Monday, July 27, 2015

The importance of Jesus' post-resurrection and post-Pentecost ministries for you today

Philippians 3:9-10 "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

What Jesus could do in His post-resurrection ministry and is doing in His post-pentecost ministries
In yesterday's post we considered how Jesus Christ in His exalted state at the right hand of the Father experiences the sufferings of Christians and empathizes with them as man while knowing all things about them as God. We explored a little bit about grasping this profound truth through the Biblical doctrine of the believer's union with Christ. 

When Jesus raised from the dead, His physical humanity experienced a radical change that enabled Him to do things that He could not do while ministering prior to the cross. Indeed, Jesus retained and still does possess a physical human nature. That nature is the one He assumed in the virgin birth/conception upon His entry from eternity into time (Luke 1:35; Hebrews 10:5-7). However, in His post-resurrection appearances, Jesus could walk through physical objects (John 20:19) and change His physical appearance (Luke 24:16) while clearly retaining a physical body (Luke 24:40-43; John 20:27). Those 40 days of post-resurrection ministry demonstrate an alteration in Jesus' humanity that gives us a glimpse into what we can look forward to as Christians when we ourselves are physically resurrected and/or transformed in our humanity at His Second coming (1 Corinthians 15:50-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The glory of all that has been said thus far is that it gets even better when we speak of Jesus' post-Pentecost ministry - i.e His current activities following His ascension into Heaven in Acts 1:10-11. As Jesus ascended into Heaven, He went into Heaven to be seated at the Father's right-hand. It must be understood that Jesus still to this day, and forevermore, will retain His physical humanity. He did not become some phantom or angel. Jesus Christ is to be forever God in human flesh. 

We saw that his human nature was altered as a result of His resurrection from the dead. However in His ascension, the wonder of what He could do in His humanity was even more expanded. 

Jesus' union with believers and their union with Him, all made possible by His post-Pentecost ministry
Time and time again the scriptures indicate that as a result of the coming Holy Spirit in Acts 2, the Person of Jesus Christ in perfect union of Deity with the Spirit could somehow communicate His glorified humanity to Christians. 

The Evangelical  Dictionary of Theology notes the following about the significance of Jesus' current union with Christians: "Current figures are employed in Scripture to illustrate thus union and identification. The vine and the branches is employed by Christ Himself in John 15:1-6. Here the union is manifested by communion, spiritual life, and fruit as a result of the union of branch and vine. The branch is in the vine and the life of the vine is in the branch. Another figure is that of the head and the body (cf. Eph 1:23-23; 4:12-16; 5:23-32). Here also there is organic union of the body and the head, depicting the living union of Christ and the church."

Life practical application of Christ's union with us and us with Him
This incredible union between the Lord Jesus Christ and believers is an amazing subject to consider. Not only is the believer's union with Jesus a profound theological truth, but moreso a practical reality regarding the believer's identity. To know that Jesus Christ is not sealed off from us in history, or in heaven, or in the pages of sacred scripture, is an exciting realization. Furthermore, Christians living down here on earth as the church militant are not sealed off from their Lord in the day-to-day struggles of life nor in times of suffering for the faith. As the God-man, Jesus Christ "gets us" and "empathizes" with us more now than He could had ever done even while here in the days of His first coming. The Post-pentecost Jesus is able by the Spirit to communicate not only His Divine presence to us but also His physical post-glorified humanity in such a way as for there to be a real union between us and Him. 

When we read the passage quoted at the beginning of today's post, Paul is expressing what amounts to an experience of Christ becoming His own. At salvation, Paul had experienced what it was like to die and rise - the old life died and the new life begun. The former Saul of Tarsus died on the road to Damascus and the New Saul of Tarsus was raised out of the tomb of sin and hatred for God to a life of living and loving God. The post-Pentecost Jesus called His name and Saul became Paul. However Paul indicates that the ongoing reality of experiencing Christ's sufferings and resurrection power includes Jesus' current experience of what believers the world-over were experiencing and how His resurrection power could transcend time and be ever available. Paul's point is to state how these amazing truths are central to being a follower of Jesus Christ. 

As we noted yesterday - whenever Jesus suffers, we suffer. Conversely, whenever we suffer, Jesus in His post-Pentecost humanity at the Father's right hand empathizes and enters into our plight. Without affecting Who He is as God, the Son takes His infinite knowledge of what our pains are and will be and chooses in His glorified humanity to experience them with us right now. I beg readers to let that final point sink in - since when you really think about it - Jesus understands!