The Theological Significance of the Ascension -- By: Kenneth Alan Daughters

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 03:2 (Winter 1994)
Article: The Theological Significance of the Ascension
Author: Kenneth Alan Daughters


The Theological Significance of the Ascension

Kenneth Alan Daughters1

Introduction

Jesus Christ’s ascension has accomplished many benefits for believers. Yet its truths often go unnoticed, being overshadowed by His death and resurrection on our behalf. Few preach or write on the subject, so it is little wonder that the average believer thinks little about it. This neglect of the ascension, however, impinges on other doctrines of the Christian faith, doctrines which are crucial. “Easter is incomplete, Pentecost is impeded, and the Second Coming is impossible without the ascension.”2 A proper understanding of the ascension is necessary to maintain the truth of the gospel. “Is Christianity simply the news that Christ died and then was alive again?”3 Where is He now? Is He someplace in our heaven? Is He hovering in some space reserved for disembodied souls? “If he is not on the right hand of God the Father, he does not reign, and we have no King.”4

The purpose of this article is to examine the biblical texts concerning the ascension of our Lord to discover its theological and practical significance. Since some critics have questioned the reality of the ascension, we will demonstrate its integral part in the gospel message. Finally, in order to understand the chronology, we must determine the timing of the ascension, whether Christ

ascended on Easter Sunday, forty days later, or both. It is our hope that this study will encourage believers to live in light of Christ’s ascension.

The Significance of the Ascension

The ascension of Christ is significant for at least eight reasons.

1. It Marks the End of Christ’s Self-limitation.

Though He is very God, in order to come to earth as a man, Christ voluntarily emptied Himself, making Himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:6). While on earth Christ lived as a man, choosing not to use some of His divine attributes. He veiled His glory and lived a life of humiliation. All of us, from the youngest to the oldest, feel that it was unfair for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to be born so humbly in a stable. We all react as Peter did when we imagine what it must be like for our Lord to wash the disciples’ feet on the night He was betrayed. We are angry when we listen to the taunts of those at the foot of the cross who challenged Him to save Himself. All of these experiences and many more find their vindication in the e...

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