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His Ascension and Our Union
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"And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."
(Luke 24:51)

We have no corresponding experience to the events in Our Lord's life after the Transfiguration. From then onwards Our Lord's life was altogether vicarious. Up to the time of the Transfiguration He had exhibited the normal perfect life of a man; from the Transfiguration onwards---Gethsemane, the Cross, the Resurrection---everything is unfamiliar to us. His Cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His Resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to any man, and by His Ascension Our Lord enters heaven and keeps the door open for humanity.

On the Mount of Ascension the Transfiguration is completed. If Jesus had gone to heaven from the Mount of Transfiguration, He would have gone alone; He would have been nothing more to us than a glorious Figure. But He turned His back on the glory, and came down from the Mount to identify Himself with fallen humanity.

The Ascension is the consummation of the Transfiguration. Our Lord does now go back into His primal glory; but He doesn't go back simply as Son of God; He goes back to God as Son of Man as well as Son of God. There's now freedom of access for anyone---straight to the very throne of God by the Ascension of the Son of Man. As Son of Man Jesus Christ deliberately limited omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience in Himself. Now they're His in absolute full power. As Son of Man Jesus Christ has all power at the throne of God. He's King of kings and Lord of lords from the day of His Ascension until now!

True Repentance

There's a lot of confused preaching these days regarding forgiveness. In too many places, respondents who want to become Christians often quietly slip up their hands to acknowledge their need and privately pray to God for forgiveness. Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this “cheap grace”. He wrote, “Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of the church. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjack’s wares (a peddler’s inferior merchandise). Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.”

Another preacher calls this “easy believism”. Sadly, it seems little is said anymore about true repentance. Repentance is “a turning from wickedness and dead works toward God and His glory, eternal life, and knowledge of the truth”.

One time a Sunday school teacher asked a class what's the meaning of the word, “repentance.” A little boy raised his hand and said, “It is being sorry for your sins.” Before the teacher could acknowledge his answer, a little girl also raised her hand and said, “It is more than that. It is being sorry enough to quit!”

An old child’s hymn states, “Repentance is to leave, the sins we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve, by doing so no more.” This's so true. In fact, the meaning of the word, “repentance” from the Greek (metanoia) is “change of mind” or “turning from sin and turning to God.” If one doesn't repent of their sin, they're not genuine in seeking salvation for, as Corrie ten Boom has said, “An unrepented sin is a continued sin.”

Author Gordon MacDonald stated, “Repentance is not basically a religious word. It comes from a culture where people were essentially nomadic and lived in a world with no maps or street signs. It’s easy to get lost walking through the desert. You become aware that the countryside is strange. You finally say to yourself, ‘I’m going in the wrong direction.’ That’s the first act of repentance. The second act of repentance is to go in an alternate direction. It implies that you not only do this but you admit it to your companions.”

True repentance is never easy to do. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Fallen man's not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement; he's a rebel who must lay down his arms. This process of surrender, this movement full speed astern is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It's something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we've been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.”

Let's determine what the Word of God says about true repentance:

First, God commands it: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

Second, repentance is for sinners: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5: 32).

Third, repentance is brought about by godly sorrow: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance” (2 Corinthians 7: 10).

Fourth, it brings spiritual life: “hath God also granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).

Fifth, Repentance obliterates sin: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3: 19a).

Sixth, repentance refreshes “… the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3: 19b).

Seventh, deeds prove repentance. “do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20).

Eighth, it causes rejoicing in heaven: “joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7).

Ninth, the penalty for not repenting is death: “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

The Prodigal son is a primary example in the Bible of the process of true repentance. After he had unjustly received his inheritance and squandered it foolishly on sinful pleasures and was reduced to feeding hogs, which was anathema (abomination) to the Jew, the Bible says, “he came to himself” (Luke 15:17a).

His first step was Realization. He had to admit he'd done wrong. No one else could do it for him. His next step was Remorse; “And the son said unto him, “Father, I've sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son” (Luke 15:21). He had to get to the place where he was willing to humble himself and remorsefully ask for forgiveness, both from God and from his family.

His final step was Redirection. “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry” (Luke 15: 22-24). He had to take the first two steps to reach the third and that process is necessary for everyone who wants to achieve true repentance!

Acts 3: 19 tells us that “times of refreshing” will come for those who truly repent. Now what does that mean? This phrase in the Greek (anapsuxis) means, “Recovery of breath.” It denotes rest and deliverance.

The Jews who were listening to Peter’s sermon knew this phrase well. It's used by the Septuagint in the Old Testament nine times and refers to the era when the Messiah would come and bestow His blessings upon all of God’s people as a “time of refreshing”.

According to Barnes Notes, “The idea, however, that the times of the Messiah would be times of rest, ease, and prosperity, was a favorite one among the Jews, one instance being found in Isaiah 28:12, ‘To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing,’ “They anticipated the times of the gospel as a period when they would have rest from their enemies, a respite from the evils of oppression and war, and great national prosperity and peace. Under the idea that the happy times of the Messiah had come, Peter now addresses them, and assures them that they might obtain pardon and peace.”

No matter what one’s age, they can still repent. One person said, “Late repentance is seldom true but true repentance is never late.” If any of us are unconverted, let's take the wise advice of our Lord, repent and be converted. It'll be the best decision we'll ever make!

What Do We See In Our Clouds?

"Behold, He cometh with clouds."
(Revelation 1:7)

In the Bible clouds are always connected with God. Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to dispute the rule of God. It's by those very clouds that the Spirit of God's teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we'd have no faith. "The clouds are but the dust of our Father's feet." The clouds are a sign that He's there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow and bereavement and suffering are the clouds that come along with God! God can't come near without clouds, He doesn't come in clear shining.

It's not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials: through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child---God and my own soul, other people are shadows. Until other people become shadows, clouds and darkness will be mine every now and again. Is the relationship between ourselves and God getting simpler than it's ever been? There's a connection between the strange providences of God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God's character, we don't yet know Him.

"They feared as they entered the cloud . . ." Is there anyone "save Jesus only" in our cloud? If so, it'll get darker; we must get to the place where there's "no one anymore except Jesus only."