New City Catechism 51.1

This week we begin with Question 51 of the New City Catechism, found in part 3 (questions 36-52), which focuses on the Spirit, restoration, and growing in grace.


Question 51: Of what advantage to us is Christ's ascension?


Answer: Christ physically ascended on our behalf, just as he came down to earth physically on our account, and he is now advocating for us in the presence of his Father, preparing a place for us, and also sends us his Spirit.


One part of the Bible's story that often gets overlooked is the destiny of angels compared to the destiny of human beings. Even though God originally created us below the angels, he fashioned us with a destiny to rise above them in the end. God created us of dust of the earth but destined us for heavenly glory in the world to come, where we would even judge angels (Heb. 2:5; 1 Cor. 6:3).


In making his case that Christ is greater than angels, the author of Hebrews appeals not only to the divine sonship of Christ (Hebrews 1) but also to his humanity (Hebrews 2). The implication of this argument is that being human is better, in the end, than being an angel. Yes, God did make us "for a little while lower than the angels" (Heb. 2:7) but that "little while" was a limited period of time during which Adam had a task to accomplish, obedience to which would have merited his place in heavenly glory with all his posterity. Our covenant head failed in this task, making us all covenant breakers in him and destining us for death instead of heavenly life.


Enter the true and better Adam. Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, offered to God the righteousness that Adam did not attain, the righteousness that is counted to us who are in Christ by faith. After his death for our sins and his resurrection from the dead, he ascended to the heavenly glory he had merited, and as a man he has fulfilled the destiny of humanity, where he has been exalted over every heavenly being, including the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:20-21). In Jesus Christ, the transition from dust to glory has been completed. Because he ascended to heaven, we who are in him are destined to dwell in the presence of God forever, where we will take our place even above the heavenly beings. Because of what Christ has done for humanity, we should recognize the immense privilege it is for us to be human. Even angels long to look into wonders of our salvation in him (1 Pet. 1:12).


Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Hebrews 2. What does the author teach about angels, human beings and the world to come? What does this passage teach us about what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us?


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