The Ascension and Session of Christ
Ephesians Series #044
September 22, 2019
“Father, we are indeed so grateful that You have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. You have given us more than any believer in the history of the planet has ever had in terms of spiritual assets and spiritual enablement through God the Holy Spirit. And Father, You have given us a complete canon of Scripture, complete revelation, and we are to grow by studying it, internalizing it, assimilating it, and letting You use it to transform our lives that we may be conformed to the image of Christ, for that is the standard.
“We are not here, as Paul says in Galatians 2:20, to live a life for ourselves. It is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us, and we are to live for Him. We are to do away with that self-centered, self-absorbed arrogance of our sin nature, and that cannot be done by an act of the will, but only by an act of submission to You, trusting in You through the power of God the Holy Spirit, walking by Him. That is our responsibility, and You are the one who transforms us and strengthens us in that spiritual life.
“Father, as we study today, may we come to understand a very important teaching of Your Word related to Christ’s ministry in this Church Age. Help us to understand that is a unique feature in the dispensations of the ages and that we might come to understand its significance for each of us. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
As we come together today, we’re going to look at this next section. I had started off looking at this yesterday, thinking we ought to be able to cover two or three verses here, and as I got into this, one thing that I realized is that almost every word here is one of those words some of you are more familiar with than others of you. Each word could be a message.
I’m reminded that one of the more significant, though He was a strong Calvinist, one of the more significant pastors in England, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, I believe was his name, who wrote a seven-volume commentary that was based on His sermons on Ephesians. I have known others who have taught 500 hours on Ephesians.
There is no lack to the depth that we can go into in this magnificent book, and I try not to delve too deeply, although some people may say, “Well, I don’t notice that,” this is not going to be a 500-hour series.
There is tremendous material here, and the implications of it for our spiritual life is just phenomenal. What we see in this passage as we look at Ephesians 1:19–23 is Paul rising to a point after His statement of blessing, Ephesians 1:3–14, and then his prayer. He is raised and elevated in his thought to the glories of God and what He has provided for us, especially in terms of the power that He has made available to us because we are in Christ. This is just one of those many blessings that we have been given at the instant of our salvation.
The thrust of where he goes in Ephesians 1:20-23 is on giving us this example of God’s omnipotence to show that if God is so great and powerful that He can bring life where there is death, that He can raise Christ from the dead, give Him a new body, and then bring Him to heaven and seat Him at His right hand, then there’s not much He can’t do.
There’s nothing in your life or my life that is too difficult for the omnipotence of God to handle. There’s no problem, there is no difficulty, there’s no challenge in your life that is too much for the power of God, and there is no situation in your life or my life that God was not aware of in eternity past.
Since God is wiser than any of us, He is more knowledgeable and more powerful than any of us. He has given us in His Word the tools, the skills that we are to master that enable us to surmount these challenges in life on the basis of His power. Sounds like what we’re studying on Thursday night in the sufficiency of the Scriptures, doesn’t it? That’s the issue.
This last week somebody commented to me that they didn’t think that, but a small decimal point, 0.0001% of growing mature Christians who affirm the inerrancy of Scripture are really serious about the sufficiency of the Scripture. And that’s probably true, because in our day—and it wasn’t that different in the ancient world—in our day it is just so incredibly easy to find what I call a sugar substitute.
Instead of getting the real truth, it’s easy for people to go to a therapist, or to go get drugs, or to turn to alcohol or other pleasures and entertainment to get around whatever problems they have rather than going through the temptation—that is the testing—and dealing with it on the basis of what God has provided for us and enduring it. As 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us, there is no temptation—that is the testing that has been given to us—but what is common to man, but God will with the testing provide a way to escape that we can endure it.
There’s a popular distortion of that verse, and you hear it sometimes in TV shows. I heard it this week in a TV show that God’s not going to give us more than we can handle. That’s not what that verse says. Not at all. What that verse says is that God has given us the tools so that we can endure it, and those tools are what’s in His Word. He has given us the Holy Spirit and He’s given us the Word of God, and that’s what enables us to endure and to go forward.
This is one of those great passages because it gives us a tremendous illustration of the greatness, the immensity of God’s strength and His power, and that if He can do this, then there’s not anything in our lives that we face that He can’t also handle.
There’s no temptation from our sin nature that is too great for the power of God and the power of God the Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome that temptation. That doesn’t mean it’s going to go away like that, but it will take time and it takes growth and we are strengthened by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. There’s no circumstance that involves your children or your parents or your spouse or the people at work or the need for employment: there’s nothing in any circumstance in life that’s too great for the omnipotence of God.
We see in these two passages an example that we need to truly trust in the power of God and He will sustain us, He will provide for us, and He will strengthen us no matter what we face.
We’ve seen in the previous few verses that Paul is praying continuously for the Ephesian believers. He’s praying a similar prayer in Colossians 1 for the Colossian believers and for many others. He prays for one thing: that we might have a more intimate knowledge and relationship with God.
That’s what’s indicated by the first “that,” as I pointed out in Ephesians 1:17, “that He may give to us the Spirit—that should be a capital S, the Spirit; it’s the Holy Spirit who is characterized as providing wisdom and for revealing the truth to us, and the focal point of that is—in the knowledge of God.”
The word for knowledge indicates a fuller, complete, more intimate knowledge of God, moving beyond facts to where we are living a closer relationship with Him day by day.
He reminds us in the beginning of Ephesians 1:18 that “the eyes of our understanding have already been enlightened …” That happened at regeneration, as we saw in a study of 1 Corinthians 2, and that the focal point of this prayer then is in these next three “what” clauses.
“… that we may know,” and I pointed out that the word for “know” there is a different word from “knowing”—the knowledge of Him in Ephesians 1:17 which is EPIGNOSIS. This is from OIDA. OIDA, when it’s applied to humans, indicates a knowledge that becomes the basis for further knowledge, so there’s always this growth taking place. It’s important to focus on knowledge in these areas because they become the steps to advancing in our spiritual life and growing.
1. “… that you may know what is the hope of His calling …”
2. that you may know “… what is the wealth of the glory of His inheritance …”
We’re His inheritance and as the body of Christ grows and matures, when we are glorified with Him that is going to bring glory to God when we are with Him in Heaven.
3. “… that you may know what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.”
That first part dealing with knowing “what is the hope of His calling:” hope has to do with a confident expectation, so that word looks forward. Calling looks back to when we respond to the invitation to believe in Christ. That’s what calling means. So when we responded there was a message that when we died we would go to be with the Lord face-to-face with Him, and that’s our hope. It looks to the past; we responded with a future confidence, a future conviction.
We saw passages like Colossians 1:5 and Titus 1:2 that focus on that hope: that future expectation, the hope that is laid up for us in Heaven, “that we heard before in the word of truth of the gospel.” The gospel focuses on that future confidence: that confident expectation, looking to the future. Titus 1:2 expresses this as” the hope of eternal life,” related to this calling.
We see in this opening prayer how many times these ideas come back later in Ephesians: that we’re to walk worthy of the calling with which we were called—that invitation to salvation that we responded to—as the call that looks at us as those who have responded who have a new life in Christ.
There is a new standard for our lifestyle. There’s a new standard for conduct. There is a new standard for the way in which we live—we walk with the Lord.
In Ephesians 4:4 Paul says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called—and here he uses that phrase again—in one hope of your calling.”
That hope of our calling focuses us to live today in light of eternity.
The second phrase focused on “… what is the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” That’s future.
When the body of Christ is gathered together with the Lord at the Rapture, and we are before the throne of God, there is a glory that we bring to God because of all that He has done for us.
Ephesians 1:19 he goes on to say, “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”
He uses the word “power,” which is DUNAMIS.
He then uses the word ISCHUS for strength and power again, then the word for “working” has to do with power as well. So there are four terms there; they’re just piled up on top of each other. Because the power of God goes beyond anything that we can truly grasp. The immensity of His power, it’s infinite. There is nothing greater than the power of God.
Then he gives us an example when we get to Ephesians 1:20. This is such a great passage. It refers to things that are concepts that are not that user-friendly for a lot of believers. And there’s not a lot of teaching on some of these.
Now for most of you, you’ve heard me teach through this, but there’s new folks here that haven’t heard me, and you can go back to some more in-depth studies in Hebrews and 1 Corinthians. I did a series at one point on the ascension and session of Christ, which gets into a lot more detail. I’m not going to go into that kind of detail here, but I do want to hit the high points because it’s essential to understand this phrase.
He talks about at the end of Ephesians 1:19 here, “according to the working of His mighty power …”
“… which He …” so the “which” connects it back to verse 19, “which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
The example for understanding God’s power is what He did at the resurrection, ascension and the conclusion of that in the session of Christ.
There’s a word that’s not that user-friendly, from the Latin word sessionem, which means to be seated. It was a word that entered into theology after the Protestant Reformation, and really emphasizes His current position as being seated at the right hand of God. We will get into that a little bit to summarize it, but we have to understand the session.
That’s where Daniel 7 comes in, because we see that before the Son of Man comes to the Ancient of Days, God the Father. At this point in the future at the end of the Tribulation, the Son of Man is going to come to the Ancient of Days and ask for the Kingdom.
That tells you that while He is seated at the right hand of the Father, He is not King, He has not been given the kingdom yet, which does not occur until after the Tribulation has gone by.
It is at that time that God the Father will give to Him the kingdom, and all dominion and all power is given Him.
Which is pictured when we get into Ephesians 1:21, that at the ascension He is raised above all principality and power and might and dominion. And that relates to the angelic host, primarily the evil—the demons and Satan. But He is seated at the right hand of the Father, so that authority that He’s being given is not exercised yet. He’s waiting until the Father gives it to Him.
This is the example, and as we think about that, it should just amaze us that that power is available to us. And very few of us ever really rely on the omnipotence of God to get us through just getting up and getting dressed in the morning.
Let’s bring it down to those mundane things. Everything we do in life needs to be something we rely on the Father for. It shouldn’t be that “Oh, I’m going to wake up and I’m going to take a shower, brush my teeth, eat my breakfast,” whatever you do in the morning, but everything is supposed to be walking with the Lord. It’s all part of our spiritual life.
It starts off with the word “which.” In the box on the left I have the Greek; it is simply a relative pronoun. But what’s important is it goes back to what is before, to something that is stated in Ephesians 1:19.
The reason that’s important: there’s a certain number of people who think the prayer is over with and that this is more of a doxological statement in Ephesians 1:20–23, that is a phrase that is just praying to God. But it is grammatically connected, so that Ephesians 1:20–23, the end of the chapter, are all connected and come out of what is said in Ephesians 1:19.
“Which” is a feminine article and that’s important because a relative pronoun has to refer back to a feminine noun. In language there has to be an affinity between the pronouns and the nouns. They have to be in the same gender. (Wouldn’t we have problems if all of a sudden grammar got all gender confused? Oh, then we would have English, right?) So this refers back to a previous noun.
When we look at Ephesians 1:19, where it talks about “according to the working of His mighty power,” it looks in English like the “which” could refer to the mighty power.
But if you look at ISCHUS, ISCHUS is the might of His power. That’s a feminine noun and that might be a source of reference, but the word “power” is a neuter, so that can’t be the antecedent for the relative pronoun in Ephesians 1:20.
But the other noun, “the work of His power,” is ENERGEIA, which is a feminine noun, and that really fits because it goes back to “according to the working,” or it should be the work because it’s a noun. “Working” in English is a genitive or participle, and that doesn’t fit, so it should be “according to the work.” So that’s the noun, “the work of His power.”
It really makes sense because when you look at the structure here in Ephesians 1:20 … Ephesians 1:19 talks about the work of His mighty power. When you look at Ephesians 1:20 “which He worked in Christ Jesus,” the Greek word for worked is the cognate verb for the noun. That makes it clear … [Looking out over the audience] I see a fog.
You’ve got a relative pronoun that agrees in gender with a word in the previous phrase that is a cognate of the verb that follows it. That makes it clear it’s all connected together. It’s talking about this exercise of God’s power that was exercised in the resurrection of Jesus and His ascension and session at the right hand of the Father.
This is what He worked at the time of the resurrection, “when He raised Him from the dead …” This is the verb EGEIRO, which you almost always find associated with resurrection passages talking about Christ being raised from the dead. It is usually in passive sense because Christ receives the action of being raised.
It’s active here because it’s talking about God the Father raising Him. The Father raises Christ. He doesn’t raise Himself from the dead. This passage says He’s
1. raised from the dead, and
2. seated at His right hand in the heavenly places.
The verb KATHIZO means to set or to place something in a particular location, so “seated” indicates that Christ is in a particular position. From other passages we understand more about this—we will look at these a little later on—but He is seated at the right hand.
Interestingly, when we were in Psalm 89, which we went through on Tuesday nights for several weeks. One of the things that was brought out in that psalm, talks about the hand of God and the right hand of God. When you have these idioms in the Old Testament: the arm of God, the hand of God, they indicate His power. It’s a metaphor for God’s ability to do things.
When it talks about the right hand of God, it’s also emphasizing that power, but there’s something that’s added to it. Because in the ancient world when someone was seated at the right hand of someone in authority, then they were given delegated authority from the one next to whom they are sitting.
When the Son is at the right hand of the Father, that’s a position of power, it’s a position of authority. But He is seated, He is not portrayed as being active at this point other than He is the head of the body.
That’s where this passage goes, Ephesians 1:22–23: He is the head, which is a term for authority. He is the authority over all things to the church, which His body. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, a position of power and a position of authority.
This is the power, the strength of God’s power, which He worked in Christ—that is in terms of Christ’s resurrection, ascension and session—when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly places.
This is another use of the phrase “in the heavenlies,” as translated in the King James. This relates to the sphere of the third Heaven, which is the domain of the throne of God.
I want to stop and take a look at the ascension and session of Christ. The ascension is described for us in Acts 1:9–11. This is His last meeting with the disciples, and we’re told in Acts 1, they go to the Mount of Olives.
Just as described by Ezekiel, when the Shekinah left the temple in roughly 586 BC or before; the Shekinah first leaves the Holy of Holies. Ezekiel sees it moving out to the doorway of the temple, then moving across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, and then going up to Heaven.
Jesus is following that same pattern; there’s a connection there. He is going to give His parting instructions reminding them once again that they have been commissioned to take the gospel into the whole world, but until that event occurs when the Holy Spirit comes, they are to wait in Jerusalem. Acts 1:8, wait here until the Spirit comes.
Acts 1:9, Luke writes, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up—that’s the ascension—He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, the whole two men stood by them in white apparel.”
Now here’s a question for you. Most of you are pretty jaded at language like this because you’ve seen the Mercury astronauts launched and go up into outer space, you’ve seen airplanes take off, you’ve been on airplanes that have taken off, you’ve seen missiles launched, you’ve seen rockets launched. But the apostles had never seen anything like this, and Jesus just took off: He just goes straight up.
I always loved this picture that I found years ago. They’re just looking at Jesus, and if you can’t see it, well, you just have two feet at the top center of the picture as Jesus is blasting off into Heaven as it were and they’re just stunned.
Acts 1:11, while they sit there, an angel appears to them and says, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
That’s a really interesting statement because it tells us that Jesus is coming back, and it tells us how Jesus is coming back: in the same way that He left. So you’re are going to have this physical, bodily return—descent to the earth—when He returns.
That’s the ascension of Christ: He goes through the heavens. As the writer of Hebrews says, He goes through the heavens, He goes through the universe just in split-second of thought, and goes to the right hand of the Father in Heaven.
I’m not going to go through all of this material, but I want to survey it so that you can read it for a little background information. This basically pulls together from a lot of passages, but there are four key passages that you should look at.
(I need to rearrange the order of this slide as I was thinking about it as I was driving this morning.) The way in which you should order this is:
a. Read Psalm 89. We’ve read that; it is a meditation on the Davidic Covenant and a prayer that God would be faithful to the covenant that He made and that He would preserve the line of David. That takes us to the beginning.
b. Then Psalm 110 where the Father is saying to the Son, “sit here at My right hand.”
c. Then Psalm 132 and Psalm 2, which focuses on the return of the Lord’s anointed, and He defeats the kings of the earth.
d. Then Daniel 7 which focuses on the Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days to receive the Kingdom.
1. FOUR Messianic Psalms: first read Psalm 89, Psalm 110, Psalm 132, Psalm 2, then Daniel 7, in that order. Those are the four key Psalms that are the background for all of this.
2. We have to understand the terms: Son of Man, Son of God, Son of David, King of kings and Lord of lords. Each term represents something different.
In Hebrew and the other ancient Near Eastern languages, in a lot of the idioms if you had certain characteristics then you would be described as a “son of” that. If you were a fool, you would be called the “son of a fool.” If you were a murderer, you’re called the “son of a murderer.” If you’re disruptive and destructive, then you would be a “son of Belial.”
Usually those aren’t translated that way into English; they’re more or less interpreted. So if you’re talking about somebody and emphasizing their humanity, then they would be called the son of man. Son of Man becomes a title for the Messiah, and it comes from Daniel 7. Son of man is used in Ezekiel, but that’s used because God is addressing Ezekiel as a man. He calls him son of man. It’s not used in a Messianic way in Ezekiel, but it is in Daniel 7.
The term Son of God refers to Jesus in His deity. He exhibits all of the characteristics of deity, and so to call Him the Son of God is the same as calling Him God, identifying Him as undiminished deity.
Son of David indicates His descent—that He is the One to whom Psalm 2 refers, using the term Son, connecting it with Psalm 89 and the Davidic covenant.
King of kings and Lord of lords is not seen in application to Jesus until Revelation 19 when He is returning to the earth.
You see the chronology that takes place, looking at different prophetic passages, where Jesus ascends, He is seated at the Father’s right hand during the Church Age where He is ministering as the High Priest for the church and He is the head of the church.
Then at the end of the Tribulation, He is going to request of the Father the Kingdom. The Kingdom is given to Him, then He returns to the earth at the Second Coming to destroy the armies of the antichrist and the false prophet and to establish His Kingdom. That does not happen until the future.
3. The Davidic Covenant is the foundation for understanding all of these things that we’ve just talked about. That’s one of the reasons why I spent so much time earlier in the year going through Psalm 89 and the Davidic Covenant, because it is foundational to understanding all of these issues people are so confused about today.
All of these issues related to the Kingdom and these choruses, people sing about Jesus as King now, they get all confused because there’s a lack of understanding of the future plan of God. So it all goes back to the Davidic Covenant.
4. We learn from Scripture that Jesus is now serving as our High Priest. It’s not a high priest according to Aaron, but according to the Melchizedekian priesthood. Melchizedek was a priest-king of Salem, an early name for Jerusalem. He was Gentile, not Jewish, and he is both priest and king. This is a type of Christ’s priesthood. He did not come from the tribe of Levi, so he could not be a Levitical priest, but he is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
We’re going to look at what the accomplishments of the ascension were.
1. The ascension validated and certified Christ’s prophecy that He would go to the Father.
That’s important. There were so many prophecies. I’m reading through a chronological reading plan right now, reading through all of the Gospels together at one time, and it’s impressive how many times Jesus made prophetic statements that were fulfilled in His lifetime.
But how many times did He make the prophecy that He was going to go to Jerusalem, He’d be arrested, He’d be betrayed, He would be abused, and He would be crucified? And the disciples just acted like they’d never heard it. It never got very far.
John 14:28: remember this is right after they have had the Passover, the Seder, between the upper room and going to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. He’s teaching them along the way.
John 14:28, “You heard that I said to you,
‘I go away, and I will come to you.’
If you love Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”
He is prophesying that with His death, He will ascend to Heaven.
2. The ascension is pictured with passive voice verbs because Jesus is brought to Heaven by the power of God; that’s Paul’s emphasis. The power of God to bring Jesus physically, bodily into heaven where it’s witnessed by the 11 disciples as eyewitnesses is a historical fact. Understanding that is the basis for us understanding how the power of God can strengthen and enable us in our spiritual life.
The ascension indicates that the Father has accepted and received His Son back to glory in Heaven. Verses are Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:2, 9, 11, 22. Acts 1 is a central passage on the ascension.
3. The ascension is pictured as a Rapture. It is a type of the Rapture. There are several different Raptures, actually, in Heaven. The word that is used in Revelation 12:5: that her child is “caught up” to God and His throne. That’s a picture of the ascension. The word “caught up” is the Greek word HARPAZO, which is the word that’s used for the Rapture in first Thessalonians 4:13–18.
The ascension is a type, and you have other ascensions in Scripture. You have, for example, the ascension of the two witnesses in Revelation 11, and you have others where they’re taken up to Heaven: Stephen was taken up to Heaven.
All of that pictures what will happen to the church at the end of the Church Age: that we will be taken in a moment in the blink of an eye, and we will all be transformed into our resurrection bodies. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up—that’s HARPAZO—caught up together with Him in the clouds.
4. The ascension completes Christ’s strategic victory in the angelic conflict.
The difference in strategy and tactics is strategy is the overall plan; tactics is what you do in a specific situation. The strategy was to defeat Satan at the Cross when Christ would be crucified as the Seed of the woman, which is predicted in Genesis 3:15.
A. Crucifixion victory over the penalty of sin—Spiritual death.
Christ paid the penalty for sin. He separated judicially from the Father, so that He bears our sin in His own body on the Cross. That is His victory over the penalty of sin.
B. His resurrection was victory over the physical consequences of sin. Death is a consequence of the penalty of spiritual death.
C. His ascension is His victory over Satan and the demonic armies.
This is where the next verse goes in Ephesians 1:21, that He is seated at the right hand of the heavenly places, “… far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”
These three elements are the totality of Christ’s strategic victory in the angelic conflict.
5. The ascension elevated a man, a human being. He’s in hypostatic union, but He is still human. He will always be human. He is undiminished deity united with true humanity forever and ever.
Now at the right hand of the Father is a human being; He is seated there in a position of authority. This goes to passages that talk about man being created initially a little lower than the angels, but then they are elevated above that.
This shows the value of the human race. The value of mankind is in God’s special plan for them, that there is a human being seated at the right hand of the Father, and He is there at the command post of the universe, He’s interceding for us as part of His role as our High Priest, and He doesn’t miss anything.
He’s not busy with somebody over in Afghanistan and getting them out of a tight fix in an ambush, while you’re over here suffering with some rebellious teenager. God can handle it all at the same time. He is the original multitasker, an infinite multitasker.
Acts 2:32–34, Peter is preaching on the Day of Pentecost, “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”
There we see the delegation of roles in the Godhead. God the Father gives the Holy Spirit to the Son. The Son received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit who He then pours out on the church, which happened on the Day of Pentecost.
Then he quotes from the Old Testament, Psalm 110:1, “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but He himself says ‘the LORD said to My Lord—the first LORD refers to God the Father, the second to God the Son—the LORD said to My Lord, “Sit at My right hand.” ’ ”
He is in a position of power and authority.
6. The ascension marks the beginning of Christ’s high priestly ministry. That’s His role. Christ came; He is prophet, priest, and king. In the first advent He primarily functioned as prophet. He is at the right hand of the Father functioning as Priest, and when He returns, He will be King. There is a nice progress there.
7. In the ascension the Messiah is the forerunner into Heaven. He is the first fruit of the resurrection, and He is the first to ascend to Heaven.
Hebrews 6:20, “… where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
He’s not just a high priest for the Church Age, He is a high priest forever, and He is our high priest and the head of the body.
8. Jesus’ present position in Heaven marks the position of the Church Age believers in the heavenlies.
One of the reasons I’m spending time on this today is because in just a few weeks we’re going to be in Ephesians 2:5–6, “… even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
That develops this whole teaching on the ascension of Christ. God the Father’s power raised Him from the dead, brought Him to Heaven in the ascension, seated Him at the right hand of the Father, and we by our position in Christ are raised and seated in Christ.
Ephesians 1:20–21 directly provides background for understanding Ephesians 2:5–6.
9. The ascension demonstrates the manner of Christ’s future Second Coming.
You just hit the rewind button. He goes up at the ascension and He comes back at the Second Advent to the earth. That’s why it’s not the Rapture. The Rapture is Christ coming in the clouds, but in the Second Coming, He’s coming to the earth based on Acts 1:11.
10. The ascension transferred Old Testament saints from Paradise to Heaven. They were in the compartment of Sheol, known as Paradise or Abraham’s bosom, and Christ takes Old Testament saints to Heaven at the time of the ascension, Ephesians 4:9–10.
11. Jesus Christ had to ascend, so that He could send the Holy Spirit to perform the following post-salvation ministries in the life of the Church Age believer.
- When He sends the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, you have the first baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. That is the mark of the Church Age.
That is why we say the Church Age began on the Day of Pentecost, and this is unique. Nobody before Pentecost of AD 33 was baptized by the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit, the Restrainer, is removed at the Rapture, there will be no baptism by the Spirit of Tribulation saints.
Tribulation focuses on Israel. The baptism by the Spirit unites us in Christ, so those believers in the Tribulation period are not part of the church. It’s that baptism by the Holy Spirit that is unique and distinct for this Church Age.
- We are indwelt by the Spirit. Every single one of us is always permanently indwelt by God the Holy Spirit who makes a residence for us for the abiding of Christ.
- The filling ministry of God the Holy Spirit. As part of His role as indwelling, when we are walking by the Spirit, He fills us with His Word.
- Then also at the instant of salvation He distributes spiritual gifts.
The ascension had to happen first before any of those things could take place.
12. The ascension marks the beginning of the waiting period for the Kingdom, while a new people is formed related to Jesus’ title King of kings and Lord of lords.
This is taking place now: a new people. They’re not replacing Israel, but it is a second group that is being formed today that will be the bride of Christ.
This is what all is alluded to here—all of that illustrates the power of God. And there’s no situation in life we can’t handle. Nothing touches the power that God has and that He is willing to use on our behalf.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things, be reminded of Your grace, Your power, the greatness of all of Your plan, and how this has been foretold in the Old Testament, how it looks forward to its future culmination at the Second Coming of Christ. And all of these passages speak of Your incredible power that is now available to us to handle any and every situation.
“Father, we know that we have to learn about You, we have to grow in our relationship with You, our knowledge of You, so that we can learn to trust in You and to rely upon Your power and not various techniques or gimmicks that are used by many people just to try to make life work without You.
“Father, we need to be challenged to truly depend upon You.
“Now Father, we pray too that for anyone listening that may have never trusted Christ, maybe they’re uncertain of their eternal destiny. The Scripture is very clear that our only hope is to trust in You, to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as the One who died on the Cross for our sin, and that by His death He paid the penalty for all mankind.
“The issue for us now simply is to believe in Him, to trust in Him, to believe that He died for our sins, and that by trusting in Him we have eternal life, which can never be taken from us. Father, we pray that anyone listening who’s never truly understood the gospel before, would come to understand it and trust in Christ as Savior.
“Father, we ask that You would keep what we have learned today in our minds. May it be something we think about during the week in different ways that we can apply this in the problems and challenges we face in life. And we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”