. Celebrating Christ in His ascension

CELEBRATING CHRIST IN HIS ASCENSION.

There has been a lot of focus during this lockdown on the “signs of the times” and “the “second coming of Christ.” I have watched video after video and most of them by the request of our people. There are a lot of clever guys that have the return of Christ to fetch His bride which is the church, all figured out. All I have figured out is that Christ will return and guess what? Only the Father knows when Christ will return. So, we need to be ready for whenever. There is nothing we can do if we have or have not figured it all out, as we are not going to change anything. We need to be a changed people to enter the Rest that Christ offers. What concerns me though is the number of men who start with the Newspapers and then run to Scripture, instead of starting with a responsible exegesis of Scripture. I refuse to be a Newspaper driven child of God; we are Bible Driven.

There is another past event that we must be concerned about. The great event that took place that demands the return of Christ is the ascension of Christ. As Christians we put a lot of focus on Easter with the death and resurrection of Christ. We also put a lot of focus on Christmas, which is simply a date that is used to celebrate the coming of Christ to the earth. Ascension Day which this year falls on Thursday the 21st however is of critical importance as Christ left this earth to prepare a place for us. Jesus died, Jesus rose and 40 days after His resurrection He ascended on high. Acts 1:1-3 (ESV) 1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

There are 6 lessons contained in the theme of Ascension Day that I want to share with you this morning.

1. Jesus continues His work on earth after the ascension.

A moment ago we read the following words in Acts 1:1-3  where Luke says to Theophilus 1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up,…” I preached a sermon quite a while ago on this under the title: “Being an Acts 29 believer”. If Jesus began to do and teach until the day He ascended, it is implied and then proven that Christ continues to work, and that He does through us. In reality the book of Acts is not purely the book on the “Acts of the apostles” as some say, or the “Acts of the Holy Spirit” as some say. Christ continues to work, so it should be the “Acts of Jesus Christ” who works from heaven by the Holy Spirit, through the Apostles and now through us. The book of Acts ends at Acts28 so Acts 29 is our chapter, under Christ.

2. The ascended Lord Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to his people.

After the resurrection Jesus appeared for 40 days to His followers, and He gave them a glorious promise. Luke 24:49 (ESV) 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” This clothing with power from on high took place on the day of Pentecost. Peter reminds us in Acts 2:33 (ESV) 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.” The statement “being therefore exalted” is with clear reference to the ascension. This was promised by God in Joel 2:28 and here we see it fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. In John 14:16 (ESV) 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.” So, Jesus is ascended but He sent His Spirit to be with us forever. One of the effects of the presence of the Holy Spirit is that we will be witnesses of Christ wherever we go in the world. Acts 1:8 (ESV) says: 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” He does not say that we must be His witnesses. The natural outworking of being a believer is that we witness about Christ in us, the hope of Glory. The natural outworking is that we are ready to explain the hope that is in us.  The Holy Spirit that He sent to be with us also transforms us daily. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

3. Jesus’s ascension is his heavenly enthronement as King.

 

Philippians 2:8-10 (ESV) teaches us that with the ascension Christ was exalted and that every knee will bow and acknowledge Him as Lord. It says: 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Acts 1:9-11 (ESV) “9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. Daniel 7:13-14 (ESV) 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Let me give one more verse, but there are many more. Jesus tells us to endure and in Revelation 3:21 (ESV) He says:  21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

4. Jesus’s ascension is His return to his Father.

Before and after his death and resurrection Jesus talks about His ascension and declares that he was sent by his Father and must return to his Father. John 16:28 (ESV) 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

Another clear statement by Christ with the exact words is found in John 20:17 (ESV) 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Church family Jesus ascended to His Father and as joint heirs with Jesus, by His Spirit we cry Abba Father because He is our Father. Do you realise that Jesus’ homecoming to His Father prepares our homecoming as well? Look at this great promise of Christ in John 14:2-4 (ESV)2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”

5. The ascended Lord Jesus is our heavenly mediator and high priest.

1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV) 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” No man can be mediator between ourselves and God. You cannot come to me as a pastor or go to some priest to mediate for you. Neither is Mary our mediator. There is one mediator and that is Christ. He is also our only High Priest. Hebrews 8:1 (ESV) 1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,” I told you that we read in Acts 1 of that which Jesus began to do and say before His ascension.  But now he is at work everywhere around the world and able to hear and respond to his people’s prayers no matter the time or place. Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV) “15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Our High Priest can do what the High Priests in the Old Testament could not do. He can bestow grace and mercy at any time, even during our lockdown.

6. The ascended Lord Jesus will return as King and Judge.

As I mentioned before. There is a lot of talk about the coming of the Lord now, soon, in this year or next. All that I am excited about is the words of the angels in Acts 1:11 (ESV) “11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” I can say with full assurance that Jesus will come in my lifetime. He will either return on the clouds, or, fetch me through death. Of greater concern than figuring out the times, is living for Christ right now. There is no promise in Scripture that figuring out the time does anything for our sanctification. It rather makes us puffed up as we are an intellectual grade above the rest. In the theological world there is this debate whether you are amillennial, premillennial or postmillennial. Guys will debate on forums and platforms.  The issue is: Are we living in the millennium of peace, or will Christ return before the millennium or after? Guess what, I am a panmillenial. It will all pan out when we get there. Let us rather put our focus on knowing Christ and serving Christ and looking forward to the coming of Christ. God is not going to judge any man whether he figured out the times or not. There is a judgment throne, and the sheep and the goats will be separated, the wheat and the tares will be separated, the saved and the lost will be separated and not the intellectuals from the non-intellectuals.

Remember the prayer of Christ in Matthew 6:10 (ESV) 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” At His return, the Lord Jesus will execute divine judgment, vindicating his downtrodden people and judging His enemies.

So, my friends. I present to you Jesus Christ, Son of God who was born to be a man, died on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, buried, risen from the dead, ascended on high and as He left, He will return to fetch His bride. the ascension completes Jesus’s earthly mission and signifies his enthronement as heavenly king. Jesus has completed his Father’s mission and He now rules with all authority and intercedes with all sympathy as our mediator and high priest.

So, remember: The ascension completes Jesus’s earthly mission and signifies his enthronement as heavenly king. He rules with all authority and intercedes with all sympathy as our mediator and high priest.

Remember: His ministry on earth continuous as He remains active and engaged in this world we live in, by His Spirit through His church and the power of His word.

Remember therefore: You and I need to live boldly, confidently, and strategically as servants of the exalted king of heaven. You and I need to take heart that the ascended Christ is not indifferent to our present struggles. He endured great suffering and is therefore the most merciful and sympathetic counsellor and mediator we can hope for.

Remember to: Take your cares to your ascended Lord who hears your prayers and can respond with all heaven’s authority.

Remember to put your hope in the glorious future. The ascended Lord will return as judge and king. He will abolish injustice, end suffering, and destroy death and set up his kingdom of truth, righteousness and love. Best of all, we will be with our king forever. Hallelujah.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church – 17 May 2020.