The Message of the Two Men in White

By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

To Christians everywhere, the story of Christ's ascension to heaven is very familiar. We look at it as our proof that Christ will return visibly. Since this has not yet occurred, we are still waiting for what is generally called the second coming of Christ. Is this really the message this passage of scripture is conveying? Let's take a good look at Acts 1:5-12 and let the Holy Spirit bring us some illumination.

"For John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs (seasons) which the Father has fixed by His own authority, but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away." (Acts 1:5-12)

When the disciples were gathered together with Jesus on this eventful day, their thoughts were focused on the restoration of the physical kingdom of Israel. They did not yet understand that Christ's kingdom is a spiritual one. So while Christ was trying to introduce them to the spiritual realm in the Holy Spirit, their thoughts were centered on the seen realm - on an earthly kingdom. Jesus explained that a change would come when the Holy Spirit would be poured out. The disciples would be filled with the Holy Spirit and they would become witnesses of Jesus Christ! He did not say that they would witness ABOUT Him, but that they would BE witnesses of Him! To be a witness of Him they would have to have His nature; they would need to have the same mindset Jesus had, and live and speak as Jesus did. The power of the Holy Spirit would produce this change!

After Jesus said this He was lifted up and a cloud received Him out of their sight! Jesus ascended in a cloud! Clouds have a special significance in the scriptures. A cloud led the Israelites in the wilderness; God spoke out of a cloud on Mt. Sinai; a cloud filled the tabernacle; a cloud filled the temple of Solomon, and Christ ascended in a cloud! The cloud hid the visible Jesus Christ and He became invisible to human eyes. What an awesome occurrence! Later we even read of a cloud of witnesses, and of the Son of Man coming with clouds! Not only is He coming with clouds, but in clouds.

As the disciples were still looking up at the ascending cloud, two men in white stood there with a message for them. They said, " Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." This is good news! Jesus is coming in the same way they had seen Him go up! They saw Him go up in a cloud that hid Him from their natural eyes! Notice that these men said nothing about direction; nothing about coming down from heaven. How could He come down in the same way that He went up? How can He descend by ascending? No, this is not what they were referring to. They spoke about THE WAY He would come. He had ascended up to heaven hidden from human eyes, and He would come to them hidden from human eyes!

Before Jesus was crucified, He told the disciples that it was to their advantage that He went away. A visible person can only be at one place at one time, but the Holy Spirit, can be in each of us at the same time. In 2 Cor. 3:16 Paul said, "The Lord is the Spirit." Since Christ came as the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, He has already come a second time, and He continues to come to each of us in the Holy Spirit.

His coming at Pentecost was invisible to human eyes. The tongues of fire that were in the seen realm symbolized the work of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist prophesied that Jesus would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. This is the consuming fire that God is, and He consumes all our carnality! After Jesus was baptized in water, the Holy Spirit came on Him in the gentleness of a dove. He did not need the tongues of fire for cleansing Him of carnality, for He had never obeyed any carnal suggestions, nor had He entertained any carnal thoughts.

These men in white spoke prophetically about Christ coming in the Holy Spirit. God wanted the disciples (and all of us) to know that Christ has come again in the Holy Spirit - in the unseen realm of spirit and therefore hidden to human eyes. He now resides in the hearts of believers. Human eyes cannot see Him, but the evidence of His coming can be seen and felt. We can know Christ and His presence, but we cannot see Him with our physical eyes. He has come and resides within us but our flesh veils Him. He is hidden, but the streams of living water that flow from us denote His presence within us.

Now we can see the connection between the ascension of Christ, hidden from human eyes by a cloud, and the coming of Christ as the Holy Spirit, hidden from eyes that cannot see spiritually. But the evidence of the Christ in believers will be the transformation of their lives. Instead of the deeds of the flesh, the fruit of the Spirit will be seen! Clouds are formed by little droplets of water, and the water of life that flows from the Spirit within believers will be the evidence of the Christ residing within them. Some will marvel at this while others will scoff, for the Christ remains hidden to them. The cloud of God's presence was light to the Israelites and darkness to the Egyptian forces.

The message that the two men in white bring us is very important, for they tell us that we are no longer to look for a physical Jesus. His work on earth as a physical being is finished. God now wants us to see Him spiritually! " Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer ." (2 Cor. 5:16) Our natural mind continually fights the spiritual mind, so we have a difficult time letting go of our preconceived ideas that are rooted in the carnal teachings of men. If we are not willing to let go of all our wrong ideas we will not receive the truth so that we can come into the true revelation knowledge of Christ Jesus!

Without the love of the truth we will seek after the carnal pleasures of honor and riches and receive the deception of wickedness. Those who perish did " not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved." (2 Thess. 2:10b) Our love for truth will keep us focused on the living Christ - the Christ who cannot be seen with human eyes, the Christ who is our strength and victory!

Our invisible union with Christ in God is beyond our understanding! We are in Christ, and Christ is in us! If Christ was in the seen realm, this would not be possible, and we even wonder how this can take place in the unseen realm. One evening as Ernie and I were meditating on this extraordinary phenomenon, we decided to ask God for clarification. As we prayed, God gave Ernie a vision of two clouds merging. One cloud was in the other, and the other was in the one! No wonder that we marvel at the wisdom of our God! The Christ in us is our hope of glory! We praise God for the wonderful purpose He has for us!

Just as we are to see the invisible God in the Man Christ Jesus, so the world is to see the invisible Christ in us, the believers. Just as the flesh veiled Christ's true identity, so our flesh veils the true identity of the new creation that we are in Christ. Our natural carnal mind is limited to the understanding that is in the seen realm, for it cannot understand spiritual realities. God sent the two men in white to teach us that Christ is no longer in the seen realm. He is in the unseen realm of SPIRIT! He now lives and abides in us, the believers, and leads us into all truth so that we may become mature sons of God.

Our union with Christ and Christ's union with us is in the unseen realm. It is not visible to the natural eye. In Christ all the blessings in heavenly places are ours. (Eph. 1:3) Since they are in the unseen realm they have to be received by faith! Our union with Christ tells us that He is in every circumstance of our life and in every challenge that we face. Although He is hidden from our eyes, He is in us and with us! What a glorious message these men have given us!

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