THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST

INTO HEAVEN

A STUDY BY
GARY RAY BRANSCOME
Lesson 14

    Christ remained on earth for forty days following His resurrection, during which time He gave His disciples their final instructions and was seen by several hundred people. At the end of that time, “He led His disciples out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven // and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel. 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” (Luke 24:50-51, Acts 1:9-11).

THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRIST'S ASCENSION


    Having ascended unto heaven, Christ continues to make intercession for us. Had He stayed on earth, He would have either had to judge the world then and there, or allow Satan’s dupes to continue trying to kill Him. However, because He now sits at the right hand of God, we have the comfort of knowing that He is our advocate, and that He will return, as the angels said He would — not in weakness but in power, not to be judged but to judge. [1John 2:1, Romans 8:34, Acts 10:42, 1Peter 4:5, 2Timothy 4:1, 1Thessalonians 4:15,17, Matthew 24:30,31 and 25:31-34, Acts 1:9-11.]

    In his fury to destroy Christ, Satan is continually trying to destroy us, and, to that end, accuses us before God day and night as he seeks to have us delivered into his power (1Peter 5:8, Luke 22:31, Revelation 12:10). Furthermore, left to ourselves (without Christ’s help) we would not have a chance against him. However, because Christ is our advocate, we have the comfort of knowing that we have a lawyer who not only was willing to die for us, but also lives to make intercession for us. [1John 2:1, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25, Isaiah 53:12, 1Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 9:15,24, Hebrews 10:10-15.]
    Moreover, because our salvation depends on what Christ did, not what we do, faith in Christ consists of relying on Him to get us into heaven. Therefore, those who lead people to believe that Mary or the “Saints” can get them into heaven are not only undermining faith, but are also preaching a false gospel and leading people to rely on false saviors (1Timothy 2:5, Galatians 1:6-9).

    Christ’s ascension unto heaven is also closely related to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, for if Christ had not ascended unto heaven, the Spirit would not have been sent (John 16:7). Of course, because the Holy Spirit is omnipresent He has always been present in the world, and through the nation of Israel kept faith in the true God from disappearing from the earth entirely. However, even though He caused most of the Bible to be written and brought many to faith in Christ before the day of Pentecost, it was not until Pentecost that He began His work of calling the nations to faith in Christ (2Peter 1:21, Galatians 3:6). Furthermore, as our Comforter He not only has brought us to faith in Christ, but also nurtures and keeps us through His Word, enables us to resist temptation, and works through us to convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement. [John 16:7, Hebrews 10:14:15, John 14:16:26, John 15:26, John 16:7-14, Romans 10:4,17, John 5:39, Galatians 5:17, John 20:31, Luke 11:50-51, John 5:39, 1John 5:13.]

    I might also add, that because Christ’s work of atonement is not limited by time, Abraham, and all others who were saved before the day of Pentecost, were saved the same way we are saved. Namely through faith in God’s promise of forgiveness in Christ (Galatians 3:6-22, Romans 4:1-8).

THE WORD OF THE HOLY SPIRIT


    Since Christ’s ascension went hand in hand with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, any doctrines that deal with work of the Holy Ghost [i.e. inspiration, repentance, conversion, faith, church and ministry etc.] help us to more fully understand the spiritual significance of Christ’s ascension. At the same time, because the Holy Sprit brought the Bible into existence, everything that it says in some way relates to His work of bringing Christ to the nations (2Peter 1:21).

    For example, Since Christ said that the Holy Ghost would “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment,” we can see that the truth about creation and the fall goes hand in hand with convicting the world of sin (John 16:8). In other words, it is only as we come to know the truth about creation and the fall, that we understand our relationship to God, the fact that He did not create us with a sinful nature, and why we are accountable to Him.

    Likewise, the truth of Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection go hand in hand with the Holy Spirit’s work of reproving our own righteousness, while convincing the world that true righteousness can only be ours through faith in Christ (Romans 3:28).

    Finally, the truth of Christ’s ascension, return, and judgement go hand in hand with the Holy Spirit’s work of reproving the world in regard to the final judgement, while making it clear that only those who look to Christ for forgiveness will escape God’s wrath (Romans 8:1).

    In bringing the Bible into existence, the Holy Spirit not only produced a book that contains history, law, poetry, prophecy, and proverbs, but one that is profound. Within its pages the Holy Spirit not only tells us how faith in the true God was kept alive until the work of atonement was complete, but also reveals God (as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier) in way that makes the entire body of doctrine part of God’s revelation of Himself. At the same time, the Bible was not written in the language of philosophers and intellectuals, but in the simple straightforward language of shepherds, fishermen, carpenters, and tent-makers.

A FINAL THOUGHT


    The scholars of this world have sought for centuries to discover the one key truth around which all knowledge fits together. Yet that truth, God’s great master plan of creation, is found only in Scripture. For, it is only as we acquire a Biblical worldview that we can see how that the truth of creation is basic to all hard science, while the truth about the fall is basic to what we know about human nature and society in general. In other words, all that we can learn by observation, both about this world and of the universe as a whole, is knowledge of God's creation. While, all that we can learn about man’s phobias, fallacies, divisions, lust, and greed reveals the consequences of the fall. In that way, all truth falls into place around the Biblical record, and when understood correctly agrees with and supports what the Bible says.

CONCLUSION


    On one hand, the fact that Christ ascended unto heaven is a warning, for it means that He will return to judge the living and the dead, and that prospect should strike terror into the heart of the unrepentant. On the other hand, it is a source of comfort to believers, not only because all the treasures of heaven are ours, but also because His ascension, like the resurrection, is a divine testimony to the fact that He was who He claimed to be. In other words, if He had not truly been the Son of God He would have died condemned as a sinner, God would have never raised Him from the dead, and He would have never ascended unto heaven. In fact, that is just one more reason why the Moslems (and others) who refuse to accept Him as Savior and Lord, will be without excuse on the day of judgement. [Mark 14:61-64, John 19:7, Matthew 25:31-34, 1 Corinthians 6:9,10, Romans 8:1.]


STUDY QUESTIONS


1. What does Christ do in heaven?
2. What would have happened if Christ had remained on earth?
3. Who accuses us before God night and day?
4. Who lives to make intercession for us?
5. What is the connection between Christ's ascension and Pentecost?
6. Why is the Biblical record of creation basic to all hard science?
7. What does Christ's ascension into heaven prove?
8. Why is the fact that Christ ascended a warning?
9. What is Christ’s ascension a divine testimony to?
10. After His resurrection, how long was it until Christ ascended unto heaven?