Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings
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Is Christ Ascended?

From "A Compleat Body of Divinity" by Samuel Willard

Application #1: Therefore do not expect bodily communion with Him here. If you want to meet with Him in His house, see His face, hear His voice, sit down with Him at His table, feed on His body, and drink His blood-- it must be in such a way that may bring Christ, who is in heaven, together with us on earth. It must be a spiritual process, not a physical one. Heaven has received His humanity to remain there until the "restitution of all things." Nevertheless He comes by His Spirit to His house and to His table. He applies the saving power of His redemption to our souls. By a correct exercise of faith, we can go to meet Him in heaven, and bring back from there the strength and comfort of a crucified Saviour, and then live upon it. Therefore we must be often in the exercise of this faith if we would enjoy much of Christ in His ordinances.

Application #2: Learn from this, not to expect much glory here, but to wait patiently for it until we get to heaven. We know that Christ came to purchase a kingdom for us, but if he had intended an earthly kingdom he would have stayed here and established it. It is no earthly paradise that Christ established for His people, but a heavenly one. God did not lay the foundation of our happiness in the first, but rather in the Second Adam. In the first Adam we might have enjoyed a continuous state of happiness on the earth, in communion with God on earth; but that was not to be. Nevertheless Christ translates His people to see and enjoy God in heaven. Let us say with the Apostle, Heb 13:14: "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come." Therefore let us not expect our crown here. Instead, let us wait for it, until we come to where He is: and meanwhile, let us be willing to suffer with Him here, that we might reign with Him there.

Application #3: Let Christ's Ascension comfort every true believer in the assurance that he will one day go to heaven also. Indeed, may contemplation of this point cause you to consider yourselves to be there already. Remember: Christ, who is there, is your Head, and you are the parts of His body. If the Head is there, the body is sure to follow. He will never be at rest until He has got every one of His body to be there where He is. Think of this: He has gone to take possession for you in your name. He has gone as the Mediator to receive the kingdom of which you are heirs together with Him. His ascension is your guarantee; the kingdom is delivered to Him, for you. Therefore look at heaven as your very own, and let this cause you to bear all afflictions patiently. Encounter all the conflicts on your path courageously and finish your course with undaunted resolution. That man is out of reach of harm in this life, who is sure of possessing heaven in the next. This is the portion of every believer.

(From Sermon 110, July 6, 1697)


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