Q28: Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?
A: Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day (1 Cor. 5:4), in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Mk. 16:19), and in coming to judge the world at the last day (Acts 17:31).
I. Christ’s exaltation speaks to the high dignity and glory He was rewarded with for suffering unto death.
A. “Exaltation” means to raise on high, to praise or glorify.
B. Jesus prayed to the Father that He would glorify the Son with the glory that He had with Him before the world was (Jn. 17:5).
1. Four steps in Christ’s exaltation: resurrection, ascension, session, judgment.
II. Christ was exalted in His resurrection.
A. Resurrection is essential doctrine (1 Cor. 15:13-19).
1. Tied historically to the gospel message.
2. Active obedience negated if believer remains in the grave.
B. Resurrection proves that justice was satisfied and the Devil’s power of death conquered (Rom. 4:25; 8:34; Heb. 2:14).
1. Christ is declared (i.e., “constituted”) to be the Son of God (Rom. 1:4); the Father vindicated Him, proving that all He said and did was true.
C. Resurrection was by Jesus’ own power (Jn. 10:17-18).
1. Raised in the same body without seeing corruption (Lk. 24:39; Acts 2:24, 27).
III. Christ is exalted in His ascension.
A. He arose in our nature (Acts 1:9-11; 3:21), as our forerunner (Heb. 6:20).
1. “Cloud” is Christ’s royal chariot to carry Him to His palace. God descended in a cloud to Moses (Ex. 34:5); the Lord “rides” on a cloud (Isa. 19:1).
B. He triumphed over enemies, disarming them (Col. 2:15), and gave gifts to men (Eph. 4:8-12).
1. Conquering Roman generals would ride into cities on their victory chariots, leading their fettered captives with chains, and would distribute gifts to their subjects and soldiers.
2. Christ conquered the principalities and powers in His resurrection by taking away their ground of accusation (God’s broken law), disarming them of their power to hold men under the fear of death (Matt. 12:29; Heb. 2:15; Rev. 12:10), and gave gifts of ministry to the church.
3. Christ prepared a place for His people (Jn. 14:1-3).
IV. Christ is exalted by sitting at the right hand of God: heavenly session.
A. Seated at the right hand of the Father presents Jesus as the God-man, exalted to supreme and universal glory and power (Heb. 1:3-4; Eph. 1:19-23; Phil 2:9-11).
1. He has the name above every other name because He arose as the God-man and not just God. God conferred on Him this name, one of equality with the Father and Holy Spirit.
a. “Right hand” denotes: honor (2 Ki. 2:19; Heb. 1:13); power and sovereignty (Heb. 2:7-8; 1 Pet. 1:22).
B. Seated at the right hand Christ intercedes (Rom. 8:34) for His people by appearing in our nature before the Father (Heb. 9:12, 24) in the merit of His sacrifice (Heb.1:3).
1. Christ intercedes (Rom. 8:34); defends His church and subdues all enemies (Heb. 10:12-13; 1 Cor. 15:25), and dispenses grace (Acts 5:31).
V. Christ is exalted by His coming again to judge.
A. Jesus shall return in great power and glory (Matt. 24:30; 25:31; Lk. 9:26).
1. His return date is not known by anybody (Matt. 24:36).
a. The Second Coming will be sudden, like a “thief in the night” (Matt. 24:44; 1 Thess. 5:2-3; 2 Pet. 3:10).
b. The “signs” are only indicative of the certainty of Christ’s Second Coming to judge, and are not to provide a timeframe (cf. Matt. 24:6, 8).
2. His return: announced and visible (Matt. 24:27; Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16).
B. Jesus shall effect a general resurrection (Matt. 25:33; Jn. 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; 1 Thess. 4:15-17).
1. The believer shall be raised and changed (1 Cor. 15:51-53) into a spiritual and incorruptible body (1 Cor. 15:42-44; Phil. 3:21), and judged for rewards.
C. Jesus shall judge in righteousness (Acts 17:31).
1. Parties judged: angels (2 Pet. 2:4-6); men (Matt. 25:41-46; 2 Thess.1:8-9).
2. Things judged for: works (Ecc. 12:14); words (Matt. 12:36); thoughts (Rom. 2:16; 1 Cor. 4:5).
3. Elements of the judgment: universal (Rom. 2:12); righteous (Acts 17:31; Lk. 12:47-48); final (Matt. 25:46; Jude 13; Rev. 20:10); awful (Matt. 24:29).
a. Symbolism: fire and darkness (Jude 7, 13); weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:12; 25:30); destruction (1 Thess. 5:3; 2 Thess. 1:7-9); torment (Lk. 16:23; Rev. 20:10); inner anguish and external pain (“worm…fire” [Mk. 9:46]). [See Q84]
4. Goal: glory of God’s justice and mercy (2 Thess. 1:8-9; Rom. 9:22-23).
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. Christ Jesus, the God-man, is the exalted King of glory.
B. Use, of testing.
1. Do we really believe that the great King is reigning now over all things for our good? Then why do we fret over the cares of this world?
2. Do we really believe that the great King is watching our every action and thought? Then why do we sin?
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. Labor to get a firm persuasion of this great and awful truth by pondering frequently this terrible judgment, and trembling at such thoughts. Cast yourself at the feet of the King’s throne, humbled in sackcloth and ashes, begging pardon for the divine law transgressed and penalty deserved. He promises to extend His scepter (Est. 8:45; cf. Jn. 6:37), and accept all who repent and trust in Him.
2. Saints. Set your heart where Christ is (Col. 3:1-2). In your sufferings consider on earth He was crucified, yet crowned in Heaven. Trust, draw near, and serve Him with fear. Persevere under trial, whatever injustice you get from men; after they will have righteous judgment from God. Ponder the awful Day of Judgment as an effective restraint of sin. Consider your bold approach (Heb. 4:16), that no charge can be brought against you (Rom. 8:33), and that the resurrection teaches us to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).