The Ascension and Present Ministry of Jesus Christ

Willmington's Guide to the Bible

 

A. The fact of this ascension and ministry.

1. Scripture regarding his ascension.

"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God" (Mk. 16:19).

"And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven" (Lk. 24:51).

"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9).

2. Scripture regarding his present ministry.

"Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ, that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God who also maketh intercession for us" (Rom. 8:34).

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" (Col. 3:1).

"Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:3).

"Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" (Heb. 8:1).

"But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool" (Heb. 10:12, 13).

"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" (Heb. 12:2).

"Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him" (1 Pet. 3:22).

B. The purpose of this ascension and ministry.

1. To be our Forerunner.

"Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:19, 20).

2. To prepare a place for us.

"In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (Jn. 14:2).

3. To give spiritual gifts to his followers (Eph. 4:10-14).

4. To offer encouragement to his followers.

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb 4:14-16).

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 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. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Heb. 12:1-3).

5. To make high priestly prayers for us (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 4:14-16; 7:25-27; 8:1; 9:24).

Here he functions in a twofold manner:

a. Acting as our Intercessor (due to the weakness and frailties of the believer).

While on earth, our Lord once told Peter:

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…" (Lk. 22:31, 32).

According to many New Testament passages, the Savior continues to perform this blessed ministry for his people from heaven.

"Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25).

b. Acting as our Advocate (due to the sins of the believer).

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn. 1:9).

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 Jn. 2:1).

"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:24).

"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night" (Rev. 12:10).

6. To send the promise of the Father (Holy Spirit) (Jn. 16; Acts 1:4; 2:33).

7. To care for his churches (Rev. 1:10–3:22). In this amazing passage, the Apostle John, on the Isle of Patmos, sees the resurrected and glorified Christ standing among seven golden lampstands, dressed in the garb of a high priest. He is told that the lampstands symbolize local churches on earth.

8. To work through his people.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (Jn. 14:12).

9. To wait until his enemies become his footstool (Heb. 10:12, 13).

 

Taken from: Willmington's Guide to the Bible  1981, 1984 by H. L. Willmington.