Pastor Jerry Gillis - April 10, 2016

The ascension teaches us about the uniqueness, the rule and the return of Jesus.

Community Group Study Notes

  • How can we be energized to live life in this dimension like we are already in the next one? Why is this necessary? What impact will this have on us sharing God's story of Grace?
  • The ascension of Jesus also serves as a promise of his return one day. Read 1 John 3:1-3. How should we live in response and in anticipation of Jesus return? Why are these thoughts connected?


Memory Verse

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18)

Sermon Transcript

So last week we discovered in Acts chapter one that the death and resurrection of Jesus ultimately was the great earthquake that shook the entire cosmos. And that upon His resurrection and after His resurrection, He showed up to His disciples and others over the course of a forty-day period multiple times, showing Himself to be truly human, truly risen from the dead in His glorified humanity. And then, ultimately He gives a commission to His disciples and kind of indirectly to us, basically suggesting that Jesus still has a plan to shake the world and that plan is people. And that what we have in the book of Acts is we've kind of got a chronicle of the aftershocks, basically of the earthquake.

And so before we leave chapter one, I want us to be able to look at something that gets over looked very often and that is this idea that we call "the ascension of Jesus". Look in Acts chapter one beginning in verse number six. It says: "Then they gathered around him and they asked Him Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?". He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be by witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. And after he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight."

Okay. It's pretty extraordinary, right? So Luke tells us about this happening that occurs here, I don't know how many of you have ever heard an actual message on the ascension, I preached on it once before, years ago, but most people if you surveyed them everywhere, anywhere, they've never heard an actual message dealing with this subject like what is this, why is it here, why did it happen, what does it teach us? I've heard people reference it, you know, like this is something Jesus did, but never really dive in and say what about this do we need to understand and learn. It's not a throwaway.

Now Luke who writes the book of Acts also wrote a gospel, and at the end of his gospel in Luke chapter 24 gave us another perspective of what happened at that time. He says that "When Jesus led His disciples out to the vicinity of Bethany He lifted up His hands and He blessed them. And while He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven."

So really what we're having to kind of think about is we're having to think about what does it mean for Jesus to have been taken up, and it's a term that we use when we talk about the ascension of Jesus. What are we talking about? Was this just a really great party trick that Jesus did, that everybody went wow, that was awesome. What do we do about that, right? It's not that. It has significance. And I'm going to say a lot today, I'm just going to go ahead and tell you because I wasn't sure how this was going to play out, but now that I've done this once already I'm going to go ahead and tell you that today may be in some senses like you're drinking out of a fire hydrant. Get what you can and go back and listen again, I'm going to say some things that are going to rattle your cage a little bit, and I'm going to do it intentionally, not for the sense of trying to break down your faith, but actually to give you a more informed and a better hope than maybe you even have right now. That's kind of the goal, alright?

So, when you think about this idea of the ascension of Jesus it's actually been communicated in a number of different of mediums to us. In fact, in kind of classic art, we've seen this actually represented by some of the great artists of all time. For instance, Rembrandt. You know the name, right? Rembrandt painted a picture of the ascension of Jesus, there He is with little naked baby angels that are helping Him, apparently on the ascension, right? His disciples down below, you can tell some of the dark contours that's a signature of Rembrandt. Or maybe Hans von Kulmbach. This is where you can see the picture, all you see of Jesus is His feet. He's at the top, right? It's like, hey I'm out of here. Salvador Dali, maybe you have seen his work before. He frames it like we are standing underneath Jesus as He ascends and there is apparently a lady up there, too. I imagine she's supposed to be an angel, but I didn't have coffee with Salvador, so I don't know what all this is representing, although it's a beautiful picture. And then Andrea Mantegna, he did this picture, so apparently there's a lot of semi-clothed little angels who are carrying Jesus on a platform and it looks like Jesus is carrying a flag, I'm not sure. I don't know what that is, so you can tell I'm a real art critic. Like I'm not super familiar with this, but I was like, what's the flag, what's that all about, what's he doing, is that the Spanish flag, what is that? I mean, I don't know.

So here's the thing. All of those pictures are kind of representative of certain ways of thinking, alright? And it's basically the only way that they were really prepared to think. For instance, that style of thinking even permeates the way that we think about the ascension. We think of the ascension as hey, Jesus just went up, right? He just went up.

So you can actually still today, in this time in age, I'm not recommending this, but you can go to the app store and you can get an app game called "Jesus Jump". Here's a picture of it, it really exists. That's "Jesus Jump". So what Jesus does is He jumps from cloud to cloud, right? With the goal of eventually getting to heaven. Wow, don't buy that. So that's Jesus Jump, yeah. You come to church you learn a lot things, don't you? Some of which you wish, you're like, hey, I'd like to forget that.

But here's the thing. Without trying to sound too scientific because I'm not, but it makes sense that people think this way because it's kind of the only way people thought about the world in any way when they thought about just the idea of heaven up, hell down kind of thing, right? Dante gave you a picture of hell down and in certain levels, I guess you drill down into the earth and you get there, right? Kind of that, you know, I can dig to China kind of idea, right? It really comes from a Ptolemaic, Ptolemy was in the kind of second century, early and he was kind of had a scientific philosophy of the world, a Ptolemaic geocentric idea of the world. Basically that just means this: That the earth is at the center of the universe and that there are concentric circles around the earth and that the farther out you get, the farther out get eventually as you go up, up, up, up, up, you eventually get to heaven.

The church actually kind of Christianized this idea of kind of the geocentric model of the universe, kind of earth as its center, but the truth is that we know that that's not exactly the case, right? We know now that that's not actually how everything operates. We can see into space, we have a better understanding of what all of that looks like, how everything you know, circles and orbits, you know, around the sun as opposed to around the earth and all of those things.

So what I don't think is happening here in our text, is I don't think that the writers of Scripture are trying to give us some sense of an ancient deified space traveler who goes, here's our mind. When we think of the ascension we have a balloon theory. You know when you let go of a balloon and you just watch it and you're just like whoa, whoa, and then eventually it's just kind of gone. That's what we think about when we think about when we think of the ascension, right? It's kind of like, here's Jesus, it's like whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, right? That's what we think.

But here's the thing. Let's say that Jesus continued traveling at the same pace that we ascribe in the balloon theory, which is what most of us think about, that He continued traveling in that same thing, and let's pretend like Ptolemy was right, even though he's not, and let's pretend that if He continued making His way up, He would eventually get to heaven. Well, from what we know, based on how Jesus did that because they watched Him apparently or whatever, if we took that same line of thinking, because we know at least in our sense, we know the extent of our known universe, there's more out there, right, it would take a few billion years traveling at the speed of light for Jesus to make it past our known universe. Which theoretically would mean it would take Him a few billion years traveling at the speed of light to make it back. I'm not interested in waiting that long, you might be, good luck with that. Try a cryo-chamber, right? I don't think that is what we're trying to understand here, so I want for us to actually rethink what we're trying to understand here because what we're trying to understand is what does it mean for Jesus to have been "taken up into heaven".

Now I want to tell you that in the Greek language when you're reading the end of Luke and you're reading the beginning of Acts, the Greek language does not demand that we use the word "up" although the word up is perfectly acceptable as a part of a phrase, "taken up", that kind of phrase, perfectly acceptable. But the Greek doesn't actually have that word, that singular word "up" is not there. So it's not that it's wrong for it to be there, not at all, because there probably was some sense of up in this sense, but when we think about up we just think of going, going, going, going, going, right? That's what we think about. I want us to actually think slightly different about that because the only way we know how to think is we know how to think spatially. That's the only way we know how to think, right? We only know how to think in terms of here and there, kind of spatially, and that can be challenging for us when we start thinking about this idea. I'll tell you why.

We can only comprehend in three dimensions. That's all we understand, but physicists, specifically string theorists tell us that there are ten, possibly eleven dimensions. Good luck with that. Like I don't know what to do with that. I think that maybe you would be better suited thinking about this picture of the ascension in dimensional terms rather than in spatial terms. Because, for instance, just on the globe that we live in, if Jesus is going up from that place, then on the other side of the globe He's going down. Wait a minute, Jerry. You're breaking out physics on a Sunday? No, I'm just helping us understand the language and what's being said and re-calibrating our heads around what this event, because this event is extraordinarily rich and I want us to see it and not make it silly. Not make it weird. Not dumb it down. I want us to see it in all the richness of what it's actually supposed to be.

See, when we think dimensionally it can change some things. For instance, when the Bible talks about this idea of heaven and earth, that God is the maker of heaven and earth, right? What we're understanding that idea to mean is that God is the maker, there are two sides of creation, heaven and earth. What you need to understand is that sometimes when the Bible uses the term heaven, it's describing just the sky, sometimes when it uses the term heaven it's describing like space and the stars, sometimes when it uses heaven, it's describing kind of the realm of God. Sometimes when the Bible is using the term earth, it's describing the little ball that we live on, sometimes when it uses the term earth, it's actually describing the whole cosmos. You have to understand what the Bible is saying.

Listen. When the Bible says God is the maker of heaven and earth, it's as if that's two sides of creation, but not two sides of creation like it's a piece of paper that we cut in half and go "here they are" but instead it's two dimensions of the creation of God. Let me put it this way, earth is humans' dimension and heaven is the dimension of God. Earth is the sphere of humanity and heaven is the sphere of God.

What we learn from the outset of Scripture, are you staying with me? Alright. What we learn from the outset of Scripture is that it was God's intent for heaven and earth to actually be completely interlocked, inter-woven, joined, married together. But what sin did, is it not only separated us, in terms of personal relationship with God, but it actually began to sever our idea of those two things being married, so that now there is like a veil between those two dimensions that we call earth that we dwell in and what we know to be true but cannot see, which is God's dimension that we call heaven. Everybody okay? Because it's going to get worse. Just letting you know, alright?

The beautiful thing is that when we get to the book of Revelation, what we actually see at the end of all of these things that I've taught on, when you get to Revelation 21 and 22, you see the final consummation of the marriage of heaven and earth. Exactly what God intended from the beginning actually comes to be. Here's the beautiful thing, it's called a new heaven and new earth. Here's what I want you to understand. Sometimes when you read "new heaven and earth" the and is your problem, because you look at the and as a divider, the new heaven and earth. No. In Revelation it's a uniter. It's heaven and earth, because God has joined them together in one. How has He done that? He has done that in the person of Jesus.

You see, Jesus is the embodiment of heaven and earth all in Himself. He is where the dimension of earth lives and the dimension of humanity and the dimension of God all at the same time. So we know this, that in the world that we live in, there is an overlap between heaven and earth, and that is Jesus. Because we know that Jesus is the One who made all things and He's the One, according to Colossians.

In fact let's read it, Colossians chapter one: "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." See Jesus is the place where heaven and earth come together in full beauty. That's why this idea that we're talking about of the ascension is very important for us because it's giving us a foretaste of the beauty of the marriage of heaven and earth in one.

Now, that's preparatory, I want to teach you some things about the ascension and what it means about Jesus, because this is a part of us understanding the nature of who God is because of when we see Jesus, we understand God.

Here's the first thing, Jesus is unique. There's no one like Him. Completely and totally unique. This is what the ascension teaches us and you're going yeah Jerry, of course, right? Who can do that? Well, I want to actually break that down for just a second so you understand what our text of Scripture is actually saying to us about this, and you're going to have to stay with me. And I'm not going to apologize for diving a little deep and I'm not going to apologize for kind of yanking your chain in just a minute, but I want you to stay with me because we'll learn something.

The uniqueness of Jesus. Here's what we learn it first. From this picture, that He's truly human. Here's what you need, you and I need to understand. That Jesus, the One who ascended in this picture is the One who died in a body, who resurrected from the dead by God's own power in a resurrected body, who ate fish with His disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in a resurrected body. This is truly glorified resurrected embodied humanity, and it's He that ascends.

Now, the reason this is important is because we get some hints both from John in his gospel that Jesus is going to do this, and then Paul, after the fact, kind of tells us about this idea and let me show them to you. In John chapter three, remember when Jesus was talking with Nicodemus? Remember that? In that conversation Jesus said "Nicodemus, you are Israel's teacher and you do not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven - the Son of Man." He's giving us a foretaste of what's going to transpire.

A few chapters later in John chapter six there's some disciples that are really irritating Jesus because they're wanting to check out on Him because His teaching's really hard and Jesus says, the disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" And aware that His disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before!" Whoa.

Here's what Paul says after the fact in Ephesians chapter four, listen to this: "To each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: When He ascended on high, He took many captives and gave gifts to His people. (What does 'He ascended mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very One who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)"

You see, here's the picture that Paul is painting, and here's the picture that Jesus was anticipating, it's this: That Jesus in His incarnation, that means to put skin on, right? He came from heaven, glorified as He was, Spirit as He was, and put on flesh. God the Son, one of the tri-personal nature of God as Father, Son and Spirit, came and lived, born of a virgin, took on skin, He was incarnated, He put on flesh and was fully human in that sense that He was embodied in flesh. It is unique because in that skin that He lived in, He is also the One who died in our place for our sin to satisfy the justice of God, who God raised from the dead on the third day, who appeared to all of these people in His resurrected form that they touched Him, they hugged Him, He ate fish, He walked through walls. And then He disappeared from their sight into the dimension of God. But He did that in His glorified humanity.

So, I'm about to say something to you that's going to bother you. And I'm good with that. Not because I'm trying to trick you, but because I want you to understand something. I'm going to make a statement and I'm going to let you sit with it for just a second and here it is. Jesus is the first and only human being to enter heaven. I'm going to let you sit with that for a second.

So here's where your mind is running. Wait a second. Some of you are running through your mind Biblically thinking, wait a minute, what about Elijah? I remember him. Taken away on a chariot. Elijah. Elijah and Moses who died actually and his body was carried away, right? Showed up at the Mount of Transfiguration, right? Whatever else that was, and I don't know what it was, but whatever else it was, they were not in full glorified post-resurrection humanity. Were they viewed in some kind of spirit format? I don't know, I wasn't there, didn't interview them, not sure. But it wasn't full body. Now you say, what about my friends and relatives that know Jesus and that died? You're saying they're not in heaven. No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying that where they are right now in the presence of Jesus, in the sphere of God, in heaven they have not yet come to a place where they have been resurrected and fully embodied in that glorified resurrected body, that will only happen when Jesus returns and heaven and earth become one. You cannot actually be fully human unless you are fully embodied. That is the nature of how He has made us. And the beautiful thing about the hope that we have is that the fully embodied glorified Jesus is the one who ascended and is the one who is going to make us like Him so that one day we are also going to enter into the sphere of God in full humanity. Glorified, sinless humanity.

You see, this is so much better and I'm, I get irritated by the bubble-gum sermons that are preached in so many places, that are just scratching little itches about, you know, here's ten things that make your life a little bit better today and all that stuff, and nobody's actually teaching theology, even though theology sets the framework for how we actually know God in who He is. And see for you and I, here is what we need to understand. Our hope in terms of our life after this one is so much greater than the words that Christians use to describe it. Because most of the time it's usually something along the lines of "oh man, I'm so sorry that they died, but they're in a better place." Who doesn't say that? Who? Hindus say that, Muslims say that, New Age people say that, and then just throw Christians in there. What's distinctly Christian about saying "Oh, they're in a better place." Everyone says that!

Do you know what's so central to our hope is that the unique Son of God died, rose from the dead in flesh, glorified, resurrected, spotless flesh and that He ascended. And that one day when we die, our souls go into the presence, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, our soul goes into the presence of the Lord, cared for, loved, glorious, incredible, I don't even know how to describe it all. It's fantastic. But there is still yet coming a time when the unique Son of God is going to return in His glorified humanity. You see, when He ascended to the Father, He didn't just disintegrate into spirit, He still remains in glorified humanity with the marks of redemption still on Him. He now exists right this moment in the sphere of God, in the control-room of the universe. And He is running things and He is fully embodied because He is the first fruits of the resurrection.

You see, this is what we have to begin to understand and embrace because this is what helps us to see the great hope that we have. It means that there is coming a time that even though we die and our souls go to be with the Lord and they are cared for and I don't know if that means that we have just kind of a spirit-existance and whatever. I haven't been there, I don't know yet fully. But what I do know is that there is coming a time where Jesus returns and He is getting His own up from the grave and that they will be made like Him. Glorified, resurrected fully-human bodies which means, ladies and gentlemen, we don't just have to hold to these ethereal thoughts when people that we know and love go ahead of us to be with Jesus and we think, you know what, one day, hopefully I'll see them again, but maybe it'll just be kind of a ghostly existence, or whatever. No, no, no, no, no. Not when Jesus comes again and raises us up and changes everything about us. We will hug them, we will hug necks again, we will kiss cheeks again, this is real and tangible. More real than we even understand. This is why it's so important for us to grab hold of this.

So we understand the uniqueness of Jesus, that He is truly human. But He's also truly divine. That's what the ascension teaches us because notice what our text says to us, it says that Jesus was taken up before their very eyes and a cloud hid Him from their sight. You've got to understand the significance of what's going on here. This isn't just any old cumulonimbus. This has extraordinary significance for who we are and what we understand. Because a cloud in the Old Testament and a cloud in the New Testament taught us about the glory and presence of God.

You remember when Israel was in the wilderness after coming out of Egypt? Moses would meet with God in the tent. Listen to what it says in Exodus 33. "As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent."

How about when eventually a temple was built for Him in the reign of Solomon? 1 Kings tells us, "When the priest withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled His temple."

Well what about in the New Testament when we see Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration and we see Elijah and Moses show up in some form, even though it's not yet a fully embodied glorified post-resurrection form that Jesus will give to His own when He returns, but in some recognizable form. What about that? Remember that? Luke chapter 9? It says that "When He was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they we afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him."

You see, this picture that we're seeing of this cloud is teaching us about the glorious deity of Jesus. That even though He is the One who raised from the dead in flesh and blood, in glorified humanity and He is truly human, He is the truly the second Adam, the perfect human, He is also perfectly God. And it is signified by this idea of the cloud so you see that this picture of the ascension shows us about the uniqueness of Jesus. Fully man, fully God.

But it also teaches us about the rule of Jesus. Not just His uniqueness, but His rule. You see, if I'm still going to use that same picture, the idea of the cloud, whenever people that were in the time of the writing of this would read this, they would immediately think of Daniel. This idea of Jesus, listen to this, coming with the clouds is straight out of Daniel's prophecy.

Listen to what it says in Daniel chapter seven: "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like the son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Do you know what this picture is? This picture of Jesus in the clouds is a picture from Daniel of exaltation, of a King that is over every king and a Lord that is over every lord.

In fact, in Daniel chapter seven it talks about this vision and talks about these various beasts that are in the vision which are representative of empires and kings that Revelation borrows from and uses the same exact language. And what we're reminded of at the ascension, in His coming in the clouds is we're reminded of the Ancient of Days had given to Him dominion over every government, over every power, over every king, over every president, over every prime minister, over every oppressive regime that exists, He is over all of those because He is exalted above them all. That's the picture.

Now this also has, this also has a contemporary significance to the readers, because in the time of writing isn't it interesting that we got this picture of Jesus actually leaving His disciples and transferring into the realm of God. Into the dimension of God. Fully embodied. Why is that so interesting? Because this was written to a people who were under oppression. Israel was under the thumb of Rome. And do you know what happened with the Roman Caesars, the Roman emperors? There was a kind of a story that was told to Rome, it became Rome's narrative that when a Caesar died, that the Caesar's soul would ascend to heaven where he would become a god. Really makes it good for the guy coming behind him, right, because you're now a son of god. This is what was going on in that time.

In fact, I just learned this this week, I didn't know it prior to this, but in the forum in Rome where you can go and see kind of the remains that are there, underneath the arch of Titus, which is kind of the front end of the forum of Rome, if you go under the arch and look up, Titus ruled in about the 80's AD, something like that. If you look up, carved into the top of the arch of Titus is a soul, whatever that looks like. But it's supposed to be Titus' soul. Why? The idea is that it ascended to the heavens where Titus became a god.

So you know we have this picture of the ascension of Jesus, do you know what it does? It upstages Rome. Oh, your nice little stories about your soul ascending, how about try this one on--full body. This isn't just a soul that's kind of making up some no, no, no, no I'm checking out, and I'm moving into the dimension of God fully embodied in my glorified humanity. Why, because Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not. That's why. So this teaches us, not only about the uniqueness of Jesus, but it also talks to us about the rule of Jesus.

But then it tells us, as we can see clearly, about the return of Jesus. Notice what it picks up after Jesus gets in a cloud and is hid from their sight and then in verse ten is says: "They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 'Men of Galilee' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven."

I think it's interesting that Luke includes two angels here and of course there were, but that was for the sake of, you know, Deuteronomy said that everything had to be established by two witnesses to make it's testimony true. And so here you've got two angels that are testifying to Jesus leaving this dimension into another dimension up and out and however that happened. And what we're reminded of that the angels say is this: In the same way that you have seen the resurrected glorified humanity of the King of the world exit, you will see the resurrected glorified humanity of the King of the world come back. And when He does, His people with Him will then be a resurrected, glorified humanity to dwell with Him in a new heaven and earth just like God had designed. It's incredible isn't it? It's beautiful. It's so hopeful. It's so much better than "they're going to a better place". Wow, that's really compelling since everyone says that. We have such a deeply compelling message here in the gospel.

Now, not only does this picture show us kind of the reuniting of heaven and earth and not only does it show us the uniqueness of kind of the truly human and truly divine Jesus and how He's going to rule over the entire cosmos and the promise of His return, here's the question that we ask: What do we do with that? Like this is, you're right, it's been like drinking out of a fire hydrant, what do I do with that? Like how do we apply this, what do we do? What did they do?

Look, right after that, Acts chapter one verse twelve, it says: "The apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." What does Luke say at the end of his gospel? He says: "When He had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God."

So what did they do? Here it is, here was their response to the ascension of Jesus, worship and prayer. That was their response. Worship and prayer. Why? Listen carefully. Here's why. Because apparently even though they could not see the dimension to which Jesus went, they believed that worship and prayer were a place where those dimensions overlapped. Listen, where sight could not go, sound could penetrate the curtain. With what we pray, with what we hear, with what we sing we are penetrating through the invisible curtain that will one day be removed. But this is the place for now because of Jesus, where heaven and earth overlap.

So what are we going to do? We're going to pray and we're going to worship just like they did. That's our response. So what I'm going to ask you to do, is kind of take a moment and talk to Jesus, knowing that you are speaking to the fully glorified, fully embodied one who sits in the throne room of the universe, who is moving everything toward becoming new. He hears, He knows, so bring to Him in this moment and then I'm going to have us pray a prayer together and then we're going to worship on our way out. So take a moment and pray right where you are.

Now in a moment you're going to see a prayer on the screen that we're going to pray together out loud. Because I want us to together affirm what we've talked about and our response to that. So I'm going to go slow, I want you to repeat this with me out loud as we say this together.

Almighty Father, say it with me, Almighty Father, whose blessed Son--our Savior--Jesus Christ ascended far beyond this earthly dimension and was welcomed into your presence in His remade body, we ask that you will increase our faith in you today. Deepen our trust that although Jesus has ascended to sit on the throne, He abides with us through the Spirit. Make us aware of our dependence on you for each day, and confirm in our hearts that Jesus is coming again. Strengthen us to live in anticipation of that day, for your glory and for your name's sake. Amen.

I want you to remember that when you extend yourself in times of prayer and in times of worship you are living in a space, dimension that one day all will be completely married intimately unified, but for now overlaps. But you want to find yourself in that place because what happens is that when we spend time individually on our own, in times of prayer where we speak to Jesus, where we listen for God's voice, where we spend time worshiping Him on our own, when we come together the realm of heaven saturates this place. That's what happens. I want you to understand that because of who Jesus is, that when we connect to Him through our worship and prayer where our sight can't go, but our words can, where our hearts can, that we begin to be saturated with the nature of who He is and we start living, here it is, we start living on earth as it is in heaven. This is where that occurs. So we don't need to skip over the idea of the ascension like it's just something plugged in there. It is rich in terms of what it teaches us. Let it be a reminder that your time with God is a time where you connect with the real dimension that we will all be living in at some point and where we are so saturated with heaven that we effect earth, aftershocks.

So Father, I pray that you would help us to get a sense for this. I know that maybe I have not said everything perfectly as I ought, but I pray by your Spirit you would make it land in our hearts. That your truth would land in our hearts and shape us and change us and help us to understand that the prayer you taught us to pray Lord Jesus, was that your kingdom would come and that your will would be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We know that that's coming upon your return in full, but we know that it can come in part right now as You fill us with the reality of heaven, as we set our minds on things above not on earthly things, not on temporary things, but our lives actually reflect that we have a mindset toward eternity, a mindset on the glorious fully human, fully God, Son of God who is the embodiment of heaven and earth. Help us to show heaven in the midst of this earth because we need it. We love you Jesus, thank you that you're in the control room of the universe and that just as you left you will return and that we will be made like you. Thank you for that kind of hope. It's better than we could ever imagine. Help us to walk in it in Jesus' name. Amen.

God bless you folks. Have a great week.

More From This Series


Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 1 - Apr 3, 2016
Watching Now


Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Apr 10, 2016

Empowered People

Pastor Deone Drake Part 3 - Apr 24, 2016

Persecution & Extension

Pastor Jonathan Drake Part 4 - May 1, 2016

Worship Set List

The Prayers We Sing

The Chapel


Holy Spirit

Jesus Culture


The Rock Won't Move

Vertical Church


Ever Be

Bethel Music


Jesus Only Jesus



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