Ascension

Those who read the book of Revelation are often fascinated by the evil monsters we find there.  Satan himself is pictured as a ferocious red dragon.  A cruel, tyrannical dictatorship which he inspires is portrayed in similar, dramatic picture language as a terrifying 7-headed ‘beast’.  A blasphemous cult grows around this world leader, encouraged by a clever media propagandist.

1st Century Rome was precisely like this.  Martin Luther saw the mediaeval papacy as similar.  In the 1940s Hitler and Goebbels fitted this apocalyptic pattern perfectly. Today we might see this dreadful vision being repeated in the Middle East.

But the ‘revelation’ God gave to John, recorded for us in the last book of the Bible is not about evil.  Evil doesn’t need revealed.  It’s been sadly all too obvious, in every age and around us every day!  The actual ‘revelation’ is when the Apostle is given a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the REAL throne-room of the universe, heaven, where he sees that Jesus shares the throne of Almighty God.  Jesus, who died on the cross for the sins of the world, is risen and ascended to the Father’s right hand.  He holds the keys of death and hell.  He alone is authorised to open the scroll and unfold God’s dealing with His creation.

In the midst of hardship and persecution from corrupt powers both human and demonic God’s servants are given this reassuring perspective – that in the highest place – Jesus is Lord!

Let’s consider four great Christian truths that follow from the Ascension of our Lord.

Because He is risen from death and ascended to heavenly glory, Jesus is:

Ruling over all
Preparing a place
Building His Church
Returning to judge and gather.

1. Jesus is ruling over all.

All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to our Saviour!  How interesting that the election in Great Britain and among our neighbours in Northern Ireland took place on Ascension Day in the Christian calendar!  A good reminder as we pray for those elected to govern that there is a higher throne and a higher Power to Whom one day they and we will have to answer!

The ultimate authority over all that happens everywhere is not in Westminster or the Dail, not in Washington D.C. or the United Nations.  It is in Heaven where it belongs.  Jesus is referred to as the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’.

Sometimes we wonder, ‘Lord, if You are really in control, why do You allow such awful atrocities and disasters?’  We struggle to understand or accept the rule of Heaven.  Many scoff and choose atheism as an alternative belief.

Whatever we choose to think the Bible remains adamant.  Jesus is sovereign over all that happens.

Revelation makes clear that the devil’s work is limited and temporary.  God, through Christ, is the real Power Who is working His purposes out through the history of individuals and nations.  And while He sometimes brings judgements on His creation He is no monster.  We do well to remember Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, assuring His followers the hairs on our heads are numbered and that not even a tiny sparrow falls without our Father’s knowledge and compassion.

We must try to be patient, trusting that the world, including ourselves and those we love, are in good hands.  Hands which are scarred by love!

2. We are further encouraged when we realise our Lord’s ascension means He is doing what He promised in John 14 – He is preparing a place for us to share with Him and all His people forever.

‘In my Father’s house are many dwellings’, He assures us.  Permanent homes without fear of eviction, being made ready by One Who loves us.  A personal place at the table when we all come together in celebration with our Saviour and Friend, the Lamb, the Heavenly Bridegroom.

3. Meantime there’s work to be done on earth. For even as evil powers have their limited rampage, the Lord  is not just preparing a reward for His people in Heaven, He is still building His Church here on Earth.  He is directing His followers to take the Apostolic witness contained in Scripture to the ends of the earth.  He is still granting grace, forgiveness, salvation and new life to all who trust in Him.  He has entrusted us with the message and He empowers us with the presence and help of the Holy Spirit.

Because Jesus is ascended to the place of highest authority His request to the Father carries full weight and the Spirit is poured out in fullness of power to equip His Church for mission.  His Great Commission in Matthew 28 still stands and the work remains unfinished.  Every Christian shares this responsibility – the sharing of the Gospel in word and action with all people everywhere, until He comes again.

4. And that’s our fourth point. The risen, ascended Lord will return, not as a poor child in a manger this time, but on clouds of heavenly majesty, at the head of an angelic army.  He will harvest the Earth.  All authority is given Him to do this.  To judge and punish the devil and all who have followed his way, knowingly or otherwise.  And to gather safely home His scattered, beleaguered flock, leaving none behind.

These are essential, basic Christian truths and always have been since New Testament times.  We must heed the teaching of God’s Word and where necessary mend our ways accordingly.

To trust with patience.
To worship and pray with thankful expectation.
To serve with every opportunity we’re given.
To be ready to welcome our Lord when He comes.

 

To Him be honour and glory.

Church Service

EVERY SUNDAY
at 10.30 am
During July and August, the service will begin at 10.15 am and tea/coffee will be served afterwards.