‘The Ascension: Humanity in the Presence of God’, by Tim Chester and Jonny Woodrow. Published by Christian Focus, Fearn, Ross-shire, UK, and WEST Porterbrook, Sheffield, UK. First published in 2013. ISBNs 978-1-78191-144-0 (paperback); 978-1-78191-210-2 (ePub); 978-1-78191-212-6 (Mobi). 94 pages.
View the publisher’s description page HERE.
There are few books that specifically focus on Jesus’s ascension. And, in fact, His ascension is something about which we may give little thought; it may simply seem like a postscript to His life here on Earth. But it’s a vital, ongoing part of His saving work for us. As the authors point out, “Atonement was not complete until Jesus stood before God on our behalf.” Jesus is our ascended Priest and King, our ‘Man in Heaven’ at our Father’s right hand. A Member of our human race with a glorified physical human body is now in God’s presence, enthroned in absolute authority over Heaven and Earth! And we, God’s people, are seated with Him there in heavenly places. We share His rule over Heaven and Earth.
This remarkable little book will likely transform the way you think of Jesus’s ascension. It’s packed with insights drawn from across the whole Bible, communicated clearly and compellingly. Newer believers through to seasoned Bible scholars will find profit here. The reader will come away with a richer understanding of Jesus’ life and ministry on Earth and now in Heaven. And they’ll see more clearly the momentous significance Jesus’s ascension has for their Christian life here and now – and for their destiny in the world to come.
Perhaps the authors’ greatest achievement is to set the Ascension squarely into its context in the whole of God’s redemptive plan from creation to the new creation. For example, they link Jesus’s ascension to Moses’ ascension of Mount Sinai and the sacrifices in the Tabernacle; to Daniel’s vision of the four beasts and the coming of the Son of Man and the Kingdom of God; to Jesus’s life as recorded by Luke; to the local church’s congregational worship; and to the Church’s global mission.
And the Ascension inevitably raises questions. Where exactly is Jesus now? Jesus is in heaven, yet He’s present with His people. We live here on Earth, yet we’re seated with Him in the heavenly realms. How does this all work in our universe of space and time? Where exactly is heaven and how does it relate to our own world? And what happens when Jesus returns to Earth at the end of the age? The authors guide us through this mysterious terrain. They comment, “Even on the final day, when Jesus does come to earth, He does not leave heaven behind. . . . . Instead, He brings heaven with Him to create a new heaven and a new earth. He does not leave heaven to collect us and take us back to heaven. He brings heaven to earth.”
And what has Jesus’s ascension done for us? Our calling and destiny is to be God’s royal family, made in His image to rule over His creation. The authors explain that the ascended Jesus has realised this destiny: “The ascension of Jesus is the foretaste of the ascension of a new humanity to our royal status.” And through His ascension, He has secured that destiny for every one of God’s people: “Those in Christ will . . . be what we were meant to be and what we were born to be.”
Jonny Woodrow is the Associate Director of Porterbrook Seminary and part of the leadership team of The Crowded House church planting network. Tim Chester is an author, pastor of The Crowded House, Sheffield and a leader of The Crowded House church planting network.