Apostles Creed: Seated at the Right Hand of God

The Half Truth of Control

“It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” ~ William Earnest Henley

Western thinking often speaks lies to us in the form of half-truths, and nowhere is this more evident than in the above lines from “Invictus.” While, it is true that we have some control over our lives and decisions one only has to look to either present or past disaster and instability, whether it be warfare, political turmoil, or economic downturn, as well as human’s incredibly limited power relative to the size and scope of the universe to realize the folly of embracing this type of thinking. Thus, Western style thinking might be summarized as, “I am in control, and I can sustain my life” while Christ centered thinking says, “Christ is in control and sustains my life” (Hebrews 1:3).

The Bible teaches that Christ’s control over both our lives and universe stems from his seated position of authority at the right hand of God[1]. Rather than lording his position over creation, Christ uses this power and authority to serve and intercede for his beloved, and his example is impetus for our service of others.

Christ’s Power and Authority

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him by his right hand[2] in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything”

~ Ephesians: 1:20-23 (MSG)

From the passage above, and other spaces in scripture[3] we can see that to be seated at God’s right hand it is to be in the ultimate place of power and authority. Not only are governments subject to Christ’s rule, but also our entire galaxy and universe! Thus, to say that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God is tantamount to Jesus having entered into a position of power and authority equal with God. John Calvin describes Christ’s being seated at the Father’s right hand of God as,

Christ being invested with lordship over heaven and earth, and solemnly entered into possession of the government committed to him — and that he not only entered into possession once for all, but continues in it, until he shall come down on Judgment Day”

While one might be tempted to use such power and authority to further our one’s own personal means and end we find in the book of Romans that Christ uses this position to advocate on our behalf to God.

Intercession on Our Behalf

“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” ~ Romans 8:34

The start of Romans chapter eight begins with the wonderful phrase, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, and we see that the reason for our absolution is found in the work of Christ Jesus, who not only died for us, but is in fact interceding for us. Recall that at the start of Ephesians Jesus has been exulted to the highest place of power at God’s right hand, and now in Romans chapter eight he uses this place of preeminence not to further his own glory, but in turn to intercede for us on behalf of the Father. Imagine to be confronted with immeasurable power, wealth, and majesty and yet choose to spend one’s time in intercession for others. What a gift from Jesus himself!

In sum, as he sits at God’s right hand, Jesus has ultimate power and authority, and part of that platform is used to intercede to God on our behalf. Further study, reveals that as his children we are not left on the outside in poverty, but are called into unspeakable power, wealth, and authority[4].

A Sudden Swing of Riches

 “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” ~ LeBron James

On July 8th, 2010 ESPN aired a TV special called “The Decision” in which NBA superstar Lebron James announced to a nationwide audience that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to take his talents to the Miami Heat. In a blink, the wealth status of the entire Heat fan base and ownership group swung tremendously upward. Heat fans were rewarded handsomely with two NBA championships and the privilege of watching the best team in the NBA for years, and the ownership group enjoyed unparalleled amounts of revenue from ticket, merchandise, and television. Massive amounts of power and wealth shifted when LeBron made his decision. In the same manner we to share in a transfer, of much larger and epic proportions, when God in Christ transferred us into heavenly places with Christ.

God made us alive together with Christ, raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” ~ Ephesians 2:6

All the power and wealth that stems from Christ’s position at the right hand of God is shared with us [5]! The weight of this is staggering, and beyond comprehension. Think of the confidence and joy that comes from knowing that one has box or floor seats to an entertainment event. There is a certain boldness that comes from knowing you are walking in with the best ticket in the house. This is the assurance that believers can hold in life; for in Christ we have been seated with Him in the ultimate place of authority, power, and wealth. Given this lofty status, one must be wary of the temptation to pride. Recognizing this, we must realize we are not simply called to be seated with Christ. We are also called to emulate him, and follow his example of using a position of power to serve others.

 Following His Example

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” ~ Philippians 2:5-8

Here is the ultimate act of servitude. The Lord, the King, the Master, relinquishes all his power, authority, and glory to became the once and for all sacrifice to bring man back into relationship with God. In doing so, he also calls us to follow in his example:

And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” ~ Luke 22:25-27

The command is clear and the logic is simple. If Christ, having all authority on heaven and earth, gladly surrendered all of it for us we should be willing to follow his example by loving and serving others.

 Conclusion

Western thinking embraces the idea that man is at the center of his world, and that man alone has the power to influence and control his fate. Christ’s ultimate power and authority, emanating from his being seated at the right hand of God, shatters this view. That God has also seated us with Christ is a gift of invaluable measure with immense significance. In order to capably wield it, it is imperative to look to Christ. Knowing that he uses his position of authority to pray and intercede for us should give all believers strong cause to follow in his example. May God grace us to know and implement his truth. 

Steve Hill

[1] 1 Peter 3:22 “Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.”

[2] Bolded text is ESV translation inserted into the Message translation

[3] Psalm 110:1 “The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool

Exodus 15:6“Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.”

Isaiah 48:13 “My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I    summon them, they all stand up together.

[4] 1 Corinthians 6:3-4 “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!”

[5] Romans 8:9 “And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”