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Did you know Christmas never ended?  In this issue we'll look at the Christ's ascension and the wonder of having our flesh in heaven.  
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The Continuing Christmas Story


If you are like Hallmark and the rest of the commercial world, you are already starting to gear up for Christmas.  You’re starting to think about the cute little baby who was the Eternal Son of God made flesh. 

But, as we baste our Thanksgiving turkeys, let us not forget that Christmas never ended

That is the point of the opening chapter of Acts.  Luke began his first book by telling us of how Christ came down to earth and took to himself a human form.  In his second installment, he kicks things off by telling us how He with this self-same body ascended into heaven. 

Luke’s very first point emphasizes the enduring nature of the incarnation.  It was not limited to a 3 or 4 year deal.  Nor did Jesus shed his human nature like a mechanic stripping off his coveralls at the end of the workday. 

Why was the ascension recorded in Scripture?  For that matter, why did Christ make his ascension a publicly witnessed event? After all, he could have just said his good-bye’s and disappeared.  Or, if he wanted some drama, he could have pulled a Lone Ranger and rode off into the sunset.

The reason is so that we would know the comforts of the continuing Christmas story. 

In the articles that follow, you will be introduced to just a few of the benefits that come from this great doctrine.

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Get Your Head in the Clouds!


To tell someone to “Get your head out of the clouds!” might be necessary.  Especially if a homeschool child is being a little slack in getting their work done.  However, the Bible tells us to do exactly the opposite.

In Colosians 2:2 Paul says, “Set your minds on things above, where Christ is.”  Paul was drawing out a direct application of Christ’s ascension.  It was to radically alter our everyday thought patterns. 

In recent years a “positive mental attitude” has become something of cliché.  Positive thinking is typically associated with televangelists and liberals who like to promote self-esteem.

The Christian though, ought to have the most positive attitude.  That’s because our minds are to be constantly dwelling on the things that are associated with Christ’s current locale.  Since he went to heaven, our thoughts should continually be caught up with the life that awaits us there.

My family is scheduled to visit Disney World over New Year’s.  As you can imagine, my kids are rather excited.  They are reading Disney books, watching Disney movies, and trying to find out all they can about the rides and entertainments  that await them. 

Suppose I had a chance to go there ahead of them.  There would be no doubt that my being their would make their brains buzz even more, especially if I sent them pictures or called them to tell them what it was like hang out with Mickey. 

My wife would probably go crazy because they would be downright fanatical about their coming vacation.

Disney is a pretty cool place, but it is a far cry from the likes of heaven.  Angels are there.  Infinite perfection is the norm.  Unending rivers of love flow through it.  The people who will be there will possess glorified bodies.  We will grow older without the pains of getting older that we experience now.

What will it be like to hear the full number of the elect join their voices together and sing praise to the Lord?  How can relationships there be so fulfilling that we will no longer need the bond of marriage?  What will our work be like without toil (or, better question, what will I do since we won’t need doctors or ministers anymore!)?

Most importantly, what will it be like to see Jesus?  To sit at His feet?  To dine at the Great Banquet with Him?  Or to have a personal conversation with Him when he happens to stop by the house?

Some of these things may never have an answer this side of heaven (and we must beware of any speculation that Scripture does not warrant!). 

Nevertheless, since this is where our beloved Savior now resides (and since we are going there too), our minds should continually be consumed with these kinds of thoughts.

Ascended into Heaven


Hollywood understands the significance of “coming back.”  It is the only proper way to end a story.  If the hero never returns, then the story is incomplete.

Imagine yourself in a fairy-tale.  A knight has gone off to bravely slay the dragon that threatens your lands and countrymen. 

Now imagine that the knight, after having taken care of the ghastly beast, takes a detour.  Instead of returning home, he buys a piece of real estate in the Florida Keys and starts laying down some roots. 

If that knight never returned home, in what kind of state would you, the citizen, be?  You’d have no clue that the dragon was really dead.  You would live in perpetual fear that it would someday re-appear. 

The only confirmation you have of complete victory is if the knight returns safely.

One of the reasons Christ ascended into heaven the way he did was for precisely this purpose.  His being lifted up before his disciples gives us the knowledge that he had indeed achieved victory of salvation.  It was a visible confirmation that he had slain our mortal foe (death) and completely conquered the infernal Dragon (Satan).

In sum, the ascension of Christ takes the resurrection one step further.  If Christ had been raised, but never gone home, we’d still be wondering if our life and homeland had been fully secured. 

With it though, we know without a shadow of doubt that eternity’s fate is secure.

An Advocate in Heaven


I teach in the prison, and (believe it or not) two of my students are actually innocent.  They were wrongfully convicted and are in the process of having their cases overturned. 

You can imagine how distressing it is for them to have been accused, convicted and sentenced.  What sorrow they must feel because they must now sit behind bars, rather than enjoying the wonder of life on the outside.

Yet, despite their dismal circumstances, these two men have one comfort.  They have lawyers who are pleading their cases.  They have hope because they have an advocate who presently stands before a judge on their behalf.

While there certainly isn't a one to one correspondence, we have a similar comfort afforded to us as Christians.  

It is true that we are not innocent.  We are dreadfully guilty!  But the one who looks to Christ in faith can have the assurance that his sins will be remitted.


That’s because Christ is our Advocate before the Father (1 Jn. 2:1).  How do we know this?  From whence comes this reassuring knowledge?  It is based on Christ’s ascension!

Just before he was taken up into heaven, Christ raised his hands to bless his disciples.  Most scholars see this as Christ pronouncing the Aaronic blessing, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord makes his face to shine upon you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

But think of the image that would have been burned into their eyes:  As Christ lifted up his hands the scars from the cross would have been in full view.  These marks were the visible guarantees that the blessing was sure.

It is quite likely that Christ went into the cloud in this posture.  (But even if he didn’t, the wounds on his feet would have been clearly observable.) 

The point Luke makes in his narrative was that Jesus came to the right hand of God bearing the marks of his atonement. 

The last glimpse we have of Christ was his becoming our advocate.  He entered the court of God presenting the rock solid evidence which ensures our acquittal: the scars of his sacrifice. 

The comfort that this affords was captured well in a hymn that Charles Wesley once wrote:

Arise, my soul, arise,
shake off your guilty fears;

The bleeding sacrifice
in my behalf appears:

Before the throne
my Surety stands,

Before the throne
my Surety stands,

My name is written on his hands.
 
Five bleeding wounds he bears,
received on Calvary;

They pour effectual prayers,
they strongly plead for me.

“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“forgive him, O forgive!" they cry,

Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

Don't Forget the Church Change!


This Sunday (Nov. 24) we will be holding our morning service at at a different location.  

We will be meeting at the Lighthouse Chapel at 10:45 am, in order to see if this might be a suitable place for our growing congregation.

Be sure to pass the word along too!


1497 Wigton Ave.
Lucas, OH 44843

Click here for directions

Do know that there are good signs to mark the way if you are coming on Rt. 39 from I 71.



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The Christmas Program Cometh!


Be sure to mark your calendars for our annual Christmas program.  It will be held on Sunday Dec. 15th in the evening.

Some of our children will be putting on a program.  But we invite others to participate in the evening's festivities too.

Songs, musicans, readings, skits, and the like are encouraged.  

If you and/or your family would like to do something, let one of our elders know.


I go to
prepare a place
for you.  

I will come again, and receive you to myself;

that where I am, there you may be also.
Jn 14:3


Join a Study /
              Start a Study!

If you are interested in further discipleship and fellowship, there are always opportunities to do so.  

A group meets each Sunday night in Ashland.  They are currently working through the book of Judges.  Contact Matt for details

Every second Saturday of the month couples go out for dinner.  Afterwards they meet to discuss a teaching.  

They are currently going through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. In the New Year they will dive into a study on marriage.

Other studies are in the mix.  So if you are interested in having one in your area, please let one of our elders know!





Evangelism Training


Every third Sunday of the month we are holding an evangelism training course prior to our morning service.  It is our hope that these videos and discussion will equip you with the knowledge and boldness to actively share your faith on a regular basis.

The classes will start at 9:30.  Booklets are available if you desire to follow up with the extra reading and homework assignments.
 

Contact Joe for more details.


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Wherefore God has highly exalted him
and
given him the name
that is above all names.

Philippians 2:9


Come Worship at Providence Church

Proclaiming the biblical standard for faith, family, and society!

Service Time:  10:30

Location:
55 Maine Street
Mifflin, OH 44805

(Directions)

Website:  www.free-reformed.net
email:  providence.web1@gmail.com


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Alas! We've Come to the End

Unfortunately, the constraints of this newsletter could not detail all the implications of Christ’s ascension.  

To be sure, we have barely scratched the surface of this rarely pondered doctrine!

For instance, we do not have time to speak of 1) the kingly nobility of Christ which this doctrine implies, 2) the sending of the Spirit which was made possible by the ascension, 3) the fact that this doctrine drives acts of humanitarian good (for his retaining human flesh puts an emphasis on the value of human life in general!), and 4) the hope we have of his continual intersession and future return.

It is our hope though that these few articles will have piqued your interested and opened up a new door for meaningful reflection.


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