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Christ Who Sits

I edited this old post this morning because I might use it for something. And if I’m going to put time in on it, I might as well repost it, right?

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:11-14 ESV)

The description of Christ sitting at the right hand of God makes us think, first of all, of the exalted position of Christ. And yes, his exalted position is important, expressing to us that Jesus is Lord of All and that every creature is obligated to bow to him and confess him as Lord. But I’m not focusing  here on Christ’s placement as coequal with the Father; I’m looking at the description of Christ’s posture and what that tells us.

An old covenant priest stood daily in his priestly work. He was always in a standing position in God’s presence because his ministry was never done. Over and over again, every day, he offered the same sacrifices. His sacrifices had to be repeated because they were ineffectual: they didn’t actually take away sins. They were, we might say, a stop-gap measure rather than a real solution. The old covenant priest’s sacrifices never cleansed completely, and the outward cleansing they provided was only temporary.

There’s a pathetic quality to this picture, isn’t there? I like to complain that “a woman’s work is never done,” but I’ve got nothing on those old order priests. Day in and day out they did exactly the same work, and that it was necessary for them to keep standing and repeating only served as a reminder of the unsatisfactory nature of their work.

Not so with Christ’s work as priest: Christ offered one sacrifice of himself and then he sat down on the right hand of God. His work was over. It was over because it was effectual—not a stop-gap measure, but a real solution that took care of the whole problem all at once. It “perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Never again does his work have to be repeated, for our High Priest did a complete job: his work cleanses completely and cleanses forever. It is finished.

So Christ is right now sitting and waiting for his enemies to become his footstool. He can take a resting position because the once-for-all-time sacrifice has been offered. The job is done. Even though his enemies are not yet lying beneath his feet, the work that will bring him certain victory over them has been accomplished.

And because Christ sits, we can rest. If we believe, we share in the benefits of his work. We have forgiveness and where there is forgiveness, “there is no longer any offering for sin.” The work is done and we can rest in the forgiveness he has accomplished for us.

What’s more, because he sits, we can come. That his priestly sacrifice was completely effective means that

we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10: 19-22 ESV).

Our full assurance and our bold approach are grounded in his completed work. There is a dedicated access road for us. That our Priest is a sitting Priest confirms to us that our hearts have been sprinkled clean; our bodies have been washed; we are fully and finally forgiven; and the way is opened for us. Let us draw near!

He came, he died, he rose, and now he sits, so we can rest from our work and enter´╗┐ his presence.


Theological Term of the Week

The view that men and women are equal in value before God but that their God-given roles in the family and the church are distinct, with “some governing and teaching roles in the church are reserved for men.”1

  • From scripture:

    Then God said, “Let us make man  in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

    27 So God created man in his own image,
     in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)

    Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:11-14 ESV)

  • From The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

    Based on our understanding of Biblical teachings, we affirm the following:

    • 1. Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood (Gen 1:26-27, 2:18).
    • 2. Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).
    • 3. Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin (Gen 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Cor 11:7-9). …
    • 5. The Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, manifests the equally high value and dignity which God attached to the roles of both men and women (Gen 1:26-27, 2:18; Gal 3:28). Both Old and New Testaments also affirm the principle of male headship in the family and in the covenant community (Gen 2:18; Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Tim 2:11-15). …
    • 7. In all of life Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women, so that no earthly submission-domestic, religious, or civil-ever implies a mandate to follow a human authority into sin (Dan 3:10-18; Acts 4:19-20, 5:27-29; 1 Pet 3:1-2).
    • 8. In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries (1 Tim 2:11-15, 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9). Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will. …
  • From The Order of Creation by R. C. Sproul

    If anything transcends a cultural custom, it is a Creation ordinance. Thus, it is a dangerous business indeed to treat the matter of subordination in marriage and in the church as a mere local custom when it is clear that the New Testament mandates for these matters rest upon apostolic appeals to Creation. Such appeals make it crystal clear that these mandates were not intended to be regarded as local customs. That the church today often treats divine rules as mere customs reflects not so much the cultural conditioning of the Bible but the cultural conditioning of the modern church. Here is a case where the church capitulates to the local culture rather than being obedient to the transcendent law of God.

    … Creation ordinances may be modified, as the Mosaic Law did with regard to divorce, but the principle here is that Creation ordinances are normative unless or until they are explicitly modified by later biblical revelation.

Learn more:

  1. Sam Storms: Complementarianism
  2. Mary Kassian: Complementarianism for Dummies
  3. John MacArthur: The Biblical Position on Women’s Roles
  4. Andreas J. Köstenberger: The Crux of the Matter: Paul’s Pastoral Pronouncements Regarding Women’s Roles in 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (pdf)
  5. Douglas Moo: What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men? (pdf)
  6. D. A. Carson: Silent in the Churches: On the Role of Women in 1 Corinthians 14:33B-36 (pdf)
  7. Bill Kynes: Complementarianism: Definition and Priorities (mp3)
  8. Mark Dever: Gender Roles in the Church (mp3)

Related term:

1Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.


Round the Sphere Again

Quoting, quoting, quoting…

So here’s the way this game is played: I post an interesting quote I found somewhere in a recent blog post; you guess who is quoted. You’ll find the answers below the fold and a link to the original post so you can read the fuller context.

1. God Is A Jealous God

For one human being to be jealous of another is sinful: we are finite, and we are called to be stewards of what we have received, not jealous of others. But for God not to be jealous of his own sovereign glory and right would be a formidable failure: he would be disowning his own unique significance as God, implicitly conceding that his image-bearers have the right to independence.

2. True For Us, Too

[W]e admire a man who was firm in the faith, say four hundred years ago; the past ages are a sort of bear-pit or iron cage for him; but such a man to-day is a nuisance, and must be put down.

3. The Trouble With The Pharisees

The trouble with the Pharisees was that they were interested in details rather than principles, that they were interested in actions rather than in motives, and that they were interested in doing rather than being.

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