Dear Friends in Christ,
It is fitting that we conclude this series of chapel talks on the history of the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC) on the day of our Lord’s ascension. For just as our risen Lord and Savior at God’s right hand has guided us in the past, so our present and our future are in the hands of our Savior who rules over us at God’s right hand.
The Gospel of Mark concludes with these words: “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.”
“…What will our church be like in the year 2060? That is a long ways away, but many of you will probably be living at that time, if the world lasts that long. We can barely even imagine what it will be like in 2060. Our present and our future are in the hands of the Head of our Church, Jesus Christ.”
What does it mean that Jesus is sitting down at the right hand of God? We do not have to figure out the meaning of these words by using our imaginations. God has revealed to us what is meant by His sitting at the right hand of God. Listen to these words from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “God raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power. …And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.”
On the basis of this Bible passage our catechism says:
“Christ’s sitting at the right hand of God means that He rules everything for the benefit of His people. God is a spirit; He does not have a body which has a right hand. Sitting at one’s right hand is a picture of a position of honor and authority. Christ rules at God’s right hand as our Prophet, High Priest, and King.”
Our CLC has officers and boards. Our congregations have pastors and elders and teachers and committees. It is important that we have these officers so that all things may be done decently and in order, as we are instructed. But the real and only Head of the Church is Jesus Christ at God’s right hand. All authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth.
All the blessings we have enjoyed in the past have come from Him. As our Prophet He has taught us through the prophets and apostles in His Word. As our High Priest He made the supreme sacrifice of offering Himself up on the cross to atone for all our sins. As our King He has worked all things together for our good. For He rules over all in the interest of His Church on Earth, that is, His sheep and lambs who trust in Him as their Savior and Lord. He has used His almighty power for our benefit, guiding us, watching over us, keeping us safe.
And now, what about
Back in 1960 the year 2010 was a long ways in the future. Fifty years. The ascended Lord was with us during those fifty years, blessing us in ways too numerous to mention at this time. Will He be with us during the next fifty years? What will our church be like in the year 2060? That is a long ways away, but many of you will probably be living at that time, if the world lasts that long. We can barely even imagine what it will be like in 2060.
Our present and our future are in the hands of the Head of our Church, Jesus Christ. He may decide to wrap things up before that time, bringing to an end this whole world and everything in it. That would be a good thing, would it not? All the Christians who have died from the beginning of the world would then arise from their graves and be ushered into the presence of their Savior, together with the living believers, all of us then to enjoy the presence of our Lord forever. Fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore, as the Bible says.
But if our Lord delays His coming and allows the world to continue for another fifty years, there are some things we can count on for sure. We can continue to count on the assurance given us in God’s Word that our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. Jesus, as our High Priest, is interceding for us at God’s right hand as our Mediator, telling the Father that He has already paid for all of our sins. We can continue to count on all of the promises of our God in His Word, for Jesus, our Prophet, has given us His Word in Scripture, and Jesus will continue to see to it that His Word will not perish from the Earth.
And we can continue to count on Jesus as our King in the years to come, ruling over all things in the interest of His people. But we cannot count on ourselves. We cannot depend on the strength of our faith and love. We cannot depend on the loyalty of the Church of the Lutheran Confession or on its leaders. There have been orthodox, confessional Lutheran church bodies in the past that at one time were faithful in their teaching and practice but now they have fallen away, some of them very far away from where they were. God has not promised anywhere that the CLC will remain on Earth or that the CLC will remain faithful in its teaching and practice. We can’t trust in ourselves or in our church body.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and sits at the right hand of God. He is our Head. He is our Savior. May we always put our trust in Him. We sing the hymns stanzas.
Christ, Thou art the sure Foundation,
Thou the Head and Cornerstone;
Chosen of the Lord and precious,
Binding all the Church in one;
Thou Thy Zion’s Help forever
And her Confidence alone.
Praise and honor to the Father,
Praise and honor to the Son,
Praise and honor to the Spirit,
Ever Three and ever One,
One in might and one in glory,
While unending ages run.
TLH #466:1 & 4