The Present Work of Christ
Since His ascension, what is Jesus Christ busy doing? During this “present session” (as some theologians call it), what is the Messiah’s position, His present work in heaven and His present work on the earth? Which seven figures illustrate what Christ is doing in His Church today?
The present position of the Messiah is at the right hand of God the Father. This is in accordance with Old Testament prophecies (Psalms 80:17; 110:1), Jesus’ own predictions (Matthew 26:64; Luke 22:69), and as confirmed by New Testament writers (Acts 2:33-36; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20-22; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 1 Peter 3:22). At His incarnation, the Son of God took on human nature and thus from that point in time until all eternity, the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ has two natures: fully divine and fully human. The Messiah is the God-man whose position today is at the right hand of God the Father.
During the present session, what is the Messiah doing in heaven today? He is doing five things in heaven today:
1. He is exercising His authority (Matthew 28:18), controlling the universe in general as well as the affairs which come into a believer’s life (Ephesians 1:20-22; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:3-13; 1 Peter 3:22).
2. Jesus is preparing a place in heaven for His disciples (John 14:1-3).
3. Jesus is mediating between God the Father and believers (1 Timothy 2:5). Whereas Israel had a Levitical high priest as their mediator, believers today have the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who mediates for them.
4. Jesus Christ serves as an advocate as well as a comforter. Satan still has access to heaven today (cf. Revelation 12:10) and when a believer sins, Satan has grounds to accuse us. However, as Fruchtenbaum (2005:5) phrases it, the Messiah can counteract these accusations by saying “lay that sin upon my account; I have already paid for that sin when I died for that person on the cross”. Not only is Christ our advocate (cf. Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:1), He also comforts believers, giving us wise counsel and wisdom.
5. Another work that the Messiah does while He is in heaven is to intercede on behalf of believers. This work is necessary because of our weaknesses and our helplessness (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). Christ meets with God the Father on a face-to-face basis on our behalf and for our benefit, pleading our cause. The objects or beneficiaries of His intercession are believers only (John 17:9, 20). Christ intercedes for us when we are tempted (Hebrews 4:14-16), to purify us and also help us not to sin (Hebrews 10:21-22).
What is Christ’s present work on earth? Note that while Jesus in his humanity is in heaven on the throne of God the Father, in His divinity the Son of God is omnipresent and can therefore do work on earth. During the present session, Christ is doing the following work on earth:
1. He heads up the Church on earth (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18).
2. Christ is building His Church on earth (Mathew 16:18) and, when completed, He will remove the Church from the earth by quickly snatching his bride away.
3. Christ is present in His Church (Matthew 28:20; John 17:23, 26). Again, remember that since His incarnation, the Lord Jesus Christ is one Person with two natures: divine and human. In his divinity, the Lord Jesus Christ can be present in His Church because God is omnipresent.
4. Christ imparts eternal life to believers (John 1:4; 10:10; 11:25; 14:6; 1 John 5:12).
5. Christ indwells all believers on earth today (John 14:20; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:26-27; 1 John 3:24).
6. Christ is the source of strength for believers on earth today (Philippians 4:13).
7. Christ is the source of power for believers on earth today (Matthew 28:18-20).
8. Christ answers prayers of believers on earth; every answer to prayer is a work of the Messiah (John 14:14).
9. Christ helps believers on earth who have particular needs (Hebrews 2:18; 4:16).
10. Christ is the ground or basis of believers’ hope. Although believers on earth may suffer physical limitations or struggle in spiritual battles, we have the hope of glory, the hope of adoption and the hope of the redemption of our body. Christ Jesus is the basis, the foundation and the ground of this incomparable hope (Colossians 1:27; Romans 8:23).
11. Christ sends the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15).
The New Testament portrays or illustrates the present work of the Head of the Church and his Body by using various figures. Later in the year we will discuss these figures in detail, but now we merely mention them briefly: The first figure is that of the Last Adam and the New Creation. The second figure is of the Head and the Body. Third is the Shepherd and the sheep, fourth is the Vine and the branches, fifth is the Chief Cornerstone and the stones of the building, sixth is the High Priest and the royal priesthood, and the seventh figure is of the Bridegroom and the Bride.
We at FaithEquip proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9). Glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, great things He has done (in the past) and great things He will yet do (in the future). But we must add: Glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, great things He is doing today, not only in heaven but also on earth!
The above partially summarises an article by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum on the topic.
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