§ 1. Resurrection of Christ. § 2. Ascension of Christ. § 3. Sitting at the Right Hand of God.
§ 4. Christ’s coming to judge the World.
According to our standards the exaltation of Christ includes, (1.) His resurrection. (2.) His ascension. (3.) His sitting at the right hand of God. (4.) His coming to judge the world at the last day.
§ 1. Resurrection of Christ.
The resurrection of Christ is not only asserted in the Scriptures, but it is also declared to be the fundamental truth of the gospel. “If Christ be not risen,” says the Apostle, “then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Cor. xv. 14). “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins (verse 17). It may be safely asserted that the resurrection of Christ is at once the most important, and the best authenticated fact in the history of the world.
(1.) It was predicted in the Old Testament. (2.) It was foretold by Christ Himself. (3.) It was a fact admitting of easy verification. (4.) Abundant, suitable, and frequently repeated evidence was afforded of its actual occurrence. (5.) The witnesses to the fact that Christ was seen alive after his death upon the cross, were numerous, competent, and on every account worthy of confidence. (6.) Their sincerity of conviction was proved by the sacrifices, even that of life, which their testimony entailed upon hem. (7.) Their testimony was confirmed by God bearing witness together with them (sunepimarturou/ntoj, Heb. ii. 4), in signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost. (8.) That testimony of the Spirit is continued to the present time and granted to all the true children of God, for the Spirit bears witness to the truth in the heart and conscience. (9.) The fact of Christ’s resurrection has been commemorated by a religious observance of the first day of the week from its occurence to the present time. (10.) The effects produced by his gospel, and the change which it has effected in the state of the world, admit of no other rational solution than the truth of his death and subsequent resurrection. The Christian Church is his monument. All believers are his witnesses.
The importance of Christ’s resurrection arises, —
1. From the circumstance that all his claims, and the success of his work, rest on the fact that He rose again from the dead. If He rose, the gospel is true. If He did not rise, it is false. If He rose, He is the Son of God, equal with the Father, God manifest in the flesh; the Salvator Hominum; the Messiah predicted by the prophets; the prophet, priest, and king of his people; his sacrifice has been accepted as a satisfaction to divine justice, and his blood as a ransom for many.
2. On his resurrection depended the mission of the Spirit, without which Christ’s work had been in vain.
3. As Christ died as the head and representative of his people, his resurrection secures and illustrates theirs. As He lives, they shall live also. If He remained under the power of death, there is no source of spiritual life to men; for He is the vine, we are the branches; if the vine be dead the branches must be dead also.
4. If Christ did not rise, the whole scheme of redemption is a failure, and all the predictions and anticipations of its glorious results for time and for eternity, for men and for angels of every rank and order, are proved to be chimeras. “But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first-fruits of them that slept.” Therefore the Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation. The kingdom of darkness has been overthrown. Satan has fallen like lightning from heaven; and the triumph of truth over error, of good over evil, of happiness over misery, is forever secured.
Nature of Christ’s Resurrection Body.
1. The identity of the body in which Christ rose with that whtch expired upon the cross, was proved by indubitable evidence. It retained even the print of the nails which had pierced his hands and his feet. Nevertheless it was changed. To what extent, however, is not clearly made known. The facts recorded in the sacred history bearing on the nature of the Lord’s body during the period between his resurrection and ascension are, (a.) That it was not at first clearly recognized as the same. Mary Magdalene mistook Him for the gardener. (John xx. 15.) The two disciples whom He joined on their way to Emmaus, did not recognize Hun until He was made known to them in the breaking of bread. (Luke xxiv. 31.) When He appeared to the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias they did not know who He was, until the miraculous draft of fishes taken at his command revealed Him. (John xxi. 7.) (b.) It appeared suddenly in the midst of his disciples in a room of which the doors were shut. (John xx. 19, and Luke xxiv. 36.) (c.) Nevertheless it was the same material body having “flesh and bones.” That the appearance recorded in Luke xxiv. 36 was preternatural may be inferred from the effect which it produced upon the disciples: “They were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.” Our Lord reassured them saying, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.” It appears from the transfiguration of Christ that his body while here on earth, was capable of passing from one state to another without losing its identity.
2. Such was the state of our Lord’s body during the forty days subsequent to his resurrection. It then passed into its glorified state. What that state is we know only so far as may be learned from what the Apostle teaches from the nature of the bodies with which believers are to be invested after the resurrection. Those bodies, we are told, are to be like Christ’s “glorious body.” (Phil. iii. 21.) A description of the one is therefore a description of the other. That description is found in the contrast between the present body and that which the believer is to inhabit after the resurrection. The one is a sw/ma yuciko,n, and the other a sw/ma pneumatiko,n. The one is adapted to the yuch, (principle of animal life) and to the present state of existence; the other to the pneu/ma (the rational and immortal principle) and to the future state of existence. The change which the “natural body” is to undergo in becoming a “spiritual body” is thus described. “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:” in one word, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. xv. 42-44.) It is still a body and therefore material, retaining all the essential properties of matter. It is extended. It occupies space. It has a definite form, and that a human form. It was seen by Paul on his way to Damascus and upon other occasions, and by John as recorded in the Apocalypse, as well as by the dying martyr Stephen. Nevertheless it is no longer “flesh and blood,” for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Flesh and blood are from their nature corruptible; and so the apostle adds, “neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” Hence “this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Cor. xv. 50-53.) The future body will not be subject to the wants, the infirmities, or the passions which belong to the present state of existence. “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Matt. xxii. 30.) The saints are to he like angels, not in being incorporeal, but as being immortal, and not needing reproduction for the continuance of their race.
The risen body of Christ, therefore, as it now exists in heaven, although retaining its identity with his body while here on earth, is glorious, incorruptible, immortal, and spiritual. It still occupies a definite portion of space, and retains all the essential properties of a body.
The efficient Agent in the Resurrection of Christ.
In numerous passages of Scripture the resurrection of our Lord is referred to God as God or to the Father. The same person who in the second Psalm says, “Thou art my Son,” is addressed in the sixteenth Psalm by that Son, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” In Romans vi. 4, it is said, that Christ “was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father;” so also in Acts ii. 24, “Whom God hath raised up.” In Acts xiii. 30, it is said, “God raised him from the dead.” So in Ephesians i. 19, 20, we are told that sinners are converted by the same mighty power “which wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.” In other passages, however, it is said to be the work of Christ himself. Our Lord speaking of his body said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John ii. 19.) And again, John x. 17. 18, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” In Romans viii. 11, according to the reading adopted by Tischendorf, the resurrection of Christ is, constructively at least, referred to the Holy Spirit. This diverse reference of the same act to the several persons of the Trinity is in accordance with the common usage of the Scriptures. The three persons of the Godhead being the same in substance, the act of the one ad extra, is the act of the others. Any external divine act, i. e.. any act terminating externally, is an act of the Godhead; and thererore may, with equal propriety, be referred to either of the divine persons. “What things soever he [the Father] doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John v. 19.) All, therefore, that the Scriptures teach on this subject is that Christ was raised by the divine power. The Lutherans hold that Christ rose by the power of his human nature, to which divine attributes had, in the act of incarnation, been communicated. All the miracles of Christ, as before stated, according to their view of his person, were the works of his human nature distinctively, and so of course the crowning miracle of his resurrection.
§ 2. Ascension of Christ.
The next step in the exaltation of Christ was his ascension to heaven. In Mark xvi. 19, it is recorded that after Jesus had spoken unto his disciples, “He was received up into heaven.” In Luke xxiv. 50, 51, “He led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” The most detailed account of our Lord’s ascension is found in the first chapter of the Acts. There the last words of Christ to the Apostles are recorded, and it is added, “When he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked ateadfastly toward heaven, as he went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye nave seen him go into heaven.” (Acts i. 9-11.) From these accounts it appears, (1.) That the ascension of Christ was of his whole person. It was the Theanthropos, the Son of God clothed in our nature, having a true body and a reasonable soul, who ascended. (2.) That the ascension was visible. The disciples witnessed the whole transaction. They saw the person of Christ gradually rise from the earth, and “go up” until a cloud hid Him from their view. (3.) It was a local transfer of his person from one place to another; from earth to heaven. Heaven is therefore a place. In what part of the universe it is located is not revealed. But according to the doctrine of Scripture it is a definite portion of space where God specially manifests his presence, and where He is surrounded by his angels (who not being infinite, cannot be ubiquitous), and by the spirits of the just made perfect. It is true that the word “heaven,” both in the Old and New Testaments, is used in various senses, (1) Sometimes for the region of the atmosphere; as when the Bible speaks of the clouds, or birds of heaven, or of the rain as descending from heaven. (2.) Sometimes for the region of the stars, which are called the hosts of heaven. (3.) Sometimes it means a state, and answers to some of the senses of the phrase, “kingdom of heaven.” The believer is said to be delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. We are therefore said even in this world to be “in heaven,” as in Ephesians ii. 6, where it is said, God “hath raised us up together (with Christ), and made us sit together (evn toi/j evpourani,oij = evn tw/| ouvranw/, agreeably to the constant usage of that Epistle) in heavenly places,” i. e., in heaven. In the same sense we are said to be, “the citizens of heaven;” that is, the po,lij in which we dwell, and to the rights and privileges of which we are entitled. (Phil. iii. 20.)1 The Apostle’s words are, h`mw/n to. poli,teuma evn ouvranoi/j u`pa,rcei, “Heaven is the city of which we are the citizens, or, in which is our citizenship.” (4.) But, fourthly, it means the place where God dwells, where the angels and the spirits of the just are congregated; whence Christ came, and to which He has returned. He told his disciples that He went to prepare a place for them. (John xiv. 2.) In this sense the word is used when the Bible speaks of God as our Father “in Heaven;” or of heaven as his throne, his temple, his dwelling place. If Christ has a true body, it must occupy a definite portion of space. And where Christ is, there is the Christian’s heaven.
In opposition to this Scriptural and generally accepted view of the ascension of Christ, as a transfer from one place to another, from the earth, as one sphere of the universe, to heaven, another, and equally definite locality, the Lutherans made it a mere change of state, of which change the human nature of Christ was the subject. Prior to his resurrection, the human nature of our Lord, although really possessed of the attributes of omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence, voluntarily forbore the exercise and manifestation of these divine perfections. His ascension was his entering on their full enjoyment and exercise. He passed from the condition of an ordinary man to being as a man (as to his soul and body) everywhere present, and everywhere the supreme ruler. The heaven He entered is immensity. Thus the “Form of Concord”2 says, “Ex hac unione et naturarum communione humana natura habet illam exaltationem, post resurrectionem a mortuis, super omnes creaturas in coelo et in terra, quae revera nihil aliud est, quam quod Christus formam servi prorsus deposuit; humanam vero naturam non deposuit, sed in omnem aeternitatem retinet, et ad plenam possessionem et divinae majestatis usurpationem secundam assumptam humanam naturam evectus est. Earn vero majestatem statim in sua conceptione, etiam in utero matris habuit: sod ut Apostolus Phil. ii. 8 , loquitur, seipsum exinanivit, eamque, ut D. Lutherus docet, in statu suae humiliationis secreto habuit, neque eam semper, sed quoties ipsi visum fuit, usurpavit. Jam vero, postquam non communi ratione, ut alius quispiam sanctus in coelos ascendit, sed ut Apostolus, Eph. iv. 10, testatur, super omnes coelos ascendit, et revera omnia implet, et ubique non tantum ut Deus, verum etiam ut homo, praesens dominatur et regnat a man ad mare et usque ad terminos terrae.” Luther argued that as God’s right hand at which Christ in his glorified body sits, is everywhere, so that body must be everywhere. In the “Form of Concord”3 it is said, Dextera Dei “non est certus aliquis . . . . locus, sed nihil aliud est, nisi omnipotens Dei virtus, quae coelum et terram implet.” Gerhard4 presents the same view, “Qualis est Dei dextra, taliter quoque sessio ad dextram Dei intelligenda. Jam vero dextra Dei non est locus aliquis corporeus, circumscriptus, limitatus, definitus, sed est infinita Dei potestas ac praesentissima ejus majestas in coelo et terra, est praesentissiinum illud dominium, quo Deus omnia conservat et gubernat.” Whence it is inferred that the soul and body of Christ must have a like ubiquity. The omnipresence of God, however, is not to he conceived of as infinite extension, for extension is a property of matter; so the Lutheran theologians do not hold the infinite extension of the body of Christ. They merely say that He is present as God is present everywhere in knowledge and power. But a thing cannot act where it is not; and therefore omnipresence of knowledge and power implies omnipresence as to substance. And consequently as Christ in both natures is everywhere active, He must in both natures be everywhere present. Augustine found occasion to write against this notion of the ubiquity of the humanity of Christ, even in his age of the Church, “Noli itaque dubitare, ibi nunc esse hominem Christum Jesum, unde venturus est. . . . Et sic venturus est, illa angelica voce testante, quemadmodum ire visus est in coelum, i. e., in eadem carnis forma atque substantia; cui profecto immortalitatem dedit, naturam non abstulit. Secundum hanc formam non est putandus ubique diffusus. Cavendum est enim ne ita divinitatem astruamus hominis ut veritatem corporis auferamus. Non est autem consequens ut quod in Deo est, ita sit ubique, ut Deus5 . . . Nam spatia locorum tolle corporibus, nusquam erunt, et quia nusquam erunt, nec erunt. Tolle ipsa corpora qualitatibus corporum, non erit ubi sint, et ideo necesse est ut non sint6 . . . Christum autem Dominum nostrum unigenitum Dei filium aequalem Patri, eundemque hominis filium quo major est Pater, et ubique totum praesentem esse non dubites tanquam Deum, et in eodem templo Dei esse tanquam inhabitantem Deum, et in loco aliquo coeli propter veri corporis modum.”7
The modern theory which makes the incarnation of the Son of God to consist in his laying aside “the existence-form” or God, and, by a process of self-limitation assuming that of a man, of necessity modifies the view taken of his exaltation and ascension. That ascension is admitted to be a transfer from one portion of space to another, from earth to heaven. It is also admitted that our Lord now as a man occupies a definite portion of space. He is as to his human nature in one place and not everywhere. But his present existence-form is still human and only human. On this point Ebrard says, That the only begotten Son of God became a human soul, and formed itself a body in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and was born of her as a man. In the human nature thus assumed there were two elements. The one including all the essentials of humanity without which man is no longer man. The other includes only what is accidental and variable; as for example, weakness, subjection to death, and other evils consequent on sin. All these on his ascension he laid aside, and now dwells in heaven as a glorified man (verklarter Mensch). He has laid aside forever the existence-form of God, and assumed that of man in perpetuity, in which form by his Spirit He governs the Church and the world. Locally, therefore, He is absent from the world, but He is dynamically present to all his people in his present human existence-form. On this last mentioned point he quotes with approbation the language of Polanus:8 “Ideo corpus Christi non est jam in terra, nedum ubique. Etsi autem Christus corpore suo non sit jam in terra, tamen est etiam conjunctus et praesens corpori nostro secundum carnem, sed non loco; sicut caput uniuscujusque hominis non est co loco quo pedes, et tamen est illis suo modo unitum. Proinde adest Christus ecclesiae suae non tantum secundum divinam sed etiam secundum humanam naturam, verum spiritualiter sicut caput membris, quibus unitum est et quae vivificat.” This dynamic presence of Christ as to his human nature and oven as to his body, which Calvin asserted in reference to the Lord’s Supper, has no special connection with Ebrard’s doctrine of the incarnation. It is held by those who believe that the Eternal Son of God became man by taking to Himself a true body and a reasonable soul, and so was, and continueth to be God and man in two distinct natures, and one person forever. The doctrine in question has no doubt a form of truth in it. We are present with Christ, in a certain sense, in reference to his human, as well as in reference to his divine nature. The person to whom we are present, or, who is present with us, is theanthropic. We have all the advantage of his human sympathy and affection; and the form of divine life which we derive from Him comes from Him as God still clothed in our nature. All this may be admitted without admitting that the Eternal Son “became a human soul;” that He laid aside the existence-form of God, and assumed for eternity, that of man. If this be so, then He is a man and nothing more. If an adult man, by a process of self-limitation, or self-contraction, assumes the existence-form of an infant, he is an infant, and ceases to be an adult man. If he assumes the existence-form of an idiot, he is an idiot; or of a brute, he has only the instincts and sagacity of a brute. If, therefore, the Logos became man by self-contraction, He is no longer God.
According to the teaching of Scripture the ascension of Christ was necessary, —
1. In the first place He came from heaven. Heaven was his home. It was the appropriate sphere of his existence. His presence makes heaven, and therefore until this earth is purified from all evil, and has undergone its great process of regeneration, so as to become a new heavens and a new earth, this world is not suited for the Redeemer’s abode in his state of exaltation.
2. It was necessary that as our High Priest He should, after offering Himself as a sacrifice, pass through the heavens, to appear before God in our behalf. An essential part, and that a permanent one, of his priestly office was to be exercised in heaven. He there makes constant intercession for his people. As He died for our sins, He rose for our justification. All this was typified under the old dispensation. The victim was slain without in the coury of the temple; the high priest bore the blood with much incense within the veil and sprinkled it on the Mercy Seat. What the high priest did in the earthly temple, it was necessary for the High Priest of our profession to do in the temple made without hands, eternal in the heavens. This is set forth with all clearness in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
3. It was expedient, our Lord said, that He should go away; “for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John xvi. 7.) It was necessary that redemption should not only be acquired but applied. Men if left to themselves would have remained in their sins, and Christ had died in vain. The great blessing which the prophets predicted as characteristic of the Messianic period, was the effusion of the Holy Spirit. To secure that blessing for the Church his ascension was necessary. He was exalted to give repentance and the remission of sins; to gather his people from all nations and during all ages until the work was accomplished. His throne in the heavens was the proper place whence the work of saving men, through the merits of his death, was to be carried on.
4. Again our Lord told his sorrowing disciples, “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.” (John xiv. 2, 3.) His ascension, therefore, was necessary for the completion of his work.
§ 3. Sitting at the Right Hand of God.
This is the next step in the exaltation of our Lord. He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God; that is, was associated with Him in glory and dominion. The subject of this exaltation was the Theanthropos, not the Logos specially or distinctively; not the human nature exclusively; but the theanthropic person. When a man is exalted it is not the soul in distinction from the body; nor the body in distinction from the soul, but the whole person.
The ground of Christ’s exaltation is twofold: the possession of divine attributes by which He was entitled to divine honour and was qualified to exercise absolute and universal dominion; and secondly, his mediatorial work. Both these are united in Hebrews i. 3. It is there said, that Christ “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” first (w;n, being, i. e.), because He is the brightness of the Father’s glory and his express image, and sustains the universe by the word of his power; and secondly, because by the sacrifice of Himself, He made purification for our sins. So also in Phihippians ii. 6-11, where we are taught that it was He who existed in the form of God and was equal with God, who humbled Himself to be obedient unto death even the death of the cross, and therefore, for those two reasons, “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” In Ephesians i. 20-22, it is said, God raised Christ from the dead “and set him al his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet.” This latter passage, taker from the eighth Psalm, is repeatedly quoted to prove the absolutely universal dominion of the risen Saviour, as in Hebrews ii. 8: “In that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him.” And also 1 Corinthians xv. 27, when it is said, “All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.” No creature therefore is excepted. This also is what our Lord Himself teaches. when He says, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. xxviii. 18.) Heaven and earth in Scriptural language, is the whole universe. In 1 Peter iii. 22, it is said, “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers (i. e., all rational creatures) being made subject unto him.” In the prophetic books of the Old Testament it was predicted that the Messiah should be invested with this universal dominion. (See Ps. ii., xlv., lxxii., cx.; Isa. ix. 67; Dan. vii. 14, etc.) That such authority and power could not be intrusted to a mere creature is plain from the nature of the case. Divine perfections, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence, as well as infinite wisdom and goodness, are requisite for the effectual and righteous administration of a dominion embracing all orders of beings, all creatures rational and irrational, extending over the reason and conscience as well as over the external world. On this point the Scriptures are explicit. They teach expressly that to no angel, i, e., to no rational creature, as the term angel includes all intelligences higher than man, hath God ever said, “Sit on my right hand.” (Heb. i. 13.) All angels, all rational creatures, are commanded to worship Him.
This universal dominion is exercised by the Theanthropos. It is vain for us to speculate on the relation of the divine and human natures in the acts of this supreme ruler. We cannot understand the relation between the soul and the body in the voluntary exercises in which both are agents, as when we write or speak. We know that such acts are neither exclusively mental nor exclusively corporeal; but how the two elements are combined, passes our comprehension. It is most unreasonable, therefore, and presumptuous, for us to endeavour to make intelligible to our feeble understandings, how the divine and human in the person of our Lord, cooperate in full accordance with the nature of each. In the case of our own voluntary exercises, we know that the attributes of the mind are not transferred to the body; much less are those of the body transferred to the mind. In like manner we know that the attributes of Christ’s divine nature are not transferred to his human nature, nor those of his humanity to his divinity. It is enough for us to know that this supreme ruler of the universe is a perfect man as well as a perfect God; that He still has all human sympathies and affections, and can be touched with a sense of our infirmities. That a person in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and who is filled with all the love, tenderness, compassion, meekness, and forbearance, which Christ manifested while here on earth, has all power in heaven and earth committed to his hands, and is not far from any one of us, is an unspeakable delight to all his people.
In this exaltation of Christ to supreme dominion was fulfilled the prediction of the Psalmist, as the organ of the Holy Ghost, that all things, the whole universe, according to the interpretation of the Apostle as given in Hebrews ii. 8, and 1 Corinthians xv. 27. were to be put under subjection to man. In the former passage the Apostle argues thus: The world to come of which he spokes i. e., the gospel dispensation, the world during the Messianic period, was not put under subjection to angels, for the Scriptures say that all things are put under man. And when it is said all things (to. pa,nta) are put under Him, nothing is excepted. We do not yet, however, see all things put under man as man; but we do see the man Christ Jesus, on account of the suffering of death, crowned with this absolutely universal dominion. It is, therefore, at the feet of a man in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead, that all principalities and powers bow themselves in willing subjection and adoring love. And it is at the feet of this once crucified man that all the redeemed are to cast down their crowns.
This absolute dominion has been committed to Christ as mcdiator. He who is over all is the head of the Church; it is for the Church, for the consummation of the work of redemption that as the God-man He has been thus exalted over all created beings. (Eph i. 22; Col. i. 17, 18; 1 Cor. xv. 25-28.) Having been committed to Him for a special purpose, this universal dominion as Mediator will be relinquished when that purpose is accomplished. He will reign until all his enemies are put under his feet. And when the last enemy is subdued He will deliver up this kingdom unto the Father, and reign forever as King over the redeemed.
§ 4. Christ’s coming to judge the World.
This is the last step in his exaltation. He who was arraigned as a criminal at the bar of Pilate; who was unrighteously condemned, and who amid cruel mockings, was crucified with malefactors, is to come again with power and great glory; before Him are to be gathered all nations and all the generations of men, to receive from his lips their final sentence. He will then be exalted before all intelligences, as visibly their sovereign judge.
What the Scriptures teach on this subject is, (1.) That Christ is to come again. (2.) That this coming is to be personal, visible, and glorious. (3.) That the object of his second advent is to judge the world. (4.) That the persons to be judged are the quick and the dead, i. e., those then alive and those who died before his appearing. (5.) That the rule of judgment will be the law of God, either as written on the heart or as revealed in his Word. Those having the written revelation will be judged by it; those who have had no such external revelation, will be judged according to the light they have actually enjoyed. (6.) That the ground of judgment will be the deeds done in the body. (7.) That the sentence to be pronounced will be final, fixing the destiny of those concerned for eternity.
This whole subject belongs to the department of Eschatology, to which its more detailed consideration must be deferred. It is intro)duced here simply as connected with the exaltation of Christ, of which it is to be the culminating point.