Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church

Where is the victory?

Scripture Readings

  • Acts 5:14,
  • Joshua 7:1-10, 16-21

Introduction

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

We often find ourselves at new beginnings.  We might find ourselves in a new job, or a new suburb or a new house.  The move to a new house helps us to get rid of the old stuff we thought we would never part with.  The new home is now decorated with new pieces of furniture.  It is a fresh start.  We have new hopes, new ambitions, and plenty of resolutions.  One thing we really want is to not repeat the mistakes of the past.

When Joshua took over from Moses, the people had been wandering in the desert for 40 years.  Their wanderings were because of their rebellion and unbelief.  Most of that generation had to die in the desert, and a new generation was raised up.   Moses led them to the eastern side of the Jordan from where they had visions of the Promised Land.  There was excitement with the people.

With fervour, they crossed the Jordan.  Before them was the Land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The promises of God were still fresh in their ears:  “Every place you put your foot soles will be yours.”

They made new promises as they renewed Covenant with the Lord.  The males were circumcised because they had not been circumcised before.  Then God declared, 

“This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” (Joshua 5:9, NKJV)

On the fourteenth of the month, like their forefathers did in Egypt the night God visited Egypt with the death of the firstborn, they celebrated the Passover.  All of this happened on the plains of Jericho, within the promised territory.  The manna stopped falling from heaven after they ate the food from their own land!

Victory!

Their first obstacle was the city of Jericho.  God promised them victory and they did exactly as the Lord commanded.  The city walls crumbled and He gave the city in their hands.  They tasted God’s victory based in his never-failing promises.

Perhaps a few sang “I am in the Lord’s army!”  Others might have sung, “Who is on the Lord’s side?”  

Chosen to be soldiers
In an alien land
Chosen called and faithful
For our Captain's band
In the service royal
Let us not grow cold
Let us be right loyal
Noble true and bold
Master Thou wilt keep us
By Thy grace divine
Always on the Lord's side
Saviour always Thine

Now for the next city.  Ai is nothing like Jericho!  This will be a walk in the park.  The spies came back and suggested to Joshua and send only three thousand men. 

Defeat!

Were these men not enough?  Why then did the men of Ai rout them from the city?  Why did some of the men fall in the battle?  Why the melted hearts of the people (Joshua 7:4-6)  Where is the victory?  If they were defeated by only the second town of their conquest what about the land between the Jordan in the east and the Great Sea in the west, and between Egypt in the south and the great river on the north?  What about the Anakites, the gainsays, against which the spies in the time of Moses warned them against?

Verse one gives us the answer:  

But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things. (Joshua 7:1, NKJV)

They acted unfaithfully by breaking the covenant with the Lord.  The unfaithfulness of their fathers was buried in shallow graves.  

You may ask, would God be angry and have his own people be defeated by a godless group of people just because of a few pieces of gold and silver, wrapped a colourful Babylonian robe?

Let’s look at it from God’s perspective.  Let’s join Joshua and the elders face-down before the Ark of the Lord, praying with dust on their heads,

“Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! (Joshua 7:7, NKJV)

Joshua continued, 

The Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?” (Joshua 7:9, NKJV)

Lord, what have You done?  But God replied, and if we sum it up it comes down to sinful unfaithfulness.

  • Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed God’s covenant
  • They have even taken some of the accursed things, and therefore they have become doomed to destruction
  • They stole and lied; 
  • They took what belonged to God and put it among their own stuff

There result:

  • Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies
  • God will not be with them anymore

The cure?

  • Destroy the accursed from among you
  • Prepare to meet God

Lying to God

Let’s just for one moment leave the Israelites here and go to the new church in Jerusalem.  It’s that new and vibrant church, freshly filled with the Holy Spirit.  It grew day by day.  The people loved one another, they devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles, they shared meals, they practically lived in the temple corridors and witnessed to all with whom they came in contact with.  Let’s hear there report about the Jerusalem congregation:  

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:32–37, NKJV)

Man, what a model church!  If only we could live up to their example of care love and devotion to the things of the Lord.

Not only did Barnabas give the money of his land to the world of the Lord; others did too.  Like Ananias and Sapphira.  The difference between Barnabas and this couple was not that they sold a piece of their property to give the money apostles, but that they lied about the amount of the sale.  What they publicly pretended was impressive; what they secretly hid was sinful!  In short, they were not obliged to sell their land to give money for the work of God, but between selling the land and giving the money to the apostles they were overtaken by greed to keep what they initially promised for God’s work to themselves, and they lied about the rest.  

What was the result?  They were found out. God knew about it all along.  They lied, not to the apostles, but to God.  This act was unfaithfulness to God, and it brought the church in disrepute.   God dealt with this sin without delay—they both died the same day.  Then we read, 

So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things. (Acts 5:11, NKJV)

Will anyone join a church where people drop dead for telling a lie?  In the eyes of men, surely not!  In the plan of God, surely.  God dwells by his Holy Spirit in a church who honours Him.  

… but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, … Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Acts 5:13–16, NKJV)

The same principle which applied in Jerusalem applied in Ai.  Achan and his family were destroyed, and Israel was once again on the march to victory.

Where is the victory today?

There have been many Achan’s and Ananias’s and Sapphira’s in the church.  And let’s be honest, we count amongst that number.  We too are overtaken by greed, unfaithfulness, disobedience, theft of the things which belong to God, as well as lies.  In our tents are the things buried God very expressly forbids.  We think we can hide it as if God will not see.  We might even think that God will not punish us for small sins, only the expressly gross and publicly big ones. And we wonder why the church is not going forward in power as it proclaims the Word of Jesus Christ.  We ask, “Where is the victory?”  The worst about it is that we blame God for the state the church finds itself in.

What we need to get a good understanding of is not how powerful or mighty the church can be, but how holy God is. He gave us his Holy Spirit to dwell in us, but we are more often than not grieving the Spirit; we resist Him; worldliness became part of our activities and thoughts.

Achan and Jesus Christ

Do we have a chance to survive?  Can we still march forward in victory?  What about that promise of Christ, 

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19–20, NKJV)

In the valley of Achor sin was dealt with when Achan died.  But we have a High Priest who took our place, who took our sins on Him, who gave us his righteousness and took our iniquities.  This is the Gospel, 

For God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV)

To Him we must give our lives away; for Him, we must live; in His Name and by his power, we must march forward.  But in his Name we must put everything on the altar; we must take up our cross and follow Him; we must count the price of full obedience and trust.  We must repent, turn our backs on the world and fools Him, leaving things we hold dear behind for the sake of the glory of his Name.  Only then will there be victory again.

Do you want to be on the Lord’s side?  Do you once again see lost sinners come to Christ in repentance?  Do you want to see the church once again grow?  It will cost you your life, but you will win eternal life.

May God help us.

Amen.

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Victory over death and slavery

Bible Readings

  • Luke 24:1-2
  • Acts 13:26-39
  • Numbers 33:3-4

Introduction

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,

It is not uncommon for us, when we hear that someone died, to ask, “How old was he/she?” The younger a child was when it died evokes in us unspeakable emotions.  If the person was very old, there is some contentment. We sometimes value life measured against the time spent on earth.  We often value a short life as a life wasted.  This is because we are born within the limits of time and space. 

The celebrations of Atonement Weekend (or Easter) has a pattern:  we adhere to the calendar of Jewish times.  We commemorate the crucifixion of Christ on the first Friday after the first full moon following the autumn equinox. This was the day on which the lambs were slaughtered when God, at midnight, passed through Egypt and struck all households with the death of the firstborn.  The next day was a new beginning for God’s people in Egypt, a day they had to celebrate annually.

On our calendar, today is the third day since Christ’s crucifixion.  On the third day, He rose again—it was on the first day of the week, another seven-day cycle indication of time.  In a special sense, every first day of the week to the Christian Church is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection.  

Resurrection morning

Early that morning, now more than 2000 years ago, followers of Christ went to his grave to care for the body of their dear friend.  In ancient times, people believed that one’s spirit would linger in your body for three days after you died; the fourth day heralded the fact that the body now has become a corpse, beyond any possibility of restoration.  Maybe they had in mind to d something before the fourth day.

The women arrived at the place where they had buried Jesus, but He was not there!  It grieved them beyond measure.  They found a messenger of God who announced:

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: (Luke 24:5–6, NIV)

He had not been stolen; He had not disappeared; it is no disaster, it all happened according to his word.  He rose from the dead by the power of the Father who called him to life!  Peter, on Pentecost Day, declared, 

God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. (Acts 2:24, NIV)

The Lamb that was slain is the Lamb upon the throne!  He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.  He holds the keys of death and hell.  He was dead, but He is alive!  So, we can sing with full voice and conviction:  Christ is risen today!  I serve the risen Saviour.  Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.”

According to God’s plan of redemption 

The victory of Christ over death was not unplanned unscheduled or without divine purpose.  That first day of the week was no accident or a fluke of time.  Christ’s resurrection was a fulfilment of a long list of promises of God to the very people who in rebellion snubbed his gracious care and providence by rejecting his ownership over them, falling in sin and with them, dragging all of creation into misery.   

Already in Paradise, straight after Adam and Eve’s rebellion, God made this promise:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, NIV)

Out of the bondage of service to idols, God called Abraham and gave him this promise:

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1–3, NIV)

Although Abraham did not see this promise go into fulfilment in his time, he believed this promise of God:

“Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. (Genesis 15:13–14, NIV)

Our reading from Numbers 33 takes us to the fulfilment of that promise.  But first this promise of God: 

“I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. (Exodus 11:1, NIV)

There was another addition to this promise: 

 Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbours for articles of silver and gold. (The Lord made the Egyptians favourably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.) (Exodus 11:2–3, NIV)

Then midnight came, and God struck Egypt; then, when the sun rose the next morning, everything had changed.  It was a new beginning for the people of God.  They had a brand-new future. Their enemy was now powerless.

Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.” The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” (Exodus 12:31–33, NIV)

Let’s go to the verse in Numbers 33:3

The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out defiantly in full view of all the Egyptians, who were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them; for the Lord had brought judgment on their gods. (Numbers 33:3–4, NIV)

Rameses was the city to showcase the defiant and majestical powers of the Pharaoh.  But now, Egypt was in tatters.  The once might dynasty did have a successor on the throne.  There were dead bodies everywhere.  The people wailed for their loved ones; they mourned the loss of their animals.  That day, more than ever, people were gathered around open graves in anguish and sorrow.  There never had been anything like it. From what was left, they showered the Israelites with gold and silver, just to see them go.

The pharaoh had reigned over peoples in the northern parts of Africa, all along the Mediterranean coast, the peoples who inhabited the Promised Land, and countries including parts of the modern-day Syria, Iran and Iraq. Egypt was a mighty empire—but when God dealt with them, they were in mourning, shaken, and on their knees, struck with sorrow. The officials were divided against their king, and the kingdom was on shaky ground.  The pharaoh had enough.  “Leave and go!”  And as an afterthought, “Bless me also.”  Did he mean he was powerless against the God of Israel?  I think so.

But God fulfilled the promises for his people. They marched out triumphantly.  The Hebrew word has something of walking with your arms raised up in the air. Inevitably there were shouts of joy and jubilance.  

Redemption in Christ a reality

Let’s now jump into the New Testament with Paul preaching the Good News of Christ to the people in Antioch.  From Acts 13:17 the apostle picks it up in Egypt and makes this statement:   “He drove them out of that country with mighty powers.” He proceeds along the line of God’s promise from Abraham to David and says:  

Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Saviour, Jesus, as he promised. (Acts 13:23, ESV)

But one would think that the Jews would have picked up the theme of the prophets about God saving grace to his people in the face opposition.  But they did not!  What did they do?  Verse 27:

The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognise Jesus, yet in condemning Him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. (Acts 13:27, NIV)

He preaches on:  

When they had carried out all that was written about Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead, (Acts 13:29–30, NIV)

What is his summary about Christ?  

“We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: “ ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’ (Acts 13:32–33, NIV)

What is the sum of it all?  Listen:  

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through Him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38–39, NIV)

What happened to the people in the time of Moses?  They were set free!  They walked out of Egypt as people with a new start.  The yoke of slavery was removed.  They threw their arms in the air and with shouts of joy they left victoriously.  Who gave them freedom?  God!  What happened to their oppressors?  They were defeated, broken, on their knees.

What is the inheritance of those who believe in Jesus Christ?  The head of the serpent is crushed.  Listen to Hebrew 2:14:  

Since the children have flesh and blood, He [Christ] too shared in their humanity so that by his death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— (Hebrews 2:14, NIV)

Those who believe in Christ are forgiven, they are set free, they are justified.  Why?  The enemy is destroyed! Satan is defeated.  In his letter to the Colossians, Paul puts it this way: 

Having disarmed the powers and authorities, He [Christ] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:15, NIV)

 Paul writes to Timothy stressing the grace of God in our redemption:  

… it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  (2 Timothy 1:10–11, NIV)

Therefore we, with arms in the air, in a jubilant song of victory, march with the Israelites out of Egypt singing, 

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54–57, NIV)

Satan’s hold on God’s children is broken because from their Saviour they received the perfect righteousness which satisfies the Father.  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.    

A warning following the Good News

After Paul connected the dots from the Old Testament through to the New to arrive at the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, he ends with this warning:  

Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: (Acts 13:40, NIV)

Even then people heard the Good News, but they rejected it.  There is, therefore, the possibility that even some who have listened to the Good News that Christ is victorious over death, granting freedom from sin by exchanging his righteousness for our sin to reconcile us with his Father, that some might still walk away with unbelieving hearts.  May it not happen to you, my dear friend.  

This message of freedom from wrath and sin is for you.  Listen, repent, and follow Christ.

May God give you the grace and faith to do so.  

Amen.

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 21 April 2019

 

Ascension: Christ, our King, ascends his throne as Lord of lords

ASCENSION DAY and its IMPLICATIONS for TODAY

Article by Dr. Peter Hammond (http://www.frontline.org.za)

Today is Ascension Day.

Why are so many things going wrong?

Recently, I was asked by a Christian leader: “Why is there so much corruption, crime and violence in our society? Why is there so much immorality, even in the church? Why are we seeing so many moral failures and scandals amongst leaders in business, in every level of government and even in the church?”

Everything has Consequences

My answer is that these are the inevitable consequences of the spirit of our age:

  • Antinomianism, the rejection of God’s moral Law, inevitably leads to lawlessness, where every man does what is right in his own eyes.
  • Egalitarianism, the rejection of authority and lack of respect for elders, produces a self-centred and selfish society.
  • Evolutionism and its denial of the Creator, and therefore of accountability to Almighty God on Judgement Day, erodes the very foundations of Christian civilisation.
All Ideas Have Consequences

Foundational truths have been ignored and vital pillars of Christian civilisation have been eroded. What we are seeing today are the inevitable out-workings of false doctrines being introduced, tolerated, accepted, and in many cases, even celebrated.

Full Salvation

One of the great problems of our age is the separating of Salvation from the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is the Lord Jesus Christ alone who can save us. We cannot accept Jesus as Saviour without submitting to Him as Lord. Those who preach a cheap grace and an easy believism, betray an inadequate understanding of the problem of sin, the nature of God, Christ’s Mission on earth and our purpose and calling as Christians.

Freedom from Bondage

It would not have been sufficient for Moses to have proclaimed to the Hebrews, who were slaves, that they should accept that in Yahweh they had perfect freedom, whilst leaving them in bondage and under the whip of slavery in Egypt! Anything less than deliverance from Egypt and freedom from the bondage of slavery, would have been inadequate. God’s eternal purposes required the people of Israel to survive the Passover, leave Egypt, cross through the Red Sea and be established as a free people in the Promised Land.

Sin is Serious

Sin is serious. We are all far too tolerant of sin. Yet, sin is more defiling than dirt, more dangerous than an unexploded bomb. Even more life threatening than a deadly disease and more insidious than a virus.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways’, says the Lord. ‘For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts’.” Isaiah 55:6-9

Catastrophic Consequences of Compromise and Cowardice

Compromise and cowardice have catastrophic consequences. We can recognise the out-workings of the classic tactics of “corrupt and conquer” and “confuse, divide and conquer.” All too many have been deceived, distracted, divided and disarmed. There are those who are openly advocating the destruction of Christian civilisation. Yet, in the face of these disastrous developments, the response of all too many Christian leaders has been compromise and cowardice!

The Ascension Deal with Authority

Ascension Day points us to the solution to all these problems. Ascension Day deals with Authority. “Christ has gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.” 1 Peter 3:22

The Nature of God

The trouble is that today, most Christians just want to stop with Christmas. Christmas celebrates the greatest Gift of all – the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Incarnation of Christ, when God took on human form and was born in Bethlehem, is very important, but many would prefer to think of Christ as the Babe in a manger, rather than as the Risen, Ascended, Sovereign Lord reigning on High. Yet the classic Christmas verse declares:

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the Government will be upon His shoulder. “And His Name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His Government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:6-7

Trying to Evade Reality

Many like the idea of “a Child is born”, but they would like to stop there and edit out “the Government will be upon His shoulder… Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His Government and peace there will be no end. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” That is too intimidating. Too threatening. Too intrusive. It has implications for every area of life. We like a God of love and mercy who answers our prayers, and provides all our needs. However, we are not too comfortable with a Holy God who sees everything, even the thoughts of our hearts, and who is the Eternal Judge we must give an account to.

The Government

We live in a society where God’s Government is decapitalised and man’s civil government is capitalised! Many people who will put a small “g” for Gospel, will put a capital “G” for their civil government. When we refer to “the Government.” we should only be referring to God, who is the One who determines whether we live, and when we die. He is the One who governs the universe and determines the seasons. God alone is all-knowing, everywhere present and all powerful.

Delegated and Limited

All human authority is limited, it is delegated by God and is answerable to Almighty God. We will all have to bow before Christ and give an account of our lives, and of every word ever spoken, on that last, dreadful Day of Judgement. Each one of us have an appointment. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the Judgement.” Hebrews 9:27

Christ Has Died

The second most important holiday in the Christian calendar is Good Friday – when we solemnly remember the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, His great sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary. He suffered, bled and died for our sins. He endured the punishment we deserve – so that we could enjoy the reward that only He deserves. This should inspire us afresh to repentance, thanksgiving, and consecration. In view of God’s mercies, we should “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…” Romans 12:1

Who Do You Worship?

However, many Christians stop there. They worship Jesus as the suffering Saviour. Roman Catholics have crucifixes depicting Christ suffering on the Cross. Protestants have tended to reject crucifixes. To us Christ is no longer suffering on the Cross. We have a simple, plain, rugged Cross, because Christ is no longer on the Cross. He is the Risen, Ascended, victorious, King of kings and Lord of lords, reigning on High.

Christ Is Risen!

The third great Christian holiday event is Resurrection Sunday. This is a joyous celebration of the victory of Christ over death, hell and the grave. Christ Jesus is Risen from the dead! He is alive forevermore! Death is defeated. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Our Lord and Saviour has been “Declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:4

Chose Life!

All the founders of religions are dead. You can visit the graves of Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, Marx and Lenin. But in Jerusalem there is an empty tomb. “He is not here; He is Risen!” Luke 24:6. “…raised for our justification.” Romans 4:25

The Missing Pillars of the Faith

It is absolutely vital that we include Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday also into our Christian calendar. This is what is all too often missing. 40 Days after Resurrection Sunday, we celebrate the Ascension of Christ into Heaven. He is alive forevermore and He is exalted and enthroned at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. He is above every other name and authority in Heaven and on earth. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We have an Advocate in Heaven. He hears our prayers. He will crush all His enemies. He will come again. Therefore we must go and make disciples of all nations.

Rejecting the Authority of Christ

It is most significant that some governments have seen fit to abolish the long-established Ascension Day as a public holiday. Ascension Day deals with authority.

“All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus Christ is Lord

The Ascension proclaims the Lordship of Christ in all areas of life. Jesus has all authority. Jesus Christ is Lord over the world of business, sports, entertainment and government. Jesus Christ is Lord over the schools, shops, cinemas, factories, hospitals, law courts and parliament. There is no area of life that is outside of His authority. Every doctor, teacher, policeman, businessman, parliamentarian, factory worker, farmer, mother, father, magistrate and supreme court judge will have to individually stand before Almighty God on the Day of Judgment and give an account of our lives.

Vindication and Victory

The Ascension celebrates the vindication and victory of Christ. No doubt the high priest, Caiaphas, King Herod and the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, thought that they were very important and powerful people. Yet these religious and political leaders are only remembered today because they arrogantly dismissed, and unjustly condemned, Christ Jesus. They did not recognise that they were condemning to death the Creator, the Giver of life, the Eternal Judge, before Whom each one of them must stand. “You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive…” Psalm 68:18

The Eternal Judge

The emperor Augustus, who issued the decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world, requiring everyone to return to their town of birth, could not have realised at that time that the Baby born to third class subjects in faraway Judea would one day Judge him.

“The Lord said to My Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand till I make Your enemies Your footstool’.” Psalm 110:1.

Is Jesus Your Salvation or Your Judge?

The Ascension proclaims the ultimate victory of Christ. Those that refused to bow to Christ as Saviour and Lord today, in the day of Grace, when forgiveness is freely available, will one day be forced to bow to Christ as the Eternal Judge – when the day of Grace will be ended, when they will be condemned to hell forever

“He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies. He shall execute the heads of many countries.” Psalm 110:5-6

When Will You Bow to Christ?

The question is not: Will you bow to Christ? But When will you bow to Christ? Will you bow to Christ as Saviour and Lord today, or will you only bow to Christ as your Judge on the Day of Judgment?

Every Knee Will Bow

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at that Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in Heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Every Tongue Will Confess

There is no authority above that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every knee will bow before Him. Compared to Christ the kings and presidents of this world are as nothing. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father. This includes king Herod, Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate. This includes Caesar Augustus and Nero. This includes Muhammad, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.

What Does Muhammad Believe?

On several occasions while witnessing to Muslims, I have heard a Muslim declare: “I believe as Muhammad believes!” At this I normally reply: “Then you must become a Christian.”

“But Muhammad did not believe in Jesus.” they will reply.

“No, he did not then. But he does believe now!” I reply.

We Have an Advocate

The Ascension is a great comfort to believers who suffer persecution.

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the Heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the Throne of Grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

We have an Advocate in Heaven. He hears our prayers. He ever lives to make intercession for us. He will come again. He will crush all His enemies. Therefore we should not fear governments, popes or councils. We must not bow before idols, nor may we compromise the essential principles of our Faith.

A Vision of Victory

Though Christ is physically absent from the earth, yet, through His Holy Spirit, He is spiritually present. He is all-knowing, everywhere-present and all-powerful. “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.”1 Corinthians 15:25

The Ascension is a wonderful reminder and assurance to us that: “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

The Ascension proclaims Christ’s glorious triumph and His future return on the Day of Judgement. Therefore, we as Christians should return to observing Ascension Day as a Holy Day to our Faith and applying its implications into every area of life.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Committed Discipleship

Ascension Day calls us to committed discipleship and consistent obedience. We need to take up our cross, forsake the world and follow Christ. Israel could not fulfil its calling by remaining in bondage in Egypt. Neither can we effectively serve God today, if we remain conformed to this world, in bondage to its sins and idolatries. Attempting to accept the benefits of Jesus as Saviour, while denying His authority as Lord over all areas of our lives, is futile. That is why we need to go beyond celebrating Christmas, worshipping the Babe in the manger. We need to go beyond accepting the Atonement for our sins and recognise that Jesus Christ is Risen, Ascended, reigning on High, King of kings and Lord of lords. He will come again to Judge the living and the dead.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”Do you fear God?

Have you surrendered to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?

Are you studying His Word and seeking to faithfully apply Biblical principles to all areas of life?

Let us go back to the Bible for Reformation and Revival.

Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father!

(Dr. Peter Hammond, Frontline Fellowship, P.O. Box 74 Newlines 7725, Cape Town, South Africa. Tel: 021-689-4480, Email: mission@frontline.org.za Website: www.frontline.org.za)