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Resurrection & Ascension | The Work of Christ and Salvation

As taught by Zach Thompson.


In this equipping time lesson, we learn the implications of Christ's resurrection and ascension.


Resurrection and Ascension

Good morning! 


For our equipping time today, we are going to take up the topic of the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ. 


I want to start with a sentence that summarizes some of the essential realities around this biblical doctrine. 


Jesus was physically raised from the dead with a glorified body, and he ascended to the right hand of God the Father, where he reigns and intercedes for his people until the time when he returns.


There is one thing that I want to make super clear about this sentence. Jesus was physically raised from the dead. He was actually dead. He didn’t faint. It’s not a metaphor for some spiritual ambiguity. 


Jesus physically died, and he was physically raised. He ate fish on the beach with the disciples. Thomas could touch his wounds. Jesus was raised with a real body (Luke 24:39; Jn 20:24-29)


And just so you know where we are going today, we are going to start out with a brief meditation from Ephesians 1. If you have your Bibles, I encourage you to go ahead and turn there. 


After that brief meditation, we are going to consider some of the theological and practical realities connected to both the resurrection and the ascension. 


So let’s start with Ephesians 1. 


Ephesians 1:15–23 (ESV): For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.


Let’s pray. 


I want to draw your attention to verse 18 in that text from Ephesians. In the middle of this prayer for the Ephesians, Paul tells them that he is praying that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened. 


It’s an interesting phrase— “the eyes of your hearts.” Obviously, Paul isn’t making a biological statement here, but it’s clear what he means. You can see things with your heart. You know something to be true in your inner being. 


I think we’ve all had this experience. That moment when you know something is true in your head, but your heart hasn’t caught up yet. 


Have you ever had to walk around the house in the middle of the night, but for whatever reason, you don’t turn on the lights? And you find something with your foot that makes you want to scream loud things. Or maybe you trip over an ottoman or something like that? 


I don’t know if you know this, but without fail, turning on the lights will prevent that. 


When the light is on, you can see. The ottoman was there the entire time. But you couldn’t see it because you didn’t turn on the lights. 


Paul’s prayer is that the eyes of your hearts would be enlightened. There is truth right here. Don’t overlook it. Don’t stub your toe on it. Glory in it. 


What does he want their hearts to see? Look in verse 18. He lists three things: 


  1. “that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, 

  2. [that you may know] what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 

  3. 19 and [that you may know] what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe,"


The hope to which he has called you


Just take a moment to dwell on those. If you are in Christ, you have hope. When you were called into Christ, you were called into hope. Paul’s prayer is that you’ll see it.


Are you tired? I’m not talking about whether it’s too early for you right now. Are you weary of fighting the deceptions of our world? The brokenness? The thorns and thistles? Our bodies are constantly getting closer to the day we die, and the longer we live more they will break down. 


But behold the hope to which you were called. Everlasting life with God in a better land where pain will only be a memory, and work will be satisfying, and our bodies won’t break down, and we can eat good food without intolerances, and we’ll be in perfect harmony with everyone around us, and every wicked and broken thing will come untrue. And we’ll glory in the God who redeemed us from a broken world and brought us into peace. 


Oh, what a hope that we have!


The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 


And Paul doesn’t leave it there. He likens it to riches. A glorious inheritance. I think that this is what he is talking about in 2:7, when he says, “In the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”


Our inheritance is grace, and it’s for all of the saints. In Christ, it’s heaped on us in immeasurable quantities. It’s for you.


Do you know who Scrooge Mcduck is? Maybe you don’t. That’s okay. There is this video in my head when Scrooge Mcduck is diving into this giant vault full of gold coins. It’s an absolutely massive room, and it is flowing with gold.  And there is nothing but pure joy on his face. He swims around in it. I feel like I remember him spitting coins out of his mouth like a fountain at some point. 


God’s grace for you is like that room of gold. It’s overwhelming. Unimaginable. So dive in with joy. 


The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, 


God is the all powerful creator of the universe. And in his great mercy, he has bent that power for your good. 


Have you ever seen one of those super strong guys who bent iron and ripped phone books in half? They always seem like they are about to pop. Veins in their head. Maybe turning a little purple. 


Our God has the cosmic power to create and destroy galaxies with a word from his mouth. He could disintegrate everything in existence without breaking a sweat. 


And this God looks at you with grace. He looks at you with favor. And as he bends the universe for his glory, he is bending it for your good. 


How immeasurable is the greatness of his power toward us who believe!


Do you feel these yet? Our hope? Our promised inheritance? The security that comes with resting in the arms of an all-powerful God? 


Because all of this finds its foundation in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. 


Look back at the end of verse 19. 


“according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.


Jesus was raised from the dead and he ascended to the right hand of the Father, and it is according to this that we have hope and grace and security. Without the resurrection, we have no power. We have no purpose. No hope. No grace. No security. Without the resurrection, the atonement wasn’t completed (Rm 4:25). Without the Resurrection we are still in our sins (1 Cor 15:17-19). When Jesus ascended, all things were put under his feet. He was made head of the church. He fills all in all. 


We have to make a big deal about the resurrection and Ascension of Jesus because, without them, we are all wasting our time. 


So we are going to work through a list of realities related to each of these doctrines and talk through a couple of immediate applications for each one. 


First, the Resurrection


Significance of the Resurrection:


If you have your Bible, open to 1 Corinthians 15. There are a lot of places that we could go to consider the resurrection, but Paul treats the subject fairly thoroughly here, so we can find something of all of our points in this chapter. 


The resurrection:

  • Is the centerpiece of Christian theology (1 Cor 15:17-19).

  • Without this, everything falls apart 

  • If it isn’t true, then we are misrepresenting God (1 Cor 15:15)

  • Vindicated Jesus (1 Cor 15:47; 1 Tim 3:16)

  • Vindicated his claims and it vindicated him before the Father. 

  • It’s assurance that the Father accepted the sacrifice of Jesus. 

  • Secures our right standing before God [vindication, regeneration, and justification] (1 Cor 15:17; 1 Pet 1:3-5; Rom 4:25; 6:4; Col. 2:13)

  • Berkhof, “[The resurrection] constituted a declaration of the Father that the last enemy had been vanquished, the penalty paid, and the condition on which life was promised, met.”

  • Ensures the promise of resurrection bodies for us (1 Cor 15: 20-23; 40-44; Rom. 6:5; 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14)

  • Jesus was given a glorified and imperishable body, and he is a foreshadowing of what is promised to us. 

  • Marked the defeat of sin and death. (1 Cor 15:25-28; 50-56; Rom 6:9)

  • Death is still an enemy, but it is a toothless enemy. Sin is still an enemy, but it has no dominion over you. 


THEREFORE:

  • Persevere in the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58)

  • It gives us eternal significance!

  • Seek things that are of heavenly value! (Col 3:1-4)

  • Colossians 3:1–4, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

  • Fight sin, because Jesus already defeated it. (Rom 6:12-13)

  • Romans 6:12–14 ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”


In the Ascension, (Lk 24:50-51; Acts 1:6-11)

  • Jesus went to a real place

  • He had a physical body, and it didn’t poof out of existence.

  • Jesus sent the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33; Eph 4:8-10)

  • Jesus was seated at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1; Heb 1:3)

  • The God-man was glorified to the place that man was meant to be (John 17:5; Phil 2:9; Rev 5:12)

  • He intercedes for us! (Rom 8:34; Heb 4:14-16)

  • He is given all authority (Eph 1:20-21; 1 Pt 3:22)

  • He foreshadows that we too will be with God and that we will be given authority (1 Thess 4:17; Eph 2:6; 1 Cor 6:3)


THEREFORE:

  • Approach the throne of grace boldly. He will hear, and he is powerful to respond (Heb 4:14-16)

  • Live knowing that your relationship with a real, physical person

  • This can help us feel that our pursuit of holiness is real. 


[If someone wants more references to the Ascension, Jesus spoke of it time and again before His death, John 6:62; 14:2, 12; 16:5, 10, 17, 28; 17:5; 20:17. Paul refers to it repeatedly, Eph. 1:20; 4:8–10; 1 Tim. 3:16; and the Epistle to the Hebrews calls attention to its significance, 1:3; 4:14; 9:24]



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