How the Heavenly Intercession of Christ Helps Us on the Day of Judgment
Of all the constants in the thanksgivings available for the Christian life a certain truth is that our God, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is always with His people. The fearful pronouncement to evil men by the prophet Isaiah that the wicked cannot hide in the heart of the mountain is a great blessing to the faithful, for it shows once more the omnipresence of Jehovah. In today’s look at the catechism we’ll be spending time on what makes that so true, both for the moment-by-moment assurance of faith we need and the way it gives foundation to the eternal mercy of the believer offered in the gospel of grace.
Here are our Q/A’s:
Q. 55: How doth Christ make intercession?
A. Christ makes 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.
The context of the question comes as we’ve been considering how the three-fold office of Christ (prophet, priest, and king) is applied in real life, in both His state of humiliation (earthly ministry) and His exultation (ascension and ruling in Heaven). These two follow-ups are helping us to understand the beginning, middle, and the end of the era we call the “Millennium”. The Millennium is the period of time according to Revelation 20 that exists between Christ’s going up in Acts 1 and His coming back in accordance with 1 Thessalonians 4 in the form of the great white throne judgment. It is vital we get that right because either we’re left in a state of thumb-twirling waiting or in a sense we are asked to survive in a kind of no-mans land of the opposite of expectation. Neither are helpful in dealing with the trials of this present evil world. Knowing Satan is bound, for example, is a keen reminder that when it comes to sin we have no one to blame but ourselves for the times we give in to temptation. It’s hard to say “the devil made me do it” when he is merely a creature like ourselves. Not only that but it is even more difficult to shift responsibility as we recall our spiritual union with our Savior. There is no sense in which a Christian who is a part of the intercession spoken of in Q.55 could act as if there is some abandonment or a similar silly notion during this middle time between the going of Jesus, as the full God-man, to the heaven above, and His return.
This teaching is an extension of what we went over last Lord’s Day in Sabbath School in Romans 8. Why are the people of God so encouraged in their sanctification? Because Christ appears “in our nature” (that is Jesus is still fully in His flesh as much as He is still in His divinity) with the “merit of His obedience” having it “applied to all believers” in His constant intercession on our behalf before the Father. Whenever we celebrate Communion at Bethany you’ll remember me saying that the bread is a keen image of the active obedience of Christ to the law of God, something we desperately needed and need for our salvation. Adam was called in the Covenant of Works to perfectly keep the law in its every demand, he didn’t, but that did not change the requirements of Leviticus 10:5 for an example which says, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” We are still held to the strictures of the Covenant of Works. The difference between us and Adam is Christ and the promise He has made to His sheep in the Covenant of Grace. He kept what we could not, and what has happened is that Christ’s righteousness has becomes ours in the imputation of the active obedience, as Romans 5:19 makes clear, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” That is all to say we benefit from the Heavenly priesthood of Jesus as much as we do His prophetic work in the proclamation of the gospel by His ministers (Acts 1:8), and in the peace of His labors as king (Col. 1:15-18). It is one of many reasons why Christ’s word to His disciples that it was better for them for Him to go is so blessedly true.
But what about Q. 56 and His second coming?
Well, Matthew 24:36 tells us that no man knows the day or the hour that our Lord will appear with the trumpet shout in all His wonderful glory. Despite that there are a few things we can do, and should be doing, to be prepared and ready for His arrival, and it all has to do with Q.55. The more we see the calling of God to His people to be holy, and understand why we are to be holy, the more our heart and soul will be focused on doing the will of the Lord in the strength provided for us by Christ, which He has given to us in the means of His grace: prayer, worship, fellowship, Sabbath-keeping, and sitting under the preaching of His word. Every Sunday is prep for the perfect and all-consuming day when the full manifestation of the glory of God is shown in His judging the quick and the dead.
Are we eager for that time? Let us be as the wise virgins and take oil in our lamps that we may be ready for the great and terrible day of the Lord, confident in the righteousness granted to us by faith alone in Jesus Christ our Savior.
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church