Calvary Road Baptist Church

“CHRIST IN HIS PRESENT SESSION: ITS CONDUCT”

 

 

Notice the list below, where I have placed an almost complete list of passages, two from the Hebrew scriptures and the rest from the New Testament, showing where the Lord Jesus Christ is during His present session. He is in heaven.

Many evangelicals these days will tell you that “Jesus is everywhere,” when you ask them where He is. However, if God goes to the trouble of pointing out in twenty-five separate passages that Jesus is in heaven, seated at His right hand, you might think that fact is of profound importance to God, and perhaps to you. Why, then, when the Bible emphasizes so very strongly that Jesus is seated at God’s right hand on high, do so many people these days make such a big deal of something that is nowhere mentioned in the Bible, asking Jesus into your heart? My friend, there is not the slightest intimation in the Bible that a sinner is saved by asking Jesus into his heart, despite so many people wrongly thinking so.

You might ask me, “Pastor, did not the Apostle Paul write ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory?’” To which I would answer, Yes, he most certainly did, just a few verses before he wrote, “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”[1] Understand that Jesus does dwell in the heart of each believer, but He does so through His representative, the Holy Spirit, who indwells every child of God.

Confusion about the Lord Jesus Christ’s place beside His Father in heaven during His present session originated with Roman Catholicism’s complete misunderstanding of the doctrine of justification, that outside of the believer transaction whereby the sinner’s faith in Jesus Christ is counted for righteousness. Rome has never advocated justification by faith alone, therefore Rome has always been confused about Christ’s present session. Their wicked confusion is seen every time they offer the sacrifice of the Mass, which they describe as the unbloody sacrifice of Christ, even though the Bible teaches that without the shedding of blood there is no remission, and even though the Bible teaches that Christ’s once for all time sacrifice of Himself was a sufficient offering for sins.[2]

What may surprise you is the inroad into this departure from Bible truth that was made through the error of Martin Luther in connection with the observance of the Lord’s Supper. You remember that he had been an Augustinian monk in the Roman Catholic Church at the time of his glorious conversion. What you may not realize is that despite being a towering figure with respect to the Bible doctrine of justification by faith, Luther was not able to entirely rid himself of some of his erroneous Roman Catholic beliefs and practices. Though he did not cling to the erroneous Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, the notion that the bread and wine of communion are miraculously turned into the real body and real blood of Christ, he did teach that the body and blood of the Lord is present “in, with and under” the actual bread and wine.[3] Of course, such a position is clearly a compromise and unscriptural, and it unfortunately opened the door to another error, the error of ubiquity.

Ubiquity is the doctrine that Christ in His human nature is present everywhere. Lutherans appeal to the doctrine of the ubiquity of Christ to support their belief that Christ is physically present in the bread and wine during communion, in contrast to the scriptural reality that the physical Jesus is localized at the right hand of the Father in heaven and therefore cannot be present in the bread and wine.[4]

Guess what? If the Lutherans are wrong about Jesus being physically present in the bread and wine at the communion of the Lord’s Supper because He is clearly in heaven at the Father’s right hand, then how can Jesus come into the sinner’s heart to save him? The fact of the matter is that Jesus cannot and Jesus does not. Justification by faith in Christ is not an inside of you work by which something is done to you to save you, but is rather an outside of you work whereby something is done for you to save you.

What does all this mean? It means several things: First, the Lord Jesus Christ really is both God and Man, and in His glorified human body He is presently seated in heaven at His Father’s right hand. There are too many passages attesting to this fact for anyone to credibly dispute it. Second, Jesus does not save sinners by leaving His Father’s right hand and coming down to earth to enter the repentant sinner’s heart. Not only is this not possible, this is not necessary, since justification is an outside of the sinner transaction whereby something beneficial is done for the sinner, not to the sinner. Furthermore, the entire transaction whereby a sinner is justified through faith in Christ is done while Jesus sits beside His Father on high.

Of course, no one is saved by asking Jesus into his heart. Can you imagine Simon Peter asking Jesus, as they stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, if He would come into his heart? Of course, not. The idea is preposterous, and only accepted as valid by so many people because they are Biblically illiterate and because they have heard the error so often they have become accustomed to it. However, repetition does not make any error into the truth.

This leaves us with a large question: Knowing that Jesus is not now traveling back and forth between heaven and earth busily entering the hearts of those who ask Him, but that He saves sinners from where He sits, at a distance, what else does Jesus do? Specifically, what does Jesus do for His Own during His session in heaven? We know He saves sinners who come to Him by faith. However, Christian, what does Jesus do in heaven for you?

This morning’s sermon will answer the question, What is Jesus doing for His Own in heaven?

 

SERMON:

 

It is inconceivable that our Savior’s mind is not attentive to our needs and concerns from His place in heaven. After all, it was His concern for us that prompted Him to ascend to heaven, so He could give to us Another Comforter, the precious Holy Spirit.

I get ahead of myself. Let me briefly introduce you to seven aspects of our Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry in heaven, on our behalf, during His present session, to answer the question, What is Jesus doing for us now?[5]

 

First, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST EXERCISES UNIVERSAL AUTHORITY

 

In the light of scriptural evidence that the Son is equal in His Person with the Father, it is difficult to understand how authority could be committed to the Son which was not properly His in His own right. Nevertheless, it is certain that “all power” is given unto Christ, Matthew 28.18. That authority, while it was used in the beginning for the creation of all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, including thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, is now exercised to the end that all things are sustained, Colossians 1.16-17.

That Jesus is raised far above all others, Ephesians 1.20-21, suggests that He is also over them in complete authority. Thus, in a similar way, it is written that the Father hath put all things under the feet of His Son, excepting of course Himself, First Corinthians 15.27. His authority will also be exercised in the coming kingdom age to the end that all rule, authority, power, and every enemy, even death, shall be subdued, First Corinthians 15.24-28.

It is, therefore, essential that when drawing a picture of the exalted Christ and in contemplating His Person and present activity, He should be seen as the One who, under the Father, is above and over all things in the universe in the sense that they owe their very existence to Him, are held together by Him, and are governed by Him.

 

Next, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE HEAD OVER ALL THINGS TO THE CHURCH

 

Prophecies reveal that Christ will reign as King over Israel and the nations at that time when He returns to the earth in power and great glory. However, in this present age Christ is, through the same exaltation by the Father which placed Him above all others, made to be Head over all things to the church, which is His body, Colossians 1.18.

That it is termed the church, which is His body, differentiates the church of Jesus Christ from every other assemblage of people. His headship is organic and real. And it is with respect to each Christian’s involvement in his local church that the Head of the church will judge and reward believers at the judgment seat of Christ, First Corinthians 3.8-9: “. . . every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”

The church is integral to the supreme heavenly purpose of Christ. Ephesians 3.21 reveals to us that our Lord’s plan has always been to glorify the Father in the church forever: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

The teaching ministry of Christ illustrates His headship relation to every member of His church. In John 16.13, it is recorded that instruction is given to believers by the indwelling Spirit. The Spirit does not originate the message which He imparts, but rather speaks to the believer through the gospel minister. The One to whom the Spirit listens and whose message the Spirit transmits through the Spirit-filled man of God is none other than the enthroned Savior, Who stated “I have yet many things to say unto you.” It is thus the wonderful privilege of each member of the church of Jesus Christ to receive instruction and comfort from our exalted Head up in glory.

 

Third, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE BESTOWER OF GIFTS

 

According to the New Testament, a gift is a divine enablement given to the believer by the Spirit who indwells him. It is the Spirit working in the Christian to accomplish certain divine purposes and using the one he indwells to that end. It is in no sense a human undertaking aided by the Spirit. Though certain general gifts are mentioned in the Bible (Romans 12.3-8; First Corinthians 12.4-11), the possible variety is unlimited since no two lives are lived under exactly the same conditions. However, to each believer some gift is given for service to the cause of Christ through his church.

In like manner, certain men who are called His “gifts unto men” are provided and placed in the local congregation for service by the ascended Christ, Ephesians 4.7-11:

 

7      But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

8      Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

9      (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

10     He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

11     And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

 

The bestowing of these gifts, gifts who are gifted men, is but another instance in which the personal and individual supervision of our exalted Christ over each of our members in this body is shown. Each member is appointed to the exercise of some spiritual gift, “dividing to every man severally as he will,” First Corinthians 12.11. Those gifted members are then trained to properly use their gifts by the gifted men given to the congregation by the Head, the exalted Jesus Christ.

 

Fourth, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS OUR INTERCESSOR

 

This ministry of prayer began before He left the earth, John 17.1-26, is carried on for the saved rather than the unsaved, John 17.9, and will be continued in heaven as long as His own are in the world, John 17.20. As Intercessor, His work has to do with the weakness, the helplessness, and the immaturity of those of us who are believers still here on the earth — things over which we have no control.

Our Lord knows our limitations, and also knows the power and strategy of the enemy with whom we have to contend. He has become unto us the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. The priestly intercession of Christ is not only effective, but is also unending. The priests of olden times failed partly because they died. However, Christ, because He ever liveth, has an unchanging priesthood: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” Hebrews 7.25.

Young David recognized the same divine shepherding care and its guarantee of eternal safety, when he wrote, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want,” in Psalm 23.1. As well, one of the four reasons assigned in Romans 8.34 for the believer’s safekeeping is that Christ now “maketh intercession for us.” The effectiveness of the intercession of Christ in the preservation of each believer is declared to be absolute. As quoted a moment ago, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost,” that is, to save and keep saved forever those of us who come unto God by Him, and this on the ground of His ministry of intercession in heaven.

 

Fifth, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS OUR ADVOCATE

 

Every child of God is guilty of actual sins which would separate us from God were it not for our Advocate, Jesus Christ, and what He accomplished in His death. The effect of our sins upon ourselves is that we lose our sense of communion with God, our joy, our peace of mind and heart, and our spiritual power. However, these experiences are restored in infinite grace on the sole ground that we address the matter of our sins in a scriptural way, Psalm 119.9: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”

However, it is still more important to consider the Christian’s sin in relation to the holy character of God. Through the present priestly advocacy of our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, there is absolute safety and security for every child of the Father, even while we are sinning. How can this be? An advocate is someone who espouses and pleads the cause of another in the open courts. As Advocate, therefore, Christ is now appearing in heaven for His own, Hebrews 9.24, when we sin.

First John 2.1 reads, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” His pleading is said to be with the Father, and Satan is there also, ceasing not to accuse the brethren night and day before God, Revelation 12.10.

To a Christian, a sin may seem insignificant; but a holy God can never treat it lightly. It may be a secret sin on earth, but it is open scandal in heaven. The Psalmist wrote: “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance,” Psalm 90.8. In marvelous grace and without waiting for a request from any man, our Advocate pleads the cause of the guilty child of God. What our Advocate does in securing our safety in this way is so compatible with the infinite justice of Christ, that He is mentioned in this connection as “Jesus Christ the righteous.”

He pleads His own blood and the Father is free to preserve His child against every accusation from Satan or men, and from the very judgments which sin would otherwise impose, since Christ through His shed blood became “the propitiation for our sins,” First John 2.2.

The truth concerning the priestly ministry of Christ in heaven does not make it easy for the Christian to sin. On the contrary, these very things are written that we not sin as much, First John 2.1, for no one can sin carelessly who considers the necessary pleading which his sin imposes upon our blessed Savior.

 

Sixth, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST THE BUILDER

 

One passage of great significance bears upon Christ’s present undertaking in heaven as a Builder. He said, in John 14.2, “I go to prepare a place for you,” and this in connection with His statement to His disciples that in His Father’s house are many mansions.

Evidently not one of those mansions already built when He said those words was in His estimation suitable for His Bride. Thus, He is preparing a suitable place for His own that will be even more glorious than anything existing in God’s creation when He uttered those words. His building work continues at present.

 

Finally, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST EXPECTING

 

Over and above all the stupendous present ministry of our resurrected and exalted Savior already noted is the attitude which He is said to maintain toward that day when, coming back to the earth, He will defeat all enemies and take His throne to reign. Important, indeed, is the revelation which discloses the fact that Christ is now expectant toward that approaching day when, returning on the clouds of heaven, He will vanquish every foe.

Hebrews 10.13 records His expectation, which reads: “From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” This will be realized in connection with His return to the earth in power and great glory. The oriental imagery of Christ’s enemies being made His footstool is an important one to take note of, bringing to mind the scene of a victorious army with captive prisoners who are thrown down before the king, so that his foot can be placed on the backs of their necks, indicating their total defeat before they are dispatched by means of execution or enslavement.

This is the way it will be for each and every man born of woman. Each sinner can look forward to one of two possible fates. Either he will be enlisted in the army of the great and victorious king, or he will be the vanquished enemy of the conquering king. If he is the one, he celebrates and enjoys the fruits of victory forever. However, if he is the other, if he is the defeated foe, he will mourn his great loss and suffering forever.

 

You see, then, that the Lord Jesus Christ remains continually in heaven until the time of His glorious return, predicted in Revelation chapter 19. Until then, He executes a variety of tasks on behalf of and for the benefit of those who are His by faith, and who love Him and live for Him while they await His return.

Before concluding, let me caution you against the error of supposing that while the exalted Savior is in His present session He is not extremely active in saving the lost, for that is not at all the case. To be sure, seven distinct aspects of His present activity are conducted exclusively for the benefit of Christians, but that does not mean He has abandoned His saving activity.

Keeping in mind that my Lord’s present session began almost 2,000 years ago, you can rest assured that countless millions of poor sinners have been saved during that time by the exalted Savior. How so? By faith, the way sinners have always been saved.

Perplexed? Don’t be. You see, Jesus being in heaven is no impediment to anyone being saved, because no sinner has ever been saved by Jesus coming to Him. Rather, it is the sinner who must come to Jesus to be saved, and this coming to Jesus has always been a faith transaction.

So, where Jesus said, “Come unto me,” understand that He always meant for sinners to come to Him by faith. Therefore, it matters not that He is far removed from you physically, since He is well within the reach of faith.

Are you dead in trespasses and sins? Are you troubled by your estrangement from God? Do you fear God’s wrath poured out on you for your offenses? Then I urge you to come to the Christ seated in heaven, and when you come you must come by faith.

If you will come to Jesus by faith, and faith is the only means that reaches across such a distance, then what Jesus is presently doing on behalf of Christians are things He will do for you.

 

____________________________

 

Some Bible Passages Showing Christ’s Presence In Heaven

 

1.    (Psalm 16.11)  “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

2.    (Psalm 110.1)  “A Psalm of David.  The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

3.    (Matthew 26.64)  “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

4.    (Mark 12.36)  “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

5.    (Mark 14.62)  “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

6.    (Mark 16.19)  “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.”

7.    (Luke 20.42)  “And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand.”

8.    (Luke 22.69)  “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”

9.    (John 3.13)  “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

10. John 14.2-4:  “. . . I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”

11. (Acts 2.33)  “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”

12. (Acts 2.34-35)  “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand. Until I make thy foes thy footstool.”

13. (Acts 7.56)  “And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

14. (Romans 8.34)  “Who is he that condemneth?  It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

15. (Ephesians 1.20)  “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”

16. (Colossians 3.1)  “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”

17. (Second Thessalonians 1.7)  “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.”

18. (Hebrews 1.3)  “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

19. (Hebrews 1.13)  “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?”

20. (Hebrews 8.1)  “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.”

21. (Hebrews 9.24)  “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”

22. (Hebrews 10.12-13)  “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.”

23. (Hebrews 12.2)  “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

24. (1 Peter 3.22)  “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”

25.  (Revelation 19.11)  “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”



[1] Colossians 3.1

[2] Hebrews 9.22 and Hebrews 10.10, 12, 14, 18

[3] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 29.

[4] Ibid., pages 117-118.

[5] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. V, (Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), pages 273-279, used as a resource.



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org