Christ is Exalted

by Matt Perman

I. How do you view Christ?

A. What do you think when you sing the words, “He is exalted the King is exalted on high”?

B. What do you think that Christ is doing right now?

C. How do you think His life in heaven differs from the life we read of in the gospels?

II. The two states of Christ

A. What pattern do you see in the following verses?

  1. Luke 24:26.
  2. Hebrews 12:2

B. The state of humiliation is when Jesus lived on earth without experiencing the fullness of the honor and status He deserves. He was subject to suffering and had a lowly status, with His life characterized by suffering. There are four stages.

  1. The Incarnation. Christ has eternally existed in His divinity in absolute glory. When He became man, He began the state of humiliation and thus began living according to a lowly status.
    1. John 17:5. Was Jesus in glory before the Incarnation?
    2. 2 Corinthians 8:9. What did Jesus do in the Incarnation?
  2. His suffering. He endured this throughout the state of humiliation in various forms. As a result, He is “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).
    1. How is this significant to you?
  3. His death. This was the climax of His sufferings and where He fully discharged the penalty for our sins. See the Bible study on the Nature of the Atonement.
  4. His burial.
    1. Why is this a fitting end to the state of humiliation?
    2. Is there any comfort in knowing that Christ was buried? Are you looking forward to your body lying lifeless in the ground?

C. In the state of exaltation, Jesus moved out of His lowly status and resumed His exalted status. In fact, He was exalted in a new way than He had been previously. His suffering ended, and He entered into the possession of the blessings He had won. He now lives a life of glory. There are four stages which we will look at soon.

  1. His resurrection.
  2. His ascension.
  3. His seating at the Father's right hand.
  4. His return.

D. The relationship between the two states.

  1. Hebrews 2:9. How do the two states relate?
  2. Philippians 2:5-11.
    1. How is the state of humiliation described?
    2. How is the state of exaltation described?
    3. What does Paul say is the relationship between the two?

III. Christ's resurrection

A. Christ rose in the same body that had died, and will continue in His resurrected body forever. It is here that He fully defeated death and sin and thus moved from the battle stage to the victory stage.

B. What is the significance of the resurrection?

IV. Christ's Ascension

A. The ascension is when Christ gloriously and physically rose up to a special place (heaven) for a special purpose (His coronation as King of the Universe).

B. Acts 1:10-11. List everything this verse teaches us about Christ's ascension.

C. 1 Timothy 3:16. What does this verse teach us?

D. Daniel 7:13. To be even more specific than Acts 1, where was Jesus going?

E. The significance of the ascension.

  1. It completes the resurrection.
    1. By indicating that the post-resurrection appearances are over.
    2. By showing that His going away was not a fading out but an entry into glory.
  2. Visibly demonstrates His exalted status.
  3. It is the connecting link between His resurrection and His enthronement.
  4. Indicates that the place where He ascended to, the right hand of God, is the top authority in the universe. Thus, it indicates that He was rising to His position of exalted and supreme King over the entire universe.

V. Christ's seating at the Father's right hand

A. The enthronement answers for us, “Where is Christ now?”

  1. 1. Acts 5:31; 3:21.
    1. Where is Christ at?
  2. 2. Hebrews 12:2.
    1. What does this verse add to the previous?
  3. 3. Colossians 3:1-5.
    1. What is one thing we are to do about this?

B. What does it mean that Christ took His seat at the right hand of the Father?

  1. It means His work of winning our salvation is done.
    1. Hebrews 1:3-4; 10:12-13.
  2. 2. It means that Christ has been enthroned--publically and officially inaugurated--as King of the universe.
    1. Hebrews 12:2.
  3. 3. In His enthronement, Christ received great honor and glory that had not been His before as the God-man
    1. Hebrews 2:9.
  4. 4. In His enthronement, Christ received authority that had not been His before as the God-man.
    1. Ephesians 1:19-23. List everything you see in this passage.
    2. One element of His authority was the authority to pour out the Holy Spirit on the church.
      1. Acts 2:33. What role did Christ play in Pentecost?
      2. John 7:38-39. What does the fact that the Holy Spirit has come demonstrate about what has happened to Jesus?
      3. In light of this, to whom should we entreat our prayers for revival and a greater fulness of the Spirit?

C. What are some implications for us of the fact that our Savior is now enthroned as King of the entire universe at the Father's right hand?

D. What is Christ doing right now?

  1. He is ruling the world and the church, as we will examine below.
  2. He is praying for His saints: Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34.
  3. He is nourishing the church: Ephesians 5:29.

VI. The exaltation shows us the many dimensions of Christ's Lordship.

A. Christ's natural Lordship and mediatorial Lordship.

  1. Acts 2:36. How can Peter say that God has made Christ Lord? He has always been Lord (Luke 2:10).
    1. Peter is not denying that Christ was Lord before His ascension, but bringing out that He had begun to be Lord in a new way. He has always exercised His natural Lordship, but had now begun the administration of His mediatorial Lordship.
  2. 2. Christ's natural Lordship.
    1. Is based upon the fact that He is God.
    2. He therefore possess it by original right.
  3. 3. Christ's mediatorial Lordship.
    1. Is based upon His death and resurrection by which He accomplished our salvation..
    2. It therefore is not possessed by original right, but was won.
    3. Romans 14:9. Why did Christ die and live again?

B. Christ's spiritual kingship and universal kingship.

  1. Both are aspects of His mediatorial kingship.
  2. His universal kingship is His authoritative status over all things by which He is in charge of what will happen. It cannot be resisted.
    1. Philippians 3:21.
    2. Revelation 1:5.
    3. Therefore, we ought to think of Christ when we watch and read the daily news, for He is acting sovereignly behind it all.
  3. 3. His spiritual kingship is the submission to His Lordship He has established in the hearts of His people. It is His rulership over the church. He lets it be resisted (for example, the unbelieving world is in utter rebellion against it).
    1. Colossians 1:18.
  4. 4. He exercises His universal kingship for the sake of the church. Thus, all things are made to work for the good of the church. That is a major aim in everything that happens.
    1. Romans 8:28.
    2. Ephesians 1:22.

C. Christ's present and future spiritual kingship.

  1. Presently, Christ's spiritual kingship is often opposed as people rebel against His commands. The aspect of rebellion is under the sway of His universal kingship.
  2. In the future (at His second coming), Christ and the Father will bring all of their enemies into full subjection. There will then be no more rebellion against His spiritual kingship. Thus, His spiritual kingship will endure forever, while it seems that His universal kingship will end.
    1. This is probably what Paul means in 1 Corinthians 15:28, as the context seems to indicate. I don't think Paul is saying that Christ's spiritual kingship will end, but that His universal kingship by which He is bringing all things into submission to Him will come to an end since that goal will be accomplished (see verse 25).

VII. Christ's second coming

A. In His ascension Christ was taken into heaven (Acts 1:11); in His second coming He will be revealed from heaven (2 Thess. 1:7).

B. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. What does this passage teach us about the second coming?

C. What are the applications of knowing that He will return?

VIII. Applications

A. It is significant to recognize that believers follow in the path of Christ. As He was first in a lowly state of suffering, so also we are now in a lowly state of suffering. As He overcame and entered into His eternal glory, so also we will overcome and enter into His eternal glory (1 John 5:4; Revelation 3:21; Romans 8:17). As Christ rose from the dead, so also we will be raised from the dead at His coming (Philippians 3:21). As Christ ascended into heaven, we will also ascend up to heaven when our bodies are raised from the grave (1 Thessalonians 4:17). As Christ will return to judge the world, so also we will return with Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18) and even be given authority to judge (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). And as Christ reigns on His Father's throne, so also we will be made to share in His authority and reign with Him forever (Revelation 3:21; 22:5). This is truly amazing. What a glorious future God has in store for us! No wonder He commands us to "rejoice in hope" (Romans 12:12) and Paul prays that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened so that we would know the hope we have (Ephesians 1:18).

B. Because of our union with Christ, we even now partially share in the authority that He has over the universe from the right hand of God (Ephesians 2:6).

C. Because Christ reigns as King of the universe for the benefit of the church, we can have comfort and security in our trials. Everything first passes through His hands, and He is working for our good in all things.

D. What great encouragement we have in prayer, knowing that we have an audience with the top authority in the universe!

E. We should find great joy, strength, courage, and awe in our knowledge of Christ as the exalted and enthroned king of the universe. Our Savior is powerful and exalted. Let us therefore worship Him and be strong in Him.

F. Because of our union with Christ, we are united with Him even now as He rules in all His glory. This has stunning implications: "We often consider the joy communicated to believers by the Holy Spirit, but too rarely think of it as being Christ's joy shared with His church from His heavenly session. Our exultation is the result of His exaltation, the outflow of His own triumphant joy in having accomplished the work He was sent to do, in being in glory at His Father's right hand, and in seeing His church gathered in" (Peter Lewis, The Glory of Christ, p. 397).

G. Understanding the exaltation of Christ gives us a wonderful perspective on the truths that we shall one day be where Christ is (John 14:1-3) and that in this place we will behold His glory (John 17:22-24). Thus, even as we are on earth we are centrally defined by Christ's place in heaven: "If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:1-5).

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