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GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
For the week ending 06/15/03
The Ascension and Session of the Lord Jesus Christ
1 Peter 3:18-22

Revelation 12:5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

One day the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will rule all the nations with a rod of iron. The word "rules" is the Greek verb "poimaino," an iron scepter. The next phrase, "And her child was caught up to God and to His throne," is a reference to the ascension ("caught up to God") and session ("and to His throne") of Jesus Christ. These principles are vital concerning our Lord's victory in the angelic conflict. He ascends to heaven in ACT 1:6, "So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, 'Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel-' He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.' And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight."

The ascension is the doctrine of Christology pertaining to the transfer of our Lord's true humanity from planet earth to the third heaven in a resurrection body. The session is the doctrine of Christology pertaining to the glorification of His humanity at the right hand of the Father. He was told to sit down at the right hand of the Father, yet deity does not "sit" because deity is omnipresent. This requires an understanding of the hypostatic union-in the person of the incarnate Christ are two natures; He is true humanity and undiminished deity forever in one person.

These two doctrines, the ascension and the session, are based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. If Christ remained on earth, He would have had a limited glory, but when He ascended to the third heaven, He became superior to all creation in His humanity, and therefore had unlimited glory. This is why we are given passages such asHEB 1:13, "But to which of the angels has He ever said, 'Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet'-" After the resurrection of our Lord's humanity, He remained on earth for 40 days before His ascension, Act 1:1-3, "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. [This is after the upper-room discourse in which the Lord announced of the coming of the "age of no prophecy."] To these [apostles] He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God."

The ascension of Jesus Christ took place on the 40th day in His resurrection body. During this period, many capabilities of the resurrection body were demonstrated:

1. It is recognizable as a human body, Luk 24, JOH 20:25-27.

2. It has substance and can be touched, Luk 24:39-40, MAT 28:9.

3. It can carry on conversations, JOH 20:26, and its voice is recognizable as the individual's voice in his human body,JOH 20:16.

4. It has flesh and bones, Luk 24:39-40.

5. It can eat food, LUK 24:30,43.

6. It can pass though walls, JOH 20:19,26; LUK 24:26.

7. It can appear and disappear, LUK 24:31.

8. It can fly, MAT 28:10, ACT 1:9-10.

In JOH 14:28 the Lord says, "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I." The phrase "I go away" is a reference to the resurrection, ascension, and session of Christ in His glorification at the right hand of His Father. The phrase "I will come to you" is a reference to the indwelling of Jesus Christ, as mentioned in JOH 14:20. The phrase "would have rejoiced" is the Greek verb "chairo," referring to the happiness of God, which disciples should have been experiencing at this moment. The Last Supper should have been a time of great celebration and inner happiness as the Lord was preparing to go to the Cross and fulfill the Father's plan. However, because of their negative volition toward doctrine, the disciples were confused and did not know what was happening. This should have been a time for rejoicing, but instead it was a time of sorrow, because of ignorance of Bible doctrine, concerning the ascension and session of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The ascension of Christ demonstrates the travel capability of the resurrection body, moving with ease through the atmosphere of the earth, the galaxies of the stellar universe, and billions of light-years in an instant, and then entering into the third heaven, the abode of God. Upon arrival in the third heaven, our Lord was seated at the right hand of God the Father-the doctrine of the session. He now receives His third royal patent and the title, "King of kings, Lord of lords, the bright morning star." This was the first time He had a royal title without a royal family. Because His third royal warrant had no accompanying royal family, the Church-age was inserted for the calling out of a royal family. Therefore, this doctrine of the ascension and session is the link between the resurrection of Christ and the Christian way of life.

Something new had to be created to accompany this new third royalty of Jesus Christ, a new Royal Family. His new royalty had to be a new spiritual species functioning under protocol as royalty, as per 2CO 5:17. This is one of the main reasons why we have so much power made available to us, COL 3:1, "If then you have been raised up with Christ [and you have], keep seeking [keep on desiring to possess or endeavoring to obtain] the things above, where the Christ is at the right hand of the God sitting." Why is the Lord Jesus Christ sitting at the right hand of God- The answer is given in many passages throughout the Bible in conjunction with different subjects.

1. In MAT 26:64, Jesus Christ reveals that He is the Son of God by stating that "the Son of man will be sitting at the right hand of power."

2. In REV 4:2, the Lord Jesus Christ is sitting on the throne as evidence of His kingship: "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne."

3. In PSA 110:1 the prophecy is given concerning the Messiah sitting at the right hand of God the Father: "The Lord says to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.'"

4. In MAT 22:44, the session is used to reveal to the Pharisees that the Messiah had to become a member of the human race.

5. At Pentecost, Peter cites the session as proof that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, ACT 2:29-36.

6. The session reveals our Lord's victory in the angelic conflict, HEB 1:13, and the rewards available to winners, Rev 3:21, "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne."

7. The session is related to the power of God and the beginning of the Church-age in EPH 1:19b-23, "These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 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. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all."

8. The session is mentioned concerning our position in Christ, EPH 2:4-7, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

9. The session mentioned is concerning the intercessory ministry of Jesus Christ, ROM 8:34, "Who is the one who condemns- Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us."

10. The session is mentioned concerning His power to save and forgive sin in ACT 5:31, "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."

11. The session is mentioned concerning the Hypostatic Union in HEB 1:3, "And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high."

12. The session is mentioned in relationship to His priesthood in HEB 8:1, "We have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens."

13. The session is mentioned concerning the efficacy of His work on the Cross, HEB 10:12, "But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God."

14. The session is important to our occupation with Christ, HEB 12:2, "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

15. The session came with His victory in the angelic conflict, when He returned from Hades 1PE 3:18-22, "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him."

There are two Christological dispensations (a period of time on earth in which Christ actually indwells the body of a human being).

1. The great power experiment of the Hypostatic Union, which took place from the birth of Christ in 4 B.C. to His resurrection and ascension in A.D. 30, a period of 33 years. This is the incarnation, or First Advent, of our Lord Jesus Christ, the time of the Gospels.

2. The great power experiment of the Church-age, which lasts from the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 30 until the Rapture of the Church, the time of which is unknown by all but God. It is divided into two periods:

a. The pre-Canon period, the time of the Book of Acts and temporary spiritual gifts, A.D. 30-96.

b. The post-Canon period (the present) lasts from A.D. 96 to the Rapture of the Church. This is the era of the New Testament epistles and permanent spiritual gifts.

These were the only two dispensations when the Lord Jesus Christ indwelt humanity. Dispensations are periods of time in human history expressed in terms of divine revelation; they are divine categories of human history. Therefore, dispensations are both the divine outline and the divine interpretation of human history. Dispensational truth is the vehicle by which believers living at a specific time in history can orient to God's will, plan, and purpose for their lives.

God's plan is not the same for every dispensation; in fact, it is quite different. In every dispensation, God has a plan for believers, and in grace He provides the means for executing that plan. We must understand the other dispensations and then learn why only one dispensation is called the "dispensation of grace," EPH 3:1-10, "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles if indeed you have heard of the stewardship [oikonomian, meaning dispensation] of God's grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration [oikonomia] of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

  The dispensation of the Gentiles began with the creation of mankind and continued to the Exodus. It was an era of positive volition from the creation of man until the fall in the Garden of Eden era. Here human volition and marriage both failed miserably under perfect environment. Both volition and marriage are divine institutions, but man chose to reject the divine provision. The era of negative volition extended from the fall of man to Abraham. Then came the era of the patriarchs, from Abraham to Moses, with the creation of the new racial species, the Jewish race, which began with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This dispensation included both Jews and Gentiles without any client nation function. The dispensation of Israel and the Jews was in effect from the Exodus to the birth of Christ (1441 to 4 B.C). Then came the Christocentric dispensations-the Hypostatic Union, from the birth of Christ to His resurrection and ascension, and the Church-age, from the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 30 until the Rapture of the Church. This is to be followed by the Eschatological dispensations, the Tribulation and the Millennium.

The Tribulation dispensation is the great power struggle from the Rapture of the Church to the Second Advent, also called Daniel's 70th week, and is also the end of the Jewish Age. The Millennial reign of Christ begins at His Second Advent and will be the final 1,000 years of human history. It is the time of the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of all the unconditional covenants; Israel will again be the client nation in history, and it is a time of perfect environment on the earth. It is preceded by the judgment of the Baptism of Fire, so that only believers will enter the Millennium. At the end of the Millennium will come the judgment of unbelievers and fallen angels. This period includes:

1. The Second Advent of Christ.

2. The judgment of the human race coming out of the Tribulation, and the Baptism of the Fire, in which there are two separate judgments-that of the Gentiles and that of the Jews.

3. The restoration of Israel.

4. The Millennial rule of Jesus Christ.

5. The Gog Revolution.

6. The final judgments of history-the judgment of fallen angels, who are cast into the Lake of Fire, and the resurrection and judgment of all unbelievers at the Great White Throne, who are also cast into the Lake of Fire.

7. The eternal state, which includes (1) all believers in resurrection bodies forever, (2) the destruction of the present universe, and (3) the creation of a new universe.

For a more detailed study, order tapes IA11-278 to IA11-279.

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