Today is Ascension Sunday, and I was pleased that my church celebrated Christ’s Ascension and included a part of the Heidelberg Catechism on the subject:
Question 49. Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension into heaven?
Answer: First, that he is our advocate in the presence of his Father in heaven; secondly, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that he, as the head, will also take up to himself, us, his members; thirdly, that he sends us his Spirit as an earnest, by whose power we “seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and not things on earth.”
We too seldom think on the benefits of Christ’s ascension, so it is good to celebrate them at least one Sunday out of the year. I am particularly interested in the second benefit listed here, because they are virtually quoting a passage from Calvin’s Institutes that I used in the paper I just wrote for my “Calvin and the Reformed Tradition” class:
From this [the Ascension] our faith receives many benefits. First it understands that the Lord by his ascent to heaven opened the way into the Heavenly Kingdom, which had been closed through Adam [John 14:3]. Since he entered heaven in our flesh, as if in our name, it follows, as the apostle says, that in a sense we already “sit with God in the heavenly places in him” [Eph. 2:6], so that we do not await heaven with a bare hope, but in our Head already possess it. (2.16.16)
Because part of Christ’s body is already in heaven, we have confidence that the rest of his body (that is, we who are members of his Church) will join him there.