Beyond Merely Believing that Jesus Ascended

               Many Christians recite the fact of the Ascension of Christ every Sunday.  As part of the Apostle’s Creed we say together, “He ascended into Heaven.”  This is grand and I heartily approve but my fear is that the reality of the Ascension of Jesus does not grip the hearts and minds of many who repeat the creed.

As a practicing pastor and missionary for the last 56 years I have known a great number of professing Christians whose lives do not reflect deep faith in this awesome reality.  Frustrated by their own habitual sinning and depressed by their constant failure to prosper in their professed faith, too many of these dear people seem to have a mentality of spiritual failure. I am convinced that such a sad mind-set fails to take hold of the glorious wonder of the Ascension and of the Resurrection that preceded it.

On the contrary the Apostle Peter reflects the normal mentality, the normal mind-set of a Christian when he tells the Sanhedrin that he cannot stop speaking about the Savior. In Acts 4:12 Peter insists to that assembled court, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”  Peter had personally witnessed the death of Christ on the Cross.  Then he saw him Risen from the dead.  And finally he had stood there spell-bound as he watched Jesus rise into the eternal glory, there to be seated at the right hand of God (Acts 1:9-11).  It is this awesome complex of events that helped Peter know that his worst sins were forgiven and that he was truly free to live joyfully before his Lord.

If I might borrow contemporary psychological jargon for a moment, I could say that Peter was suffering from “obsessive compulsive disorder.” In Peter’s case, however, this was a truly joyful “disorder”.  His mind was so gripped by what he had seen in those Redemptive acts of Jesus that he had to tell everybody who would listen, even those proud members of the Sanhedrin. I am convinced that his preaching to those men would have been so full of joy that his voice would have had a singing quality to it.  Those Sanhedrin cats had the power to crucify him!  Never mind!  Peter HAD to describe the “mighty acts of Christ” even to those evil men.

I must insist: this is the NORMAL MENTALITY, THE NORMAL MIND-SET of anyone who really believes that Jesus performed his great acts of redemption in our behalf and then ASCENDED TO THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER.  It is not enough for us to recite this as a formal statement of our faith.  It must grip our imagination, our whole hearts, our whole being.  When such truth takes hold of us it enables us to do serious battle with our habitual sins.  It enables us to overcome our depressions.  It lifts us up into a world where victory over Satan becomes an increasingly frequent experience for us.  We are empowered to speak like Peter spoke to friends and enemies alike.  We begin to enter into the kind of Joy that the Savior Himself is experiencing seated at the right hand of God.

That is because we are seated beside Jesus who is seated beside the Father!  Do you believe that?  Why not?, when Ephesians 2:6 says it so plainly, “…and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” This fact is clearly asserted in other texts like Colossians 3:1 and then is assumed throughout the rest of the New Testament.  There is every reason to believe such a wonderful thing about our present position in Christ.  We are kings and queens, not paupers and peasants.  When we take hold of this truth and this truth takes hold of us we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome Satan and all his whole legion of demons.

This is why I wrote blog #15 and why I preached that sermon on this subject last week.  It has become one of the main reasons for me to remain active.  The longer I live and preach the more I am convinced that we need to give far greater emphasis to the triumphing acts of Jesus:  His bodily rising from the dead, his Ascension into glory, His enthronement at the right hand of God, His present work of building His glorious Temple that will be finally revealed in the work he is completing in Revelation 21 and 22.

Please believe me when I say I do not want to fault my brothers in the ministry.  But the fact is that I so want to influence them.  I want them to join me and others with such convictions. I want everyone who reads these blogs to be so gripped by the mighty redemptive acts of Jesus that they will be lifted up in the Holy Spirit-given Joy of our salvation.  Our Faith in this great Savior is not a heavy burden that we have to carry.  It is not an obstacle to full and satisfying life.  It is the very essence of true life, setting us free from the illusions and delusions that Satan and the sinful world try to foist on us at every turn.

We praise our great Trinitarian God for loving us so much that He has seated us with Christ in the heavenly places.

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