Jesus left, but Jesus is coming back.
JANUARY 19, 2023
Jesus left, but Jesus is coming back. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
This is Key Life. We are here to let you know that because of what Jesus has done, God will never be angry at you again. Justin Holcomb has been teaching us all this week. Justin is an Episcopal priest, an author, and he teaches at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Justin Holcomb: Hey Steve.
It’s been a good week.
Justin Holcomb: Yeah, it’s been fun.
It really has been fun. Now we’re looking, if you’re just joining us at some of the themes in Acts and as an overview, because as you know, we’ve been studying Acts for the past few months and, and we’ve been looking at a lot of details, a lot of material, a lot of stories, a lot of teaching, but sometimes you have to back up and look at the whole thing and say, what is this all about? And that’s what Justin, who is a scholar, a seminary professor who’s written a book on Acts, is allowing us to do. And Justin, we’re at the final thing that we were going to talk about. Why is the ascension such a big deal?
Justin Holcomb: It’s not really that big of a deal, Steve.
Don’t do that to me.
Justin Holcomb: Really?
No big deal.
Justin Holcomb: It’s an enormous deal. And, but most people don’t think about that. And I haven’t thought about that cause we do focus on the Cross and Resurrection. Perfect life, incarnation, perfect life, death, resurrection, I mean that really is, I mean, Cross, Resurrection, the apostle Paul, I mean he, every time he talked about Jesus, he’s talking about Cross, Resurrection. That is the bullseye of redemptive work, but there’s wonderful benefits that come from the other works, like the ascension and his return. So, let’s just read just so people see how this plays out with Acts. So, Jesus just gives them the promise, he says.
When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you’ll be my witnesses and Jerusalem, Judea, and to the ends of the earth.
And 1: verse 9 says.
After he said this, he was taken up before their eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight.
And then verse 10.
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.
So, they, here we go, the Book of Acts starts out with Jesus ascending and he’s returning. That frames everything.
Justin Holcomb: And so, the ascension has become more important to me a few years ago when I just realized, this is the current ministry of Jesus. He ascended to his throne. and that’s meaningful for numerous ways. So, let’s do some teaching on this. The ascension is Christ’s return to Heaven from Earth. That seems obvious, but that’s important to understand what the incarnation means or what the ascension means. The incarnation, what this means is the incarnation doesn’t cease with Christ’s ascension. He doesn’t stop being incarnated. He actually has a human body resurrected, body ready for eternity, and Jesus lives now and forever as truly man and truly God to mediate between God and man. That’s I Timothy 2:5. He is our mediator, and he will come again as he left, fully man and fully God. That’s what Acts 1:11 tells us. And so, Jesus’s ascension is a crucial event in his ministry because it explicitly shows his continual humanity and the permanence of his resurrection. And what this plays out like is the ascension guarantees that Jesus will always represent humanity before the throne of God in three ways, as our mediator, as our intercessor, and as our advocate. And he’s doing that for needy humans, us. And that’s the real heartbeat, I mean, I wanted to make sure people understood ascension. Why is that a big deal? The Bible doesn’t talk a ton about it. This his current ministry, he’s currently on his throne. And what is he doing? He is interceding for his people.
So, we’re on the prayer list of Jesus.
Justin Holcomb: He’s interceding for you, for me, for listeners. He is mediating, he is our pathway to the Father. We have an access. We previously didn’t have access, and because we’ve been reconciled with God, we actually have access. As Tim Keller says, you don’t, no one wakes up a king at two o’clock in the morning asking for water unless you’re the king’s child. You belong there. He’s mediated for you, so we belong there. This is how Hebrews talks about Jesus. We boldly go before the throne of grace, where we always receive mercy and grace in the time of need. That’s actually really crazy. You don’t boldly go before a king’s throne. You don’t walk in like, you don’t do that to a boss or just, you know, some CEO of some, you don’t just walk into a King’s throne room. But because we have a mediator, we do. And he’s advocating. He’s advocating not because the father forgot that he’s forgiven us because of the merits of Christ, but because we have a tendency to listen to the voice of condemnation. We listen to Satan, we listen to our own voice, we listen to the judgment of others, and so we frequently hear condemnation and it’s to that voice, that’s as some famous preacher says, is a lie from the pet of hell and smells like smoke. That voice of condemnation, he’s actually shutting the mouth of condemnation cause he’s advocating, he’s going around yelling to anyone who will listen before the judgment seat saying innocent, pure, holy, righteous, not guilty. And so, he’s advocating, so we’ll hear him advocating, not because the father needs it. So, he’s praying for you, he has mediated for you. So, not only is he praying for you off at a distance where we are. He’s mediating so we can come near to God the father. And when we get near to God the father, he’s advocating going, Hey, you belong here cause you’re innocent, pure, and perfect cause you’re in me. You belong here. We do this at church, during Easter, and this is just what the minister does, the priest does. Normally we pray and we kneel, we’ll kneel and pray. And it’s one of our friends, Reggie Kidd, he was my New Testament professor, you’re colleague at seminary. And during Easter, he started doing this a few years ago, and I don’t know how often he does this, but he just goes, Hey, we’re going to pray. Don’t kneel. Stand, stand in the righteousness of Christ.
Justin Holcomb: Stand in the glory of the resurrection cause you belong here. Don’t cower, we’ll cower later on, cause we know God’s holy. We’ve got plenty of time to do that, but for the next 6, 7, 8 weeks, stand when you pray, not because you’re standing in your own strength. Stand in the righteousness of Christ and we’re all wearing white because we’re made pure because of the blood of the lamb. That’s what the ascension, he’s praying for you while you feel like you’re over there. He’s bringing you close to the Father and he’s telling you belong here. You’re perfect, pure, righteous, and holy because you are seen as I actually was, that’s why the ascension is such a big deal. And because of the ascension we can be sure that Jesus’ unique resurrection leads the way for everlasting resurrection of the redeemed. It is our assurance. Our assurance is not on how we feel about, how God feels about us. It’s based on the objective death and resurrection, that’s where our assurance has to be. We cannot put our assurance on our fickle feelings and emotions, that’s a dangerous place to be. And he’s coming again in judgment.
Oh man, that’s good news by the way. And you know, you’ve got to work at taking something that is that amazing and that exciting and that wonderful. And either make it bad news or boring news. It is neither. It’s the good news that we speak and there’s more, and you just mentioned it. Jesus is coming back. Have you seen that bumper sticker? And boy is he ticked. Look busy. He’s angry. That’s not true, is it?
Justin Holcomb: No, not for those who are in Christ. So, when I say Jesus is coming back, some people go, wait, that sounds like judgement language. Well, why is, why are they so excited about this? We’re excited about this because Paul says, if you remember in Romans 7, he’s like, oh, well,
Wretched man that I am, I keep on doing what I don’t want to do and things I don’t want to do, I do. Wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death. Thanks be to God cause of Jesus Christ, therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
When Paul says there is, therefore now no condemnation, that now is actually really important. What Paul is saying is for you, if you’re in Christ’s final judgement, done. You’re going to stand before God, but you already know the verdict. You’re not waiting, you’re not waiting for the shoe to drop. You’re not waiting to, you know, wonder if you’re actually in. He’s saying there is now the future judgment that you are, should be worried about, if you’re not in Christ, that’s taken care of. There’s no more threat. All of the no, all of the judgment of God has been rung out on Jesus on the Cross. He’s not saving like a few drops or a bucket full for you. He poured it all out. His holiness was poured out on Christ, on the cross, and Christ on purpose took it. There’s no more judgment for you, if you’re in Christ. That’s why it says in I John.
Those who confess their sins, he is faithful and just to forgive them.
That’s a weird thing to say, God’s just to count me as righteous and call me innocent when I’m not. That sounds like the opposite of justice. But it is just because he doesn’t do double jeopardy. He gave that to Christ. Christ took that. And so, the return of Christ is fearful for those who are not in Christ. So, that’s why we say repent, there’s good news, come to Jesus, like you’re safe. But if you’re in Christ, there’s no condemnation, there’s not any coming and it’s been all poured out, there’s none left for you.
When I was a teenager, there was a Bible study I went to that was taught by a lady named Aunt Gordy, and she lived on top of a mountain in North Carolina, and every morning she went out, opened the window and looked out over the mountains and she would say, maybe today, maybe today. So, as bad as it gets, and as dark as it seems, the Book of Acts and the entire witness of Scripture says that God has this, that God is in charge, that he sent his Son cause he likes you a lot and he’s going to come back again and you’re going to love it for all eternity. How about that? You think about it. Amen.
Thank you Steve Brown and Justin Holcomb. What a week of teaching. And remember, if you missed any episodes, just head over to keylife.org where you can stream those 24 7, for free. Hey, you’ll also find some great articles from Justin there too. Hope you’ll join us again tomorrow, that’s when we have Friday Q&A and our friend Pete Alwinson will drop by and I did get the scoop on one of the questions Steve and Pete will tackle tomorrow, and it involves fasting, so tune in for that. Evangelism, you know the word, you’ve used the word, but what is it exactly? Well, that’s part of what we’ve been exploring, but at the very least, it isn’t what you do, it’s who you are. Well, Steve spoke about that idea in a message called The Death of Evangelism, provocative title, yes. It’s also a truly classic sermon. In fact, we put the entire thing on a CD that we would love to send to you, for free. Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses, just ask for your free copy of the CD called The Death of Evangelism. Hey, one more thing, would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? Giving is easy, you can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.