|"All thing under his feet. . . "|
raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 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 the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church . . . .(Ephesians 1:20-22 ESV)His Ascension
The resurrected Jesus ascended into heaven in his resurrection body. He went from one location—earth—to another location—heaven—in a real body (Acts 1:9-11). Don't let anyone tell you heaven is state of being or mind or consciousness! It's a place—the place where the resurrected Jesus went, and the place where he is right now, ruling over everything.
As I write this, and as you read this, the Jesus who died to save us is enthroned in heaven as master of the universe. The Son's glory has been restored, only this time, he is glorified as the God-man.
Theologians sometimes call Christ's present reign his heavenly session. When a court is in session, the judge (or justices) are sitting. Christ's session refers to his sitting at God's right hand, the place place where he rules over creation—over (to quote the verses from Ephesians above) all other "rule and authority and power and dominion," above "every name that is named" throughout history past and history to come. He is the master of all human authorities and all spiritual powers.
He also rules and protects his church, the body of believers united to him. The ruling Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to equip his church and build it from within (Ephesians 4:8-12). Since Pentecost, he has been guiding his church through the Spirit, who was active in the inspiration of the Scriptures, the church's founding document, and who is active in the preaching of those Scriptures in the church by his ministers.
The ascended Jesus intercedes for his people (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25), bringing their requests to the Father and intervening on their behalf. He pleads "for their acceptance on the basis of his completed sacrifice, and for their safe-keeping in the world."1 J. I. Packer explains that since Jesus intervenes from his throne, his position is "not one of sympathy without status or authority."2 Because he is ruler of everything, he can ensure that his people possess forever all the saving benefits he purchased by his death. We can be confident in our continued and final salvation because Jesus is Lord.
What's more, those united with Jesus share in his rule, a rule that will come into completeness in eternity, but which we possess in part right now. Those who belong to Jesus have his authority and power as they fight evil in the world.
Christ's heavenly session will last until all his (and our) enemies are defeated, including death, the final enemy. The risen and ascended Jesus will appear again for the resurrection of the dead before the final judgment, and then he will deliver the kingdom to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24).
That Jesus is Lord—that he is ruling now at the right hand of the Father and will continue to rule for the rest of history—gives us complete confidence that everything will finish up exactly as it should according to God's plan. It also gives those who belong to him confidence that they will be kept by his power until they are resurrected to rule with him.
Here are a few ways to learn more about the ascension and session of Jesus.
- Study Acts 1:9-11; 2:33-36; Ephesians 1:20-22, 4:8-12; Hebrews 7:24-25, 8:1-6.
- Read up on the ascension and session of Christ in your favorite systematic theology. It's in chapter 28 of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, section B. You can read the section on Christ's state of exaltation from Berkhof's Systematic Theology online.
1] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, page 353.
2] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology, page 128.
This post is the latest in a series of posts on truths every Christian woman should know. Here are the previous posts: