Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ASCENSION TO THE FATHER”

Mark 16.19

INTRODUCTION:

1. It was a very long journey from heaven’s glory to the cross of Calvary. It was long in terms of time and it was long in terms of geography. From the throne room in heaven beyond the outer reaches of the physical universe in eternity past, across light years of space and thousands of years of time, the Son of God came.

2. But the Lord Jesus Christ’s journey to Calvary was only a portion of His journey, since after He went to Calvary He then went to that portion of Hell we know as Paradise, and from Paradise for three days and nights He returned to the tomb to be reunited with His now glorified body to rise again on the third day.

3. This Easter morning was our annual celebration of the Savior’s stunning victory over sin, death, Hell and the grave. But what happened after Easter? What happened after Jesus rose from the dead?

4. Actually two things happened: First, came the Lord Jesus Christ’s post-resurrection ministry. Luke tells us in Acts 1.3, that “he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

5. So, there was a great deal happening for the almost six weeks following His resurrection. But it is what happened after our Lord’s post-resurrection appearances here on earth that I want to speak to you about this evening.

6. Turn in your Bible to Mark 16.19, where Mark’s gospel provides a concise summary of what happened on the occasion of our Lord’s last appearance to His disciples following His resurrection: “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.”

7. Let me speak to you for a few moments this evening about the Lord Jesus Christ’s ascension to the Father:

1A. First, LET US BE PRECISE ABOUT WHAT JESUS DID

To be precise, let me review five important details:

1B. First, His resurrection from the dead

1C. No one would deny that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an important detail. So important a detail is the resurrection, that it is one of the foundational truths upon which Christianity is erected. And without the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no Christian faith.

2C. As no less than the apostle Paul writes in First Corinthians 15.14, “. . . if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” So, let us recognize that the resurrection is crucial.

3C. If the resurrection is crucial to our faith, then the nature of the resurrection is vitally important. And there is one, key matter upon which every real Christian is settled; the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

4C. Which is to say, Jesus did not rise from the dead as a spirit, but in a glorified human body that could be felt, and that could be seen.

5C. Listen to what the risen Savior said, in Luke 24.39: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”

6C. Listen to what the apostle John wrote, in First John 1.1: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” Surely, someone like this apostle would know if Jesus Christ’s resurrection was not a bodily resurrection.

7C. My friends, the tomb was empty when Jesus rose from the dead. He did not rise as a spirit, as a ghost, or as a phantasm, but as a man in a glorified body, the victorious God-Man.

2B. Next, His post-resurrection appearances

1C. Most people give little thought to the post-resurrection appearances of the Savior, though He did appear to many people. After all, how did they know He had risen but for His appearances to them?

2C. Remember His appearances to the women at the empty tomb? Remember His appearance to doubting Thomas, when all his doubts eliminated and he bowed before His risen Lord and said, “My Lord and my God,” John 20.28?

3C. Perhaps the most informative comment on the Lord’s post-resurrection appearances was written by the apostle Paul, in First Corinthians 15.3-9

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

4C. There can be no doubt that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared, with a glorified physical body, to hundreds of Christians following His grand and glorious resurrection from the dead. And had there been any doubt whatsoever among these people that their Lord and Master was truly risen from the dead they would not have sacrificed their lives, suffered such horrible persecutions, or endured the martyr’s deaths they experienced.

5C. But what happened after those forty days of post-resurrection ministry? What did the Lord Jesus Christ do then? He ascended back to heaven, as this evening’s text tells us, and sat at the Father’s right hand.

3B. This brings us to the third important detail, that His ascension was predicted

1C. Turn to Psalm 110.1, where David writes, “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” There are three personalities involved in this verse. There is the writer, David, there is “the LORD,” Who is Jehovah, then there is “my Lord,” who is Adonai, One who is David’s lord.

2C. Whoever this Lord who is David’s Lord happens to be, Jehovah has promised Him a place at His right hand. And in Acts 2.34-36, Simon Peter points out that the One promised a place at Jehovah’s right hand was not king David, but none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

3C. My friends, the ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of God the Father, on high, was predicted by the psalmist David one thousand years before the prediction was actually fulfilled. But fulfilled it was, as twenty seven different New Testament verses clearly show, of which our text is only one.

4B. Not only was our Lord’s ascension predicted, it actually occurred

1C. Turn to Acts 1.9: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”

2C. Notice the phrase, “while they beheld.” In other words, this was not done in secret. This took place out in the open, for all to see.

3C. It really and truly happened that Someone who had, forty days before, actually risen from the dead, now actually rose from the ground and ascended up from sight into the throne room of heaven.

4C. What does the ascension of Jesus Christ mean? It means He is gone. So, if you sing the song, “I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today,” you are literally wrong. Jesus Christ is not in the world today, except as Christians represent Him in the world today, because He, Himself, is gone. He is in heaven.

5B. Which brings me to the question of ubiquity

1C. There is a theological term, Ubiquitarian, from the word ubiquity, which refers to someone who believes in the bodily presence of Jesus everywhere, especially in the Eucharist.[1]

2C. You may never have heard of the term, but you have heard people say that Jesus is everywhere, or say that Jesus is always with me, or something along that line.

3C. Folks, those who hold to that view are at least Lutheran in their theology.[2] The Reformed view, and the historically Baptist view, which is the Bible view, holds that Jesus is where more than two dozen New Testament verses declare Him to be, at the Father’s right hand in heaven.

4C. What is likely is that those who imagine Jesus Christ to be everywhere are very confused about some very serious doctrines related to salvation, as well as being confused about the very nature and work of God’s Son.

5C. Some of this will be evident in just a few moments.

2A. Next, WHY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ASCENDED TO HIS FATHER

Let me give you just a few of the numerous reasons why Jesus Christ ascended to the Father’s right hand:

1B. First, to fulfill Biblical prophecy

1C. I have already shown you that the ascension of Christ was predicted 1,000 years before it actually took place.

2C. So, it was necessary for God’s veracity to be maintained for that which was predicted to actually occur. In Psalm 138.2, we read, “for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”

3C. Thus, the importance of God keeping His Word can easily be seen. Jesus is in heaven at the Father’s right hand because God’s integrity demands it.

2B. Next, to send the Holy Spirit, the promised Comforter

1C. Listen to what Jesus said to His disciples the night before His crucifixion, in John 15.7: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

2C. So you see, the Holy Spirit of God is the ascension gift of the Savior to His own. So much so that anyone who is not indwelt by the Spirit which Christ gives to His own is not genuinely saved. Romans 8.9: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

3C. Has the Holy Spirit come? Without a doubt. Then the Lord Jesus Christ must have ascended to His Father’s right hand.

3B. Third, to intercede for His own with the Father

1C. Look to First John 2.1: “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.”

2C. What is an advocate, but someone who (like an attorney) represents your interests to another. As A. T. Robertson writes, “The Holy Spirit is God’s Advocate on earth with men, while Christ is man's Advocate with the Father.”[3]

3C. Such would not be possible apart from the Lord Jesus Christ’s ascension and enthronement at His Father’s right hand.

4B. Fourth, to enable His Father to subdue His enemies

1C. Though I have already made reference to Psalm 110.1, I have not pointed out this particular feature of David’s prediction, so please read the verse again: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

2C. As is so often the case, what appears to be one thing to the unconverted is quite another thing. Lost people think the second coming of Christ in power and great glory will be a wonderful thing, when it will actually be a catastrophe for them as He comes to judge them. The same kind of thing is shown to be true with this verse.

3C. Unsaved people think that Christ being in heaven is a wonderful thing for them, when the opposite is actually the case. Notice the last phrase of Psalm 110.1, where we see what is currently happening with those who are not elect: “. . . until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

4C. While the Lord Jesus Christ is sitting at His Father’s right hand, which is to say at this present time, God the Father is making Christ’s enemies into Christ’s footstool. In other words, God is working to subdue Christ-rejectors and make them so low that they will be footstools, furniture that you put your feet on to relax.

5C. So, the unconverted think that Jesus going to heaven until He comes again is a good thing, when actually it is bad for them, since God is bringing them down, working to subdue them and to bring them low.

5B. Fifth, to apply His blood for the remission of our sins

1C. I will not go into the details this evening, for lack of time. But Old Testament typology required that not only must an innocent blood be shed for the guilty, but also that the shed blood of the innocent be properly applied at the place where satisfaction is demanded.

2C. Therefore, though Jesus Christ did suffer and bleed and die as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, Jesus Christ our Great High Priest had to ascend into heaven to offer up His Own blood to satisfy God’s holy demands for sins.

3C. Such satisfaction could not be assured by the sacrifice of Christ alone, but was assured by the proper application of His shed blood. So you see, Jesus had to ascend to His Father.

4C. Which brings to mind a feature about the saving work of Jesus Christ that all Roman Catholics and almost all evangelicals and Baptists are thoroughly confused about: Justification is all about the outside-of-you work of Jesus Christ.

5C. Ever hear people talk about getting saved by asking Jesus into their hearts? This is related to the errant notion that Jesus is everywhere. The confusion lies in a misunderstanding about justification, the accounting of a sinner to be righteous in the sight of God because of the meritorious work of Jesus Christ on behalf of the sinner on Calvary’s cross.

6C. You see, Jesus does not come into a sinner’s heart in order to save him, just as Jesus does not need to be everywhere in order to save a sinner. To think that He does come into a sinner’s heart, or to think that He is all around us, evidences a tragic flaw in thinking concerning justification. What Jesus did when He did what He did to save sinful men’s souls He did for sinners, not to sinners.

7C. So you see, when it is recognized that Jesus Christ ascended to His Father’s right hand it is much easier to see, and more likely to be understood, that what Jesus does to bring about justification is what He does for the sinner, not what He does to the sinner.

8C. On this basis, such verses as Romans 4.25 are so much easier to understand: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” The Lord Jesus Christ had to be raised from the dead for our justification, because He had to ascend to the Father to perform His high priestly function of offering His Own shed blood. And until He had risen from the dead He could not ascend to His Father’s side.

6B. Finally, He had to ascend to heaven so He could come again

It is difficult to come if you have not gone, even for the Son of God. And since He really is coming again, physically and bodily, it was crucial for Him to go to heaven, physically and bodily, where He is presently enthroned at His Father’s side.

CONCLUSION:

1. Jesus died for our sins. He was buried. He rose again on the third day. And all this happened just as was predicted in the Bible.

2. But what was also predicted in the Bible, and this is of paramount importance, is our Lord’s ascension. People who are wobbly and confused about His ascension and present location are typically confused about other things, including things critical to salvation.

3. So, let’s hold up the banner high that Christ the Lord is risen today. But let us also hold up the banner high that Christ is the Lord is ascended and enthroned at His Father’s side, and will be until He comes again.



[1] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1980.

[2] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999), pages 117-118.

[3] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol VI, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1930), page 209.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org