the-ascension-of-christ-1636 Rembrandt Sometimes I feel like engaging in expressive worship as meted out by a music leader or preaching pastor, and sometimes I do not.  There, I said it.  That is just flat out honest, folks.  From the looks on worshipers’ faces I see, I tend to think I am not the only one.  Even when I am the one responsible to offer leadership by calling persons to sing this song or that, or by guiding a congregation through moments of prayer, scripture, and singing, still I may struggle to be in the frame of mind or emotion that seems to me, worshipful.  And when that absence is the case, ….ugh!  I can beat myself to a proverbial pulp.  How about you?  Some would tell me it is Satan, but I am not so sure if the blame on Him is suppose to be for my attitude, as in he is not letting me feel the way I “should,” or if the blame on him is for my reaction to how I feel (or don’t feel), as in he is giving the guilt because I react.  Either way, those “go through the motion” worship times can leave us feeling hollow.  Surely worship is supposed to do more for us and to us, isn’t it?  When I am leading in the worship event and I don’t feel like I think I should, I cannot help but think, “What kind of a worship leader am I?”  I stink.  On the other hand when I lead and feel exhilaration, I may question the intrinsic value of the buzz.  By extension, as a worshiper when not leading I still can be bothered by my perceived lack of certain emotions.

Turns out I am the kind of worship leader who needs a worship leader.  In fact, I am dependent upon the One true worship leader, Jesus.  Others have pounded this nail, but the realization of its truth still brings me to my knees (not a bad place to be related to this subject).  More importantly, the eternal truth that Jesus is our mediating Savior, and our only means to come into God’s Presence, and thus our one true Worship Leader, is a richly liberating certainty.  My faith is in Him regardless of how I feel.    No pastor, human worship leader, singer, song, or even worship itself can usher us into God’s Presence.  As we gather for worship in Jesus’ Name, Jesus is with us through the Holy Spirit, empowering and perfecting our worship.  Oh, thank God!  I am totally dependent upon Him.  Regardless of my emotions before, during, or after a time of gathered worship, I am fully reliant on Jesus.

I wanted to address Jesus’ mediation in our worship now because this Thursday is the 40th day of Easter, Ascension Day.  I believe it is a good time to reposition our worship in case we have allowed our feelings or lack thereof to dominate our mindset.  In that repositioning we replace our trust in its proper resting point, upon Jesus.  Study and reflection on effects of the ascension of Jesus into heaven can serve to govern our thinking that so easily drifts to a Unitarian (one direction) approach to our worship.  In Unitarian worship our worship is about how we experience God.  In Trinitarian worship we trust in Jesus, our great high priest and elder brother, to  draw us into communion of love that characterizes the eternal life of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who is love itself. (for more see James B. Torrance, Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace)

A host of Baptist scholars join the chorus of theologians who draw attention to the intercessory work of Christ.  Here are primary theological focal points as noted in evangelical giant and ESV Bible general editor, Wayne Grudem’s, Systematic Theology.  Concerning the work of Christ in the ascension these observations are offered:

  1. Christ ascended to a place.  The Ascension of Jesus, like his incarnation, atoning death, and bodily resurrection took place in time and space.  The Bible is careful to give this account identifying the place, Bethany, and tells of physical acts, “lifting up his hands, he blessed them.  While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.” (Luke 24:50-51)
  1. Christ Received Glory and Honor That Had Not Been His Before As the God-Man.  The glory is a restoration to the pre-incarnation position. (John 17:5)   (Acts 2:33-34), (Phil 2:9-11) (1 Tim 3:16; Heb 1:4) (Rev 5:12)
  1. Christ Was Seated at God’s Right Hand (Christ’s Session).  The Old Testament predicted this (Psalm 110:1)  In the New Testament we see it fulfilled and affirmed as such (Heb 1:3)  the work of redemption is complete.  We humans take a seat after a job done, so the Christ was seated in His rightful place at the completion of redemption’s work.  This placement, at the right hand of the Father, properly puts Christ in the place of authority over the universe.  God “raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named.” (Eph 1:20-21).  Peter reiterates that angels, authorities, and powers are subject to him. (1 Peter 3:22)  His enemies are put under his feet (1 Cor 15:25).  Acts 7:56; Rev 2:1.
  1. Christ’s Ascension Has Doctrinal Significance for Our Lives.  Christ’s ascension into heaven foreshadows our future ascension with him.  “We who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess 4:17)
  1. States of Jesus Christ.  Humiliation – incarnation, suffering and death, burial. Exaltation – resurrection, ascension, session at the right hand of the Father, and return in glory and power.

Charles Hodge in his 1874 volume, Systematic Theology, assures us in stating:

All that the Son of God as incarnate is, and all that He did on earth, He is, and did for us; so that God can regard us with all the favour which is due to Him.  His presence, therefore, is a perpetual and prevailing intercession with God in behalf of his people, and secures for them all the benefits of his redemption.

No matter how we feel on any given Sunday or other time of worship, Christ is interceding on our behalf.  Our worship is perfected in Him.  May we be on mission reconciling the world to Him, for He is worthy!  As we are privileged to call others to sing, pray, proclaim, and praise, let us do so with complete confidence in Him.

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship


  1. Lisa Huddleston Says:

    “Turns out I am the kind of worship leader who needs a worship leader.” Love this, Paul!

  2. Tis true and comforting

  3. […] We’ve all had those Sunday mornings where we’re just not feeling it. Paul Clark writes: […]

  4. […] Ascension of Christ – Faith in the True Worship Leader […]

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