Thursday, May 9, 2013
Ascension Day Is Institutional Church Day
Ephesians 4:11-13 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ….”
Today is the Institutional Church Day… or perhaps more commonly known as Ascension Day. This is the day the Christian Church has historically marked as the day Christ ascended up into heaven. One can and should read of this in Acts 1:1-11 (if not now when?).
From the lack of attention this “holy” day receives from the Church (let alone the World), we might suppose that it’s not actually that important. Even religious calendars often fail to include reference to it. However, if we assume that what the World says and does is generally wrong and the opposite of what Biblical Christianity should say and do, we should probably take note.
In Ephesians 4:7-8 we’re told, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”
It might be a little hard to see but the flow of thought is clear. Christ suffered and died for the sins of his people. He rose victorious on Easter morning. Having prepared and taught his apostles for 40 days, he returns to heaven and sends the promised Holy Spirit to establish, build and inhabit the New Testament Church. This Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church on Pentecost Sunday.
The question then becomes, ‘How has He chosen to do this?” Well, this is what Ephesians 4:11 is talking about. “He Himself gave officers (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) to establish the New Testament Church. The Apostle and Prophets laid the foundation of biblical truth (see Ephesians 2:19-20). Their role was unique in that they were inspired by God write the New Testament Scriptures. As the New Testament unfolds we see God continues to call and use godly men to lead and care for his flock. These leaders are identified by various names: pastors, elders, bishops, elders, teachers, evangelists and deacons.
All these have the responsibility of caring for church of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are told to shepherd, feed, watch, and oversee the congregations of our Lord. This they do primarily by teaching and preaching the Holy Scriptures (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Timothy 4:1-4.
So, Ascension Day really is the Institutional Church Day. Christ’s Kingdom is REAL. It is manifest (seen) wherever God calls and gathers His People together by His Spirit and Word. Jesus Christ is the Only Head of His Church. His Word is the sole authority by which Spiritual Truth is known. Not every assembly or gathering that calls itself Church or Christian is true. Christ’s Church will be built on the only true foundation (remember Ephesians 2:19-20)… the Truth of the Word of God.
The Faith has been once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). It has been boldly proclaimed and clearly taught throughout history. The Ancient creeds and historic confessions of Christianity demonstrate a continuity of true and living faith throughout history. The Apostle Paul warns the Galatians and all churches that if anyone comes to you and preaches any other Gospel or message than what he had taught (and wrote) to them… even if it’s an Angel from heaven, you should not listen. They are accursed--damned (Galatians 1:8,9). The Scriptures are the only sure foundation for spiritual truth.