Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
God’s unfolding plan of redemptive history culminates in the Lord Jesus Christ, both his person and his work. In the Bible this redemptive history is captured in some key turning points in Jesus’ life. The Bible highlights the following: (1) incarnation, (2) perfect life, (3) death- burial, (4) resurrection, (5) ascension, (6) session (being seated at the Father’s right hand, and (7) return in power and glory. The writers of the Scriptures teach these truths in that Jesus is Israel’s promised Messiah, the one fulfills all the Scriptures (Matt. 5:17-20), the one in and through whom all the promises of God are fulfilled (2 Cor. 1:20).
Although there is no biblical mandate for how these key redemptive events of Jesus are remembered or celebrated in the church, that we remember them as biblical truths is essential, and that these works of God and our experiences of these truths ought to lead to thanks and praise to God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
For some who follow the Christian year, yesterday was the day they remembered the redemptive historical event of Jesus’ Christ’s ascension. We use it as a time to remember this key biblical truth of the work of Christ.
In God’s redemptive work, Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:9) was to be seated at God’s right hand (Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22) and to engage in intercession for believers (Rom. 3:34; Heb. 7:25). That is Jesus’ present ministry and our glorious experience.
Here are a few additional essays focusing on some of the “implications” of Christ’s ascension and also some of the “benefits” we receive from Jesus’ ascension. I include just the lists, and encourage you to read the whole essay.
Steve Mathewson, 5 Ways the Ascension Benefits You, states Jesus Christ’s ascension is critical to the redemption story. Collapsing the ascension into the resurrection means we miss many important truths of Christ’s work and benefits we receive as believers. He lists five.
Now you know why Jesus disappeared. His ascension wasn’t merely an exclamation point at the end of the resurrection; it provided his followers with power, grace, mercy, presence, gifts, and anticipation enabling them to advance his mission.
Jared C. Wilson, 5 Things The Ascension Means, reminds readers that the ascension is an essential aspect of gospel doctrine. He lists five implications of Christ’s ascension.
Kevin DeYoung, Happy Ascension Day, focuses on three ways Christ’s ascension benefits believers, looking to the Heidelberg Catechism (Question and Answer 49) for insight.
The good news of this holy day is that Jesus Christ is exercising the dominion that man was made to have from the very beginning (Gen. 1:28). The ruin of the first Adam will be undone by the reign of the second. Because of Christ’s ascension, we know that the incarnation continues, Christ’s humanity lives on in heaven, the Spirit lives in our hearts, and a flesh-and-blood, divine human being rules the universe.