May. 24, 2017

Who Are You, And Where Do You Live? - Celebrating Ascension

Scripture Passages for Consideration:

Mark 16:19. “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”

Psalm 110:1,2. “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’ The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies.’”

Ephesians 2:4-7. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 1:22,23. “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

Psalm 8:4-6. “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.” (Wow!)

It is not the intention of this article to weave all of these into any sort of narrative, but hopefully, by presenting them and a few provocative questions, to stimulate a hunger leading to satisfying a curiosity about our reality. They are offered for your contemplation along with the following thoughts.

What might be the full and amazing purpose for which mankind has been created, which was lost, and to which our Heavenly Father intends to restore us in Christ Jesus? How is this to come about? Is it about this vision and its beginnings in the here and now, or about going to heaven when I die, or both?

Might this be the reason why, before Jesus Ascension into heaven (which is celebrated in the Church today), He reveals something rather startling in Mark 16:17,18? “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  And then on to verse 20. “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.” The entire book of Acts follows up with a narrative depicting who the church is, where she lives, and what she looks like.

What we’re supposed to see are attesting signs that follow, which indicate the authority of the Gospel message and the restoration of God’s reign over mankind and the earth, as it spreads over all the world. He created it and redeemed it through His Son - from sin, death, and the power of the evil one. His Church must see itself as involved in a grand celestial search, rescue, and salvage operation that is to be taking place whereby mankind experiences restoration as sons of God! This is why Jesus commands, according to Matthew 28:20, to those who go forth to preach the Gospel and to baptize, that they are also to teach “them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This mission impossible, made possible by the One through Whom all things are possible, begs the question 2000 years later, Where is this understanding and its relationship to the meaning of “Ascension” (in Christian terms, not Luciferian)? Where is its manifestation, as Jesus Himself reveals it, and it came about through the Church that flourished right after that 1st Pentecost?

These passages paint not only a very powerful picture of a dynamic church but also a holy church, living in and being led as sons of God by the Holy Spirit of God, as she goes forth to baptize and make disciples of all nations. Her directive is to teach all that Christ commanded us. The unfolding of this restoration includes attesting signs that the authority of God Almighty is announcing His reign through His Church.

After all, has not “… The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil”? 1 John 3:8b.

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that these are not only redeemed, but are already essentially spiritually seated with Christ in heavenly places at the right hand of God the Father - not only bought, but brought with Him in His death, resurrection, and ascension!!! One could say we are bi-locating Christians, present physically on earth and spiritually seated in Christ at the Father’s right hand, in heavenly places. Ponder that for awhile!!!

This Church is set apart from the world and other religions to be the living, breathing answer to the question posed by David in Psalm 8, “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?”

How is it that the vibrant truth of our reality in Christ Jesus has been supplanted by watered down theological systems of thinking, by repetitive religious practices pitched as the way that we “connect” with grace, or the “visions” of mere mortal men caught up in the pride of intellect with their own ideas? These perspectives more likely than not keep us in a very earth bound mindset, and utterly other than what is clearly and fully revealed by Holy Scripture alone - the Scripture that reveals Jesus Christ as the Way, Truth, and Life, and the At-one-ment bestowed through His work on the cross?

Who is behind making sure, with these cunning devices, that the elect never perceive who they really are and where they live, move, and have their being? Who therefore, because of the lack of divine wisdom and understanding, will be robbed of a full and powerful Gospel? Not only the Church suffers, but the whole world (into which our Lord sends us) which lies under the power of the evil one. Why? Because the knowledge of Christ is not being disseminated as He laid it down, with signs evidencing His presence and authority following!

We need to ask ourself, what - according to the Word of God which He made sure has been clearly preserved and laid out before us - is the whole vision of Jesus Christ for His people and for the world which He has ransomed with His own precious blood? Am I at one with this? Who am I and where do I live - according to His word? What am I doing on earth for heaven's sake? Am I off in la la land somewhere ruminating on my worldly “dreams”, drinking the Kool Aid of some religion that promotes the gods of the belly and self satisfaction? Am I participating in God’s vision for His Church and the world He created, redeemed and intends to restore through His Body on Earth? Or have I been conned into a lesser vision which may actually be more aligned with the agenda of the Adversary?

Who decided that the Vision of Christ and His Apostles for His Church - His bride, His holy body - ceased with the first century Church? 

Is Jesus Christ “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)? If so, let us review who we are and where we live, and then repent of all lesser ideas than His, as we cry out to Him for wisdom and direction! Amen.