The Ascension – Gospel in Life

The Ascension

Tim Keller |  May 18, 1997

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  • Doctrine
Acts 1:1-12
RS 75-7


Just as it is ridiculous to build a beautiful house if nobody lives in it, just as it is ridiculous and of no use preparing an incredible, beautiful meal if nobody ever eats it, and just as it is silly to build a bomb to make way for a road if you build it without a detonator, so the birth, the death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are of no use without the ascension. The ascension is the detonator for everything else Jesus Christ did.

The ascension is that which takes what Jesus Christ was and did on earth and releases it into the universe and into your lives with all of its healing power. Let me just look with you at the power of the ascension, the nature of the ascension (what it is), and the meaning of the ascension (what difference it makes).

Acts 1:1–12

Jesus going to heaven, or his ascension as we read in the first part of Acts, is a key event that is often overlooked because of his birth, death, and coming back to life. This ascension makes Jesus’s earthly actions important for the whole universe and us. Without it, Jesus’s birth, death, and return to life would not be as meaningful. So, it’s important to understand its strength, nature, and effect.

1. The strength of the ascension

Jesus’s followers first saw his ascension as a loss, but later realised it meant Jesus was even more present, which made them very happy and full of praise for God. The ascension is a key part of Jesus’s work, putting his teachings into action both in real life and spiritually. Accepting the ascension helps to keep our faith fresh and to find great joy even when things in the world are not perfect.

2. The nature of the ascension

Jesus’s ascension means a change in relationship and position, not just a physical move. After living a perfect life, dying, and defeating death, Jesus now uses his experiences and actions universally from God’s throne. The ascension shows that giving up Jesus doesn’t mean losing him, but rather it sets off a worldwide increase of his presence and power.

3. The meaning of the ascension

The importance of Jesus’ ascension is closely tied to his roles as prophet, priest, and king, extending these roles beyond earth and making them available to everyone. Jesus, as a prophet who has ascended, is known for his wisdom, authority, and ability to speak freeing truth, with his teaching continuing through the church. The good news is not about earning God’s favor by trying hard ourselves, but about Jesus’ perfect life and death for us, which changes our understanding of the Bible and our role in sharing the good news.

1. We must be very humble

Representing Jesus Christ is a serious job that should make us humble. If we act in ways that don’t match our Christian beliefs, it reflects badly on how we show Christ’s love and teachings. This understanding, that we are showing Christ’s moral beauty on earth, should make us very humble.

2. We have authority

The power within us can change anyone and anything. It’s not about how well we speak, but about the freeing truth we have that needs to be shared. Speaking with authority and humility, we understand the privilege and challenge of being trusted with the message and power of Jesus who has ascended, which is truly amazing.

3. We need to be patient with the mistakes of Christians

The message highlights the importance of identifying with other Christians, even when they make mistakes, just as Jesus did. It emphasises that Jesus’s teachings are for everyone, his trust in imperfect people to share his message, and the deep meaning of his ascension. It promotes understanding Jesus as the Prophet, Priest, and King who has ascended, creating inner peace and confidence.



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