|Is Christ Ascended?
From "A Compleat Body of Divinity" by Samuel Willard
Application #1: Therefore do not expect bodily communion with Him here. If you
want to meet with Him in His house, see His face, hear His voice, sit down with
Him at His table, feed on His body, and drink His blood-- it must be in such a
way that may bring Christ, who is in heaven, together with us on earth. It must
be a spiritual process, not a physical one. Heaven has received His humanity to
remain there until the "restitution of all things." Nevertheless He comes by His
Spirit to His house and to His table. He applies the saving power of His
redemption to our souls. By a correct exercise of faith, we can go to meet Him
in heaven, and bring back from there the strength and comfort of a crucified
Saviour, and then live upon it. Therefore we must be often in the exercise of
this faith if we would enjoy much of Christ in His ordinances.
Application #2: Learn from this, not to expect much glory here, but to wait
patiently for it until we get to heaven. We know that Christ came to purchase a
kingdom for us, but if he had intended an earthly kingdom he would have stayed
here and established it. It is no earthly paradise that Christ established for
His people, but a heavenly one. God did not lay the foundation of our happiness
in the first, but rather in the Second Adam. In the first Adam we might have
enjoyed a continuous state of happiness on the earth, in communion with God on
earth; but that was not to be. Nevertheless Christ translates His people to see
and enjoy God in heaven. Let us say with the Apostle, Heb 13:14: "For here we
have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come." Therefore let us not
expect our crown here. Instead, let us wait for it, until we come to where He
is: and meanwhile, let us be willing to suffer with Him here, that we might
reign with Him there.
Application #3: Let Christ's Ascension comfort every true believer in the
assurance that he will one day go to heaven also. Indeed, may contemplation of
this point cause you to consider yourselves to be there already. Remember:
Christ, who is there, is your Head, and you are the parts of His body. If the
Head is there, the body is sure to follow. He will never be at rest until He has
got every one of His body to be there where He is. Think of this: He has gone to
take possession for you in your name. He has gone as the Mediator to receive the
kingdom of which you are heirs together with Him. His ascension is your
guarantee; the kingdom is delivered to Him, for you. Therefore look at heaven as
your very own, and let this cause you to bear all afflictions patiently.
Encounter all the conflicts on your path courageously and finish your course
with undaunted resolution. That man is out of reach of harm in this life, who is
sure of possessing heaven in the next. This is the portion of every believer.
(From Sermon 110, July 6, 1697)