09 – “I ascend to My Father”

09 – “I ascend to My Father”2017-07-10T01:07:00+00:00

Read the Missionary Report
from Southeast Asia below

Sabbath, August 26, 2017

“The most precious fact to the disciples in the ascension of Jesus was that He went from them into heaven in the tangible form of their divine Teacher….

“The disciples not only saw the Lord ascend, but they had the testimony of the angels that He had gone to occupy His Father’s throne in heaven. The last remembrance that the disciples were to have of their Lord was as the sympathizing Friend, the glorified Redeemer. Moses veiled his face to hide the glory of the law which was reflected upon it, and the glory of Christ’s ascension was veiled from human sight. The brightness of the heavenly escort and the opening of the glorious gates of God to welcome Him were not to be discerned by mortal eyes.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1053.

Time to return to the Father

1. What did Jesus say twice in His prayer to His Father in Gethsemane? What moment was now approaching?

John 17:11, 13 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are…. 13And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 

“Christ had finished the work that was given Him to do. He had gathered out those who were to continue His work among men. And He said: ‘I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.’ ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one;… I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.’ John 17:10, 11, 20-23.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 24.

2. What happened as Jesus was speaking to His disciples about things pertaining to the kingdom of God? What happened as they watched?

Acts 1:3, 9 To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God…. 9And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 

“Jesus spoke these words just before His ascension to heaven; for the record says, ‘When He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.’ These were the last words of the Saviour to His disciples, and in them we see the commission which was given them, and the work that they were to do. They were to be witnesses unto Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth. The very same charge has been given to us as was given to them, and how desirous should we be to fulfill our Lord’s commission to save those that are lost and to glorify God in the world.” –Review and Herald, April 19, 1892.

 “Christ came to earth as God in the guise of humanity. He ascended to heaven as the King of saints. His ascension was worthy of His exalted character. He went as one mighty in battle, a conqueror, leading captivity captive. He was attended by the heavenly host, amid shouts and acclamations of praise and celestial song.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1053.

Departure and blessing

3. What was Jesus doing as He departed from them? Following His example, what should we do when we say good-by to the members and congregations of brothers and sisters?

Luke 24:50, 51 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 

 “When the time came for Christ to ascend to His Father, He led the disciples out as far as Bethany. Here He paused, and they gathered about Him. With hands outstretched in blessing, as if in assurance of His protecting care, He slowly ascended from among them. ‘It came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.’ Luke 24:51. 

“While the disciples were gazing upward to catch the last glimpse of their ascending Lord, He was received into the rejoicing ranks of heavenly angels.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 32.

4. What did the disciples who witnessed this triumphant scene realize? How did they express their faith in Him as He said farewell and ascended into the cloud?

Luke 24:52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

“They now saw that the prophecies had been literally fulfilled…. The divine Teacher was indeed all that He claimed to be. The prophecies relating to Christ and His mission were no longer a mystery to His disciples, but a living reality; and as they told their experience to the world, as they exalted the love of God, the divine assurance which they manifested was an evidence to men that they had received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Men’s hearts were melted and subdued. The promise, ‘Greater works than these shall ye do; because I go unto My Father,’ was fulfilled. Christ, the Messiah, had come. The Saviour of the world had died, that all might have life, eternal life. It was no more a matter of faith with them that He was a Teacher sent of God. They realized that although He was clothed with humanity, He was of divine origin.” –Review and Herald, June 18, 1895.

Jesus’ ascension and promise to return

5. Who stayed and explained to the disciples what would happen after the Saviour was gone? To what event did these messengers direct their attention? 

Acts 1:10, 11 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven

 “Christ had ascended to heaven in the form of humanity. The disciples had beheld the cloud receive Him. The same Jesus who had walked and talked and prayed with them; who had broken bread with them; who had been with them in their boats on the lake; and who had that very day toiled with them up the ascent of Olivet–the same Jesus had now gone to share His Father’s throne. And the angels had assured them that the very One whom they had seen go up into heaven, would come again even as He had ascended. He will come ‘with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.’ ‘The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise….’ Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16…. Thus will be fulfilled the Lord’s own promise to His disciples: ‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.’ John 14:3. Well might the disciples rejoice in the hope of their Lord’s return.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 832.

On the throne of glory

6. After His great struggle and His victory over sin and death, where was the Lord Jesus seated? What position did He receive?

Mark 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

Philippians 2:8-11 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

“The glory of the Father was revealed in the Son; Christ made manifest the character of the Father. He was so perfectly connected with God, so completely embraced in His encircling light, that He who had seen the Son, had seen the Father. His voice was as the voice of God. Mark Christ’s prayer before His crucifixion: ‘And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.’ ” –Review and Herald, January 7, 1890.

Preaching and divine confirmation

7. No longer blessed by Jesus’ physical presence, what kept the disciples from being hindered by doubt or disorientation? What experiences did they make immediately?

Acts 1:12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. 

Luke 24:53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. 

Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. 

“The disciples no longer had any distrust of the future. They knew that Jesus was in heaven, and that His sympathies were with them still. They knew that they had a friend at the throne of God, and they were eager to present their requests to the Father in the name of Jesus. In solemn awe they bowed in prayer, repeating the assurance, ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.’ John 16:23, 24. They extended the hand of faith higher and higher, with the mighty argument, ‘It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.’ Romans 8:34. And Pentecost brought them fullness of joy in the presence of the Comforter, even as Christ had promised.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 833.

For additional study

“From that scene of heavenly joy, there comes back to us on earth the echo of Christ’s own wonderful words, ‘I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.’ John 20:17. The family of heaven and the family of earth are one. For us our Lord ascended, and for us He lives. ‘Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.’ Hebrews 7:25.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 835.

“The resurrection and ascension of our Lord is a sure evidence of the triumph of the saints of God over death and the grave, and a pledge that heaven is open to those who wash their robes of character and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. Jesus ascended to the Father as a representative of the human race, and God will bring those who reflect His image to behold and share with Him His glory.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 286.

* * *

Missionary Report
from Southeast Asia

To be read on Sabbath, August 26, 2017

The Special Sabbath School Offering
will be gathered on Sabbath, September 2, 2017

“Between the Silk Route and the Spice Trade Route” 

“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 8:11.

Recent archaeological discoveries are revealing that the commerce of the great ancient monarchies was far more extensive than scholars imagined. The immigration of Jews into China is believed to have taken place about B.C. 200. Many believe that the people of China and the Oriental countries heard the gospel from the apostle Thomas. But there are also Bible researchers who believe that Barnabas traveled with Thomas and then proceeded on to China. It is evident that these disciples followed the traders on the two main trade routes; namely, the “Spice Trade Route” and the “Silk Route.” Nestorian Christian missionaries are believed to have been in China around A.D. 500. Adventist history shows that Abram LaRue was the first missionary to China, performing self-supporting service in Hong Kong from 1888 until his death in 1903. In 1902, Elder J.N. Andrews arrived in China and further developed the work in Hong Kong.

The International Missionary Society began working in many countries of the Orient about a decade ago, with the exception of the Philippines, where the church has been in existence for many decades. There are now many believers in the People’s Republic of China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia; and interested souls are studying for baptism in Cambodia, Laos, Hong Kong, and Mongolia. There are also openings in Singapore, Macau, and the Republic of China (Taiwan).

The majority religions in these countries are Buddhism and Confucianism. In addition, there are many indigenous religions that are practiced, while atheism is very strong among the younger generation. The industrial and technology revolutions brought tremendous changes to the lifestyles of the people. It is a great challenge to convert busy professionals to any religion because of their tight work schedules.

Faithful brethren from the Philippines have accepted the challenge to advance God’s work into many of the Asian countries, and souls have already been baptized. The Bible worker in Vietnam is traveling across the border to visit Cambodia and is preparing people for baptism. Brethren in Malaysia are advancing toward the main cities. The work is opening in Thailand, with one baptism as of this writing and many interested souls longing for spiritual light. The Chinese brethren have engaged in missionary outreach in Mongolia and some parts of North Korea. The South Korean brethren are also putting forth efforts to spread the gospel in North Korea. So far, one soul from North Korea has been baptized. The believers in Japan are making plans to extend the work to the main cities, too.

Dear brothers and sisters, we need your prayers and support to carry out the gospel commission in the Asian countries. Funds are needed to produce literature in different languages and to meet the expenses of travel, renting and furnishing places of worship, complying with visa requirements, meeting governmental regulations, etc. Your generous contributions for next week’s Special Sabbath School Offering will strengthen and give power to the light of the gospel that is shining in this part of the globe. God bless you.

–Douglas Francis
General Conference Treasurer and Asian Division Leader

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