Benteke joined Villa from Genk last summer and he passed the 20-goal mark for the campaign with his treble against the Black Cats.
The victory lifted Villa level on points with Sunderland, and five points away from third-bottom Wigan Athletic, and Benteke's impact was praised by his manager.
"He's been absolutely world class," Lambert told Sky Sports. "For somebody who has just come to this country, he's been absolutely brilliant.
"A great compliment for him is that I've always said he is a real, humble guy and if he keeps that, and keeps his feet on the ground, and keeps working hard, he can be anything.
"I thought for his goal from the corner he jumped the height of the crossbar, which was outstanding!"
With fellow strugglers Newcastle United having been thrashed 6-0 by Liverpool on Saturday, the swing in goal difference enabled Villa to climb up to 16th in the table.
Lambert added: "I think first and foremost we had to try and win the game, which we did do, and the goal difference has swung again.
"We were a few behind before tonight, but to get the goals in the way we did has given us great impetus to go to Norwich on Saturday, and try and win another game."
Villa face Wigan on the final day of the season, but Lambert is hoping to have survival wrapped up before the trip to the DW Stadium.
"That's the objective," he said. "I wouldn't like to go into the last game to try and stay up.
"We've put a lot of teams in the mix and pulled away from Wigan.
"We've played really well and that's all you can ask for at this stage of the season. I hope we can keep doing that."