Word of the Month

Ascension

May 2002

It should actually be the wish and goal of every believing Christian to celebrate Ascension. However, only very few seriously reflect on this event or think about Jesus' promise to come again and take His own unto Himself. There are even those who consider the events that transpired at the time to be a fairy tale. They believe that the man who was taken from the cross, apparently dead, was later revived and slipped quietly out of the circle of His disciples into the fog when He realised that He was about to die. Let people imagine whatever they want: Christ's ascension was real. It was the crowning conclusion of His activity on earth! In this context, the letter to the Hebrews states: "For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24).

From the history of the people of the Old Covenant it is known that the High Priest would enter the Most Holy in the Temple once each year, in order to reconcile the people with God. Otherwise, no one was permitted to enter the Most Holy. How characteristic of the Lord Jesus: He, the High Priest of the New Covenant, went to the Temple frequently, He even drove out those who conducted their business there, but He never entered the Most Holy. Christ did not enter the holy places made with hands but instead, after fulfilling His commission, He went directly to heaven, back to the Father. And there He appears before the countenance of God - for us! These two words are so infinitely important. Through all human needs and concerns, it is cause for joy, strength and confidence to know that at the right hand of God sits our Saviour, the High Priest of the New Covenant, as our personal advocate and intercessor.

How much has not transpired to serve for our salvation since He represents us there at the throne of God! A few days after His ascension, on Pentecost, He sent the promised Holy Spirit as a Comforter, who in turn filled those gathered so that they - imbued with the power from on high - were able to preach in different languages "as the Spirit gave them utterance" (c.f. Acts 2:4). Shortly thereafter, Apostle Peter stood up to powerfully preach the gospel. Also today, in the time of the Omega, the Apostles of Jesus go out to proclaim salvation, dispensing the Holy Spirit to believing souls through the laying on of hands and prayer, whereby they are reborn as new creatures, thus becoming children of God and heirs of the Most High.

From the throne of God, Jesus Christ continually sends us His word anew through the Holy Spirit, thereby granting us light, strength, joy and peace. This word of God awakens a living faith, enabling us to stride towards the goal along the path laid down by Jesus with confidence, undeterred by doubts and strange teachings. He grants us grace and more grace: in each divine service He forgives our sins, and permits us to have the most intimate fellowship with Him in Holy Communion.

And the Son of God is preparing a place for us in the Kingdom of Glory, because He wants to come again and take us unto Himself, so that we might be where He is: at the throne of God. It is worthwhile to remain loyal, to follow joyfully and help along in the work of God. He ascended out of the midst of the Apostles, and it will be into the midst of the Apostles and the faithful congregation that He will return in order to celebrate Ascension with the entire people of God!

(Excerpt from a divine service of the Chief Apostle)