because God's eternal righteousness was upheld and satisfied by His own Son in that He paid the penalty.

Even before God rolled away the stone, He had shown that the work done was pleasing to Him. It seemed as if God could not wait for the third day. His hand took hold of the veil, which hid the Holy of Holies from the eyes of man. He rent that veil from top to bottom. He showed thereby that He, the Holy God, could now come forth in fullest blessing to man, and man bought by such a price, can approach into the presence of God and be at home with Him, a loving Father. Sinners saved by grace can enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way.

And how did He come forth from the grave? It has already been stated. He arose with the body He had taken on in incarnation, the body which could not see corruption. He left the grave in a corporeal form. It was not a phantom, but a tangible body. The nail prints were still seen in His hands and in His feet. The side showed the place where the spear had entered. He appeared in that body in the midst of His disciples and showed unto them His hands and His side. And when at another time they cried out for fear, He said, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39-40). And while they believed not for joy, He proved His corporeality by eating a piece of broiled fish and of a honeycomb. But while it was the same body it was also a glorified body. Such a body, like unto His own glorious body, we shall receive some blessed day in exchange for the body of humiliation; for this redemption of the body we still wait as well as those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

Passing through the Heavens.

In this body He left the earth and passed through the heavens into heaven itself. What a scene that must have been! What must have taken place after He had been lifted up and disappeared out of sight from the gazing disciples! They saw Him as He was lifted up, the same Lord Jesus, until the glory cloud, the Shekinah, took Him up and in that cloud He was taken into the heavens, where the physical eye could not follow. What a triumphant entrance into the heavens it must have been! Perhaps the mighty Archangel accompanied Him, the victor over Sin, Death, the Grave and Satan; for the Archangel will accompany Him some day in His descent out of heaven. The Lord went up with a shout (Psalm 47:5). He will return with the victor's shout. When He comes back, He will be attended by the mighty angels. May not these heavenly hosts have been present as He ascended on high? And as the Man Christ Jesus passed upward through the territory, which is still the domain of Satan, the prince of the power in the air, the wicked tenants of the air fell back in fear and trembling. The glorified Man passed on, upward, higher and higher. Nothing could arrest His progress. The mighty power of God raised Him up. Through the second heaven He passed, where the wonderful stars, the creation of His own power, describe their great orbits around their fiery suns. He is still attended by angels, and the angelic hosts beheld Him, who were also the witnesses of His sufferings, His death and resurrection. At last a place was reached where every angel had to halt. Even the Archangel had to cover His face and cry, "Holy! Holy!" Yonder is the third heaven and there stands the glorious throne of God. The glorified Man advances alone; He ascended on high into the immediate presence of His God and our God, His Father and our Father. The welcoming voice of God Himself bade Him to take His seat on His own right hand until His enemies are made His footstool. What must it have been when the only begotten Son returned to His eternal dwelling place as the First begotten, and God as well as He Himself beheld the host of redeemed sinners brought by Him into that Glory!

The highest place was given to Him, who died on the cross, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named. There He is now the Man in the Glory. Once more let me state it, the Lord Jesus Christ is corporeally present in the highest heaven. Everything depends on this. If His physical resurrection and corporeal presence in the highest heaven is denied, His present work and future work are an impossibility, and we rob ourselves of every comfort joy and peace. Then, too, His atoning work on the cross has no meaning for us.

A Fundamental Truth Denied.

And too often this great truth of the bodily presence of Christ in heaven is denied in these days of departure from the faith. They teach His resurrection was a spiritual one, that He lives only by His words. The denial of the literal resurrection of our blessed Lord and His presence in heaven has become very widespread. Three evil systems especially deny it.

Unitarianism.

As a sect this denomination is small, but the leaven of Unitarianism is leavening Christendom. All this criticism of the Bible, the new theology, a more liberal religion, but all aiming at the essential Deity of our blessed Lord, His incarnation and resurrection from the dead, is the leaven of Unitarianism. At a recent annual service of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association the chairman observed that "earnest and thoughtful men, occupying pulpits once dedicated to the propagation of doctrines strictly orthodox, were now preaching a Gospel, which for liberality and broadmindedness even surpassed the Unitarianism of three or four generations ago."

Christian Science.

This new science is not new, but is the revival, through satanic powers, of ancient Gnosticism, a denial of every article of the faith once and for all delivered unto the saints. Prominent in this system is the denial of the physical resurrection, and the bodily presence of the Lord Jesus in Glory. It is the masterpiece of Satan. Its phenomenal growth attracts to its ranks such of the Christian profession, who were never saved or whose knowledge of the truth of God is insufficient. There will be no abatement of this great delusion. It will continue to grow and become more powerful as the Gospel is denied and God's Word rejected.

Millennial Dawnism.

This is another great and widespread system. In it Satan appears even more so than in Christian Science as an angel of light. It is offered throughout this land as "food for Christians" and goes by the name of "Bible Study." One meets it everywhere. What is it? It is an amalgamation of several of the evil theories concerning the Person of Christ, denying, like Unitarianism and Christian Science, the absolute Deity of our Lord. "Pastor" Russell in his books also denies the physical resurrection of Christ. According to this system the body of our Lord was either dissolved in its natural gases or is preserved as a memorial somewhere. This, of course, means the denial of His bodily presence in heaven. But think of it! To say that the body of our Lord was dissolved in its natural gases, when the Word so clearly states "He could not see corruption."