I mentioned I wanted to expand a bit on the "key perspectives" I listed on my recent posts. Right now, I'd like to talk about the idea of our PRESENT citizenship in Heaven; the fact that we are, even now, "seated with Christ in heavenly places." I might take two or three posts to do this.
The primary passages involved are Ephesians 2:6 (which should be considered in the greater context of Eph. 1:1 at least through 2:7); Philippians 3:20-21 and Colossians 3:1-4 (which rightly should be taken in the whole context of Colossians 1:1 through 3:11). There are many more passages that are also relevant, but let's start with those.
I hope you'll take the time to read the piece, "No Place Like Home," by William Kelly, that I posted yesterday, if you haven't already.
Of course, a number of questions arise. We "get" the idea that Christ is our present Comfort in all our tribulations (II Cor. 1:3-4); we even get that, if this talk of "Eternity" is real and on the level (it is!), it only makes sense to give greater attention to Eternal things than temporal (II Cor. 4:17-18; of course, even though we ALL admit "it just makes more sense," it seems as though we don't actually BELIEVE it, because still, for some reason, very few of us actually DO it much of the time!).
But this idea of "for our conversation IS in Heaven;" being RIGHT NOW "seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;" and the statement of Paul, "for ye are dead, and your life IS hid with Christ in God," who currently "sits at the right hand of God" IN HEAVEN . . . these things simply boggle the mind!
Is it really to be taken literally? I mean, how can I be in two places at the same time? Is it just fancy talk; just Paul's poetic imagery? Obviously, I'm still physically right here, in the body, where I've always been!
And, if it IS to be taken literally, or at face value, then what bearing could it possibly have on my practical day-to-day living here on terra firma?
I think I'll always remember my dear friend, Noel Mayes, when he got to this point in teaching Ephesians. He would walk up and down the aisles in the classroom while teaching. Then, he would suddenly stop right in front of one unsuspecting student (who had been quite comfortably sitting in his own chair, minding his own business up to this point, but was now rendered highly UN-comfortable, in great fear and trepidation). Taking his sweet time, Noel would stare down at his victim of choice in silence for a moment, and then dryly ask: "So, where are YOU this morning??"
"Well, I'm sitting right here, in front of you, in room 109, at New Tribes Bible Institute, Mr. Mayes," came the reply, with all accompanying throat-clearing, pitiful attempts at nervous laughter, quaking and fidgeting.
"Oh, REALLY??? Are you SURE about that?"
He'd repeat this, maybe another two or three times, on other poor, unsuspecting students, with almost invariably the same result. Then, Noel Mayes, the old gunslinger, the Clint Eastwood of Bible school teachers, would REMIND his visibly shaken students of the truth of Eph. 2:6 (they were to have gone over this already in their required reading):
"And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
"WHERE are you this morning?? Would anyone care to revise your answer on that, now?"
It was effective. Always left a lasting impression on the students, and was an excellent opener to the teaching/discussion that would follow.
So, just how do we unpack this great, but somewhat mystifying Biblical truth?
I honestly don't do this to tease, or keep you in suspense, but I have to leave you (just for a while) with these questions to ponder (really -- not TRYING to be mean!)
But, let me start with this: we have to begin searching this out by:
1) READING these scriptures, probably many times over and PRAYERFULLY (there is absolutely no substitute for this!!);
2) Reminding ourselves that this IS God's infallible, inspired Word (I Cor. 2:9-16; II Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 138:2; etc.), and that we can count on Him to "say what He means and mean what He says;" and that every single word IN HIS WORD is there for a reason -- it is important, and relevant and purposeful and meaningful
3) ASKING God, Himself, to MEET WITH YOU over His Word, and make its meaning as clear as possible to you (Revelation 3:20; II Tim. 2:7; Psalm 119:18; Luke 24:45).
4) Be prepared to GIVE IT TIME. Try to even memorize what I called the "Primary Passages" -- Phil. 3:20; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-4, and meditate on them WHENEVER YOU HAVE THE CHANCE -- for instance, you've got a few minutes when you're trapped, waiting for that endless train to go by, or you're sitting in the doctor's office waiting room, and he's running 45 minutes behind, or even when you're in the shower (hey, I've come to some GREAT conclusions while lathering up!)
START THERE. And, please, by all means, believe that GOD WANTS YOU TO FIGURE THIS OUT AND KNOW IT AND ALLOW IT TO IMPACT YOUR LIFE MORE THAN YOU EVER WILL YOURSELF!
Bye for now. More later, Lord willing.