Raised to Rule

About a month ago I took a look at the excellent work of Dr Matthew Bates in his book¬†Salvation by Allegiance Alone. In it he brilliantly and persuasively argues we have misunderstood what the Bible means by faith. This has implications for how we understand the gospel, which he explains, should climax in Jesus’ ascension.

In the past I have focused on the resurrection, which Bates explains is an essential element of the gospel, because there was a wrong emphasis on the cross. One of my earliest posts was that we should see the cross from the side of the resurrection. This allowed me to develop a theological understanding of the cross that did not screen out the resurrection. The cross remained pivotal but pivotal because it no longer bore any dead weight. Seeing the resurrection as the crux of the matter made me hesitate a little when I saw Bates’ proposal for the climax to be the ascension.

Dr. Bates’ work was exegetical rigorous so I had to deal with it because that is what the New Testament actually indicates. I therefore quickly made peace with it which helped me recognise there was harmony between this newer observation and my previous observation.¬† The resurrection as the fundamental turning point in the Christ event is actually not in competition with the ascension as the climax for central importance because the turning point in a narrative is not the same as the climax. (The cross was the moment of crisis where the plot conflict finally came to a gruesome head.)

What helped me embrace Bates’ insights even more easily was a much earlier observation I had made about the connection between the resurrection and the ascension. As the title of an earlier post explains, Jesus was Raised to Ascend. Resurrection and ascension vocabulary are closely intertwined in New Testament language. Theologically speaking in the New Testament, ascension implied there was a prior resurrection while resurrection implies there was a subsequent ascension. In other words Jesus could not have been installed as king if he had not been raised from the dead. The resurrection powerfully vindicated Jesus’ claim to kingship and the ascension was his coronation. Just as the resurrection couldn’t happen without the crucifixion, he was raised to rule and he rules because he was raised.

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