NOTE: With riots an hour and a half away in Charlottesville, with the escalating threat of thermonuclear war hanging over us, with hateful division ripping through "the land of the free and home of the brave," and, at the same time, with the Emerging Church agreeing with the Roman Catholic religion that it is our business to establish the Kingdom of Heaven here and now on Earth, I PASSIONATELY believe all true followers of Jesus Christ need this BIBLICAL reminder more urgently than ever before! I entreat you to take the time to read and mull this over thoughtfully and prayerfully!
"And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus -- Eph. 2:6
"The Epistle to the Ephesians fully develops the mystery of the will of God concerning this. There we find ample instruction as to our heavenly standing, heavenly hopes, and heavenly conflict. The apostle does not contemplate the Church as a pilgrim on earth, (which is certainly true, and is the clear focus of the Book of Hebrews,) but as sitting IN HEAVEN; not as toiling HERE, BUT RESTING THERE.
"He hath raised us up together, and made us SIT together IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS."
It is not that He WILL do this, but "HE HATH" done it!
When Christ was raised from the dead, all the members of His body were raised also; when He ascended into Heaven, THEY ASCENDED ALSO; when He sat down, THEY SAT DOWN ALSO; that is, in the counsel of God, and to be actualized in process of time by the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven.
But it may be asked: How can believers be said to be "seated in heavenly places" when they are yet in the world, struggling with its difficulties, its sorrows and temptations? The same question may be asked in reference to the important doctrine of Romans 6: How can believers be represented as DEAD TO SIN when they find sin working in them continually? The answer to both is one and the same.
God sees the believer as dead with Christ, and He also sees the Church as raised with and seated in Christ; BUT IT IS THE PROVINCE OF FAITH TO LEAD THE SOUL INTO THE REALITY OF BOTH!
"Reckon yourselves to be" WHAT GOD SAYS YOU ARE!
The believer's power to subdue indwelling corruption consists in his reckoning himself to be dead unto it; and his power of separation from the world consists in his reckoning himself to be raised with Christ and seated in Him. The Church, according to God's estimation, has as little to do with sin and the world as Christ has; but God's thoughts and our apprehensions are very different things.
WE MUST NEVER FORGET THAT EVERY TENDENCY OF THE HUMAN MIND NOT ONLY FALLS SHORT OF BUT STANDS ACTUALLY OPPOSED TO ALL THIS DIVINE TRUTH ABOUT THE CHURCH.
We have seen how long it was ere man could take hold of it -- how it was forced out, as it were, and pressed upon him; and we have only to glance at the history of the Church for the last eighteen centuries to see how feebly it was held and how speedily it was let go. THE HEART NATURALLY CLINGS TO EARTH, AND THE THOUGHT OF AN EARTHLY CORPORATION IS ATTRACTIVE TO IT!
Hence we may expect that the truth of the Church's Heavenly character WILL ONLY BE APPREHENDED AND CARRIED OUT BY A VERY SMALL AND FEEBLE MINORITY.
To understand all this requires a larger measure of spirituality than is to be found with many Christians.
Those who maintain Paul's gospel will find themselves, like him, deserted and despised amid the splendid pomp and glitter of the world (II Timothy 1:15; 4:1-17). The clashing of ecclesiastical sects, and the din of religious controversy, will surely drown the feeble voices of those who would speak of the heavenly calling and rapture of the church.
But let the spiritual man who finds himself in the midst of all this sad and heart-sickening confusion remember the following simple principle: EVERY SYSTEM OF ECCLESIASTICAL DISCIPLINE, AND EVERY SYSTEM OF PROPHETIC INTERPRETATION WHICH WOULD CONNECT THE CHURCH, IN ANY WAY, WITH THE WORLD, OR THINGS OF THE WORLD, MUST BE CONTRARY TO THE SPIRIT AND PRINCIPLES OF THE GREAT MYSTERY DEVELOPED BY THE HOLY GHOST IN THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES.
If it were understood, there would be far less effort to attain a name and a place on the earth. Paul, THE GREAT WITNESS OF THE CHURCH'S HEAVENLY CALLING, must have exhibited a poor spectacle in the view of the children of this world, and so will all who maintain his principles and walk in his steps; but he comforted his spirit with the thought that "the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His:; and he also knew that in the very darkest time there would be a few who would "call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
May our lot be cast among such, in the midst of this sorrowful scene, until we shall see Jesus as He is, and be made like Him FOREVER!"
-- C. H. Mackintosh