“He will glorify Me” (John 16:14)

Think of it this way. It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder, on Jesus, who stands facing us. The Spirit’s message is never, “Look at Me; listen to Me; come to Me; get to know Me,” but always, “Look at Him, and see His glory; listen to Him, and hear His word; go to Him, and have life; get to know Him, and taste His gift of joy and peace.”

—J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit, 66

Our Ascended Mediator (5)

The Ascension is the essential link between the Jesus who walked this earth and the Lord of heaven; the Christ who entered our world of time and space and now reigns in glory in the eternal world; the Savior who died on Calvary’s Cross and the High Priest who ever lives to make intercession in heaven for His people on earth.

Peter Atkins, Ascension Now, 67

Our Ascended Mediator (4)

The Ascension event allowed the disciples and the current worshiper to access the presence of Christ wherever they were located in time and space.

Even the resurrection appearances allowed Christ to be accessed only by those in certain locations. If Thomas was not with the rest of the disciples when the resurrected Christ appeared, the Thomas had no access to Jesus (John 20:24-29). Thomas had to be in the right location to confront the Christ with His challenge and to respond in faith. After the Ascension, access to Christ was open to any worshiper who drew near in heart and soul. In Christ there was full assurance of access to the Godhead wherever the worshiper might be located.

The expansion of the Church has been built on the principle that Christ and the Godhead can be accessed from any point on the globe and at any time in history. The worshiper is no nearer to Christ in the places of the historical setting of the Jesus of Nazareth. Pilgrimage can enliven faith by making real the geography of the Gospels and assuring the disciple that the gospel is not a fable. We know that the life of Jesus is rooted in geography and in history. Yet the access to the exalted Lord is readily available at whatever time and place suit the worshiper. Christians live by this assumption, but it is important to realize that the assumption rests on the doctrine of the Ascension.

Peter Atkins, Ascension Now, 93-94

Our Ascended Mediator (3)

The Ascension doctrine helps us to keep a balance between seeing God in Christ as “one of us” and Christ as “from the heart of God.” Too great an emphasis on the Incarnation can distort this balance, so that worship is centered exclusively on the human aspects of worship—our concerns, our needs, our agenda, and our material world. Worship, unless corrected by the dimension of heaven, can become earthbound. The Ascension doctrine reminds us that there is another dimension to worship. We join Christ—rather than Christ coming down to join us—in the eternal nature of heaven, and there our worship is caught up with that of the angels and archangels and the apostles of every generation.

Peter Atkins, Ascension Now, 83-84

Our Ascended Mediator

We worship the Father not in our own name, nor in the significance of our own prayer and worship, but solely in Christ’s name who has so identified Himself with us as to make His prayer and worship ours, so really ours that we appear before God with Christ Himself as our one true prayer and our only worship.

—T. F. Torrance, Space Time and Resurrection, 117

Ascension (a day late)

The purpose of the Ascension is that Christ should take up the position of responsibility and authority that is the proper place for the Son to be. As Christians repeat the words of the Creed in the Liturgies, they are able both to acknowledge that Christ is in His proper place and also that it is the same Christ, who has shared our human condition and who has suffered with us and for us, that is now responsible for the governance of the created order and for our destiny. Jesus, who understands us and our human condition, holds responsibility for our welfare and has the authority to carry out the divine will and purpose.

Peter Atkins, Ascension Now, 73-74

Shofar

Jewish tradition[:] …in the story of the binding of Isaac (Gen. 22), Abraham finds that the horns of the ram God provided for the sacrifice were left behind. Tradition has it that Abraham rescued these horns and made them into the shofar, which became the Jewish people’s central ritual instrument.

—Roberta R. King, Global Arts and Christian Witness: Exegeting Culture, Translating the Message, and Communicating Christ, 82

More than a Prophet

Jesus not only leads the way; He is the destination.
He not only teaches; He is the subject.
He not only shows us how to live; He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Jesus not only proclaims God’s promises; He is the one in whom they are all fulfilled (2 Cor. 1:20).
He not only brings Gods Word; He is God’s Word incarnate (John 1:1,14).

—Michael Horton, Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples, 184

The Arts as Highways

The arts are not the pretty but irrelevant bits around the border of reality. They are highways into the center of a reality which cannot be glimpsed, let alone grasped, any other way. The present world is good, but broken and in any case incomplete; art of all kinds enables us to understand that paradox and its many dimensions. But the present world is also designed for something which has not yet happened. It is like a violin waiting to be played: beautiful to look at, graceful to hold–and yet if you’d never heard one in the hands of a musician, you wouldn’t believe the new dimensions of beauty to be revealed. Perhaps art can show something of that, can glimpse the future possibilities pregnant within the present time. It is like a chalice: again, beautiful to look at, pleasing to hold, but waiting to be filled with the wine which, itself full of sacramental possibilities, gives the chalice its fullest meaning. Perhaps art can help us to look beyond the immediate beauty with all its puzzles, and to glimpse that new creation which makes sense not only of beauty but of the world as a whole, and ourselves within it. Perhaps.

—N. T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, 235-36

Jesus Christ, the Crucified

1 Ask ye what great thing I know
that delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose the name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

2 Who defeats my fiercest foes?
Who consoles my saddest woes?
Who revives my waiting heart,
healing all its hidden smart?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

3 Who is life in life to me?
Who the death of death will be?
Who will place me on His right
with the countless hosts of light?
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

4 This is that great thing I know;
this delights and stirs me so:
Faith in Him who died to save,
Him who triumphed o’er the grave,
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

—Johann C. Schwedler (1741); translated Benjamin Hall Kennedy (1863)

(usually sung to the same tune as “Take My Life and Let It Be”)

Blessed Be My Rock!

Just are Thy ways, and true Thy word,
Great Rock of my secure abode:
Who is a God beside the Lord?
Or where’s a refuge like our God?

‘Tis He that girds me with His might,
Gives me His holy sword to wield,
And while with sin and hell I fight,
Spreads His salvation for my shield.

He lives, and blessed be my Rock!
The God of my salvation lives:
The dark designs of hell are broke;
Sweet is the peace my Father gives.

Before the scoffers of the age
I will exalt my Father’s name,
Nor tremble at their mighty rage,
But meet reproach, and bear the shame.

To David and his royal seed
Thy grace forever shall extend;
Thy love to saints in Christ their Head
Knows not a limit, nor an end.

—Isaac Watts, paraphrase of Psalm 18

Get Out of the Way

A concert audience does not come to watch the conductor but to listen to the music; a church congregation should not come to watch or hear the preacher [or worship leader], but to listen to God’s Word. The function of the conductor is to draw the music out of the choir or orchestra, in order that the audience may enjoy the music; the function of the preacher is to draw the Word of God out of the Bible, in order that the congregation may receive with joy. The conductor must not come between the music and the audience; the preacher [or worship leader] must not come between the Lord and His people. We need the humility to get out of the way. Then the Lord will speak, and the people will hear Him; the Lord will manifest himself, and the people will see Him; and, hearing His voice and seeing His glory, the people will fall down and worship Him.

—John Stott, Between Two Worlds, 328