Monday, December 22, 2014

What the Miraculous Son came to Achieve: A miraculous Ascension

Ephesians 2:5-10  "even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."

Introduction and Review:
Everything Jesus came to achieve in the realm of His humanity was so that all who by grace through faith heed the call to salvation can experience everything he experienced. Jesus Christ had a miraculous birth so that all sinners Divinely affected by the Spirit through the scriptures could have a miraculous birth. In yesterday's post we saw that when Jesus died on the cross as the crucified One, this meant that the Christian could say: "I have been crucified with Christ...." (Galatians 2:20). When Jesus raised from the dead, guess what? every Christian could also say they too have been raised to walk forth in newness of life! (Romans 6:4-11; 8:11) Today we aim to conclude this short series on what the Miraculous Son came to achieve in His incarnation by noting that he came to achieve a miraculous ascension. Just like His birth, death and resurrection, the ascension is used in the New Testament to describe the experiential life and identity of the Christ follower today. 

Just as Jesus is seated in the Heavenly realms, Christians too can say the same thing positionally and spiritually about themselves. 
Since Jesus Christ ascended into heaven in glorified, physical, resurrected humanity - the Christian now can say they are spiritually seated in the heavens with Jesus and look forward to when He returns to give them a glorified, physical, resurrected body like His own. (Ephesians 2:6-11; 1 Corinthians 15:35-58) Why is this truth so important?

Jesus ascended to provide power for Christian living
The ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven was not only a historical event, and a cosmic event but also an event that would provide the basis for Christian living for every generation of the converted church. Theologian William Conner notes: The whole New Testament after the Gospels is written from the standpoint of the exalted Christ. The writers do not so much look back to the historic Jesus as they look up to the glorified Christ." To clarify further what Conner is talking about, I heard a preacher make the following statement that aids in summarizing the entire New Testament: "Who Jesus Was is found in the Old Testament and the Gospels; Who Jesus is now is found in Acts and the Epistles; who Jesus will be is found in His return in the Book of Revelation."  

As I come to know "Whose I am", I discover "who I am". Those two fundamental truths, if retained, function as the bedrock of practical everyday Christian life. The following scriptures serve to show how Jesus' ascension is the power source for the Christian life:

1. Ephesians 1:18-20 "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places."

2. Colossians 3:1-3 "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

3. Hebrews 4:14-16 "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

4. 1 Peter 3:22-4:2 "who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him. (4:1) Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God."

So another reason to rejoice in the ascended Jesus is due to the fact He provides power for Christian living, and really Christian identity.  By focusing upon the ascended Jesus, our joy in Him increases. Christians are literally "co-enthroned" with Jesus in the heavenly realms. 

We as Christian people need to realize all that Jesus achieved in His incarnation
So many Christians, including myself at times, live below the level to which God has called us. Since Jesus came to this world as incarnate Deity, that means that we have something in common with Him and he with us. Through Jesus Christ and the person of the Holy Spirit was are able to partake of the Divine nature. Simply put - we get to experience life with God by interaction with the energies he makes available to His people. However, it must be equally affirmed that the Christian life is not just about attaining power for living in the soul, but also a change of mind and re-orientation as to how I treat my physical body and how Christians live as people in this world. Jesus came as a man and remained in his physical humanity following His resurrection from the dead. 

As the ascended God-man, his humanity is shared by all true Christians, and He with them. (Hebrews 2:11-15) The language of "partaking" applies just as equally in the Deity of Jesus as it does in His humanity. When we celebrate the Lord's table, the pictorial reality of that meal conveys the literal, spiritual reality of Jesus Christ joining with us and in us at that moment and everyday of the Christian walk. Jesus' ascension achieved the power to walk above my hang-ups and for Him to walk in me and through me.

Closing thoughts:
In these past several posts we have attempted to show the reader how Jesus' Christ, the Miraculous Son, came to earth in His incarnation to achieve four life-practical truths for people who are by grace through faith redeemed in Him:

1. He achieved a miraculous birth to make available the New birth

2. He achieved a miraculous death and resurrection to make actual a co-crucifixion and co-resurrection for every believer in Him

3. He achieved a miraculous ascension whereby the Christian in their identity could begin to enjoy co-enthronement with Him. 

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