Thursday, May 17, 2012

Christ's Ascension

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 103:1-22

TO CHEW ON: "The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all." Psalm 103:19

Today is Ascension Day—the day we as Christians remember the ascension of Christ into heaven. So that's it, isn't it? Jesus ascended, straight and simple.

It is simple, and yet not. I love reading books on theology because they open my eyes to what various God-activities mean. When we read the writings of godly learned men who have made it their life's work to study such things we get an enlarged appreciation of the meaning and significance of events like the ascension.

Join me today as we peer into Jesus' ascension through the eyes of one such man to answer the questions what is Jesus' ascension and what does it mean to us? (Quotes taken from Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, pages 617-620).

1. Christ ascended to a place. ...
These narratives (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11) describe an event that is clearly designed to show the disciples that Jesus went to a place ....
Of course we cannot now say exactly where heaven is. Scripture often pictures people as ascending up into heaven or coming down from heaven (as the angels did in Jacob's dream - Genesis 28:12), so we are justified in thinking of heaven as somewhere 'above' earth ....
The repeated emphasis on the fact that Jesus went somewhere (as did Elijah, 2 Kings 2:11) and the fact that the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven from God (Revelation 21:2) all indicate that there is clearly a localization of heaven in the space-time universe.

2. Christ received glory and honour that had not been his before as the God-Man. (Scriptures cited: John 17:5; Acts 2:33) ....
Christ is now in heaven with the angelic choirs singing praise to him with the words, 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!' (Revelation 5:12).

3. Christ was seated at God's right hand.
  • This welcoming into the presence of God and sitting at God's right hand is a dramatic indication of the completion of Christ's work of redemption... (Hebrews 1:3)
  • In addition ... the act of sitting at God's right hand is an indication that he received authority over the universe... (Ephesians 1:20-21).;
  • One additional aspect of the authority that Christ received from the Father when he sat at his right hand was the authority to pour out the Holy Spirit on the church (Acts 2:33).

4. Christ's ascension has doctrinal significance for our lives
  • Christ's going up into heaven foreshadows our future ascension into heaven with him (1 Thessalonians 4:17)...
  • Jesus' ascension gives us assurance that our final home will be in heaven with him (John 14:2-3)....
  • Because of our union with Christ in his ascension, we are able to share now (in part) in Christ's authority over the universe, and we will later share in it more fully (Ephesians 2:6)

Isn't God's plan amazingly rich? Perhaps our best response is with the closing words of our Psalm:

"Bless the Lord, all His works.
In all places of His dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your plan, which included the brief stay of Jesus on earth and His ascension back to heaven. Please give me spiritual understanding of its significance to my everyday life. Amen.

MORE: Ascension Day

The Ascension Day liturgy begins with this prayer:

"Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

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