In these unprecedented times it is helpful to look back at the finished work of Christ that occurred 2,000 years ago and directly impacts our lives today. After Jesus rose from the dead, he “presented Himself alive” (Acts 1:3) to well over five hundred people. In the days following His resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples further about the kingdom of God. Then, forty days after the resurrection, Jesus and His disciples went to the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem. There, Jesus promised that they would soon receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus blessed them and ascended into heaven. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus’ ascension was a literal, bodily return to heaven that was observed by many onlookers. As the disciples kept looking into the sky, two angels appeared and promised Christ would return “in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
Much is spoken in churches about Christ’s death and resurrection and rightfully so. These two events radically changed the human predicament by offering us a right relationship with God. Jesus did, indeed, die for our sins and was resurrected for our salvation (Romans 4:25). Unfortunately, little is spoken of the ascension. This is a shame because Christ’s ascension marks His finished work in our salvation.
Jesus’ ascension signaled the end and signified the success of His earthly ministry. All that Jesus had come to do He had accomplished. It also marked the return of Jesus’ heavenly glory, symbolizing His exaltation by the Father (Matthew 17:1-9; Ephesians 1:20-23; and Philippians 2:9). The ascension of Christ allowed Him to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). It indicated the beginning of His work as our Mediator (Hebrews 9:15). Lastly, it set the pattern for His return. Jesus will return just as He left-literally, bodily, and visibly (Acts 1:11; Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7).
What is remarkable is that God’s Word teaches that we are called to live an ascended life in Christ. Paul writes in Ephesians:
“Even when we were dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-7).
Paul, in these verses, is writing of the past, present, and future of God’s work of salvation. God loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses (sin). He loved us when we were not showing any love to Him (v. 5). God took those dead in sin and allowed us to share in Christ’s death so that we could share in the power of His resurrection. The old person we were before receiving Christ is crucified, and we are new creations in Jesus with the old things passing away and all things becoming new. This great work of salvation is not earned but by the grace of God offered through the finished work of Christ.
As if this is not enough, Paul writes, that we are seated “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (v. 6). This is the present position of the Christian. We have a new place for living, a new arena of existence, being citizens of heaven. Since our life and identity is in Christ, as He sits in heavenly places, so do we. This means we have a right to the kingdom of God, filled with the joy of the Lord as we walk in fellowship with Him.
Then, Paul writes, that in the future, God will continue to show “the immeasurable riches” of His love toward believers (v. 7). God will never stop dealing with us on the basis of His extravagant love. He will forever continue to unfold heavens riches to us through eternity.
Today, the believer lives in the heavenlies with Christ. We are called to live an ascended life. Living the ascended life means you live as a citizen of heaven while dwelling on earth. You live as one who brings the kingdom of God into the relationships and circumstances of life. You think like Christ thinks. You possess heaven’s point of view seeing yourself as loved by God, fully resourced, covered in grace, and empowered by the Spirit to share the message and love of Christ to the world. We are to walk like Jesus walked, demonstrating what an ascended lifestyle really looks like to the world around us.
When we partner with the Holy Spirit, He leads us in the journey of becoming more and more like Christ, we are enabled to see from a heavenly perspective. We are empowered to address the situations of life from heaven’s viewpoint knowing that God is for us and not against us (Romans 8:31). In short, we live as those seated with Christ in the heavenlies, living the ascended life.
It is an honor to live the ascended life in Christ with each of you. I ask our Lord to teach us more and more through His Spirit how to live as citizens of heaven while we dwell here on earth. I pray we will gain heavens view and walk-in heaven’s power with the ascending hope of our Savior. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!