The Advent of the Holy Spirit
Ephesians Series #053
December 15, 2019
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Today, our Father, we are so thankful that we just had this opportunity with these families to remind all of us of our parental and grand-parental responsibilities in training up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That responsibility is so great, and we do pray for them that You would strengthen them and that there would be a great spiritual blessing in the lives of these kids.
“Father, we’re thankful for our so great salvation. And Father we’re thankful for what You have revealed to us in Your Word— that beyond salvation there is such a tremendous spiritual life that You have provided for us in this Church Age. Sadly, we barely scratch the surface of Your teaching in the Word.
“Help us as we grapple with what we have been studying in Ephesians 2. Help us to understand even more the significance of our Church Age spiritual life. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles to Ephesians 2. We’re looking at what the Bible teaches about the ascension and the session of Christ. I knew it would be short today because of the dedication and also because of the luncheon afterward. So we’re going to do a review and just hit a couple of high points before we go on to have our Christmas and Thanksgiving meal.
In Ephesians 2:6 Paul is getting at the heart of these first 10 verses. In Ephesians 2:4, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.”
Then he tells us three things that God did for us in His mercy, that He:
- gave us new life together
- raised us up together
- made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
This is important because it’s emphasizing the uniqueness of the Church Age, where Jew and Gentile are united together in Christ and that truth has to be exploited in our thinking. We have been made alive together in Christ, and now we read that He has made us sit together in the heavenly places. We’ve been raised together, and we are made to sit together—this is our position in Christ.
To review this chart, this relates to eternal realities—our legal position before God.
At the instant that we trust in Christ, Acts 16:31,
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
At that instant, we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection according to Romans 6:3–6 in what is called the Baptism by the Holy Spirit. That’s the corrected, improved translation of the Greek preposition. It is “by means of the Holy Spirit.” It is Christ who uses the Holy Spirit to identify us with His death, burial, and resurrection.
At that instant we are given new life; we’re made alive together with Him. This is what the Bible teaches about regeneration.
At that same time, we are adopted.
New life: we become new creatures in Christ. We’re adopted into God’s royal family with a new identity and new responsibilities. We become a new creature, a new creation of Christ.
We are freed from the power, but not the presence, of the sin nature. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free so that we can live for God.
We are given new life: it needs to be nourished; it needs to be fed. We need to grow and mature.
We are sealed by the Holy Spirit as God’s possession so that we know that we can never lose that salvation. We are His.
We are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. Nobody in all of history prior to the Day of Pentecost described in Acts 2 was ever personally indwelt by the Holy Spirit the way you and I are.
There were Old Testament ministries of the Holy Spirit, and they were to provide wisdom and skill for the leadership of Israel, whether it was a priest, or prophet, or King. But it was not permanent, although there may be two or three examples where God, the Holy Spirit had a permanent ministry, but it was not in relation to their spiritual life, or spiritual growth, but was in relation to their function and responsibilities in the theocratic kingdom of Israel.
In Ephesians 2:6, we talked about what it means to be raised together, and that that brings to the forefront what Paul teaches in Romans 6:3–6 that this raising together emphasizes the new life, and we are to live in light of that new life, and not live as we were before we were saved. Because the old man—everything we were before we were saved—is dead, and we have new life in Him.
Ephesians 2:6, He “made us to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ.” I found at least 13 references to Christ’s session—the technical term for His being seated—as He’s always portrayed again and again throughout Scripture.
Hebrews 1 is the introduction to the epistle to the Hebrews, which is the great exposition of Christ’s current priesthood, His role as our priest and advocate before the Father. If you read Hebrews 1:1–3, introductory verses, end with the statement that He has been seated at the right hand of the Father.
Hebrews 1:13 concludes with His being seated at the right hand of the Father. That opening introduction is bracketed by two statements emphasizing the current position of Christ as seated at the right hand of the Father. He is not seated on David’s throne. He is seated on the Father’s throne, and He will not be seated on His throne until He returns at the Second Coming.
The opening chapter of Hebrews is the foundation for the rest of that epistle, and it doesn’t make sense if we don’t understand Christ’s current position as seated at the right hand of the Father.
We have seen this emphasized throughout our study of Ephesians. It’s introduced in Ephesians 1:20, that after God raised Him from the dead, He seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.
It is expanded on in Ephesians 2:6, which is what we’re studying. Then Paul returns to this theme in Ephesians 4:8–11.
Christ had to ascend to heaven to send the Holy Spirit and to distribute spiritual gifts for the edification of the church. We can’t understand the purpose and function of spiritual gifts in the local church if we have a weak understanding of the session. It was necessary for Christ to ascend to heaven.
“What the Bible Teaches about the Ascension and Session of Christ” was the focus last time. Why did Christ have to ascend? We’re continuing to answer that this morning as we look at the second aspect—one of the most important aspects of the ascension—so that He could send the Holy Spirit.
Last time we looked at the background of the ascension of Christ.
And to understand, what happened to God’s plan when Jesus Christ was rejected as King and when He was then arrested and crucified?
Acts 1 is the time of the ascension. I don’t think the apostles understood exactly what would happen that day on the Mount of Olives. They had been with Jesus since His resurrection. He had been teaching and training them, but they still didn’t quite grasp everything that was happening.
At that time, they realized that Jesus hadn’t fulfilled their expectations in the sense of bringing the kingdom. The kingdom was not there. As they are gathered with the Lord on the Mount of Olives, they asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?”
Their whole thinking is still very much the Old Testament: the promise that the Messiah would come and establish His Kingdom. And that that kingdom would be a literal geophysical Kingdom centered in Jerusalem with the Messiah on the ruling throne of David. That was what they expected Jesus to provide, and it hadn’t happened.
Interestingly if you look at the life of Jesus on the earth up to the ascension, there were a lot of questions that the apostles asked. This is the last question. That is significant. This is the last question, and does Jesus answer it?
He doesn’t verbally answer it, but He gives them an answer. He leaves; He ascends to heaven. He is demonstrating to them the answer is, “No! It’s not time. I’m out of here. I’m gone. I am ascending to the Father’s right hand where I’m going to sit down.” A position not of active rulership, but a position where He is waiting as we will see.
1. The problem that the disciples and all the Jews had was that the way they interpreted the Old Testament, they expected a “one-coming” Messiah. He would come and free them from the tyranny of the Romans and then establish His Kingdom. They understood it to be a literal kingdom on the earth.
Slide 21, 22
2. Jews wanted was the crown before the cross, the glorious Messiah before the suffering Messiah.
They looked at the glories predicted of the Messiah, and they conveniently ignored the suffering of the Messiah. They wanted to have the crown before the cross, rather than the cross before the throne.
They had this clear expectation of a kingdom, so that when John, the Baptist showed up, preaching out in the wilderness, he had a specific message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
He didn’t redefine the kingdom. At no point in any of the 4 Gospels do you see a redefinition of the Kingdom. He assumed that his listeners knew exactly what he was talking about, that this was the Kingdom that was prophesied and predicted in the Old Testament.
The word “kingdom” is used in two different senses in the Scripture.
1. Used of a universal sovereign Kingdom of God.
In the Psalms, we read about them talking about God reigning. He is the Creator God. He reigns over His creation. He reigns over the universe. That is one sense in which God is said to be King. But there is a different sense in which that word is used.
Here is a dispensational timeline: creation in Eden on the far left, then the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. Then the cross here after the end of the Age of Israel, followed by the Church Age, the Tribulation, the Millennium, and into eternity.
2. In Eden, there was the Theocratic Kingdom. That word comes from theocracy—the rule of God.
God is the King over His creatures who are created in His image and likeness in the Garden of Eden. He was personally ruling, He was personally present there in the garden. After the sin of Adam and Eve, they were expelled from the garden, but the garden was still there. Paradise was still there, and this was still God’s headquarters on the earth. (That disappeared after the flood.)
When we get to Mount Sinai and the Law, God gives them descriptions for constructing the tabernacle. Inside of the tabernacle, there’s the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, and at the centerpiece of the Holy of Holies is the Ark of the Covenant.
On the Mercy Seat, the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, are two cherubs. This is stated again and again to be the throne of God, so we have another manifestation of God in the Age of Israel in the Theocratic Kingdom.
At the same time, there are prophets who predict
3. Used of a future Messianic Davidic Kingdom.
Again it is an expectation of Israel, hinted at by the Abraham Covenant. It is further developed in the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and then the New Covenant.
But something happened that was unexpected in the Old Testament: this pause—referred to as an interregnum—where there is no continuation of this theocratic Kingdom. Although God does have a presence on the earth: He indwells every believer.
This interregnum is going to end at a second advent when the Lord Jesus Christ—the Son of Man, the Son of David, the Messianic King—will come to the earth as the King of Kings and Lord of lords and establish His Kingdom on the earth.
This is why the ascension was necessary. The Millennial Kingdom will last for 1000 years, then go on into eternity in the eternal theocratic Kingdom and the new heavens and the new earth.
John’s message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When Jesus began to preach He preached, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
When He sent out His disciples, He told them not to go to the Gentiles because the message wasn’t for them, the message was for the Jews, Matthew 10:7, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Again and again, that was the message. But something happened: they offered the Kingdom, but the King was rejected. You follow this pattern in every gospel: the King is rejected. Then Christ began to teach in terms of parables to “sort of” hide the truth from those who were opposed to Him. There is a degradation of His relationship with the Jews, and they eventually crucify Him.
The ascension came after that, and its purpose has to do with this unforeseen Inter-Advent Age, the present Church Age.
John 6:62–63 Jesus said, “What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit Who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The Words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
In this first statement in John 6:62, Jesus refers to Himself with His favorite title for Himself: The Son of Man. This term comes from Daniel 7. I won’t take the time to go there; we will in the next few lessons. In his heavenly vision of the future, Daniel sees the kingdoms of man manifested as these beastly empires ruling tyrannically over mankind.
Then it comes to the end-time kingdom, during this time that God pours forth His judgment on the earth. God is pictured as the Ancient of Days, then One comes before the Ancient of Days and His throne. It is the Son of Man. He has been waiting; He’s been seated at the right hand of the Father. He requests the Kingdom, and the Father gives Him the Kingdom, and then He comes to the earth.
When Jesus said this, He was talking about the Son of Man ascending. He’s already hinting at the fact that He’s going to leave and ascend to heaven, and He’s going where He was before He came to the earth, before that first Christmas, before the first Advent. He goes back to where He had been for eternity in His Deity. He also connects to the idea of the Spirit. It’s just a very vague hint. It is not expanded upon until we get into the upper room discourse in John 16:28.
Jesus said to His disciples, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”
His presence with the Father was where He was before, and now He is going to return. We learn that He returns to sit at the right hand of the Father. But now He’s different. He is now the Son of Man. He is 100% humanity and 100% deity. He is fully God and fully man. He who sits at the right hand of the Father is now true humanity, and He is elevated to a position over the authority of all the angels and over everything in all of God’s creation.
As the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, He always had been in authority over everything, so that emphasis of His new authority is of His authority over everything as a man, as a human.
John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
It was necessary for Jesus to ascend to the Father so that He could send another Comforter—referring to Himself as the first, and One like Him, the Holy Spirit.
In fact, what we see in this Church Age is that you and I as believers in Jesus Christ are personally indwelt by God, the Holy Spirit. This is taught in several passages.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Paul says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
Some think this refers to the church because of plural pronouns, but Paul uses plural pronouns from 1 Corinthians 1 all the way through to refer to the congregation. I may say, “Y’all need to pray every day,” and I don’t mean as a group. I mean each and every one of you need to be praying every day, but because I’m addressing a group I will use the second person plural pronoun. All of these passages use the second person pronoun.
1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body—obviously he’s talking about individuals—is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
Romans 8:9, “But you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, it indeed—and he uses the first-class condition indicating ‘if and this is true’—if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Romans 8:10, “And if Christ is in you—not only are we indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, we are indwelt by the Son—if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
The first thing we see is that the ascension is necessary to send the Holy Spirit. The ascension takes place because Christ has been rejected as the King, so the Kingdom is postponed until He returns. An unexpected era or age intervenes—the Church Age, which has distinctive characteristics for each and every believer and for our spiritual life.
Therefore, we must understand this. We must learn what it means that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and what it means to walk by the Holy Spirit. That the Holy Spirit is the sine qua non, “without which, nothing” of the Christian life. He is the basis for the Christian life.
He is the One who regenerates us, He is the One who empowers us, and He is the One who enables us to live the spiritual life because it is not simply a life of morality. The spiritual life of the Church Age is a supernatural way of life that demands a supernatural presence of God the Holy Spirit enabling us and empowering us to live that spiritual life.
This is the first of several reasons why Christ had to ascend to heaven.
“Father, we are thankful that we have Your Word to tell us what happened when Jesus ascended: its significance, its purpose, His presence now at Your right hand as our Advocate and as our High Priest. That there He is praying for us as our intercessor and that He is the One who is waiting to be given the Kingdom promised in the Old Testament. He, as the Son of Man, waits for the distribution of the title to the earth so that He can return at the end of the Tribulation to defeat the forces of Satan, the kings of the earth, and to establish His Kingdom.
“Father, we pray that if there is anyone here today or anyone listening who may not understand Your free gift of salvation, that Your salvation is offered freely to one and all, and we are encouraged to come and drink freely, for there is no cost.
“We are to trust in Christ. He is the One who paid the penalty. It cost You, it cost the Son, but it costs us nothing. You provided Your Son to die on the cross and to pay for our sins in full so that all that is necessary for us is to believe and trust in Christ as our Savior, the One who died for us, who rose from the dead, and who gives us new life.
“Father, we’re thankful for the last year, we’re thankful for the presence of the Korean Church, our fellowship together, our time together as we celebrate all of the many good things You’ve done for us this last year and especially the greatest thing You’ve done for us in giving us Your Son, whose birth we celebrate at this time of year.
“Father, we close out in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”