HE WAS TAKEN UP
Acts 1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? 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. 12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.
The Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ is a very important matter if one wishes to walk in the Spirit! It is impossible to have a spiritual relation with God without an experiential fellowship with the risen and ascended Lord! Religion’s dead Jesus on a cross, or even just a head knowledge in acceptance of “the death, burial, and resurrection,” will not fit one for a spiritual walk with God! For that god of the religionist’s imagination is not THE risen, living, ascended, presently reigning Christ!
Concerning the ascension, the Lord said, Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. (John 14:19). Therefore, those who have not the spiritual awareness of a presently living and reigning Lord, no matter what they profess of themselves, are still of the world! For without spiritually anointed eyes to see him (compare Rev. 3:18), one is not to be considered as being born again! John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. And those who do see him, have the spirit of life within them, as he IS their life!
One’s ability in sight will reveal of which spirit he is of; whether of the Holy Spirit, or of the spirit of this world! John 8:38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye (Jews) do that which ye have seen with your father.
For one must, by the gift of faith, received by the Spirit, see the Son and believe on him as the living Lord to have spiritual life! John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
The religious man is one standing on earth, looking towards heaven! The spiritual man (the only true Christian) is one seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), looking back towards earth! He interprets earthly matters from a spiritual view point! 1Cor. 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For that faith, once delivered to the believers, is that alone which can view the invisible! Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
This is how Moses endured the wrath of Pharaoh! Hebrews 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. And more importantly, this is how the Lord Jesus set the example for our spiritual perception! John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
A Literal Witness
The physical sight of the ascension was of unique effect as well! The Lord began laying the groundwork for the value of seeing an ascension back in the Book of Second Kings. Consider these verses: 2 Kings 2:9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. Witnessing the ascension of Elijah marked Elisha out from the remainder of the sons of the prophets. And he did receive a double portion of the Spirit!
And so if you can see the Lord Jesus as the ascended Son of God, sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3), it is only because you already have the Holy Spirit! 1 Cor. 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
This was Stephen’s experience as well. Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
And this was also set forth in the choosing of Apostles as shown in the following verses: Acts 1:20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. 21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
In order for one to be a spiritual witness of the glorious Christ, he must have been changed by an experience of that glory! 2 Cor. 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
For just as the physical sight of the glorified Lord, upon his return to earth shall transform every believer into an eternally glorified state, so the physical viewing of the ascension gave special privilege to it’s witnesses! 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Therefore shall the continued, spiritual viewing, by faith, of the presently reigning Lord, give vitality and energy to the present spiritual man! 1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
What a wonderful view does the accomplished redemption furnish the present day believer! Under the covering of the blood of bulls and goats there was but a partial glimpse of him through the lattice work! Song 2:9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice. For even Moses was forbidden to see His face! Exodus 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
But now, the present believers, under the privileges of the blood of the Lamb, in his accomplished redemption may see the glory of God in his face, by faith! 2 Cor. 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
The word, therefore, listed in that fifth verse reveals to us a noted hinderance to our spiritual viewing of our dear Lord. For if we are to set our minds on the presently reigning Lord, as noted in verse one, we must co-operate with the Spirit’s killing out of our fleshly, inordinate affections! The word “inordinate” simply means, “beyond normal limits; excessive.” (Word Dictionary).
We have an example of this listed for us in John’s gospel. John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Here Mary was forbidden the privilege of touching the Lord, and the only reason given was concerning his ascension.
But others, at this same time were allowed to hold him by his feet! Matthew 28:9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. What was the difference?
Some good Baptists have even taken on the Roman Catholic position that the Lord made multiple ascensions! How foolish! But the only reason for Christ’s forbidding Mary’s touch was because of that which is found in the Matthew account, but is lacking in hers! – WORSHIP! She had yet to see him as the risen Lord!
He was telling her, “In your mind, I am still just earthly Jesus, walking down your streets! You do not see me as risen from the dead, having accomplished redemption! You do not yet see me as having been dead but now am alive forevermore!”
He had advised his disciples concerning this matter. Luke 22:37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. That is, the things concerning my earthly walk among you will come to an end.
The Apostle Paul also instructs us of this. 2 Corin. 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
We, as yet, do not see the fulfillment of all things, perfectly restored by God in the physical realm! But we do see, by faith, our Representative Man, sitting on the throne, in his flesh, assuring us of our soon coming glorification! Hebrews 2:8 But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
This view, by faith, keeps the Christian from becoming wearied in his earthly journey with all its trials! Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Let us continue to have a constant and stedfast look to Christ, the reigning Lord. Let us use the eye of faith to peer into things invisible so that we continue faithfully doing so in daily worship of our Savior. For failing to do so will mean that we are but spiritually dead religionists, who shall not be ready for him at his soon coming! Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Pastor Gene Breed
September 9, 2011