Greetings again Friends! Wherever you are in the far-flung corners of the world, may the peace of Easter be with you and your loved ones. In this Post I will follow through from my previous month’s post, “The Cross.” There are two important aspects of Jesus’ life we will touch upon after His death upon the cross: His resurrection and His ascension.
“HE IS RISEN!”
“He isn’t here! He has risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying.” (Matthew 28:6)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Even though Jesus told His disciples of His impending death and resurrection, they found it too incredulous to be believed. Then when they heard from others that Jesus had indeed risen, it left them speechless. When He miraculously appeared before them, they were left gasping for breath. Jesus told one doubting disciple, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed” (John 20:29).
Yes, the Christian life is a life of living faith. Paul stated the anchor upon which the Christian faith is centered and upon which it revolves: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor.15:17). Indeed, powerful words concerning the Christian faith. The cross would be meaningless if Jesus had not risen. The resurrection is the foundation upon which the Christian faith is built. We cannot believe the cross (death of Jesus Christ) and deny His resurrection. They are both one and the same expression of His Messiahship. His life and all the prophecies concerning His calling as the Messiah would have all been fiction, a fabrication, if His resurrection from the dead had not happened for real. If it were not for the resurrection, mankind’s fate would have ended in the grave and no further. Mankind’s future of receiving the divine gift of immortality would not be possible.
The unbelieving mind thinks of the idea of the resurrection as preposterous, originating in religious zeal that borders on the fanatical. A 2010 Barna Group poll showed that only 42 percent of Americans said the meaning of Easter was about Jesus’ resurrection; just 2 percent identified it as the most important holiday of their faith. “More people have problems with Easter because it requires believing that Jesus rose from the dead,” said James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author. Yet, it is the only hope the Christian faith holds out to its followers. How do we prove to skeptics this cornerstone of Christian belief? Everything about Christianity hangs in the balance on this one focal point of the Christian faith – did Jesus die on His cross upon Calvary and rose from the dead as He and the prophecies said He would? (Psa.22; Isa.53; Psa.16, esp. V.10)
The New Testament account of the resurrection from Matthew’s gospel goes as follows, “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.’ Now I have told you.” 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” He said. They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see Me” (Matt.28:1-10).
The resurrection responds to the ancient quest for answers to the question of life, death, and the afterlife. Ancient philosophers, theologians, and sages have long sought to unlock the answers to the afterlife. There are only two certainties about life that no one can deny: life and death! Every day we experience either one of these two opposite manifestation of human reality – to exist (life), or to cease to exist (death)! Our awareness of death arise out of life itself. In other words, we would not know death were it not for life. Life always takes precedence. Humans are given to experience these twin realities not as a matter of choice, but because an external Entity superior to man has determined how human existence is offered to humanity. (Heb.9:27) If you and I had a choice, life would be our natural and only option. Death is a curse we would avoid at all cost.
So, everything about human existence cannot be answered within our mortal frame of reference without an external involvement. So, we are compelled to look outside ourselves for answers to life and death. Hence, our search for answers ends with an entity we call God. Or we may choose the path of atheism and conjure our own answers to the questions of life, death, and the afterlife. Most religions accept the external input of a deity, only their beliefs differentiate them. So, the search for meaning about life, death, and the afterlife leaves us face-to-face with an Entity we call God or Creator. God Himself knew this, or should I say stage-managed it, so humans have no other way but to turn to Him for important answers about life and death. We are left with no option but to come one-on-one with our Maker.
If we concur on the above discourse about life and death, then we have come to the same logical conclusion that the answers to them can come from no other source apart from the Creator. For Christians, His answer is articulated in His Word the Bible, and more specifically His Son, Jesus. One of Jesus’ title is the Word of God. (John 1:1) Jesus is the Personified Word of God, the Bible is the written Word of God. Jesus’ human resurrection answers man’s eternal search to the meaning of life, death, and the afterlife.
God tells us He is the source of life – life originates and exudes from His divine Trinitarian Being. He is the spring of life. (Gen.2:7; 1 Sam.2:6; Act.17:25) If that is so, where did death come from? It cannot come from God for only life proceeds from Him. Death was imposed upon man as a penalty for sin. The Bible categorically states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.6:23). When Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, sin entered our human existence, and death followed. God told our first parents, “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Gen.2:17).
Paul said, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, in this way death came to all people, because all have sinned” (Rom.5:12). Yes, no one is sinless, therefore the death penalty hangs upon all mankind. Paul goes on to say, “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Rom.5:15, 17) Paul explains how God’s Love for mankind is expressed through His Son. Jesus gives humans this passage from penalty of death to immortality, “For if we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Rom.6:5). Yes, God gave us His Son so that through His death on the cross we may not have to face death ourselves, and through His resurrection we will receive immortal life.
So when God created Adam it would have been contrary to His nature and who He is to subject him and humanity to death in any way, shape, and form. The totality of the environment in Eden was wrapped up in one element which defines who God IS: life, life, and life without end! Death is the exact antithesis of who God is in His nature. He declared Himself to His enslaved people in Egypt as “I AM that I AM” (Exo.3:14). It means ‘to be,’ which means to exist in everlasting life. Adam had life to its fullest and completest divine expression that a human can experience at the highest physical level possible! Adam existed in God’s presence, the Source of both spiritual and physical life. Adam did not know what death meant, it had no meaning with him, although he was warned of it. (Gen.2:17) It is impossible for God to make death happen because it is synonymous with sin, and God and sin (death) can never coexist.
Adam and Eve existed in the ‘circle of life’ because God IS LIFE! Death was the result of disobedience imposed upon man as a consequence of sin. Death was man’s choice, not God’s! So, we understand the resurrection in relation to who God is in all His manifest Being: the fountain of all life physical and everlasting life! Hence, man’s destiny will always be about immortality, and death is just a temporary blip until sin and death is totally removed forever through Christ’s continuing mediation in heaven today. (1 Cor.15:55-57) That brings us to the next aspect of this post: Jesus’ Ascension to Heaven. Let us now look at this event in Jesus’ life which finally sealed humanity’s destiny of immortality pictured in Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and finally His ascension.
ASCENSION OF JESUS
“He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Act.1:3-11).
Mankind’s resurrection and ascension to immortality was inaugurated by Jesus Christ by His own glorious human resurrection followed by His ascension to heaven 40 days later. The purpose of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension was to return to His eternal Trinitarian existence He had with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ ascension made possible a momentous act never done before – He took our humanity, glorified it in Himself through His bodily resurrection, and forever joined mankind to the life of the Triune Godhead in His ascension. The Trinity has changed its complexion forever when God the Father glorified Jesus’ humanity in His resurrection and ascension and sat Him at His right hand. Now, Jesus sits at His Father’s side as mankind’s eternal High Priest.
The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Therefore, it was necessary for Him (Jesus) to be made in every respect like us (human), his brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people…Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb.2:27; Heb.4:14-16).
Yes, Jesus is our High Priest and our Atonement offered eternally on the altar of sacrifice in heaven for our absolution so that divine perfection with the Father will abide and remain forever. Jesus told the disciples another vital promise concerning His return to the Father, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15). It is only through Jesus’ mediation as High Priest for mankind before the Father that the Holy Spirit is made available perpetually to mankind for the purpose of sanctifying human life before the Father. We see how the three Persons of the triune Godhead is eternally involved in the salvation of mankind. I call this living the “Triune Life.”*
Though our human resurrection and ascension is something we look forward to in a future event in hope, the most important thing Jesus did for man is to bring the “Triune Life”* which believers can live now. Thereby, it is logical to conclude that by joining our humanity with the Triune God, the Father and the Spirit is forever joined to humanity in a real sense through Jesus, the Immanuel, who is both God who glorified our humanity in Himself. It was for this very reason of uniting our humanity to the Godhead that Jesus made this ultimatum, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). This is undoubtedly the weightiest aspect of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension – to join humanity to the Triune God and give passage for the Spirit to enter mankind on the day of Pentecost. Through the divine triune input of the Father, Son, and Spirit, we carry on the work of the Father which Jesus started and commissioned His disciples to continue on earth. So, His departure was a necessary part of mankind’s initiation into the life of the Triune Godhead and the Spirit being made one with mankind.
Most of all, the Scripture is very clear about the most important aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work – it is by the Spirit’s power that humans will be sanctified and eventually resurrected to immortality. (2 Thess.2:13; Rom.8:11,13) Paul affirms this, saying, “If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you” (Rom.8:11). Human resurrection to immortality is made possible only through the Spirit’s power and presence as it was with Jesus who glorified humanity by resurrecting humans to immortality. Paul articulates this process further by saying, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor.3:16; also John 7:37-39; 1 John 4:13; 1 Cor.6:19, NLT). While Paul is drawing attention to the issue of church unity in Corinth, he is indirectly confessing the truth about Jesus’ ascension in joining the Spirit to human life. A temple is a place of worship where God and man meet. The Bible says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Rom.8:9). And if anyone does not belong to Christ then he cannot be conformed to Jesus’ image and likeness in His resurrection and ascension. (Rom.8:29).
Jesus promised, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you… On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.” (John 14:8, 20). Here again we see Jesus affirming man’s eternal unity with the Father and the Spirit which Jesus makes possible. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal.2:20). What we see is Jesus’ life being incarnated into the life of the believer on earth to be followed by a resurrection into immortality at Jesus’ second coming. But how is this process of salvation done in reality? Through the Holy Spirit!
Jesus tells us the role of the Spirit, “He will glorify Me, for He will take from that which is Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:14, Berean LB). So, we see the purpose of the Spirit is to live and walk in the life of the believer as a temple and make Jesus’ life become a reality, thus, fulfilling the promise, “I will not leave you orphans…I will come to you.” Jesus said, “He (Spirit) will not speak on His own, He will guide you into all truth. He will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you” (John 16:13,14). Therefore, the ascension brings to reality the promise of Jesus that He will personally come and live in the believer through the Holy Spirit’s power. When we think of the life of Christians living the incarnated life of Jesus today it is contingent upon His ascension to make it a reality. It is quite simple, the ascension was necessary for the Holy Spirit to come and make Jesus’ incarnation in believers possible.
The account of the ascension is recorded as follows in the Book of Acts, “After His suffering, He presented Himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Then they gathered around Him and asked Him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Act.1:3-11).
What is the work of Jesus that the Spirit will articulate in the world? Jesus Himself answers, “And when He comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged” (John 16:8-11).
Here, Jesus explains sin very simply – it’s a person’s refusal to believe in Him as Savior: “Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me.” So, sin has to do with faith – faith in Jesus! It’s very simple, very plain, sin is more than an individual act of sin, it is our refusal to believe in the Messiah who atones and cleanses us from sin as humanity’s High Priest in heaven today. Sin is the condition of man’s self-determination controlled by the devil, and righteousness is the condition of the Spirit inspired by Christ. In our fallen state of existence, we exist in the sin condition, and the only way out is to step out from it into the sinless and righteous condition of Jesus through the Spirit’s presence. Hence, Jesus speaks of being “born again” into a new life in the Spirit. (John 3:1-8) You can read my post titled, “Holy Spirit Manifests Jesus’ New Humanity in Man” at: http://bulamanriver.net/10075
Why does the passage above says, “concerning righteousness (sinlessness) because I go to the Father?” Because Jesus has ascended to the Father’s right hand and remain as man’s eternal High Priest mediating for man’s absolution and right standing with God the Father. The Bible says of Jesus, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5:1, 5-7). Paul says, “There is one Mediator between God and man, the Word of God who is Himself a man, Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 2:5). A High Priest stands between sinful man and our holy God mediating on man’s behalf for all human shortcomings. Paul says, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (as mankind’s High Priest) (Rom.8:36, my emphasis).
Dove, Symbol of Holy Spirit and God’s Love and Power Descended upon Man on Pentecost fulfilling the Prophet’s Prophetic Vision: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28). (Pic: Wiki Commons)
When Jesus said, “Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged” it means Christ has defeated the instigator of sin, Satan. Judgment came about when Jesus was victorious over the devil in the temptations in the Judean wilderness, and when He died upon Calvary on His cross as the final answer to sin.
So, that is the 3-fold message the Spirit brings to the world – it is about Jesus saving us from sin once for all time; Jesus becoming our righteousness through His High Priestly mediating role in heaven; and Jesus bringing judgment by defeating the enemy the promoter of sin in mankind through the temptations and His death on the cross! This is why the ascension is of utter importance to the whole world.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write to me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life”* as a Bulamanriver.** Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
(Your Servant In Christ)
* Triune Life: The “Triune Life” is a way of life. It’s foundational tenet is based upon the Love of God, because it is the nature of God. Love is both a noun and a verb. We are called Love because we live by Love as God’s own children. It means a life lived according to the image and likeness of God. (Gen.1:26-27) It means as children of God we live the 3-dimensional life within the Tri-Personal Being of God, as opposed to the ‘solitary’ 1-dimensional life man lives in himself under the influence of the devil. It means God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, lives and walks in you. Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune God, who took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead. To live the “Triune Life” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit in us. The miraculous life is the promise of the New Covenant, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them” (Ezek.36:27) You can read more at: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036
**Bulamanriver: To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website, www.bulamanriver.com, where you can order a copy of my book, “Bulamanriver – The Miracle of Triune Living” Or, you may go to the directory banner at top and click “Mission” where you will find more information.
Mission Statement: Read the Triune Life Mission, Vision, and Value statements at: http://bulamanriver.net/8664
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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