Rooted in Christ

A Creedal Crescendo – Risen, Reigning, Returning

This Lenten/Easter series explores the work of Christ under headings of the Apostles’ Creed.

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Rom. 8:34, NKJV)

Jesus rose bodily from the grave, but where is He now and what is He doing? Jesus came into this world in the humblest of ways – born a helpless baby, in an obscure town, among the animals in a stable. He was born a king but yet to conquer. Christ left the world, however, in glory, having accomplished His saving mission, all authority on heaven and earth being given to Him.

While Jesus may be bodily absent from this world that does not mean that He is not with us. At the close of Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus issues the command to go into all the world to make disciples, He assures His ambassadors then as He does now that He is with us, to the very end of the age. The age speaks to the day of salvation, this time while the gospel continues to go forth by the witness of His followers, until the age to come is ushered in.

One of the ways the Christ’s reign on high is described is through His intercession. That’s another way of saying that Jesus represents those for whom He died (see Col. 3:1-4). In contrasting the provisional priests of the Old Testament with Jesus as the perfect Priest who has perpetual priesthood, the writer of Hebrews speaks to the intercession of Jesus. “Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:23–25).

Right now Christ is building His church. His kingdom is growing to fill the earth. But one day, Jesus will return to usher in His kingdom in fullness. His second coming will not be in humility to shed His blood but in exaltation to claim those for whom He died. In His first coming Jesus did not come to judge or condemn (Jn. 3:17-18; 12:47). In His return it will be a different matter (Heb. 9:27; 2 Tim. 4:1; Acts 17:31; Jn. 5:24-27).

The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper reminds us of the return of Christ every time we celebrate it. We remember the Lord’s death until He comes. We lift up the cup of blessing (1 Cor. 10:16) because Jesus was lifted up to take from our hand the cup of wrath (Ps. 75:8; Luke 22:42). Our communion is with the risen Lord as a people bonded in His blood, awaiting the day when faith will be sight and we will be with our Lord in glory forever. (excerpted from The Christian’s Creed, pp. 99-104)

Digging Deeper

  1. What does it mean that Jesus is reigning on high for His church?
  2. How will Jesus’ second coming be different from His first?     

Father of glory, may You grant us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, and enlighten our minds that we may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of Your mighty power which You worked in Christ when You raised Him from the dead and seated Him at Your 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 age but also in that which is to come.  

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Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale