Thursday, May 17, 2007
The Ascended Christ and the Preacher
The Gospel accounts of the Ascension contain an unmistakeable link between Christ's ascension and the going forth of His apostles to preach the Gospel to all the world. We are told that He sits at the right hand of God, and we are told that they went forth everywhere preaching.
Two things may be taken from this. First, that every time a preacher proclaims the Gospel, the ascended Christ becomes manifest. Like Stephen, the hearer beholds Christ at the right hand of God. The authority of the preachers is in the Gospel they preach, and that authority is absolute, for Christ said, "All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth." Not only, therefore, shall every knee bow at the name of Jesus, but every heart should also give place to this proclamation. To put the matter simply, there is no excuse for sleeping in or playing golf when you belong in the place where the King in His glory becomes manifest.
Secondly, the phenomenon we call "preaching" is something germane to the New Testament. Although prophets spoke in the name of the Lord, and even King Solomon is called "the Preacher," in Ecclesiastes, these must all be seen as tokens or foreshawings of that which is accomplished in the coming of Christ. In Him is all the fulness of the godhead, bodily. Therefore in the preaching of Him is manifested all the fulness of God, whereas formerly this was only foreshadowed. This, in short, is what the New Testament is all about. It is about fulfillment, accomplishment, and the finishing of the grand story of the redemption of the world. This story is what preaching is. Any "preacher" who does not make this story the sum and substance of his own words is not really preaching at all. From such imposters we Christians must flee, for they preach only themselves, and their god is their belly.
The royal, divine majesty of the Man Jesus Christ on His eternal throne requires the attendance of every man, woman, and child at the hearing of His Holy Gospel, proclaimed from the lips of His called and ordained preachers.