Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 18 image

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 18

[If there is any single doctrine that is vital in church history and neglected in contemporary evangelicalism, it is the ascension. What difference does it make? Why? Is Christ in heaven physically, yet everywhere spiritually? How does that work?

Heidelberg answers clearly and robustly, with more than a hat tip to Reformation debates over the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But its beauty lies, as so often, in its answer to the question of how the ascension benefits us. (You cannot accuse the Catechism of being unconcerned with practical life.) The ascension shows us that Christ is our advocate in heaven, that our bodies will join him one day, and that the Spirit has been given to us as a guarantee. Magnificent.]

Q46. What do you mean by saying,
“He ascended to heaven”?

A46. That Christ,
while his disciples watched,
was taken up from the earth into heaven
and remains there on our behalf
until he comes again
to judge the living and the dead.

Q47. But isn’t Christ with us
until the end of the world
as he promised us?

A47. Christ is true human and true God.
In his human nature Christ is not now on earth;
but in his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit
he is never absent from us.

Q48. If his humanity is not present
wherever his divinity is,
then aren’t the two natures of Christ
separated from each other?

A48. Certainly not.
Since divinity
is not limited
and is present everywhere,
it is evident that
Christ’s divinity is surely beyond the bounds of
the humanity that has been taken on,
but at the same time his divinity is in
and remains personally united to
his humanity.

Q49. How does Christ’s ascension to heaven
benefit us?

A49. First, he is our advocate
in heaven
in the presence of his Father.
Second, we have our own flesh in heaven
as a sure pledge that Christ our head
will also take us, his members,
up to himself.
Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth
as a corresponding pledge.
By the Spirit’s power
we seek not earthly things
but the things above, where Christ is,
sitting at God’s right hand.

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