On Ascension Day, 40 days after he rose from the dead, Jesus ascended bodily into heaven. The Bible speaks of these events as the first fruits of the resurrection of all believers. We await that day (spoken of in 1 Cor. 15 and 1 Thess. 4) when we, too, shall rise from the grave—or be transformed without ever dying should we be alive at his second coming. Lutheran scholar David Scaer writes of the significance of Christ’s ascension for Christian doctrine: we do not worship an absent Lord, yet in his resurrection and ascension he paved the way for all of us.

Meanwhile, we live daily in these mortal bodies here on planet earth. That is not always easy. When the going gets tough, we long for the immortal body that one day will be ours. Then we shall be delivered from the nagging pain and cruel suffering that few of us ever wholly avoid down here. Yet we believe in a miracle-working God, who is fully able to heal us instantaneously. Many of us believe that in his grace God chooses to heal us right now—sometimes. But most of us have never experienced that miraculous healing touch. Why must we wait so long for the full benefits of our promised redemption? Anglican scholar James I. Packer wrestles with this problem and sets forth a convincing and satisfying summary of biblical teaching about human sickness, faith healing, and the grace of divine providence.

More and more, the world seems to penetrate the church with its antibiblical values. The church always runs that risk when it is obedient to our Lord’s command to evangelize the lost and to penetrate the godless society around us with salt and light. As sinners find Christ and enter the church, they necessarily come in as spiritual babies, uninstructed in Christian doctrine and ethical living. Moreover, as Christians rub shoulders daily with the world, the filth of its practices and lifestyle splashes on them. By its very obedience to the Great Commandment, the church becomes specially liable to counter influence from the world.

Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated today than in the rapidly increasing divorce rate within our evangelical churches. To meet this growing problem, every church stresses the biblical commandments on marital faithfulness and warns against the evils of divorce. Yet psychologist George Ensworth would remind us that divorce is not the unpardonable sin. Divorced people need to know God’s forgiveness and healing. The church is not primarily engaged in a ministry of condemnation but of preaching the gospel and proclaiming the wonder and joy of God’s forgiving love to all who will turn to him—to the divorced, too.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.