THEN AND NOW
Acts 1: 1-5
What our Lord did in the forty days between the tomb and his ascension is what our Lord is doing right now. His disciples were scattered but he gathered them to himself. He showed them many proofs convincing them he is alive and well. By the use of those who saw him he spread the word to each of his saints encouraging their hearts. He gave the word to “wait” for the Spirit which guides each believer into all truth. He began blessing them and never stopped as he ascended to the throne. Even so, right now, seated at the right hand of the Father, our King continues to bless the church which he bought with his own blood. The day-to-day government of Christ’s church is in his hands. Our King is able to keep his body in subjection to himself. In each assembly where his church meets together may he settle every ripple with this truth, it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Clay Curtis.
Our blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into glory. When Paul says that “he ascended up on high,” he speaks both of the place to which he ascended in his human nature, the highest heaven, and particularly that state to which he was advanced, for then he was highly exalted in the eternal glory.
Our blessed Redeemer, having risen from the dead, is gone into heaven, where he sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high. — What does this mean?
It means that Jesus Christ is a victorious King. God has crowned him with glory and honor above his fellows. Heaven is his throne, and earth is his footstool. And he shall reign, with incontestable sovereignty, until all his enemies are put under his feet (Philippians 2:9-11).
The ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ is the opening of the gates of heaven for poor sinners. We are told, “He gave gifts unto men.” Having received power over all flesh, our Lord now gives the gifts of heaven to the sons of men (John 17:2). He received gifts as the God-man Mediator. And he gives the gift of life to men.
David mentions a sweet and blessed fact that Paul was not inspired to mention in our text. In Psalm 68 the Holy Ghost inspired David to tell us that our Lord Jesus “received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also.” Here is the greatness of his grace! Our glorious King persuades his enemies to lay down their arms and be at peace with him.
The ascension of Christ is a declaration of Jehovah’s satisfaction with our Savior. The Triune God has accepted his righteousness for us. The Triune Jehovah has accepted his atonement for us. The Lord our God has accepted his Christ for us, and accepted us in him!
The ascension of Christ means that he is beyond the reach of the enemy, and we are too. We are more than conquerors through him! The ascension and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ is the guarantee of the salvation and glory of all who trust him.
The ascension of Christ to the throne of universal monarchy means all is well. He who rules the universe is God our Savior! He who laid down his life in our place at Calvary holds the reins of the universe in his hands. He performs all things for those for whom he died.
The Lord Jesus says to you and me, in the midst of all our doubts and troubles, in the midst of all our times of darkness and unbelief, — “Behold my hands.” In his nail-pierced hands he holds the reins of absolute sovereignty, ruling heaven, earth, and hell for us. That means all is well!
The Law and Grace. John 1. 17; Rom. 3. 31
1 Is, then, the law of God untrue,
Which he by Moses gave?
No! but to take it in this view,
That it has power to save.
2 [Legal obedience were complete,
Could we the law fulfil;
But no man ever did so yet,
And no man ever will.]
3 The law was never meant to give
New strength to man’s lost race;
We cannot act before we live,
And life proceeds from grace.
4 But grace and truth by Christ are given;
To him must Moses bow;
Grace fits the new-born soul for heaven,
And truth informs us how.
5 By Christ we enter into rest,
And triumph o’er the fall;
Whoe’er would be completely blest
Must trust to Christ for all.
REASONS FOR ATTENDING CHURCH SERVICES
Based upon the Word of God, human nature, and from personal experience, I conclude that many people who attend church services are merely RELIGIOUS. The Lord said to a group of religious folk, “Well hath Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people draweth nigh unto me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” I believe most people are religious for gain, duty, habit, social contacts and a number of other reasons. But true believers attend church services because they are in love with and desire to worship and become better acquainted with a PERSON – THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!
The true believer (one who knows, worships, loves, trusts, and follows Jesus Christ) comes to the house of God with a real desire to worship (praise and thank) his God and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a PERSON who draws him to the worship services, and that is just what he does – WORSHIP! The religious need to be entertained during the service and impressed by spiritual surroundings; but believers need only to hear God’s Word preached, pray, and sing His praises. In fact, the simpler the service and the more preaching of Christ, the better the believer likes it; for it is Christ he has come to hear about and worship.
–- Henry Mahan
Witnesses of Christ
Acts 1: 8
It is the privilege, responsibility and honor of every believer to accurately and honestly relate to others that which he has heard with his own ears, seen with his own eyes, and felt and experienced in his own heart (I John 1: 1-3). Therefore, let us be sure that our testimony truly is, “Salvation is of the Lord.”
1. We are witnesses by believing the Lord Jesus Christ is able to save (Acts 1: 4.) The disciples had just seen the religious mob beat their Savior till he was unrecognizable. Returning to Jerusalem was witness that they trusted the power of their Lord to keep them.
2. We are witnesses by waiting on the Holy Spirit (Acts 1: 4-5.) The disciples had no more ability in themselves to strengthen their own hearts, to preach Christ or to quicken dead sinners than they had ability to keep themselves assembled after Christ’s death. They were witnesses of Christ by waiting on the Holy Spirit.
3. We are witnesses by trusting the progress of the work to our all-wise God (Acts 1:6-7). The disciples asked this question only once; they were satisfied with the answer. God “hath appointed a day”; that is enough for Christ’s witnesses (Acts 17:31; I Co 3: 5-7; compare Acts 1: 5, 7 with Luke 3: 16, 17.)
4. We are witnesses by proclaiming Christ and by proclaiming Christ crucified. The one thing that separates true witnesses from false is, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Corinthians 4: 5; Acts 2: 36; 1 Corinthians 1: 23-25.)
Our believing and embracing the true and living God is not caused by man’s boasted, so called “free-will” (Psalm 65:5). Man’s will is like his depraved and God-less nature which is always selfward and downward, never God-ward and upward (Eph. 2:3). All who proclaim and promote free-will works religion promote the mind-set of Satan, for he is the author of it (Isaiah 14:12-15). Our believing is the result of our Lord Jesus Christ making an effectual blood atonement for our sin (Heb.9.12). Our believing is the result of irresistible grace. It is the work of God the Holy Spirit calling in mercy and giving faith and spiritual life to dead sinners (Eph. 2: 1; Jn. 17:2). Tom Harding.
Authority, glory and sovereign power!
“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!” Rev. 19:6
The unlimited dominion of King Jesus extends over . . .
All are subjected to the sovereign control of the King
of kings and Lord of lords!
Everywhere on this earthly globe—as far as waves roll,
winds blow, sun shines, or stars hold on their nightly
courses—does the scepter of Jesus sway the destinies,
and control the designs and actions of men.
“He was given authority, glory and sovereign power;
all peoples, nations and men of every language obey
Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will
not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never
be destroyed!” Daniel 7:14
THE ABIDING COMFORTER
“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said,”
“And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever.” — John 14:16
When one beloved earthly friend is taken away — how the heart is drawn out towards those that remain! Jesus was now about to leave His sorrowing disciples. He directs them to one whose presence would fill up the vast blank which His own absence was to make. His name was, The Comforter; His mission was, “to abide with them forever.” Accordingly, no sooner had the gates of Heaven closed on their ascended Lord, than, in fulfillment of His own gracious promise, the bereaved and orphaned Church was baptized with Pentecostal fire. “When I depart — I will send Him to you.”
Reader, do you realize your privilege — living under the dispensation of the Spirit? Is it your daily prayer that He may come down in all the plenitude of His heavenly graces on your soul, even “as rain upon the mown grass, and showers that water the earth?” You cannot live without Him; there cannot be one heavenly aspiration, not one breathing of love, not one upward glance of faith — without His gracious influences! Apart from Him — there is no preciousness in the Word, no blessing in ordinances, no permanent sanctifying results in affliction. As the angel directed Hagar to the hidden spring — so this blessed Agent, true to His name and office, directs His people to the waters of comfort, giving new glory to the promises, investing the Savior’s character and work with new loveliness and beauty.
How precious is the title which this “Word of Jesus” gives Him — the COMFORTER! What a word for a sorrowing world! The Church militant has its tent pitched in a “valley of tears.” The name of the divine visitor, who comes to her and ministers to her needs, is — the Comforter. Wide is the family of the afflicted — but He has a healing balm for all — the weak, the tempted, the sick, the sorrowing, the bereaved, the dying! How different from other “sons of consolation!” Human friends — a look may alienate; adversity may estrange; death must separate! The “Word of Jesus” speaks of One whose attribute and prerogative is to “abide with us forever” — superior to all vicissitudes — surviving death itself!
And surely if anything else can endear His mission of love to His Church, it is that He comes direct from God, as the fruit and gift of Jesus’ intercession, “I will ask the Father.” This Holy Dove of peace and comfort is let out by the hand of Jesus — from the ark of covenant mercy within the veil! Nor is the gift more glorious — than it is free. Does the word, the look, of a suffering child — get the eye and the heart of an earthly father? “If you, then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children — how much more shall your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit unto those who ask Him?” It is He who makes these “words of Jesus” “winged words.” “He shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.”