A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Neglected Affirmations of the Christian Faith #2

In this second post on neglected affirmations of the Christian faith, I will briefly discuss the ascension of Christ, with the session as the topic of the next post. I will deal with the descent of Christ (Where did he descend?) in the third post, and finally I will tie these three neglected affirmations to the resurrection of Jesus, reflecting on the necessity of holding all four of them together.

The ascension is the act by which Christ brought his post-resurrection appearances to an end. The ascension signaled Jesus' departure from the disciples in a "physical" manner. He passed into the "other world" until his second coming.

The Heidelberg Catechism suggests three benefits that we receive from Christ's ascension. First, the exalted Lord in heaven is our advocate in the presence of the Father (Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1; Hebrews 7:25). Since Christ offered the perfect sacrifice for sin, he alone is qualified to be our advocate (Hebrews 10:12). He also communicates through the power of the Spirit, to all believers the gifts and blessings which he died to win for them.

Second, The ascension indicates the exaltation of humanity itself. The Heidelberg Catechism states that we have "a sure pledge that he, as our head, will also take us, his members, up to himself."

Third, It is because he ascends that we can receive the promise of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Spirit is the sign of our inheritance as children of the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus. It was only after Jesus ascended that the church received the Spirit (John 7:39; Acts 2:1-11). Therefore, the ascension demonstrates that the risen Lord lives in heavenly communion with the Father and that he takes an active part, through the Spirit, in the working of God in the world.

Traditionally, the ascension has meant 1) the exalted Christ is the priestly advocate who intercedes on our behalf. 2) Christ shares in the sovereignty of the Father. 3) No earthly authority can exhaustively represent Christ since he is free.

No comments: