Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Ascension and Reconciliation

Have you ever thought of the ascension of Christ as a doctrine? One often thinks of the physical return of Christ as an event--but a doctrine? A teaching with a principle to be believed--really? Yes. As an event, His return would remain what it is just as when I get in the car and drive away; but His ascension is more than event. Without the ascension, we are alone and no different than any other religion of the world. His ascension changes the way the followers of Christ live in and view the world.

The apostle Paul writes, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). I first read this verse while in Junior High School. I remember this distinctly because I did not know what “reconciliation” meant so I packed up all my questions and went looking for answers. The result? I recall the urgency that came over me, that everyone needed to hear this, so I taught what was perhaps my first Bible study to other boys my age. I distinctly remember thinking, “do you get it? Do you get it?” and I prayed they did. I still think that, by the way, every time I teach. You just gotta get this “reconciliation” thing.

Reconciliation is to be restored, brought back together again. One. Literally, "at one." Our "at one-ment" is possible because of His "Atonement." Now, it is finished and He sits at the right hand of the Father.

God is often pictured as a watchmaker who loves us to death. What that means is that He is viewed as the one who designed everything, wound it up and now sits back to watch it all run down. Few people love the watchmaker but He is so far removed that live or die, we are just part of the clockwork--He loves the machine, not the parts. This is not the truth. The truth is that He designed and built all things and He holds all things together; moreover, He repairs the relationship that we broke in the finished work of Christ. He does not love us to our death, but in the death of His Son because He is not willing that any perish but that all come to repentance.

What does that mean for us? 

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,” (Ephesians 1:4-5) 

Here’s what’s astounding: the watchmaker (if you will) gives Himself as the repair in order to make the crown of His creation like Himself. He does not merely bring us back. He is working through the promised Comforter to teach, guide and empower His children. His ascension connects what happens in every tick of the clock to His eternal purpose.

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