Sermon #222 We Celebrate
THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST TO THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
SUNDAY B 6/4/00
are the Scripture readings as scheduled in the "Revised Common
Lectionary," an ecumenical schedule of readings of Holy Scripture. Our
sermons are based on these readings.
Ascension SUNDAY B 6/4/00
1In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught
from the beginning 2until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving
instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3After
his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs,
appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
4While staying£ with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait
there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard
from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with£ the Holy
Spirit not many days from now.” The Ascension of Jesus 6So when they had come
together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore
the kingdom to Israel?" 7He replied, "It is not for you to know the
times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will
receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my
witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the
earth." 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up,
and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were
gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They
said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This
Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as
you saw him go into heaven."
This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.
1 Clap your
hands, all you peoples;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
2 For the LORD, the Most High, is awesome,
a great king over all the earth.
3 He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
4 He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves.
5 God has gone up with a shout,
the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the king of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm.
8 God is king over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
9 The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted.
SUNDAY B 6/4/00
15 I have heard
of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for
this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my
prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so
that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to
which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among
the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who
believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God put this power to
work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right
hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion,
and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to
come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head
over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who
fills all in all.
This is the
Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.
Ascension SUNDAY B 6/4/00
44 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I
was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the
prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds
to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, "Thus it is written,
that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47
and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to
all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49
And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the
city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
The Ascension of Jesus
50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he
blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was
carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem
with great joy; 53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
Reader: This is the Gospel of the Lord; Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Brother Benedict, Sermon 222
Sermon #222 The ASCENSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
SUNDAY B 6/4/00
The Ascension is not a myth or a story about a god, or mythic universal power
who came to Earth and after a time blasted off into the skies with a promise to
return and abduct a lot of people. This is what many modern
"theologians" want us to believe about the Ascension of Jesus, that
it is a myth and an embarrassing one at best. I would like to quote just such a
"theologian" for you.
I have in my hand the book entitled: "Putting Away Childish Things"
"The Virgin Birth, the Empty Tomb, and Other Fairy Tales You Don't Need to
Believe to have a Living Faith" by Uta Ranke-Heinemann. Published by
Harper SanFrancisco, 1992.
On page 142 she
"But in any case, in the middle of dinner Jesus has gone up into heaven.
He really ought to have at least finished the meal. We who stand down on the
earth and gaze after him are slightly perplexed at such a daring ascent. that
sort of trip is tiresome, even if Jesus did have a little something before, and
time consuming. We don't know how fast Jesus traveled or flew, and whether he
accelerated as he went along. But even if he zoomed at the speed of light, the
next heaven is at least a billion light years away. So, whatever the case, the
Catholic New Testament scholar, Gerhard Lohfink, had a point in his fine little
book Die Himmelfart Jesu: Erfindung oder Erfahrung? (Jesus' Ascension:
Fact or Fiction? 1972) when he jokingly entitled one of his chapters "And
He's Still Flying Now."
Incidentally, Luke's account leads us to conclude that the last mean that Jesus
had before taking off for heaven took place out of doors. Not that Jesus
couldn't have flown out of the room up through the roof, but then it would have
been harder for the disciples to train their eyes on their ascending
master." (page 142)
On page 146 Uta writes; "In the narrative of the Ascension, as we have
already seen, one legend drew upon another after it: the legend of the empty
tomb, which told of Jesus' walking the earth again in the flesh, had to be brought
to a conclusion, because Jesus could not spend the next two thousand years
among us as another wandering Jew...... The word ascensionshould be used
only as the label for a legendary event." (page 146)
Need I say
more. Let me say we have a whole section of the Saint Benedict of Nursia
Memorial Library of Ray Of Hope Church that has many books where these types of
"theologies" are taught for your study. I quoted this book here to
show you how real the disbelief in the Divinity of Jesus, His Virgin Birth, His
Miracles, His Sinless Life, His Atoning Death, His Physical Resurrection, His
40 Day of Post-resurrection Ministry, His Physical Ascension, and His Physical
Return are in many "theological" schools and church institutions
The Clergy of Ray Of Hope Church believe all the holy catholic apostolic and
orthodox doctrines of the ancient Christian Faith made known to us in Holy
Scripture and Tradition, which is the Sacred Story of the Holy Spirit in the
Church with Christ Jesus as Chief Shepherd of Souls.
I am sorry to say I have heard not a few sermons that completely discredit the
Ascension as an actual even where Jesus physically rose to the right hand of
God to take the seat prepared for Jesus until the Father tells Him to come and
"fetch" the Bride, the Church. Alleluia! I guess those who insist the
Ascension is a myth do not want to be "fetched out" by Christ, but
want to perish with this old Earth. I guess for them, the "fetching"
and return of Christ really is a myth... but it will happen, they just will
have their way and not have to participate!!! However they will rise from the
dead whether they want to or not! When Christ says, "Come Out" all
graves on this earth will open and all the dead will live again, some to
eternal joy, and some to eternal punishment.
After one accepts the physical facts of the Ascension we can then realize the
Ascension is all about us being entrusted with the ministry, the message of
Jesus until He comes again.
Unlike all human situations where the organizer, the commissioner, the founder
leaves the followers behind to fend for the cause by themselves, Jesus is
actually and really present with us when we simply obey His real guidance on
how to do His work "in" Him. We are so fortunate in that we are "in"
Christ and Christ is "in" us and it is simply by our moving and
acting as His own being on this Earth that we continue His purposes, His care,
His mission to save everyone who will be saved through the forgiveness of sin
and being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Christ desires to share the wisdom of the mind of God with us.
In the second reading Paul wrote: "I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus
Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as
you come to know Him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may
know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his
glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness
of His power for us who believe, according to the working of His great power.
God put this power to work in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and
seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 1:17-20a)
Ah, .... that was one and one half sentences, and I have to seriously wonder if
we got any of it and understood much of it?
Let's look most closely. Paul starts by praying that God give believers the
spirit of wisdom and the spirit of revelation.
Notice how much of our human lives are spent in search of wisdom. Some people
search through education, some search through television and movies, some
search through astrology and horoscopes and the like. Others search for wisdom
and revelation through art, looking and gazing into art hoping to see more than
what is on the surface. Some people search for wisdom and revelation through
philosophies and ideals that pass themselves off as religions. Some people
search for wisdom and revelation through music, or through disciplines, through
exercise, sports, support groups, help lines, crisis centers, social workers,
psychiatry, etc. Much of our human lives are taken with a search for wisdom and
a revelation that there might be more than meets the eye in our existence. Why
are we searching? We are searching because we are meant to search and to find
the wisdom and knowledge of God.
This is a very different scenario than most of us have been taught most of our
lives. Most of us were taught that God is way up there, way out there, very far
from our ways, our thoughts, our experiences, certainly far beyond anything we
might hope to attain in terms of wisdom and understanding. However, the truth
is Jesus wishes to restore us to access to all the wisdom of God so that God is
close at hand, and in fact, close in heart.
On the other hand, our secular education system has taught us to be suspicious
of sacred knowledge, suspicious and suspect of spiritual reality. Because the
State pays for a religion-free education, we become adults believing we can
know all things, we can be all things, we can achieve all things without
religion, without God, Jesus and without the Holy Spirit if we simply put our
minds to it. We are taught to believe the whole universe is available to anyone
who will raise his or her efforts and wills to seek it out. All you have to do
is work at it.
Our concept of separation of Church and State is good and very protective when
it comes to keeping us safe from tyrannical religious systems. However, we have
raised a country that does not covet, does not thirst, does not hunger, does
not work toward, does not desire, does not educate for, does not strive for a
living, real, present relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, when an
institution such as Ray Of Hope Church begins to encourage people to seek that
living relationship, that real spiritual experience, the living Word Of God, we
sound like a single raindrop during an oceanic storm.... By that, I mean we
sound completely insignificant.
On the day of the Ascension Jesus instructed the disciples to go to Jerusalem
and to wait there until the Holy Spirit came to them as the promised gift of
God to the Church. (Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4). The reason for this command to
wait for the power of the Holy Spirit is extremely significant to us as the
Church. Without the Holy Spirit doing the ministry, none of us is authorized by
Jesus to do ANY ministry.
People in the "church" do not like talk like that because most do not
believe the Holy Spirit is necessary for a real "church". There are
far too many people today who think a "church" is a group of people
who voluntarily associate together for reading, singing, and drama of the order
of worship, for "religious" education, and for "social
ministry." People who define "church" in this way are
preoccupied with following rules, rubrics, church law, process, meetings,
agendas, scripts, orders, and the like. People who define "church" as
this kind of association believe they have a "church" if people are
coming, paying, singing, praying on cue, talking on cue, attending every
function and more and more people continually attend. Unfortunately, in our
modern society we call this kind of grouping a "church." This is very
What this actually is would be better described as a "club" at best.
What is the Church?
The Church of Jesus Christ is Christ continuing His ministry on Earth as He
rules His own Body as the Head of that Body. The Church is those people who
have surrendered to the obedience of Jesus, who study, support, and spread His
word, who proclaim, promote, and promise His salvation and Good News to those
who will listen. The Church is those people who have engaged the very power of
God in their actions to fulfill the presence of God in the life of the human
community today. Therefore, the true Church of Jesus Christ needs and totally depends
upon this "spirit of wisdom and revelation" (Eph. 1:17) through the
indwelling of the Holy Spirit the entire time we are ministering in the Name of
Next Paul said we need the Holy Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation so that
"with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to
which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among
the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who
believe, according to the working of his great power." (Eph. 1:18-19)
First, the Holy Spirit "enlightens the eyes of our hearts" according
to this Scripture. What does that mean? It means our desires, our wants, our
interests, our loves, our passions, all things we symbolically call our
"heart" are sanctified and made holy if we have the fullness of the
We just spent two weeks looking at readings where Jesus promised the Holy
Spirit would come and live within our hearts. If the Holy Spirit is in our
hearts our entire worldview will change and be sanctified, that is made Holy by
the presence of the actual and real presence of the Holy Spirit. Look how this
is quickly stacking up in our favor, we have the wisdom and revelation of God,
our lives are completely enlightened by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Then
Paul goes into two benefits of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
First: Paul says; "you may know what is the hope to which he has called
you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints".
What is the "hope" spoken of here? It is the "Blessed Hope"
of the Christian Testament. In Titus chapter 2, verse 13 Paul wrote: we should
look "for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and
Saviour Jesus Christ..." If we have the power and presence of the Holy
Spirit in our actual lives we shall joyfully look for Christ's appearing. (2
Timothy 4:8) Why should we love His appearing? Jesus said: "I go and
prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that
where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:3) We should be so eager for
Christ to return, then, because He is taking us to Himself forever. The
"riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints" which Paul
speaks of is in fact described in detail in Revelation chapters 21 and 22 where
the New Heavens and the New Earth are described where; "Behold, the
tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be
His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.....There shall be
no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the
throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." (Revelation 21: 3-4)
Any questions what the glorious inheritance of the Saints is?
Look how this is quickly stacking up in our favor, we have the wisdom and revelation
of God, our lives are completely enlightened by the presence of the Holy
Spirit, and under the Spirit's guidance we look eagerly for the Blessed Hope,
Christ's appearing and the Eternal Inheritance of the New Heavens and the New
Earth where God is all in all. I said there were two benefits of having the
Holy Spirit. The second one mentioned next is: the immeasurable greatness of
His power for us who believe, according to the working of His great power.
God actually wants us to have all the power of God working through us and
blessing the world. All the power of God. Admittedly, this is daunting to think
about. What is amazing is it is totally true. It does fit perfectly with Jesus
promising us we shall do the same works He did and even greater works (Joh
14:12). This is so awesome, who could possible even begin to understand this
with the natural mind, the natural understand?
Okay, one more time, what is promised to us here? We have the wisdom and
revelation of God, our lives are completely enlightened by the presence of the
Holy Spirit, and under the Spirit's guidance we look eagerly for the Blessed
Hope, Christ's appearing and the Eternal Inheritance of the New Heavens and the
New Earth where God is all in all, and we have the immeasurable greatness of
His power for us who believe, according to the working of His great power in
our lives as we are the holy Temple of His presence on Earth until He comes
Hopefully you see now why Jesus sent the believers to Jerusalem on Ascension
Thursday to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit before they went out to bring
the ministry of Christ to the whole world for all the remaining time until
Jesus returned. There was nothing to say or to do without the real presence of
the Holy Spirit doing it.
This is the exact situation we are in today. We have nothing to offer, nothing
to do, no reason to even be here if we are not eagerly seeking the living
presence of the Holy Spirit as the source and ministry of this Church. This is
a petition that must be in the hearts and on the lips of every person who
attends Ray Of Hope Church. Do not leave this only to the clergy... no, like
those who went to the upper room and waited and prayed for the Holy Spirit to
come, we too must stay in submission to the Holy Spirit. We must pray
constantly that we remain obedient and therefore filled with the Holy Spirit.
Next weekend we shall celebrate Pentecost. This is the anniversary when the
Holy Spirit did indeed come into the Church. I invite you to spend the
remainder of this week seeking the Holy Spirit and asking the Holy Spirit to be
your counselor, your guide, your advocate as together we endeavor to love and
serve God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the blood and victory of
Jesus Christ Our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
To God in Christ and the Holy Spirit be all honor and glory, world without end,
May Almighty God bless all of us, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit, Amen.