This entry is part 15 of 16 in the series: The Fountain of Life (Flavel)
- The excellency of knowing Christ crucified
- Christ’s primeval glory
- Christ’s wonderful person
- Christ’s humiliation in his incarnation
- Christ’s humiliation in his life
- Christ’s prayer for his people
- The Lord’s Supper
- Christ’s illegal trial and condemnation
- The nature of Christ’s death
- ‘Father, forgive them’
- Flavel on Jesus’ cry of dereliction
- “It is finished”
- ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’
- The resurrection of Christ
- The ascension of Christ
- Christ’s exaltation
A summary of chapter 40 of The Fountain of Life, by John Flavel.
John 20:17 – ‘Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’
The persons to whom this message was sent: ‘My brethren’; a sweet term, and full of love.
The message itself: ‘Tell my brethren, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God.’
‘Our Lord Jesus Christ, did not only rise from the dead, but also ascended into heaven; there to dispatch all that remained to be done for the completing the salvation of his people.’
‘This is sometimes called his going away, as John 16:7. Sometimes his being exalted, Acts 2:33. Sometimes his being made higher than the heavens, Heb. 7:26. And sometimes his entering within the vail, Heb. 6:19, 20.’
1. Who ascended? Christ, in his whole person. It was he who descended, and is now ascended, Eph 4:9f.
2. Whence did Christ ascend? From this world. Specifically, from the mount of Olives.
3. Whither did he ascend? Into the highest heaven; to the throne of God; to the abode of the blessed. To the place from which he had come, Jn 6:62.
4. When did Christ ascend? After forty days, Acts 1:3. ‘He had ineffable glory prepared for him in heaven, and awaiting his coming, but he will not go to possess it, till he had settled all things for the good of his church here.’
5. How did Christ ascend?
(a) As a public person, and forerunner, Heb 6:20. He took possession of heaven in our names, Jn 14:2. He himself had no forerunner in this regard: all who have entered, and all who shall enter, do so in his name.
(b) Triumphantly, Psa 47:5f. ‘And oh what jubilations of the blessed angels were heard in heaven! How was the whole city of God moved at his coming!’
(c) Munificently, ‘shedding forth, abundantly, inestimable gifts upon his church at his ascension’, Psa 68:17f. ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ, when he had overcome by his death on the cross, and now triumphed in his ascension, he takes the parts and gifts of his enemies, and gives them, by their conversion to the church, for its use and service…Men of all sorts, greater and smaller lights, have been given to the church. Officers of all sorts were given it by Christ. Extraordinary and temporary, as prophets, apostles, evangelists; ordinary and standing, as pastors, and teachers, which remain to this day, Eph. 4:8, 9.’
(d) With a blessing on his lips, Lk 24:50f. ‘There was a great deal of love manifested by Christ in this very last act of his in this world. The last sight they had of him in this world was a most sweet and encouraging one. They heard nothing from his lips but love, they saw nothing in his face but love, until he mounted his triumphant chariot, and was taken out of their sight. Surely these blessings at parting were sweet and rich ones…They were the mercies which his blood had so lately purchased for them. And…they were not only intended for them who had the happiness to be upon the place with him from whence he ascended; but they reach us as well as them; and will reach the last saint that shall be upon the earth until he come again. For they were but representatives of the future churches, Matt. 28:20. And in blessing them, he blessed us also.’
(e) By his own power. ‘He was not merely passive in his ascension, but it was his own act.’
6. Why did Christ ascend?
(a) ‘If Christ had not ascended, he could not have interceded, as now he does in heaven for us.’
(b) ‘If Christ had not ascended, you could not have entered into heaven,’ Jn 14:2.
(c) ‘If Christ had not ascended, he could not have entered on the glory he now enjoys in heaven.’
(d) If Christ had not ascended, we could not have enjoyed the blessings of the Spirit and ordinances. Jn 16:7.
(e) If Christ had not ascended, then all the types and prophecies that prefigured and foretold it could not have been fulfilled, Jn 10:35.
‘Upon all these accounts, it was expedient that he should go away. It was for his glory, and for our advantage. Though we lost the comfort of his bodily presence by it, yet if “we loved him, we would rejoice he went to the Father,” John 14:28. We ought to have rejoiced in his advancement, though it had been to our loss; but when it is so much for our benefit, as well as his glory, it is a matter of joy on both sides, that he is ascended to his Father, and our Father: to his God, and to our God. From the several blessings flowing to us out of Christ’s ascension, it was that he charged his people not to be troubled at his leaving of them, John 14.’
1. ‘Did Christ go to heaven as a forerunner? What haste should we make to follow him?
2. ‘Did Christ ascend into heaven? Is our Jesus, our treasure indeed there? Where then should the hearts of believers be, but in heaven, where their Lord, their life is?’
3. Did Christ ascend so triumphantly, leading captivity captive? How little reason then have believers to fear their conquered enemies? Sin, Satan, and every enemy, were in that day led away in triumph, dragged at Christ’s chariot wheels, brought after him as it were in chains…He made at that day, “an open show of them,” Col. 2:15…Satan was then trod under his feet, and he has promised to tread him under our feet also, and that shortly, Rom. 16:20. Some power our enemies yet retain, the serpent may bruise our heel, but Christ has crushed his head.’
4. ‘Did Christ ascend so munificently, shedding forth so many mercies upon his people?…O then see that you abuse not those precious ascension-gifts of Christ, but value and improve them as the choicest mercies. Now, the ascension gifts…are either the ordinances and officers of the church, (for he then gave them pastors and teachers,) or the Spirit that furnished the church with all its gifts. Beware you abuse not either of these.’
Regarding the danger of abusing the Spirit, ‘take heed that you do not vex him by your disobedience; nor grieve him by your unkindnesses; nor quench him by your sinful neglects of duty, or abuse of light. O deal kindly with the Spirit, and obey his voice: comply with his designs, and yield up yourselves to his guidance and conduct.’
(a) that the Spirit was ‘the first and principle mercy that Christ received for you at his first entrance into heaven’, Jn 14:16f;
(b) ‘the spirit comes not in his own name to us, (though, if so, he deserves a dear welcome for his own sake, and for the benefits we receive by him, which are inestimable,) but he comes to us in the name, and in the love, both of the Father, and the Son,’ Jn 14:26;
(c) his nature: ‘he is God co-equal with the Father and Son in nature and dignity’;
(d) his office, which is ‘to take of Christ’s and show it to us, that is to take of his death, resurrection, ascension, yes, of his very present intercession in heaven, and show it to us…bond of union between Christ and your souls, without which you could never have had interest in Christ, or communion with Christ. It was he that so often has helped your infirmities, when you knew not what to say; comforted your hearts when they were overwhelmed within you, and you know not what to do; preserved you many thousand times from sin and ruin, when you have been upon the slippery brink of it in temptations. It is he (in his sanctifying-word) that is the best evidence your souls have for heaven. It where endless to enumerate the mercies you have by him. And now, reader, do you not blush to think how unworthy you have treated such a friend? For which of all these his offices or benefits do you grieve and quench him? O grieve not the Holy Spirit whom Christ sent as soon as ever he went to heaven, in his Father’s name, and in his own name, to perform all these offices for you.’
5. Is Christ ascended to the Father as our fore-runner? Then the door of salvation stands open to all believers, and by virtue of Christ’s ascension, they also will ascend after him, far above all visible heavens…God send us a joyful meeting within the veil with our Fore-runner, and sweeten our passage into it, with many a foresight and foretaste thereof.’