The Ascension and Exaltation of Christ

The Doctrine of Christ - Lesson # 11

Joel Stephen Williams


    I. The ascension and exaltation historically considered

       A. Other events in the life of Christ (his birth, death, and resurrection) get so much emphasis that his ascension and his consequent glorification often get overlooked. Yet, their importance for the doctrine of Christ is paramount.

            1.  "In fact, there is hardly a NT writer who does not give testimony, direct or indirect, to the truth of the ascension" (Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, I, 157).

            2.  "No complete view of Jesus Christ is possible unless the Ascension and its consequences are included" (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1, 263).

       B. Review the details of the events - Acts 1:9-11; 2:36; Mk. 16:19-20; Lk. 24:50-53

  II. The significance of the ascension and exaltation of Christ

       A. What it meant for Christ

            1.  Exaltation to the right hand of God - Acts 2:32-33; 7:56

            2.  Glorified as Lord - Acts 2:36; Phil. 2:9-11

            3.  Made head of the church - Eph. 1:20-22

            4.  Exalted as high priest - Heb. 8:1

            5.  Exalted as savior - Acts 5:31

            6.  Exalted as king, even the King of kings

       B. What it meant for salvation

            1.  There is a high priest who has made atonement in heaven itself - Heb. 1:3

            2.  There is a mediator, an intercessor, an advocate - Rom. 8:34; 1 Jn. 2:1

       C. What it meant for the early church

            1.  An end of the post-resurrection appearances

            2.  It let them know where Jesus had gone

            3.  It made possible the coming of the Holy Spirit - Jn. 16:7; Acts 2:33

       D. What it should mean for the church today

            1.  We should recognize that Jesus is Lord, head of the church, high priest, savior, and king.

            2.  Our lives should be guided by these thoughts - Col. 3:1-2

            3.  He will come again - Acts 1:11

            4.  There is a spiritual realm and there is eternal life

III. Conclusion

       A. Artists have had difficulty in portraying the ascension. The results have been called grotesque and ridiculous. Many people have ridiculed the biblical narrative, reminding others that the earth is a globe. They sarcastically ask: "Is heaven located directly above Palestine?" We all realize that we are dealing with an event in the time-space continuum in which we live; yet, it transcends those boundaries. We know that heaven is a spiritual state, not a physical location, but we have difficulty thinking of the transition from this world to that state. In what other way could Jesus have made the transition from this physical world to the heavenly state other than what he did in the ascension? How could he have done this so that his followers would understand what was happening other than ascend out of their sight? Did not the way he did it communicate the proper revelation to the apostles which he needed for them to understand? Discuss how a modern, scientific world view can be consistent with the biblical narrative of the ascension.

       B. Memory verse - Phil. 2:9-11