Today many Western Christians celebrate Ascension Day, an annual reminder that forty days after his resurrection Christ ascended into heaven (Acts 1:1-11). As a Presbyterian minister, I am not bound by any church calendar. Still, the day prompts me to reflect on Christ’s ascension. When in the pulpit the following Lord’s Day, I preach on the ascension of Christ and on Pentecost the next week. Like the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, Christ’s ascension and Pentecost are unrepeatable events in the stunning history of God’s mighty work to redeem sinners.
The Heidelberg Catechism asks: “How does Christ’s ascension into heaven benefit us?”
First, he pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of his Father. Second, we have our own flesh in heaven– a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, his members, to himself in heaven. Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth as a further guarantee. By the Spirit‟s power we make the goal of our lives, not earthly things, but the things above where Christ is, sitting at God‟s right hand. (Q&A 49)
An English Prayer Book offers a fitting prayer:
Almighty God, we believe that your only begotten Son ascended into heaven: grant that in our hearts and minds we may also ascend there and dwell continually with him, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I believe Christ ascended into heaven!