Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | May 30, 2006

Christ’s Ascension – Part 4

It is truly amazing.  I am currently sitting in the dentist waiting area typing on a laptop computer with wireless internet capabilities.  The technological advances that have been achieved in our time would have been unthinkable to people living 2000 years ago.  The common grace that God has bestowed upon our world manifested by the progress of human ingenuity has been a blessing in many areas (i.e. medicine, food preservation and communication).  Some Christians argue that these blessings upon our world are a result of the proclamation of the gospel and advancement of kingdom of God.  Most Christians do not have such a positive outlook of our modern times, but I find it to be a compelling argument.  Although, I find this view wanting I would not dogmatically assert that this is how we should interpret the promises found in Scripture (i.e. a blessing to all the families of the earth).  Nonetheless, I do believe that it is a more accurate the view than that of the majority of Christians, which subscribe to pre-millennial Dispensational eschatology.

Rather than pre-suppose that the mission of the Church on this earth is doomed to ultimately fail (as the Dispensationalist would), I tend to have a more positive outlook.  Instead of investing my hopes in a secret rapture that will rescue the Church from a world that is increasingly growing more evil by the day, my hope is that the Church through the proclamation of the Gospel will redeem this world for Christ.  It is clear that these two different views place very different significance to the accomplished work of redemption.  One has a much more diminished view of the significance that was accomplished on the cross, at the resurrection, at the ascension and at Pentecost.  The other view places much more significance to these events and their impact on history.  I think it is fair to say that the Dispensationalist’s view of the second coming has much more in common with my view of the ascension (as it relates to Christ’s dominion).

Today we are concluding our review of the ascension by reviewing Question 51 of the Heidelberg Catechism, which states the following: 

Q.  How does this glory of Christ our head benefit us?

A.  First, through his Holy Spirit he pours out his gifts from heaven upon us his members. 1 Second, by his power he defends us and keeps us safe from all enemies. 2

1. Acts 2:33:  Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  Ephesians 4:7-12: But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore it says, ‘When He ascended on high, he led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.’ (Now this expression, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things)…

2. Psalm 110:1-2:  The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’  The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies.’ John 10:27-30:  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.  Revelation 19:11-16:  And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.  His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.  He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God.  And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.  From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rules them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.  And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

One thing that we can be certain about the Church during its presence on earth is that Christ will defend her from her enemies.  In Christ’s words to Peter at Caeserea Philippi “the gates of hell would not prevail” against her.  The actual impact that the Church will have on this world is less certain to most people.  Although, if we can take references such as the parable of the mustard seed, the mountain covering the earth in Daniel’s prophecy, or the promise of endless increase to His government as applicable to the Church then it is at least reasonable to suggest the Church will increase significantly overtime.  Thus, it would be reasonable to suggest that the second coming of Christ is not as soon as many people believe.  It is possible that Christ could return tonight, but it is also possible that Christ will not return for another 2000 years. 

This subject deserves more study and reflection on my part to promote a position with more certainty.  However, I am certain that the Dispensational view of this is not the correct one.  What do you think?  This is a bit of a diversion from our discussion on the basics of the faith as presented in the Apostles Creed.  Nontheless, it stands to reason that there are some areas of the faith that are less certain, not necessarily essential and require more studious examination of the Scriptures.  As we depart from our review of Christ's ascension we will move onto the Second Coming of Christ.  In conclusion it should be noted that regardless of our positions on Christ's current status as king one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. 

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Responses

  1. Flesh and blood shall not inherit the KOG. Common grace is common, shared by both the redeemed and the reprobate. Redemptive grace is a matter of the soul of man. There is no overlap.

    Post-mills never talk about the “mill” part of their positive outlook and they also ignore Peter’s prophecy about the fireball that is coming. Why would God judge the earth with a fireball if things are so universally rosy?

  2. Good point and I concede that I don’t have an answer to it. However, I believe you can be a-mill and still have an optimistic outlook at least that is where I believe I am now.

    How do we reconcile your question with the numerous passages that infer the KOG will increase substantially in our world (i.e. Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:1-7, 11:1-10, 27:6, 60:1-22; 62, Ezekiel 37:21-28, Micah 4:1-2, Habakkuk 2:14 and Daniel’s prophecy.)?

  3. Side by side (wheat and tares). Is. 60:2. Mt. 7:14 may inform your position as well. Not all those prophecies you listed are exclusively “this-age”. See also 2 Thess. 2.

    Post-mills seem to advance the idea that this age just morphs into the next in a nice upward progression. But I am no expert. I really haven’t given it much study. (Not yet).

    How ya’ been. I missed the last SAPIENTS as I assume you know. I was out of town with no internet access.

  4. I've been great…just got my acceptance letter from WSCAL. The last Sapients was only the Marks' and I we haven't set a date for the next one. How's life going for you?

  5. As an addendum to this post I would like to quote John Calvin on the benefits of the ascension:

    “He therefore sits on high, transfusing us with his power, that he may quicken us to spiritual life, sanctify us by his Spirit, adorn his church with divers gifts of his grace, keep it safe from all harm by his protection, restrain the raging enemies of his cross and of our salvation by the strength of his hand, and finally hold all power in heaven and on earth. All this he does until he shall lay low all his enemies (1 Cor 15:25; Ps 110:1) (who are our enemies too) and complete the building of his church. This is the true state of his kingdom; this is the power that the Father has conferred upon him, until, in coming to judge the living and the dead, he accomplishes his final act.” II.XVI.16


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