How does Christ continue to minister to the world he loves? (John 3: 14-21 Colossians 3: 12-17 Romans 8: 1-5)

Christ’s earthly ministry was 'particular', in that it established the Kingdom of God on earth, in a new way. And it was 'limited', because; once the Kingdom had been established; other, more ongoing, spiritual ministries would be required.
 
His earthly mission ended: through an event that Jesus called 'Going to the Father'; and we speak of as: 'The Ascension'.
 
The Church believes that, from then on, his ministry continued: in the deeper, wider dimension of the spiritual realm. Not limited by time and place; his presence became available to all people, everywhere, and at all times.
       
The Church also believes that, in heaven, the Lord not only remains in very close communion with his people; but also, that he knows their greatest needs, and, in many ways, does something about them.
 
The universal nature of Christ’s ministries, together with the challenge of the Gospel: have powerfully influenced the world, down through the centuries.
 
Today, over a billion Christians trust in Christ’s faithfulness: to the Church, as a whole: and to them, personally.
 
Such a vast; worldwide impact, and challenge: can be rather difficult for us to fully grasp; and relate to our personal circumstances, in ordinary day-by-day living.
 
Sometimes: a fresh look at a long established concept and doctrine; can be useful. So it can be, with the teaching that ‘Christ is still at work in heaven’.  Great matters: if tackled on a small-scale basis; out of personal faith, and a true desire; can become manageable, and fruitful. 
 
‘How does Christ continue to minister to the world that he loves?’ We cannot answer on the vast-scale: but we can re-assess those aspects of his ministries that have shaped the Church’s faith; and form part of our experience. The question can then become: ‘What is it that we believe that Christ continues to do; for the world, and for us?
 
Most congregations could produce a wide variety of possible answers; some of which would be common to all. For example, several hymns tell of the Presence of Christ, in the midst of our joys and sorrows. Obviously: an awareness of the Divine Presence is beyond our physical senses; and, therefore, mysterious.
 
However: without such spiritual awareness; and the trust that is built upon it, the Christian faith would be a system, to be referred to, rather than a way of life, to be joyfully experienced.
        
For many, the Spirit of Christ draws near as guide and mentor; and gives direction, teaching and encouragement at just the right moment, and at the right level to meet particular needs. This, too, is an important part of the Lord’s ongoing ministries.
 
The experience of some others; place special emphasis upon the presence of Christ as their compassionate Lord, whose own, long-ago experience of the human condition; enables him, now, to be alongside them; to support them in helpful ways.
 
Yet others believe that Christ is still working out his ‘Good Shepherd’ teaching; with its powerful imagery of the ‘flock’ following his lead; and of Christians being provided for, and protected, until their safe arrival at the heavenly ’fold’.
 
However: such understandings are not sufficient to meet our salvation-linked needs. Our faith and hope: must be placed upon much firmer bases.
 
The teaching that: ‘Christ is still at work, in heaven’: is good, powerful theology.
 
However: because the ongoing work of Christ; on behalf of his people: is undertaken at levels far beyond our full under-standing; it can begin to slip out of our awareness.
 
The Lord’s special and particular ministries; relate to the names, titles and offices which were held by him, during his earthly years; and were taken by him, into heaven.
 
The Bible gives 134 names, titles and offices held by Jesus, relating to aspects of who he is; what his qualities and attributes are; and what his office, as Christ, requires of him; and enables him to do.
 
Some can be brought together: such as…
 Person.….Son of God.        Quality..…Righteous.
 Attribute.…Merciful.             Action.…Redemption.
 
61 of his names and titles are not found in the Old Testament, or in the Gospels: because they are all post-Ascension.
 
When put together, and prayerfully considered: they indicate something of how the Lord continues to work for our present good, and future blessing.
 
Christian theology believes that; when Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, he took his full humanity with him.
 
In trying to explain the significance of him doing that: and what the doctrine could, or should mean, to the Church: theologians gave the Lord another title: ‘Representative Man’.
 
At first sight: this term may not seem to have much, if any, practical application in our lives; but…it means at least this: Christ represents us, in the Presence of God.
 
A true representative is never a substitute for someone else; but always one who acts, positively and purposefully, in the place of, and even as, that 'someone else'.
 
In heaven: Christ, the ‘Representative Man’, acts in the place of, and even as, needy humanity…
        
…and he undertakes two, great functions on behalf of those who truly love him   -   Mediation and Advocacy.
 
As Mediator, Christ reconciles the differences between our present state of being, and our future state; and holds things in balance, until all is fulfilled in us, in God’s good time.
 
Until that time arrives, Christ keeps a place open, ready and waiting for us, just as he said that he would.
 
As Advocate, he speaks before God in our place: saying for us; as us, that which we cannot stand, and say, for ourselves.
        
Although what Christ continues to do, in heaven, on behalf of his followers; may be beyond our full understanding; we should thankfully believe that we, too, are remembered before God; through those ongoing ministries; because what the Lord says, and does; forms an essential part of the process of salvation, upon which we depend.
 
Paul wrote, at 2.Corinthians 1.20. ‘All the promises of God to men, are given their 'Amen' in Christ'’. We believe this to be so; but some ‘Amen’s’ have yet to be spoken: for many things remain to be undertaken.
 
Of himself, Jesus said that he was the 'Alpha' and the 'Omega', the beginning, and the fulfilment, of our faith. Between those ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ extremes, the yet-to-be-fulfilled promises are gradually dealt with; and will, one day, all be fully kept.
 
Until then, we have Christ’s spiritual presence before our heavenly Father: and the mercy, love and grace of it all, works something like this.
 
Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate: is also our 'Great High Priest'. In biblical teaching, the true function of a priest is to 'present God to mankind, and mankind to God'.
 
During the years of his earthly ministry, and in so many ways, Christ presented God the Father to mankind.
 
Now, as our 'Great High Priest' in heaven, the Lord Jesus stands before the throne, and presents us to the Father.
 
He speaks for us, and tells the Father about us. In effect, he says: ‘As you look upon me, you also look upon those who believe in me; who love and trust me; who belong to me’.
        
Biblical teaching, and Church doctrine, state that those who truly accept; believe on, and love, the Lord Jesus Christ; are hid in him. (Col.3: 3+4).
 
Therefore, when God looks upon Christ; there is no perceptible difference between his righteousness, and that of those who are 'hidden' in him.
 
In this way, God finds us completely acceptable; not because of what we do or don't believe; but for who we are; Christ's own. As St. Paul wrote, at Romans 8:1, ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ’.                                                                                                              
 
The 'continuing work' of our Lord, is not only closely linked with salvation grace; but is also that upon which our salvation actually depends.
 
It is, therefore, essential - such is its great and life-giving importance.
 
Let us never think of the ‘in heaven, on-going ministries of Christ’, in vague and woolly terms.
 
Instead, let us see him as working and speaking for us, in a process of salvation that has yet to be completed, in us.
        
Our desire and prayer, for ourselves, for those whom we love, and for all who seek the Lord, should be …
 
…that we remain, safely, 'hidden in Christ': until all the promises of God have been kept: and the final ‘Amen’ spoken.
 
Then, may we be brought to the lasting joy of all that Christ accomplished: for the world, and for us.  Amen.