“A robust doctrine of the ascension in the flesh can influence, and even transform, the life of the present-day church in the west. The very nature of the church is determined by the condition and location of her Lord, the head of His body. Jesus is in heaven, yet we, His people, are here on earth. The church exists with a palpable sense of incompleteness in this present world. We are strangers here, but passing through on our way to be reunited with Jesus in heaven.
We realize simultaneously, however, that our Christ who has left us here has yet retained our humanity, our very flesh and soul in Himself. So though He is absent from sight, we know that He remains interested in this world and these people. He is vitally connected to us through His Spirit; the physically absent Son is present by means of His Spirit whom He pours upon us. The church, while it longs for Him in these days of separation, is yet energized by His spiritual presence. He is known to us in the breaking of the bread and the preaching of the Word. Moreover, He has promised to return.
Jesus is not finished with us or this world. So we trust that we sojourn here through these difficult years for a reason. Indeed, the church is ever directed to recall her mandate. We have been sent as the body of Christ to this world on the very mission of Jesus to proclaim His gospel and enact His love. This present age, then, is an interim time between the first and second comings of Christ. Our home is in heaven; our work is in the world. A proper understanding of the ascension is crucial to maintaining a proper perspective on Jesus’ presence and absence, and therefore the key to a correct, and fruitful, relationship to the world.”
–Gerrit Scott Dawson, Jesus Ascended: The Meaning of Christ’s Continuing Incarnation (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), pp. 143-44.