The reason for rejoicing

Ninth and final in the Ascension Series

In a literary drama or a play, the climax is the highest point in the action where the solution is given— a problem is solved. It is a turning point after which there is a resolution or denouement, a final outcome.

Applying this pattern to the plan of God for man, the crucifixion of His son was the highest point, wherein we are saved from sin— the strife is over, the victory won! Thus, the resurrection, ascension and the time and events following are the outcome and results made possible by the turning point.

The Lord is now gathering his people in, the church is being built; the bride is readying herself for her marriage and the marriage supper (Rev 19:7-9). All must carefully consider where their lives are heading and whether they have acknowledged the death of Jesus on the cross as their sufficient means of reconciliation with the Father.

Whosoever believes can be sure Christ is interceding for them, and He will return to assure their resurrection, whether from death or as they live.

Today, Christians are in a testing phase, a proving ground. At times it may seem to be beyond our capabilities. Yet as we press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14), we gather strength and we endure and continue on, knowing:

  • Christ, our brother, intercedes for us, so we have help to live or to suffer and die.
  • 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. (Heb 4:14)
  • He is our Lord, resurrected, in Glory. Thus it is that we have the hope of heaven and of resurrection.
  • 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. (John 14:2)
  • Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, (Heb 6:19-20a)
  • But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept…
    For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive…
    Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor 15:20, 22, 51, 52)
  • We have power through the sacrifice of the Lord to stand against Satan. The Lord has now been glorified with God on high as he was before his incarnation. (John 17:5) We are reminded of Christ’s words,
  • And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
    Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
    Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. (Luk 10:18-10)

This seems to tie in with Revelation 12 when Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven after a battle with Michael and his angels.

  • And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
    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 12:9-10)

To repeat, we are not to be happy that we have power over the enemy, though that is a marvelous ability, but so much more, we are to rejoice because our names are written in heaven.

  • Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
    Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
    And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. (1 Cor 3:21-23)

The right hand

Eighth in the Ascension Series

When the Lord ascended, Scripture makes clear that he went to sit at the right hand of his Father.

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)

Right may rightly be said to denote a direction or location but the right hand means something more, and the right hand of the Father, even more!

The right hand, normally the skilled hand (Ps137:5), is a place of honor, authority, help and strength. (Ps 16:8). The Lord’s right hand is where joy, pleasure (Ps 16:11), protection and power (Ps 17:7; 18:35) are found, and encounters with enemies are ended (Ps 21:8).

Scripture repeats that the Lord will reign at his Father’s right hand until all his enemies are put under his footstool. (Ps 110:1; Mat 22:44; Heb 1:13) From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. (Apostles’ Creed)

In the Bible, we first read about the power of God’s right hand in the song of Moses and Israel in Exodus 15 that celebrated the closing of the Red Sea to protect Israel by drowning their enemies:

Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.
Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
(Ex 14:1-6)

Though God had worked through the right hand of Moses, he sang what he knew was true— it was not his own hand but God’s that performed the miracles.

And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. (Ex 14:21)

And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. (Ex 14:26)

In Moses we see the preeminence of Christ. He is a type of Christ who goes before us to divide the forces of nature and to lead us through impassable barriers; to sustain and comfort us and to protect us from enemies. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? (Ps 73:25)

David sang:

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
(Ps 16:8-11)

In Psalm 16 we have a prophecy of Christ’s descent to hell and the certainty of the plan of God to save and deliver his son from the terrors of darkness.

The Lord is at David’s right hand and David is at the Lord’s. In this configuration we can envision the hand of man and that of God extended to agree together in a handshake. As well, man reaches for help and the Lord opens his hand to provide, or raises it to stop the enemy, or gives a comforting touch.

He gave gifts to men

Seventh in the Ascension Series

‘What hath God wrought!’ (Num 23:23) is applicable to Christ’s death at Calvary, just as it described the work of God on behalf of the Israelites to prevent Balaam from cursing them.

In the story, Barak the Moabite was determined that Balaam, a prophet, would curse the Israelites who traveled on their way to Canaan, for Barak feared their prowess. (Num 22:2).

This story even includes a talking ass who rebukes Balaam for his obstinacy in persisting to please Barak. Yet Balaam found it impossible to curse them, for How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied? (Num 23:8)

Instead he prophesied:

How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters… (Num 24:5-6 et al)

The strength and fruitfulness of God’s people is wonderful to behold. Across the centuries we observe and are amazed at their/our deliverances from slavery, evil, and self-defeating behaviors by the Lord of Hosts.

In New Testament times such power was and is poured out because of Calvary.

Explaining the Cross of Christ

The Lord by the Holy Spirit says to believers through Paul:

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
(Col 2:13-15)

We must understand that our war against the flesh, the world and the devil has been won and our privilege is to stand or to fight against them as authentic believers.

Satan knows who belongs to God and who does not. This is explained by the story in Acts 19:

Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
(Acts 19:13-16)

The person who is not a member of God’s family cannot win a battle with the Enemy, nor even a skirmish. But how can we Christians comprehend and live our lives in Christ’s strength? The great Truths of the Faith need to be explained.

How would the Lord enable his disciples to share the Gospel and to teach and encourage the saints?

He gave gifts to them. As Paul explains to the Ephesians:

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
(Eph 4:8-12)

He gave them gifts to equip us, and he continues to pour out his Spirit on all who belong to him to enable us to share Christ and to minister to one another.

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
(Eph 4:13-16)

It would not be possible to describe such wonders without divine gifts.