GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
For the week ending 06/29/03
The Ascension and Session of the Lord Jesus Christ
The resurrection, ascension, and session are based on the strategic victory of our Lord in the angelic conflict. When the Lord Jesus Christ sat down at the right hand of God, He revealed that He was better than angels in His humanity. He is the heir of all things and the creator of the universe (HEB 1:1-2), has a better name and nature than angels (Heb 1:4), is worshipped by angels (HEB 1:6), is the creator and master of angels (HEB 1:7), has an eternal throne and is anointed with the Holy Spirit (HEB 1:8-9), is unchangeable (HEB 1:10), and is seated at God's right hand (HEB 1:13). Because of our union with Him elect angels serve us right now (HEB 1:14).
These principles are all directly related to the doctrine of the ascension and session. Heb 2:1 continues, "For this reason [the angelic conflict] we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it."When God sentenced Satan and all the fallen angels to the lake of fire, it was inevitable that Satan would appeal the sentence and at the same time attack and malign the character of God. The actual appeal of Satan is unknown to us, for God has not seen fit to record it for us. Perhaps his blasphemous argument was, "How can a loving God put His own creatures into the lake of fire forever?" This is a false teaching that many Christians believe today; they claim that the lake of fire is merely a figure of speech.
The fact that an appeal was filed by Satan is presumed from the lapse of time between the passing of the sentence on fallen angels in eternity past (MAT 25:41) and the execution of that sentence at the end of time (REV 20:10). Between these two verses an appeal trial is occurring human history.
MAT 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.'"
REV 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you can be a vital factor in this appeal trial, as long as you rely on the power of God. Human history is the courtroom for the appeal trial, and mankind was created for this trial.
In Heb 2:1, after the writer establishes the importance of understanding the ascension and session of the Lord Jesus Christ in chapter 1, he says in Heb 2:1, "For this reason&ldots;" Because of the fallen angels being under judgment and the human race being elevated above angels, the human race is being warned not to do what the fallen angels have done-to reject the Messiah and the plan of God, Heb 2:1, "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it."
The Greek verb translated "pay much closer attention" is "prosechein." "Pros" means face-to-face, and here it means looking the subject directly in the face; "echo" means to have and to hold. Therefore, the verb means to apply the mind to something, or to concentrate on the subject, i.e., the doctrine being taught. Rather than being so occupied with your own personal life and petty desires, learn to concentrate on the real reason you are alive, which is to give glory to God, ISA 43:7, ISA 48:11. Grace always precedes judgment. You have eternal security, but that does not mean that you can live like hell and ignore God without consequences in time.
ROM 11:13-22 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? And if the first piece of dough be holy, the lump is also; and if the root be holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.
Heb 2:1 goes on to say, "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it." This is a reference to hearing doctrine, God's Word, and the Greek verb for "drift away" is "pararrhuomen," which means to let the doctrine drift past or flow by you. Bible doctrine is being presented, but you are ignoring it. There are three ways in which believers reject Bible doctrine:
1. Refusing to hear the teaching of doctrine on a consistent basis.
2. Hearing the teaching of Bible doctrine but refusing to metabolize it, therefore failing to convert gnosis (knowledge) into epignosis (wisdom).
3. Metabolizing doctrine in one's soul but not applying it, so that the doctrine becomes unusable or forgotten.
Drifting away from doctrine is not intentional; it happens slowly.
Our passage continues in Heb 2:2-3, "For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard."
Angels were used by God to bring doctrine to men, ACT 7:38,53, but as a result of the session, man is now used by God to bring doctrine to men and angels, EPH 3:10, "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."
"Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense&ldots;" The word "transgression" is the Greek noun "parabasis," which means stepping over the line, or violating God's perfect laws; this goes beyond sin as we know it. "Disobedience" is the Greek noun "parakoe," which refers to disobedience that results from neglecting to hear doctrine and letting these fantastic principles drift by. In the Old Testament, obedience is described, not as doing, but as hearing first, and disobedience is described as refusing to hear, EXO 15:26; EXO 19:5,8; 23:22; JOS 1:18; ISA 28:12; ISA 30:9; Jer 11:10; JER 32:23; JER 35:16-17. In Jer 11:10 we read, "They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to hear My words." It has the connotation of failing to hear due to carelessness because of a desire for our own will. Many individuals put off hearing the Word of God, always assuming that it will also be there when they need it. However, the Bible teaches that when believers reject doctrine over a long period of time, God allows a famine of doctrine in their lives, AMO 8:11-12, "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord God, "when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. And people will stagger from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it."
Never become familiar with God's Word or think that it will always be available everywhere. Be careful you do not drift away. If we as believers stay out of fellowship for an extended length of time, and refuse to rebound and recover, we are said to be:
1. An enemy of the Cross (the finished work of Christ), PHI 3:18.
2. An enemy of God, JAM 4:4.
3. A hater of God, JOH 15:23.
4. Double-minded, JAM 4:8.
5. Anti-Christ, 1JO 2:18,22, 4:3; 2Jo 7.
6. Carnal, ROM 8:7, 1CO 3:1-2.
7. A disciple of the devil, 1JO 3:8,10.
8. Drifting off course from grace, GAL 5:4.
9. Falling from grace, HEB 12:15.
10. A tortured and unstable soul, 2PE 2:7-8,14.
11. Shipwrecked, 1TI 1:19.
In HEB 2:1-3, we see the angelic conflict in action. God allows the fallen angels to become examples to fallen man of His grace. The recompense is just; God is absolutely right and just in His judgment.
1. God owes the fallen angels the lake of fire, but they are not there at the present time. He owes them retroactive "back wages," and He will pay His debt ("just recompense").
2. Human history is the space between Satan's trial and his conviction, and the passing and the execution of the sentence.
3. The passing of the sentence is the eternal fire prepared for the devil and His angels before human history, MAT 25:41.
4. The execution of the sentence is REV 20:10.
5. The sentence was passed before human history; it will be executed at the consummation of human history.
6. Because Satan appealed His sentence before human history, man was then created as a third party to show Satan that His appeal is not justified.
7. Human history demonstrates that God is righteous, just, and perfect; therefore, God is glorified by the creation of man, REV 4:11, ISA 43:21.
HEB 2:3 literally says that just as the fallen angels are doomed, so will all unbelieving humans be doomed: "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard." The Greek verb for "neglect" is "amelesantes," which means to be careless toward, make light of, disregard, be unconcerned, or neglect. And what is the human race warned not to disregard? "So great a salvation" refers to our Lord's finished work on the Cross. The apostles heard Christ and passed down His message. We know that the fallen angels received judgment because of such passages as MAT 25:41 and JUD 1:6, "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day." Peter writes in 2PE 2:4, "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment&ldots;"
HEB 2:2-4 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience [in the angelic realm] received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
Remember that in 1CO 1:22, "Indeed Jews ask for signs," but in, JOH 1:11 "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him." There were many signs of the Messiah, including:
· The virgin birth, ISA 7:14.
· Tongues as a sign to unbelievers, ISA 28:11.
· The two deaths of Christ (physical and spiritual), ISA 53:9.
In spite of all the signs and wonders, the Jews rejected their Messiah.
In HEB 2:5 we are brought right back to our subject of the session and the glorification of our Lord's humanity: "For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking." During the Millennium no angel will be in rulership. In the Church-age, Satan and His angels reign, but in the Millennium, man will rule, that Man being Jesus Christ, the Son of David. HEB 2:6 says, "But one has testified somewhere [David in PSA 8:4-6], 'What is man, that Thou rememberest him?'" The Greek word for "remember" is "mimneske," which means to recall to mind, or to remember in an affectionate way. The phrase "son of man" here refers to the descendants of Adam (although the term "son of man" generally refers to Jesus Christ).
HEB 2:7 continues, "Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands." Here is the divine strategy. Out of the lowest, God shall bring the highest. Out of the insignificant, God shall bring the significant. In fact, He shall Himself condescend to become a member of this lower creation, the human race, HEB 2:9, "But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone." God will reach down below the level man was created and bring forth new sons who will be with Him for all eternity. Is it any wonder that Paul said in ROM 11:33, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"
Out of the creation of a lower creature called "man" will come the greatest glory to God and the full and total victory in the invisible war of the angelic conflict. Imagine back in Genesis chapter one, as day succeeded day in the six-day restoration of the earth, that Satan must have been watching every act with serious and growing interest. Dry land appeared out of the waste of waters, and the seas began to function once again. Trees, flowers, and grass appeared in a world that had been shrouded in horror and darkness. The sun, moon, and stars became visible once again as the judgment was dispelled. Thousands of creatures began to fill the sea. The chirping of birds filled the air. Imagine how pride stimulated Satan's envy, yet, to this point, he saw nothing to excite his jealousy, for all these birds and animals had body and life, but no spirit. And he knew that there was no creature here that could challenge the power and authority he had once possessed in this domain.
However, on the sixth day, God created man in His own image, GEN 1:26-28, "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" There must have been an almost instant awareness in the mind of Satan that here was his rival at last. Man awoke to find himself a creature of noble beauty and wisdom, and to be informed that he was to have dominion over all the renewed earth, and we can be sure that Satan was not far away. For the first time Satan heard the authority over the earth being given to someone else.
Little did man realize at the time, that he was about to be entered into this invisible war, and that he would be an important weapon. God was choosing man as the arm that would defeat Satan, and replace him in the government of the universe. Out of man Christ would come, and it would be through certain chosen members of the human race that God would proclaim the defeat of Satan to both the elect and fallen angels.
Imagine what must have been going through the mind of Satan as he saw the first man and woman placed on this earth. The earth had been Satan's kingdom; God had set him in authority, EZE 28:14. Out of the creation of a lower creature called man will come the greatest glory to God, and the full and complete victory in the invisible war of the angelic conflict.
For a more detailed study, order tapes IA11-283 to IA11-284.