ORDER PRELUDE The importance of the ascension

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1 ORDER Announcements/Word of welcome (Mike Lombard) Opening prayer (Mike Muller) Praise and worship (Tristan Jensen) Scripture Reading and Message (Neil Smith) Offering for Feeding Scheme (King of Kings Team) Holy Communion (Jan van Heerden and DRC Team) Closing Prayer (Ronnie Cawood) PRELUDE Good evening everyone - Happy Ascension Day! Today I want to speak to you about; The importance of the ascension This day seems to have become the holiday the church has forgotten... We remember Easter and Christmas so well, but without the Ascension there is a huge missing part to our salvation story I say this because Easter and the resurrection were not the last chapter in the story! In fact, the Ascension of Jesus teaches us so much But before we get there, let s pray 1

2 INTRODUCTION There are a lot of people that have some strange views about where Jesus is today If you ask some people - Where is Jesus? They would say, We think Jesus body is in the ground, but his soul is with the Lord, because he was a Holy Man, And so, like other Holy Men, his soul went to heaven! That s what some think. If you ask a Jehovah s Witness, Where is Jesus today? They would say, He did not rise from the dead physically, but instead, he just rose spiritually, and apparently, he actually returned to rule the earth in 1914, and since then he s been ruling on the earth from the Watchtower headquarters If you ask a Muslim, Where is Jesus today? You will get various answers. But as a general rule, probably the most common would be; Maybe Jesus didn t die on the cross, instead, he was taken up to heaven like Enoch or Elijah in the Old Testament. And so, like Holy Men sometimes do, he did not die and rise, he was simply taken into heaven. If you ask an Orthodox Jew, Where is Jesus? They would say, Well he s in the ground, still buried! He died, and he never rose again, and his bones are somewhere in the Middle East. Those are the different perspectives of where Jesus Christ is today, and if you saw the Di Vinci Code movie, or read the book, you would know that the myth there, is that Jesus didn t die and rise, and that Jesus isn t alive today, instead Jesus actually ran off to France. Yeah, right! And so, I m here today, to say, we don t go with any of that stuff. I m going to go with God s word, rather than Dan Brown s word. Amen! We take scripture, and we believe scripture to be the basis of what we believe in, so that s where we begin. So, let s take a look at the actual account from scripture, in Acts 1:7-11; He [Jesus] said to them: It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 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. (Acts 1:7-11) Scripture is very clear about this, after Jesus died, he rose again, he appeared for forty days, and then he ASCENDED into heaven. He ASCENDED he was taken up before their very eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight. Here s the scene, everybody s hanging out with Jesus. And then he just starts going up! Wow! Now that had to be an interesting moment, right? Where s Jesus? What? 2

3 He s going up! Quick, somebody grab a leg, tie a rope to him! Because he was being taken up. And everyone is like; Where s he going? Good question. So two angels show up to explain Don t worry everyone! He s just going back up to heaven, just like he said he would! Verse 10; suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 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. They say, Take it easy everyone! This was always the plan. Jesus has ascended back into heaven. Time for you guys go about your ministry now. Tell people about Jesus resurrection, and his accession, and when the appointed time comes, this same Jesus, interesting and significant wording there, this same Jesus, he will descend back to the earth, exactly as you have seen him ascend in to heaven. Wow. This can teach us so much This means that Jesus is still alive today! This means that Jesus is in heaven today, he ascended, and he will return, in the same way that he went So let me to share just a few thoughts around the ascension 1. Jesus continues to work after the Ascension I think because Jesus disappeared up into the sky, some people feel that he is distant, uninvolved, and out of the picture. Not so. Jesus is still very much in the picture In the book of Acts it is recorded; I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. (Acts 1:1-2) Some people think that after the ascension, Jesus is done. But that s not what the bible teaches. Jesus ascension into heaven was not the cessation of his work friends, but rather, it is the continuation of, as this verse says - all that Jesus began to do. That word began is very important! The ascension of Jesus is a reminder that although the work of salvation is finished at the cross and is complete, and finished. Jesus is still at work my friend! And so I m here tonight to tell you, that Jesus has not stopped doing what Jesus does! He is still Lord, and He is still working on our behalf. Can I get a Amen to that?! Some people make the mistake in thinking that because Jesus is seated in heaven He is remote or uninvolved. No ways, Jesus is in His place of authority holding all things together. Paul says in Colossians; For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17) 3

4 Thank you Jesus! Jesus is still working and he wants to work in your life today. But here s the next thing we see 2. The ascended Lord Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with his people. Praise the Lord for this! While he was with then, Jesus always prepared his disciples that He would not stay with them forever. After His resurrection, Jesus told them this; I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:49) The ascension was a very significant moment in history, because the ascension paved the way for Pentecost the coming of the Holy Spirit. Peter explained this; God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. (Acts 2:33-33) And so the Holy Spirit is with us, and Jesus is still working through the Spirit. He says us; If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17) Because of the Ascension friends, we have the Holy Spirit to help us, comfort us and lead us. Isn t that incredible! He is not far away or cold and impersonal, if you believe in Jesus, then He lives inside of you and you are not alone. You are never alone. Here s the next thing I want to highlight though 3. The ascension shows us Jesus is enthroned as King When Jesus ascended to heaven, He was installed as the true King of the world. The Apostles creed puts it this way: He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Jesus ascension fulfils a very important prophecy from the book of Daniel; In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14) I want to remind everyone here today, that God s Kingdom will not be destroyed Jesus is King of Kings! Sometimes it feels like the world is falling apart from terrorism, natural disaster, drought. But the Ascension reminds us that there is a greater Kingdom God s Kingdom that is strong and powerful. We do not enjoy the fullness 4

5 of the Kingdom yet, but the Ascension reminds us of the promise of what is to come fully when Jesus comes again. So why do I tell you this? Why is it so important? Because my fear is that so many of people have a deficient picture of Jesus. When many think of Jesus, they don t think of someone who is still alive, all powerful, ruling and reigning over the world. And so friends, if you have a small picture of Jesus, I want to respectfully tell you that your picture of Jesus is wrong. The ascension reminds us that Jesus is high and exalted as eternal God, seated at the right hand of the Father on the throne in heaven. And that s a Jesus I can pray to! That s a Jesus we I can worship! That s a Jesus that commands my respect and my obedience! And my life-service! The ascension reminds us that Jesus is a King. Enthroned and all powerful. The Easter story is full of people who missed and misunderstood who Jesus is the ascension restored Him to His rightful place of glory make no mistake He is King, and before him, every knee must bow and recognise who He is. Here is the next point; 4. The ascended Lord Jesus is our mediator and priest This is a mind-blowing thought, that Jesus is in heaven, speaking on our behalf to God. The apostle Paul says; For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. (1 Timothy 2:5-6) And He understands what we are going through The writer to the Hebrews says that; For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews ) So although we sin and mess up, we have a saviour in heaven, one who pleads with God on our behalf one who understands and loves us even though He knows the messes we have made. But just as Easter was not the end of the story, so the Ascension is also not the final chapter there is more to come 5. The ascended Lord Jesus will return as King and Judge People of this valley - Jesus is coming again in power and as judge. In the book of Revelations it says; I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe 5

6 dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16) When he returns, this same Jesus, it will be glorious and terrifying we shall see and understand His Kingship and Lordship in full power and authority. So as we close, what is your response to this Jesus tonight my friends? We must remember He is still at work His Holy Spirit it here He is enthroned as King! So take heart, because he is in control, he rules with power and authority! We can live boldly and with authority knowing that we serve a King and His Kingdom that will never be defeated. But we must also make sure that our lives are ready that if we have never believed in him, received the gift of eternal life that he offers, that we are in a dangerous place because he is coming again to judge the living and the dead. So if you ve never made your life right with God, or you need to renew that relationship tonight Don t dare put it off. Your eternity hangs in the balance.. For those who love him, and follow him, and worship him What s the message for us? We can look in hope toward that day when we will ascend to be with Him. So draw close to Him friends, knowing that in Him we will find forgiveness for sins, one who loves and understands us and one who will end injustice, suffering and death. And we will be with our King forever. Amen. 6

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