Post 2D, Christ today and tomorrow

Where is Jesus now? The Nicene Creed tells us that Jesus, after rising from the dead

Ascended into heaven,
And sits at the right hand of the Father.
And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead:
Whose kingdom shall have no end.

These statements show the core doctrines of what the Church beleives of Jesus Christ in the current day, that, after rising from the dead, he has left this earth bodily but will also once again come bodily to establish a kingdom with no end, a kingdom that all Christians have reason to look forward to.

Jesus ascended into heaven, a physical place. Without the ascension, there would be no Christianity. It is, and must be, a core defended doctrine of the Christian faith. Jesus himself predicted that he would one day no longer be with the disciples by saying “Little children, I am with you only a little longer. . . . Where I am going, you cannot come” [1]. Indeed the ascension of Jesus is integral to the formation of the Church because it places the evangelization of the world in the hands of people acting in the will of God. This is revealed in his final commandment to Christians to be witnesses of the gospel of Christ to all the world. Jesus has left this world also, to prepare a place for us in heaven. Jesus left this world bodily, and he will come again bodily. That is to say, that while Jesus has always existed as spirit, his human self did have a beginning, his conception by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary and that his human self continues to exist having ascended bodily, and one day returning bodily to establish his kingdom on this earth [2].

The ascension of Christ has several more major implications for Christians. The first is that we can one day share glory with God. This is because by ascending, he becomes that first born from the dead, glorified in new life and that one day we will join him in glory [3]. It is for this that Christians strive to become more like Christ, running the race that is set before us [4]. And Christians will one day be able to share in the glory of God, even as we are today hidden with him [5].

And today, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. That is to say, that where he had been humiliated by the cross, by resurrecting and ascending into heaven, thereby laying the foundation of our faith, he has emerged in greater glory by defeating the powers of darkness and ascending to the right hand of God — the humiliation and exaltation of Jesus Christ. This is the completion of the work of redemption for “when he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” [6]. This is in the same way as any human, having finished hard work being able to sit down, rest, and appreciate the final and finished work. But this place at the right hand of God (also fulfilling Ps 110) is also a place of power and glory. For by being at God’s right hand he is now “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 that which is to come” [7]. Jesus is exalted over where he was by resurrecting and ascending and today he shares in the increase of the glory of God, showing forth the finishing of the redemptive work by his session with God.

Tomorrow (in the grand scheme of things) Christ will come again with glory, to judge the quick and the dead and establish his kingdom on this earth. And though Christians can never know the time or day that he will return, his return is sure [8]. And he will judge [9]. Indeed, it is this sobering reminder that God is just that should also encourage us to fulfill Christ’s last command to take the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth [10] because we should always want others to come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ, his saving work, and of redemption of our fallen selves and reconciliation with God that is possible through the cross. It is this final judgement that will also lead to the eternal kingdom, a kingdom all Christians look forward to as having no end and with us eternally drawing closer to God as we are able to share in his glory through Jesus Christ. He shall rule over us forever and his kingdom shall have no end [11].

We look forward to the return of Christ to this earth so let us always remember that our citizenship is in heaven and that we are mere sojourners through this barren land [12]. Let us always pray for the Lord’s return and seek to show others the good news of the gospel of Christ. Maranatha!

Part of a series on basic christian theology.

References

[1] John 13.33
[2] Acts 1.9-11
[3] 1 Thess 4.17
[4] Hebrews 12.1-2
[5] Colossians 3.1-4
[6] Hebrews 1.3
[7] Ephesians 1.21 (also 1 Pet 3.22)
[8] Matthew 24.36
[9] 1 Peter 4.5
[10] Acts 1.8
[11] Luke 1.33
[12] Philippians 3.20, 1 Peter 2.11

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