Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Jesus Ascends to Heaven ]


Acts 1:1-11

Four great events shine out brightly in the life of Jesus Christ, our Lord. All Christian minds delight to dwell on His miraculous birth, His atoning death, His glorious resurrection, and His ascension into heaven. These ae the four rounds in the ladder of divine light God has set up on earth whose top reaches to heaven. Mankind cannot afford to dispense with any of these four events, nor would it please God to forget or underestimate the value of any one of them. On that day of the ascension, Jesus took leave of this world. With His disciples He climbed the Mount of Olives just outside of Jerusalem, and on the backside of the mountain near to the little town of Bethany they came to a standstill. Standing conspicuously in the center of the group, He commanded the apostles not to depart from Jerusalem but wait for the miraculous baptism of the Holy Spirit which they would receive in a few days. He informed them they would receive power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them, and they would be witnesses to Him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth. Then He lifted His nail-pierced hands, and while He is lifting them, he begins to rise from the earth. He has risen above them all to their astonishment While the apostles were looking He ascended into mid-air. and quickly rose to the region of the clouds. They stand spellbound in astonishment, and suddenly a bright cloud, like a chariot of God, bears Him away, concealing Him from mortal gaze. This event was climaxed by the sudden appearance of two white-robed angels who said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing 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." Though we have known Christ after the flesh, henceforth now we know Him no more. This; morning, instead of gazing up into heaven like the men of Galilee, let us meditate on this great event and see if we cannot gather some profitable thoughts from the Lord's ascension.

The first thought that comes to mind is a very obvious one, but is very meaningful Simply stated, "He is gone." His voice of wisdom is silent for us. He was the light of the world; He was the way, the truth and the life, and now He is gone. What a comfort it was to the disciples to have this great teacher visibly with them, and what a great comfort it would be to have Him present with us today.. When He was present with them difficulties would disappear, problems would be solved, trials made easier and temptations averted. He sat with the disciples at the table and ate with As the disciples stood and watched Jesus ascend to the Father, awe-stricken, they must have been asking,"Who is this man?" It would not have surprised if they all would have taken off their shoes and cried, "My Lord and my God; we are standing on holy ground." That was holy ground, and no one knows the exact spot where it took place. But now His seat is empty, and the disciples were sad. If the disciples could have had their way, they would chosen that He stay on earth and not go away. I think that is the way all of us feel. It would have been a wonderful thing if Jesus had stayed on earth throughout the Christian age of the world. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Jesus was still on earth and we could go and see Him. Had He been here we could have gone to Him in every affliction and taken to Him every problem that needed solved.

We can all appreciate the feelings of the apostles in not wanting Him to leave, but all these arguments and sentiments of flesh and blood were put to silence by these words of Jesus, "I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you, but if I depart I will send Him to you." He was speaking here of the Holy Spirit. With His death and resurrection, He had completed His mission on the earth and His majestic presence was expected by the inhabitants of heaven. He is gone then and whether our weak understandings are able perceive it or not, it is better for us that Jesus should be at the right hand of God than here physically in our assemblies below. Thus we must walk with Him by faith and not by sight. He's gone from us, but the short time He was with us the world will never forget.. The next thought that comes to us about His ascension is the wonderful reception He received in heaven and the honors which were bestowed upon Him. The disciples had the last glimpse of Him when a cloud receive Him out of their sight and He disappeared into the heavens. But what happened next? We are told by the prophet Daniel exactly what transpired immediately after He disappeared from human sight. Daniel 7:13,14 says, "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed."

This is one of Daniel's most interesting prophecies. He sees one like a son of man, a member of the human race, a human being coming in the clouds of heaven. Since it was a human being, he had to be coming from the earth. There can be do doubt as to who this person was. Jesus was a Son of man, and He called Himself, "the Son of man." This scripture explains the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:8, "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive.... Now this, He ascended–what does it mean butthat He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth..." He descended at Bethlehem when the second person of the Godhead became flesh and dwelled among us. He ascended forty days after dying for the sins of the world. The human being Daniel saw coming to heaven was Jesus Christ the Messiah of the Jews , after living for 331/2 years on this earth. Daniel says that they brought him near before the Ancient of Days. Some- one brought someone near someone. Who ushered Him into the presence of Jehovah God is not told us. Doubtless, it was the attending angels who are constantly around the throne of God and worship Him day and night. 

We  can only imagine the excitement that occurred in heaven and the glory, honor and praise that was bestowed on Jesus. hat Daniel describes for us is the solemn installation of the Son of man as the Messiah into His kingdom and His appointment as the High Priest of the Christian religion, and all this in the presence of the assembled angels who attend Him as He comes forward to receive His kingdom at the hands of His Father, called the Ancient of days. On this occasion something was given to Jesus, and that something is called dominion, glory and a kingdom. As to the glory He received, the apostle Paul commented on that in his Philippian letter. Because He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, Paul said God has highly exalted Him and gave the Name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth and those under the earth. This includes all angels in heaven, all people living on earth, and all people in their graves. . All creation, animate and inanimate is represented as uniting in the universal admiration. Most likely, the name given Him which is above every name is the name Jesus.

Daniel also states that God gave Him dominion and a kingdom, and this honor became a reality ten days after He returned to heaven on the Day of Pentecost, A.D. 33, in Jerusalem.. The word dominion means rule or rulership. This dominion is said to be an everlasting dominion, and it was to be given him in connection with the kingdom to be given him. The kingdom bestowed on Him at the ascension was an earthly kingdom, and his dominion and kingdom is explained by the words, "that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him." This kingdom is one and the same thing with His church which He purchased with His own blood.. In Daniel 7 mention is made of four world kingdoms that preceded the kingdom which God gave to Christ. God gave the Babylonian kingdom to Nebuchadnezzar; the Medo-Persian Empire to Cyrus; the Greek Empire to Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire to the Caesars. After the Roman Empire. God gave the fifth world Kingdom to Christ to rule over all peoples, languages and nations. Daniel states Christ's kingdom shall never be destroyed. The kingdom was a donation of God the Father, who is called the Ancient of Days.

In anticipation of these great honors, Jesus near the end of His ministry prayed to the Father and said that God had given Him power over all flesh.He said to the disciples, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father has appointed unto me." He also said to His disciples before His ascension, "All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth." These are the same honors mentioned in Daniel 7. Christ's dominion and kingdom is represented in scripture as made to the Son of Man, or to the Son of God as the Son of man, in virtue of His having become such in obedience to the will of God the Father for the redemption of a lost world, and as the reward for the completion of that redeeming work given Him by the Father. That Christ began to exercise His regal power immediately after His ascension, and has been doing so ever since, there can be no doubt. The foundation of His visible kingdom, the church, was laid on the Day of Pentecost, A.D.33, when after the Spirit came on, the apostles they made this declaration, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ"(Acts 2:36).

My final thought about the ascension has to do with the human race and what it means to mankind. His ascension has exalted the human race to the high heavens. All of this honor and dominion and rulership bestowed on Jesus trickles down to us lowly human beings. In exalting Jesus, He has exalted all mankind. How so, you say? The Bible says that God put all things under His feet: angels, the living, the dead, the universe, the final judgment. Anything and everyone except the Father Himself has been put under His feet. It is as though God stepped aside from His throne and said to Jesus, "You are in charge of heaven and earth" until you complete the work I gave you to do." The ascension of Christ has brought great honor to the human race. The One in charge of the universe is a man. The one who has all authority in heaven and on earth is a man The one who has niversal dominion and authority in the world is a man. The one who will judge all mankind is a man. The one who will decide who and who does not go to heaven is a man. What an honor to the human species! That one of us has been given such honor, dominion and rulership should make us all proud. How fair and considerate God is that He appointed one of us to decide our eternal destiny. How much He must have loved us to make such an arrangement. God did this to encourage us, to give us hope, to give us the assurance that He is not going to mistreat anyone in the matter of going to heaven. God is saying, One of you will decide. I appoint one of you to decide who will live with Me forever. And the implication is, "One of your own kind will treat us right, one like yourself, one who lived among you and was tempted as you was in all points."

Therefore, it is for all nations, languages and peoples to make sure of their place in the kingdom of Christ, the church for which He gave His life. It is our privilege to serve Him and to be among the subjects of the Son of Man now by cordially accepting Him as our King and our Savior from sin. He has His kingdom now, into which He brings every baptized, penitent believer. His earthly kingdom is preparatory to His heavenly kingdom of glory hereafter. To be a loyal and faithful citizen in His kingdom on earth assures that we will be among His glorified subjects in the day of His appearing. It is ours to make this sure by accepting Him as our King and Savior and obeying His gospel which is the power of God to salvation. Among the last words He spoke on earth were, " Go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned." This is His commandment to His church until He comes to take it to heaven.

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