Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.

Click here to prepare for the study of God's word.

Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Ephesians 2:6 by Robert Dean
Where is the Lord Jesus Christ now? Listen to this message to hear not only where Christ is, but the reason why He is there. Understand the difference between His first coming to this earth and His second coming, which is yet in the future. See what the Jews had expected and how their rejection of Christ resulted in a new plan being revealed. Find out how understanding this can reshape our spiritual life.
Series:Ephesians (2018)
Duration:45 mins 16 secs

Why Did Christ Need to Ascend to Heaven?
Ephesians 2:6
Ephesians Series #052
December 8, 2019
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
www.deanbibleministries.org

Opening Prayer

“Our Father, we’re so thankful that we have Your Word. It’s the complete canon of Scripture—all that we need in 66 books of the Bible. And that by studying Your Word, God the Holy Spirit makes it clear to us, helps us to understand what it means. He is the one who helps assimilate that truth into our soul that we may have our thinking transformed, not being conformed to this world, but transformed into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“As such, we realize that we must take every thought captive for Christ, that we must intentionally focus day in and day out on learning Your Word, reflecting upon it and its significance in our lives, which God the Holy Spirit can then use this as He matures us.

“As we study today, Father, we come face-to-face with these important doctrines related to who we are in Christ, our position in Him, what that means, and its significance. Often we come across phrases like the one we’re studying today that are just so filled with background that we hardly ever fully comprehend the significance of them.

“As we study today, help us to focus, to concentrate, and see the big picture so that we can understand why You have said what You have said in Your Word. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”

Slide 2

Open your Bibles to Ephesians 2:6. At the very center of Ephesians 2:1–10, Paul focuses on three things that God has done for us, that we’re born physically dead in our trespasses and sins. We’re not born good; we are born corrupt by Adam’s original sin; and therefore, a radical transformation must take place. God alone can do that for us, and that’s the focus of Ephesians 2:4

Slide 4

We’re born dead in trespasses and sins, “but God … because of the great love with which He loved us”—has done three things for us. He has:

  • made us alive together with Christ
  • raised us up together (We saw last time all that is implied by this phrase.)
  • made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

What in the world does that mean? What is the significance of that?

Slide 2

That is why I’m beginning with this question, “Why did Christ need to ascend to Heaven?” Because the ascension of Christ to Heaven is directly connected to that which follows, that He is welcomed into Heaven, and He takes His position where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. That position is His position throughout this present Church Age.

Why is that important? What is going on now that is different from anything that happened before the cross? What is the significance of this? Why is it important for you and for me to understand that we have this new position in Christ, where we are seated with Him?

What does that mean, this idea of being in Christ? We talk about our position in Christ; this is a rather abstract concept. Could you explain to someone who didn’t have a lot of background in Bible study or understanding the Scripture what it means that you are now in Christ, that you have a position in Christ? Can you put that into your own words to help someone understand that? It’s a rather abstract doctrine.

Perhaps you could use the analogy of the family. As a member of a family, each of us has an identity. Your parents probably taught you some things about how you should behave because you are part of their family. At least if they were responsible parents that would have been part of their parenting responsibility.

Your position in the family may have something to do with your birth order. It might have something to do with a reputation of your family. Perhaps the kind of work or responsibilities that your parents had in church or in the community or something of that nature.

It might be that, as the fact that you are part of that family, you gained a certain identity, whether you liked it or not. History and newspapers are often filled with gossip stories about the sons and daughters of celebrities or the royals, or political sons and daughters who failed to live up to the expectations or the reputation of the family into which they were born.

Perhaps one of the most notorious things going on right now has to do with the alleged involvement of Prince Andrew, the son of Queen Elizabeth, with the perverted sexual playground of the notorious Jeffrey Epstein (he didn’t kill himself.) Prince Andrew is the third child and the second son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburg.

As such, he was originally second in line after his brother to ascend to the throne of England, but now because Charles married, had two sons because they have had children, he is now the eighth in line. He is in a position where he has always lived in a glasshouse. People knew everything about him.

There’s a level of expectation for those who are the royals in how they should conduct their lives, but if we’re honest, we know that the royal families here and there throughout the history of England have failed to live up to their expectations at many different times. Nevertheless, there is that position that they’re born into. It’s their family heritage, which provides a level of expectation and identity, their position. The fact that Prince Andrew has failed and has had to give up some of his responsibilities, and who knows where all that’s going.

Sort of reminds us of the theme in the parable that the Lord told about the prodigal son. The younger son decides to take his inheritance from his father and goes off and squanders it. But when he comes to his senses, he returns home. Of course, he’s squandered his inheritance, but his father welcomes him because that’s still his identity. He’s still in the family.

That is important for us to understand. When we sin, when we’re away from the Lord for a short or long period of time, God always welcomes us back. He forgives us. There may be consequences for our sin and disobedience, but God welcomes us and forgives us. He welcomes us back because of our position in the family.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, that phrase that we are “raised with Him,” pulls together many different passages in Scripture. It’s a short phrase, but when we examine how it is used in Romans 6 and Colossians 2, as we did last time, that emphasizes the fact that at the moment we trusted in Christ as Savior, we were identified with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. We were then given new life. We were born dead in our trespasses and sins as Paul says in Ephesians 2:1 because of our position in the human family, our position in Adam.

Slide 3

Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

We have a position that we’re born into. We’re born into Adam’s family, and that position is one of alienation from God. It’s one of spiritual death, where we are identified as those who are walking according to the course of this world and according to the prince of the power of the air, who of course is Satan.

As such, we have no spiritual life. There must be a transformation, and only God can do that transformation, which is what Paul talks about in Ephesians 2:4–5. This transformation isn’t something God just zaps us with, it is the result of our response to the gospel and trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior.

This chapter ends with those well-known verses in Ephesians 2:8–9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith …” Faith is the means by which we appropriate the gospel, Christ’s death for ourselves.

We have been saved through faith and not of works. It excludes all works. Why? Because other passages such as Titus 3:5, “It’s not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”

The foundation for God’s work on our behalf is His character: His mercy, His grace, His love for us. Ephesians 2:4, “… because of His great love with which He loved us…” He provides a perfect salvation, and it becomes ours when we trust in the promise. We trust in the truth that Christ died for our sins.

When that happens, 3 things take place:

  1. Even though “we were dead in our trespasses and sins, He made us alive together with Christ.” That is the new birth regeneration where at the instant of trusting Christ, we are born again.  That’s when we are made a new creature in Christ.  Old things are passed away; behold all things are new.
  2. At that same instant, we are raised up together.  We looked at Romans 6: we are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.  By being raised together with Him, it focuses on the fact that we have new life in Him.
  3. Our focus beginning today is that He makes us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

Slide 5

A reminder of the flow of our passage in Ephesians:

The Problem: What we were before we were saved: that we were spiritually dead, alienated from the life of God. Ephesians 2:1–3

The Solution: God provides it on the basis of His love and mercy. We are regenerated, we are raised, and we are seated positionally in Christ, Ephesians 2:4–9.

There’s that term again; we are in this new family, and we have a new identity in Christ. That should change everything. Not thinking of ourselves, as we did before we were saved, but we are now royalty in the family of God.

The Purpose: After we’re saved—the purpose is that we are saved for good works. The good works aren’t to get us saved, they should be the result of this new life that we have in Christ. Ephesians 2:10

Our forgiveness of sin, all of this, is made possible because of what Christ did for us on the cross.

Slide 6

Colossians 2:13-14 summarizes the same thing that Paul is teaching in Ephesians 2:

First of all, the problem, “And even when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh …

The solution, “He has made alive together with Him …”

The basis—“… because He has graciously forgiven us.”  

The Greek word is CHARIZOMAI, the root of which means grace. But it is used often to refer to forgiveness of sin—forgiveness of debt on the basis of grace. It’s a free gift.

I’ve translated this “because He has graciously forgiven you all trespasses—past, present, future.”

When did He do that? Did He do that because you did something? Did He do that because of participation in some ritual? Did He do that because you pleaded with Him? No. In fact, He didn’t do it in relation to any decision or action on our part today. Look at how it goes.

In the Greek there is a series of participles. This type of participle modifies a verb, so you have to understand what it means. Most will translate it in as much of a rudimentary way as they can, but it’s up to the pastor to help interpret these participles. They’re past tense participles—aorist tense participles—so they indicate an action that is taken prior to the main verb; which is that He made us alive together.

Before that happened, we had been “graciously forgiven all trespasses.” Before you ever trusted in Christ, this is talking about the fact that you are forgiven graciously all trespasses. When did that happen? “…when He wiped out the hand writing of requirements…”

Some translations say, the certificate of debt. When did He wipe out that certificate of debt? It was at the cross. It goes on to say we were forgiven “… when He wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us, even when He took it out of the way when He nailed it to the cross.”

That’s a historic event; He nailed it to the cross in AD 33. At that time the sin penalty was paid. The problem is, we’re still spiritually dead when we’re born, and we don’t have righteousness, so that still has to be resolved.

When we trust in Christ, the problem of spiritual death is solved by regeneration. The problem of our lack of righteousness is solved by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

Because we have His righteousness, God justifies us, but the sin is paid for at the cross. So sin really isn’t the issue at your salvation; the issue is the cross: the issue is what Christ did for you.

Slide 7

All of this is part of the background that we have examined, and last time we looked at the first phrase in Ephesians 2:6 that He “raised us up together.”  This is the same Greek verb that talks about the resurrection of Christ.

Slide 8

In Romans 6:4–6, it’s speaking of the baptism by the Holy Spirit. It is a picture—water baptism is a physical picture—of this spiritual reality. At the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is the One who performs the act. John the Baptist said, “There is One who comes after me… He will baptize you by the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:7–8)

Christ is the One who performs the action, and He uses the Holy Spirit, because the grammar is parallel to the way John uses the water to effect the identification with himself. Christ does the baptism, we’re baptized by means of the Holy Spirit, and we are placed in the body of Christ. That baptism is an identification into death.

Romans 6:4, “Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism—not literal water baptism but through the Spirit’s baptism at the instant we were saved—that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

The resurrection of Christ is related to new life. Our identification with Christ’s resurrection speaks of the new life that we have in Him. It begins with regeneration, but it means that we should live differently than we did before we were saved.

Romans 6:6, “because we know this, that our old man—that’s everything we were before we were saved—was crucified with Him, that the body of sin—our sin nature—might be—in the future—done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

This means that the tyrannical master, the sin nature, has its power broken at the instant of salvation, but it’s still there. Too often we go back and put ourselves back into a position of slavery to the sin nature when that power has been broken. We don’t lose our salvation, but we live as if we weren’t saved.

Romans 6:7, Paul’s conclusion, “For he who has died—that is, every believer at the instant of salvation has died to sin—for he who has died has been freed from sin.”

He goes on to say that we have to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin; we have to consider ourselves to be dead to sin. A lot of times we just don’t, and we continue to sin just like nothing happened.

Slide 9

The foundation for this again is stated in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things are new.”

Slides 10–12

We chart this out this way: in terms of eternal realities, this relates to our position. At the cross when we trust in Christ we are baptized by means of the Holy Spirit and placed in Christ. This is our new family, our new identity.

Slide 13

It involves being regenerated.

Slide 14

We’re adopted into God’s royal family.

Slide 15

We are a new creature, a new creation in Christ.

Slide 16

We are freed from the tyranny of the sin nature.

Slide 17

We have this new life, and we should live on the basis of it.

Slide 18

We are sealed or branded as God’s child, so that can never be changed.

Slides 19–21

We’re indwelt by God the Holy Spirit.

Slide 22

All of that is part of our position in Christ.

Slide 23

In Ephesians 2:6, the phrase “raised up together with Him” is telling us we need to recognize our new position and live in light of that. Thirdly, “He made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 1:20, Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. This is “the Session,” from the Latin word Sessio, which refers to being seated. Theologically it’s referred to as the session of Christ: He is seated at the right hand of the Father.

This isn’t just some abstract little doctrine that is fun for theologians to talk about; it is woven into so many passages in the Scripture. The list of passages here is not exhaustive, but we find it in at least these 14 passages.

Acts 2:33–34 is based on the fact that Christ has been raised and seated at the right hand of the Father. We have, in fact, three passages in Acts. Acts is written by Luke, the same author as the Gospel of Luke. Three passages that all connect to the session of Christ seated at the right hand of the Father.

In Paul’s writings, he talks about it in Romans 8:34. This too is a passage that emphasizes the position of Christ in Heaven and the relationship of that to our present spiritual life.

We see it in Ephesians 1:20 and it’s developed more in our passage, Ephesians 2:6. Then it will be explained and used even more when we get to Ephesians 4:8–11 where Christ had to ascend in order to give spiritual gifts to the Church—gifts of leadership—so that the body of Christ could be matured.

Christ had to ascend so that He could send the Holy Spirit. All of these things that we have as part of our Church Age spiritual life are the result of the fact that Christ ascended to Heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father.

Colossians 3:1 emphasizes Christ’s position at the right hand of the Father, and that because of it, we are to set our minds on the things above, because our life is hidden with Christ in God.

In Hebrews, we read five different references to Christ being seated at the right hand of the Father. All of these relate to His present role as our High Priest and that we are believer-priests. Every individual Christian is a believer-priest under the high priesthood of Jesus Christ, and what He is presently doing on our behalf as a High Priest. All of that is predicated on the ascension and session of Christ.

1 Peter 3:22 emphasizes Christ’s authority from the right hand of the Father over all of the creatures: all of the angels, all the demons, all the human beings, over all things that what we have in Heaven now is Christ in authority over everything.

Jesus as our Christ, as the Second Person of the Trinity, in His deity was always in authority over everything, right? There never was a time when the Second Person of the Trinity and all of His deity was not in authority over everything. So what’s this describing?

This is describing His humanity, that when Jesus ascended to Heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father, He is there as the God-Man. The title related to that is Son of Man. The Son of Man has ascended to Heaven and is at the right hand of the Father, telling us that in the command post of Heaven, the One who is seated next to the Father Who has authority over all things is a human being.

 He’s fully God, but He is also fully human. As fully human, He can function as our High Priest, our Intercessor, and our Advocate. He’s been tested in all areas as we are, yet without sin.

All of this is tied up in this little phrase “made us sit together in the heavenly places.” Because not only is Christ as the God-man seated at the right hand of the Father, but we who are “in Christ”—in that Church Age family—are in that same position. We are at the right hand of the Father positionally. That is our legal position and identity as Church-Age believers. And to probe that is phenomenal! It should blow our minds just to think of what the implications of that are.

Paul just uses this phrase, which tells us that the folks in Ephesus had been taught all about it. All Paul had to do was use these phrases and they would immediately—every time they heard each of these words or phrases, everything that I’m teaching you, is something that would come to their mind as part of that background.

Slide 24

When we look at this teaching on the ascension and session of Christ, it flows through Ephesians. We talked about this initially in Ephesians 1:19–21, wherein Paul’s prayer at the end of the first chapter, he said that we should know:

Ephesians 1:19 “…what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power—according to the working of His omnipotence—which He—that is God the Father—worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”

The significance of that is in Ephesians 1:21, “…far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

In order in this epistle, we’re first introduced to this in Ephesians 1:19–21, then it’s expanded in this chapter by telling us we’re seated in Him. Then it’s going to be expanded again when we get to Ephesians 4, which talks about why Christ had to ascend.

Slide 25

I want to begin to look at the background of the ascension of Christ:

Why did Jesus have to ascend? Why was that necessary?

This doctrine—the biblical teaching of the ascension of Christ—is not disputed by the different theological or denominational traditions. Every Christian believes that Jesus physically, bodily, ascended to Heaven. It is a crucial doctrine, though, for understanding everything that happens in this Church Age. It should shape our identity of who we are in Christ, which we will see as we go forward.

As we look at the background of the ascension, I’ll remind you that it was not prophesied in the Old Testament. That’s why we have the question: Why did Jesus have to ascend? It’s not prophesied in the Old Testament.

What was prophesied in the Old Testament was simply that in the future the Messiah would come. This would be a historical event, which would provide for the salvation of His people, and it would establish the Davidic Covenant. There was no sense in the Old Testament that these would be separate events. They were viewed as one event.

It is as if you are driving towards a mountain range—let’s say you’re going to the Rocky Mountains—and in the distance you see a couple of mountain peaks, which appear to from that distance that they’re right next to one another. But as you get closer and closer, you realize that there’s actually a valley of maybe several hundred miles between those mountain peaks. So you’re just seeing them without an understanding of that valley in between.

That’s how it was in the Old Testament. At a distance it looks like these two peaks, the First Coming of Jesus, which we celebrate on Christmas, and His Second Coming were all at the same time. But we learn when we look at Scripture that there is a distinction. At the First Coming, Jesus came to present the Kingdom and He was rejected, the message was rejected, and He was crucified.

Slide 26

First question:

What happened to God‘s plan when the Lord Jesus Christ was rejected and crucified?

What happens between those two mountain peaks of the First Coming of Christ at His birth, which happened in approximately 3 or 4 BC and the Second Coming, which has not yet taken place?

Jesus came to present the Kingdom. Obviously, He was teaching that there was some discipline on Israel, Matthew 12, because they rejected Him. And His disciples were still confused and still expected the Kingdom, even though He had been rejected, even though He had been crucified, and now He has been raised from the dead.

Slide 27

They went out to the Mount of Olives one day, and they didn‘t know that He was about to ascend to Heaven. Acts 1:6, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ ”

Several things we ought to note about this. First of all, it indicates that they have not yet grasped the point that the Kingdom is postponed. Earlier as we were observing the Lord’s Table, I talked about Matthew 26:29 where Jesus said that, “I will not drink of the fruit of this vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” It was very clear there: there is a postponement of the Kingdom.

They understand it’s been postponed, but they’re thinking in terms of days and not centuries. They asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” So they know that the Kingdom hasn’t happened yet, and they understand that the Kingdom is a geopolitical kingdom that is centered in Israel. It is not a spiritual kingdom in Heaven.

Jesus didn’t say, “No, no, no! They rejected me, so we are going to have a different kind of kingdom. We’re going to change things, and it’s going to be a kingdom in Heaven and it’s not going to be here on the earth.”

That is the view of Amillennialism; and in some ways, it’s the view of post-millennialism—the idea that this kingdom isn’t what is stated and anticipated in the Old Testament.

Slide 28

We have to ask this question: Since God had promised the king a kingdom and the Kingdom was now rejected and the king was executed, what about the Kingdom program? We have to go back to some basics.

Slide 29

1.      The Jews expected a “one coming” kingdom.

They expected that when the Messiah came, He would establish a political kingdom. This was their expectation, and it wasn’t wrong, for as we saw in our study in Matthew, that was the message of John the Baptist, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

It was the message of Jesus at the beginning, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He sent out His disciples only to the House of Israel, and their message was, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” But something happened.

Slides 30, 31

2.      The Jews had a misconception: they wanted the crown before the cross. They wanted a glorious Messiah who would defeat and get rid of the Romans before the suffering Messiah.

In fact, they thought there might even be two Messiahs, but the first one would be the political Messiah.

Biblically, the cross had to come before the crown, but they got it backward. They wanted the crown before the cross, so they misinterpreted what Jesus was doing, and as a result, they rejected Him because they were looking for a glorious Messiah who would bring in the Kingdom.

That’s what was going on at the end of John 2. Jesus goes to Jerusalem. It’s Passover. He does many miracles and signs. Many people believe in Him, but then it says He didn’t trust Himself to them. He didn’t trust Himself to them because their agenda was to make Him king, and He knew that He had to go to the cross before He would be the king.

Slide 32

This is still clear right before the cross in John 12:34 where it shows their confusion. There we read that, “The people answered Him and said, ‘We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up?”—which He had said earlier in John 3—Who is this Son of Man?’ ”

That is the problem: they do not expect a suffering Messiah.

Slide 33

In 1 Peter 1:10–11 we’re told of this basic issue that the prophets looked into. They understood that there was “the suffering of the Christ and the glories to follow.” That was the correct order.

1 Peter 1:10, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He—that is, the Spirit of Christ—predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”

The Sadducees, the Pharisees, the rabbis in the intertestamental period got things backward, and they were looking for the glory, and then the suffering.

Slide 34

The sufferings are clearly described in Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah 53:5–7, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

This is talking about the servant of the Lord, and He is being abused, beaten up; He is being whipped and flogged, which is what was predicted.

Slide 35

Secondly, Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

The abuse described in Isaiah 53:5 is related to the payment for sin—the payment for iniquity.

Slide 36

Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”

There are many other passages, like Psalm 22, that speak of the suffering of the Messiah.

Slide 37

But then we had other predictions in the Old Testament that focused on the glories of the Messiah. Isaiah 40:3–5,

A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness, make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low, and the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley…”

After these things, “Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

When you read these different prophecies in Isaiah, you don’t get a straight timeline, but it’s clear from different places that the suffering of the Messiah had to come before His glory.

Slide 38

All of the Gospels follow this pattern, the initial offer of the Kingdom: John the Baptist, Jesus, the disciples, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Then there is the rejection of the king, and Jesus pronounces a judgment on that generation. It is an unforgivable sin, not that they can’t be individually saved, but that the nation now has set its course on rejection of the Messiah and eventual divine discipline. Then that inevitably leads to His crucifixion. We see the backdrop for the ascension and the session.

Something was going to happen that was not foreseen in the Old Testament. Because the king was rejected, God is going to bring about a new plan, a new program unforeseen, unpredicted, not revealed in the Old Testament; it’s called a mystery.

There would be a new age and in that new age, there is a new entity called the Church. It is the body of Christ. Its identity, its purposes, and its function are specifically tied to this period of time when Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father and fulfilling His roles and responsibilities during that time.

We’ve seen here that, as the backdrop to the ascension, Jesus ascends to Heaven, He sits—a position of passivity—sits at the right hand of the Father, a position of authority, over all creation, but He is waiting.

And this allows for the new, unforeseen Church Age—a period of incredible individual blessings for every believer and a new role and identity for this Church Age. It’s our family; it has a new position; we have a new identity.

Ephesians is all about developing that. We have to come to understand this in ways, perhaps, we’ve never understood it before because this should reshape the way in which we think about our spiritual life and our purpose and meaning in life today as believers in Christ.

We will come back next time and begin to develop this even more.

Closing Prayer

“Father, we thank You for this time to study these things, to be reminded that our salvation is not just some personal thing that is great because we know we will go to Heaven, but that it fits into a much larger plan and purpose. We’ve been given a new identity and position in a new family unlike what’s occurred to any believers in all of human history, and that this becomes the backdrop, the framework, the foundation for understanding who we are and what we should be about in this Church Age.

“It goes beyond the superficial ways in which we often are taught about the Christian life or we live the Christian life, and it should blow our minds, it should expand our understanding, and it should transform how we think about what we do and how we live and how we think each and every day.

“Father, we pray that anyone listening today to this message would come to understand that they have the opportunity to have this new life in Christ, this new identity, this new position, this new privilege. That it’s based not on what we as individuals do, it’s not based on failures, it’s not affected by failures, it’s based on what Christ did on the cross.

“He paid the penalty. He died for us so that by faith alone,—simply believing in Him, not anything else—because Christ did all the work. It is Christ’s perfect righteousness that makes us righteous, not anything that we’ve done, and that by simply and only believing in Him we have everlasting life.

“Father, we pray that You would make that clear to each one of us and the implications of it for our future life. And we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”