Most of my life, I had never heard of Ascension Day. We anticipated Christmas eagerly, thoughtfully pondered Good Friday and the crucifixion, and celebrated Easter. But we never talked about Ascension Day. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ are so important to our walk of faith. But Ascension Day? A few years ago, in a liturgical church, I learned about Ascension Day. What is Ascension Day? Is Ascension Day important?
What is Ascension Day
Simply put, Ascension Day refers to Jesus ascension back to heaven.
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “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.” Acts 1:9-11 (NIV)
What is important about Ascension Day
Ascension Day is vital to our faith walk. Like the disciples, we can find new joy and freedom in worship. The Holy Spirit is given to believers. We are partners with Jesus Christ, are seated with Him in heavenly places, and have authority over our spiritual enemy. We also receive power or ability to live out the purpose God has for each of our lives.
Joy and freedom in worship
Worship was not intended to be dry and boring. We think of worship as that part of the church service before the sermon, but worship is really the attitude of our heart. We can freely communicate in our hearts with God with an attitude of joy.
Consider the disciples’ experience. John often says that after Jesus was raised, the disciples remembered (and understood) what Jesus said. Perhaps their freedom in worship was greater because they now understood what He said. The Holy Spirit also helps us understand truth and reminds us of it. (More on that in a minute)
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Luke 24:50-52 (NIV)
We can now have such freedom and joy in your own communication with God, whether in church or anywhere else.
Holy Spirit is given to believers
The Holy Spirit did not actually come until the Day of Pentecost, but Jesus told the disciples He had to leave them in order for the Holy Spirit to come. During His last days, Jesus told them about many benefits the Holy Spirit would bring because He would work in all believers everywhere. Before, the Holy Spirit had been made available for a few people for a short time in order for a specific task to be accomplished. Now the Holy Spirit abides in believers.
7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11 Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. John 16:7-11 (NLT2)
16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17 (NASB)
26 But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you. John 14:26 (AMP)
These are only a few of the benefits the Holy Spirit can bring to your life. But notice what is listed in the verses above. Conviction of persuasion of a sin or of missing the mark in some way. Not condemnation. Right standing with God is available. Satan, the ruler of this world, was judged by what Christ accomplished so we can walk in victory. He teaches us truth and helps us remember.
I love the think about all the roles the Holy Spirit plays in my life. Counselor. Helper. Intercessor. Advocate. Strengthener. Comforter. One who comes along side me when I need help. Can you think of any instances in the last week or even today when the Holy Spirit fulfilled one of these roles for you?
Partnership with Christ
9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9 (NLT2)
We think of partnership as a legal form for business. But partnership with Christ is close, personal, loving, committed. I love the way The Message version describes the relationship we can have: 14 The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you. 2 Corinthians 13:14 (MSG)
In Acts, Paul’s words describing our relationship are the plural of “I AM,” meaning “we are.” It can’t get any closer. 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Acts 17:28 (NASB)
If we allow it, we move together as one unit with Him. Imagine moving as one with Christ in daily tasks (yes, He enjoys partnering with you in any mundane task) and as you are involved in some service, whether in a church setting or any other place where you serve God.
Authority over the enemy
Jesus ascended and was seated at the right hand of God. Notice that He is seated far above all powers and authorities and every name that is name, even in the age to come.
19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about 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 every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:19-23 (NASB) (photo via pixabay.com)
Then Paul states where we are seated. 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:5-6 (NASB)
As an act of faith, you and I are made alive in Christ again when we accept His work to forgive us and to rescue us. And we are seated with Him in heavenly places. Seated with Him in heavenly places! Where does that position us? Far above every ruler, authority, power, dominion or name that is named! In partnership with Christ, we have authority over the enemy because Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan in our lives, rose again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father.
8 . . . The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 1 John 3:8 (NIV)
Power for purpose
The bottom-line purpose in Ascension Day? Power that enables us to walk out the purpose God has for us.
49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 (NIV) 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV)
Power so we are not limited to serving through our natural ability. I don’t know about you, but God has asked me to do some things that are far outside my natural ability. Yet, His power equips me. Jesus told the disciples we could do the same works Jesus did. Raise the dead lately? I haven’t, but His power enables that if that is what He directs me to do. Like Jesus, we pray and ask God for direction and He will show us our role in what He is doing.
12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. John 14:12 (NLT2) 19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. John 5:19 (NLT2)
Imagine the Holy Spirit’s power enabling you to do far more than you can imagine, even exceeding abundantly beyond what you ask. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Ephesians 3:20 (KJV)
Today, even if Ascension Day is past, I encourage you to celebrate what is accomplished on your behalf because Jesus ascended. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit so you serve with His power.
Carol Boggess, author and speaker at A Healing Journey
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts
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