Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Christ’s Mystery Ascension

I think that Christ’s ascension to be high priest (Acts 1:9) is not the same as Christ’s mystery ascension having to do with his position as head of the body far above all heavens (Eph. 4:10).  What do you think?

There is an ascension of Christ in prophecy (before the mystery; before Paul is saved):

Acts 1:9
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Daniel 7:13
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven [angels], and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

Luke 19:12
He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.

That is his ascension as high priest according to the book of Hebrews, according to prophecy.

Hebrews 4:14, 19-20
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession…Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;  Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

His mystery ascension as head of the church, his body comes later.  Looking back we know that when he ascended in Acts 1 to be high priest, doctrinally it was in regard to prophecy.

Hebrews 8:1b
We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

We learn later that the physical, bodily resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ has a deeper and additional meaning.  We know from Paul and the revelation of the mystery in the dispensation of Grace that he would begin to do something different.  Luke 13 makes it clear that for one year following his ascension, Christ was looking ‘for fruit.’

Luke 13:6-9
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree [a type of the religious element of the nation of Israel] planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.  Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?  And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:  And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

This additional year was in response to Christ’s prayer for Israel:

Luke 23:34a
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

He was saying, “Give them this year also.”  So from Acts 1 to Acts 7-9 (the stoning of Stephen and Saul’s salvation),  God gave a one-year period of grace to Israel that was prophesied by the Lord in Luke 13; but no one understood it until after the fact.  During that year he sat as high priest; or you could say, as the rejected King or Messiah or Israel.  That is what that ascension was all about.

Israel’s rejection of Christ was culminated in the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7.  They were sending a message.

Acts 7:57-59
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.  And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

This is what Christ was talking about in his parables:

Luke 19:12-14
He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.  And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.  But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

That is what they were doing when they stoned Stephen.  They were saying that they did not want that man to reign over them (John 19:15).  According to prophecy, after that one-year grace period, the Lord was going to begin to pour out his wrath.

Psalm 2:4-5
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.  Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

Psalm 110:1, 5
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstoolThe Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.

But we now know from Paul that when Stephen looks up and sees the Son of man standing on the right hand of God…

Acts 7:55-56
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,  And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

 (remember, he was to sit until God made his enemies his footstool)

Mark 12:36
For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

 …the Lord was to pour out his wrath and judge and make war.

Revelation 19:11
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

But now we know that when Saul shows up in Acts 7, 8 and 9…

Acts 7:58
And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.

Acts 8:1, 3
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles…. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Acts 9:1-2
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,  And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

…the Lord Jesus Christ comes back to confront Saul…

Acts 9:3-4
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Instead of pouring out his wrath on the chief of sinners, he pours out his grace and brings in a new dispensation.  It is at that time after the Lord appears to Saul that he ascends back into the heavens. 

Now God is doing a new thing; he is forming the church the body of Christ.  He is dealing with the heavenly places.

Notice that his ascension in Acts 1 was to be high priest of Israel according to Prophecy; he fulfilled that for a whole year.  When he stands up in Acts 7 a year later at the stoning of Stephen, he comes back, not to pour out his wrath, but to do something that God didn’t make know before—the mystery (Rom. 16:25)—and to pour out his grace.  He saves the chief of sinners and begins the dispensation of grace.

1 Timothy 1:15
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Ephesians 3:2
If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

When Christ goes back up into the heavens after appearing to Saul, positionally, he is at the right hand of the Father; but doctrinally he becomes the head of the church, the body of Christ.  Right now God is dealing with the heavenly places and not the earth.  Up until Acts 7 he was just dealing with the earth.

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

1 Corinthians 15:48
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

From Genesis 1:2 until the events with Saul in Acts 7, 8 and 9, God was only dealing with the earth. 

When do I believe that he actually ascended in his position as 
head of the body?  It was not the ascension in John 20 with the Old Testament saints.

John 20:17
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

It was not even the ascension in Acts 1 when he went up to receive the physical, earthly Kingdom and then return.  But, it was a year later, after saving Saul on the road to Damascus, he went up to the right hand of the Father and now, with Israel temporarily set aside, God is dealing with the church the body of Christ…

Ephesians 2:6
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

…that he might fill all things.

Ephesians 4:10
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Hopefully this helps!

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