II. THE NEED OF KNOWING THE POSITION OF OUR SALVATION
In order to know the ascension, we need secondly to know the position of our salvation. Although, when we were saved, we were saved from under judgment into the forgiveness of sins, and were made alive from the condition of death and obtained God’s life, yet neither can the forgiveness of sins nor the obtaining of life be considered as the position of our salvation. Ephesians 2:5-6 tells us that “when we were dead through our trespasses, (God) made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places.” This shows that every man who is saved is not only one whose sins are forgiven, not only one who is made alive from death and has God’s life, but also one who sits in the heavenly places, a man of ascension. When Christ saves us, He causes us to ascend with Him and sit with Him in the heavens. Therefore, ascension truly is the final position of our salvation.
The position of ascension which we have obtained rests not only on the fact of ascension which God has accomplished in Christ, but also on the life of ascension which we have obtained within us. In Colossians 3:1-4 the Apostle asks us to set our mind “on the things that are above.” This is based on the fact that Christ is our life. Christ is sitting in the heavenly places at the right hand of God. Because we have Him as our life, we also are hid with Him in God. This reveals that neither in His death nor in His resurrection, but in His ascension Christ caused us to obtain life and became our life. Although this life has passed through death and resurrection, yet it is in the position of ascension that Christ gives this life to us. This life is ascended and heavenly, and is given from heaven. It is a life which reaches heaven. Therefore, once we obtain this life, we have fellowship with heaven and are joined to heaven. Although according to outward conditions we still live on earth, yet according to the inner life we are already in heaven. The situation is just like the Lord’s during His time on earth. He said then that though He “descended out of heaven,” He was still “in heaven” (John 3:13). This was due to the fact that His life is heavenly and connected with heaven.
For example, an electric light bulb gives light because of the electric current within it. This electric current originates from the power plant and is connected with the power plant. Therefore, externally speaking, its light shines forth in this room. But, in respect to the electric current within the bulb, its position is at the power plant. Likewise, we as saved ones can be manifested in this age as shining light (Phil. 2:15; Matt. 5:14-16) because of the ascended life which saves us and is now within us. This life flows into us from heaven, and it is also connected with heaven. It flows into us from heaven, and it also brings us to heaven. With this life that is connected with heaven, we are also a people that is connected with heaven. Therefore, just as from Christ’s standpoint ascension is the conclusion of His redemption, even so from our standpoint ascension is the position of our salvation.
III. THE NEED OF KNOWING THE SPIRITUAL FUNCTIONS
In order to know the ascension, we need thirdly to know the spiritual functions. All the spiritual gifts of Christians are given by the Lord in ascension (Eph. 4:8) and are for us to apply in the position of ascension. Therefore, if we do not know the ground of ascension nor stand fast upon it, we will be unable to apply the spiritual gifts. The functions of the spiritual gifts can only be made manifest on the ground of ascension.
Genesis 1:17 tells us that God set lights in the sky to shine upon the earth. This word is full of meaning figuratively. The sun, moon, and stars can shine upon the earth because they are set in the sky. Once a star is fallen from the sky, its function is lost. Its illuminating function depends entirely on its position in the sky. Likewise, whether we preach the gospel, visit people, edify the saints, or administer the church, the real function rests entirely on our position of ascension. Once we lose the position of ascension, we will surely lose the spiritual functions.
For example, the reason many brothers and sisters have visited people to no avail is that they have already fallen from the position of ascension and live in some situation on earth. If we want to visit people with much effectiveness, it is not necessary for us to speak much or preach many truths. We need only to maintain the position of ascension in our daily living; we need only to be continually touching heaven in our inner being and live in the heavenly condition, the heavenly atmosphere, which, when touched by others, will enable them to obtain the heavenly supply. This also applies to the prayers offered in meetings. The prayers of some brothers and sisters impart a feeling of emptiness and oldness to others because they have already lost the position of ascension. The phraseology of their prayers may be very attractive, but before God and before Satan there is no weight. There is also no effect in the spiritual realm. Other brothers and sisters, however, are not so. They stand fast in the position of ascension and live in the life of heaven. Their daily living is of heaven; therefore, their prayers also are of heaven. When they open their mouths, they give a heavenly taste. Only this kind of prayer can touch the throne in the heavens and shake the gates of hell, thereby producing much spiritual consequence. Therefore, regardless of what our spiritual functions are, we must apply them in the heavenly position and manifest them in the heavenly realm.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)