What are some of the things that encourage you? Perhaps like me, you are motivated by people reaching out to you to say they are thinking about you. Maybe you are inspired to fight on by learning something new. Everyone has uplifting things that help them when they need it most. It could be as simple as a word spoken at the right time, or a friend who has been with you for a long time and you know that you can call on them no matter what. For those of us who are in Christ one of the most encouraging things is that Christ has ascended into heaven and that he will return again. It is a promise that we know will be fulfilled in the Lord's time. He has never failed and indeed he cannot fail. But along with this wonderful encouragement, there are some questions that come up. Today, with the help of the wonderful Heidelberg Catechism, we will look at some of those questions.
A Starting Place
To start with we need to understand what we mean by ascending into heaven. While this may seem simple and obvious, it is important to make sure we are all on the same page before we get too far ahead. Question 46 of the catechism deals with this very subject and answers;
"That Christ, in sight of his disciples, was taken up from earth into heaven; and that he continues there for our interest, until he comes again to judge the quick and the dead." (A. 46)
When we talked about the assertion, we are not just talking about him going up into the clouds, but we are talking about his assertion to back to the throne of God. From there he will come again to judge all of creation. This is indeed an encouragement. For one it means that justice will once and for all be fully accomplished. That we who are in Christ will finally be with our savior and friend who has purchased us with his very blood. But this does raise an important question. If Christ has ascended "Is not Christ then with us even to the end of the world, as he has promised?" (Q. 47).
In Heaven and Yet With Us
Here we have a simple question and yet the question shows a misconception about who Christ is. We forget that Christ is more than a man. He is fully man and fully God. As the catechism answer shows;
"Christ is very man and very God; with respect to his human nature, he is no more on earth; but with respect to his Godhead, majesty, grace and spirit, he is at no time absent from us." (A. 47)
This can be one of the more challenging things for us to understand. We only have one nature and it is a human nature. We are constrained by time and space. If I am in my office, that is the only place that I can be. But Christ has two natures, one human and one divine. They are not mixed together or separate, but they are distinct. In his human nature he, like us, cannot be in every place at every time, but in his divine nature, he is omnipresent and omniscient. He is with us day and night, in every season and situation. He is our comfort and our strength. He walks with us and carries us and one day we will be with him in full.
As you go through your week remember that Christ has gone to prepare a place for us, his bride and his adopted brothers and sisters, that we might spend eternity with him. Remember that he is more than just a man, that he is very God of very God. Whenever you feel like you are down and need something to lift you up, remember that Christ has died for his people, that they might be fully redeemed in him. Know that God is working all things for the good of those who are called according to his purpose. He will return again at the end of time so that we might live with him in perfection. This is our hope and our future if we are in Christ. What a wonderful future to look forward to.
Soli Deo Gloria
Heb. 8:4; Matt. 26:11; John 16:28; John 17:11; Acts 3:21; John 14:17–19; John 16:13; Matt. 28:20; Eph. 4:8, 12.