“And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9 ESV)
We begin our studies in the Book of Acts this Sunday! The Spirit of God inspired Luke to write Acts as the next chapter in his narrative of the life of Christ. John Stott suggested that the complete title of this book could be “The Continuing Words and Deeds of Jesus by His Spirit through the Apostles.”
We desperately need the message of this inspired book. The world around us seems to increasingly reject our Christian faith and values. Many Christians are fearful about the world and its future. We have prioritized things other than the kingdom of God as a result. The Book of Acts calls us back to kingdom priorities as we live in the present age. Our expositions are entitled, Acts: Spirit-Empowered Witnesses in a Sin-Empowered World.
How do we live faithfully in the face of opposition? What is the church supposed to look like in a changing world? What should the priorities of Christ followers be? These questions and more will be addressed as we study this book together.
Our first sermon in this new series will consider the first 11 verses. This account records the final words and act of Jesus Christ prior to his sitting down at God’s right hand. After spending time with his disciples and teaching them about the kingdom for 40 days after his resurrection, he gives them what has been historically called The Great Commission: to go into the world and to testify of the gospel. After these parting words, he ascends to heaven before their eyes.
We talk a lot about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but we do not give the ascension the attention it deserves. But Christ’s ascension to heaven is vital for us today! When he inhabited this world, he emptied himself of his omnipresence; he limited himself to our space/time continuum. But now, in heaven, he is able to intercede for us at all times and in all places! Now, in heaven, Christ is advocating for us – helping us, cheering us on! And now, in heaven, Christ occupies a position of divine authority – the right hand of the throne of God!
This Sunday we will examine the link between the ascension of Christ and the Great Commission. Because Christ is seated at God’s right hand, the church has the authority to go into the world and proclaim the good news. Because Christ is seated at God’s right hand, the church has access to Christ’s power, through the Spirit, to proclaim the good news! And because Christ is seated at God’s right hand, the church has an advocate to help her preach the good news to the world!