We do not doubt but that the selfsame body which was born of the virgin, was crucified, dead, and buried, and which did rise again, did ascend into the heavens, for the accomplishment of all things, where in our name and for our comfort he has received all power in heaven and earth, where he sits at the right hand of the Father, having received his kingdom, the only advocate and mediator for us. Which glory, honor, and prerogative, he alone amongst the brethren shall possess till all his enemies are made his footstool, as we undoubtedly believe they shall be in the Last Judgment.
We believe that the same Lord Jesus shall visibly return for this Last Judgment as he was seen to ascend. And then, we firmly believe, the time of refreshing and restitution of all things shall come, so that those who from the beginning have suffered violence, injury, and wrong, for righteousness’ sake, shall inherit that blessed immortality promised them from the beginning. But, on the other hand, the stubborn, disobedient, cruel persecutors, filthy persons, idolators, and all sorts of the unbelieving, shall be cast into the dungeon of utter darkness, where their worm shall not die, nor their fire be quenched.
The remembrance of that day, and of the Judgment to be executed in it, is not only a bridle by which our carnal lusts are restrained but also such inestimable comfort that neither the threatening of worldly princes, nor the fear of present danger or of temporal death, may move us to renounce and forsake that blessed society which we, the members, have with our Head and only Mediator, Christ Jesus: whom we confess and avow to be the promised Messiah, the only Head of his Kirk, our just Lawgiver, our only High Priest, Advocate, and Mediator. To which honors and offices, if man or angel presume to intrude themselves, we utterly detest and abhor them, as blasphemous to our sovereign and supreme Governor, Christ Jesus.
It fascinates me that the ascension and judgment are so closely tied in this text. It would have been far easier for this section of the confession to simply end after the first paragraph, but instead the authors wanted a theological statement to be made about what is to come based on what has been.
Isn't that who we are, as Christians? Aren't we always looking forward based on what has come before? We trust in God because we know that God is reliable. God has a great track record! We know that God will be faithful to God's promises, so we look forward to the day when those promises will be fulfilled.
Comfort, the confession says, should be found in the ascension. It says that we should take great comfort in knowing that the God who ascended to heaven will descend one day, and the very thought of that should give us great comfort in the face of every mortal danger. We have nothing to fear because we have a God in heaven who loves us.
That should change the way we live. Does it?