On this program the hosts continue their series on the ascension of Christ. What are its implications for how we interpret the New Testament? What does it mean for us today? In his farewell discourse, Jesus explained to his disciples that it is actually good that he goes away, since from heaven he will send “another advocate,” referring to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, Jesus says, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and lead his followers into all truth.
By his life of obedience and sacrificial death, Jesus accomplished redemption once and for all, but now from his exalted heavenly throne he sends us the Holy Spirit to grant us repentance and enduring faith. Join the hosts as they continue their new series and unpack the implications of Christ’s ascension on the White Horse Inn.
“Jesus as it were burns a hole in the clouds separating this age from the age to come through which the Holy Spirit descends, and then when Christ returns, that hole will be closed and there will be none of this present evil age. In the age to come, everything will be consecrated either for destruction or for everlasting salvation. The ascension of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit are keeping history open for repentance and faith. It is important that Jesus not be on the earth because of his ministry right now in heaven. The Holy Spirit is the one we really need on earth right now.”
– Michael Horton
Term to Learn
The Greek noun εὐχαριστία (eucharistia), meaning “thanksgiving,” is attributed in the words of institution of the Last Supper to Christ as he ratifies the new covenant in his body and blood in 1 Cor. 11:20–21. The Apostle Paul links this ecclesiology of the sacrament to the ascension of Christ who is the source of the gifts. In ascending on high Christ now pours his good gifts lavishly by his Spirit to his saints through the ministry of Word and sacrament. It is this ministry alone that creates, sustains, unites, and brings maturity to the body of Christ sealed in this meal of thanksgiving (Eph. 4).
In Luke 24, on the day of Resurrection, meeting two disciples on the road to Emmaus Jesus shows himself from all of Scriptures as being the one the prophets spoke of. They recognized him when he came to supper. He took bread and broke it and gave thanks. Thus, they recognized him only after the meal! The verbal clauses are consonant with the words of institution. This model is how the church comes to recognize Christ. While the church recognizes Christ in the preaching of the gospel (“didn’t our hearts burn within us!”), it is in the breaking of the bread that she recognizes and communes with her Savior. He stands in her midst and he says “peace be with you.” This κοινωνία (communion) is a sharing in his body and blood. She is given this Eucharist as she awaits that last day, when she will feast with God forever in the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Those who partake of the Eucharist in true faith, in thanksgiving, receive all the benefits of Christ, while the unbelieving are condemned in partaking. By eating and drinking of bread and wine the church is lifted into Christ’s presence by the Spirit and communes with him. This eating and drinking in thanksgiving, by the Spirit’s mystical work, sets the church aside (i.e. ‘made holy’) in body and soul for the Last Day as that end-times community of saints.
(Adapted from Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, pp 733–827)