Today’s post is by Nate Palmer. Nate is the author of Servanthood as Worship: The Privilege of Life in a Local Church (Cruciform Press, 2010). You can follow him on Twitter at @palmernate.
Despite being one of the earliest and oldest of Christian holidays, the Ascension Day is nowhere to be found on the modern church calendar. It doesn’t even have its own hallmark card section or a catchy mascot like the Easter bunny. No one passes candy nor does anybody hang decorations. Each year, the once revered day passes by without any fanfare or remembrance. Ascension Day has vanished from our calendars and our consciousness. R.C. Sproul writes, “The significance of the Ascension is often overlooked in the modern church… Most churches, however, make little or no mention of the Ascension.”1 I not am arguing for another reason to eat at an overprice buffet, but the exclusion of the day Christ ascended into Heaven in our calendars is a symptom of much more dire ailment—an exclusion of its importance to the Christian life.
In today’s Christian culture, Christ’s birth, life and death are often the main in not sole focus in our celebrations, preaching, and publishing. Theologian Louis Berkhof makes observation that: “Even in evangelical circles the impression is often given, though perhaps without intending it, that the work accomplished by the Savior on earth was far more important than the services which He now renders from Heaven.” This is not to say that we shouldn’t study the amazing and life altering truths of Christ’s earthly ministry. Nor is to deny that all Christians should thoroughly seep themselves in their application. Yet modern churches unevenly focus in on these doctrines at the expense of Christ’s heavenly ministry – his ascent into heaven (Ascension) and sitting at the right hand of God (Session).
Often, Christians have a lopsided view of the work of Christ. We fail to see the complete spectrum of the entire work of Christ which includes both his humiliation and exaltation. A.W. Pink, in his commentary on Hebrews, writes, “There are many Christians who dwell too much on the crucifixion of Jesus in a one-sided way. We cannot dwell too much on the glorious truth that Jesus was crucified for our sins. Yet it is not on the crucifixion, but on Christ the Lord, that our faith rests…The ultimate object of his death upon the cross was His resurrection and ascension.”2 This unbalance has left many modern evangelicals with an incomplete view of the Savior. Consequently, this has given rise to an unbalanced gospel. [Read more...]