Seated with Christ in Heaven
The Christian needs clear thoughts about himself, especially in times of great upheaval. Heavy pressure is exerted upon believers to conform to the world, to lower the bar of grace, to adapt the old gospel to the new crusades. These pressures can be allowed to engulf the soul in fear and self-doubt. Our only peace is to hold fast to the truth about our Savior. He, not the world, defines us.
Front and center in the Christian gospel and in Christian self-understanding is the cross. The Christian is forever changed when he is brought by faith before the bleeding Lamb, confesses that his sins crucified the Lord of glory, and washes himself in the cleansing blood. No longer a condemned criminal, he is a washed virgin and entrusts himself to Jesus Christ as his Redeemer. Since it was Love that died that day, the Christian never “gets over it.” The longer the Christian is a Christian, the larger the cross looms – his laver to cleanse, his badge of honor, his boast and joy, his wonder at divine love.
But there is something more to the gospel and to the Christian’s self-understanding, or we believe a half-gospel, and therefore a false and impotent one. Christ Jesus rose from the dead. The cross was the path to the crown, to exaltation, to his enthronement as Mediatorial King and Savior at the right hand of his Father. Without the “seating” of Jesus Christ, we cannot be saved. Unless we understand how his seating defines, we cannot have the full sense of peace and privilege that his suffering purchased and his reign secures for us.
See the old Temple standing majestically on the summit of Mount Zion in Jerusalem. There in the Holy of Holies was the visible symbol of the always present, covenant keeping God, the throne room of the Governor of the nations. Guarding access was the Levitical priestly order he established. Blood was the only way to enter that veiled Majesty. Under the old covenant order, access was available but severely restricted. Only the High Priest could draw within the veil, and he could enter but once each year, on the Day of Atonement, and with a river of spilled blood testifying to his need of propitiation.
Here is a remarkable truth about Jesus Christ. If we read Hebrews 8:1-2, we learn that the same Majesty in the heavens, the HOLY, HOLY, HOLY God, has now given free access to his throne room. Yes, that heavenly Most Holy Place is still guarded by a priesthood, but it is our risen Savior. He is personally superior in his person, sacrifice, lineage, and holiness to the old covenant priests. They never sat down, but he is now seated. His sacrifice was sufficient. “For by one offering, he has perfected forever” is the banner over his throne (Heb. 10:12). “Lord and Christ” is the flag of his kingdom.
But there is something gloriously personal about this for the believer. He is part of a kingdom of priests, a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6). Because he is in a living union with Jesus Christ by the indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit, it can be truly said of every child of God that he is “raised with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2:5-6). It is an astounding vision of the perfection and efficacy of our Savior’s priesthood. He did not rise and sit at the Father’s right hand for himself alone. He sat so that we might sit with him, reign with him, and join with him in his great work of intercession. Together with the ministry of the Word symbolized by the sword coming out of his mouth, the believer joins with the risen Savior in ruling the world by intercessory prayer and the ministry of gospel reconciliation.
I cannot unfold all this means, for I do not know. I cannot fathom it. What we can say is that the risen Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, has gone up to the Ancient of Days and received from him the promised mediatorial dominion (Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 28:18; Phil. 2:9-11). He is seated as ruling King, seated as authoritative Prophet, and seated as perfect, resting Priest. And we are seated with him. When we join in believing prayer, we may “come boldly to the throne of grace,” for Jesus Christ is “seated at the right hand of the majesty in the heavens.” The Majesty that was veiled under the old covenant is now open to us. The entrance that was barred is now “boldness with access into that grace wherein we stand” (Eph. 3:12). The consuming fire from which even the godliest once withdraw in fear is now the consuming fire to which we draw near, that draws near to us in covenant, grace, and friendship (Heb. 12:28-29). The privilege of being a Christian, the glory of our station in Christ, the power of our seating in Christ, will very honestly take up all our earthly lives. These are scorching truths that burn away doubt and melancholy and fear.
But we must take God our Father at his word. Again and again we hear the call to pray. Perhaps we can understand a little better the reason for this. The Christian is never safer than when he is in God’s throne room, with Jesus Christ seated there, his blood securing a free and bold entrance to the God of the universe. The Christian is never more exalted than when by faith he mounts up and joins with Jesus in ruling the world through intercession, thus emboldening him to speak and live the word of reconciliation. The Christian is never more himself and what he shall be than when he is with his Lord, this time not in Gethsemane’s humiliation but in heaven’s exaltation. For make no mistake, to be seated with Christ in the heavenlies, to be raised, interceding, and reigning with him, is to be exalted, as our Head is.
This is the Christian’s peace and power in the world, to let his requests be made known to God, cast all our cares upon the Lord, for he cares for us, to ask the Father in Jesus’ name to fulfill all the blood-bought and sealed promises. Wherever there is a Christian suffering for Jesus Christ, when he comes to himself and begins praying, he begins reigning with Jesus Christ – from the prison cell, rejected by men but a favorite of heaven. Wherever there is a Christian mother interceding for her children or husband, there is a queen in the presence of God, asking for things agreeable to his will, receiving Majesty’s welcome hand of omnipotent help. Wherever a convicted sinner looks up to heaven and asks Jesus Christ to save him from his sins, there the sinner is changed from a guilty convict to a seated king or queen.
The very odd thing about being raised and seated with Jesus Christ is that it does not much change our outward circumstances, at least not directly or immediately. We still feel the battle, cry the tears, struggle against temptation, resist the devil, and weep for those whom we love. We pass through the same struggles as the children of the world, but unlike them, we do not weep without hope or fight the devil without weapons. We fight as those seated with Christ, pray as those reigning with him, speak as those who have the King’s mind because we have his word. Thus, while it “does not yet appear what we shall be,” God has placed in our hands the invincible weapons of his word and prayer. Believe that God has done this for you in Christ; believe that he will reward you if you diligently seek him. Before every task and temptation, whenever doubts assail, remember, our crucified Savior is raised and reigning. He is seated, for he has universal dominion and power. He has opened heaven, and each believer is invited to walk by faith through the gospel gates and enter the heavenly Most Holy Place.
Come boldly here, believer, for you must give the Savior the honor he deserves. You are invited before the Majesty in the heavens because Jesus Christ your Surety is seated there in glory. Expect him to help you, ask him to rule you by his word, strengthen you by his Spirit, and guide you with his counsel. Raise up your eyes to heaven, and see the glorious Savior clothed with power, of a meek and lowly heart toward you, ready to help. Let us shake off unbelief, lows view of Christ, and false view of ourselves. We are Christians, followers of the Lamb, clothed in white, raised in Jesus, seated with Jesus, and reigning with him. He has done all these things for us. This is who we are. Nothing can move us from our Savior, for nothing can move him, and he will not let us go. Let us come boldly to him now. He has all we need, all the church needs, all the authority and power of heaven and earth to defend his truth, protect his bride, and turn back rebels. He is seated in the heavenlies, and we are one with him.