Theology 101 — Ascension Significance (final in a series)comment (0)
May 29, 2014
By Jerry Batson
Thus far we have seen that references to Christ’s ascension occur rather often in the New Testament, sometimes directly stated and sometimes clearly implied. Its significance includes being the precursor to the sending of the Holy Spirit, the inauguration of Christ’s high priestly ministry and the enablement of victorious Christian living for His followers.
In this last look leading up to Ascension Day, we turn to how the ascension resulted in gifting believers for effective Christian service. For this, we open again this week to Ephesians. In chapter 1, we read how an apostle prayed for other Christians in verses 15 through 22. As often happens when Paul prayed for others, his prayer almost imperceptibly transitioned from intercession into instruction. The intercession portion of the prayer requested that God give the readers “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (v. 17), open their hearts to see “the hope to which He has called you” (v. 18), to appreciate God’s “glorious inheritance in the saints” (v. 18) and to know “the immeasurable greatness of His power” to believers (v. 19). The measure of divine power worked in Christ both to raise Him from the dead and to seat Him at the Father’s right hand (v. 20). Being ascended to that position of power and authority, Christ had all things put under His feet and was given to be head over all things to the Church, which is His body” (v. 22).
The first truth for this week is that the ascension led to Christ’s headship over the Church.
Our ascended and enthroned Lord wants to fill His body, the Church, with all the fullness of God (v. 23). From the human perspective and as auxiliary to the truth of the priesthood of all believers, we often refer to a local church as a democratic body — one in which the congregation governs. Congregational church governance is a cherished Baptist distinctive, which of course we also share with other groups. However, from the perspective of this Ephesian passage, we might want to say from God’s perspective, the Church ideally is “Christocratic,” a body ruled by its exalted Head.
Later in Ephesians 4, we read that the ascended and enthroned Christ apportions grace to each member of His body (v. 7). His apportioning grace bestows gifts to believers and gifted leaders to the Church (vs. 8, 11).
Lest those of us who are in receipt of gifts think to leave the doing of ministry to the leaders, the passage sets forth the intention of the Church’s Head: He gives gifted leaders for the purpose of building up the body by equipping “the saints for the work of ministry” (v. 12).
The intended goal is that all members of the body, members and leaders alike, “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13).
As our heavenly Head watches over His body, the Church, He delights to see that we “grow up in every way” spiritually, so that we do not remain “children, carried about by every wind of doctrine” (v. 14). One expressed mark of spiritual maturity is that we all come to speak “the truth,” being careful that we do that speaking “in love” (v. 15).
From His heavenly position, the ascended Christ is looking for the whole body to be building “itself up in love” (v. 16). May our collective growth toward maturity warm the heart of Him who reigns in heaven at the Father’s right hand.