Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Christ's Exaltation and Our Exaltation

Q. 28: Wherein consisteth Christ's exaltation? 
Answer: Christ's exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day. (WSC)

“Therefore God has highly exalted him…” (Phil. 2:9). While the Son had dwelt from eternity in heavenly glory as God, yet for our sake he humbled himself in his incarnation, mortal life, suffering, and death. In this way he purchased redemption for us. As a result, he was highly exalted by the Father and given all authority in heaven and on earth. He had not lost his divine authority, but he received it in his office as the redeemer. Having overcome sin and death, he rose in power and glory.

Notice a subtle change from the last catechism question to this question, from “Wherein did … consist?” to “Wherein consisteth…?” Christ is currently in his estate of exaltation. The catechism notes four parts to his exaltation: (1) his resurrection from the dead on the third day, (2) his ascension into heaven, (3) his session at the right hand of the Father, and (4) his coming to judge the world at the last day.

Christ’s sitting at his Father’s right hand is referred to as his “session,” since that word refers to a council or ruler sitting to conduct their business, as when we say “the court is in session.” Christ sits, not because he is tired, but because he is enthroned and ruling, having completed the work of purchasing redemption.

Consider how in each of these elements of his exaltation, Jesus does the work as our head for our good. His resurrection was for our justification, quickening in grace, and bodily resurrection (Rom. 4:24-25, Eph. 2:5-6, 1 Cor. 15). Jesus ascended into heaven to receive gifts for us, so as to pour out the Holy Spirit upon us (Acts 2:33, Eph. 4:7-11). He also ascended to raise us up with him to the heavenly places, so that at death our souls ascend there to be with him (Eph. 2:6, Phil. 1:23). Jesus is presently enthroned at the right hand of the Father, and from this position of power he gathers and sanctifies his church, subdues its enemies, and equips his ministers and people with gifts and graces (Ps. 110:1, Eph. 1:20-23, 4:10-16). There he also makes continual intercession for us, securing our access to our Father and his acceptance of our persons and services (Rom. 8:34). Jesus shall come again in judgement for the redemption of our bodies from corruption and for our acquittal and vindication. He will come to give us our inheritance and reward in the new heavens and new earth, making us perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul in union with God to all eternity (Rom. 8:23, 1 Cor. 15:22-23, Matt. 25:31-46). Through faith in Christ, these benefits of his exaltation are ours.

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
(Revelation 5:12)

For more on Christ’s estates of humiliation and exaltation, you can read questions 46-56 of the Larger Catechism at this link.

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