Sermon on Sitting at the Right Hand of the Father
Text: Q&A 50-52
Theme: Christ rules now in heaven.
Goal: to encourage believers that Christ’s rule will continue until he judges all things.
Need: We often wonder if there is any ruling or any final justice in the world.
Text: Ephesians 4:1-17
1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Do you feel like you have enemies? I don’t really think I do. Kind of strange, but I haven’t ever sensed that there are people specifically against me. Perhaps we can go deep down onto a spiritual warfare sort of level and say, Yes for sure we have enemies. We have the devil as the great enemy. We have his demons who busy trying to lead us astray. There are definitely spiritual forces at work against us.
Perhaps as Christians in general we can see that we are under attack. Certainly the values that we held close have been ridiculed. Perhaps one of the most startling things for me today is the reaction that the government is getting for its stance against abortions. I can’t believe the hateful words that are slung against people who stand up for the rights of unborn children.
I read it on the CTV webpage just the other day. They are two faced. They are standing in the way of basic human rights. Apparently groups that are pro abortion think it’s the thinking of a simple minded religious right that believes life before birth is still special. I feel a little bit attacked. Or when others of the science world accuse Christians of not using their brain. I feel attacked.
Perhaps we need to look a little deeper than the writers of catechism did to find enemies. Afterall, in the days of our buddies, Ursinus and Oleveanus, people were being killed left and right for not conforming to the Roman Catholic theologies. The certainly knew injustice and what it was like to have enemies.
But no matter what enemies lie in waiting for us. As the stock markets waver and faith seems more steady than money, we may experience more attacks. As our culture becomes more pluralistic and diverse, we may sense that others are turning into enemies of the kingdom work that needs to be done.
But no matter what happens, our world belongs with Jesus Christ. No matter how unjust or how wicked or how much it seems to belong to the enemy. Jesus Christ sits is the man at the right hand of the Father. And he will come as the judge to make things right again.
We are coming up this week on a very special day. Ascension day. The day that commemorates Christ’s ascent from earth into heaven. We heard from Pastor Jake last week why is so important for us and comforting for us know that Christ has ascended into heaven. He is their pleading our cause before God. He is showing that humans like Christ will surely ascend into heaven. And it shows that Christ has sent the Holy Spirit who further guarantees us that we belong to God.
But tonight we are going to move along further in the apostles creed and the teach that we find from the Heidelberg Catechism. The next part of the creed now we are on the exultation side of Christ’s life. It says, on the third day he rose again from the dead, he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there he will com to judge the living and the dead.
The first question and answer we are looking at tonight is Q&A 50. It says, “why the next words: And is seated at the right hand of God?” The answer, “ Christ ascended to heaven, there to show that he is head of his church, and that the Father rules all things through him.”
The catechism is all about comfort. Our comfort is that in the ascencion into heaven he is still busy doing his work. The gospels might have told us all about the earthly work of Christ. But we don’t get much of an idea of what Christ is doing after his ascension. We can’t turn to second Matthew and find out what happened to Jesus after he went into heaven. But we do know that he has ascended into heaven to be in a position of authority.
The Psalms talk about it many times as it prefigures Christ. In Psalm 8 it talks about putting everything under the feet of human beings. But the only who truly experienced this power was Christ. In Ephesians it tells us that his power and authority is one that is first of all over the church. Ephesians four talks the unity of the church being through having one head and one God and father. In verses 11-13 shows that Jesus has supreme power of the church especially. It says, 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
In some ways we do have a book that is about Christ’s life after the ascension. It is the second book that Luke wrote. It’s the book of Acts. The acts of the apostles. If you want to see what Christ is up to after his time in the world, you have to look at what the Holy Spirit is up to. He is giving each one of us gifts. He is moving us out into different areas of service. Jesus Christ is using believers of all kinds to spread the gospel message in a world that is increasingly displeased with the Chruch and its mission.
Jesus is at the right hand of God. He’s in the positon of authority and power. He is not eating grapes off a vine on some oversized throne. He is ruling, guiding, and encouraging the church to usher in his kingdom.
That naturally leads the catechism to ask the next question that we have already moved into. Q&A 51 says, “How does this glory of Christ our head benefit us? The answer: First, through his Holy Spirit he pours out his gifts from heaven upon ushis members. Second, by his power he defends us and keeps us safe from all enemies.
Christ ruling makes it so that we do have the Holy Spirit. It makes it so that we can understand his word. He makes it so we can live by the fruit of the Spirit. He makes it so that we all have spiritual gifts for the building up of the church. Its all a part of the ruling power of Jesus Christ, the supreme right hand man of God.
The last question and answer that we are looking at today is about the next line of the apostle’s creed. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
It is a little bit of a scary thought. Jesus will come again. And he will judge. But the question that is asked goes like this: How does Christ’s return to judge the living and the dead comfort you? A: 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 the glory of heaven.
Is it possible in your life you can look at see enemies of Christ? Is it possible that you recognize the way they are at work against you? I can’t say that I experience a real direct feeling of spiritual attack from any group or person. Could that be a sign that I’m not out right enough with what I believe? Would a more active faithlife outside the wall of the church generate more enemies?
The assurance that we have all throughout Scripture is what we hear in the apostle’s creed and the confession of faith. Justice will be served once and for all.
If you spend any time reading the book of Revelation, I would recommend you forget about all the ideas of trying predict the end when Jesus is going to come again. Instead when you read the book of Revelation have the truth in mind that Jesus was really trying to bring across. When the end is near, it will feel like justice has been completely forgotten. It will feel like even though Christ is sitting at the right hand of God the ones who do wrong will have their way. As we approach the final judgement it will seem like God has forgotten his promise to bless those he loves and curse those who do not love him. The world for a time will feel like that.
But all the events of Revelation are pointing to the same enduring truth that we confess in the apostles creed: JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED! Those who belong to Christ will be saved. Those who follow the path of the devil will suffer the unfolding wrath of God.
That’s justice. But what about for our sin. The Catechism reminds us of what we first thought about when we confess that he suffered under Pontius Pilate. Christ has been judged by the court of man to be guilty. He is also judged by God to be guilty as well. All the punishment for our sin has already been placed on Jesus Christ.
This is amazing and powerful. The judge who is going to gracious to us is the one who knows first hand that he has already paid the penalty for us. When he sees us standing before him in the last days, he doesn’t have to think very hard to determine if there is anything left to punish this believer for. All Christ has to do is look down and he will remember that he bore the punishment. There is no double punishment for the same sin. Jesus looks at the remaining nail scars and he pardons us with those very same hands.
So now for us, we hopefully can rest again in that assurance. Remember the Catechism is all about comfort. If we have faith in God, we can have comfort that today Jesus Christ is reigning on high as God’s right hand man. And he will remain their until the day that he justly judges between us, as ones who have been chosen and have surrendered to God, and those who stand as God’s enemies in their refusal to accept Jesus Christ. The innocent, wrongly condemned, we have become the guilty mercifully given life!
Thanks be to Christ.