Recently I have been reading a lot about the Third Day church, The New Apostolic Reformation, Feast of Tabernacles blessings, etc. There seems on the surface (I am by no means an expert on any of these phrases or meanings) a general frustration with church as it is, and a desperate cry for more…more of God, more power, more anointing. Sometimes I sense, (an observation of some, not an indictment on actions or intentions) that emerging and seasoned leaders are looking for something in their experience and life in Christ that goes beyond the completed work of Christ on the cross. There has always been a tension between our daily experience and our biblically stated reality. I suppose I am one, along with my colleague, who believes unequivocally that Christ has already provided for us all that pertains to life and godliness, and all blessings are already ours, in spite of what our present mundane experience might reveal.
In this brief article (perhaps not brief enough for some) we endeavor to present our understanding of the position we maintain and enjoy because of our divine position in Christ. Sadly, many believers struggle needlessly in their pursuit of perfection (maturity, of course but perfect, forget it!). Our true growth in Christ begins with our settled faith in Christ completed work…a message I think I am hearing in Third Day/Feast of Tabernacles/One New Man/New Apostolic teaching, but perhaps presented in a different way. Regardless, for your reading enjoyment, we present our thoughts on the New Creation in Christ: In the Heavenlies.
Perhaps the most thrilling presentation of the wealth God has freely given us in Christ is found in the first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In this letter Paul fathoms the utmost depths, and scales the transcendent heights, of the glories of the gospel, and he reveals them to us in five pungent sayings about our position IN THE HEAVENLIES in Christ – Ep. 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12.
YOUR PROVISION IN THE HEAVENLIES
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavelies” (Ep 1:3).
EVERY BLESSING IS ALREADY YOURS
You will notice, Paul says this great work has already been done: “God HAS blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavelies”. What a rich and dynamic gift.
Think of all the good things comprehended in the phase, “ALL spiritual blessings”. We must note that “spiritual” does not mean immaterial blessing as opposed to material blessing; but rather, every good thing that God has made available to us through the gospel, his total salvation for body, soul, and spirit (see below, para (B)).
If a person lacks these things, perhaps, they have looked in the wrong place? Where are all these spiritual blessings to be found? In yourself? In your church? In your own good works? In a leader? The scripture tells us quite plainly where to locate them: “God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies: For point of discussion:
If a friend deposited a large sum of money in a bank, in your name, you would at once become wealthy. However, your new wealth would do you no good unless you went to that particular bank, presented authorization that gave you the right to draw on the money, and then withdrew from the account as much as you required.
So it is with your riches in God’s “heavelies”. The expression describes a particular spiritual dimension into which all believers in Christ have access. In this place, God has deposited all the treasure of salvation. Whatever you need from God, whatever God wants to give, is placed there already in your name, waiting to be claimed by faith. Every spiritual is now ours…waiting for us to withdraw.
THE MEANING OF “SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS”
Paul’s is clear that these blessings are called “spiritual” not because they are unearthly, but because they have a spiritual basis. That is, they arise from the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life; they stem from our union with Christ. It is the origin or place from which they come that makes them spiritual.
Paul gives a kind of analysis of these blessings in Ep 1:3-20. He lists them as
A blameless and holy life (vs. 4)
Destiny as the sons of God (vs. 5-6)
Redemption and forgiveness (vs. 7-8)
Knowledge of the plan of God (vs. 9-10)
Freedom to live for God’s glory (vs. 11-12)
The promise of the Holy Spirit (vs. 13)
A Guaranteed inheritance (vs. 14)
Then he sums it all up in three great statements (vs. 18-20), statements that should be a part of the prayer and praise of every believer. First, there is hope. For in fact, our future is secure in Christ, thus we have a destiny, a kingdom, a reward appointed for us, of which none can deprive us, save we ourselves, by unbelief. Further, there are riches. These are the riches of pardon, grace, healing, life, of supply of every need; indeed all the treasures offered in the promises of God are ours now for the taking by faith. Finally, there is power, truly immeasurable great power: over all the kingdom of darkness, over the principalities and powers of evil, over the opposition of the world, over death and the very gates of hell. As with all of God’s promises and blessings, there are two keys needed to unlock these treasures. First, the believer needs a revelation of God’s purposes and power. As I have already indicated, our ears and eyes need to be opened so that we might understand that all these promised blessings are ours right now, not for some future date, and not to be obtained by magic or slight of hand (or doctrine). But such knowledge is beyond the natural mind; it must be revealed by the Spirit. Then we must ask ourselves, how does one gain this spiritual revelation of the promise? But first, the second key is release. If “revelation” is the first key to unlock your spiritual blessings in the heavenlies, then the second key is the “release” of your faith. For in truth, those things that are already your potential possessions will become your actual possessions when you make a faith commitment to receive them from God.
YOUR POWER IN THE HEAVENLIES
As you will readily see in Ep 1:19-20, Paul did not ask God to give them power. He longed only that they might know the greatness of God’s power in the heavenlies, and know that this power, all of it, was already their possession and prerogative. Paul knew, and wanted his Ephesus friends to know two great things about his power:
First: it is “immeasurable”; no Christian need ever fear that this power will be insufficient to meet any difficulty that may arise. Whatever we need to do or to traverse the most difficult circumstance, God’s power is amply available right now.
Second: it is “according to the working of the mighty power which God wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead.”
So the extraordinary strength that we own in the heavenlies is the same in character, force, and effect as that which broke the bonds of death from the crucified Christ, freed him from sin’s darkness, and raised him in glory to heaven’s radiant throne! Really, what additional power could we ever need?
YOUR POSITION IN THE HEAVENLIES
“God had made us alive together with Christ, and through our union with Christ by faith, he has raised us up and enthroned us with Christ in the heavenlies” (2:5-6)
Herein lies the key to our present understanding:
There is a difference between what might be called “situational” truth and “positional” truth.
Situational truth describes your condition at the present time, that is, your situation as observed by the natural eye; it is the state you are apparently in just now, whether spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical.
Positional truth describes your condition as God sees it in Christ; it is your position in the heavenlies in contrast with your situation on earth.
On earth you may be incomplete in sin; but in the heavenlies you are complete in Christ (Cl. 2:10).
The Bible in fact declares four things about your “position”. First, you are crucified with Christ.
That is, united with him in his atoning death, thus becoming the recipient of all the mercy, pardon, and grace made available to each repentant sinner at Calvary. One cannot crucify him or her self, but we can agree with what has already been done for us, and revel in its benefits.
That is, united with him in his victory over the power of sin, the strength of death, and the grip of the grave is broken.
Thirdly, you are ascended with Christ. That is, united with him in his endless life and in his unlimited access to the throne of God.
Finally, you are enthroned with Christ. That is, united with him in his triumph over Satan, over all the powers of darkness, and over all that is antagonistic to the kingdom of God.
You should realize that those events are not set in the future; they are true of you NOW! They describe the position you already hold in Christ.
When you know, regardless of your actual situation on earth, that you truly are spiritually enthroned in the heavenlies with Christ, and when you begin to confess aloud that enthronement, then God will begin to make it actually happen for you.
When your confession matches your position, then your situation will be made to match your position!
Someone will protest that to say you are enthroned when in fact you are enslaved is to tell a lie. But that is not so. You are merely supplanting one set of facts for another set of greater facts; you are changing one truth by the application of another truth.
For example: for centuries mankind was bound by the obvious fact that iron and steel cannot float; they have no natural buoyancy.
Everybody scoffed at the idea of an iron ship, until someone was bold enough to apply the laws of specific gravity; then behold, an iron ship afloat!
The fact that iron sinks in water was overcome by a greater fact.
Likewise, nobody can deny the truth of your situation, which may be one of sin, fear, sickness, or defeat; but what you should do is replace situational truth with positional truth.
Whichever one you choose to believe has power to nullify the other.
WARFARE IN THE HEAVELIES
“We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against…the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies” (6:12).
Paul, having said that “every spiritual blessing” is found in the heavenlies, also says that we will have to contend for those blessings against the thievery of Satan.
But how should you contend against that deceiver, Satan, and his dark hordes? From the weakness of your earthly situation, or from the strength of your heavenly position? If you are wise, you will possess the throne first, in the name of the invincible Christ, and then war against Satan with a crown on your head and a scepter in your hand!
Our weapons are not carnal, not “flesh and blood”, but they are mighty through God to pull down every stronghold of Satan (2 Co. 10:3).
It is essential truth that we embrace the completed work of Christ and the cross, and fully possess the reality of our heavenly position. This is not simple faith confession or positive thinking, but the reality of our inheritance in Christ. We are a new creation, we are a new man, we are truly seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and until our situation and position are one (most likely, in the resurrection), we are in the heavenlies, and we have Christ in us; the hope of glory!