The Ascension of our Lord

The Ascension of our Lord

One of my assignments this week is to put together a bible study on the Ascension, and include questions and responses that I think will come up in the study.

This is what I have so far, and I thought I would share it.
Please feel free to comment or make any suggestions you like, it would be extremely helpful.

4 questions I anticipate

  • If Christ is truly God, then did He ascend by his own power?
  • Did Jesus Christ Ascend in both spiritual and bodily form? Did His actual body ascend into heaven?
  • Did Christ ascend above the corporeal heavens into God’s heavenly kingdom?
  • Was the Ascension of Jesus Christ actually necessary for our salvation?

Christ’s ascension is a fascinating bible study because it incorporates Christ’s Deity with His humanity in a tangible and visual way we are not often accustomed to dealing with on a theological level. First we have the spiritual ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, and at the same time, we have the question as to the state of His physical body, which was manifested, and had even eaten a fish dinner, and like His spiritual body is ascending into heaven as well. And if all of this were not enough to drive any theologians out of their minds, we have eye witnesses who are visually connected to the very gates of heaven while still here on earth.

I selected four random questions that I believe would be likely to come up in any bible study on the ascension based on what I believe to be significant points, but obviously, many , many other questions are likely to arise as well.

First, By whose power, or by what authority did Christ Ascend? Well, clearly it is natural for things to return to their source of origin. At least that seems to be a recurring theme in Gods created universe. From dust we were created and to dust we shall return, a seed germinates, grows into a plant, produces fruit, and within the fruit is yet another seed by which the process begins anew. I suppose, as they say, even Elephants return to their place of birth to die, so I suppose it can be viewed as a natural event for Christ to return to the Kingdom of God. Augustine said; “It was our doing that the Son of man hung upon the cross; but it was His own doing that He ascended.” Perhaps that doesn’t really address the question of authority, but it does shift the power from the human to the divine.

Jesus being truly God ascended by His own authority but I would add that it was also necessary based on His condition. Jesus had been made perfect, incorruptible, imperishable, and made bodily ready for the kingdom of Heaven. It was necessary that He be raised to that place and not remain in this corrupted and perishable realm. John 20:17 Jesus said, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’

So did Jesus actually ascend into the Highest Heaven? Both physically and spiritually make the transition from this world and into the Kingdom of God? How can physical flesh and blood, literally make the transition between Earth and heaven, and even do so before witnesses?

Isaiah got a look into that heavenly realm. We can read his account in Isaiah 6 versus 1-13, and Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a throne, exalted, wearing a robe, and the train “filled” the temple. Isaiah saw Seraphim, creatures with 6 wings, capable of flight and of speech, they can sing praises.

When St. John gave his account of heaven and how it had been revealed to him in Revelation 4, he said; before me was a throne...and the One who sat there had the appearance of jasper...From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder...Around the throne were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back...Day and night they never stopped saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
In Revelation 21 he gave a very detailed description of something unimaginable to you and I. How can the streets be gold, but of a gold that is transparent? How can you see all of these things when there is no sun or moon to give light? What did he mean when he said that there was no need for them? Obviously it is possible for heaven to be revealed to us but I doubt that it is possible for us to fully grasp or comprehend what we are seeing.

The description of Christ’s ascension in Acts is equally difficult to grasp, Acts 1:verse 9 sais He was “taken up” and that a cloud “hid Him”, and they were looking “as He was going” verse 11 sais He was “taken away into heaven.”
Then, as they are looking intently into the sky, two angels appear, and in almost a comical fashion ask them, “Why are you standing here looking into the sky?” They didn’t say; “Why are you staring at that cloud.” They said “Sky”, because the cloud was gone. Christ was gone. Now, if I may offer a slice of personal philosophy, I believe that this was exactly the same type of “cloud” that Ezekiel recorded in the first chapter of Ezekiel beginning with verse 4. Just as I believe that this same type of supernatural activity takes place, occasionally, when God sees fit to somehow, “tear open” that fabric, separating the earthly realm from the heavenly kingdom.
Getting from here to there, or from there to here, as the angels often do, would, it would seem, involve some sort of event, that you and I would likely find, extremely difficult to identify and describe.

Finally, was Christ’s ascension necessary? Christ’s ascension, is the crowning culmination of His glorification following the resurrection. The resurrection demanded the ascension as the entrance into the wider work of Christ. It was by the ascension that all of Christ’s incarnation culminated into the delivery of the Holy Spirit that He and the Father had promised and that had been foretold in the Old Testament.
John 7:39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
John 16:7But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
God never flies by the seat of His pants, this has all been planned out since BEFORE the beginning!


Staff Member on LOA
Excellent study with very good questions. I look forward to reading the rest.

Thank you.

I know it's terribly long.
They give us stuff like this in addition to 20 or 30 hours of additional work so that we learn to put these things together.
(Last week was a tract targeted at a specific demographic.)

The thing is, we cover the basics, but by the end of the week, I like the concept and want to carry it through to its logical conclusion.

Frankly, one week is simply not enough time.

I will probably get a good grade on this, even though it is no where near ready to use in a real life bible study.

The nice thing about all of you folks, is that I get real reactions and responses, and that is absolutely priceless when setting something like this up!! :groupray: