Second in the Ascension Series
I recently listened to a podcast that described a new development in the Church called ‘deconstruction.’ Some who have been evangelical Christians have renounced their faith and now are ‘preaching’ the rationale for their apostasy. This is tragic.
In the Fourth Century some were denying the deity of Christ. The Nicene Creed was the very first ‘statement of faith’ written by leaders in a church council. Not all would say that the Nicene Creed is a perfect statement of faith, and not all view creeds as useful. As a layperson, I appreciate the careful wording of this Creed. Any with doubts could meditate on it to gain strength and comfort.
The Nicene Creed states:
- I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
- And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
- Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
- And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
- And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
In the Nicene Creed we are reminded of ‘God in three persons, blessed Trinity.’
Though the spectacle of the Ascension focuses our gaze on Christ, upon reflection, we see the Triune God in this wonder and essential Christian doctrine.
In Acts 1, the Lord is explaining to his disciples that they do not need to know the times and seasons relating to when he would restore the kingdom to Israel, but they themselves would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them to become Christ’s witnesses. (Acts 1:7-8)
After this statement, as they looked on, “he was taken up.” (Acts 1:9) Christ ascended, taken up by the Father; he did not ascend by his own initiative. He was taken up to ‘sit at the right hand’ of the Father. (1 Pet 3:22 et al) When he ascended he led captivity captive and gave gifts to men (Eph 4:8), sending the Holy Spirit as he had promised.
Elisha sought a double portion of the Spirit that rested on his mentor Elijah, and he gained that by looking on as Elijah was taken up to heaven. (2 Ki 2:12) Likewise, the disciples looked on as Christ was taken up, and received his Spirit, at Pentecost, to carry out the Great Commission.
We, too, must faithfully look on our Lord and our God. Let us carefully study and consider the doctrine of the Ascension.