Monday, April 25, 2011

Bavinck on Christ's Exaltation

“But in the state of exaltation, consequently, he has also been given the divine right, the divine appointment, the royal power and prerogatives to carry out the work of re-creation in full, to conquer all his enemies, to save all those who have been given to him, and to perfect the entire kingdom of God. On the basis of the one, perfect sacrifice made on the cross, he now--in keeping with the will of the Father--distributes all his benefits. Those benefits are not the physical or magical aftereffect of his earthly life and death; the history of the kingdom of God is not an evolutionistic process. It is the living exalted Christ, seated at the right hand of God, who deliberately and with authority distributes all these benefits, gathers his elect, overcomes his enemies, and directs the history of the world toward the day of his parousia. He is still consistently at work in heaven as mediator. He not only was but still is our chief prophet, our only high priest, and our eternal king. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
“There is, of course, an enormous difference between the work of Christ did in his humiliation and what he accomplishes in his exaltation. Just as after the resurrection, his person appeared in another form, so also his work assumed another form. He is no longer servant but Lord and Ruler, and his work is now no longer a sacrifice of obedience, but the conduct of royal dominion until he has gathered all his own and put all his enemies under his feet.” (Reformed Dogmatics, vol 3, p.474).
A couple of thoughts:
1. I think there are many who disconnect the kingdom of God from the cross and the resurrection. Equally, it is important to see that the mode of the kingdom as it is present today by some minimizes the significance of the ascension and Christ reigning from heaven (where he dwells bodily in his resurrected state). As such it is this minimization that tend to see the kingdom advancing today in a sort of evolutionary process. Thus, we are told that we build the kingdom as opposed to seeing Christ as the one who builds the kingdom and we receive it. Christ has one the kingdom and he distributes the benefits. While the kingdom advances, it does so because Christ has won the kingdom on the cross.

2. The resurrection is the first phase of the exaltation of Christ. And so as Bavinck says elsewhere "in the state of his exaltation there remains must for Christ to do." We should connect the ministry of the work on the cross with the ministry that Christ carries out as priest and king in his resurrected-exalted state.

3. We should temper the work of Christ around the two phases of his humanity: humility and exaltation. This gives us a paradigm for thinking about the work of Christ on the cross and now in the kingdom inaugurated. It gives us the paradigm for salvation history. It also gives us a paradigm for the structure of the Christian life. We are united to the king who is exalted but our present state and activity here on earth is to be one of humility, that often includes suffering like Christ suffered.

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"The Voyages..." Forays into Biblical studies, Biblical exegesis, theology, exposition, life, and occasionally some Star Trek...