We are Christians, and as Christians, we recognize that the Bible is infallible. We recognize that the biblical verses do not clash against each other, and this is what we explicitly see in 2 Timothy 3:16.
2 Timothy 3:16
16 All scripture is inspired by God and[a] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,[b]
If the Scripture is truly inspired by God, then we are absolutely certain that it will never contradict itself. However, there are some people who do not believe in God, and they are what we call as atheists. They even claimed that one reason why they become atheists is that they saw huge contradictions in the Bible, and one of those alleged contradictions is between John 3:13 and 2 Kings 2:11. How can we reconcile what “appears” to be a contradiction?
13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.[a]
2 Kings 2:11
11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Eli′jah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
Obviously, they are atheists, and I personally believe that the reason why they see such contradictions is that they don’t have a good theological foundation, to begin with. If they are close-minded that God exists, then how can they even be open-minded with the difference between the Ascension and the Assumption?
Ascension is the concept that Jesus Christ went to heaven bodily by His own divine power. It is by His own might that He raised Himself to Heaven to be with His Father. I will just show some verses where Jesus Christ described what Ascension is.
33 Jesus then said, “I shall be with you a little longer, and then I go to him who sent me;
28 I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”[a]
So, when it comes to the Ascension of Jesus Christ, it is Him who does these things. We can see the active verbs that Jesus ascribed to Himself. From the verses that I have cited, Jesus said statements such as “I go”, “I am leaving”, and “I am ascending”. However, atheists simply cannot and should not equate Ascension with Assumption because there is a crucial difference between the two.
Assumption is the concept that a person is bodily raised by God. It is not a concept that he or she is powerful enough to raise oneself. Rather, it is by the power of God that they entered in the state of having a relationship with God in Heaven with body and soul. Aside from 2 Kings 2:11, I will show how other verses, where an explicit example of Assumption is described, are different from what atheists equated as Ascension.
24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not,[a] for God took him.
5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God.
12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.
Aside from Elijah, we have an example of God bodily taking Enoch. It is by his faith that he has pleased God, and after that, he was taken up, not by himself, but by God. In Revelation, we can see how a loud voice of God came from heaven, and what happened after that? They went up to heaven. Of all the explicit examples of Assumption that we have, we never find any evidence that they went to heaven by their own power.
So, in response to atheists who think that there is a contradiction in the Bible, specifically between John 3:13 and 2 Kings 2:11, they have to be critical of their methodology of applying terms to others even though it had a different context. Instead of saying that the Bible contradicted itself because Jesus was not aware that some people ascended to heaven, they have to know that they should blend each other rather than put them in contrast.
There is no contradiction if Jesus Christ was the only human being who ascended to Heaven because He’s God. And, there will never be a contradiction if we recognize that the biblical examples of Elijah, Enoch, and the two witnesses were assumed. This is the dividing line between Ascension and Assumption which the atheists love to ignore in light of the fact that they had these presuppositions that the Bible should be wrong first before they read it in context.
Source: DCF Group