Saturday, May 29, 2010

As the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him (1)

For the good of your own soul drink in the deep theology of the Chalcedonian Definition (451 AD):

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood,

truly God and truly man,

consisting also of a reasonable soul and body;

of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead,

and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood;

like us in all respects, apart from sin;

as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages,

but yet as regards his manhood begotten,
for us men and for our salvation,
of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer;

one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten,
recognized in two natures, without confusion,
without change,
without division,
without separation;

the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union,

but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved
and coming together to form one person and subsistence,
not as parted or separated into two persons,

but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ;

even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

As well as contemplating the boundaries of this mystery do note the authoritative source of these truths. And do not overlook the fact that this definition sees the whole Bible as foundational for the doctrine of the person of Christ, and not just the New Testament.

This should not surprise us. Abraham saw his day and rejoiced (John 8:56), Moses wrote of him (John 5:46) and "considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt" (Heb. 10:26), David called him Lord (Psalm 110:1 and Mark 12:35-37), Isaiah saw his glory in the temple and spoke of his sufferings (John 12:41 and Isa. 52:13-53:12), and as Peter explained to Cornelius and his household "To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:43).

But perhaps it does surprise us. We live on the other side of the Enlightenment to the early fathers, medieval scholastics, the reformers and the puritans.

Moreover the patriarchs and the prophets met the Son of God, the chief Actor in the drama of redemption before he entered the stage to play out the climactic scenes that their script was intended to describe.

They gave advanced screenings of those climactic scenes, as Sibbes wrote about the prophecy of Isaiah in The Bruised Reed:
The prophet Isaiah, being lifted up and carried with the prophetical spirit, passes over all the time between him and the appearing of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Seeing with the eye of prophecy, and with the eye of faith, Christ as present, he presents him, in the name of God, to the spiritual eye of others...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The magnificent idea of grace

Pure gold from Geerhardus Vos:
Only when the believer understands how he has to receive and has received everything from the Mediator and how God in no way whatever deals with him except through Christ, only then does a picture of the glorious work that God wrought through Christ emerge in his consciousness and the magnificent idea of grace begin to dominate and form in his life.

For the Reformed, therefore, the entire
ordo salutis, beginning with regeneration as its first stage, is bound to the mystical union with Christ. There is no gift that has not been earned by him. Neither is there a gift that is not bestowed by him and does not elevate God's glory through his bestowal.

Now the basis for this order lies in none other than in the covenant of salvation with Christ. In this covenant those chosen by the Father are given to Christ. In it he became the guarantor so that they would be planted into his body in the thought-world of grace through faith.

As the application of salvation by Christ and by Christ's initiative is a fundamental principle of Reformed theology, this theology has correctly viewed this application as a covenantal requirement which fell to the Mediator and for the fulfilling of which he became the guarantor.

He will shepherd us to glory

The grace of God in Jesus Christ is simply astonishing. Such is his grace that the Father sent the Son to redeem his people. The Son came from the depths of eternity that he might live, die, and rise again to save his people from their sins.

By his Word and Spirit they are drawn to him, believe on and into him, are received by him, will be kept by him, and on the last day will be raised by him to everlasting resurrection life.

These truths are beautifully expressed in Heidelberg Catechism 54:
What do you believe concerning the “holy catholic Church?”

That out of the whole human race, from the beginning to the end of the world, the Son of God, by His Spirit and Word,
gathers, defends, and preserves for Himself unto everlasting life a chosen communion in the unity of the true faith; and that I am and forever shall remain a living member of this communion
How amazing to think that through all the trials of this life, shielded by God's power through faith, the Son of God is shepherding his people to glory. Where would we be if he were not defending and preserving us, watching over and guarding us, and at his Father's right hand continually interceding for us?

This is what the Father sent him to do, this is why he laid down his life, this is the way that he expresses his obedience to his Father's will. He will shepherd us to glory.

Upon this great truth you and I may rest our confidence, for it can never give way, and from this truth we may perpetually draw our comfort, and we will find its strength giving power will never fail.

Even if we may at times find ourselves hanging on by our fingernails, we should remember that "They, whom God has accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved" (WCF 17:I).

Something of the wonder and glory of this was so helpfully put into words by Louis Berkhof:
It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it. He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end.
Perhaps this is a dimension of Christ's priestly work that we think of too little. And yet to know that he loves us so much and cares for us so well is simply beyond comprehension, and words seem so inadequate to express our thankfulness for such a great Saviour.

The Belgic Confession, Article 26, captures something of the wonder of the Christian heart as it contemplates the intercession of Christ:
We believe that we have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor: Jesus Christ the Righteous.

He therefore was made man, uniting together the divine and human natures, so that we human beings might have access to the divine Majesty. Otherwise we would have no access.

But this Mediator, whom the Father has appointed between himself and us, ought not terrify us by his greatness, so that we have to look for another one, according to our fancy. For neither in heaven nor among the creatures on earth is there anyone who loves us more than Jesus Christ does.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Behold the Man!

On the sixth day, before the day of rest, Pilate declared "Behold the man!" (John 19:5)

He spoke better than he knew.

For on that sixth day the last Adam, not the first, crowned with thorns, was about to lift the curse upon creation (Rev. 22:1-3) by himself becoming the substitute, the sin bearer, the one on whom would fall the covenant curses.

He spoke better than he knew.

Only later, as Christ appears before his enemies at the Stone Pavement, would Pilate declare "Behold your King!" (19:14). When he first appeared arrayed in purple, beaten and wearing the crown of thorns, that grotesque parody of his kingship, Pilate proclaimed him as "the man."

This should not surprise us, in John's gospel people often speak better than they know. Witness Nathaniel in 1:49, Caiaphas in 11:45-53, and Mary who supposes that Jesus is "the gardener" in 20:15.

The prophet Zechariah (6:12-13), as he crowned the head of Joshua the high priest, an act laden with prophetic symbolism concerning the Messiah to come, also declared:
Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. It is he who shall build the temple of the LORD and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne.
In John's gospel Jesus is the God-man, the temple, the location of worship, the high priest, the sacrifice, the king whose cross of shame is his glory, who is "lifted up" upon the tree, whose exaltation on the cross opens the way for the nations to stream to himself as the temple of the Lord just as Isaiah had foretold (John 12:32-33, cf. 12:20-21, Isa. 2:1-5).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Prayer of Confession by Richard Baxter

The following helpful prayer of confession was penned by the seventeenth century Puritan Richard Baxter:
O most great, most just and gracious God; you are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; but you have promised mercy through Jesus Christ to all who repent and believe in him.

Therefore we confess that we are sinful by nature and that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.

We have neglected and abused your holy worship and your holy name. We have dealt unjustly and uncharitably with our neighbours. We have not sought first your kingdom and righteousness.

We have not been content with our daily bread.
You have revealed your wonderful love to us in Christ and offered us pardon and salvation in him; but we have turned away.

We have run into temptation; and the sin that we should have hated, we have committed.

Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father! We confess you alone are our hope. Make us your children and give us the Spirit of your Son, our only Saviour. Amen
(HT: Paul Levy)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Abortion, the British Media and the Culture of Death

The Daily Telegraph reports on the first showing of an advertisement for abortion on British television. The advert for the non-profit making Marie Stopes International will be screened during the commercial break of a game show.

Ed West, in the Telegraph, makes the following comments about the culture of death that lies like a shroud across the Western world
How appropriate that Britain's first televised abortion advert...will be broadcast during a game show hosted by Davina McCall which carries the strapline: "Do you want to be given a MILLION pounds on TV?" How wonderfully dystopian, like something from a 1980s satire on jungle capitalism, such as Robocop or The Running Man. Win a fortune! Have an abortion!

And how odd someone awaking from a 30-year coma might find the values of our country, as reflected in television. You can't advertise cigarettes at any time or fatty foods during children's shows, because it might harm the health of children, but you can advertise the killing of unborn children in the middle of a game show. (Likewise you can't smack your kids, according to the European Court, but you can kill them up to birth if they have a hairlip).

Seeking the Spirit's help as we study his words

The opening paragraphs of Dale Ralph Davis' The Word Became Fresh: How to preach from Old Testament narrative texts are enough to stop every preacher dead in his tracks.

Ralph Davis mentions that as he was reading Richard Pratt's He Gave Us Stories, Pratt cited these words from John Owen:
For a man solemnly to undertake the interpretation of any portion of Scripture without invocation of God, to be taught and instructed by his Spirit, is a high provocation of him; nor shall I expect the discovery of truth from any one who thus proudly engages in a work so much above his ability.
And if that were not enough to send you to your work with your complacency shaken, Ralph Davis adds:
We are guilty of arrogance, not merely neglect, when we fail to beg for the Spirit's help in the study of Scripture. We may even have such arrogance even when we seem to be seeking the Spirit's aid--I think of those times when in a light-headed tokenism we utter our slap-happy prayer that the Lord would 'guide and direct us as we study this passage.'

One shudders to think how flippant we are. But how many more times we neglect any overt seeking of the Spirit's help! The pressure is on. The passage must be studied for the sermon or lesson. We pull out our exegetical notes; we grab several of the better commentaries off the shelf; make sure that one Bible dictionary of choice is close at hand.

Deep into our study time the thought occurs to us that we have not looked--nor did we think of looking--to the God who breathed out this Scripture to give us an understanding of the Scripture.

He will likely give that understanding through the tools we use, but when we use tools while neglecting him the tools have become idols.

We may have a high view of the Bible; we may be distraught because large sectors of the church seem to ignore its authority. Yet in our own Scripture work we easily ignore its chief Interpreter.

Professionalism rather than piety drives us. We needn't be surprised at our sterility and poverty if we refuse to be beggars for the Spirit's help.
These words are well worth reading again, and reflecting upon at length, and acting on daily. Who knows, this may be the most important thing that you read today.

The Word Became Fresh is published by Christian Focus. You can find out more about it here

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Zechariah: A book you can't afford to neglect

On Sunday mornings I'm currently preaching my way through the book of Zechariah. This coming Sunday, God willing, we will begin to consider the first oracle in chapter nine. Admittedly, Zechariah may not appear to be an obvious choice for a main expository series.

In fact the very strangeness of the book, with its seemingly oblique night visions, may well prompt us to think that it is going to be difficult to interpret, too demanding to preach in an accessible way, and too complicated to apply. Preachers feel the pressures of congregational needs. Will a series on Zechariah really meet them? Would this not be greeted with some wondering thoughts about its relevance and appropriateness?

There is, however, one substantial deciding factor in assessing the relevance of Zechariah for an expository series. Before you ask whether your congregation will find it relevant, weigh the fact that Jesus did.

Don Carson touches on this point in the second volume of For the Love of God: A daily companion for discovering the treasures of God's Word:
However difficult they may be, chapters 9-14 constitute the Old Testament section most quoted in the passion narratives of the canonical Gospels, and the second most important source (after Ezekiel) for the countless Old Testament allusions in the book of Revelation.
I think that the clear implication of this, that these difficult chapters were so pressingly relevant to the self-consciousness of the Son of God at the very point where his earthly mission reached its climactic crisis, and so deeply instructive for his disciples as their Master's life reached its dénouement, ought to make us realise that this book is overwhelmingly valuable and relevant if we want to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Simple Pastor reviews Risking the Truth

I'm grateful to Phil Whittall, a New Frontiers pastor in Shrewsbury, and proprietor of The Simple Pastor blog, for reviewing Risking the Truth. You can read the review here.

Given that the book is dominated by senior pastors and seminary professors who would self-identify with the historic Reformed and Baptist Confessions it is helpful to have the book reviewed by someone who is not part of that world.

Phil commends some aspects of the collected interviews and expresses some criticisms. I would like to respond to some of those concerns in an irenic spirit as there are one or two matters that I think may require a little clarification. Before doing that let me offer an important caveat for the book, and one that I sometimes make for the blog.

Thinking about the subject of heresy bids us to enter a dark, gloomy, dingy world of sin, pride and folly that has remained uncorrected, and has hardened into soul destroying error. This is the world that Paul describes to Timothy in the following words (1 Timothy 6:3-5):
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
I take no pleasure in this world. I want to be a doctor knowledgeable about diseases not because he has an unhealthy interest in them, but because he loves patients and wants to cure them, to build up their immunity against infections, and to promote the things that will make for health.

Part of the reason for the blog, and the book, is to promote a better understanding of these issues and to promote responsible ways of handling them. In order to do that we have to take error with apostolic seriousness. In some circles there is a lack of seriousness about error, in others this seriousness can tip over into pre-occupation. We have to safeguard ourselves from both of these dangers.

I want to sing in tune with the notes that Paul sounds in Colossians. There is the note of warning as Paul speaks in solemn tones about the subtle errors of the false teachers, and there is the note of adoration as he sings about the supremacy and sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, with regard to Phil's concerns, he says that the "whole tone of the book is somewhat defensive" and that "if this volume is anything to go by" the Reformed revival "is defensive and rather fearful."

The defensiveness is bound up with the nature of the book. I set out to ask questions about the errors that we are facing and how we should respond to them. Defending the faith is commanded in Scripture (Jude 3, 2 Timothy 1:14, Titus 1:9; Rev. 2:2, contrast that with 2:20). So being defensive is not, in and of itself, something negative that we should shy away from or feel bad about. Every day as a parent I protect my children from harm. So, the adjective is appropriate, and to be expected. In fact the apostle Paul uses militaristic language on several occasions to describe the Christian life in general and the work of pastoral ministry in particular.

What about being fearful? I couldn't tell what the adjective was related to. I asked Ligon Duncan about his hopes and fears for the future evangelicalism and confessionally Reformed churches, to which he replied "I do not fear and I am deeply concerned. I do not fear. the Lord will build his church..." He's right. God's truth will triumph.

Phil's other concerns are found in four paragraphs which are below, in blue, with my comments in black.

Here are a few observations from the various interviews, firstly it would be a mistake to view ‘reformed’ as a uniform block. There are narrow, very narrow and extremely narrow views as to who is acceptable and who might be saved. I find myself excluded by many.

"Reformed" is a definable label like Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Socinian. I'm not sure that a clearly defined position can be described as narrow, and given that Reformed theology found historic expression in churchly confessional statements that have living subscribers across the world it isn't left to individuals to define the term. But I know that not everyone will agree with me on that. On who might be saved or not then we must be as broad and narrow as Paul is in 1 Corinthians 15:1-10.

One view put forward is that anyone who claims ‘the gift of miracles and healing is a crook and a liar’, while ‘tongues speaking is gibberish’ and the main theological dangers confronting us today include the introduction of drums into worship, the use of humour, powerpoint and women reading the Bible in church.

I requested interviews from Mark Driscoll and Wayne Grudem but neither were available at the time of asking. Had they done so then I would have been quite prepared to include them. Not all of the contributors would agree with each other, in fact some would have massive disagreements on who should be baptised and when, and over who should be admitted to the Lord's table. I couldn't agree with everything in the book, but things are there to reflect the views of individual contributors and to retain the book's journalistic feel.

Secondly, all claim that the Westminster Confession and others like it are not Scripture but equally it is true that you won’t find anything in Scripture that contradicts these confessions either!

This is par for the course. Whether you hold to a fairly minimalist evangelical statement of faith or a more maximalist Reformed confession, you only want things in there that you believe Scripture teaches. If it's not in Scripture then you don't want it in your confessional statement.

Lastly, it seems that being ‘reformed’ remains a very serious business indeed, being a Christian remains a serious undertaking, teaching in a seminary more serious still while leading a church is such a serious business that one wonders where joy is to be found among those who love the ‘doctrines of grace’.

I'm not sure what to make of that. Psalm 2:11 tells us to "Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling." Seriousness and joy are not antithetical affections, in fact the psalm says that they can co-exist. John Piper has a brilliant chapter on the "Gravity and Gladness" of preaching in his fine book, which I must read again, The Supremacy of God in Preaching. The seriousness is there in Galatians 1, and part of Paul's beef with the false gospel of works and grace is that it extinguishes joy (Gal. 4:15).

That the accent in the book should be on seriousness does not mean that there is an agenda to suppress or neglect joy. To even suggest otherwise would be to cast aspersions on these men and their ministries.

Denying exhaustive omniscience: Open theists and Socinians

The open theist denial of God's exhaustive foreknowledge is the same as the historic Socinian denial of this classical Christian doctrine.

The open theists hold to a particular version of free will (libertarianism), a view that they consider to be incompatible not merely with foreordination but also with foreknowledge. The Socinians held to the same beliefs around four hundred years ago. Open theism found significant historic precedent in the Socinian remodification of God's prescience.

The Socinians, by name, are almost entirely forgotten today. Their views, under different names, have become popular as contemporary evangelical alternatives to classically understood evangelical beliefs. The process philosopher Charles Hartshorne, writing in 1984, put forward the following:
Is God all-knowing? Yes, in the Socinian sense. Never has a great intellectual discovery passed with less notice by the world than the Socinian discovery of the proper meaning of omniscience. To this day works of reference fail to tell us about it. (Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes, p. 27, quoted by Erickson, What Does God Know & When Does He Know It? p. 128)
What Hartshorne meant by " the Socinian sense" can be seen from the following written by him in 1941, and in the words written by Clark Pinnock in 1986:
We could then say that omniscience is all the knowledge that is possible, which by definition is perfect knowledge, but that since some of the truths about the future could not be known at present, omniscience does not know them. (Man's Vision of God and the Logic of Theism, p. 140)

God is omniscient in the sense that he knows everything which can be known, just as God is omnipotent in the sense that he can do everything that can be done. But free actions are not entities which can be known. God can surmise what you will do next Friday, but cannot know it for certain because you have not done it yet. ("God limits his foreknowledge" in Predestination and Free Will: Four views of divine sovereignty & human freedom, eds. David Basinger & Randall Basinger, 1986)
However, the charge that the open theist view is Socinian has proved to be somewhat controversial. It is not hard to see why. The Socinians were heretics. They denied the Trinity, the deity of Christ, justification by faith alone, and penal substitution. That open theists have reproduced the Socinian view of divine foreknowledge is surely undeniable. The comparison, however, has not been well received.

In The God Who Risks (rev. 2007), John Sanders admits that the correspondence between the two views holds, "we acknowledge that heretics such as the sixteenth-century Anabaptist Fausto Socinus affirmed this view" (p. 170). He also says that "there is no historical linkage between open theists and Socinus" (p. 170). I quite agree. An argument to the contrary cannot and need not be made. The two views share the same methodology.

Sanders goes further than this when he says that "Erickson seems to agree with some evangelical critics of open theism who attempt to discredit the view by calling it "Socinianism" (p. 170).

Pinnock also wrote that "The hope is to dispose of openness theology by tying it to some known heresy...The fact is, open theists are trinitarian believers, which means the Socinian charge is wide of the mark." (Most Moved Mover, p. 107).

Pinnock notes that Robert Strimple, President Emeritus, Westminster Seminary California, identified the open view as Socinian, rather than Arminian, and chides him for not mentioning that "openness theists are orthodox in their Christology...The tactic is to position free will theists with known heretics if at all possible" (Most Moved Mover, p. 107, n. 122).

Let me write this in clear, plain English. Robert Strimple and Millard Erickson claim that the open theist view of divine foreknowledge is the same as the Socinian view. They do not claim that open theists agree with Socinians on every doctrine. The Socinian view was regarded as unorthodox. It failed to gain a following even among those who carried on the anti-trintarian theology and rationalism of the Socinians (i.e. Unitarians). Open theists have accepted the same premise as the Socinians and have revised the doctrine of divine omniscience in line with it. In doing so they have used the same arguments that the Socinians put forward.

Sanders has accepted that open theists and Socinians are in agreement on omniscience. When Pinnock responded to the charge by saying "The fact is, open theists are trinitarian believers, which means the Socinian charge is wide of the mark" he was tilting at a windmill. No one, not least Robert Strimple, was equating open theists with Socinians at every point, and certainly not accusing them of being anti-trinitarian. One thing was clear. They had bidden farewell to Arminius and adopted the stance of Socinus.

That does not mean that revising omniscience in this way has no effect on other doctrines. Open theists, and their Socinian forebears, are logically consistent in their approach to libertarian freedom, and that to the cost of divine omniscience. Inevitably this does, and will, have an impact on other doctrines if the logic of the whole thing is carried through to its conclusion. At this point inconsistencies are a matter of gratitude and security. A Socinian doctrine of freedom and sin logically entailed a particular kind of Socinian saviour. The Socinians didn't need the kind of Saviour that the Reformed believed in.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When he ascended on high

I'm back...

Praise God for the ascension and heavenly session of Christ!

The Heidelberg Catechism
Lord’s Day 18
46. What do you understand by the words “He ascended into heaven?”

That Christ, in the sight of His disciples, was taken up from the earth into heaven,1 and continues there in our behalf 2 until He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.3

1 Mt 26:64; Lk 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11; 2 Rom 8:34; Eph 4:10; Heb 4:14, 7:23-25, 9:11, 24; 3 Mt 24:30; Acts 1:11, 3:20-21

47. But is not Christ with us even unto the end of the world,1 as He has promised?

Christ is true man and true God. According to His human nature He is now not on earth,2 but according to His Godhead, majesty, grace, and Spirit, He is at no time absent from us.3

1 Mt 28:20; 2 Mt 26:11; Jn 16:28, 17:11; Acts 3:19-21; Heb 8:4; 3 Mt 28:18-20; Jn 14:16-19, 16:13; Eph 4:8; Heb 8:4

48. But are not, in this way, the two natures in Christ separated from one another, if the manhood is not wherever the Godhead is?

Not at all, for since the Godhead is incomprehensible and everywhere present,1 it must follow that it is indeed beyond the bounds of the manhood which it has assumed, but is yet nonetheless in the same also, and remains personally united to it.2

1 Jer 23:23-24; Acts 7:48-49; 2 Mt 28:6; Jn 1:14, 48, 3:13, 11:15; Col 2:9

49. What benefit do we receive from Christ’s ascension into heaven?

First, that He is our Advocate in the presence of His Father in heaven.1 Second, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge, that He as the Head, will also take us, His members, up to Himself.2 Third, that He sends us His Spirit as an earnest,3 by whose power we seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God, and not things on the earth.4

1 Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; 2 Jn 14:2, 17:24, 20:17; Eph 2:4-6; 3 Jn 14:16; Acts 2:33; 2 Cor 1:21-22, 5:5; 4 Jn 14:3; Col 3:1-4; Heb 9:24

The Westminster Larger Catechism
Q. 53. How was Christ exalted in his ascension?

A. Christ was exalted in his ascension, in that having after his resurrection often appeared unto and conversed with his apostles, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and giving them commission to preach the gospel to all nations, forty days after his resurrection, he, in our nature, and as our head, triumphing over enemies, visibly went up into the highest heavens, there to receive gifts for men, to raise up our affections thither, and to prepare a place for us, where himself is, and shall continue till his second coming at the end of the world.

Q. 54. How is Christ exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God?

A. Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God, in that as God-man he is advanced to the highest favor with God the Father, with all fullness of joy, glory, and power over all things in heaven and earth; and doth gather and defend his church, and subdue their enemies; furnisheth his ministers and people with gifts and graces, and maketh intercession for them.

Q. 55. How doth Christ make intercession?

A. Christ maketh intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.

Q. 56. How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?

A. Christ is to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world, in that he, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men, shall come again at the last day in great power, and in the full manifestation of his own glory, and of his Father's, with all his holy angels, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, to judge the world in righteousness.