“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
1) Bible Prophecy (8) (Tom Edwards)
Bible Prophecy (8)
Last week we considered in prophecies and their fulfillments of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was by the power of that resurrection that He was “declared the Son of God” (Rom. 1:4).
In Acts 1:3, Luke speaks of that time between the Lord’s resurrection and His ascension, by saying, “To these [the apostles] He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
The Greek word in this verse for “convincing proofs,” which Liddell & Scott defines as “a sure sign or token,” is worded in the King James Version as “infallible proofs.”
During that 40-day period, Jesus not only appeared to the apostles, but also to many others — even “to more than five hundred brethren at one time” — and “most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:6). So that means that when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus, about A.D. 55, there were still many of those witnesses who could testify toward having seen the resurrected Christ for themselves, about 22 years prior.
Following that 40-day period, Jesus then ascended back into heaven; and Luke goes on to write of this in Acts 1:9-11: “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ’Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’”
The ascension is also spoken of in the accounts of Mark and Luke. Mark writes: “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). Luke words it as follows: “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God” (Luke 24:50-53).
Christ also spoke of His ascension. After He arose from the dead, He told Mary Magdalene, who was apparently overjoyed in seeing Him alive, to “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God’” (Jn. 20:17).
Prophecy of the Lord’s ascension is also seen way back in the book of Daniel, who lived several centuries prior to that marvelous event. Daniel declares in Daniel 7:13-14:
“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.”
Notice the three things given to Him at that time: 1) dominion, 2) glory, and 3) a kingdom. So all of this was received when Jesus ascended back to His Father in heaven.
Many folks are still awaiting God’s kingdom. But it came in Acts 2 when the church was established. So Christians are in that kingdom now, and which has been around for about 1,985 years! This is also seen in Colossians 1:13, where Paul told the brethren that God “…delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” The Colossian letter was written about A.D. 60 to 62. And, of course, since Christ right now is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16), how could that be so — if He had no kingdom to rule over?
Going back to Daniel 7:13, we note, too, that Jesus was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom “That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him.” So if He has not yet received that, then how could individuals of every nation serve Him? Would we not then have to all wait until that kingdom comes?
But being in the kingdom is also what the apostle John acknowledged in Revelation 1:9: “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus…” And being a fellow partaker of the kingdom is also true of every Christian. Therefore, as the Hebrew writer exhorts in Hebrew 12:28, “We should be grateful that we were given a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And in this kingdom we please God by worshiping him and by showing him great honor and respect” (CEV). Or as the English Standard Version words that last part, “…and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
The psalmist also speaks of the Lord’s ascension in Psalm 66:18:
“You have ascended on high,
You have led captive Your captives;
You have received gifts among men…”
Where we find this cited in the New Testament, there is a slight change of the Lord giving gifts, rather than receiving them. But in the NT context, the gifts Christ gave were apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:7-12). And wouldn’t all these also be “gifts” He had received from the Father to, in turn, give? For of the apostles, Jesus says, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word” (Jn. 17:6). And not only the apostles, but the Lord also speaks of His “sheep” as those whom His Father “has given” to Him (Jn. 10:29).
Jesus is now at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1). Stephen, while being stoned to death by an angry mob, saw him there (Acts 7:55). And from heaven, Jesus is not only ruling over the church, but over all, with the exception of God the Father (cf. Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:23-28). Peter writes of Jesus as having “gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Pet. 3:22). And Paul shows that the Lord “ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things” (Eph. 4:10).
That the Lord ascended for this coronation is also seen in comparing certain Bible passages. For instance:
“The LORD says to my Lord:
‘Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.
The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying,
‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies’” (Psa. 110:1-2).
Then, in Hebrew 10:11-13: “Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.”
Jesus also cited Psalm 110:1 when questioning the Pharisees. He asked, “’What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘Then how does David in the Spirit call him “Lord,” saying, “THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, ‘SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET’”’? If David then calls Him, ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” (Matt. 22:42-45).
Though we read in Acts 1:11 of the angels who had said to the apostles that “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven,” yet Christ will not be setting foot on earth again. Rather, when He returns, it will be to meet Him in the air, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. For He will return on the “last day” (Jn. 6:39-40, 44, 54; Jn. 12:48). After which the universe and time itself shall be no more (2 Pet. 3:7, 10-12).
(All Scripture from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:1-2, NASB).
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)