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Thread: Christians Ascend?

  1. #21
    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedidiah View Post
    JimL's real goof is thinking that heaven is in outer space. But then that is Jimmy.
    Yeah, I was going to get into the fact that the Bible says Stephen looked up and beheld Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father, but I knew that would just descend (see what I did there? ) into goofus mockery.

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

  2. Amen Jedidiah amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Leonhard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedidiah View Post
    JimL's real goof is thinking that heaven is in outer space. But then that is Jimmy.
    Him insisting on calling Jesus a zombie regardless of what that word means, vs what resurrection means, should have made that clear.

  4. Amen Cow Poke, Cerebrum123, LostSheep, Jedidiah amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    I think there was a bit of confusion in the thread in parsing between the concept of ascending and being taken up into the heavens. I don't know whether or not Jesus ascended into the clouds upon his own power, or through the power of the Father, but I think it probably doesn't make much difference. The Greek word for "ascend" simply means something like "goes on up", and is used in all sorts of ways. So for instance we read in Mark 10:32a, "And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them." It's also sometimes used in a sense of being brought up. In that sense, then, angels, Enoch, and Elijah could be said to have ascended to heaven before Jesus.

    What Jesus meant in John 3 isn't that no man had ever ascended to heaven, period (I don't think). He certainly knew that Enoch and Elijah were known to have been taken up, and it's not like the author of John would have forgotten those two (especially as he mentions Elijah two chapters earlier). To understand what Jesus means we have to look at the context, and the context of John 3 shows us Jesus talking to Nicodemus about the Kingdom of God and how to be born again. At one point Nicodemus, stunned by what he's hearing, asks, "how can these things be?", then Jesus is like, "you're a teacher, and you don't even know these things? This is where I'm getting my knowledge from man. No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven—the Son of Man." In other words, the context is directly concerned with how Jesus can know the things he knows. He knows them because he descended from heaven, and no man had ever done that, and no one with the sort of knowledge he has ever ascended to heaven either. This is the way D.A. Carson paraphrases it, taking the language and context in mind,

    "No-one [else] has ascended into heaven and remained there [so as to be able to speak authoritatively about heavenly things] but only the one who has come down from heaven [is equipped to do so]."

    This is especially relevant to John's audience, as they would have been familiar with intertestamental works like the the Books of Enoch which suggest that Enoch came down from heaven with special knowledge about the Watchers, and all sort of end time mysteries.

    What I think is the more interesting topic is what happened to Enoch and Elijah. I've heard some people say that the Bible doesn't report that Enoch didn't die, but that he was transported so that he wouldn't see death, and while I think that interpretation is likely incorrect, I think there might be something to it. It may be that Enoch and Elijah were taken, in that, at the natural point near when they should have died, instead of dying a mortal death, their spirits were simply received into Abraham's Bosom directly. What God did with their physical bodies then is the mystery. We know from Paul that the physical can't inherit the kingdom of God, nor the imperishable the perishable, so they couldn't have taken their mortal bodies with them. We also know that Jesus is the first-fruit, not Enoch or Elijah. So they can't be in resurrected bodies. It seems likely to me, then, that they're currently in the presence of the saints who died natural deaths, waiting for the general resurrection as we all are.

  6. #24
    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    I think there was a bit of confusion in the thread in parsing between the concept of ascending and being taken up into the heavens. I don't know whether or not Jesus ascended into the clouds upon his own power, or through the power of the Father, but I think it probably doesn't make much difference. The Greek word for "ascend" simply means something like "goes on up", and is used in all sorts of ways. So for instance we read in Mark 10:32a, "And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them." It's also sometimes used in a sense of being brought up. In that sense, then, angels, Enoch, and Elijah could be said to have ascended to heaven before Jesus.

    What Jesus meant in John 3 isn't that no man had ever ascended to heaven, period (I don't think). He certainly knew that Enoch and Elijah were known to have been taken up, and it's not like the author of John would have forgotten those two (especially as he mentions Elijah two chapters earlier). To understand what Jesus means we have to look at the context, and the context of John 3 shows us Jesus talking to Nicodemus about the Kingdom of God and how to be born again. At one point Nicodemus, stunned by what he's hearing, asks, "how can these things be?", then Jesus is like, "you're a teacher, and you don't even know these things? This is where I'm getting my knowledge from man. No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven—the Son of Man." In other words, the context is directly concerned with how Jesus can know the things he knows. He knows them because he descended from heaven, and no man had ever done that, and no one with the sort of knowledge he has ever ascended to heaven either. This is the way D.A. Carson paraphrases it, taking the language and context in mind,

    "No-one [else] has ascended into heaven and remained there [so as to be able to speak authoritatively about heavenly things] but only the one who has come down from heaven [is equipped to do so]."

    This is especially relevant to John's audience, as they would have been familiar with intertestamental works like the the Books of Enoch which suggest that Enoch came down from heaven with special knowledge about the Watchers, and all sort of end time mysteries.

    What I think is the more interesting topic is what happened to Enoch and Elijah. I've heard some people say that the Bible doesn't report that Enoch didn't die, but that he was transported so that he wouldn't see death, and while I think that interpretation is likely incorrect, I think there might be something to it. It may be that Enoch and Elijah were taken, in that, at the natural point near when they should have died, instead of dying a mortal death, their spirits were simply received into Abraham's Bosom directly. What God did with their physical bodies then is the mystery. We know from Paul that the physical can't inherit the kingdom of God, nor the imperishable the perishable, so they couldn't have taken their mortal bodies with them. We also know that Jesus is the first-fruit, not Enoch or Elijah. So they can't be in resurrected bodies. It seems likely to me, then, that they're currently in the presence of the saints who died natural deaths, waiting for the general resurrection as we all are.
    While I appreciate your input, I think you're way overthinking this for this thread. I was just curious if other Christians used the word "ascend" for what it is we do when we go to Heaven, either being resurrected from the dead, or "caught up" to Him in life.

    I've heard of our "going to heaven" being referred to as "caught up", "raptured", "translated"... but I have never heard of it being described in terms of "ascended". Again, the only time I ever hear (to my knowledge) of an "ascension" is in reference to Jesus Himself.

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

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    tWebber NorrinRadd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    ... I was just curious if other Christians used the word "ascend" for what it is we do when we go to Heaven, either being resurrected from the dead, or "caught up" to Him in life.

    I've heard of our "going to heaven" being referred to as "caught up", "raptured", "translated"... but I have never heard of it being described in terms of "ascended". Again, the only time I ever hear (to my knowledge) of an "ascension" is in reference to Jesus Himself.
    This.

    Also, I have to admit that since I've been regularly watching "Stargate: Atlantis" on CometTV lately, their use of "ascention" was the first thing that popped to mind.
    Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

    "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

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    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    Whoa, where did I make fun of the futurist stance? I'm not even convinced of any one view of eschatology?
    For what was given to everyone for the use of all, you have taken for your exclusive use. The earth belongs not to the rich, but to everyone. - Ambrose, 4th century AD

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  9. #27
    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    While I appreciate your input, I think you're way overthinking this for this thread. I was just curious if other Christians used the word "ascend" for what it is we do when we go to Heaven, either being resurrected from the dead, or "caught up" to Him in life.

    I've heard of our "going to heaven" being referred to as "caught up", "raptured", "translated"... but I have never heard of it being described in terms of "ascended". Again, the only time I ever hear (to my knowledge) of an "ascension" is in reference to Jesus Himself.
    See my first paragraph. I don't see anything wrong with the idea of us ascending into heaven during the general resurrection. I feel I have heard it used that way. I know for certain I've heard the word "ascended" in reference to Elijah (Ben Witherington, for instance, uses it that way). NT Wright translates Psalm 139:8 as "He caused me to ascend from the depths of Sheol", and this is a common word you see in other translations (including the JPS Tanakh). I honestly don't think the word "ascend" is the issue here.

  10. Amen Teallaura amen'd this post.
  11. #28
    tWebber NorrinRadd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    See my first paragraph. I don't see anything wrong with the idea of us ascending into heaven during the general resurrection. I feel I have heard it used that way. I know for certain I've heard the word "ascended" in reference to Elijah (Ben Witherington, for instance, uses it that way). NT Wright translates Psalm 139:8 as "He caused me to ascend from the depths of Sheol", and this is a common word you see in other translations (including the JPS Tanakh). I honestly don't think the word "ascend" is the issue here.
    I'd say the terminology is unconventional, not incorrect.

    There's also the issue of routinely using terminology in ways that may or may not be consistent with Scripture.
    Geislerminian Antinomian Kenotic Charispneumaticostal Gender Mutualist-Egalitarian.

    "Everybody is somebody's heretic."

  12. Amen Cow Poke, Teallaura amen'd this post.
  13. #29
    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    While I appreciate your input, I think you're way overthinking this for this thread. I was just curious if other Christians used the word "ascend" for what it is we do when we go to Heaven, either being resurrected from the dead, or "caught up" to Him in life.

    I've heard of our "going to heaven" being referred to as "caught up", "raptured", "translated"... but I have never heard of it being described in terms of "ascended". Again, the only time I ever hear (to my knowledge) of an "ascension" is in reference to Jesus Himself.
    In social science parlance, when the emperor travels to a city the city dignitaries go to meet him outside the gates and escort him in. Similarly, when Jesus returns, we will rise to meet him in the sky and escort him back down to the ground.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

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  14. Amen alaskazimm amen'd this post.
  15. #30
    tWebber Faber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    Yeah, I was going to get into the fact that the Bible says Stephen looked up and beheld Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father, but I knew that would just descend (see what I did there? ) into goofus mockery.
    But that was not more than a few years after Jesus ascended to heaven. Alpha Centauri is farther away than that.

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