Implications concerning the Ascension
40 days after the Resurrection. 10 days before Pentecost. The church gathers to celebrate one of the earliest church holidays – the Ascension of our Lord. What does the ascension mean for us today in the 21st Century - living in the year of our Lord 2017? Let’s consider the words of the angels as they spoke to the 1st century believers.
Ascension marks the fact that Jesus’ work on earth is finished. Today marks the fact that Jesus' mission is complete. Yet, there is work for the members of His body to do- We review Jesus words, “And you will receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You shall be witnesses of Me in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria- even to the uttermost parts of the earth.” Jesus, by these words, reminds us that we shall receive:
1. The Power: “But ye shall receive power…”
A. Jesus has not let us weak- He has not left us powerless. To the contrary. The Lord has given power and strength to His church. He equips us to work for Him as His representatives. You are an ambassador for Christ. Armed with His credentials.
B. The places where we are given this power are found specifically in His Word which is preached, taught, read and shared. It is found specifically in His gifts; the blessed Sacraments. It is found specifically in the message of Christ’s forgiveness.
Transition: There is power there are also provisions the Lord has for His people.
2. The Provision: “After that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…”
A. God has provided you with His Spirit. Some believe that in the Ascension Jesus has left us. These believe that there is somehow a sense of separation or distance between Christ and His Church. They reason, that the Church is on earth and Christ is in heaven so somehow Christ has distanced Himself from His people. Not so! For He has sent us His Holy Spirit.
B. For what is the role of the Holy Spirit? He calls, gathers, enlightens sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith. The Holy Spirit has called you by the Gospel, gathered you into His church, enlightened you with His gifts, makes you perfect, blameless and holy and will continue to keep you faithful to Him and to the Christian faith. This is the provision He has given to you.
Transition: There is power given, there is the provisions of the Holy Spirit. There is also the prospect of being witnesses for Christ.
3. The Prospect: “And ye shall be witnesses unto me…”
A. The early Christians said repeatedly; “We are witnesses of these things” All the disciples and believers spoke concerning what he Savior had done. The result? Whole families were brought into the family of faith as the Lord was adding them those that were being saved.
B. You too are witnesses- You too tell the wonderful news concerning Jesus Christ. This is the only way the Church of Jesus Christ grows- one Christian at a time. Yet it is always the Holy Spirit who adds the increase.
Transition: Yet where shall we go? The Holy Spirit has also provided the place.
4. The Places: “In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
A. It’s where God has planted you. For the early Christians of the 1st Century it started in Jerusalem, then Judea, it grew into Samaria- then finally to the uttermost parts of the earth.
B. For us, living in the 21st Century? It starts at Friedheim, then it expands into Preble Township, it grows into Northeast Indiana. And with respect to the uttermost parts of the earth. It’s getting so much easier to reach so many. The nations are literally coming across our borders. Residents from foreign lands continue to make their home here in our area. May the Lord give us eyes to see them!
There are also the people God places in your life. People, whom you interact with; either at home, at school, in the greater community. This is your mission field.
C. We are becoming a “sending congregation.” This month we have celebrated with many of our students who have graduated from college. Many of them will continue their education at institutions even further away from home. Some will soon begin their careers; in urban centers, a greater distance from here. Literally they are traveling to the ends of the earth. Armed with the Gospel, they become witnesses of the Savior’s mercy and grace.
The 1st Century directive of reaching out continues to be your directive. God the Holy Spirit does all of the work from front to back. He simply uses you to be His instrument. The Holy Spirit has provided the power, the provision, the prospect, the place. Thanks be to God. He has done it all. Even so come Lord Jesus, come even today!
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