V. THE EXPERIENCE OF ASCENSION
We obtain the position of ascension the moment we are saved. But how can we experience ascension? Simply speaking, the experience of ascension is the outcome of our experiencing resurrection through death. Even as Christ ascended to the heavenly places through death and resurrection, so also may we experience ascension through death and resurrection.
Let us consider the history of the Israelites entering the land of Canaan. Once they left their wilderness wanderings and crossed the Jordan, they entered Canaan. The land of Canaan signifies the all-inclusive Christ in the heavenlies. At the same time, it also typifies the heavenly realm. Therefore, when the Israelites entered Canaan, typically speaking, they entered the heavenly realm. When they crossed the Jordan, they buried twelve stones at the bottom of the river, signifying their death and burial. Then they removed twelve stones from the bottom of the river, signifying their resurrection. They brought these twelve stones into the land of Canaan, signifying their passing through death and resurrection and entering into the heavenly realm. Therefore, their entering Canaan after crossing Jordan typifies our experiencing the ascension through death and resurrection. Whenever we experience death and resurrection, we reach the realm of ascension.
Let us look again at the one who seeks the Lord in the Song of Songs. She also, through the experience of death and resurrection, gradually attained to the reality of ascension. In Song of Songs 1:9, the Lord praises her for the first time, saying that she is like “a steed in Pharaoh’s chariots. ”A steed in Pharaoh’s chariot is an Egyptian horse. Though fast and strong, it is still of Egypt, which typifies the world. This shows that, though at that time she was exceedingly swift and full of strength in her seeking the Lord and following after Him, she was still earthly. Then in chapter 2, verse 2, the Lord praises her by saying that she is “as a lily among thorns.” This means that, though as a lily she lived a clean life and a life which received God’s tender care, yet she still grew on earth.
When we come to chapter 3, verse 6, the Lord speaks of her as one “coming up from the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant.” The wilderness signifies the state of a Christian’s spiritual wandering. As a matter of fact she had been wandering in the wilderness. Now she comes up from the wilderness, leaving behind her life of spiritual wandering. At the same time, she is perfumed with myrrh and frankincense and all the powders of the merchant. Myrrh expresses Christ’s death, frankincense expresses Christ’s resurrection, and the powders of the merchant signify the spiritual riches obtained at a price. Now because she has paid a price in her seeking, she is perfumed with Christ’s death and resurrection. Therefore, her condition is likened to pillars of smoke ascending from the earth. She has passed through death and resurrection and has begun to have a little experience of ascension. Further on, in chapter 6, verse 10, the Lord’s praise for her is altogether heavenly. At this time, her spiritual condition is as the morning light, as the moon, and as the sun. She truly resembles the sun, the moon, and the stars of Genesis 1:16-17, arrayed in the sky and shining upon the whole earth, that the people on earth may receive her supply. At the same time she also has heavenly authority with her; she is dignified and awesome. Now she has fully experienced ascension.
In conclusion, ascension is the result of resurrection from death. Once we pass through the death of the cross and enter into resurrection, we reach the realm of ascension. Thus, if we want to experience ascension, we must first seek to experience death and resurrection. We must severely put to death by the Lord’s cross everything of sins, the world, the temper, the flesh, the self, and the natural constitution, and enter into the Lord’s resurrection by the Holy Spirit. Then we can experience ascension and be a heavenly people in the realm of ascension.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)