St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church

Diocese of the Midwest

The sixth article of the Apostles Creed affirms that Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after His Resurrection. St Luke describes the Ascension in this way: And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. (St Luke 24:50-51) It was same body that was born of the Virgin Mary, nailed to the cross, and transformed and raised from the dead that was received into a cloud representing God’s heavenly glory and removed from their sight. (See St Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9-11) When we say Christ ascended into heaven we affirm that He has returned to the state of divine glory He enjoyed before He as the Word and eternal Son God became flesh. (St John 1:14; 17:5) But our Lord ascended in His human as well as His divine nature; and He is seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven as He predicted and as the Old Testament Scriptures foreshadowed & foretold. (St Luke 22:69; St Mark 16:19; see also Genesis 5:21-24; 2 Kings 2:11-12; Psalms 68; 110)
Where is heaven? Heaven ultimately is the place where God dwells in eternity, beyond time & space; and so it has always existed as God has always existed. We also speak of heaven as that place where God manifests His presence to angels & resurrected men & women, and in His love dwells with them in everlasting communion in Christ. Finally, we refer to the sky the Lord created & stretched out above the earth as “the heavens;” for the sky above serves as the best symbol or representation of the infinite that we experience on earth. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He did not become some sort of space-traveler. The disciples through the eyes of faith saw a pictorial representation of Christ’s Ascension into the heaven of heavens, beyond time & space, symbolized by His appearing to rise into the sky or heavens above, and to disappear into a cloud representing the glory of God. This again is a representation or vision that is most suited to those who dwell on earth. As is the case with our Lord’s Transfiguration on Mt Hermon, descriptions of the Ascension found in the New Testament are attempts to describe something that ultimately is indescribable.

The description of the Ascension might seem rather simplistic or naïve to the worldly-minded; but the import of it is central in the apostolic proclamation of the Gospel preserved in the New Testament. (See Acts 2:25: 34-35; 5:31; 7:55-56; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:1-2; 8:1; 10:12; 1 St Peter 3:22) God made Jesus Christ Lord & King when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:20) Seated at the right hand of God, Christ is our heavenly intercessor, mediator, and advocate. (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:16; 7:25; 9:24; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 St John 2:1-2) Having taken our human nature, He has gone to prepare a place for us; that we might one day dwell with Him in heaven. (St John 14:1-3; 17:24; Ephesians 2:5-6;  Hebrews 6:19-20) Even now, God hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6) Therefore, we are to seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)