Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness faith, love peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22)

HOW OUR LORD PREPARED HIS CHURCH FOR WITNESSING?

1. The Risen Christ and the Church

On his conversion, St. Paul discovered that he was as if he was laid in the darkness of the grave, and the Risen Christ shone upon him and granted him the light of the resurrection. For him, preaching in its core, is presenting the risen life to those who are dead. It is not in his own ability to do that, but Christ’s. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Eph 5:8)

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:4-6)

Through baptism we become members of the risen body of Christ. As St. John Chrysostom says baptism is not the end of the way, but its beginning. Every day we have to attain a new experience in the risen life, as if we are risen daily. St. Paul explains the role of baptism in our life, saying, “Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” (Col 2:12-13)

2. Assuring His Divine Promises

The believers of the Old Testament had hope in beholding the Messiah, as God promised through the Patriarchs and Prophets. The Messiah came and those who believed in Him are blessed (Matt. 13:17). Still the Lord granted them new divine promises, such as:

“For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5)

“But 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 1:8)

3. Beholding the ascended Christ

Before the descent of the Holy Spirit who granted the apostles and the disciples the power to witness to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord ascended to heaven. Thus, the Holy Spirit attracts men to believe in the Ascended Christ, who is sitting on the right hand of the Father. They become eager to share Him His heaven, by the power of His heavenly Holy Spirit.

 “(He) made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:6)

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Col 3:1-4)

4. The Hope of the Last Advent of Christ

Those who behold the ascension of Christ was exceedingly astonished, for there was no other view through the whole history of mankind like that. I think their hearts were lifted up with Him hoping to see His glory beyond the clouds. They couldn’t direct their eyes to any other direction. Two angels, probably those who were in His grave, appeared and said to them,  “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

From these moments, and the inner eyes of the Church are focused on the Second Advent of Christ. Through her worship, preaching and all aspects call all men not only to enjoy His Last Advent, but also to share in His heavenly glory.