The Ascension of Jesus into heaven is a neglected doctrine. In most gospel presentations I’ve heard- the life, death, resurrection, and even the return of Jesus are explained. But what is he doing now? Why did Jesus leave in the first place? Tim Chester and Jonny Woodrow put it this way, “The ascension seems a bad strategy. It removes the key piece of evidence that substantiates the claims of Christianity. It’s as if our best player by far was substituted just as the game was beginning.”
But it’s not a bad strategy. In fact, without the ascended Christ- we have no salvation. We have no reigning King. We have no ultimate purpose as people dwelling on this earth. So what does the Ascension mean for us? It means far more than one little blog post can explain, but here are 3 key things and 3 key texts
The Ascension Means We Have a Secure Salvation
Hebrews 9:24-26 shows us that Jesus ascends to the Father as our High Priest
 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.  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. (ESV)
All of those animal sacrifices and temple instructions in the Old Testament weren’t just arbitrary rules for an old age, they were instituted by God to show us the priestly work of Jesus. The Ascension of Christ to the presence of God is the finish-line of our salvation. Christ has run the race. But what good is a race if you don’t finish! The ascension is God the Father receiving and accepting Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. We have salvation because Christ has paid the price with his life. And that salvation is secure because Christ will never leave his position.
The Ascension Means We Have a Sovereign King
Ephesians 1:19–23 Paul prays that the church would know
 …what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might  that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,  far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,  which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Notice how the truth of Christ’s Ascension to the right hand of the Father is meant to be an encouragement to Christians. His authority is above all others. His authority is eternal. We trust in our sovereign King now and look forward with hope to the return of the King.
The Ascension Means We Have a Sure Mission
What do we do in the meantime as we await his return? Right before his Ascension into heaven, the disciples ask Jesus when he is going to inaugurate the Kingdom. He responds…
“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7–8)
That’s our task. Filled with the Spirit, we bear witness to the reigning King as we await his return. The mission is sure because he is with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
Chester and Woodrow are again helpful here:
“We see the reign of Christ wherever His Word is proclaimed and trusted. If your friend responds with faith to an evangelistic course then Christ’s reign has been extended. If you talk about how you become a Christian with a colleague at work then Christ’s reign is being announced. If someone is baptized then Christ’s reign has taken visible form in their life. If you make a choice to obey Christ’s command in the face of temptation or you hold on to the promises of Christ in the face of adversity then Christ’s reign is present history. Your church is the place in your neighborhood where Christ’s reign can be seen and experienced.”
What an encouragement The Ascension is! May we live by faith in him alone for salvation, in submission to him as our king, and empowered by the Spirit to take this message of the gospel to this world as we await his return.
More Resources on The Ascension: