Higher Benefits: H.C. Question 49

How does Christ’s ascension to heaven benefit us?

Romans 8:34 – Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

1 John 2:1 – My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

John 14:2 – My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

John 17:24 – “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Ephesians 2:4-6 – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

John 14:16 – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Corinthians 5:5 – Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Colossians 3:1-4 – Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.



Two Natures: H.C. Question 48

If his humanity is not present wherever his divinity is, then aren’t the two natures of Christ separated from each other?

Jeremiah 23:23-24 – “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away?  Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord.  “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.

Acts 7:48-49 – “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:
“‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord.  Or where will my resting place be?

Isaiah 66:1 – This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  Where is the house you will build for me?  Where will my resting place be?

John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 3:13 – No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

Colossians 2:9 – For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,



Are You with us or not? H.C. Question 47

But isn’t Christ with us until the end of the world as he promised us?

Matthew 28:18-20 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Acts 1:9-11 – After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Acts 3:19-21 – Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.

John 14:16-19 – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.



Ascended: H.C. Question 46

What do you mean by saying, “He ascended to heaven”?

Luke 24:50-51 – When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

Acts 1:9-11 – After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Romans 8:34 – Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Ephesians 4:8-10 – This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

Hebrews 7:23-25 – Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Hebrews 9:24 – For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.



Acts 1 – Ascension

Read Acts 1

The beginning of the book of Acts contains within it a number of “housekeeping” things.  Luke covers and introduction and explanation of why he continues to write.  He also talks about the replacement of Judas Iscariot, who went out and hanged himself after betraying Jesus and unsuccessfully trying to take it back.

In the middle of all of this, however, is an event that is of paramount importance to the Christian faith: Jesus’ ascension.  Christ’s human presence in heaven is important for many reasons and the event of His ascension, sadly, receives little fanfare or remembrance in the Church.

So why is this so important and how does it benefit us?  How is this even possible if we talk about Christ always being with us, yet we know that He is in heaven?  The answers to this can be found in Creeds and Confessions of the Church.  Of particular interest today is the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 18.

Christ’s presence in heaven is a comfort for us because we know that He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, ruling and reigning with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, for all eternity.  At the same time, we also know that we have an advocate in heaven who is interceding for His people all the time.

Jesus is both fully human and fully divine, so we have confidence also that “we have our own flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that Christ our head will also take us, his members, up to himself.”

Finally, Jesus promises in John 16, that, though He was going away, His departure would signal the sending of the Holy Spirit, something He promises His followers here.  The Holy Spirit’s presence unifies us with Christ to be His body here on earth.



Day 317: Acts 1-2; Introduction to Acts

We turn a corner today, from the Gospels to the only book that is classified as a historical book in the New Testament; the book of Acts.  Sometimes called “The Acts of the Apostles” this book that is written by the same author as the book of Luke chronicles the early founding and expansion of the “Church,” or perhaps better stated the Church of Jesus Christ.  Many would contend that the Church has been present since the beginning of time in the people of God, however the Church in its current context includes both Jews and Gentiles in a new form that wasn’t necessarily present before the Incarnation of Christ Jesus.  As this book is a continuation of the book of Luke, written by the same author to the same person, we should remember at the end of Luke we left the disciples and followers of Jesus on the mount of Olives where Jesus “departed” from them.  He had promised to send the Holy Spirit, which is elaborated on in Acts 1:

It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

It is from this point that we then being our journey of the first 30 or so years of the new movement that, for a long time, was called “The Way.”  We read a short narrative of what happened to Judas the betrayer and how they filled his position within the group of Apostles with Matthias who brings their numbers back to the full 12, but then is not heard from again.  I often wonder what role he played in the early church.

From there we come to what many people consider the “birthday” of the Church, the day of Pentecost.  There are a lot of interesting details about this day that we don’t often focus on.  In our contemporary context, the focus has been placed (and rightly so) on the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit onto all of the believers which, for all intents and purposes, ushered in the “church age” and began the movement of believers spreading the Gospel throughout the entire world.  This day, however, is actually also Jewish holiday when the Hebrew people celebrated the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.  It is certainly interesting and somewhat ironic that the Lord would chose this day as the one to pour out the Holy Spirit onto the believers of Christ Jesus and begin the Gospel movement.

As we talked about yesterday, the coming of the Spirit brought about a dramatic reversal of the happening of the tower of Babel.  For the first time (arguably) since the confusing of the languages, the Word of God and the good news of Jesus Christ was heard in every tongue, the Grace and Mercy of God was revealed to all people!  This was the first sermon, if you don’t count the teachings of Jesus, in the New Testament and it flowed directly from the Holy Spirit.  More over, on the day that the people celebrated the giving of the Law, something that had been used as a tool of condemnation and repression in the spiritual lives of the Jews, the Gospel of Grace through the blood of Jesus Christ!  The result?  About 3,000 people were brought to faith that day!  I’d say that is a good first day’s work for Peter’s first day preaching.

Finally, we start to get a glimpse of what the early church looked like in these first weeks and months as they gathered and grew in Jerusalem.  There are many people and churches that think that this is the model of how the Church should be operating even now in the 21st century.  While what they were doing was all well and good for that time, we have to understand that what we are reading here is coming out of a particular context and they were doing these things for a particular reason.  There are certain principles that have been carried throughout history and tradition as being a necessary part of what it means to “do church,” like being devoted to the Word and prayer, even breaking bread together in some instances, but there are other things that have changed throughout the years, and that is okay too.  The point and purpose of this writing has more to do with the fact that the Holy Spirit has been pours out and God is continuing His work with His people to be a light to the nations.  What we are seeing here and what we will continue to see is how the Holy Spirit is moving and working in the lives of believers to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth… a calling that is still at the very core of the Church today.