Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ascension: The Promise of the Spirit

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 8:37-39)
This coming Sunday is Ascension Sunday, the seventh in the Easter season and the last before Pentecost. The glorification of Jesus is His ascension into heaven, and it is a very important part of our salvation: Jesus died on the cross for our sins; He was resurrected for our victory; but in His ascension, which happened 40 days after His resurrection, He took His place on the throne of heaven, where He rules and reigns forevermore. His kingdom is now being established on earth, even as He taught His disciples to pray, “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven!”

But what does this have to do with the promise of the Holy Spirit? The answer is that Jesus could not give us His Spirit as long as He was still on this earth in bodily form. For at the Last Supper, He said,
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. (John 16:7)
Before He ascended, He told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem:
Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:49)

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now … You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-5, 8)
The baptism of the Holy Spirit and the endowment of power from heaven are the rivers of living water Jesus talked about. They spring forth from the inner man to manifest the kingdom of God in the earth. They are the sign that King Jesus now reigns on His throne and His kingdom is breaking forth into all the world.

If you believe in Jesus, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit belongs now to you, for the King is on His throne and the Promise of the Father has been fulfilled. If you would like to experience the power of God in your life and see it change the world, pray this prayer:

Father, I receive Your Spirit, and I welcome the rivers of living water into my life. Let them flow from me to manifest Your kingdom, Your power and Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.