Welcome to the Cornerstone Baptist church podcast. My name is Justin Wheeler, I am the preaching pastor for Cornerstone and today we are in week 19 of our journey through the Heidelberg Catechism and I will be talking to you today about questions 50 - 52.
This week, we wrap up the section on Jesus Christ and next week we will move on to the Holy Spirit. But we can’t finish up our discussion of Jesus unless we talk about where He is now and when He will return. That’s the focus of the last 3 questions.
Lord’s Day Focus...
Question 50: Why is it added: and sits at the right hand of God?
Answer: Because Christ ascended into heaven for this end, that He might there appear as Head of His church, and that the Father governs all things through Him.
So, last week we talked about Jesus ascending into heaven because He had completed His earthly ministry. When Jesus ascended, He was actually receiving the reward of His completed mission. The Ascension of Christ marks the highest point of the Son of God’s exaltation. As He ascends into Heaven, to the right hand of God, He is entering into the glory that He has earned.
But Heidelberg is asking, but why was it important to point out that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God? Well, for starters this is the language of the New Testament.
Heb 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Notice the progression that we see in this passage. After making purification for sins, He sat down. This shows us that Jesus’ taking His seat by God the Father in Heaven was the restful reward for having done what He was sent to do.
You could think of it in this way; at the end of a long day of work most of us just can’t wait to get back home, to find our favorite chair, and to sit down to rest. When we sit down it is because our work is complete, at least for that day. Sitting down carries with it two ideas, the idea of rest and the idea of completion.
Jesus sat down because He had earned a well-deserved rest, but He also sat down because His work of atonement was finished. All that was necessary for His people to be saved was complete.
But why does He sit at God’s right hand? The right hand was the place of honor and power, which points to the reward Jesus received.
Eph 1:20 When he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
When Jesus took His rightful place at the right hand of the Father, He was taking His place as the Head and ruler of the church, the head and ruler over all creation. Jesus has taken up the position of divine power and authority that is far above any other power or dominion. His name is exalted above every name in the universe and from His position of exaltation He rules and reigns over all.
So, the language of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God is about His authority and rule, which is good news for believers. The one who rules among the stars is also willing to call us brothers and sisters…let’s think about that.
Question 51: How does this glory of Christ our head benefit us?
Answer: First, through His Holy Spirit He pours out His gifts from heaven upon us His members. Second, by His power He defends us and keeps us safe from all enemies.
Now, I’m going to go back to Ephesians here because one of the benefits of Christ ascending into heaven is that He has sent His Spirit into the world to empower Christians for ministry, until He returns. We looked at this concept last week and found that it is actually a good thing that Christ has gone away from us. Jesus said in John 16, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
Then if we can skip over to Ephesians 4 we see what that will mean
Eph 4:10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
What’s the point of this passage? Well, it tells us that we benefit from Christ’s ascension by the fact that the Holy Spirit is with us and the Spirit comes bearing gifts. In fact, every believer in Christ has been gifted in some way, or in several ways, to serve the Lord, the body and the world. In this way, Christ is actually still working in us and protecting us. By His Spirit, He is keeping us safe from all of our enemies.
Question 52: How does Christ’s return to judge the living and the dead comfort you?
Answer: In all my distress and persecution I turn my eyes to the heavens and confidently await as judge the very One who has already stood trial in my place before God and so has removed the whole curse from me. All His enemies and mine He will condemn to everlasting punishment: but me and all His chosen ones He will take along with Him into the joy and glory of heaven.
The return of Christ, the second coming, is one of the most hoped for, longed for and prayed for events for the Christian. The church throughout all the ages has looked at what Scripture teaches on this and have longed to see the day of Christ’s return, the day when the work of redemption will reach its full consummation, the day when the Kingdom of God would be fully and finally established for eternity.
This day will involve numerous key events. First, the word that we see in Scriptures to describe Jesus’ return is the Greek term Parousia which means appearing. Jesus will appear in the clouds and it will be glorious to behold.
1 Thess 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
Why can believers have confidence that we will be caught up together with Jesus? Because we belong to Him. He has purchased us from Satan, death and sin, by His blood when He died on the cross. He promised that He would come again to receive us and that He would be with us forever after that point. So when He comes in the clouds, He is coming to rescue us for good.
But that is not all, His second coming will also mean judgment for His enemies and ours. On this day, final judgment will commence and all those who rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ will face the wrath of God that they rightly deserve.
This may not sound very comforting to you, at least not the part about judgment on sinners. But the return of Christ will usher in the judgment of God upon all the sin and wickedness of unrepentant men, women, and demons.
The longing in our hearts for justice is a longing that God has placed within us and on that final day, true divine justice will be served. It is a comfort to know that one day all the wrongs in the world will be put right. It is a comfort to know that all the evil in the world will be accounted for and dealt with.
It is also comforting to know that for those of us who have come to see our sin and wickedness for what it truly is and have also fled to Jesus for forgiveness and eternal life; we will not face God’s wrath. Jesus has already received the penalty that we deserved. He stood trial in our place so that we could go free. And with Him be taken into the joy and glory of heaven.
Thanks for joining me today as I discuss the Heidelberg Catechism. I hope you’ll join me again next week as we look at Lord’s Day 20 together and discuss question 53.
If you want to learn more about Cornerstone Baptist church, you can find us online at Cornerstonewylie.org. You can follow us on Twitter or Instagram @cbcwylie. You can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/cornerstonewylie. You can also subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or google play to stay up to date on all the new content.
Thanks for listening.