This entry is part 16 of 16 in the series: The Fountain of Life (Flavel)
- The excellency of knowing Christ crucified
- Christ’s primeval glory
- Christ’s wonderful person
- Christ’s humiliation in his incarnation
- Christ’s humiliation in his life
- Christ’s prayer for his people
- The Lord’s Supper
- Christ’s illegal trial and condemnation
- The nature of Christ’s death
- ‘Father, forgive them’
- Flavel on Jesus’ cry of dereliction
- “It is finished”
- ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’
- The resurrection of Christ
- The ascension of Christ
- Christ’s exaltation
A summary of chapter 41 of The Fountain of Life, by John Flavel.
“When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:3
Christ is described
- By his essential and primeval glory and dignity, he is ‘the brightness at his Father’s glory’, the very splendor of glory, the very refulgency of that son of glory.
- By the work he wrought here on earth, in his humbled state, ‘When he had by himself purged our sins.’
- By his glory, which (as a reward of that work) he now enjoys in heaven. ‘He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.’
When our Lord Jesus Christ had finished his work on earth, he was placed in the seat of the highest honor and authority at the right-hand of God in heaven.
This truth is transformingly glorious. Stephen had but a glimpse of Christ at his Father’s right hand, and it caused “his face to shine, as it had been the face of an angel”, Acts 7:56.
1. What are we to understand here by God’s right hand?
It is the hand of honor, the upper hand, where we place those whom we highly esteem and honor. ‘God has therein expressed more favor, delight, and honor to Jesus Christ, than ever he did to any creature. “To which of the angels said he at any time, sit you on my right hand?” Heb. 1:13.’
It is the hand of power: we call it the weapon hand, and the working hand. ‘And the setting of Christ there, imports his exaltation to the highest authority, and most supreme dominion.’
It is the hand of nearness; hence the expression, ‘to sit at one’s elbow’.
2. What is implied in Christ’s sitting at God’s right-hand, with his enemies for his footstool?
(a) ‘It implies the perfecting and completing of Christ’s work, that he came into the world about. After his work was ended, then he sat down and rested from those labors, Heb. 10:11, 12…Here he assigns a double difference between Christ and the Levitical priests; they stand, which is the posture of servants; he sits, which is the posture of a Lord. They stand daily, because their sacrifices cannot take away sin; he did his work fully, by one offering; and after that, sits or rests forever in heaven.’
(b) It shows ‘the high content and satisfaction of God the Father in him, and in his work. “The Lord said to my Lord, sit you on my right hand;” the words are brought in as the words of the Father, welcoming Christ to heaven; and (as it were) congratulating the happy accomplishment of his most difficult work…O how well is he pleased with Christ, and what he has done! He delighted greatly to behold him here in his work on earth, and by a voice from the excellent glory he told him so, when he spoke from heaven to him, saying, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” 2 Pet. 1:17. And himself tells us, John 10:17. “Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life,” etc. for it was a work that the heart of God had been set upon from eternity. He took infinite delight in it.’
(c) It shows ‘the advancement of Christ’s human nature to the highest honor; even to be the object of adoration to angels and men.’
(d) ‘It imports the sovereignty and supremacy of Christ over all. The investiture of Christ, with authority over the empire of both worlds…He is over the spiritual kingdom, the Church, absolute Lord there, Mat. 28:18, 19, 20. He is also Lord over the providential kingdom, the whole world, Psalm. 110:2. And this providential kingdom, being subordinate to his spiritual kingdom; he orders and rules this, for the advantage and benefit thereof, Eph. 1:22.’
(e) It ‘implies Christ to be a conqueror over all his enemies. To have his enemies under his feet, notes perfect conquest and complete victory…It is true indeed this victory is incomplete and in consummate; for now “we see not yet all things put under him, (says the apostle) but we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor,” and that is enough. Enough to show the power of his enemies is now broken; and though they make some opposition still, yet it is to no purpose at all; for he is so infinitely above them, that they must fall before him…And all the power of God stands ready bent to strike through his enemies, as it is, Psalm. 110:5.’
(f) It shows ‘the great and wonderful change that is made upon the state and condition of Christ, since his ascension into heaven. Ah, it is far otherwise with him now, than it was in the days of his humiliation here on earth…He was born in a stable, but now he reigns in his royal palace. Then he had a manger for his cradle, but now he sits on a chair of state. Then oxen and asses were his companions, now thousands of saints, and ten thousands of angels minister round about his throne. Then in contempt, they called him the carpenter’s son, now he obtains a more excellent name than angels. Then he was led away into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, now it is proclaimed before him, “let all the angels of God worship him.” Then he had not a place to lay his head on, now he is exalted to be heir of all things. In his state of humiliation, “he endured the contradiction of sinners;” in his state of exaltation, “he is adored and admired by saints and angels.” Then “he had no form or loveliness; and when we saw him, there was no beauty, why we should desire him:” Now the beauty of his countenance shall send forth such glorious beams, as shall dazzle the eyes of all the celestial inhabitants round about him.’
(g) It ‘implies the advancement of believers to the highest honor: For this session of Christ’s respects them, and there he sits as our representative, in which regard we are made to sit with him in heavenly places, as the apostle speaks, Eph. 2:6.’
1. Is this so great an honor to Christ, to sit enthroned at God’s right hand? What honor then is reserved in heaven for those that are faithful to Christ, now on the earth?
2. If Christ Jesus thus enthroned in heaven then how impossible is it, that ever his interest should ever fail on earth?
3. Is Christ set down on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven? ‘O with what reverence should we approach him in the duties of his worship! Away with light and low thoughts of Christ. Away with formal, irreverent, and careless frames in praying, hearing, receiving, yes, in conferring and speaking of Christ. Away with all deadness, and drowsiness in duties; for he is a great King with whom you have to do. A king, to whom the kings of the earth are but as little bits of clay. Lo, the angels cover their faces in his presence. He is an adorable Majesty.’
O that you did but know what a glorious Lord you worship and serve, who makes the very place of his feet glorious, wherever he comes. Surely He is greatly to be feared in the assembly of his saints, and to be had in reverence of all that are round about him. There is indeed a boldness or liberty of speech allowed to the saints, Eph. 3:12. But no rudeness or irreverence. We may indeed come, as the children of a king come to the father, who is both their awful sovereign, and tender father; which double relation causes a due mixture of love, and reverence in their hearts, when they come before him. You may be free, but not crude, in his presence. Though he be your Father, Brother, Friend; yet the distance between him and you is infinite.
4. If Christ be so gloriously advanced in the highest throne, ‘then none need to reckon themselves dishonored, by suffering the vilest things for his sake.‘
5. If Christ sat not down to rest in heaven, until he had finished his work on earth; ‘then it is in vain for us to think of rest, until we have finished our work, as Christ also did his. How willing are we to find rest here! To dream of that, which Christ never found in this world, nor any ever found before us. O think not of resting, until you have done working and done sinning. Your life and your labors must end together.’
(i) Grace will not suffer you to rest here. Its tendencies are beyond this world. It will be looking and longing for the blessed hope.
(ii) Your corruptions will keep you from rest here. They will continually exercise your spirits, and keep you upon your watch. Rom 7:21-24.
(iii) Satan will do it. ‘He will find you work enough with his temptations and suggestions, and except you can sleep quietly in his arms as the wicked do, there is no rest to be expected.’ 1 Pet 5:8.
(iv) Nor will wicked men suffer you to be quiet on this side of heaven. Psa 57:4.