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Advent 2013 #1. The Lord’s Ascension and Second Coming.


The Lord’s Ascension and Return

Text Acts 1:9-11
The passage that we read together from the Book of Acts is such an amazing, dramatic account of a pivotal event in the life of the early church. We have here Christ’s final statement to his disciples in this world, – the very key to everything else that is going to happen in Acts… Chap 1:7-8

1. Christ’s Ascension. he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight
The importance of this event:

It was VISIBLE. The disciples saw it happening…. He was taken up. Isn’t there a great significance in that. Jesus ASCENDED. He did literally rise up, before the eyewitness of the disciples. He arose, and ascended into heaven. There was huge symbolism in that ascension. He was received into glory! Can you even begin to imagine the rapturous welcome that Christ, God’s son received that day as he ascended into heaven – compare with Psalm 24:7-10

It was GLORIOUS. For he was received up into a cloud. Catechism: Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation? A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

It was NECESSARY. For Christ has a heavenly ministry!

He ascended to intercede for us! He sits at the right hand of God, ever living, to intercede for us. Shorter Catechism Q. 25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest? A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.

He ascended to send us the Holy Spirit! In John 16, Jesus made a promise to his disciples: John 16:7  

He ascended to prepare a place for us! John 14: 1-3,

So, Christ has that glorious heavenly ministry, and his ascension was to mark its beginning.
And that significance is not yet fully realised, for his ascension is linked here with his return…

2. Christ’s Return. this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven
The manner of his ascension indicates the manner of Christ’s return! This again is of vital importance for the disciples and for us. The ascension signalled that the dust of the earth – a human body, now occupies a place in the universe, which is described as being at THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD. And just as he went, literally and bodily, so shall he return! For the Christian, that glorious image of Christ’s return has long been a source of great comfort. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

3. Our Response. Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?
Right here in the text, in the words of the angel, is the application of this event for the first disciples, and by extension, for us also…
They WERE gazing! Lord, tho’ parted from our sight, High above yon azure height, Grant our hearts may thither rise, Following Thee beyond the skies.—Charles Wesley. How lovely top gaze with rapture upon the Saviour, the risen ascended Lord.
They were to expect his return! It’s great to gaze upon the Saviour, to be in a place where we can meditate upon him, and reflect upon his person and his work and his majesty – but we are also to be found working for him when he returns.
Witnessing. The early church was a ‘missionary church’ It’s task was not complete – it had a call to evangelise the world. There was no time to waste. We must get up and get going.

Praying. Hebrews 4:14-16,

Praising. The church, says Kent Hughes in ‘The Church Afire’ should be effervescent – I think he means that it should not resemble a day old glass of ginger ale, all flat and sugary! It should be full of the joy of the Lord, till he returns!

Trusting. We are to occupy the time until he returns, trusting him, living humble, repentant lives, bearing the fruits of that repentance, in the outworking of the Holy Spirit in our lives, producing fruit, the fruit of the spirit… Knowing that at any moment, Christ might return to receive us unto himself.

What of those who are not living as Christ would have us? What if our hearts, even Christian hearts, are cold and careless and consumed by defeat and sin and despair? For such the thought of Christ’s second advent would be an encouragement to walk closer to Him.

Maranatha. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Bob McEvoy

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