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Psalm 47


 

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!

(ESV)

 

 

Like Christ

The Ascension of our Lord

14 May 2015

Children often ask what heaven will be like. "Like" is the right word, for we have no way to say what it is, only to say what it will be like when we attain to what St. Augustine calls the blessed vision of God. We hope to see our Lord Jesus Christ face to face when He calls us from this present evil age to the home that He has prepared for us from the foundation of the world. For now we see through a glass darkly (1Co 13:12) and so we are limited to describing the age to come using metaphor; what will it be like?

 

What will it be like? Perhaps the question is better put: "who shall we be like?" We shall be like unto Christ. So what will our heavenly life be like? Scripture is quite plain, if not fully explanatory, we shall be like Christ. But even Christ is not some kind of hyper-spirit after his glorious resurrection. And although He manifests more fully the powers of His divine nature, He is and remains a resurrected human being in flesh and spirit. This needs to be emphasized today when modern Gnostic influences are leading our Christian people away from a confession of the resurrection of the flesh and into a purely spiritualized doctrine of the resurrection which has more in common with Plato than it does Jesus. No, we Christians look forward to a glorified body with none of the weaknesses and decay of this life to plague it. Who shall we be like in heaven? We shall be like Christ.

 

On Ascension Day, this is deeply comforting. We have an unease about the disappearance of our Lord into heaven. But that unease is allayed when we recognize who it is that ascends and why He goes to the Father. We aren't abandoned by Him. He is the Lord of heaven and earth, who bears wounds marking Him as our Redeemer and Savior. He goes to prepare a place for us. What that place is like is not as important as who is there when we arrive. We shall see our Lord Jesus Christ face to face. The One who bore our flesh and settled it in heaven, settles it there to comfort us with the accession of our flesh to its heavenly home at the right hand of the Father. And if He is there won't we be, because we have been made like Him who was made in the likeness of the flesh?

 

Augustine of Hippo

 

"The Apostle John says, 'Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we will be like him, because we shall see Him as He is.' (1Jn 3:2). Hence it appears, that the full likeness of God is to take place in that image of God at that time when it shall receive the full sight of God. And yet this may also be said by the Apostle John of the immortality of the body. For we shall be like God in this too, but only to the Son, because He only in the Trinity took a body, in which He died and rose again, and which He carried with Him to heaven above. For this, too, is called an image of the Son of God, in which we shall have, as He has, an immortal body, being conformed in this respect not to the image of the Father or of the Holy Spirit, but only of the Son, because of Him alone is it read and received by a sound faith, that 'the Word was made flesh' (Jn 1:14).

 

"For this reason the apostle says, 'Those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.' (Rm 8:29). 'The firstborn' certainly 'from the dead' (Col 1:18) says the same apostle; by which death His flesh was sown in dishonor, and rose again in glory. According to this image of the Son, to which we are conformed in the body by immortality, we also do that of which the same apostle speaks, 'Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven' (1Co 15:49); namely, that we who are mortal after the likeness of Adam, may hold by a true faith, and a sure and certain hope, that we shall be immortal in the likeness of Christ. For so can we now bear the same image, not yet in sight, but in faith; not yet as a possession, but in hope. For the apostle, when he said this, was speaking of the resurrection of the body."

Augustine of Hippo, On the Trinity, 14.18
 
Prayer

Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

For all who suffer, that the Lord would grant healing in accordance with His good and gracious will

 

For the Lutheran Church of Nicaragua, that they might continue to support the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins in Christ alone among the people of Central America

 

For Albert Allen and all the members of the Board of Regents of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, that they might steward the gifts of God so that God might be glorified through the faithful preaching of Christ crucified 

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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