In the book of Acts we see a resurrected and ascended Christ who is in the heavens, who is now being propagated by the disciples to produce the church as the kingdom of God; in His ascension Christ was exalted by God and made Lord of all, the Christ, the Leader, and the Savior.
Acts is a book right between the four Gospels and the Epistles, and it doesn’t belong to either of these; it is a link from the Gospels to the Epistles, a transitional book involving a dispensational transfer.
In the four Gospels we see the individual Christ as God’s way and means for Him to move on earth; in Acts, however, there’s a transfer – now we have a corporate Christ, the Body of Christ, who is God’s means to carry out His economy on earth.
Today we are and should be in reality the means for God to carry out His economy; we need to cooperate with Him to remove any limitation that we may have placed on Him in the matter of propagating the resurrected Christ in His ascension.
In Acts we see a transition from the earthly ministry of Christ (of which the four Gospels speak abundantly) and the heavenly ministry of Christ (of which the remaining 23 books of the New Testament speak).
Since the book of Acts is the beginning of the heavenly ministry of Christ, the emphasis is on propagation; the resurrected and ascended Christ needs to be propagated, spread, and increase all over the earth.
In Genesis 1:28 God charged Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” with the created human life for God’s purpose and move on earth.
In Acts 1, the Lord gave another church, this time for the new man to propagate and move on earth; in Acts 1:8 the Lord promised that His disciples will receive power when the Spirit comes upon them, and they will be His witnesses, first in Jerusalem, then in all Judea, then in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
The emphasis in Acts, therefore, is on propagating the resurrected and ascended Christ through the disciples by the Spirit to produce the churches, the kingdom of God.
In the Epistles, the emphasis is on the ascended Christ ministering Himself as life into His members for their growth in life for the building up of the church. In Revelation, in the heavenly ministry of Christ, He is the center of God’s divine administration for carrying out His eternal economy.
The book of Acts, incorrectly called by Irenaeus in the 2nd century as, The Acts of the Apostles, doesn’t speak of the acts that the apostles did to preach some sort of new religion or philosophy; Acts speaks of the resurrected Christ in His ascension being propagated and spread through His believers for the producing of the churches as the kingdom of God.
We need to be clear that the One moving and acting in Acts is not man but the resurrected and ascended Christ. What we do here as believers is not spread a new philosophy or religion; we are here to propagate the resurrected and ascended Christ – we propagate a life, the person of the resurrected Christ!
And as Christ is being propagated, the kingdom of God is forming as a realm of the divine life; we propagate the resurrected and ascended Christ to take over the earth, bringing the earth back under God’s authority in His kingdom.
The book of Acts has no ending, no conclusion, for Christ has not stopped moving – He still moves, still propagates Himself, still spreads Himself through us, His believers!
The Book of Acts reveals a Resurrected and Ascended Christ who is in the Heavens
What we see in the book of Acts is not a physical Christ who has many followers and increases His following through these; rather, Acts – as a direct continuation of the gospel of Luke – focuses on a resurrected and ascended Christ who is being propagated through the disciples.
At the end of Luke the Lord said, Go and wait in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. Then, Christ ascended, and in Acts there’s a detailed account of how He ascended from the earth to the third heavens – and the disciples witnessed it.
Now Christ is in His heavenly ministry; He is no longer in His earthly ministry but in His heavenly ministry, and now He is busy doing many things.
When He said, It is finished, while on the cross, He was speaking of the stage of His earthly ministry – He has accomplished His full redemption, and now He is in the heavens, not being limited by time and space, in His heavenly ministry.
The Lord’s living and ministry in the heavens are the contents of the book of Acts. Most people see what the disciples / the apostles did in Acts, and they may even make a map of Paul’s travels to preach the gospel; but the real contents of the book of Acts is the living and ministry of the ascended Christ.
When Christ was ascended to the heavens, He was initiated into His heavenly ministry. When God became a man – when Jesus was born out of a human virgin, Mary, He was inaugurated into the stage of His incarnation.
When the God-man Jesus died, resurrected, and was ascended, He was inaugurated into His heavenly ministry. His conception was the initiation of His life and ministry on earth, and His ascension was the initiation of His living and ministry in the heavens.
When Christ died and then was raised, He didn’t stop His activity; rather, He entered into another stage, another realm – now He is no longer in His earthly ministry but in His heavenly ministry, and He has many statuses and does many wonderful things.
In the whole New Testament we have four books (out of 27) that speak of Christ’s earthly ministry, and the remaining 23 books speak of His heavenly ministry, where He is the resurrected and ascended Christ doing many wonderful things.
Luke wrote the first book, his gospel, to tell us concerning Christ’s earthly ministry and life, and he wrote the book of Acts to unveil the living and ministry of the resurrected and ascended Christ.
On earth the Lord lived as a God-man, expressing the bountiful God in His rich attributes through His human virtues for 33.5 years; but now in His ascension He was initiated in His heavenly ministry, a new realm, where He ministers.
Lord, unveil us to see Your heavenly ministry into which You were initiated through Your resurrection and ascension. Grant us to see the many wonderful statuses You have and the many amazing things You do in Your heavenly ministry. Thank You, Lord, You are not merely sitting down doing nothing and waiting for us to go to heavens; You are now very busy doing many things and arranging many situations for us to be fully saved, transformed, matured, and built up to be Your Body! Praise the Lord for His heavenly ministry!
God Exalted Christ in His Ascension and made Him Lord of All, the Christ, and the Leader
Christ’s ascension was God’s exaltation of Him (Acts 2:33-36; 5:31); man crucified the Lord Jesus, but God raised Him up as a proof of our justification, receiving His redemptive work on behalf of all the sinners.
Furthermore, Christ was lifted up to the heaven, being exalted by God to be the Lord of all, the Christ, and the Leader and Savior. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit over the disciples was a proof that God has exalted the Lord Jesus and has made Him both Lord and Christ.
As God, the Lord was the Lord all the time (Luke 1:43; John 11:21; 20:28). But as man, He was made the Lord in His ascension after He brought His humanity into God in His resurrection. And as God’s sent and anointed One, He was Christ from the time He was born (Luke 2:11; Matt. 1:16; John 1:41; Matt. 16:16). But as such a One, He was also officially made the very Christ of God in His ascension. The Lord was made Lord, as the Lord of all (Acts 10:36), to possess all; and He was made Christ, as God’s Anointed (Heb. 1:9), to carry out God’s commission. (Life-study of Acts, pp. 79-81, by Witness Lee)
Christ was slain by the Jews on a tree (Acts 5:30), but God exalted the crucified Jesus to His right hand as Leader and Savior (v. 31). Our view of who people are and what is really happening is very different from God’s view.
Man crucified Jesus, but God exalted Him to the uttermost. As God, Jesus was the Lord all the time (in Luke 1:43 Elizabeth says that Mary was the mother of her Lord), but as man, Jesus was made the Lord in His ascension after He brought His humanity into God in His resurrection.
Similarly, Jesus was the Christ as God’s sent and anointed One from the time that He was born (see Luke 2:11; Matt. 1:16; 16:16; Jon 1:41), but He was officially made the Christ of God when He was ascended by God.
God made Christ to be the Leader – the author, the origin, the originator, the chief leader, the captain (see Acts 5:31; 3:15; Heb. 2:10; 12:2). Christ being the Leader is a matter related to His authority, which was given to Him by God all over the universe (Matt. 28:18).
The resurrected and ascended Christ now rules sovereignly over the whole earth with His authority so that the environment may be fit for God’s chosen people to receive His salvation (Acts 17:26-27; John 17:2).
Christ is ruling over the entire world situation for His economy to be carried out, for His propagation to be carried out; He does this both for us individually and on a global scale. Christ sovereignly rules in our environment, arranging a lot of things in order for us to hear the gospel and receive His salvation.
We shouldn’t believe that what is happening in the world today is by accident or by chance, neither should we think that it’s the result of some wars, man’s decision in elections, or some rulers making certain choices.
There’s an invisible scene behind the visible scene, and the Leader is operating in the entire world situation so that man can be saved and that the resurrected Christ can be propagated.
Christ orchestrates the world situation – including the boundaries of nations, the rulers of the nations, and the relative power of the nations, so that the gospel may be spread and His kingdom would increase. It is He who changes the times and the seasons; He deposes kings, and He causes kings to ascend (Dan. 2:21).
Praise the Lord Jesus, the resurrected and ascended Christ who was made by God Lord of All, the Christ, the Leader, and the Savior! We praise You Lord for Your inauguration into Your heavenly ministry to be the Lord of all to possess all and the Christ to carry out God’s commission in His economy! Hallelujah! We praise You Lord as the Leader, the Originator, the Author, and the Inaugurator! You rule sovereignly over the earth to arrange the environment for the gospel to be preached and for God’s kingdom to increase. Praise the Lord!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Mark R. for this week, and portions from, Life-study of Acts, msgs. 1-2 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Cooperating with the Heavenly Ministry of the Ascended Christ (2017 Spring ITERO), msg. 4 (week 4), Propagating the Resurrected Christ under the Heavenly Ministry of the Ascended Christ.
- Hymns on this topic:
# From this Christ to God ascended / Hath the Spirit been outpoured, / Poured upon the Church, His Body, / That His members be empow’red; / Thus the Lord of all in heaven / Thru His Church will be adored. (Hymns #277)
# Anointed King, with glory crowned, / Rightful Heir and Lord of all! / Once rejected, scorned, disowned, / E’en by those Thou cam’st to call: / Thee we honor, Thee adore— / Glorious now and evermore. (Hymns #144)
# Son of Man, His incarnation / Opened first the tale of grace; / Son of Man, in new creation / Leader of a chosen race! / Well may glory, well may glory, / Give to Him the honored place! (Hymns #143)