Reverend Anthony R. Locke
June 05th, 2011 www.FirstPresTucker.org
at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
Ascension Sunday 2011
Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23 Ascension Sunday English Standard Version
24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,
26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
The most important institution in the Old Testament which God established between Himself and His people was the priestly offering of a blood sacrifice for the sins of His people.
King David and King Solomon who ruled in God’s name were important, but not central to the life of the Jewish people. The Prophet Samuel and Isaiah were necessary for a time, but the Jewish faith eventually continued without prophets once the Holy Scriptures were in place.
The priesthood was the most central and the most important institution that God established in covenant with His people.
Why? Because it was through the sacrifice of blood that the people of God were cleansed and sanctified into holy covenant with God.
No one finds God’s favor without the blood of a sacrifice presented on their behalf.
Your blood does not qualify you to stand holy in God’s presence. Our sins are washed away only by the vicarious blood of another who takes our sin and pays the wages of sin which is death.
Jesus is the Lamb who spills His blood for our sin. Jesus is the priest who offers His own blood to God as payment for our sins that we might be forgiven.
And no one finds God’s favor without the blood of Jesus sacrificed, accepted and presented to God on their behalf.
Which is why the ascension is so critical to our salvation. We cannot be saved without Jesus becoming our High Priest before the Father. Until Jesus presents His blood to God the Father on our behalf, we are not saved.
This is the work Jesus performs in the ascension.
Our salvation rests only on the work of Jesus. The Gospel is presented to sinners on a table with three legs.
The Gospel presentation is supported by the Cross, the Resurrection and the Ascension.
On the cross Jesus suffered in the dark storm of God’s wrath against sin. Jesus became sin and hung as a curse between heaven and earth so as to bear the guilt of our transgressions. God the Father poured all the eternal-fiery wrath of Hell itself on His most blessed, only Begotten Son. And on the cross Jesus paid a debt we could never pay.
And believers find God’s favor through the blood of Jesus sacrificed on their behalf.
The Gospel stands on Cross and the Resurrection.
In the resurrection the Gospel promises are proven to be true. Jesus didn’t die for His own sins or he would have remained under the power of death awaiting a Savior. The proof that the Father’s wrath on sinners was appeased is found only in the resurrection. By the resurrection the Father affirms that Jesus was sinless and undeserving Hell’s torments. By the resurrection we have proof that the sin of Adam did not stain the soul of Jesus for He was not conceived by Joseph but by the Holy Spirit. By the resurrection we are raised together with Christ into a new creation and a new life.
The resurrection proves these and many more central truths of the Gospel.
And believers find God’s favor through the blood of Jesus accepted on their behalf.
The Gospel stands on Cross, the Resurrection and the Ascension.
We have an unfinished salvation until Jesus presents His blood on our behalf as the Great High Priest.
It’s the most important work within the covenantal institutions that God established between Himself and His people. And Jesus has not secured our salvation, the Gospel table cannot stand, cannot support any weight, until Jesus ascends into heaven and presents His blood on our behalf.
Jesus is the fullness and fulfillment of the images and shadows of redemption in the Old Testament sacrificial system. The Mosaic Law and ceremonies didn’t take away sin. Only Jesus can do that. Shedding the blood of an innocent animal didn’t restore a lost soul to God. Jesus does. And presenting shed blood in worship didn’t open the floodgates of God’s favor and blessing. But the blood of Jesus can and still does today.
That’s the power of the ascension.
Verse 24, For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. The payment for sin was secured by the cross, proven to be in the possession of Jesus by the resurrection, and offered as payment for sin when He ascends into the heavenly temple to offer payment to secure eternal life for His people.
Verse 25, Jesus doesn’t do this over and over again every time we sin. The Roman Catholic teaches that in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the Mass, that Jesus is sacrificed over and over again for our sins. The Bible does not teach that.
Verse 25+26 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
If Jesus hadn’t died then we would all be sinners falling into the hands of an angry God. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. But just as Jesus was not resurrected to judgment, so we too will not stand in judgment before God if the blood of Jesus is offered to the Father on our behalf.
28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Jesus is coming again to glorify His people and take us to heaven forever.
If you are placing your faith in the threefold work of Jesus, then you should not fear God’s wrath. All of that wrath was poured out on Jesus on the cross. And in the ascension, Jesus presented His blood on our behalf that we might be protected from the damnation of Hell fire.
Herein lies the abiding power of the ascension. Jesus is a priest forever FOR US.
Unlike the spilled blood of Abel which cried out for justice and judgment on the first murderer Cain, the blood of Jesus will forever cry out for our salvation.
It would be unjust for God to condemn and kill Jesus vicariously for us, and then also send us to Hell for our sin. That would be like charging twice the amount of money.
Imagine I walk into Sears and purchase a big screen television for your family. I give you the receipt and invite you to go pick it up. Faith is when you walk into that store and expect to walk out with a television based on my pre-payment.
Faith in Jesus is expecting to walk into heaven based on the pre-payment of Jesus and receive life everlasting.
But if God then asks for a second payment, then God would be unjust.
The blood of Jesus calls for justice, but not judgment. And justice is us walking out the door with a television at Jesus’ expense.
Sadly, many people just stare into the store, with hearts made cold by unbelief, feeling bitter that they can never afford a big screen T.V., not willing to get one free by faith in Jesus.
And every time we sin, Jesus leans over to the Father and says, “My blood covered that sin too.”
And His blood will be presented on our behalf, cancelling out the debt of our sin, forever and ever and ever.
His blood will never lose it’s power.
It opens the door for our acceptance before the Father and gives us confidence that there isn’t any wrath left against us. The blood of Jesus assures us that there is no condemnation held in reserve for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh . . . do not feel unconfident when entering the presence of God the Father! To feel unworthy is to think little of the value of the blood of Jesus. Be confident in His power to save!
He will forever present His blood before God the Father on our behalf.
21 we have a great priest over the house of God, Jesus is a High Priest for the whole family of God. You are part of that family by faith in His Son. The blood of the Only Begotten Son of God will speak forever that the bride of Christ is washed, purified and glorified.
Therefore, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus let us draw near
Don’t stay a stranger to the One who loves you more than you can ever know. Don’t delay your prayers. Don’t stop attending church. Don’t leave off reading the Bible. Run to the God who loves you.
with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (that’s our baptism)
Verse 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
God never reneges on a promise. His word is as sure as His bond. The bad stuff happened to Jesus on the cross. The flames of Hell will not touch us. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
In this life we will suffer. This world is stained by sin. But a better life is coming.
We will ascend to meet Jesus in the clouds. We will be united with friends, departed spouses and children who are already enjoying the goodness of our heavenly Father.
We will arise. We will meet Jesus and the saints in the air, and in this blessed state we will forever live with the Lord.
We are safe in Jesus. We are forever washed clean by His blood. It was presented to the Father on our behalf.
We can’t get kicked out of heaven. The blood of Jesus wouldn’t allow it.
That’s the power of the ascension. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.