Heidelberg Catechism Lesson 18

Q. 46. How dost thou understand these words, “He ascended into heaven”?
 
That Christ, in sight of His disciples, was taken up from earth into heaven;[1] and that He continues there for our interest,[2] until He comes again to judge the quick and the dead.
[1] Acts 1:9; Mark 16:19;  [2] Hebrews 4:14; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 4:10.
 
 
Q. 47. Is not Christ then with us even to the end of the world, as He hath promised?
 
Christ is very man and very God; with respect to His human nature, He is no more on earth;[1] but with respect to His Godhead, majesty, grace and Spirit, He is at no time absent from us.
[1] Acts 3:21; John 3:13; John 16:28; Matthew 28:20.
 
 
Q. 48. But if His human nature is not present, wherever His Godhead is, are not then these two natures in Christ separated from one another?
 
Not at all, for since the Godhead is illimitable and omnipresent,[1] it must necessarily follow that the same is beyond the limits of the human nature He assumed,[2] and yet is nevertheless in this human nature, and remains personally united to it.
[1] Acts 7:49; Matthew 24:30;  [2] Matthew 28:20; John 16:28 and 17:11; John 3:13.
 
 
Q. 49. Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension into heaven?
 
First, that He is our advocate in the presence of His Father in heaven;[1] 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;[2] thirdly, that He sends us His Spirit as an earnest,[3] by whose power we “seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and not things on earth.”[4]
[1] Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:2; Romans 8:34;  [2] John 14:2; Ephesians 2:6;  [3] John 14:16; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5;  [4] Colossians 3:1; Philippians 3:20.

Commentary

One of the most comforting thoughts in Christian theology is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ did not remain in the grave after He died for His Church. Instead, He arose from the dead, and ascended back to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. There He sends His Spirit to indwell us as an earnest (deposit or pledge) of our eternal inheritance in heaven (Jn 14:16; 2 Cor 1:22; 2 Cor 5:5). There He intercedes continually for us (Heb 7:25). And not only so, but we have His assurance that He has prepared a place for us in heaven and one day He shall bring us unto Himself, that we may have perfect and unhindered fellowship with Him for ever and ever (cf. Jn 14:2; Eph 2:6).

But our Lord is not only in heaven, He is,—as He has promised,—with us always, even unto the end of the world (Mt 28:20). But how can He be with us, when He is in heaven? He is with us not only by His Spirit by whom He is reminding us and guiding us of all that He teaches us (Jn 14:26); He is with us in person also. How can this be so? It can be so, as our answer above tells us, because He is fully God and fully Man. Though His body is in heaven, He is omnipresent in His divinity. And since there is an inseparable unity (hypostatic union) between His divine nature and His human nature, seeing that He is one person, the fact that His divine nature is present with us means that His human nature is also with us. Or to put it in another way: we are brought into the presence of His human nature by His divine nature.

Now, we must realise that this truth is not just a philosophical speculation. It answers the question: How could the Lord be with us as He promised when He is in heaven? It is a tremendously comforting thought that He is not only with us in the Spirit, but with us in Person, as it were, holding our hands as we walk our pilgrim journey home.