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April 14, 2021 4:00 am
The ascension is often overlooked, but it's reality teaches us an essential truth.
Jesus is continuing to work on our behalf today on Truth for Life. Alister big concludes our series and the Gospel according to Luke by highlighting the ongoing ministry of our ascended king Jesus, I invite you to turn your Bibles to Ephesians sensitive chapter 1 I will read from verse 15 to the end of the chapter. For this reason ever since I cared about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that God that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious father may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the same and is incomparably great power, France who believe that power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Thanks be to God for his word.
Father we pray that as we meditate upon the truth of your ascension and of Christ's ascension and you will help us that you will free our minds from every distracting influence and thought that you will come and meet with us in the way that you have promised to do this is our great need and our humble expectation. In Jesus name, amen. Those of you who were present this morning. Know that we find ourselves in the final four versus and we looked in a very cursory way of the whole question of the ascension. We said that it was perhaps the least considered aspect of the work of Christ and last we ourselves follow follow that lack of consideration, I felt it almost incumbent upon me to turn to it on this further occasion. At least this evening. So is perhaps to instill within some of us an interest in this aspect of the work of Christ that will forge within us a desire for further study and perhaps the opportunity to learn more of all that this means there is a wonderful book. Incidentally, written by Derek prime published by day one publications entitled the ascension the Charlotte of the King and I commend it to any and all of you who would be interested in pursuing further study in this area.
I want to consider with you. Just wanted to aspects of the ascension as it relates to its significance for the believer in the living of the Christian life and I have a whole host of Scripture references and I don't anticipate that you are going to turn them all up.
Won't be fast enough to do so. But if you care to take notes and I will give you the references and you can respond to them in your own time limit and just reiterate what we said this morning. First of all, that the ascension was a display of God's mighty power. It was as much a display of God's mighty power as was the resurrection, and we see that here in the verses we just read in Ephesians 1 we also said this morning that the ascension completed the work of Christ, proving the full acceptance by God the father of Christ's single sacrifice for sin.
That really is the story of the book of Hebrews. It is articulated succinctly in Hebrews 10 verse 12. We also noted that the ascension marked the return of the Lord Jesus to the father that for Jesus to ascend was to return to heaven, to the glory that he had left in John chapter 16 in verse five Jesus says to those gathered with them.
Now I am going to him who sent me, and in the ascension it was a return to the glory of all that Christ is known in eternity with the father and with the spirit, but we didn't see this morning is this that the ascension and the consequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit made possible the numerous gifts which Christ then gave to the church and all of the spiritual gifts which are necessary for the exercise of ministry, for the living of the Christian life for the bearing testimony to those who do not believe for the edification of the body for the building up of one another. All of those gifts are gifts that come to as from the throne of the ascended Christ and Paul in writing to the Ephesians. If you're open and Ephesians at your builder, turn over a page Ephesians 4 and you will see there that to each one of us.
Verse seven. Grace has been given as Christ apportioned it and then he says this is why it says when he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. And as you follow down through that paragraph, Paul lists some of the gifts that he is given to his church. The ascension made possible the preparing of a place for Christians, we are familiar with that statement by Jesus, I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. That of course is John chapter 14. Incidentally, as an aside, I was gratified and walking out of church. The church building this morning to be confronted by a young couple who came and said what was the memory verse that you gave us five or six weeks ago because we forgotten where that is. There was a dreadful moment for me. I can assure you clutching out of the air.
I said I think that was probably first Peter chapter 3 in verse 18, and desperately hoping that first Peter 318 74 Christ died for sins once for all the righteous for the unrighteous, and all three of us were great. Really relieved to find that that was the case. So when I say as you know John 14 many of you do not know, but you will be very well served by knowing and and memorizing some of these passages at the same truth is made clear in Hebrews 6 and in verse 20 where in a different way. The writer says Jesus who went before us has entered the inner sanctuary on our behalf know all of this is wrapped up in this aspect of the ascension and it needs us to ask a very basic question. What then is Jesus doing for surely he's not doing nothing. So what does the ascended Christ do in his position as the father's right hand man. While he does a tremendous amount is job description if you like is vast it's a longer list than I can go through in the time that we have let me give you one or two key aspects of Christ's present ministry. First, he is governing the universe. What I would be enough in itself, wouldn't it. He is governing the universe.
Hebrews 13 and Ephesians 1 in verses 5 to 14. Not only is he governing the universe, but he is ruling his church is the Lord Jesus who is the head of the church and we read that here in Ephesians chapter 1 he is been raised from the dead, he seated at the right hand, he's far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every title that can be given, and God has placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church. And thirdly, he's helping the members of the church that he rules helping the members of the church that he rules you find this emphasis all the way through the book of Hebrews and fight Hebrews is probably the best sourcebook in relationship to the present work of Christ in his ascended role at Hebrews chapter 2 and verse 18 reads as follows because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted the same truth is applied again in a familiar verse for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are.
In other words tonight as we sit in this building surrounded perhaps by acquaintances, but not necessarily by friends of feeling in our own hearts and perhaps a sense of aloneness. Perhaps distance from those about whom we care the most. Perhaps returning to our home alone to eat alone before Abaddon to arise to a lonely breakfast. It is of tremendous encouragement to be reminded that there is not a friend like the lowly. Jesus no not one. No, not one, and it often takes the times of deep heartache and the plunging into despair are the difficulties of life to remind us of just what an important and wonderful thing. This is that part of the ministry of Christ tonight in his ascended role is to help the members of his church. He is our ultimate help. He is our ultimate guide. Any help that we may need to one another is all had finds its only sufficiency inasmuch as we are able to point people to the ultimate help that is theirs. In Christ, and some of you feel the need of that help more than others. I in my reading and I like to read different books that have poisons in the month. And here I found this point called black hole a prayer for those going through dark places written by a lady called Shirley Vickers she wrote a collection of poems before she died in 1996. She was undergoing radio and chemotherapy treatment for cancer when she wrote as follows. Oh God, I'm] not lingual world again can feel you close to me can feel anything. It seemed as if things were fine walking in the light and suddenly panic. It's all dark I'm drowning worries no more than there were before and yet they are now so heavy, so unsolvable, so endless sucking me down and I'm listening to the enemy who is condemning me to death with his sly lines. Dr. Stella's of feeling low is just like any other illness brought on by stress hormones exhaustion the ability then why do I feel so guilty about it so powerless to drag myself out so unguarded. Where is my knowledge of you being there right beside me. Part of me while my feelings screen because I'm like this.
I have failed you therefrom less than nothing useless rubbish. Please give me the disciplined mind to refuse to entertain these trespassing thoughts which have no right to be there because I am your child to wait quietly in faith and to my receiving equipment is repaired and switched on again and I can feel you filling me with your big heart for giving me empowering me and re-mobilizing me just wary of being all time knowing what confidence can surely write such a poor without an ascended Christ who is not only governing the universe and ruling is church but he is there to help its members. Fourthly, finally he's pleading our case he's pleading our case, who is our leader's for was the floor draws the eyes of us is the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ of God before ours. Who are the's those whom he has included in the vast company of his own. Those who in repentance and faith have been added to that vast gathering that will be around the throne of heaven. One day, if God be for us, who can be against as well. Plenty of people can be against us. And plenty of things can be against us. And the devil is against is in the is the accuser of the brethren and sometimes our friends, let us down and accuses our own hearts accusers we done enough in a week that is going to accuse ourselves and know how realistic the accusation is so what we do, where do we look while we look up because we have an advocate with the father. One John 21 because Hebrews 924. He is now appearing for us in God's presence. He is interceding for us, which simply means that he is intervening in our interest. He's doing so in a way that guarantees our welfare by ensuring that what he died to seek humor for us actually becomes ours. That's what it means for him to intercede on our behalf. He speaks to the father on our behalf, and he says father I died for her father.
I live for her father. I have ascended to the throne for Madurai.
The law in all of its obedience for her. He pleads our case idolizing encouragement to you.
It definitely is to me when we drag ourselves before his throne embarrassed and bedraggled and feeling weak and inadequate. We discovered to be a throne of grace. I throne at which he doesn't give us what we deserve and instead gives is what we don't deserve what is it mean for Christ to be ascended, what is he doing he's governing the universe is ruling the church is helping its members.
He's pleading our case that is impossible to summarize the effect of the Ascension ought to have upon the believer's life. Let me try by suggesting just two things that this truth of the Ascension should be for as than a cause of deep-seated assurance Ascension doesn't mean that Jesus is absent, it actually means that Jesus is present he's absent physically present at the right hand of the father on high, but he is with us. He is with us, and in some realistic way he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me that I am his own and we have every legitimate right to expect that it should be so, and every reason to speak out loud in the car would drive when no one else is there and celebrate his presence with us and in the night watches when we awake and are overwhelmed with anxiety to say, at least if not out loud Lord Jesus Christ ascended playing. I thank you that you are here in this room with me and other things a bird in me and overwhelm me.
Are your deep concern because you live on high to help me. I am a member of your church, Jesus is a cause for deep seated assurance.
The assurance of his presence with us the assurance of his power within us is no longer I who lives as Paul, but Christ who lives in me that his Ascension ushers in the coming of the Holy Spirit. So were not left alone and that we know his power within our lives. May we know it more and more, and also a cause for deep-seated assurance concerning his purpose for us. He has a plan and a purpose for each of his children's lives.
Let's make sure that we are not closing them out of the door because he does come to know that the door of the church does need Revelation 320 behold, I stand at the door and knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and sup with him, he with me will have a meal together will talk together and assure you of my presence. I'll fill you with my power and I will make known to you.
My purpose is not only a cause for deep-seated assurance, but it is also a call to wholehearted action call to wholehearted action in the verses that we consider this morning. It's quite striking that you do not find in response to the Ascension that the disciples are rooted to the spot.
You do not discover that anyone is suggesting as they did on the Mount of Transfiguration. Interestingly enough, no one is here suggesting the building of any booths. No bright sparks as this would be a fabulous place for a monument to know no when he led them out to the vicinity of Bethany and lifted up his hands and blessed them, and while he was blessing them. He left and was taken up into heaven, and then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy their thoughts return from Jesus gone to heaven immediately to the responsibilities and the challenges of their they have received their standing orders from the risen Lord. Watch them as they go running down the road and back to Jerusalem waiting for this endearment of power and ready to fulfill God's purpose ready to plunge themselves into the stormy murky waters of the world without God.
And that's really what a Sunday nights about say to one another, one were going to have to plunge headlong again into the stormy murky waters of a world without God in the church is not an aquarium. There's a lot of fishy things go on but is still not an aquarium. Well I hope you will ask as I am asking God to teach me a little more of what it means that Jesus is my ascended Lord and King, and as he does that he might run into is this deep-seated assurance and that he might extend to us this call to wholehearted action. Father, thank you for the Bible. Thank you tonight for the reality of Christ's ascension teach us what it means.
Lord help us than to live in light of the truth, we discover we want to bring our lives to you and we do so now in Jesus name on them. It is so helpful to be reminded of the reality that Jesus is our ascended Lord and King just heard Alastair big on Truth for Life with the final message in our series from the Gospel according to Luke. If you've enjoyed listening to this current study from Luke's gospel. The complete series is free. You can downloaded on our website or you can own all 142 messages on a single USB drive USB drive is titled, the Gospel according to Luke, you can find it email@example.com/store USB is available for purchase for just five dollars plus shipping and if you're looking for a book to supplement Alistair's teaching on Jesus resurrection. We want to recommend a book called alive how the resurrection of Christ changes everything. This is a book we mentioned before, during this series. It affirms the truth of the resurrection and gives us confidence to anticipate our own resurrection so that we can live without fearing death and with the hope of eternity. It's this hope that eludes many of our friends and neighbors. So if you have a friend who is skeptical about the truth of the gospel, having access to the information in this book alive will be a terrific help to enable you to discuss with confidence the historical and biblical evidence that affirms the truth of the resurrection will be able to clearly explain the certainty you have that Jesus died and rose from the dead will raise all who believe request a copy of the book alive.
When you give to support the mission of Truth for Life can visit us online at truthforlife.org/donate call 88858788 Bob Lapine McCreary listen tomorrow as we begin a new series in the book of Hebrews chapter 11 and learn about faith through the lives of God's faith Bible teaching of Alastair big is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living