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Sermon Series

 

August 17, 2014 AD, by Pastor Ben Willis

The Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47 [NLTse]

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Sermon – Reunion
Koinonia is a Greek word that is important to understanding this famous passage from Acts. When we hear that, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship,” that’s koinonia. That “all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had,” that’s koinonia. And the entire passage, describing these first disciples lives together is a most wonderful picture and definition of koinonia.

Koinonia is a word that has to do with sharing, like when we are joint-owners of something with others, and yet koinonia has no place for those looking to selfishly get but, even when we have brought less to the relationship or partnership or community than others, koinonia is that attitude of will and determination that is always seeking to generously give: “I don’t have as much as others, but what do I have that I can give?”
Koinonia speaks of relationships, like when Simon Peter, James, and John were said to be “partners” – koinonia – because of their fishing business (Luke 5:10): Each actively contributing to the success and vitality of the whole, as well as sharing the burdens and the costs, as well.
Marriage is a koinonia-for-life where a husband and wife have all things – even their bodies – in common. And yet the marriage bond itself can also be spoken of as koinonia since it is the common interests of all that make up the couple’s common life hold husbands and wives together. It is when man and women lose their common interests and when they stop needing each other that koinonia weakens and marriages die.
Koinonia produces shared joys and pains, and opportunites for further and deeper sharing and giving, which continue to be acts of koinonia that strengthen the koinonia.

Russ Cohen once told me that redwoods – you know, the giant trees of northern California – have very shallow root systems, and how miraculous it is that they are able to withstand the powerful storms that come against them in that part of the world. But they stand firm and they stand gloriously tall because, although their roots do not go deep they go out and intertwine themselves amongst the roots of the other redwoods around them. The roots of redwoods bind them together. To make one fall, all must fall with it. Yet what happens is that when one is rocked and shaken the others hold it fast. And that is koinonia.

In the koinonia Christ has established with us, what is mine is yours and what is yours is mine, and all that is Christ’s is ours. My strength in your times of weakness, and your strength in my times, and Christ around us holding us steady. Our shared purposes and interests and values in Him bind us together in a weave of relationships and mutual responsibility and accountability for the benefit of us all. Knowing that the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of each will eventually doom the whole, our sins and brokenness are also shared, koinonia. And so healing and restoration are everyone’s shared responsibility and earnestly sought for all. For what benefits you benefits me, and what benefits me benefits you, and the riches that are ours in Christ benefitting us all. All for one, and one for all!
Eighteen years ago this church called me to be its pastor. I was fresh out of seminary and this church had just gone through some very difficult times.

I came to the church as someone very demonstrative of my faith. At that time First Presbyterian as a whole was not so demonstrative. I was a hand-raiser and a prayer-out-louder, and I encouraged people to raise their hands and pray out loud with me, if they so desired. I invited elders to pray instead of me during those times around church life when typically the pastor would pray. I would sometimes rock in my pew as I prayed and I would sometimes close my eyes and move with the music when we were singing various hymns. (Which I continue to do to this day which is why I’m not always the best person to be holding the clicker since sometimes I can be closing my eyes and worshiping and not realize that I’ve let us get a couple of slides behind. So anybody out there who wants to lead the “clicker ministry” please let me know.)

Soon, others around the congregation began raising their hands during different hymns and began rocking back and forth in their pews and moving to the music with me. And still others who did likewise visited the church and stayed when they saw it was welcome here.

Soon, different ones around the church began raising the idea of having to two different Worship Services: One Service for those who were more formal and reflective and a different Service for those who were more freeform and expressive.

Milford, Pike County, and our congregation were all really growing at that time, and although we didn’t need two Services (the Sanctuary was full but not packed), even so, we were at a place where we believed the Lord was calling us to move in that direction. So we began the two Services the Sunday after Easter, 2004, and we’ve been worshiping with a Traditional and a Contemporary Service ever since.

Even so, across all those years there has always been an underlying lament: “Wouldn’t it be great if we could worship together?” And I regularly hear stories from different ones of you about meeting someone in the congregation who’s been a part of the church for years but whom you’ve never met before because that person attends the other Service.
And so when people have said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could worship together?” I remind them that it was God Who led us to the two Services and not my or anyone else’s idea, and then I typically ask them, “And if we did have just one Service again, what do you think it should it be like?” And if they were Traditional worshipers they would most often say, “It should be like the Traditional Service, of course,” and if they were Contemporary worshipers they would most often say, “It should be like the Contemporary Service.” [Just out of curiosity, who here wishes we could worship all-together as a church? If we were to ever do so, who here thinks that the one Service ought to be like this Service we’re in right now? Of course.]

Well, on behalf of the elders, I’m happy and excited to be telling you that on September 14th WE WILL BE CELEBRATING REUNION AND BEGIN HAVING ONE WORSHIP SERVICE AGAIN! [Clap…] WILL NO LONGER BE HAVING SEPARATE TRADITIONAL AND CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP SERVICES. WE WILL HAVE ONE SERVICE!

The elders have been meeting at regular and special times across the past bunch of months to pray specifically and especially about this. Unless today is your first day worshiping with us (and if it is, “Welcome! We are so glad you are here!) then you have likely noticed the congregation growing noticeably smaller. We haven’t yet been able to identify the reasons behind that. As a matter of fact, talking to different ones we continue hearing stories about the many wonderful things that the Lord is doing in peoples’ lives here at First Pres: People coming to Christ; people having their faith renewed; people growing in leaps and bounds in their assurance of the Lord’s love for them and in their love for and faith in Him! And yet we are still missing so many. And such changes and continuing with two Services has begun to affect our ministry: Some leaders and servants around the church (you may be some of them) are involved in too many ministries. (It’s not good for Christians to be doing too much. Busyness can distract us from the Holy Spirit and result in less excellence than Jesus deserves.)

So we feel the Holy Spirit’s conviction to go to one Service, in part, as an act of good stewardship: We want our best teachers to teach Sunday School, not just those who don’t attend the Traditional Service; we want to have one group of Levites to serve in the Sanctuary and one group of Greeters to welcome us into the Lord’s house and one group of Nursery workers to love our kids and one group to host Fellowship Hour and so on…

Of course, with this week’s news stories in mind, another reason we believe the Lord’s calling us back to one Service is koinonia. Robin Williams’ suicide is such a sad and public display of how the people around us – even those who seem to have it all – joy, success, family, friends, money, a promising future – how badly, how desperately they need something more than themselves and just what this life and this world have to offer. What we have; Who we have: Koinonia. And it seems clear that reunion, and our building and strengthening our koinonia-together will give us opportunities to more blatantly demonstrate such interrelationships and security to Milford and the world.

At the same time, the Christians suffering so horribly and publicly in Iraq are horrific examples of another reason. The days are long-gone when it was popular to be a Christian and church was the place to be. We need each others’ support. We need to be tangled up in each other’s roots. Storms are here. Storms are coming. We need koinonia. There are powers rising up in the world that are not Christian powers, which are not tolerant powers, powers in our own country and in other countries. Powers willing to ruin people and even put people to death who do not agree with their agenda, or who bear the name of Jesus Christ. And simply because they bear the name of Jesus Christ and all His koinonia stands for. I do not believe it is an accident that at the very same time that we are seeing these things going on around our community and nation and world that God, at this time, is calling us back to one Service: To nurture the unity and koinonia He has established for us by the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ.

(We’ll be talking more about what our Worship will look like in the weeks to come, but rest assured that your elders equally represent both our Traditional and Contemporary Services. They love God and love you. Reunion, and our return to one Service will be a blessing!)
God has given us a great work to do here at First Presbyterian Church. The impact that we all have through this church for the glory of Jesus Christ is beyond our estimation. It is worth all our efforts and all of our lives to preserve the great things we stand for and to move forward together: Koinonia; one…

[Go to the table…] The world tells us that we deserve to get whatever we want, to have things “our” way. But God tells us that it’s in giving up, in sacrificing, and by serving others, that He grants us our heart’s desires!
And we do so by coming together around this table. Because this is the center of our Worship, is it not? Not our songs or the ways we pray or how we’ve decorated the Sanctuary, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross: Offering His body, shedding His blood, that we might no longer be alienated from God because of our sins but be reconciled to God through His death and be one!

There is a unity that we manufacture and a unity that the Holy Spirit gives. Human-established unity demands that everyone be the same, that everyone like the same things, that everyone so things the same way. But the unity that God’s Spirit gives is supernatural. In the midst of all our diversity we experience a genuine oneness in Christ. It is not a unity that can be manufactured or enforced. We receive it. We treasure it.
As we come to celebrate the Lord’s Supper we recognize that our unity has been established by Christ and is eternal, and yet it is something that we as believers need to work to maintain so that the world can see it in us and be amazed and jealous to join us in Him. It is a unity that was established on the cross and that is maintained by the Holy Spirit across the ages across the church, and yet it is a unity that all believers must strive to make plain before a watching world.
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Come to the table. Come receive Christ’s body and blood. Come, let us give ourselves up. Let us humble ourselves and discipline ourselves. Here let us be reminded that we are one body. Here indeed we are made one body. Here we are welcomed as sinners who want so desperately to cling to our own wills, and yet here we are called to give our wills up to God and to find harmony and unity and koinonia with Him and one other. Let us pray…



August 10, AD 2014, by Pastor Ben Willis

PASTOR: Introduction

One of the great sources of comfort our Father in Heaven gives to us to enjoy and so that we might rest in Him each day is what theologians have come to call our “assurance of salvation”. I believe that is what Jesus is focusing us on this morning in our reading from John 8:31-47

ELDER: John 8:31-47 (48-59) [NLTse]

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.  35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. 37 Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. 38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”

39 “Our father is Abraham!” they declared.

“No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. 40 Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. 41 No, you are imitating your real father.”

They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”

42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! 46 Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

PASTOR: Sermon

Many years ago I was driving with my family down to North Carolina to visit some of Amy’s family. Our oldest son, Noah, was ten or eleven at the time. We were driving through farm country surrounded by mounds of hay on all sides.

I remember Noah pointing out the window at the fields of hay in awe, saying, “Look at all those buffalo!” [Pull out the glasses.] It was then that we knew he needed glasses.

Our reading from John 8:31-47 takes place on the eighth and final day of the Feast of Tabernacles. As we read last week, Jesus interrupted those closing celebrations when He shouted, “I am the light of the world!” The Pharisees and religious leaders were furious that He’d disturbed their worship so they gathered to rebuke Him, and they were quickly surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. John ended his narrative about those events last week saying that “many believed in Him.” (V. 30)

So, having confounded the leaders the Lord Jesus begins to address those who have believed Him: Those who had come to think and look to Him as God’s promised Messiah, the Christ. And Jesus says to them, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” So Jesus is telling them that it’s not just the acknowledgement of His teachings but the living-out of them that make a person His followers. And He goes on saying that once they’ve begun believing and living out His teachings that they will then recognize their bondage to sin and, as they continue following His ways and living out His teachings that they will then be set free from the power of that sin, as well.

But they don’t get it, even these Jews who believe in Him. They are children of Abraham. They are Jews. They are God’s people. What do they need to be set free from?

Their identity as God’s chosen ones, Israel, had blinded them to their bondage to sin and their need for a savior. They knew they needed a political-savior to set them free from Roman domination and abuse, but they couldn’t recognize their need for a spiritual-savior to set them free from sin.

“You are sinners!” Jesus proclaims to them. “Don’t you see? You may believe in Me now, but just a little while ago some of you had been planning with the leaders to kill Me. And God has said, ‘Thou shalt not murder.’ So you’re sinners, and whoever you obey is who you belong to: So you’re slaves to sin.

“It doesn’t matter that you’re descendants of Abraham. If you were ‘sons’ of Abraham you would have trusted God the way Abraham did. And because I’m not a sinner you know I come from God.” (Do you see down in v. 46 where Jesus affirms His sinlessness, asking the crowd, “Which of you can truthfully accuse Me of sin?”) “So,” Jesus continues, “because I’m free from sin, I’m a ‘son’ in God’s House, and so I have the authority to set free those who are slaves to sin, and I can make each of you a ‘son’, too. And I do that by teaching you, and you receive that by living out My teachings day by day.”

These people wanted to believe in Jesus but their spiritual heritage handicapped them from seeing their need for Christ. [Put on the glasses.] Jesus was showing them Himself but their assurance was in their heritage.

God sees us as we really are and gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can see ourselves more truly, too, and repent. A counselor helps us see ourselves more clearly – how we truly are (haystacks/sinners) and not merely how we’ve come to think of ourselves (as buffaloes/saved, and not as bad as the other guy). The Holy Spirit is God’s counselor – God’s glasses for us – Who leads us into all truth.

Like those first, believing Jews, the truth that sets us free is the knowledge that apart from Jesus we are slaves to sin, but trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice and living-out Jesus’ teachings we will be set free. The Lord wants each of us to know we are saved, to be assured day after day of our salvation. And He gives us, to have that assurance, His commandments and law of love to live out so that we can see His salvation – see His transforming power – in ourselves.

It all starts by living out Jesus’ teachings because it’s when we start to live Jesus’ teachings that we realize how very different they are from the ways we’ve always lived. When we commit to forgive all those who sin against us as Jesus has commanded us, only then do we realize how far from following and living out Jesus’ teachings we have been. Only when we commit to always do what we’ve said we would do – no matter what, do we see how far from following and living out His teachings we have been. Only when we commit to always give to those who ask of us, as Jesus has asked us to; only when we commit to never let the sun go down on our anger; only when we commit to never worry, but to seek God’s Kingdom first … [“What are some specifics that come to your minds when you think of Jesus’ teachings that you might not always keep?”] …

So it’s only when we commit to following and living out His each and every teaching that we can truly realize the depth of our sin and our need for the cross and His forgiveness. Because it’s only when we have that kind of focus and awareness that we can recognize our shortcomings and failures in all their detail, and can we truly understand how far from God we are even now that we believe! How much we need Him always! And the assurance He has for us in our obedience and His forgiveness.

We must not be like those believing Jews of old who thought that because they were Jews that they didn’t need a savior. We must never think that just because we’ve already received Christ that we are now “good to go”. “We’re Christians. We’re saved!” some proclaim. Buffalo! The apostle Paul warns us, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) Haystacks…

Now when Jesus talks about our following Him and living out His teachings, He’s not saying that you or I will ever perfectly follow or perfectly live them out. No, but modern Christians have minimized the horrors of sin and made the grace Jesus established for us on the cross “cheap”.

When we’re tempted to sin and what we feel like instead of what God has commanded us, we should be afraid to! We should be afraid of what God might do to us. We should be afraid of what our sin and selfishness might do to God or to others around us or to our very selves. And we should let that fear of the Lord and dying in our sins keep us from wrong!

But too often Christians will minimize such faithlessness to themselves and to others, saying, God will forgive me,” or “God will forgive you.” And although that’s true and that He will, where in the Scriptures does it say that it’s okay for Christians to sin because God will forgive them? … [“Anybody?”] … It’s because there’s never such a sense anywhere across the Bible. Sin is death. Sin is what put Jesus on the cross. “We have died to sin,” Paul writes to the Romans, “how can we continue to live in it?” (6:2)

No, the devil uses “O, God will forgive me. He knows I believe (even though I’m acting faithless),” – the devil uses such ways of thinking to minimize in us the horror of sin, to minimize our sense of needing the cross, to keep us in our sins, to keep us living for ourselves and not for God’s Kingdom, and to keep us turning a blind or lazy eye towards other’s sin around us. (“God loves them anyway,” we’ve been taught to think. And thank God He does. But they will still die in their sins if they don’t start living God’s way, asking forgiveness, and repenting.)

And so our continuing to sin works against the assurance of our salvation because we know He’s set us free and we don’t see that freedom and self-control in our lives.

I am passionate about this because the Bible reveals that my faith and comfort and the assurance of my salvation are not in my perfection but in my faithfulness. I don’t want to fall to temptation and sin, and I fight and strive and hope to fight and strive harder and harder with God’s help to not sin. But, although He hates sin and died to set me free from sin’s power and to purchase me and fill me with His Own power, during those times when I do fail and do blow it and do sin I can confess my wrong to Him and/or to the one I’ve wronged and know I’m forgiven. And it’s not a blind or hoped-for forgiveness. It’s a promised forgiveness! And it’s not my making light of my sin by saying, “O, God will forgive me.” It’s my being sorry, and heartbroken that I’ve hurt Him, that I’ve nailed Christ to the cross all over again, and in such sorrow and regret, knowing that He’s made a way for me back to Him – each day and throughout each day – through the cross.

Some will say that it’s not much of an assurance of faith to believe that we are safe and secure only when we are actively living by faith. But it’s the only true assurance the Bible talks about: I’m living out Jesus’ teachings today and God’s Spirit tells me that when I’m living my faith that I’m free! But there are no promises for those who want to do their own thing and pretend it’s alright with God. No, their only hope is that in time – God willing – they will recognize and admit that “their own thing” has been sin, and start living “God’s Own thing”, confessing their sin and repenting of it, and starting anew…

The Bible doesn’t say, “Jesus knows you are sorry and forgives you.” No, the Bible says, “Confess your sins and you’ll be forgiven.”

So let’s live for Christ. Let’s live His teachings no matter what. Not even a hint or suspicion of sin. And let’s let sin be the big deal the Bible says it is so that we can see how even much bigger a deal the cross of Christ and Jesus’ sacrifice there is: For us and our salvation! Let’s live the truth and be free!



July 6, 2014 A.D., by Pastor Ben Willis

Introduction
Pastor Ben is continuing his preaching through the Gospel of John. Our reading today is from John 7: 31-44. It is fall in Jerusalem: The last days of the thanksgiving-like Feast of Tabernacles. As one of the three festivals all Jews are mandated to attend in person, the City of David is filled with Jewish worshipers from all over the known world. As prescribed by the Law of Moses, families have erected simple huts wherever they’ve been allowed, or been able to rent, space: On flat rooftops, up sidewalks and sidestreets, filling courtyards and market squares, lining the base of the Temple’s walls, and scattered up and down the Kidron Valley to overflow up the Mount of Olives.
As the rituals and celebrations continue, the Lord Jesus is teaching in the Temple courts…

John 7:31-44 [NLTse]
31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in Him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this Man has done?”
32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. 33 But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the One Who sent Me. 34 You will search for Me but not find Me. And you cannot go where I am going.”
35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is He planning to go?” they asked. “Is He thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe He will even teach the Greeks! 36 What does He mean when He says, ‘You will search for Me but not find Me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”
37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! 38 Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” 39 (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, Who would be given to everyone believing in Him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into His glory.)
40 When the crowds heard Him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this Man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But He can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 43 So the crowd was divided about Him. 44 Some even wanted Him arrested, but no one laid a hand on Him.

Sermon

My name is BENJAMIN. It is a Hebrew name that means, “son of the right hand”. Growing up, in different classes across my elementary, junior, and high school years, I always thought that Benjamin was such a lame name. I mean, what does it mean to be the “son of the right hand”, anyway? But since coming to Christ I’ve learned in ancient times and in the Bible that the “right hand” was the place where a king or lord would seat someone who was their favorite or whom they were rewarding or who they were making their second-in-command. Calling someone “my right-hand man” still conveys a flavor of this sense of privilege, trust, and power. And when the patriarch Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel, died giving birth, Jacob changed the boy’s name from the name Rachel had given him, Ben-oni, meaning “son of my sorrow”, to Ben-jamin, meaning “son of my favorite, son of my honored one, son of my power and greatness”. And we see that although Rachel’s firstborn, Joseph, was Jacob’s favorite and the recipient of many special gifts, that it was Ben-jamin whom Jacob doted over, who wasn’t allowed to go to Egypt in the event that something would happen to him and so break Jacob’s heart forever…
BENJAMIN: Son of the right hand; son of power; favorite one; mighty one; …

When the Temple guards arrived at the place where Jesus was teaching to arrest Him, Jesus said to them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the One Who sent Me. You will search for Me but not find Me. And you cannot go where I am going.” The Jews thought Jesus was speaking about fleeing Jerusalem to spread His teachings among the Greek-speaking Jews scattered across the surrounding empires. We, of course, have that wonderful perspective of hindsight to know that Jesus was really speaking about returning to Heaven from where He came.

The Bible makes clear the mystery that Jesus the Son of God came to earth from Heaven and – after His resurrection – that He returned to Heaven again.

Paul’s letter To the Philippians probably describes Jesus’ coming from Heaven most clearly when Paul writes about Jesus Christ, “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” (Philippians 2:6-7) So, Jesus was the Son of God, but He took off being God to be born a human being.
And Acts describes for us Jesus’ return to Heaven, saying, “After saying this, He was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see Him. As they strained to see Him rising into Heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring into Heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into Heaven, but someday He will return from Heaven in the same way you saw Him go!’” (Acts 1:9-11)
The Lord Jesus Himself summarized it all later in John 16, when He said, “Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (John 16:28)
Jesus came from God and has returned to God, and since He’s now been given God’s stamp of approval in His resurrection and ascension, while He’s physically separated from us in Heaven Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit so that, by the Spirit’s ministry, Jesus might never be spiritually separated from us ever again.

Have you ever wondered what Jesus has been doing, now that He’s returned to Heaven? Well, Hebrews 10:12 says, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:12)
God’s jamin – His right hand – the place of highest favor, authority, and might. To say that Jesus is seated at God’s jamin – His right hand – is to say, in the words of John Calvin, that “Christ was invested with lordship over Heaven and Earth, and solemnly entered into possession of the government committed to Him — and that He not only entered into possession once for all, but continues in it, until He shall come down on Judgment Day” (Institutes 2.16.15).

In sitting at the right hand of God, Jesus sits on the “throne of His father David” (Luke 1:26–33). He is the Messiah of Israel, “the highest of the kings of the earth” and fulfills the Lord’s promise to keep a descendant of David on the throne forever. (Ps. 89:19–37). So, we are not waiting for Jesus to enter into His messianic reign, He enjoys it now! All of His enemies are being put under His feet as His gospel is preached and His Kingdom expands across the nations of the Earth (1 Cor. 15:20–28).

We know that Jesus is in Heaven because the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Jesus had said that once He returned to the Father that He would send His followers another Advocate – another Comforter – to take His place. So when the Holy Spirit came the disciples knew that Jesus was indeed in Heaven at the Father’s right hand as He had said.

But what is He doing there?

The Bible tells us He’s preparing a place for us so that we will always be with Him where He is. And we know that that place is ultimately a new Heaven and a new Earth; that this sin-stained Heaven and Earth will be destroyed when the End comes, and that then Jesus Himself will come and all will be new.

The Bible also tells us that Jesus is directing the affairs of His Church from Heaven: Baptizing people into His Body by the Holy Spirit; handing out the Spirit’s gifts among His Church to build up, expand, and strengthen His Kingdom here on the Earth; speaking to Christian people through the Scriptures and by His Spirit, advising and guiding us; overcoming all of His enemies as we seek His Kingdom and right-living day by day.
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More personally to each one of us, the Lord Jesus is in Heaven overcoming His enemies in our lives as He prays for us; continuing to forgive us our sins as we fall and fail; shaping our character and empowering our obedience as we abide in Him and live surrendered to the Holy Spirit; continuing to stand between the Father and us so that when perfect Father looks at us it’s as though He always sees Jesus’ righteousness and never our sins.

In closing, hear these words from the apostle Paul’s first letter To the Corinthians: “The End will come, when [Jesus] will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. For Christ must reign until He humbles all His enemies beneath His feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death… Then when all things are under His authority, the Son will put Himself under God’s authority, so that God, Who gave His Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.